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Fiano best white for McLaren Vale?

Italian variety Fiano may be the “closest to being McLaren Vale’s white” one producer as postulated.

McLaren Vale’s ‘Mediterranean’ climate suits varieties such as Fiano

Speaking to a group on a recent Wine Australia trip, Corrina Wright of Oliver’s Taranga suggested that the future for the Italian variety in McLaren Vale was very strong indeed, along with other Mediterranean grapes such as Vermentino.

In particular she noted their resistance or at least higher tolerance of heat and near-drought conditions that places such as South Australia often suffer through.

Oliver’s Taranga has replanted all of its 30 acres of white grapes over to either Vermintino (five acres) or Fiano (25 acres) and even if this is an extreme example not followed by any other producer – so far at least – it is indicative of the growing interest in what are termed “alternative varietals” in Australia.

Alex Sherrah, senior winemaker at Coriole also something of an Italian-variety specialist in McLaren Vale, agreed with Wright’s assessment of Fiano saying it had “gone gangbusters” since being planted and “handles the heat really well.”

He continued: “Anything that grows next to the Med will grow in McLaren Vale. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc aren’t Mediterranean so they’re not as suitable.”

He added that in 2008 Coriole had planted some Picpoul de Pinet that was going to have its first commercial release with the 2015 vintage and looked like it was “going to do well.”

Plantings of “alternative varieties” are small but growing and increasingly taken seriously by more producers.

Jim Barry planted his first vines of Greek variety Assyrtiko in 2012 and this year’s Premium Australia tasting in London featured a seminar specifically devoted to the increasingly evident potential and suitability of Italian varieties in particular in Australia.


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