Current Issue #488

Wine Reviews:
Oliver’s Taranga,
Start A Conversation, Penley Estate

Christmas is upon us, and more than ever it’s a time to be kind to each other, dance with your Grandma/Pa/Mum/Dad, don’t drink and drive, put on sunscreen, eat well and think about your produce and the farmers that put it on your table. But perhaps most importantly of all, don’t drink crap wine.

Oliver’s Taranga

2019 Fiano
RRP $25

This summer, I intend to drink a lot of those Italian varieties that end with ‘o’; delicious, crisp, savoury, sapid, that sort of thing. Ticks a lot of boxes and scores high on both the versatility and utility beverage chic indexes. This is important.

The white grape fiano hails from the southern Italian region of Campania and stretches down into the neighbouring regions of Puglia and Sicily. Those brothers and sisters know a little bit about lounging around in the sun and eating and drinking well. This is also important.

Rich in history, too. Those ribald Roman boozehounds were fond of guzzling a famous Campanian wine called Apianum and even today the name Apianum is permitted to be used on the labels of the Campanian DOCG wines of Fiano di Avellino. This is not so important but interesting nevertheless.

There are a few things you need to know. Texturally it lies in the medium–light bodied spectrum with medium acidity and a slightly waxy mouthfeel. It’s pale straw in colour and you can expect flavours and aromas of nashi pear, pine nuts, citrus rind, kaffir lime, grapefruit and perhaps a slight whiff of hazelnuts and clotted cream. It’s dry, savoury and flippin’ delicious, showing a slinky sway across the palate that is instantly alluring. The crew at Oliver’s Taranga in McLaren Vale do a terrific version of it and it is most certainly worthy of a spot in your summer quiver. Embrace those varieties that end in ‘o’ and get into it. Tremendous value too.

Start A Conversation

2019 Nu Pinot Noir
RRP $35

I’m a big supporter of wineries and wines that not only give folks a little bit of vinous joy but also do a little bit of good in the process. I’ve often had conversations with friends and pondered to myself that the drinks industry could do more to address the negative aspects of the products on the shelves. More than happy to espouse the greener aspects and sustainability touchstones, we perhaps squirm in our seats a little when the conversation turns to darker topics and social responsibility.

But a conversation is exactly what is needed. Start a Conversation has been created to provide much-needed funds for a variety of charities. Founder, Sami Glastonbury, whose son was born with a congenital heart disease, knows all too well the hardships that families go through and the value of support. Today, Glastonbury sits on the board of Heartkids Australia and this wonderful project is a chance to give back and make a difference in people’s lives.

The 2019 Start a Conversation Nu Pinot Noir hails from the Yarra Valley and is made by Salo & Arfion winemaker and fellow Kiwi, Dave Mackintosh, more commonly known as Dave Bro. A proportion of the profits from the wine will be donated to the Macleod Domestic Violence Refuge which has operated on the Gold Coast since 1992. The wine is lovely, at the lighter end of medium-bodied and full of ripe spicy cherry, raspberry coulis and amaro herbs with a bright, airy finish. And the cause and project are fantastic. Other wines and a range of merch are available at the website too.

Penley Estate

2019 Whole Bunch Project
RRP $50

OK. You had me at whole-bunch. We have chatted about whole bunch wines a bit in these missives over the years.

We’ve discussed how whole bunches of grapes in ferments, in good years and in the right hands, can open a wine up, let a little bit of light into a wine to give it a sense of space and airiness. In the process, all manner of complex aromas and flavours are added to the final wine. They certainly can be alluring, sexy little numbers when all the pieces fall into place.

You don’t see many 100 per cent whole-bunch cabernet sauvignons around and Penley Estate winemakers Kate Goodman and Lauren Hansen have taken some lovely cool-climate Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon fruit and done a cracking job. No filtration, minimal SO2 and hand bottled … I like that she says in her wee hand written note that came with the wine… “I feel like one of the cool kids.”

One thing that you notice with wholebunch wines is they are less deeply coloured than their destemmed

counterparts. That is the case here, but there is the most lovely purple blush to the wine’s hue. Aromas of ripe macerated summer black berry fruits with some raspberry and mulberry high tones, along with hints of amaro herbs, Italian digestif notes, ample spice and dried flowers. These aromas transpose nicely over to the palate which is spacious and pure of fruit and offers a delicious riff on Coonawarra’s most famous grape variety. Production is super-limited with only 300 bottles available, so get in quick and enjoy.

Dave Brookes

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