|Grapegrower & Winemaker||Wine & Viticulture Journal||Wine Industry Directory||
||Daily Wine News||
Mark Lloyd, Coriole Vineyards, McLaren Vale, SA
Name: Mark Lloyd
Sangiovese - climatically suited to Australia and increasingly popular with consumers Background
Sangiovese was first planted at Coriole in 1985. The decision to plant an Italian variety was also a decision to plant a 'non French' variety. The prime varieties used at the time were of French origin, so why not an Italian variety? The Burgundians and the Bordelaise - with Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - had ownership of the definition of wine quality. Even the Rhone Valley and Shiraz had questionable credentials.
Early investigations favoured Sangiovese for the following reasons:
• it is a mid to late season ripener
• good natural acidity
• cuttings were available
• it had the potential to make a very contrasting style of wine to Shiraz, the major red variety at Coriole.
There was no knowledge of Sangiovese in Australia at that time. The revolution in Italian wine quality had only just begun and certainly had not reached Australia. Gino di Santo, at Enoteca Sileno, in Melbourne, had imported a few wines of quality and Negociants imported at least Antinori's Tignanello in the mid 1980s.
We had not visited Italy at that time so had no first-hand knowledge of the developing revolution in wine quality.
The reputation of Italian wines and varieties was actually quite bad. It seems that the traditional Italian restaurants of the time always purchased the cheapest wines available. Hence, when we first presented Sangiovese to the market not only did consumers puzzle over the name they would quite often call 'pass' as a reflection on past experiences. This attitude of the Australian consumer was reinforced on a trade trip and consumer tastings in New Zealand some years later. At the mention of an Italian variety the public reacted with interested curiosity compared with the Australian equivalent. An observer pointed out that the New Zealand customer reacted without prejudice as there was very little tradition of Italian restaurants in the country.
Montrose in Mudgee had produced one or two wines around 1979 and 1980 from material of unknown source. About that time, I recall meeting the salesman in Rundle Street in Adelaide after a day in the trade. All the local Italian restaurants had completely rejected the idea of selling an Australian Sangiovese.
Thus, it took a little time to work out that the market was not in traditional Italian restaurants but contemporary bistro styles where there was a wine-interested public.
(Montrose didn't continue its experiments with Sangiovese until 1996 even though winemaker, Robert Paul, moved there after making the first Coriole wine in 1987).
The word Sangiovese comes from Sanguis Jovis, or the 'blood of jove'. Sangiovese may have been known in Etruscan times. However, recently two parents have been identified -the Tuscan grape Ciliegiolo and the ancient Calabrese Montenuovo. Sangiovese is the number one grape in Italy comprising 10% of the winegrape crop. It is most famous as the base of Chanti which is presently required to be made of 90% Sangiovese.
Coriole sourced Sangiovese from the Kalimna vineyard in the Barossa. The clone was H6V9, which was brought from California by the CSIRO in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The CSIRO took some responsibility for that sort of long-term planning in those days.
Clones were very controversial with the Sangiovese variety. This was true in Italy as well. On my first visit to Italy in 1988 we spent a short time with Giacomo Tachis, a senior winemaker with Antinori. He explained to us that there was a large project under way to improve the clonal base of Sangiovese in Tuscany. Since that time there have been rapid improvements in the genetic base and cultural practices with the variety.
The next clones to become available were imported by Yalumba in the early 1990s. These clones, from the Montalcino region of Tuscany, were at first planted experimentally at Coriole and then subsequently increased. The clones Brunello and Grosso have both looked appealing with smaller and more even bunches. We think they have a good future although the best wines are still made from the older H6V9 vines.
The vineyards at Coriole are planted in red-brown earth over limestone. Our other vineyards at Willunga are in deeper alluvial clay-loams.
The Coriole wines of the 1990s varied from good to average. In times when vine manipulation was less common it took a few years to learn the tricks for this highly-productive variety, which in its early years at least produced many very large bunches. Some of these lessons were:
• bunch thinning
• for irrigation purposes treat more like a white grape than Shiraz in the shallow Coriole soils
• high trellis and shoot positioning to ensure fruit was protected.
Some of the significant viticulture regimes include:
• spur-pruned single cordon
• lazy VSP
• 1800 vines/ha
• may prune to single bud
• aim for as much tannin ripeness as we can get away with without over ripeness
• requires far more manipulation and on-going decisions than standard varieties.
Our first experiments in bunch thinning were in 1994. We carefully calculated to remove around 2t/acre in January to bring us to what we thought would be an acceptable level. We finally picked in mid May with 11t/acre. We were amused at the description of this wine in the Washington Post: 'here is a Sangiovese that will knock the socks off anything from California'. It was either helped by the journey across the equator or perhaps the judicious amount of Cabernet that was blended prior to bottling.
