Sunday, February 3, 2013

Montevecchio Rosso 2011 (Heathcote)

Montevecchio is a new brand from the Chalmers family - one of the driving forces behind alternative varieties in Australia, both with their Chalmers Wines brand, their previous vineyard and nursery, and their support for the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show.

The Chalmers sold their original vineyard (from where I bought sagrantino fruit in 2007) to Macquarie. While much of the nursery stocks of rare clones, including the MAT clones imported from Italy, has since been bulldozed, the family also set up a Heathcote vineyard with a mixture of Italian and other varieties.

My first impression of the title 'Montevecchio' had me wondering if there was a chance of this being an exercise in passing off Australian fruit, winemaking and wines as if it were an Italian brand. But given the age of the Heathcote soils, the Mount Carmel range, and the clear badging of 'Heathcote, Victoria' on the front labels of the red and white blends and the moscato, I think this passes well.

The 2011 Rosso is described as a 'co-fermented field blend of hand-picked shiraz, lagrein, nero d'Avola and sagrantino'. The description has me wondering how many purchasers and drinkers would understand what 'field blend' might mean (not to mention co-fermentation)? Were the grapes picked at the same time and co-fermented as a single batch? Picked from one, mixed-block, or several mono-varietal plantings? Lots of room to move under that 'field blend' label, really.

Anyway, this is a wine of the cool, wet vintage rather than of the varieties involved. There is a bright, clean flow of light, crisp fruit all through the palate here. A pleasant, sour-fizz confectionery note is the main appeal. This is jug wine, in a good way, and has me thinking tapas as much as antipasti.

Purchase, $20, screwcap, 12.5% alcohol, website here.

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