Once upon a time there was a vast grape growing region that spread across two states. It was called the Murray Darling. It became known for producing vast quantities of grapes under the bright warm sun of Australia. The problem with this area, however, was that viticulturists were planting varieties that were not necessarily suited to such a warm climate. White grape varieties like Chardonnay became flabby and round, and some red grape varieties almost tasted ‘jammy’ with the higher alcohol and riper fruit. Winemakers had to add lots of things like tartaric acid in order to make the wine of commercial quality.
Then there came a change. Some viticulturists wanted to focus a little less on the bulk-producing varieties and began experimenting with grapes that were shown to have adapted to the warmer climes of their respective parts of the world, such as Italy and Spain. These varieties flourished in the hot sun and did not necessarily need much in the way of additions.
This is one of the success stories. Meet Greco – a white grape variety that hails from the southern regions of Italy – that was planted in the Murray Darling, not far from Mildura. A young chap by the name of Andrew Bretheron bought some of these grapes and made this wine out of his facility in the Yarra Valley. This fruit loved its warm growing season so much it needed no acid additions and spent some time in large old wood on its lees and was not even fined or filtered before bottling.
Greco has aromatics like an mélange of melons, Pink Lady apples and a touch of brass. It has a mouth coating melon flavour and impressive structure – being dry and crisp yet finishing with an almond skin-like phenolic grip.
Drink young with full-flavoured fish courses or serve it with gnocchi with silverbeet and pinenuts like I did. But be quick to try this one. Mr Bretherton made only 36 cases for this vintage. The rest of us will have to wait until next year.
Stockist: Harry & Frankie, Port Melbourne and Barrique Wine Store, Healesville