I remember about 25 years ago spending a very enjoyable afternoon with a young winemaker who was to be married soon and we discussed things such as making wine in the hot wine region that is Angle Vale (just north of Adelaide), making wine from the unfashionable grape that is Colombard and making wine racks from100mm square concrete re-enforcing mesh. Why do I bring this up now – particularly when I am talking about a McLaren Vale winery. Well the young winemaker was Joe Grilli the winemaker and owner of Primo Estate Wines. He was and still is married to Dina, he continues to make a wine from the Colombard grape and now has a vineyards in Clarendon and McLaren Vale plus a cellar door / function center and winery in McLaren Vale.
Joe has been known for many things in his career to date. Using botrytis infection to produce the wine gems that are known today. He has also linked very firmly to Italian heritage from experimenting with Amarone and Ripasso treatments of the wine grapes, some of the first extra virgin olive oils (EVO) and an aged vinegar. Joe also takes a yearly pilgrimage to Italy where he produces Italian wine from Italian grapes with Australian know how. These wines are released in a special event every year.
Apart from a beautifully styled cellar door complex, they hold the Joseph Experience where you can taste some of the Joseph range of wines with some locally made bread plus the Joseph EVO) – costs $10 which is refunded if you buy any of the wines tasted. This tasting is very popular so I recommend you book so to avoid disappointment.
Wine club membership entitles you to 10% discount on most wines and invitations to wine dinners and other events plus a phone call every now and then offering some special deals. membership costs nothing – so why not.
A link to the Primo Estate Wines web page is here.
Now the wines…….
NV Primo Secco ($A20)
Released for only 1 week – I felt my timing was spot on. The wine has been loosely styled on the Prosecco style. Made with 30% Colombard the wine shows tropical and melon aromas with nice melon flavors and a creamy finish. This wine is made for easy drinking as it is light and refreshing. I can see this being another winner for this stable.
2010 La Biondina ($A15)
Straight away I was very happy to see this wine had gone back to it’s roots. Gone was the blending with Sauvignon Blanc and thus is back to a straight Colombard. As per my previous tasting of the wine over many years it is a clean and crisp wine that I consider to be the best Colombard made in Australia – with apples, tropical fruits and an underlying minerality.
2010 The Venetian Garganega ($A25)
I have never seen or heard of this variety before – let alone taste it. As the name suggests the wine was made in Tuscany under the keen eye of Joe. I got some interesting floral and citrus aromas and the flavors were, well just so complex from such a series of light flavors. There was peach, minerality creamy mouthfeel and even though it seemed relatively low acidity the flavors just lasted so long. I believe this is the first release of this variety and I suggest it will not be the last.
The second of the Tuscan wines and this one is beauty as well. The aromas were lifted with floral notes, black fruits, dusty oak and a coconut finish. The flavors show complexity again – briary black fruits, olives, cardamon that lingers with vanilla plus coconut from the oak that just licks the palate. So different (as you would expect) from the below wine.
2009 il Briccone Shiraz Sangiovese ($A25)
Black Cherries mixed with spiced earthiness and cedary oak. Another good wine that needs time to really come together and show it’s best.
NV Joseph Sparkling Red ($A70)
Those regular readers of the Lonely Grape will know I am a Sparking Red fan – when done well. This wine has a huge reputation and I was so looking forward to trying it again – last time was over 10 years ago. The base wine here is drawn from a solera system started in 1988. The system adds new wines to the top barrels and the wine is made from the lowest barrels, As wine is drawn off wine in barrels above are added and so on up the barrel system (see a definition of Solera System here). The base wines are made from Moda (Cabernet merlot) and Shiraz with a very old port used and the top up liqueur.
There is so much aged complexity here – nutty, coffee and those developed characters you see in old red wines. One can also taste the port liqueur that just adds another layer of complexity. I will say, for my palate, this wine lacks some freshness that could be gained from some more newer wine added to the blend. I can imagine many wine people thinking this is wrong – but it is my palate.
2007 Nebbiolo ($A75)
Made from Clarendon Vineyard grapes and shows some influence from a visiting overseas winemaker who had spent time working in Barolo (where this variety is king). The wine shows minimal skin contact as the wine is lighter than “normal” and one can see the wine browning relatively quickly. Fast becoming a favorite of mine – the aromas of burnt orange, cinnamon, all spice and turkish delight. The turkish delight continued in the flavor profile that included violets, range of spices – all wrapped up in a savory finish. I so enjoyed this wine and I will be visiting this variety more in the future.
2008 Angle Gully Shiraz ($A65)
Quality Clarendon fruit here, showing that quality wine can be made from such a hot and difficult vintage that was 2008. Dark and concentrated with spices, dark plums combining well with the oak treatments. What stuck me here was the underlying minerality here that I do not normally associate with Shiraz. I can see this wine aging better that I will.
2009 Zamberlan Cabernet Sangiovese ($A28)
I was again luck to taste this wine as it has not been released as yet. Interestingly, this wine undergoes the Ripasso treatment ie the 2009 wine is passed though skins from the 2010 pressings (in this case the 2010 Moda – Casbernet Merlot). The aromas show a list that I find when drinking this style. The flavors show the black current that is cabernet but there is a depth brought on by the ripasso treatment. As you would expect this wine needs time to bring all the components together. Watch out for it when it gets released.
2008 La Magia Botrytis Riesling Traminer ($A25)
For those that say this wine style is not worthy – you need to try this. Aromas that are all floral – orange blossom, roses and honeysuckle combine so well. The flavors are what you expect – citrus and apricots with a real sweetness. What does strick you here is the understanding the wine is very sweet but not cloying – this wine has lots of acid that just cleans the mouth. Bring on the dried fruit and blue cheese platter.