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Hilltops comes up trumps at Sydney International Wine Challenge

One of Australia’s most unusual red wines, the Freeman Rondinella Corvina 2003 has been awarded the Ted Radke Perpetual Trophy at the 2007 Sydney International Wine Competition for the equal ‘Best Wine made from Lesser Recognised Grape Varieties.’

The accolade coincides with the national release of the 2003 vintage, which is only the second vintage ever made by Dr Brian Freeman. He established both these significant Italian-origin varieties, classically used in Amarone wines, at his vineyard in the Hilltops region of New South Wales. starting from just six cuttings of each.

‘In only two vintages, this savoury, complex blended red wine has attracted considerable attention. More particularly, the calibre of the wine is a very strong indicator of the potential of the district near Young for these newer Italian varieties.

‘We are still learning, but both grapes seem to thrive on the cool, elevated slopes, which were previously cherry orchards,’ said Dr Freeman. ‘Interestingly, cherries are also commonly grown in the Veneto region where both varieties originate.’

The trophy-winning wine is made from a blend of both Rondinella and Corvina, a portion of which has been dried in a solar-powered prune dehydrator prior to fermentation with the freshly picked grapes.

‘The drying process modifies the seed tannins as well as intensifying flavours. Co-fermentation of both the dried and fresh grapes triggers a carbonic-style maceration, which softens tannins, and adds texture and complexity. The technique is a lateral twist on tradition and is both labour and time intensive, but the eventual wine, which is released with four years maturity, is very rewarding.’

Prior to establishing his vineyard in 1999, Brian Freeman was Professor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University. His only other wine, Freeman Fortuna 2006, was awarded Top 40 status in the 2006 NSW Wine Awards.

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