Geelong sees off an Italian Challenge


Geelong sees off an Italian Challenge

Well, a couple of northern Italian wines almost saw off a top Aussie Shiraz this week.

Tim on T30 came in with a pair of excellent wines from Italy’s far northeast. This area produces vast quantities of mostly pretty ordinary Pinot Grigio and Prosecco, but it’s also a hotbed of experimentation and the home of modern skin contact styles.

But neither of Tim’s wines are in any of those categories. First up, a 2015 Vie di Romans ‘Flors de Uis’ Friuliano blend, from Friuli Isonzo ‘Rive Alte’, Veneto. Unique to this area, these blends have a base of the full-bodied and rich Friulano, a native of these parts, with contributions from as many as four other white grapes: Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, and several others can all be featured – often in the same wine! The aim is to bolster the naturally low acidity of the Friulano, while adding complexity to the finished wine.

This wine is even more obscure, comprising a base of Malvasia Istriana, with “Tocai” Friulano and Riesling in supporting roles. It has complex aromas and a rich, textured and full bodied palate. Hard to find, although Tim did buy it in Australia. It’s imported by Enoteca Sydney if you’re curious. A worthy, very different white.

Tim also brought in a Lagrein, another local grape of Italy’s Teutonic northeast, but this wine was purchased over there, in those far off pre-COVID days. Large ain is grown in Australia by a around 40 mostly small producers, notably Cobaw Ridge in Macedon, Victoria. His wines are well worth checking out.

But this 2015 Terlan ‘Porphyr’ Lagrein Riserva, from the Alto Adige (or Südtirol if you prefer the German), is the real deal. Native to the region, Lagrein is a bit hard to categorise: it’s heavier than Pinot Noir but not massive, seems to prefer a coolish climate, has a richness but soft tannins, and an overall elegance that makes me wonder why it isn’t drunk more widely. On this evidence it’s a complete mystery. This wine was amazing, with far more tannins than other examples. These are both grape and barrel, as the Riserva tag indicates at least a year in oak. Made from vines nearly a hundred years old.

Good as it was, the Lagrein didn’t take out wine of the day. That honour went to David on T122, who brought in a delicious wine for his mate John’s birthday dinner. The 2012 Shiraz by Farr, Geelong was a revelation. Occasionally one comes across a wine that from the very first pull of the cork smells incredible. This was such a wine!

After 45 minutes or so in a decanter it was even better. Medium weight shiraz, with hallmarks of Northern Rhône Syrah – white pepper, savoury tannins, medium acidity - but beautiful Aussie fruit. That fruit was in the absolutely pure core of red fruit at the heart of this wine. It kind of walks a line between Côte Rôtie and Barossa. Just beautiful – thanks for sharing David, and well done as this week’s winner!