Wine review — Argiolas S’elegas, Le Sughere di Frasinello, Pikes, Neagles Rock & Henschke

Nuragus di Cagliari (Argiolas S’elegas) 2006 $21
Melbourne’s Da Noi restaurant offers delicious Italian food, prepared by Sardinian owner Pietro Porcu.  It’s a restaurant where you leave the food selection to the chef then enjoy it with Italian wine from an extensive list that included, on our visit, this Sardinian white, made from the nuragus grape. This about as far removed from Aussie white as you can get. But it’s melon-rind-like bitter sweetness and full, round, buttery (but tart) palate worked with waves of scrumptious vegetable, meat and seafood antipasti. It wouldn’t be a wine to sip on its own as it needs savoury, rich and piquant flavours to match its own rustic character.

Le Sughere di Frassinello Maremma Toscana 2004 $60
What a contrast moving from the rustic Nuragus di Cagliari to this elegant, sophisticated blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and merlot – another selection from Da Noi’s wine list. Taut, savoury, sinewy sangiovese dominates the blend while cabernet and merlot seem to lift the perfume, brighten the fruit flavour and ameliorate the tannin structure – making the wine more elegant than a straight sangiovese might have been. The wine is a joint venture between wealthy Italian businessman Paolo Pawerai and the Rothschild family of Bordeaux – source of the cabernet and merlot cuttings for the Tuscan vineyard. This and the white above are available direct from the importer: call Maurizio at Arquilla Wines 03 9387 1040

Pikes Clare Valley Eastside Shiraz 2005 $21-$29
Neagles Rock Clare Valley Riesling 2007 $17-$20
Henschke Joseph Hill Eden Valley Gewurztraminer 2007 $33

We test drove this trio with Thai food recently – starting with the Henschke Gewürztraminer, a magnificent, intensely varietal wine that proved to be deliciously dry but, because of that, a slight mismatch with the food. Neagles Rock’s full, soft, floral riesling fruitiness, though, sat comfortably with the spicy dishes and disappeared rapidly. Jane Willson and Steve Wiblin grow and make this one in the Clare Valley (see While red wines, especially those with firm tannins (like cabernet), can be swamped by spicy foods, round, soft, fleshy styles – like our wine of the meal, Pikes Shiraz – tend to retain flavour yet mesh with the food.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008