THE OLD COUN­TRY

SUB­TLER ITAL­IAN VA­RI­ETALS ARE STEAL­ING THE SHOW AT THIS ADE­LAIDE HILLS WIN­ERY.

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - DRINKING -

There is change hap­pen­ing in Aus­tralian wine and its pace is quick­en­ing by the day. In vine­yards around the coun­try the old guard is un­der threat, but not in a bad way. Shi­raz, chardon­nay and sau­vi­gnon blanc used to rule the shelves and the wine lists, but no longer, as the al­ter­na­tive va­ri­eties make their pres­ence felt. In many vine­yards dot­ted around Aus­tralia our best wine­mak­ers are go­ing off-piste from the well known French grape va­ri­eties and into the hun­dreds of oth­ers that flour­ish around the world.

And while some winer­ies stick to the tried and true there are oth­ers that go in, boots and all, plant­ing nu­mer­ous va­ri­eties, test­ing the wa­ter and the land to mea­sure their suitabil­ity for lo­cal cli­mates and ex­per­i­ment­ing with a range of wine styles.

At Mac­cles­field in the Ade­laide Hills, south of Mount Barker, Longview Vine­yard is very much in the lat­ter camp. Here a fruit salad of grape va­ri­eties can be found, from the clas­sics of shi­raz, caber­net sau­vi­gnon, sau­vi­gnon blanc and chardon­nay to pinot gri­gio, grüner velt­liner, bar­bera and neb­bi­olo.

There is a dis­tinctly Ital­ian edge to the em­pha­sis of Longview Vine­yard to­wards the great wines of Italy, par­tic­u­larly with those last two grapes. And it comes as no sur­prise that the cur­rent cus­to­di­ans of the prop­erty, the Saturno fam­ily, have strong Ital­ian her­itage, with liquor al­most run­ning through their veins. Brothers Peter and Mark Saturno, who over­see Longview with their sis­ter Kate Wal­ters, were born in a pub and spent much of their early years work­ing in the bar or bot­tleshop and hear­ing the sto­ries of wine­mak­ers who dropped in to visit. This gave Mark in par­tic­u­lar a love of hos­pi­tal­ity; he worked in restau­rants in New York be­fore re­turn­ing home to the fam­ily busi­ness, which per­haps in­flu­ences the food-friendly and gen­er­ous na­ture of the Longview range.

Th­ese wines are not in­ter­na­tional copy­cats, how­ever, but a very Aus­tralian and in some cases a unique take on th­ese clas­sic va­ri­etals. Bar­bera is blended with cool-cli­mate shi­raz, which makes for a mor­eish, spicy, sub­tly fra­grant and juicy red wine with an im­me­di­ate, Beau­jo­lais-like ap­peal. A more se­ri­ous bar­bera, aged in large, old French oak pun­cheons, will hope­fully be re­leased next year.

It is with neb­bi­olo that Longview does much of its finest work, clearly with plenty of un­der­ly­ing pas­sion. “Oh yes. Neb­bi­olo is by far our favourite wine to drink and the fact that nebb was planted here was a mas­sive fac­tor in our de­ci­sion to buy the vine­yard,” Mark says.

There is no doubt that his pas­sion brings with it sig­nif­i­cant re­wards. Neb­bi­olo is a no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult grape va­ri­ety to get right: la­bo­ri­ous in the vine­yard, very picky in its site suitabil­ity and only sub­tly fruity, re­quir­ing great at­ten­tion and care in the win­ery. Longview has some of the old­est plant­ings in the coun­try, dat­ing from 1995, with up to four ex­pres­sions avail­able at any one time. While some ear­lier re­leases lacked well de­fined va­ri­etal char­ac­ter, the last hand­ful of neb­bi­olo re­leases have seen great leaps for­ward, in two very dif­fer­ent styles.

At one end of the spec­trum is the dry rosato. Very Eu­ro­pean in style it man­ages to dis­play the pret­tier el­e­ments of fine neb­bi­olo while re­tain­ing ex­cep­tional drink­a­bil­ity, mak­ing for a unique Aus­tralian rosé. Longview also has a clas­sic and tra­di­tion­ally Ital­ian ris­erva neb­bi­olo, long bot­tle- and oak-aged in style and made for the cel­lar al­though al­ready drink­ing beau­ti­fully. Dis­tinctly savoury, it is an ad­mirable ex­am­ple of this va­ri­etal that will quite eas­ily live for a decade or more, as do Italy’s finest.

While non-tra­di­tional grape va­ri­etals are a great suc­cess at Longview, one of the lead­ing wines in re­cent years has been their clas­si­cally styled Mac­cles­field sin­gle-vine­yard chardon­nay. Ade­laide Hills is one of Aus­tralia’s lead­ing re­gions for the mod­ern lo­cal, al­most Bur­gun­dian style of chardon­nay, Longview be­ing out­stand­ing at leaner, acid-driven wines. The Mac­cles­field chardon­nay with its wild yeast fer­ment, ex­tended lees age­ing and bar­rel fer­ment char­ac­ters il­lus­trates not only a great un­der­stand­ing of the clas­sics but also a light­ness in the wine­maker’s touch, al­low­ing grape va­ri­ety and lo­cal con­di­tions to come to the fore.

Man­ag­ing such a wide va­ri­ety of grapes and styles and ad­ding Aus­tralian flair is no easy task. The Saturno fam­ily does an ad­mirable job in keep­ing all th­ese styles true to form with sig­nif­i­cant qual­ity and there is a strong sense that they will only get bet­ter with time.

W

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