2008 Unsung Heroes Petit Verdot

Made by one of Australia's leading viticulturalists Geoff Hardy for a predominantly United States market from his Tractor Shed Wine range, the name reflects the underrated work of Petit Verdot, an unsung grape hero used to add richness, tannin and colour to

Cabernet Sauvignon based blends.

Petit Verdot is known as the ugly duckling of the five classic varieties permitted in the Bordeaux appellation and appears to be losing favour there as it struggles to ripen in the region's cooler climate.

This does not appear to be the case in Australia's warmer ripening conditions and our propensity to make stand alone varietal wines. The enthusiasm of winemakers has translated into increased plantings of Petit Verdot especially throughout South Australian wine regions and has highlighted the grape's suitability there and potential as a future rival to shiraz.

The fruit for this single varietal is a blend from vineyards in South Australia's McLaren Vale and Limestone Coast regions where climatic conditions are similar to both Mediterranean and Continental Europe.

Dark garnet in colour, intense and brooding things are going on in the glass. The violet, plum, blueberry and coffee aromas underline the fragrancy of the nose. The initial chewy, rich mouthfeel of plum and blueberry is slightly overtaken by the strong tannins and alcoholic heat (14.5%) on the spicy mid-palate. Silky textures throughout.
A long and pleasant finish completes this beautiful black swan. Nothing petit here winelovers!

This is a well made, tasty, powerful wine that deserves more recognition than it receives.
It would match red meat dishes very well. 

Source: Retail Purchase. Rating: 89 Points. Website: http://www.k1.com.au

2010 Rutherglen Estates Single Vineyard Arneis

Who said you couldn't drink Arneis during the cold winter months or any other white wine for that matter? We all need refreshing drinks but do we need to drink warming reds during this time? Matching this particular example from northern Victoria with either Italian fare or seafood dishes could be a pleasurable experience and a great alternative to the usual white wine suspects that pair well with these types of food.

The first Italian grape variety in the Rutherglen Estates portfolio and their fourth vintage according to the website, Arneis is the premium white wine from Piedmonte, also known under the synonym 'white Barolo' for its use in softening the aggressive tannic structure of Nebbiolo. Indeed, Arneis is the sibling white grape to the  red 'king' Nebbiolo and thrives in the chalky, sandy soils of its home in the Roero province of north-weestern Italy's Piedmonte region where it produces fragrant, harmoniously balanced wines of richness and freshness.

It's name in the old Langhe-Piedmont dialect translates as 'whimsical', 'stubborn' or 'little rascal', a reference to its capricious nature in the vineyard. Susceptible to poor yields, powdery mildew, low acidity, late ripening and easy oxidisation, this was a recipe for disaster even before the grape had been made into wine. To complicate matters further, in addition to a slew of regulatory factors impacting its growth and development as a varietal in Italy, Arneis came close to varietal extinction during the mid-twentieth century before dry white wines gained increasing popularity in the 1980's.

This is a refreshing, crisp dry white wine that doesn't really challenge the nose in terms of aromatics. It came across on the palate as light and citrusy, slightly herbaceous with the merest hint of pear and almond, some of the characteristics in its varietal flavour profile. But unfortunately, that was about it.

A good introduction to this variety, perhaps an alternative to Sauvignon Blanc for those looking for something a little different, but to me it was one dimensional and lacking in complexity or aromatics. I will look forward to reviewing other examples of this increasingly popular variety. 

Source: Winery Purchase. Rating: 82 Points. Website: www.rutherglenestates.com.au

2008 Rutherglen Estates Single Vineyard Sangiovese

Ruby red in colour. Intense sour cherry aromatics with tight layers of plum and cinnamon flavours integrate with fine, silky tannins to produce an elegant, food-friendly Sangiovese from 'little Italy' in Victoria's north east wine region.

This classic Tuscan varietal that forms the primary component of Chianti (Hannibal Lecter's favourite wine!), Brunello di Montalcino and the 'Super Tuscan' wine blends, takes it name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, 'the blood of Jove (Jupiter)'. It is Italy's most widely planted red grape variety and was introduced into Australia in the late 1960's.

The warm, juicy, earthy, dried herb characteristics persist on the palate and make this medium-bodied wine such a satisfying experience for either drinking now or medium term cellaring if patience is one of your virtues. Its fourteen months ageing in Hungarian oak hightens both the savoury fruit notes and the wine's length.

Prior to its recent, unfortunate closure the Rimefire Winery near Toowoomba in Queensland with its Tuscan-like terroir, produced one of my favourite Sangiovese varietals. The baton has now been passed on to this Rutherglen interpretation!

Try this impressive Sangiovese with tomato-based pasta and pizza dishes where the acidity and moderate alcohol levels would complement the food. 

Source: Winery Purchase. Rating: 88 Points. Website: www.rutherglenestates.com.au