An Italian variety that you’ve never heard of? It’s got to be a Chalmers wine. And it’s another brilliant drink crafted by Bart van Olphen, a riot of spice, wild berries and floral notes on a slippery but taut midweight frame.
This is a fascinating tangle of dark wild berries – some quite ripe, some on the sour side – and a brush of soft herbs and dusky florals, with a dusting of brown spice, white pepper, coffee grounds and amaro herbs, touching on liquorice. The palate dips into preserved cherries, with those layers of spice and herby things adding plenty of detail, the wine carrying in a sinewy way, tannins and acidity wound into a viscous texture that is mouth coating but tightly arranged.
Themes of this wine
A relatively rare grape even in its native Friuli, Italy, schioppettino has been slowly pulled back from the brink of extinction after a low point in the middle of the 20th century. Today, there are some 150 hectares in Italy, ensuring its survival but hardly making it a household name. It is characterised by peppery aromatics, mixed with red fruits and red and blue floral notes. Generally midweight, schioppettino can be nonetheless quite fruit intense while holding bright acidity.
Heathcote is rugged country, a tinder-dry landscape of rusty iron-rich soils littered with sculpturally stacked granitic boulders. It’s mythical territory, ancient land, and home to some of the world’s oldest viticultural soils. But as a wine region, it is a relatively young one, which saw an explosion of growth in the 90s. Shiraz led the charge, and it became Victoria’s answer to the Barossa or McLaren Vale, producing wines of significant power. But Heathcote is very different to both those places, and it is not that easily defined. Today, shiraz finds myriad expressions, and many other varieties are taking a firm grip, especially those suited to dry and warm climes.