Wine review – Freeman, Hilltops Region, NSW

Freeman Rosso Corvina Rondinella 2017 $20
It’s dusk at Lake Conjola, and on a small jetty the tailor continue to take my friend Mario’s line, if not mine. He’s bagged enough for tomorrow’s brunch, and I think, well no bites for me but I can at least pour a drink. Try this I say. Mario tastes the red wine. Lemon, he declares, bloody delicious, fruity and tangy.

And it is, too, a distinctive dry red wine made from the Italian varieties corvina and rondinella. Brian Freeman grows both on his 175-hectare estate in the Hilltops region, the high country in the vicinity of Young, New South Wales.

These are the varieties behind the medium bodied, savoury dry reds of Bardolino and Valpolicella in Italy’s Veneto region. At their best, both offer a refreshing combination of fruit, savour and tangy finish – not unlike Mario’s impression of the Australian wine.

Freeman says they’re late-ripening varieties, which he harvested in early April (weeks behind other reds) in the benign 2017 vintage.

Fermentation in stainless steel vats captured varietal flavour and 12 months’ maturation in old oak mellowed the naturally savoury tannins.

The resulting wine pulses with vibrant berry flavours, in the clean, fresh Australian style; but there’s a deep, savoury, soy-like element, too, accompanied by the pleasantly tart but soft tannins experienced in the better wines of Bardolino and Valpolicella.

Clearly rondinella and corvina grow successfully in the Hilltops region. And this cleverly made wine, revealing minimal winemaking artifice, allows us to experience their unique flavours and textures at a fair price.

Freeman Rosso 2017, made to enjoy now, is available direct from Freeman Vineyards.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2019