What to drink this week
The annual Australia Day tasting is a great opportunity to take stock of this most dynamic of wine countries as the New Year starts rolling. This year, the trend that struck me most was the developing love affair between Australian wine growers and Italian grape varieties.
Why you should be drinking them
This relationship makes perfect sense as the climate in many of Australia’s best wine regions is closer to that of southern Italy than central or south-western France: pretty hot and dry in the summer. Southern Italian white grapes seem to do especially well in Australia and not only is this a welcome break from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (the latter is rarely successful in Australia, in my view), but possibly the start of something significant.
What to drink
I’m not surprised the southern Italian white grape Fiano stands out—i’ve long been a Fiano fan, admiring this variety’s combination of full-bodied vinosity, decent acidity and scent of dry grass and herbs. Fox Gordon Princess Fiano 2015 (below, £17.95; www.leaand sandeman.co.uk) has a fascinating aroma that reminds me—in a good sense—of cheese straws, with lots of body and fresh acidity. Hancock & Hancock Mclaren Vale Fiano 2016 (£12.95; www.halifax winecompany.com) is in a different style, cleaner and more modern, with floral aromas. Laissez Faire Frankland River Fiano 2014 (£23.95; www.bbr.com), from one of the rising stars of Western Australia, Larry Cherubino, is richer and more complex, with grapefruit, lime and lanolin notes on the nose and a full, waxy flavour. Lovely stuff.
The climate down under is just right for Italian grapes, discovers Harry Eyres