Nero D’Avola finds its feet in Australia

The Calabria Family (Photo: Calabria Family Wines)

Nero D’Avola is finally making some lovely wines in Australia. In my most recent tastings, wines from Monterra, Calabria Family, Eldorado Road, Fox Gordon, Mount Horrocks, Amato Vino and Sabella/Petrucci have impressed me. The best to date is the Eldorado Road Riserva 2016 (AUD $65), a single-puncheon selection of 100% whole-bunch ferment grapes. The same maker’s cheaper bottling, the 2016 Comrade (AUD $37), is only a whisker behind it.

These are part of a superb portfolio of reds from this maker. The vineyard is in north-east Victoria between Beechworth and Wangaratta and is run by Paul Dahlenburg, the winemaker at Baileys of Glenrowan, and his wife Lauretta.

Nero D’Avola is the most important red grape in Sicily, named after a place at the bottom of the island, a grape well suited to hot, arid conditions. Hence, we find it being planted in such places as the Riverland, Riverina and McLaren Vale/Fleurieu.

Getting a handle on the varietal character of nero d’avola is not simple.

The 2016 Fox Gordon is a bright, cherry and raspberry scented red with a hint of peppermint, and has the softness, modest tannin and medium weight useful in a red that’s intended to be approachable young.

The 2016 Mount Horrocks from Clare is cherry/spicy, juicy and again, delicious to drink young. The 2016 Monterra is herbal, tobacco and pot-pourri, with Italianate savouriness. Monterra is a new brand from long-time McLaren Vale winemaker Mike Farmilo, and the grapes came from a vineyard on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The Coriole 2015 is again raspberry, peppermint and was released young, presumably intended as an early-drinking style, which was appropriate.

The best value for money is undoubtedly the 2017 Calabria Family Private Bin, a Riverina wine which is again designed for early consumption and released very young. Sweet blackberry to dark-cherry, fruit-driven and straightforward. (AUD $15)

Back to the Eldorado Road Riserva. Dark fruits, sour cherries, wildflowers, and the palate is deep and lush and concentrated, without being at all over-built. A beautiful wine and the first Aussie nero I’ve scored gold-medal points.

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