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Alternate white varieties

Viognier, verdelho, vermentino, verdejo, verduzzo, and now verdicchio…What is it with all these vees?

There are good wines being made under all those names in Australia now – even if the Pizzini is the only Aussie verdicchio I’ve encountered (tasting), and verduzzo and verdejo aren’t exactly dropping off the trees. They all add to the spice of life, which is what variety in drinking gives us.

Other oddball white grape varieties I’ve reviewed this month include gruner veltliner, gewürztraminer, arneis, fiano, friulano, chenin blanc, savagnin, garganega, assyrtiko, and I would’ve had a carricante from Etna for you, had it not been shockingly corked.

Then of course we have the old stand-bys from the Rhone Valley: marsanne, roussanne and blends thereof. These are getting seriously good. Turkey Flat’s Butchers Block (tastings) and Tahbilk (tastings) are labels we can rely on. But you can now add Wanted Man from Heathcote (tastings), Barwon Ridge from Geelong (tastings), and – please allow me to introduce you to a new star from the Canberra district: Lark Hill MrV (tasting), a blend of marsanne, roussanne and viognier from the 2013 harvest. This is a new wine from Lark Hill, and I thought it was extraordinarily good.

A quick word about Jo Marsh, former Boynton’s Feathertop and Seppelt Great Western winemaker now based in Bright in the Ovens Valley. Her label is Billy Button, named after the alpine grass with the little yellow flowers. She is doing amazing things with ‘alternative’ whites sourced from the Alpine Valleys region: her 2013 verduzzo, vermentino and friulano (and riesling, more predictably – tastings) are outrageously good for a new brand. Or any brand, come to think of it.

Oh, and finally: is there anything Andrew Hedley at Marlborough winery Framingham doesn’t do exceedingly well? His 2013 gewurztraminer (tasting) is the latest to get a big rap from me. 

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