Italian varietals, grown in Australia, are taking the UK market by storm. Enlivening and reinvigorating the Australian offering to a new generation of wine buyers along the way, these niche bottlings are food friendly, earthy, characterful and full of European soul. Add to these impressive facets the fruit richness and playfulness synonymous with Aussie wines and you are on to a winning formula!
So numbered has been the emergence of star cuvées over the past 18 months that you may be under the impression that someone in Australia has simply turned the taps on to this burgeoning trend, but thankfully not so. In fact, the reverse is true. Winemakers have been growing a range of Italian and key European varietals for some time. Looking for something different in their regional offerings or looking to grow varieties for blending purposes, cuttings were sent over for use in nursery programmes followed by extensive periods of quarantine for the vines prior to planting and commercialisation. To this end, most of the key releases which fall under the “new wave” category show relatively young vine age.
Disproving this very myth, Frontier offer the wines of Australia’s “original” Italiaphile, Mark Lloyd of Coriole Estate in South Australia’s McLaren Vale. Far from being a new kid on the block, Mark championed the strengths of European varietals many moons ago, in fact, amongst many others Mark’s Sangiovese vines represent the oldest in the country – planted in 1985. There are also significant plantings of Fiano, Nero d’Avola, Prosecco and Barbera. Beyond Italian varieties, the latest wine out of the Coriole blocks is Picpoul. Driven by his love of the rare Languedoc white grape’s distinctive character, Mark has been patient in developing his own Picpoul crop. Vines imported in 2008 remained in quarantine until 2011, when a pair of approved vines was released to Coriole for propagation. Picpoul vines now cover only half a hectare, and many are not fully grown, but enough grapes were picked in 2015 to enable the first commercial release.
Beyond Coriole, Frontier are proud to offer a range of new wave varietals from across the country; Grüner-Veltliner, Tempranillo, Pinot Grigio, Verdejo and Malbec amongst them. Matching variety to terroir and climate has seen great success, encouraging a more youthful wine-buying public to connect with a nation seen by many to produce just two varieties – Chardonnay and Shiraz.
The dawning of a new day in varietal expression and regional variation is upon us. There are many internationally-lauded releases setting the market alight and with no sense of the trend dissipating. Watch this space for exciting new wines, flavours, textures and tales over the coming months. Move over Pinot Noir… McLaren Vale Nero d’Avola has arrived! ;)