At the Federation Square Wine Showcase in Melbourne this week another blow was stuck to the declining fortunes of Chardonnay.
The People's Choice award for best white wine went to an relatively unknown wine called Saverro made by new entrant Soumah. The wine is made from the Savagnin variety which was established in Australia under the name of Albarino, we now know it is not Albarino but also that it makes very good wine.
Why is it significant that the wine got the accolades this show?
The voters were ordinary wine drinkers, well perhaps a bit more knowledgeable and adventurous than most. They were not wine judges restricted by a firm paradigm as to how a wine was supposed to comply to a style. Secondly the competition was Chardonnay from one of Australia's premium cool climate regions.
Soumah is a new operation in the Yarra Valley, you may not have heard about them in the past but you will hear more of them in the future.
Not in the short term. But it is one of four white varieties will certainly be taking large slabs of market share form Chardy and Sauvignon Blanc over the next few years. Vermentino is the most promising of them, but there is also Arneis and Fiano which are quickly becoming established. Grillo from Sicily is my long term prediction as well.
I've just had a trip to the King Valley where I caught up with a few friends and tasted some wines. The countryside is looking gorgeous at the moment. Plenty of green fields and lush vineyards.
Among the most impressive wines were some 2009 and 2010 vintage Arneis from several winemakers. After about a decade of experience by Australian winemakers we are seeing some great Arneis wine, and this variety is really starting to catch on. The better wines have crisp citrusy fruit up front, plenty of mouthfeel texture and a clean crisp finish. They are probably best consumed in their youth but if you have the patience some of the more acid wines will keep for a few years and mellow out.
You can read more about Arneis including a list of Australian wineries using it on Vinodiversity's Arneis page
I recently attended Vermentino and Sardines the Musical. Well it wasn't really a musical it was roadshow/tasting/food pairing event put on by wine writer Max Allen and nine producers of this wonderful wine. The Melbourne lunchtime event featured an impressive array of wines accompanied by simply grilled sardines - a powerful combination for lunch, for tapas style drinks after work or as a first course for a larger dinner.
What impressed me was that nine wine labels were able to cooperate to push this message about this most impressive new variety. They could have waited for a decade or three for Wine Australia to wake up but they took action. In tough times for small wineries every little bit of marketing helps.
There were rumours of a similar event being held for Sagrantino...watch this space.
The following video is a short intro to the wine school. It will give you some idea about Silvestro's love of his region, its food and wines.
This second video is for Silvestro's Cooking School
If you are into RSS you can get a feed via Australian wine news feed
They have an excellent range of alternative varietal wines from small winemakers in less known regions, as well as some from the superstars of the alternative wine scene. Prices are fair and freight is reasonable, it is even waived on larger orders.