Rassegna Stampa

19 Aprile 2018

Teroldego triumph

It all started with a crush. A wine crush, of course: purely professional admiration.

Back in the 1990s, when he was working at Cape Mentelle in Margaret River in Western Australia, winemaker John Durham read about Elisabetta Foradori, the charismatic young owner of a family wine estate in Trentino, northeast Italy, who was helping to revive the fortunes of a local red grape variety called teroldego. The landscape was dramatic: vineyards planted in valleys among the towering peaks of the Dolomites. And the wines sounded enticing: dark colour, intense fruit, fresh acidity.

Durham was intrigued. So, a few years later, on a trip to Europe, he visited Foradori. The winemakers obviously clicked, because Foradori gave Durham 10 teroldego cuttings to take back to Australia with him.

Durham did the right thing, put his precious gift through the due quarantine process, and three years later was given eight of his 10 cuttings, which he propagated on his block east of the Margaret River township.

Unfortunately, by the time those vines had grown enough to start bearing fruit, Durham had left Cape Mentelle for a job in the Great Southern. Fortunately, he'd given some cuttings from his own vines to his neighbour, Mark Gifford at Blue Poles vineyard, who shared them with friends Lynne and Phil Foster, grape growers at Yallingup, in the warmer north of the region.

Between them, Gifford and the Fosters propagated these cuttings and eventually established two blocks of teroldego vines totalling one acre. In 2009, they combined the fruit from their two sites to produce the first West Australian example of the grape variety, bottled under the Blue Poles label. And it was delicious: dense black fruit, fine and grippy tannin, gorgeous freshness. Here was a grape that seemed just as comfortable in the gravelly warmth of Margaret River as the cool stony soils of Trentino.

Delicious results

This first wine, and the next, even more delicious 2011 Blue Poles teroldego, attracted the attention of local winemaker Brad Wehr, who had built his business around the popular Wine By Brad label – fun, well-priced sem sav and cab merlot with pop-art labels – but was becoming increasingly interested in alternative grape varieties for his new Amato Vino label.

In 2013 Wehr bought some of the Fosters' fruit and made his own wine from it, and the variety became a regular in the Amato Vino portfolio, joining other non-mainstream Margaret River grapes nebbiolo and trousseau.

Wehr recently arranged a tasting of all the teroldegos he could get his hands on: every vintage he and Mark Gifford had made and released thus far, plus some back vintages from the other two Australian producers of the variety – Michelini in Alpine Valleys in northeast Victoria and Geoff Hardy in the Adelaide Hills – and a collection of wines from Trentino, including 12 from Foradori. It was unquestionably the most comprehensive teroldego tasting ever staged in Australia.

The tasting underlined how well suited the late-ripening grape is to Margaret River. Most of the wines from the cooler Australian regions had herbal, even vegetal characters, and tart acidity (the exception being the vibrant and plush 2016 Michelini), whereas the West Australian wines were fully ripe, with appealing, juicy acidity.

It also reinforced my view that Foradori is far and away the finest producer of the grape in Trentino. The winery's two single-vineyard 2013 teroldegos in particular – the more intense, linear Sgarzon and the more ethereal, charming Morei, both fermented and aged in Spanish clay amphorae called "tinajas" – are outstanding wines.

"This tasting has given me confidence," said Wehr. "Teroldego's a great variety. It's easy to grow here in Margs. And it makes bloody good wine."


"And," added Gifford, "there's romance to the story."

Teroldego to go

2012 Blue Poles Teroldego [Margaret River]

With its delicious, chin-staining black cherry juice flavours and bright, grippy tannins, this wine manages to be both an excellent expression of the teroldego grape variety and also a red that tastes distinctively of Margaret River. Great value. $30 bluepolesvineyard.com.au

 

2015 Amato Vino Teroldego [Margaret River]

This wine highlights the teroldego grape's inherent spicy, edgy characters to good effect: fermentation included 20 per cent whole bunches, and this has given it a lovely fine, sappy character in the mouth, along with lots of juicy red berries. $45 amatovino.com.au

2014 Foradori Teroldego [Trentino]

Textbook teroldego, with dense but bright purple fruit, some herbal lift and pretty, powdery tannins. If you come across vintages with some bottle age, snap them up. The 2011 version of this wine is ravishing to drink now, and the 2010 vintage of the winery's top single vineyard wine, Granato, is sublime, with great depth and minerality on the tongue. $50 Imported by addleyclarkfinewines.com.au

by Max Allen 


Read more: http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/food-and-wine/wine-and-spirits/teroldego-triumph-how-an-italian-winemakers-gift-came-to-bear-fruit-in-wa-20180411-h0ynbu#ixzz5DaeaA1cS
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