I’m full of admiration for the Pizzini family of the King Valley. Their wines are very good and constantly improving, and their exploration of native Italian grape varieties is exceptional.

Pizzini Wines is truly a family affair, with parents Alfred and Katrina, their son Joel (chief winemaker) and daughter Natalie all deeply involved. For the last 14 or 15 years they’re retained Tuscan consultant winemaker Alberto Antonini who by now is almost a member of the family.

Since my last visit they have built a new, capacious cellar door/tasting room and landscaped the grounds with stonework and running water. The food component including cookery courses is tightly integrated into everything they do, in true Italian style. And the depth and breadth of the wine range continues to impress.

On my recent visit I was impressed with the ‘riserva’ style nebbiolo (Coronamento – tasting) and sangiovese (Rubacuori – tasting), both of which are available with as much as nine years of age on them. They’re not cheap at $135 and $110 respectively ex-winery, but neither should they be: they are very limited production (just a hundred cases or so), marketed with an unusual degree of bottle-age (the 2008s and 2005s are all available), and represent the culmination of many years of dedicated and painstaking work in vineyard and winery. Both wines are very much ‘show wines’, structured to impress, seriously oaked, with full body, concentration and density – much more Angelo Gaja (tastings) than, say, Bruno Giacosa (tastings).

At the risk of letting cats out of bags, I tasted my first Australian verdicchio (tasting), which the Pizzinis will be releasing early this year. Happily, it’s not an infantile wine (it’s a 2013) and thus swims against the usual tide of Australian white wines being released too early. And it’s a stunning wine.

I also dips me lid to Joel Pizzini’s development over recent vintages of a more serious pinot grigio, which sells under the Whitefields label (tasting). And the current 2012 vintage of Il Barone (a cabernet, shiraz, sangiovese, nebbiolo blend – tasting) is the best I can recall ever tasting, showing perfectly ripe cabernet fruit. The cabernet, incidentally, came from Mark Walpole’s Beechworth vineyard, as the Pizzini cabernet vineyard is being replanted.

Bravo e brava!

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