In 2016 I decided to test some of the theories that I had developed about Italian grape varieties in Australia and I purchased my first tonne of grapes; sangiovese from the Heathcote region. My intention was to use some techniques that I hoped would create a wine that was fresh, crunchy, textural but above all, delicious! I was so thrilled and surprised with the results, that I decided to continue in the 2017 vintage, and thus the Vino Intrepido project was born.
The first two vintages were documented on my YouTube channel, and you can see the playlist below. Hopefully it should explain my processes for all the wines thus far, but if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch. I’m excited to say that the first three 2019 wines are NOW AVAILABLE, but there are also some wines from the 2017 and 2018 vintage still available and you can find out about them below! Contact me now on firstname.lastname@example.org!
2017 ‘This Little Piggy’ Riverland Vermentino ($23.99) – NOW HALF PRICE FOR 12 BOTTLES
I chose vermentino for my first white variety/wine as I feel it is one of the most interesting grapes in Italy and can produce great diversity in style depending on where & how it is grown & made. My particular interest in this variety in Australia is to attempt to produce a fresh vibrant wine that is more textured and saline, a style of vermentino I love particularly from Sardinia.
Two tonnes from Ashley Ratcliff (Ricca Terra Farms) were split in half between a whole-bunch press and a de-stem. The pressed juice was fermented in two mature barriques or stainless steel tank, whereas the de-stemmed tonne was split into two skin-contact ferments, one being pressed after ferment and one an additional ten days on skins. The skin-contact components were placed into barriques, and after each component completed malolactic fermentation they were blended and bottled in September 2017.
The two most important white varieties in the Liguria region of Italy are vermentino and pigato. While these two grapes are somewhat distinct they are in fact the same grape, meaning pigato is a synonym for vermentino. The name of this wine is a play on this synonym, and was co-created by label designer Brad Lucas and myself.
2018 ‘This Little Piggy’ Adelaide Hills Vermentino ($27.99) – NOW AVAILABLE!!
For the second vintage of Vermentino I was very lucky to get some fruit from the Amadio vineyard in Kersbrook. Fruit was harvested a bit earlier, and the winemaking was very similar to the 2017 iteration. Half of the fruit was de-stemmed and spent 25 days on skins, while the other half was pressed with one barrel ferment and the rest in stainless steel. One of the main differences this year was the wine was stopped going through full malolactic fermentation to preserve more of the fresher characters. The wine spent longer on lees and was bottled much later, this time in January of the following year.
2019 ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ Mornington Peninsula Pinot Grigio ($27.99)
OK, I know what you’re thinking. “Another Pinot Grigio? Really? How many more do we need? They’re pretty much all the same anyway!” Whilst I don’t completely disagree with such sentiments, there are a few regions in Italy where they not only take this grape seriously, but they make some seriously incredible wines from it. My goal was to make something a bit more than your average pinot grigio white wine, and I hope I’ve achieved that.
About three tonnes got harvested with good ripeness early in the morning in Merricks, and once they arrived at the winery were sent straight to the press. The juice was kept cool to help stabilise and separate the solids, then transferred to one of two mature barriques and the majority into a stainless steel tank for fermentation. Malolactic fermentation was avoided to keep plenty of crunchy freshness, offsetting the richness of the fruit. The wine was blended and bottled at the beginning of August 2019.
In discussion with my wife Victoria what I should call this addition to the Vino Intrepido range, we discussed the grey part of the variety’s name, and started thinking about grey animals. The wolf was one of the first that came to mind, majestic and yet dangerous, and the term ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ stood out for me, as this pinot grigio is probably not what you’d expect, packing more punch than you might have become accustomed to.
2019 ‘Straight Jakot’ Mornington Peninsula Friulano ($30.99) – NEW WINE!!
Friulano is a fairly marginal variety not only in Australia but also in Italy; it’s pretty much only found in the Friuli region. Probably the first region where the variety was planted in Australia was the Mornington Peninsula, thanks to the pioneering work of Kathleen Quealy and Kevin McCarthy. It was in fact Kathleen who introduced me to her close friend Joe Vaughan who is one of the few growers of a range of Italian varieties in the region. I was excited to test out a theory that I had that Friulano could work as an aromatic and textural wine.
Just over a tonne was harvested early in the morning towards the end of vintage 2019. After bringing the fruit back to the winery we put it in the cool-room for two days of cold-soaking to lend a bit of texture whilst preserving the aromatics. After pressing and settling roughly 60% was transferred to mature barriques and the rest to stainless steel for spontaneous fermentation, followed by elevage on lees for four months until blending and bottling without fining or filtration.
The unique Rutherglen fortified wine Tokay wasn’t the only victim of Hungary joining the European Union and receiving protection of it’s wine region Tokaji. Previously in the Friuli region Friulano was known as Tocai, and across the border in Slovenia it was known as Tokaj. On the Italian side of the border they officially changed the name to Friulano, but some producers – particularly on the Slovenian side – started referring to the grape as Jakot, merely a reversal of the former name. This is where I got the name Straight Jakot from, as it is 100% Friulano.
2019 ‘The Sharpest Thorn’ Heathcote Sangiovese Rosé ($27.99) – NEW WINE!!
Leading up to the 2018 vintage my intention was to make a wine from Pinot Grigio with some skin contact to end up with a blush (rosé) wine, but at the eleventh hour decided make a white wine. The fact that I made a white wine from Pinot Grigio should give you an indication as to how well the was received, so I had to go back to the drawing board. For the 2019 vintage I decided to make my first rosé at the encouragement (insistence) of my Mum and younger sister, and I decided to make it from Sangiovese, not only my favourite rosé variety from Italy but anywhere.
I wanted to pick the fruit a little earlier to preserve more natural acidity and freshness. The maceration was literally the time it took me to drive the fruit back from the vineyard to the winery, return the rental truck, and come back to send the grapes to press, all up about 4.5 hours. After juice settling two mature red barriques were filled and the rest to stainless steel for fermentation. The reason I love Sangiovese as a rosé variety is that you can get a lovely pale slightly bronze colour, plenty of fresh red fruits but also a dry somewhat savoury expression.
There is a saying that goes something like, “the most beautiful rose can have the sharpest thorn”. Much like the name for my Pinot Grigio, the image I was attempting to convey was that though this is a lovely pretty and bright rosé it is dry and has a bit of bite to it. It also means that no matter how perfect something may seem there is always another side to it.