Nero d’Avola – back to the future for McLaren Vale wine By Malcom Leask, Winemaker – Hither & Yon
Some say that Sicily looks like Australia, clear blue skies, full of trees, rocky outcrops and wildflowers. Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s most widely planted grape variety, which thrives in the dry growing season, producing plump purple juicy and spicy fruit, making wine with berry flavours that are soft and lingering with bright natural acidity.
So, we thought, if it works in Sicily, why not in McLaren Vale? A southern Mediterranean climate of wet winters with hot summers, our region bordering the sea, framed by the Adelaide Hills, the family vineyards placed on free draining red rubble soils, good for controlling vigour and getting fine balance of fruit concentration and freshness.
It seems we have been proven right, planting our “Nero D” in 2010, on an Australian drought resistant rootstock, Richter 110. Recently our 2017 Hither & Yon Nero d’Avola won best wine of show at the Australian Alternative Variety Wine Show. The judges comments?
“Amazing saturated purple colour, seductive berry fruits, fresh and crunchy, spice and sage, lush with length”.
In summary, it really works in the vineyard, healthy canopies that protect the large bunches, thicker skinned berries that ripen slowly, picking is later in harvest when it is cooler, and vines that don’t require as much water. Most importantly for us, Nero d’Avola makes the type of table wine which is now so sought after in Australia, particularly for new wine consumers, bright and medium bodied, attractive and easy drinking, good potential match for all types of food that our multi-cultural society cooks up. For us, we produce our own lamb – which we load with garlic and rosemary then chargrill, the black spicy fruits and supple grippy tannins of Nero matching perfectly. You can even chill it on a hot day and drink from a large glass! Making us dream about Sicily, and what other varieties from there that might work here in the future.