Coriole’s Italian connection

Mark Lloyd of Coriole Vineyards (Photo: Coriole Vineyards)

Coriole is one of our pioneering wineries, at least with regard to the Italian grape varieties. Mark Lloyd, the proprietor and founder, is one of our under-sung wine heroes. He was one of the first to produce a sangiovese (planting his first vines in 1985) and Lloyd was the first to plant a fiano vineyard.

In both cases, Lloyd’s motivation was to produce ‘food wines’ – wines that suit the dining table, rather than wines that impress on their own, or wines that win medals. In this, Lloyd was way ahead of the pack.

Coriole (tastings) has long been food-orientated. It has one of the earliest winery restaurants, was one of the first wineries to produce its own olive oil, not to mention starting its own boutique cheese factory. Its other extra-curricular arts activities include vineyard concerts, theatrical events and poetry readings.

Sangiovese (pronounced san-joh-veh-say) is an outstanding food wine because of its savoury flavour profile and generally firm structure, lean palate, high acidity and moderate alcohol.

It has good balance and drinkability when released at about two years of age, but can be expected to mature happily for six years plus. It goes with many meat dishes and cheeses, but you’ll have the most fun trying it with Italian food, such as Florentine-style grilled lamb cutlets, taleggio cheese, spit-roasted quails, and salsicce (Italian sausages).

The 2015 Coriole Sangiovese is a very good wine, one of their best, and very affordable at AUD $27.

Fiano (pronounced fee-ahn-oh) is a newly popular white grape in Australia. Its small, thick-skinned berries and loose bunches mean it’s resistant to both splitting and fungal disease – so requires less spraying. Add the warm, dry climate of McLaren Vale into the equation and you have a winner. Its toughness probably contributed to its high popularity in ancient times, when it was thought to be in the vineyards when wealthy Romans built holiday villas along the coast near Pompeii.

Mark Lloyd planted Australia’s first fiano vineyard at Coriole in 2001. He says:

“I went to Vinitaly (a wine fair in Verona) in 2000 to investigate potential varieties from the south of Italy. Most of the varieties that were available in Australia were from the north.”

“To me, fiano was the stand-out. It had phenolic presence giving it distinctive texture as well as clear flavour profiles and aromatics. It seemed so full of character in comparison to the other Italian white varieties that I had tasted. High natural acidity was another feature that attracted me, coming from McLaren Vale.”

The 2016 and 2015 are two of the best vintages so far. The wine is typically delicate, yet has the backbone to go with lighter foods, such as seafood entrées and canapés. It has distinctive floral and herbal aromas and refreshing, balanced acidity.

Coriole’s Italian portfolio also includes sagrantino, barbera, nebbiolo, nero d’avola and prosecco, all worth checking out.

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