During the first 15 years of Sangiovese at Coriole there were various amounts of 'French' varieties included in the blend - from about 2-13%. This was necessary to provide the colour and depth that was deemed necessary. Also, in the early part of this period there was far less acceptance of lighter-bodied red wines by the Australian palate.
In more recent times, with viticulture improvements, the wines have been 100% Sangiovese. Coriole is looking for a savoury Australian style with minimum sweetness in the mouth to marry and cut through a range of foods on the table. Standard winemaking techniques are used with predominantly four-tonne open fermenters. Wines are matured in older oak for one year, bottled young and really appreciate a further year in bottle, which is unfortunately not possible with the present demand.
The question of whether to add very small quantities of other varieties is a decision that is examined each year. Sometimes even 0.5-2% is examined on the tasting bench but is rejected for the element of ripeness that is added to the wine. This ripeness, which may be just acceptable at that time, seems to only detract from the distinctiveness of the wine as it ages. We have often argued that this may be a more critical question in McLaren Vale where there is no natural shortage of warmth compared with a cooler area, such as the King Valley or particularly Tuscany. However, amongst some producers in Tuscany it appears to be also a topic of hot debate.
Sangiovese is frequently marketed as an Italian variety or with an Italian name or reference. In comparison, varieties of French origin are accepted as truly international and while they have benchmarks in France are accepted for their expression in other countries. This is a curious phenomenon that leads to potential importers saying, 'but if I want Sangiovese why buy Australian when I can go to Italy'. We could ask, then, why not go to France for Shiraz?
Rather than market Sangiovese as an Italian experience we prefer to reinforce the uniqueness of this variety - medium bodied; moderate, natural acidity, structure and savoury characters with tart fruit. It is these distinctive characters that set Sangiovese apart and will increasingly give this drink such a robust position on Australian tables.
Other feature articles
- Natalie Fryar, Winemaker, Jansz Tasmania
- Angelo Puglisi, Ballandean Estate, Queensland
- Dave Cleary, West Cape Howe Wines, WA
- Kim Chalmers, Chalmers Nurseries, NSW
- Tiffany Nugan, Nugan Estate, NSW
- Doug Bowen, Bowen Estate, SA
- Drew Brent-White, Windance Estate, WA
- Ian Hollick, Hollick Wines, SA
- Andrew Nugent, Bird in Hand Winery, SA
- Jim Chatto, Pepper Tree Wines, NSW
- Tony Keys, The Key Files
- Forum in pursuit of Pinot excellence
- Andrew Naylor, Pernod Ricard, NZ
- Samantha Scarratt, Fishtail Vineyards, New Zealand
- Adam Hooper and Elena Golakova, La Curio, SA
- Kathleen Quealy, T’Gallant/Balnarring Vineyard/Quealy Wine, VIC
- Richard Smart, Tamar Ridge Wines, TAS
- Terry Lee
- Ben Glover, Wither Hills, NZ
- David Fonseca Guimaraens, Fonseca and Taylor’s Port, Portugal
- Sam Temme, Lloyd Brothers, SA
- Peter May
- Colin Kay, Kay Brothers Amery, SA
- Mark Deegenaars, Sirromet Wines, QLD
- Peter Dry, University of Adelaide, SA
- Simon Thistlewood, Bimbadgen Estate, NSW
- David Lehmann, Barossa Valley, SA
- Mark Lloyd, Coriole Vineyards, McLaren Vale, SA
- Tom Harvey, Chalk Hill, SA
- Albarino – potentially Australia’s great white hope
- Ian Hendy, Tahbilk, VIC
- Oak trials instigated to create the right balance
- Jason Conti, Paul Conti Wines, WA
- Swan Valley goes organic in its approach to wine production
- 100-year-old vines saved from destruction
- Paul Boulden, Margaret River, WA
- Pinot trophy wine a close call
- Grenache finds its place in the spotlight
- Ashley Ratcliff, Yalumba Wine Company, SA
- Lessons from a fiery day in February
- Prolific Penfolds takes a double triumph
- Great win for Tatachilla Shiraz
- Ian Long, Yarraman Estate, NSW
- Capercaillie looks to future
- Tolley leaves AWBC in good shape
- Julian Parrot, Mandala Wines, NSW
- Yarra Valley’s Sticks grows up
- Rebuilding Bianchet Winery
- Kalleskes take organic grapegrowing to heart
- Vineyards benefit from WWOOF program
- Organic producer in touch with the earth
- BackVintage adopts integrated IT solution
- Lark Hill achieves full biodynamic certification
- Joseph Gilbert of Pewsey Vale – early maker of the classic Australian blend
- Sam Statham, Rosnay Wines, NSW
- Young achiever to study in USA
- Evolving Durif at Morris Wines
- Diane Miller, The Vintage Wineworx, WA
- NZ’s star producer guided by the cosmos
- On the rise: Pinot Gris secures its place
- Killeen wins Winetitles’ scholarship
- Rebecca Wilson, Tamar Valley, TAS
- Liz Riley, Vitibit, Hunter Valley
- The Gilberts of Pewsey Vale: the next generation
- Mark Cairns, Riverside Wines, Hawke’s Bay
