2006 Rutherglen Estates Single Vineyard Nebbiolo

In its native appellation of Piedmont, Nebbiolo is renown for the production of Barolo and Barbaresco. Whether the name of the grape refers to its 'foggy' bloom - the Italian 'nebbia' - or to its 'nobile' origins is a moot point that could be argued over a glass or three of this aromatic, earthy red.

Nebbiolo has slowly started to get a foothold in the Australian wine landscape and there are some excellent examples around now despite early failures and the variety's reputation as a problematic grape to cultivate.

Aged for four years in old French oak to help balance the tannins and acid, this Rutherglen expression is crimson red to brown in colour with a bouquet of forest floor, tobacco, spice and leather. Somewhat tarty initially, the soft, medium bodied palate has loads of dark sour cherries, a hint of chocolate and oaky vanilla to bolster the firm tannic grip. The long, spicy finish is an invitation to pair with either a winter casserole or aged cheese.

There isn't the usual tar and roses complexity associated with an aged Nebbiolo but this is still a really good version of this emerging variety with the potential for a further 5-7 years cellaring. 

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

2010 Zonte's Footstep The Love Symbol Savignin Blanc

You could be excused if you read this to be Sauvignon Blanc, or that it was a typo. All a bit confusing if you didn't know it was the French variety Savignin from the Jura region, a grape closely related to Traminer and not Sauvignon Blanc at all.

Most Australian producers do not use the Blanc on the label, leaving the Savignin to get people's attention and thereby lessening confusion. Pale straw in colour with citrus fruits and floral aromatics, this Savignin delivers crisp, stewed apples and minerals on the palate. It finishes soft, flavoursome and refreshing. A good example of this emerging variety to enjoy with seafood or on its own.

Until recent DNA testing proved otherwise, the Savignin grape was mistakenly thought to be the classic Spanish variety Albarino. Apart from the marketing nightmares, there was the issue of changing consumer thinking that it was neither Albarino nor Sauvignon Blanc that we were drinking.

One of the more original names for a winery, Zonte's Footstep in the Langhorne Creek wine region on the South Australian Fleurieu Peninsula, takes its name from a 19th century Zante currant vineyard that dried up with the present winery following in its 'footsteps'.
Langhorne Creek is regarded as one of Australia's oldest and possibly most underrated wine growing regions with the Love Symbol vineyard situated on a 40 million year old alluvial plain with the Savignin vines planted in maritime red sands sitting over pre-Cambrian era limestone.

That my wine loving friends makes the Heathcote Region's ancient Cambrian 'dirt' seem positively recent!

Source: Retail Purchase. Rating: 87 Points. Website: www.zontesfootstep.com.au

2009 Old Mill Estate Langhorne Creek Touriga Nacional

My first introduction to this dry, red Portuguese variety was at a favourite watering hole and as they say in the classics, the rest is history ! Bored with the usual offerings, sticking to my a b c diet, I thought I'd push the vinous education envelope and try the touriga. My only knowledge of the variety was its use in making vintage port. The truth be told, that's probably when I first experienced it, not knowing it was actually the touriga varietal.

Be warned winophiles, approach with care as there is an intense, brooding creature in the glass. A table wine of inky dark colours, concentrated dark fruit flavours, high tannins and a 14.5% alcohol content, it is initially shy on the nose but delivers a wallop to the unsuspecting novice once swirled.

Heady, tight, musky and fruity on the aromatics with plums, dark berries, spices and black tea providing an enormous structure to the palate. Yet an underlying smooth texture makes this wine so intriguing and appealing that it is difficult to ignore. A wine of contradictions, complexity, balance and length that has a considerable age-worthiness to it. No prizes in guessing this would complement hearty meat dishes. A real cracker of a wine !

Old Mill Estate was the first Australian winery to use touriga national to produce premium table wines and believed that the grape would thrive in the rugged, deep alluvial soils of the Bremer River estuary. Indeed, it would appear this variety has great potential in Australia to grow and produce quality table wines in conditions similar to the northern Douro and Dao regions of its native Portugal. 

Source: Retail Purchase. Rating: 92+ Points. Website: www.oldmillestatewines.com.au