MOVIES & BOOZE: An attractive wine from northern Italy and a classic Burgundy style Chardonnay

Tomás Clancy reviews Luigi Righetti, Campolieti Ripasso, Valpolicella 2014 and Wynns, Coonawarra Chardonnay, South Australia 2015

Luigi Righetti, Campolieti Ripasso, Valpolicella 2014

Pricing : around €17.99

Available : Carry Out off licences nationwide

This is one of the Holy Grail items wine lovers are always on the lookout for, a wine so attractive and overdelivering compared to its price that almost makes you think you should ask have they priced it correctly.

This wine comes from the northern Italian region of Valpolicella, which sits inland to the west of Venice at the southern shore of Lake Garda, Italy’s most beautiful lake, location of summer homes of George Clooney and 1000 years ago the Poet Dante and before that Roman Emperors.

The name of this wine, campolieta actually means happy or delightful field, definitely buying into the idea of the region as one of the world’s beauty spots.

This wine is one of the most complicated to make and the complexity of the production method is what transforms it well above the average.

The Valpolicella region’s most famous wine is Amarone, the huge, high alcohol blockbuster wines described as in iron fist inside a velvet glove, and which sell for very high prices and can last 20 to 50 years before reaching their peak.

The same grapes that are used in Amarone, Corvina, Molinara, Rondinella are used here, but usually from younger vines and vineyards.

The word to note is Ripasso, this indicates that this wine is made in the conventional way, pressed and fermted, before, being poured over the dried skins of the grapes used to make the expensive Amarone.

It is a little like giving a second squeeze to the teabag, but in this case the teabag is the brilliant and expansive grapes of the winery’s Amarone. The result is a significant beefing up of the straight Valpoilicalla, giving it as here a deep, luscious and dark fruited power in what is in fact a well-balanced and medium bodied, not too tannic wine at a far more affordable wine. This baby Amarone is an incredibly well priced delight.

 

Wynns, Coonawarra Chardonnay, South Australia 2015

Pricing :  around €19.99

Available : Fresh, Good Food Markets; Deveneys of Dundrum; Wine Centre, Kilkenny; O’Donovans of Cork; Mortons of Ranelagh; Terroirs of Donnybrook; Gleesons of Booterstown; Martins Off Licence and good independent Off Licences and Wine Shops nationwide

Australia’s Coonawarra region is perhaps the most famous terroir or soil in the New World it is a deep and fertile red and orange, and known even locally as Terra Rossa soil.

The Coonawarra region began life in its modern agricultural form in the 1860s when it became a dedicated farming colony. A man named John Riddoch, acquired around 700 square miles of land and put almost 200.00 sheep on it.

The land which was far to the south of Adelaide and though of as quite remote and inhospitable, cold even, became famous as a new Eden. It turned out that almost everything planted there grew well and before long Riddoch, who founded the winery that is today Wynns drew devoted fellow farming colonists.

The secret was the soil, iron and mineral rich, very ancient and very complex, and the inclement and frankly cool weather.

We tend not to associate Australia with cool climate conversation and right now fires and drought are afflicting the vast nation, but the further south you go in Australia, being in the southern hemisphere the cooler it gets, it is like travelling north in Europe. Coonawarra is as south as you can get in South Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and the South Pole are the next stops.

This wine is made in the classic Burgundy style and Wynns have tried to remain true to their soil and their heritage was to look to cool climate European styles.

The Chardonnay here is aged in a mix of French oak and some stainless steel tanks and is grown in a region with some of the longest ripening times in Australia because of the cool, or maybe we should say, cooler climate.

The result is complex, Burgundian like flavours of toasty baked apple, over ripe pear and a light nutty edge mid palate. There is a vanilla lusciousness to the clean, lifted finish.

A very opulent, autumnal delight at a price that is now one of the most competitive in Australian wine and a fraction of the price required to get similar quality in Burgundy.