One of the most exciting things about the world of wine is the incredible diversity of offer. There are literally thousands and thousands of different grape varieties but all too often we get stuck drinking the same old thing. Broadening your wine horizons will make appreciating so much more enjoyable, broaden your palate and hopefully create a little sense of adventure. I always like to think of drinking the same wine all the time much like listening to the same song on repeat or wearing the same outfit every single day. So be adventurous. I beg of you. The worst that can happen is you wont like something, the best that can happen is that you find something new you absolutely love and it will spark that sense of adventure inside.
I have included alternative varieties grown here in Australia so you can enjoy something new and exciting from our backyard.
Fiano – A variety I adore and there are some fantastic Australian examples, Fiano is a dry white wine originating from the province of Avellino in Campania, Southern Italy. I always look for beautiful citrus notes, lifted green herbs ( sometimes pesto ) and lovely flavours of white melon. Great alone or with bbq’d pipi’s and bugs, rocket and parmesan salads and a good old roast chook. Corrina Wright at McLaren Vale’s Oliver’s Taranga makes a cracking version, the perfect introduction to the variety.
Oliver’s Taranga $24 online
Arneis – Another Italian varietal creating some interesting wines on our shores. Arneis is a rare Piedmont varietal and the name literally translates to mean ‘little rascal’ in native Piedmontese. When winemakers can tame the acid and savoury balance this is a wine smack bang full of flavour. Check out the Holm Oak Arneis from Tassie, they are the only Tasmanian producer of this variety and its got beautiful mouth piercing acidity, lovely flavours of white peach, fresh almond and nutmeg.
Holm Oak Arneis $25 online
Nebbiolo – One of the worlds great red wine varieties, if you have ever drunk Barolo or Barbaresco you have drunk this great grape in all it’s glory. There’s a common misconception that all Italian red wines are big, ballsy and rustic but that is far from the truth. Nebbiolo is light to medium bodied and often not disimiliar in its flavour profile Pinot Noir. Sometimes called the wine of Tar and Roses due to it’s unique bouquet it is a wine all red lovers need to start an affair with. Steve Pannell arguable makes one of this countries finest examples, but be quick it sells as quick every release.
Pannell $55 Online
Montepulciano – A popular grape variety planted throughout central Italy especially in Abruzzo and Marche and starting to find its feet here with a few producers giving it a red hot go. In fact behind Sangiovese it is Italy’s second most planted red variety. Montepulciano typically produces medium to full bodied red wines with lovely flavours of spiced plums, dark cherries and broody tannins. Sue Bell who is doing some wonderful work with alternative varieties alongside her beautiful classics is making a stunning ‘Monte’ from the Riverland in South Australia. Beautifully balanced, rich and pure, the perfect winter drop alongside a slow cooked Lamb roast.
Bellweather Wines $25 Online
Gruner Veltliner – I love this variety, it is delicious and versatile and wonderful with food, it hails from Austria (it’s the most planted white wine grape in the country) and everyone should be drinking it. Gruner is taking the world and wine lists by storm and I love it as it has a rare ability to tackle even some of the toughest food matches! Lark Hill Gruner Veltliner from Canberra District is one of my favourites stunning texture and a nose full of celery and rocket leaf, white pepper and fig. Beautiful.
Lark Hill Winery $55 online
Tempranillo – The great and resplendent Spanish variety most famous for its role in the great wines of Rioja has really exploded in popularity with both winemakers and drinkers here in Australia. It can create a wide style of wines but I always look for leathery spice, spices like 5 spice and cloves and cherries and plums. Winemaker Ben Chipman from Tomfoolery Wines in the Barossa has crafted a gorgeous wines from the Barossa’s oldest Tempranillo vines. If you try one aussie tempranillo this should be it.
Tomfoolery Wines $27.50 online
Gewurztraminer – Poor old Gewurztraminer, it’s not the trendiest wine on the block and has suffered this reputation for a while. Pair that with its hard to say name and its a wine that often gets overlooked on wine lists and bottle store shelves. The unique perfume of this variety is always a joy to smell. Lychee , Rose Petal, Brown spice and marmalade often feature and gewürztraminer ranged from dry to super sticky. The team at Toppers Mountain in New England are doing great things with Gewurz and their dry barrel ferment style is an absolutely cracking drink. Rose Petal and Turkish delight on the nose mixed with fresh pear and musk and superb texture, this has to be one of the Southern Hemispheres great Gewurztraminers.
Toppers $35 online
Video via Jamie Oliver’s Drink Tube