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A taste of Italian heritage in Adelaide hills

- Featured Image

As with many grape growers and wine makers in South Australia, the roots of Amadio Wines can be traced back to the “Old Boot” in the Mediterranean.

These Italian pioneers helped shape primary production in Australia, and it is Giovanni Amadio that I have to thank for making his journey to Australia and having the foresight to grow grapes.

Mr Amadio arrived in 1927, with his wife and son joining him two years later.

Like many Italians, homemade wine was an essential way of life for Giovanni. His neighbors enjoyed his lighter, Mediterranean- style concoction, and commercial production soon ensued, using fruit from leased vineyards. He registered the name “Dry Table Wine”, which stood out at the time amid a sea of heavy fortified sweet wines.

 His son Gaetano Amadio, a builder by trade, felt the pull of the vine and set up large grape growing area in the Adelaide Hills. This formed the basis of what are now known as the Kersbrook vineyards in South Australia that supply many other winemakers. The Chain of Ponds label was formed and became highly awarded, before being sold in the early 2000s.

Giovanni’s grandson Danielle, whose fingernails were smitten with the fertile soil of the Adelaide Hills, also felt a strong yearning for the grape, and he set about defining his own label under the well-respected family name Amadio Wines.

The enthusiastic team is backed up by his wife, who handles the bookwork, leaving Danielle is free to create and guide his vinous journey.

My attention was drawn to Amadio wines by the many varietals grown. In addition to the well-known grapes such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, there are heritage Italian varietals such as Sangiovese, Nebiollo, Pinot Grigio, Lagrain, Barberra and Arneis. The shooting stars of this group include Sagrantino and Aglianico.

Danielle’s vigour and drive is evident in the fact that 65 per cent of production is exported. He has been nominated for many business and entrepreneur awards.

The use of the Italian varieties is not necessarily a sentimental family journey, but reflects a keen sense of new directions in what drinkers want to consume.

Wines tasted

2011 Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio – pale yellow, with tinges of green. The nose is a basket of honeyed stonefruits, lime and hints of straw and minerality. The palate is on the Gris side of this style, meaning a full mouth feel and slight sweetness, but balanced by some abundant natural acids. Have with a green mango and scallop Asian aalad.

2007 D3/V14 Adelaide Hills Merlot – the code in the name indicates the specific Merlot clone used by the family vineyard. The wine is getting touches of brown against a deep garnet background. The nose is a maturing raft of red plums, spices, and prunes. The secondary tobacco and twig essences are equally satisfying. The palate washes over the anterior and mid sections with integrated fruit tannin and acid structure. In a blind tasting it smacks of a Shiraz with some Cabernet elements. A truly great Australian Merlot that sits well with an old-fashioned rare roast beef. Drink now, as it is already six years old, but will cellar for another five years.

2011 Adelaide Hills Aglianico – this southern Italian grape has found a new home. It has a bright garnet hue with a depth of color. The nose has cherry and spiced raspberries notes. The aromas change over time, and become more intense on the darker fruit range, and there are background hits of earthy, twiggy aromas. While juicy in its palate, the acidity is intense but balanced.  I liked this with my duck ragout pasta and, while it can be enjoyed in its youth, it will be a fascinating wine in three to five years.

2011 Adelaide Hills Sagratino – another southern Italian cousin. Similar colors to the Aglianico, and looks lively. The nose is a little more on the stewed fruits end of things, with winter berries running into a deeper brooding plum range. The palate is mid-weighted, but has an anterior juicy burst of quality fruits, with some acid and structured tannins. I had with a rare steak and horseradish sauce. Cellar for three to five years. Very enjoyable wine on many levels.