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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.What would our wine industry have evolved into had James Busby, or another great pioneer, François de Castella, included Italian grape varieties at the turning point in Australia’s grape vine development?
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.
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.
Were the cultural ties between the aristocracy of England and properties in France, Spain and even the Port houses of Portugal, enough to influence future cuttings?
In retrospect, a more pertinent consideration would be whether extensively planting these now dominating grape varieties, in every region, was the right choice when the opportunity existed for more widespread experimentation on the varietal front.”.Pinot grigio was one of the first Italian white varieties to take off domestically, successfully established as the ‘crucible’ for the variety on the Mornington Peninsula by Kathleen Quealy and Kevin Mc Carthy.This was the first move away from ‘fruity’ to ‘savoury’ flavour profiles.Up until now, our landscape has been dominated by too few varieties that are competing against a saturated global wine market.Fortunately the local wine industry is slowly beginning to pull away the French veil from its eyes, a move that will ensure its future viability.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.Prominent Australian wine figure, James Halliday, supports their dominance, commenting that this reflects, “. Was it classified as a vinous backwater at that stage?Were the lack of estates deemed inferior to the grand château of Bordeaux and Burgundy?Globetrotter, David Gleave MW, believes that the wine market in Australia – and particularly in Melbourne – is the most mature he has experienced.Australian consumers are aware of and happy to trial new grape varieties and styles unlike any other nation in the world.