Amato Vino Slankamenka Bela 2016

I do like artistic labels on wine bottles. The ones that tell a story or are visually eye-catching or that simply may help punters remember a particular brand or wine amongst the competitive crowd. I do rate this particular label from Amato Vino.

Slankamenka Bela is an ancient white variety named after a municipality in the Vojvodina region of northern Serbia. It might sound like an expletive to some when vocalised but for the curious, its name appears to refer to the white grape from the town of Slankamen in that historic region and translates as 'salt-stone white'.   

Brad Wehr is the brains behind amongst others the Amato Vino label. He was seeking the Sicilian variety Grillo 
at Ricca Terra Farms in the Riverland Region. What he thought was Grillo turned out to be after DNA analysis Slankamenka Bela instead. It is the only Australian region at present growing this variety. 

The grapes from the one acre vineyard were handpicked, wild-fermented in stainless steel tanks, before bottling. Unfined and unfiltered. The wine pours a light sulphur yellow colour into the glass. 
A really interesting nose, something that knocks you back on your heels. No shortage of lift here with the aromatics. Grass, ginger, citrus, stone fruits, salami meat. 
Medium-bodied, the palate has a creamy texture underlined by honeyed, musky, yeasty, stone fruit flavours. Very fine talc-like mineral tannins wash across the tongue. 
What I like here is the fresh, funky, saline qualities and the balance between the bitter sweet spicy flavours. Apple, nashi pear, radish and pine. Lots of dry tangy flavours expressed on the finish. 
All in all, so well done and a delicious, quality wine. Go forth ! 

Jancis Robinson MW labelled the Slankamenka Bela variety "uninspiring". I think she would delete the first two letters of her assessment after tasting Brad Wehr's work on the variety ! 

A wine to bamboozle your friends. This is a great find, an exciting, refreshing and easy to enjoy wine with a point of difference.   

Source: Retail. ABV: 12.8%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $25.00.
Rating: 93 Points. Website:

Unico Zelo Cherry Fields Dolcetto 2016

If there is a better wine for a casual lunch, I'd like to know. 

This Dolcetto from the Unico Zelo winery is an absolute cracker. 
The third incarnation of this wine from creative winemakers Brendan and Laura Carter is a blend of fruit from family-owned vineyards at Polish Hill River in the Clare Valley and Kersbrook in the Adelaide Hills. Naturally fermented with eight months in French oak barrels.

Dark garnet colours. Smells fresh and sweet but tastes dry, 
Both the nose and palate offer up black plum, cherry jam, dried cranberry, cola and earthy mushroom nuances. A sprinkling of herbs and a hint of vanilla adds more intrigue and enjoyment. 

The palate is round and concentrated, the structure superb.
Delicious, juicy fruit weight with refreshing acid and tannic grip makes for some remarkably easy drinking. Long fruity, herbal aftertaste.  

Great value for such a fantastic Aussie red. Pair with Italian antipasto or a rich tomato pasta dish and order another bottle. Drink until 2021. Delizioso ! 

Source: Retail. ABV: 13.8%. Closure: Cork. Price: $23.00. Rating: 93 Points. 

Conte Di Campiano Salento IGT Susumaniello 2015

As far as I can ascertain, the variety Susumaniello is not grown in Australia yet but give the Chalmers family time and it could well be part of its innovative Project Wines portfolio before too long. 

As a background, Susumaniello is an ancient red wine variety indigenous to Puglia and grown exclusively in the Salice Salentino DOC region in a handful of vineyards around the town of Brindisi. Sources indicate that less than 100 hectares are grown only in this area making it one of the world's rarest (red) varieties.   

According to the keepers of local wisdom Its name means 'little donkey' in the local dialect, a reference to either how stubborn the variety is to manage or to its heavy yields that only donkeys could transport. Either way, the wine has the kick on it like an angry donkey.

Until recently used primarily as a blending component, Susumaniello is now achieving impressive results in its own right as interest in southern Italian varieties ramps up worldwide. Also recently, DNA testing has found that the variety is a progeny of Sangiovese on the one hand but as yet its second parent has not been determined. Gargenega has been mentioned in addition to some other local Puglian varieties. 

 Its colour is intense ruby red with purple edges in the glass. The nose is complex offering up red currant, pomegranate, violets, dried herbs with some charred meat and cedar wood aromas.  

The 2015 Conte Di Campiano Susumaniello tastes like a rustic-type Merlot off the bat. But a Merlot on anabolic steroids and peptide growth factors that the WADA would need to get involved to investigate ! 

Dense and full-bodied with powerful yet fine tannins. Despite a voluptuous texture, the wine tastes surprisingly fresh with elegant lines throughout the journey. Plum, blackberry, tart red cherry flavours, bitter chocolate, black pepper.    

A good balanced dry wine with the zesty acidity keeping the fruit flavours bright and the tannins providing a firm structure. There's a slight bitterness on the aftertaste. 

A rare and unusual wine with which to expand your drinking horizons. For the wine geeks and intellectuals alike ! 
As in Puglia, given some of our own hot and arid growing regions plus the increase in global warming, the Susumaniello variety could have real potential here in producing some serious wines in future years. 

Source: Gift. ABV: 15.0%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: N/A. Rating: 88 Points.