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Perched on the rolling foothills before stunning snow capped alps, Piedmont in Italy’s northwest is not just a serious wine capital. From white truffles to hazelnuts, it’s got food cred as the birthplace of the Slow Food movement and is a UNESCO World heritage area for its culture of food and drink.
Red or white?
Whilst there’s some white here, the red grapes rule the roost. Chief among them the trio of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. The thread uniting this gang are persistent tannins, savoury red fruit and their elegant perfume.
White: Moscato, Cortese
Red: Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto
Nebbiolo with its floral nose, layers of complex flavour, and fierce tannin and acid, is capable of ageing and evolving over decades. Whether from single vineyards or blends, it’s at its finest in both Barolo and Barbaresco.
For both price and performance Dolcetto is the everyday star, whilst Barbera’s acid and dusty red fruit will appeal to Pinot drinkers.
And you might know Moscato? The village of Asti, its home base, gifted this joyful, floral fizz to the world. Known as frizzante for its slightly sweet, slightly sparkling style.
Rizzi, Marchesi Alfieri, Matteo Correggia, Francesco Rinaldi, Gianfranco Alessandria, GD Vajra, Vietti, Giacomo Conterno, Massolino, Produttori del Barbaresco, Bruno Giacosa, Forteto della Luja
A mere generation ago, there mightn't have been much to say here about Sicilian wine. Apart from Marsala, the reds were mostly sold in bulk to fatten up pale wines from cooler European vintages, or lost in the production of vermouth somewhere.
But with it's special place at the confluence of Mediterranean and North African cultures, there's been a modern day renaissance in wine and food here that is nothing short of a remarkable. Australians have an affinity for this blend of warm Mediterranean climate, migrant culture and vibrant food. Sicily just makes sense.
Red or white?
Red production is dominated by Nero d'Avola, grown in most regions across the island. Ranging from juicy medium bodied cherry fruited styles blended with the lighter Frappato, to sturdy dark, structured and plummy numbers that will appeal to Shiraz lovers.
Nerello Mascalese is exciting for its structured, fragrant and tannic wines, coming on high from the steep volcanic slopes of the still very active Mount Etna.
Surprisingly, there's also plenty of white planted here, chief among them Carricante. Distinctively refreshing with notes of smoke, cut herbs and lemon tonic.
Carricante, Grillo, Nero d'Avola, Frappato, Nerello Mascalese
Occhipinti, COS, Terre Nere, Tenuta Aglaea, Feudo Montoni, Planeta, De Bartoli, Girolamo Russo, Passopisciaro
The Jura is a world unto itself. It's a melting pot of curious whites and reds, many you've probably never heard about. A narrow valley wedged between Burgundy and Switzerland, this is countryside filled with limestone cliffs and hillocks upon which the best vines are planted. These wines are tangy, complex, pure and delicious.
Red or White?
Both. The whites provide a gamut of styles from the fresh and crisp Savagnin and chardonnays topped up (ouillé), to the oxidative, rich and nutty styles left purposely under-filled to encourage flor development. Minerality is a recurrent theme, threading the whites together. The reds can be a little paler in colour but don't be fooled as they carry a lot of flavour.
Ploussard (or Poulsard), Trousseau, Pinot Noir
Most of the whites show saline and hazelnut tones, and if they are developed under flor there are richer yeasty and oyster shell flavours. As for the mountain reds, there is a cooler tannin profile and a lovely show of earthy freshness.
Domaine Pelican, Stephane Tissot, Jean Francois Ganevat, Frederic Puffeney
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Domaine de Pelican Trois Cepages 2019This is the historic red cuve?e from Domaine du Pe?lican. They have been producing it since their inaugural vintage, in 2012. At the time, they decided to vinify together all of their red grapes and thereby created this blend of Pinot Noir (60%), Trousseau (35%) and Poulsard (5%). Hence the name, Trois Ce?pages. The vineyards from which this cuvee is produced are all located on the village of Montigny-lès-Arsures, where the winery also sits. The soil is made of grey and black marls, partially covered with fallen rocks. The vineyards broadly face west, at an elevation of between 300 and 400 metres. Élevage is in burgundy barrels (50%) and foudre.
Light, bright crimson. Juicy and lively with both red and dark-red fruit. Pure and with a light dusting of stoniness. This is a wine that draws you in with its pretty and vibrant fruit and then holds you captive with freshness, super-fine tannins and great length. Charming but not in the least insubstantial. Delicate and intense at the same time. A wine of real beauty. JULIA HARDING, jancisrobinson.com
2019Pinot noir, Poulsard, TrousseauFrance412$115.00 As low as $103.50
French Drinking Dozen - Winter 2022
France is an incredibly diverse country and one that offers a plethora of great drinking at all levels. From its balmy southern shores, warm and verdant interior to the cool limits of its northern hills there is truly something for everyone.
This mixed dozen offers up a selection of some of our favourite producers, regions and varieties as well as up-and-coming winemakers and dark horses you may not heard of. We have tried to include a little snap-shot of the state of play from this wonderful vinous country.
Each month this will be updated as we see great new wines, vintages rolls and the latest and greatest to hit our shores. At 15%-20% off or more, this a great way to explore France offering exceptional value and delicious drinking.
Don't forget to check back often to see the latest version of the French Drinking Dozen.$265.00 Regular Price $330.00