Saturday, September 15, 2012

Greenstone 2010 Colorino (Heathcote)

This is the most exciting bottle of wine I have seen out of Heathcote. Colorino is one of the varieties traditionally blended with sangiovese to make Chianti. Colorino, along with other varieties such as Canaiolo, is seldom seen as a single-variety wine and Mark Walpole's Heathcote plantings have produced Australia's first straight bottling of this deeply coloured and well flavoured variety.

I first saw this wine about ten months ago at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show in Mildura, where it was the pick of the show stewards. In the intervening time, the plush waves of primary fruit have settled back a bit, revealing some of the character and detail in the wine. Purple fruits, flecked with red and black, now sit behind layers of good smells, including fresh bramble berries and a distinct blueberry perfume. Tannins are there, giving the deep colour and sturdy fruit rails to slide along. It is a wine of genuine interest and real refreshment. Hard to recall the last time I had a wine from Heathcote that could balance fruit, intensity and refreshment this well. The 13% alcohol may have something to do with this.

Hard to judge how this would age. Perhaps best to drink in the next two or three years, before that primary fruit backs away further.

And to finish, a story from Mark Walpole, one of the partners in Greenstone and a pioneer of Italian varieties in Australia. Usually, this fruit would be blended into the Greenstone sangiovese, for colour and other benefits. But in 2010, even a small blending knocked the sangiovese off its axis. The Colorino was too much, too assertive, too different and insistent on telling its own story. So a separate bottling for the first time.

Which brings me back to one of the questions threading through this blog: what if the Italian varieties that could perform best in Australia are not the standard front-runners from within Italy and the global experience of Italian varieties? Could some of these 'other' Italian varieties not just do better in Australia than back home, but what if they were able to outperform nebbiolo and sangiovese?

Sample. Screwcap. 13% alcohol. Should be $25-30 in retail.

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