We're known for championing two grape varieties: On the white side of things, we craft Fiano - well, we craft 6 different Fiano's - but on the red side, there is one grape we love more than any other (to make at least) and that's Nero D'avola - we just call it Nero though. In it's native Italian, it translates to "black grape of Avola", A town on the proverbial football of Italy - Sicily - where the variety is commonplace and grown all over the island. But why do we make it? Why are we such fervent champions of it - especially when there is a whole gamut of incredible grape varieties planted around the country?
First off: It's delicious. At the end of the day, while we are dedicated to making the most sustainable wine we can, we're also dedicated to making the most drinkable, site expressive and enjoyable wines we can - we wouldn't make it if it wasn't flat out delicious. If you haven't had Nero before, here is the best-written word expression that we can muster. Think about Pinot Noir: A lighter-bodied red, extremely aromatic and can be crafted in a variety of different ways, more structural and serious versions like those out of Burgundy, or lighter, chillable, quaffers like something that comes out of our own Adelaide Hills. Now add a nice dose of sour cherry-like acidity, an elegant layer of spice, and a juicy-ness that's more reminiscent of a grape variety like Gamay from its native Beajoulais - if you've had that before... It's why we got psyched on it in the first place when Brendan and Laura made a trip to Italy and tried the incredible stuff from producers like Occhipinti, COS and Donnafugata.
That belief in a grape variety only heightens when you think about the climatic appropriateness in Australia. Sicily is a dry place, only averaging around 300-400mm of rain a year, much like a lot of Australia - a pretty similar average rainfall as somewhere like our own Adelaide Hills. Temperatures in summer sit around the Early to Mid 30s and in winter it hovers around 15 degrees. Again, not too dissimilar to here. Checks out, right? If it can be crafted in a manner that's a delightful drink in the place that it comes from, then a place that feels climatically similar that doesn't have a native grape variety should craft a similar style wine right? At least that's our belief.
But the thing we love most of all about Nero D'avola it is one of the most incredibly drought-resistant varieties we've ever come across. We deal with a large amount of Riverland Nero D'avola - see our Fresh A.F. and our Halcyon Days - one of the more arid wine regions in the world, an average rainfall of around 250mm but over the last few years, it's seen dramatically less than that, and through it all, Nero D'avola has thrived with pretty much no irrigation. So much so that it's ripening later than some of our Clare Valley reds - which has us equally baffled and hopeful for the future, as water becomes more expensive and more scarce.
But on the winemaking front, it's one of the most exciting varieties for us to work with! It's incredibly expressive of its place, Halcyon Days from Barmera is a perfect light red built for chillability, the sour-cherry acidity work in harmony mind-blowingly well with Clare Valley's eucalypt herbaceousness for our Mallee Gambit, and a long, cool ripening - at least by Nero's standards - in the Adelaide Hill's provides a more seductive and rich style of wine for winter drinking with Pipe Dream. It covers all our red wine cravings and then some. It's just a mesmerisingly exciting wine for us, from vineyard to the winery and hopefully, to your glass.