November 06, 2020

A Couple Of Whites & Reds To Put The Spring Into Your Step!

We thought with spring upon us in all it’s glory, let’s have a close look at two whites and two reds produced from grape varieties you may never have heard about. They are fun alternatives to what you might normally reach for, and we are quite confident they will have you seeking out more of these dark (and white) horses!

White Grape No. 1 - Aligoté

Aligoté (pronounced a-lay-go-tay) is a white grape variety that is most prominent in the Burgundy region of France. It is often referred to there as “the other white grape” as Chardonnay rules the roost. The best examples come from the Bourgogne Aligot
é appellation and more specifically, Bouzeron in the northern Côte Chalonnaise. It is also used in many of the examples of the regions sparkling wines known as Crémant de Bourgogne. The grape generally produces lovely crisp, citrusy wines with hints of florals and herbs making it an ideal wine for springtime dishes.

2020 Mallaluka Aligot
é (King Valley, Victoria)
Yes, the grapes spiritual home is northern France but we just love this example from here in Australia. It’s produced by the talented father and son duo John and Sam Leyshon who are based in Yass, New South Wales. They have sourced this fruit from over the border in Victoria where it was pressed (whole bunches) and filtered, before the juice was shipped carefully up to the winery in Yass. It was then fermented with natural/indigenous yeasts, 40% in one year old French oak barriques and the remainder in stainless steel tanks. Once fermented, only a small amount of sulphur was used at bottling to preserve.
A delicate floral and slightly flinty nose, echoed on the palate and joined by green pear, citrus, pie crust (adding some texture) and for me, a lick of spice (almost Grüner Veltliner-like). All these lovely layers are carried through the palate by fantastic acidity, to a clean, long finish. Fantastic with pesto pasta or a white clam sauce. In essence, dishes that would usually point towards an Italian white. It would match equally as well with peri peri prawns.

White Grape No. 2 - Carricante

Carricante (Pronounced Kahr-ree-kahn-teh) is a white grape variety indigenous to Sicily, Italy. It is the predominant variety used in the Etna DOC. Here it is grown with success on the upper reaches of the Etna Volcano, the eastern slope generally producing the top examples. Similar to Burgundy’s “Grand Cru”, “Etna Bianco Superiore” must contain a minimum of 80% Carricante (often blended with Cataratto and Minella) to obide by the designation rules. The wines are unmistakably saline but beautifully balanced by citrus, lovely acidity, herbaceousness and stunning minerality. They are generally reasonably low in alcohol which makes them fantastic for lunchtime consumption!.

2018 Torre Mora Scalunera Etna Bianco (Etna, Sicily)
Made predominantly with organically farmed Carricante (90%) and Cataratto (10%) this wine transports you to Sicily on a sunny day. It is elegant, classy and bone dry, showing plenty of volcanic minerals and sea spray. The fruit component is most certainly present with layers of citrus, apple and white peach. The finish is nice and long with some very pleasant citrus bitterness and a hint of fennel. A delight with food, think grilled squid/calamari with lemon and garlic, firm flesh fish on the barbecue, seafood/veg pasta or fried zucchini flowers.

Red Grape No. 1 - Frappato

Frappato (Pronounced frap-ah-toe) is a red grape variety mostly grown on the south eastern coast of Sicily, Italy. As a varietal, it produces light bodied, fruity wines and is sometimes blended with Nero d’Avola to add some complexity. In fact, Frappato is most commonly seen as a component of Sicily’s only DOCG wine, Cerasuolo Di Vittoria, the other component being Nero d’Avola. It can also be blended with Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. Frappato has lovely aromas of juicy red berries and spice which can also be found on the palate, along with pomegranate and dried strawberry wrapped up in good acidity.

2019 Cos Frappato (Sicily, Italy)
100% organically farmed Frappato, produced with old style artisanal methods by three school friends initially experimenting with some fruit from their parents vineyards! No oak is used here, just cement tanks and amphora. This wine has a beautiful and intense nose at the same time. It is vibrant on the palate with lovely light red fruits like wild strawberry, raspberry and a touch of orange rind. There is also a fantastic medley of spice, leather and earth, and it finishes with a gentle dusting of tannins. Only 11.5% in alcohol so really good with dishes like roasted red capsicum and semi-dried tomato bruschetta, herbed roast chicken or tuna steaks grilled and topped with a sun-dried tomato and olive salsa.

Red Grape No. 2 - Zweigelt

Zweigelt (Pronounced tsveye-galt) may look a little scary to pronounce but it is as genial to wine novices as it is friendly to food. It is the most widespread red wine variety in Austria and can be found in suitable sites in all it’s wine producing regions. Medium-light in body (it’s actually a cross between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent) and often bright, tart and fruity, with soft tannins and good acidity making it a fantastic spring/summer picnic red.

2018 Pittnauer Zweigelt Heideboden (Burgenland, Austria)
The fruit is hand-harvested off the organically farmed Heideboden Vineyard in Burgenland and produced in a low-intervention style, so no new oak and only a small amount of sulphur at bottling. Bursting with sour cherry and red berries on the nose, leading to a soft palate layered with raspberry, dark cherry, spice and a touch of pepper. True to the variety, it shows good acidity and supple tannins. This versatile wine can be paired with foods such as barbecued chicken, hamburgers, cold meats, grilled steaks and even tomato based fish dishes.

Walnut tree in Pittnauer (Credit: Pittnauer)