Friday, October 28, 2011

Preston Peak 2008 Sagrantino

My first sagrantino from the Granite Belt. I first encountered wines from this region when I moved from Sydney to Brisbane at the beginning of 1995. Because long trips are best done with stops in wine regions along the way, I spent time in the Hunter (keen on semillon chardonnay as I was) and then a Granite Belt stop off out of curiosity. I haven't really kept an eye on Queensland wines since my early years in Brisbane, so when I heard good things about Toowoomba-based Preston Peak's Granite Belt sagrantino, I was keen to get a bottle to try.

It smells good, and like a sagrantino. Loganberry. Lots of loganberry. Purple and black fruits to smell and taste. The raft of tannin carries the fruit into the mid palate, but beyond that the fruit goes missing and only acid and tannin (mainly tannin) continues. Has promise, but also has that lack of fruit carry that can come from young vines. A producer, vineyard and variety to watch though.

Screwcap, 14%, sample, rrp $38,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Argiano 2005 Brunello di Montalcino

Brunello with a bit of age on it can be dead-right drinking with Italian grilled meats. There is something so right about the fit between charred meat and grilled nut-skin tannins.

Argiano's 2005 bottling of Brunello comes out light in the glass. Less an orange rim from development - more a wine that will have been light in colour the whole time. An observation from my dining companion: have you ever seen an Australian sangiovese of that colour? I struggle to think of an example of an Australian sangiovese that has the light-red sparkle in the glass, like a lighter-hued pinot, rather than a deeper red.

We have polenta fritters stuffed with gorgonzola, rosemary focaccia from the wood-fired oven, and some smallgoods (proscuitto & capocollo) to start. The wine does well. It does that Brunello thing of leading with tannin, then refreshing acid, then fruit tucked in behind. The tannins really do taste and feel like the skins of grilled nuts (hazels, especially). A tagliata, again from the wood oven, of beef crusted in salt & pepper, served on radicchio & rocket, with a horseradish sauce, also sits well with the wine. I finish with some truffled pecorino, the last of the wine, and a good short black.

Good eating (at Italian & Sons), good company and a bottle of Brunello. Enough to feel lucky about, really.

About $120 (list price), sealed with a cork.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A sagrantino dinner

A wine memory. 2006. A McLaren Vale connection, an invite through the Kay's of Amery, through Mark Lloyd of Coriole to a dinner with sagrantino wines brought back by friends of the Lloyd's from Montefalco in Umbria. The friends had decided to grab a bunch of the wines they'd brought back and put on a dinner at Fino in Willunga. Another layer to this: the wines had been put together by the people the friends stayed with, at a pensione just off the three-walled historic square of Montefalco. Generosity and friendship, folding over each other.

I hopped on a flight to Adelaide, then to the Vale. Good food, great service from Sharon Romeo, but the wines were my highlight:

- 1998 Adanti Arquata Montefalco
- 1999 Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco
- 2001 Rocca Di Fabbri Montefalco
- 2002 Fongoli Montefalco
- 2002 Ruggeri Montefalco
- 2002 Scacciadiavoli Montefalco

- 2004 Murry Darling Collection (Project Wine Series), Chalmers (Euston, NSW)

- 2001 Adanti Arquata Montefalco Passito
- 2002 Ruggeri Montefalco Passito

The Caprai and the Scacciadiavoli were my pick of the dry sagrantino wines, with depth of fruit, clarity of expression, acres of ripe tannins and a dusting of bitter cocoa. The Adanti passito wine was also an attractive introduction to the traditional mode of sagrantino.

It was a great night, I was welcomed warmly by a room full of people who didn't know me from Adam, the wines were a gift and we only paid for food. An affirming moment of wine culture for me, and a night that confirmed why sagrantino is worth chasing - as a drink and as a vine.