hjpw home sample pics 148

January Wines of the Month: futuristic

hjpw home sample pics 148

I’m often asked why the focus on Portuguese and Australian wines.  There’s no single reason.  But a common factor which excites me is that, while retaining a toe-hold in tradition, their respective wine scenes are very much in evolution.  There’s an open mindedness, a willingness to experiment and explore which is epitomised by my January Wines of the Month.

Filipa Pato Post Quercus Branco 2014 (Bairrada)

alysford walk pato post quercus white 050

Pato is a fine representative of a growing breed of widely travelled Portuguese winemakers who, just as importantly, has tasted widely.  An experience which, she told me “opens my horizons and gives me confidence in what I’m doing and a pride in our own traditions.”  Though the tradition of making wine in amphora or talha is local to Alentejo and not Bairrada, Pato has made some of the most exciting new wave wines I have tasted from clay (the red reviewed here).  This white, which I first tasted last month, transported me right back to Alentejo in November, specifically, Professor Arlindo’s cellar.  The retired school teacher’s sweet, sustaining nectar – Antão Vaz – impressed.  Pato has managed to capture its spicy orange peel and (dried) honeyed deliciousness in the bottle together with the delicate but succulent white peach I associate with its variety, Bical.  Beautifully balanced, clear-eyed (unlike me, misty-eyed) and yet other worldly, it lingered long in both mouth and memory.  Like the red, just lovely on release.  11%

Fighting Gully Road Aglianico 2012 (Alpine Valleys, Victoria)

Early last year I reported on Australian so-called alternative varieties for a Decanter “Expert’s Choice.”  I pointed out that, while production is on the up, it remains tiny and much of what is produced stays in Australia.  But in September, a group of Aussie producers smitten by Italian varieties showcased their wines to the UK trade under the 21st Century Vino banner. And I have to agree with my fellow writer Jane Faulkner that Aglianico is a grape to watch Down Under.  That month examples from Beach Road and Hither & Yon caught my eye  and, last month, Fighting Gully’s Aglianico confirmed initial impressions.  A vineyard perched on a rocky escarpment at 560m overlooking the town of Beechworth has produced jewel bright red fruits (a lively medley of cherry, rhubarb and plum) with earthy undertones, violet top notes and layers of bitter chocolate, citrus peel and aniseed, the latter quite pronounced (attractively so) on the finish.  Bags of interest with the savouriness and structure I’d expect from this Southern Italian grape – a native of Campania and Basilicata. 13%


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  1. Ernani L. Silva

    I have never heard of you nor read your wine comments, a Brazilian friend posted on Facebook and I like your style. Coincidentally, Filipa Pato did go to Australia to “refine” her wine making skills acquired at home from her father. In regard to the Aglianico, a varietal very much appreciated, I noticed you made no comments as to any level of acidity or minerality on the wine, I know it is a “new world” wine but, is it stewed or highly concentrated? Thanks for your reply.
    Ernani L. Silva

    • Sarah Ahmed

      Hi Ermani, thanks for your feedback. Glad you like the site. Yes I hadn’t thought about that coincidence, though Filipa was in Western Australia at Leeuwin Estate and Fighting Gully are in Victoria. The Aglianico was not at all stewed nor super-concentrated/heavy – I guess my style is a little reading between the lines so “[jewel] bright” and “lively” are descriptors I use to point to the wine’s freshness/good acidity. I described it as earthy, rather than mineral (which is closer to my experience of Aglianico from Italy too). Hope that helps! Best Sarah

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