Nebbiolo crowned Best Italian Red Varietal at wine show

Ballandean Estate winemaker Angelo Puglisi. Image courtesy Ballandean Estate

Ballandean Estate’s 2019 Nebbiolo took home the Trophy for Best Italian Red Varietal at the Queensland International Emerging Wine Variety Challenge for 2022.

Angelo Puglisi, founder of Queensland’s oldest family-owned and -operated winery, accepted the prize at the Brisbane awards dinner held at 66 on Ernest restaurant at Southbank, last week.

“Experimenting with varieties that fit our unique climate and terroir is what gets me excited,” Puglisi said.

“In 2001, I thought it was about time we had an Italian red under our belt. Hailing from Northern Italy’s Piedmont region, this grape is known for producing bold red flavours, grippy tannins, and high natural acidity — all while looking as pale as Pinot Noir.

“Nebbiolo was our first Italian planting. We call it the Italian version of Pinot Noir at the cellar door. Lighter in body, big tannins, cherry, tar and roses on the nose, ruby and orange hues synonymous with aged Nebbiolo—it’s a real food wine.

“Nebbiolo is a finicky variety to grow in Ballandean, but when it’s right, it is so right. Incredibly sensitive to terroir—it needs great drainage and a long, bright growing season.”

Ballandean Estate’s high altitude, cool climate and granite traprock soils on Bellevue’s slopes saw the vines mature a low yield initially.

Angelo Puglisi overcame this by using a different pruning approach that produces more fruit bunches. The fruit is the last to be harvested, as it matures slowly with the cool nights at the end of growing season.


The Queensland International Emerging Wine Variety Challenge is in its third year. Queensland-grown alternate varieties take on the best of Europe in this unique event hosted by Queensland Wine Industry Association. The varietals are judged and benchmarked against wines from their place of origin.


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