Vinodiversity Australian Wine Newsletter Jan 2011

Happy new year to my new and returning readers to this Australian Wine Newsletter. I hope you find some enjoyable experiences as you try new and different wines throughout 2011. I'm not saying you should forsake old favourites, but make sure you expand your vinous horizons as well. In this issue I discuss my best wines of 2011 and invite you to join me in a wonderful trip to Southern Italy in October 2011.

My wines of 2010

I have put up a page on Vinodiversity describing a few standout wines I tried during 2010. The wines reflect my interest in Italian wines last year and my visit to Rome, Umbria, Puglia and Sicily during September and October.

Lupara white wine
I must admit I was being provocative when I compiled the list but if you want to find lists of Parkerized Australian red wines or insipid Sauvignon blancs please look elsewhere. The abbreviated version is below.
  • Olivers Taranga Fiano
  • Salena Estate Bianco d'Alessano 2010.
  • Lupara made by the Modica di san Giovanni family from Noto, Sicily.
  • Trentham Estate Vermentino 2009
  • Cantine Due Palme Serre Rosso 2008 (made from Susumaniello variety in the Salento IGT right down on the heel of Italy)
  • Casona Nero d'Avola A Sicilian gem.
  • Gracebrook Sagrantino 2008
  • Brown Brothers Tempranillo Graciano 2008
You can read about my best wines of 2010 and add your comments, or even submit your own list there

Wine Course for 2011

In October this year I am attending Terronia a wine course to be held in Puglia Italy. It is being led by Silvestro Silvestori of the Awaiting Table cooking school.

Why Puglia?

Dining hall at Terronia wine school
Puglia, its the heel of Italy, is the most prolific wine producing region in Italy. It makes more wine than all of Australia. In the past Puglia was a major source of ordinary wine that contributed to the European wine lake.

These days individual producers with their own brands are intent on making quality wines, rather than just tossing their grapes into a vat at the local co-op.

Puglian winemakers have dabbled in international varieites (Cabernet, Chardonnay etc) but nowadays they are increasingly using the local varieties, Negroamaro, Uva di Troia, Montepulciano, Aglianico, Primitivo and assorted Malvasia's... not to mention the obscure variety Susumaniello. Whites are made from Trebbiano, Bombino Bianco, Verdeca, Bianco d'Allessano etc.

But the Terronia course will include wines from Basilicata, Calabria, Campagna and Sicily so there will be lots more varietal wines to experience.

Why Silvestro?

I attended Silvestro's Cooking School in October 2010. He has great passion for his region, its food, wine and olive oil. I know at first hand his organisational and teaching skills and that his command of English and Italian are first class. I have seen the venue for the wine school at Spongano, near Lecce - it's a wonderful castle being renovated from a 17th century olive oil factory. It has wonderful dining halls and a huge rambling private orchard-garden for our use.

Why should you come to Puglia

Tasting wine away from food becomes clinical and ultimately a chore rather than a pleasure. The Terronia school with Silvestro in charge will allow us to appreciate lots of wine in a regional context. We will try wines such as Aglianico, Nero d'Avola, Vermentino and Fiano that are already making an impact in Australia, plus plenty of others that you probably have never heard of. Southern Italian varieties will have a large impact on Australian wine over the coming decade. This course will allow you as a winemaker, marketer or enthusiast to find out about them in the most convivial atmosphere, right in their natural habitat.

See this Promo video of the Awaiting Table cooking school and you will get a feel for how Silvestro's wine school might run. I highly recommend the cooking school if you can't make it to the wine school. Just make sure you tell Silvestro about Darby's recommendation.

Join me in Puglia in October 2011.

See more info here or reply to this newsletter if you have any questions.

If you are planning wine or food related travel in Australia or elsewhere I heartily recommend the services of Karen Ridge at Food Wine Travel/


If you haven't got your copy of Vinodiversity the book you can order one via this page.

I have just received new stocks of De Long's Wine Grape Varietal Table, and the new Wine Map of Italy

Wine merchant partners

On my Vinodiversity site I have links to two wine merchants. Why do I have two wine merchant partners?

There are two strong reasons to buy wine on the internet.

  1. You can get wine at excellent prices, delivered to your door.
  2. Or you can get rare wines that are unavailable elsewhere
For the first reason I recommend you use Winemarket. They have a wide range of wines (and beer) at good prices. There are familiar brands and a few from left field with a few imports thrown in. They also have a simple and cheap delivery plan for virtually anywhere in Australia. A good way to stock up on your supplies after the great holiday depletion. Give them a try.

For the second case I strongly recommend SecretVines. They are not into discounting, but they can emphasise value for money wines from small producers and unusual varieties. For example their latest offerings include Vermentino, Primitivo, and a Barbera-Cabernet blend. They also have some enticing extra offers.

Vinodiversity at Fed Square

For those who are lucky enough to live in Melbourne, or smart enough to visit this fair city, I can recommend a visit to the monthly Wine Showcase at Federation Square.

On 2 and 3 February the featured region will be Yarra Valley and Gippsland. I am usually there with a stall. Drop by and have a chat.

The showcases are held on the first Wednesday and Thursday of each month except January. Details here

More news at Australian Wine Blog

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Vinodiversity's Australian wine merchant partners are Different Drop

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.