We Aussies take great pleasure in quaffing a nicely chilled glass of Sav Blanc or Chardy on a balmy afternoon. What’s more, it is mighty challenging to let an Australian summer go by without sharing this experience with friends and a Sunday barbeque.
But, as the weather cools, and grilled prawns are replaced with hearty pot roasts at the dinner table, the appeal of a cool, crisp white is somewhat diminished. Undoubtedly, the season’s biting chill commands the soul warming comfort of a rich, satisfying red.
Now, before you routinely reach for a ‘safe’ fruity Shiraz or ‘quaffing’ Merlot, consider what it would be like to proffer a more ‘exotic’ wine when entertaining friends on a frosty afternoon. With Australia producing such a high quality range of tantalising red wines, it seems a shame not to branch out and give a different variety a go.
How would you like to transport your next dinner party to a cosy Trattoria in Tuscany? Simply choose a wine made from Sangiovese and you’ll be on your way to Italy! The red-purple Sangiovese grape produces a medium-bodied, sweet-sour wine, which is quite distinct from the more familiar red varieties like Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sangiovese is the main component of the famous Italian drop, Chianti, which typically presents a nose of sweet fruit and a mystifying palate of savoury cherries. In later life, the wine develops an earthier, herbal aroma and a richer flavour of prunes and dark chocolate.
The good news is that you don’t need to scour your local bottle shop for a Chianti Classico to lend a romantic Tuscan ambiance to your shared winter feast. Outstanding, Australian produced Sangiovese can be found on Aussie shelves for as little as $15.
The variety is increasing being explored in Australia and plantings in the cooler areas of northern Victoria are already producing structurally superior wines. Plantings have also been made in the warmer regions of McLaren Vale in South Australia and Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
This moreish wine is a dinner party’s knight in shining armour, as it effortlessly partners with many food styles. Naturally, it is best enjoyed with a sumptuous Italian meal of Veal, Lasagne, Pizza or Spicy Sausage. Bellisimo!
On the other hand, if you don’t think your next dinner party will survive without the archetypal, big Aussie red on hand, consider enhancing your wine rack with a robust, yet refined, Petit Verdot.
Put aside the conventional Shiraz and seduce your guests with the charms of this prized tipple from the French Bordeaux region. The rich palate of this full-bodied wine will delight even the most devoted of the big red drinkers.
Petit Verdot is valued for its colour, acidity and tannins and, more importantly, its strength and character. It is typically inky dark with spicy berry and vibrant brambly flavours. The wine is wonderfully fragrant and ripe on the nose (think violets and spiced plums) and superbly complements grilled steak, succulent slow-cooked meat and, of course, flavoursome French cheeses.
Petit Verdot is a late ripener, which counts against it in the changeable climate of its native Bordeaux; but in warm, sunny Australia it ripens perfectly, especially in South Australia’s Murray Valley, where it has found its new home. Merci François!
This winter is the perfect time to consider a taste experience outside of the mainstream. Discover a whole new world of tippling pleasure by complementing your warming winter feast with a different variety of red wine. Most importantly, be sure to share this special experience with good friends and convivial winter cheer!
Discover more about these alternative varieties (and many others) here
And you can find Petit Verdot wine reviews here…