Current Issue #488

Wine Reviews:
Bremerton, Via Venezia, Hentley Farm

Take a varietal stroll through a couple of Oz/Italian whites then treat yourself to one of the Barossa’s best shiraz – you deserve it.


2019 Fiano
RRP $24 

I believe I’ve already come clean on these pages and told you that when I’m travelling I have a fetish for cheap Italian house wine. The sort of €5 a litre carafe- style wine that serves a very utilitarian purpose in many an Italian trattoria. I dunno … I just love it. I also love that we have so many Italian white grape varieties thriving in Australia, providing just as much bang-for-buck and splurpability with a distinctly Australian thumbprint. 

Fiano hails from the Italian regions of Campania and the sun-drenched isle of Sicily, so it kind of makes sense that it does particularly well on our shores. South Australia was the pioneering state for the variety in Australia and the fine folks at Bremerton in Langhorne Creek have hit the nail on the head with this particularly delicious rendition. 

Pale straw in the glass, it has some restraint to its aromatic profile. It isn’t overtly fruit-driven and in your face, showing aromas of gentle citrus fruits in the grapefruit/lemony spectrum along with wafts of pine nuts and just a whiff of blossom. 

In the mouth it’s a lovely, surprisingly textural drink. Slippery and vivacious with a savoury line across the palate. Again, subtlety is the leitmotif with stony, grapefruit, green apple and lemon curd notes, along with the telltale nuttiness of the variety. Not surprisingly, it is very Italianesque… savoury, delicious and a gem in the food matching stakes. Great value too. 

Via Venezia

2018 Pinot Grigio
RRP $27 

Here’s a cool little project that hails from Victoria’s King Valley wine region. I like wines that are raised in amphorae. About six years back I went to the second Qvevri Symposium in Georgia and caroused for a week or so with winemakers who produce amazing wines in these terracotta and clay vessels that go by various names – amphorae, kvevri, tinajas, etc. 

The pinot grigio fruit here hails from the King Valley, a central Victorian Italian stronghold that is the place to head for Italian grape varieties, guerrilla salami sessions and some of nonna’s home cooking. 

These particular terracotta amphorae are sourced from Florence and the wines are by Jo Marsh, who has made a strong name for herself producing delicious wines from all sorts of funky ‘appropriate’ varieties up near Porepunkah in north-east Victoria. 

I love the colour of this winethat sees a little bit of skin contact – there is a gentle copper sheen to its hue. You’ll find aromas and flavours of white peach, crunchy apple and nashi pear. There are hints of soft, gentle spice, nougat, pressed white flowers and nectarine jelly flitting around in the background. 

What really impresses about this wine is its texture. Slinky as you like, it slides over the palate with a perfect velocity to mouthfeel ratio, feeling very comfortable in its own skin. There is a positive valence to this wine that I find very appealing. It finishes pure, dry and delicious with a gentle tug of sweet skin tannin and a flush of white stone fruit to send it on its way. Lovely packaging too if you’re into that sort of thing. 

Hentley Farm

2017 Clos Otto Shiraz
RRP $210 

Sometimes we need to treat ourselves. You know, we deserve it and all that stuff. If you were to look for a wine that spoke clearly of a region, that has all that rich, velvety goodness that we have come to expect from shiraz from the Barossa Valley, then the Hentley Farm Clos Otto does a pretty good job of delivering the goods. 

Otto Kasper, a German border guard in his 60s, arrived in the Barossa in the mid-1990s, spoke no English at all and sourced some vine cuttings from a German-speaking friend. With
no knowledge of viticulture, he set about planting a dry-grown vineyard in Seppeltsfield where he farmed it organically until he returned home to Germany in 2004. It was an excellent site. 

Today, Otto’s vineyard is part of the Hentley Farm estate and, since the 2005 vintage, a flagship shiraz named in his honour has been released. It really shines a light on all that is good about the western Barossa. 

Deeply coloured, it shows resonant aromas of dark plum and summer
berry fruits along with hints of baking spice, violets, earthy tones, dreamy oak and macerated fruits. It has beautiful texture and weight in the mouth and those aromas transpose neatly over onto the palate. No sense of sluggishness though, as bright acidity and fruit purity drives the wine along. It carries its 14.8% alcohol well, remaining sprightly until the persistent, plush finish. 

Superb western Barossa drinking. 

Dave Brookes

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