6 Grape Varieties We'd Love to See in Australia
There is a vast world of wine out there, a deep chasm waiting for us to fall in. Regions you never even knew growing grapes, in far reaching corners of the globe. In a world where international travel is restricted, it's the closest you'll get to being able to taste a place, a culture and a people. Seriously, from Canadian Ice Wine/Eiswein to Lebanese Cabernet. In these lesser known nooks of vinous history, there might be varieties you've never heard of, or even varieties that get overlooked in renown regions - Hello Aligoté!
In Australia [for better or worse] we have a bit of a blank canvas when it comes to Vitis vinifera. We've always prided ourselves on our innovations whilst still adoring the classics. We've started to see a shift away from the die hard affection for Shiraz, with a lot of wine drinkers beginning to shift towards varieties like Grenache instead - maybe it's the ability for Grenache to retain freshness while still providing the alcohol levels of a Barossa Shiraz without the inky, extracted body.
For us, we love to see it...as in the ground, Grenache is a variety that thrives under the pressure of less water - it's a lot easier to dry farm Grenache than it is Shiraz in Australia, as it's what we call isohydric. There's 100 year old dry grown, bush vine Grenache in the Riverland - how cool is that!
Grenache is only the beginning of the story - we want to see more varieties like this in Australia. Over the last few years we've seen the rise of 'Alternative Varieties' such as Tempranillo, Montepulciano, Vermentino - just to name a few we don't make yet. These seem to adapt better to most climates in Australia than a lot of the more popular varieties like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. But there are plenty of varieties that we don't have, that we'd love to see here. We're lucky to have a range of businesses that import new and exciting varieties, so we're not going to mention the ones that are currently in quarantine - yes we're talking about Nerello Mascalese - but here's a handful of varieties that we love, and would love to see in good ol' Australian soil!
Ah yes! One of our favourites, and an underrated variety on the wonderful isle of Sicily, generally looked over in favour of Nerello Mascalese and Nero D'Avola (we're guilty of this of course). A beautifully aromatic, light and ethereal variety that thrives on the volcanic soils of Mt Etna, proving that you can have beautiful light bodied wines from warm regions with varieties that suit the climate. If you're looking a have a gander at some, COS and Occhipinti are the absolute benchmark - COS's example won't cost you an arm or a leg either!
Hondarribi Zuri (Txakoli)
We love Txakoli, we've made no secret about this - we were inspired by this for our Funkworks project Txak Atak - but we can't really call it Txakoli. Well, we probably can't call it Txakoli in Australia, but why don't we have a crack at growing it's principle white grape Hondarribi Zuri? A bit of a mouthful, but a delicious grape suited for this zippy aperitivo style wine that would be perfectly suited to our wetter, cooler or at least moderate climates; Adelaide Hills, Margaret River, Tasmania. Txakoli is probably one of our summer smashers, wouldn't it just be great if it was grown in our own backyard?
Oooft, who doesn't like bright, delicious, chewy red wines - Bobal covers all bases! From Utiel-Requena in Valencia (yeah - like the oranges!), this is Beaujolais on Beaujolais budget - like 10-15 years ago when you could get Cru for peanuts. Beautiful and purple fruited, excellent chilled, this is your new party wine - and climatically it makes so much sense here. It's home is as brutal as it is here - long hot summers, frosty, hail-ridden winters - we could stick it pretty much anywhere and it'd thrive! McLaren Vale and Clare Valley - I reckon even the Riverland could punch out some delicious Bobal. Pasion de Bobal is delectable or splash out and grab some Partida Creus BB.
Going back to Etna - this time for Bianco! Carricante is their staple white grape of choice for their DOC Etna Bianco, and it produces a style for the Chablis lovers amongst us - which is hopefully ALL OF US. Texture, acid, flint and plenty of flavour, so scrumptious and so refreshing. Let's face it, even in our coldest regions we can't produce Chardonnay that feels like top tier Chablis or top tier Burgundy though, we can punch pretty high - it's just not cold enough. How bout we have a crack at this? Wouldn't it be nice.
Coda di Volpe
We need a cool new variety for some skinsy numbers - and Coda di Volpe is from our favourite Italian region of Campania, where the legendary Cantina Giardino is producing it in some of the worlds more coveted styles of amber/orange wine. We've proven that Fiano is perfectly suited not only to Australia climatically, but culturally too - it only makes sense that it would also work for a swathe of other Campanian varieties. Greco is on the upswing in Australia, why not Coda di Volpe? Change my mind. I dare you.
Okay all of these have been niche but this is super friggin' niche. An ancient and super rare Provence variety that's only really found in a few wines around the world - namely Clos Cibonne in their world class Rosé - seriously, it's one of the best rosé's in the world - fight me. But it's so delicious that surely in a super Mediterranean climate like Provence, it should translate well here. We probably can't help ourselves - we'd love to see it. Even if it's too warm to make Rose, we could make some really good red wine from it; Clos Cibonne make one and proclaim it Beaujolais of the south. Beaj-ozzie sounds pretty good to me!