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Wine Book Review

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One of my favourite travel memories is sitting by Fornillo beach in Italy’s seaside hillslope of Positano with two of life’s basics: a glass of local fiano and a fresh tuna steak.

This Italian grape hails from the Italian region of Campania, east of Naples, and has found a home in Australia, in regions much cooler than its homeland inland from Naples, and the most respected in the Avellino area (DOCG).

So it is important to taste some cool examples from three Australian states alongside an Italian original.

1. Ballandean Estate Messing About Fiano 2013 (AUD 26) 13.2% 800m Granite Belt Qld (second harvest from the vineyard)
2. Handcrafted by Geoff Hardy 2013 (AUD 25) 13% Adelaide Hills SA
3. Larry Cherubino Laissez Faire 2013 (AUD 29) 13% Frankland River WA
4. Colli di Lapio DOCG 2010 (AUD 35) 13.5% Lapio, Campania, Italy

Tasting this four places the Granite Belt origin wine (Ballandean Estate) very high on the quality table—lots of expression and a very deep flavour profile. The fruit strength is with the Ballandean Estate wine if comparisons have to be made that way

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Ballandean Estate’s Bellevue Fiano vineyard—just in véraison

The Adelaide Hills fiano (Handcrafted by Geoff Hardy) has lovely florals of the grape yet a tighter and gently worked palate.

The Frankland River fiano (Cherubino) has closed aromas essentially from some older oak barrel aging yet exploding palate which fiano gives.

Now for the Colli di Lapio 2010, Fiano di Avellino DOCG: not the style for Australian consumers. Generally a wine made and handled in barrel in an oxidising manner, old school technology, little or no freshness and a dried out palate that does not express the fruit flavour of the grape variety (as the Aussies do).A wine to serve to conservative drinkers or label buffs who don’t show discernment or are yet to drink modern.

I would happily serve all three of these Aussiefianos.

You can read more wine tasting reviews from Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smiths here: http://www.uncorkedandcultivated.com.au/blog/

Uncorked and Cultivated conduct annual bespoke wine and food tours for small groups to drinkable destinations in Italy.

Find out more by visiting http://www.uncorkedandcultivated.com.au/tours or calling Denise on +61 412 403 567.

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It is 10 years since UK writer Andrew Jefford wrote the last book about Champagne, so now Tyson Stelzer’s modernised eBook The Champagne Guide sets the scene.

And what a different scene it is. There has been a proliferation of single grower and biodynamic wines which has changed the mix of Champagnes forever, and Stelzer takes the time to review these.

Of course this flies in the face of the big Champagne brands who blend across villages, regions and appellations which clearly destroys terroir; as blending either covers up faults or creates a mediocrity of taste.

So the new single vineyard grower champagnes stand for pride of place in the site, terroir and an annual celebration that occurs with vintage champagne.

Stelzer has exploited the advantages of eBooks by tasting champagnes released for this Christmas right up to late November (this book was completed on December 6) before publishing.

A traditional text will end up a year out of date and fail to cover recently-disgorged champagnes as a result. This has obviously prompted him to make a greater issue out of staleness in champagnes (disgorged a long time when sold or stored too hot during the intervening period).

What is perceived a luxury product should show well, and at a luxury price should deliver. Tyson names nine light struck/stale champagnes discovered during his tasting survey of just under 200 champagnes.

Also on the way through he names wines which were cork tainted, and the incidence for the Portuguese cork industry’s edification was 5.5 percent.

Houses are rated from 10 down to 1 and all their products available were tasted (1- there were two-Heidsieck Monopole and Joseph Perrier). Houses to rate 10 were Billecart-Salmon, Bollinger, Krug and Salon. Dom and Pol at 9, four small brands at 8, (Pierre Gimmonnet, Lamarndier-Bernier, Chartogner-Tailtet , Jacquesson) plus Laurent Perrier.

Roederer, Taittinger and Veuve made it at 7, and Moet made it only to 4 (the biggest blender in Champagne).

This book has application world-wide as most of the big commercial brands are international. Australia is a very active Champagne importer and stands at number 9 in quantity.

It does not cover BOBs which rarely show much excellence anyway.

The Champagne Guide by Tyson Stelzer Wine Press 2010 USD 24.50 as eBook; www.champagneguide.com.au ; hard copies by order