The French classics of shiraz, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot make up the big four in Australian winemaking.
It is an obvious trend given that French, and to a smaller extent, Spanish varieties, made up the bulk of the 433 vines that Australia’s grape pioneer, James Busby, brought over with him from a number of different European nurseries in 1832.
The style and variety of wine today’s consumers are drinking is changing.
It is no wonder Australia has seen an increase in imports from countries such as Italy, when our more sophisticated market is crying for food-friendlier wines.
This is where Italian grape varieties planted in the right place and in the right hands can succeed.
Responding to this evolving market is key, especially with constant improvements in the scale of Italian grape varieties and clones available for planting.
An improved cultural link between food and wine encouraged by a saturation of cooking shows on television as well as lifestyle changes has greatly benefited the wine industry and the uptake of Italian grape varieties.
This has been enhanced further by the versatility of these varieties and their obvious link with Italian food.
Approachable and affordable styles such as Foster e Rocco’s Nuovo and Greenstone’s Rosso di Colbo are exposing more people to the suitability of this grape variety on Australian soil with its cherry, mineral and food-friendly aspects.
These sit comfortably alongside the more serious, age-worthy examples such as Vinea Marson in Heathcote and Coriole’s Vita in Mc Laren Vale.