- Craigow wins Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year
- Cornwall’s Camel Valley sets Sparkling pace in the UK
- Fred Peacock, Bream Creek Vineyard, Tasmania
- Arneis a winner, no matter how you say it
- WA’s Vanya Cullen named ‘woman of the year’
- McWilliams Mount Pleasant Estate award-winning cellar door
- Planning eases heatwave burden for Mount Horrocks
- Supplier of the Year proves customer service goes a long way
- Meet Ken Murchison
- The journey of Tempranillo to Australia
- Successful events have wineries bursting into song
- Jim Barry Wines winemaker chooses biodynamic option
- Meet Belinda Gould
- Hard grind is paying off for Sangiovese
- Biodynamic viticulture benefits Nazaraay Estate Winery
- Monitoring the key to reducing water use
- Consistently improving the quality and reputation of Australian Cabernet
- Making sure vines are true to type
- Lessons from the drought
- A story of Cuban cigars and a good nose
- A Murray Valley winery has released one of Australia’s first 100% carbon-neutral wines
- John Casella: The brains behind the brand
- Quality Tasmanian Pinot Noir stems from varying degrees of stalk removal
- Young leader forecasts positive future for Australian viticulture businesses
- China’s light shines on Aussie export radar
- Driving the blue bus of industry exposure
- Noble wine proves sweet for Australian wine industry
- Solar energy schemes lack uniformity in Australia
- Solutions for the wine industry’s fiddlier labelling jobs
- Carbon neutrality: The new black
- An understanding of excellence: James Irvine and his life in wine
- Can Australia overcome a harsh reality in the US
- Cape Mentelle treats itself to first place
- Aussies export their expert advice to China
- Bruce Tyrell: the Don Quixote of Semillon
- Why the past could help unlock grape’s future
- Brazil opportunities beckon
- Cool wine regions to benefit from research on new pathogen
- Wineries embrace sensory analysis
- Author reveals first steps to marketing magic
- China - emerging market or competitor?
- Young Vine Decline is studied closely in NSW
- Is the Shiraz berry the biggest loser?
- Small players the big winners for tomorrow’s vineyard
- Save money and wine by choosing the right bentonite
- Significant variations in an Iconic Coonawarra vineyard lead to radical solutions
- Sustainable pest control – now and in a changing climate
- Is there value in adding tannin to wine?
- How do country of origin, closure type and label style affect purchase decisions?
- City sellers
- Selective science – from the vineyard to the winery
- Change agenda includes new thinking
- WineCloud provides future direction for winemakers
- The iron(III) tartrate photochemistry of wine: impacts of bottle colour and weight
- How important are wine medals and how much can we rely on those who assign them?
- Big rewards in fine detail
- Italian inspiration for novel Nero d’Avola making
- Oak deserves its fine environmental credentials
- Machinery maintenance is key to vintage success
- Wine: does vine age really matter?
- SA wineries make a positive and lasting impression
- Magazine pages bring history to life for Rutherglen grower
- Coles tells small wineries to ‘work with us’
- Distinguished vineyard sites are essential for quality fruit production says Petaluma
- From vine to bottle: sustainability a core value for Barossa winery
- Adapt and innovate in a challenging wine business world
- Verduzzo - a 'crazy' white
- Australia’s grapevine germplasm collections under threat
- Expo offers suppliers a chance to shine
- Wineries celebrate end of vintage
- Artisan by name and nature
- Barossa symposium delivers tips for Shiraz vineyard management
- Research to reveal best irrigation practice in dry winters
- Lake’s Folly proves its credentials over 50 years
- New research sheds light on flavour additives in wine
- It’s a three-ringed circus
- Trying to paint the world red
- Where do little winemakers come from?
- A chip off the old block
- The rise and rise of Gatt Wines
- Bizot and Croser – a marriage made in the vineyard
- Wine’s wild man rides into town
- Jeff Bond – a licence to thrill
- The Visionary – who’s laughing now
- Chilling out in Australian wine’s own Ice Age
- Quarter of our wines face Chinese ban
- Four-year research project investigates early influence of oxygen
- Australian winemakers’ views towards oak barrel alternatives matures
- Ready…set…tweet! How you can bank your social media benefits
- Wine show season: It seems not all wine shows would earn a gold medal
- January 2015 Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine out now
- Smart & Sustainable: Jana Shepherd
- Lazy bones: Jo Perry’s ironic nickname
- Can’t sit still: Bleasdale’s energiser bunny
- Meet New Zealand’s best young viti
- Suzie Muntz
- Clare Burder: Ideas are nothing without action
- Steve Baraglia: A tale of two valleys
- The terror of terroir - By Tony Keys