This month sees the release of the latest Sangiovese from the King Valley’s Pizzini family, the Pizzini Forza di Ferro Sangiovese. A family well known for high quality wines, many from Italian varieties, from the valley at the foot of the Victoria Alps, or High Country.
Sangiovese from Australian vineyards is a relatively recent addition. According to Wine Australia, McLaren Vale’s Coriole were the pioneers for the variety and have been growing Sangiovese in their vineyards since 1984.
Alfred Pizzini and his family planted their Sangiovese over 25 years ago, in the late 80s. Having arrived in the 1950s from Trentino-Alto Adige in the Italian alpine region to resettle in the King Valley in Victoria, Alfred Pizzini’s parents continued many of the traditions from that region. It is then only natural that he developed an avid interest in the Italian wine grape varieties. Although, perhaps as much a tip of the hat to the Italian-Austrian heritage of the Trentino-Alto Adige region as a reflection of the popularity of that particular grape variety in the late 1970s and 80s, Riesling was the first grape planted in the Pizzini vineyard. Nebbiolo, the very finicky grape of the Piedmont region was also planted with excellent results for Pizzini.
At this time, the Pizzini label has five straight Sangiovese wines available plus some interesting blends. Each is a different expression of the variety. The Pizzini Rosetta Sangiovese rosé (AUD $19) is actually named after Alfred’s mother although it seems more than appropriately used here. Each vintage of this pale dry rosé continues to beguile with its vibrant cherry, raspberry fruit and supple texture. It is a versatile elegant style.
As a blend containing Sangiovese and, what must be regarded as Australia’s most recognizable grape, Shiraz, the Pizzini Sangiovese Shiraz (AUD $19) has lashings of tasty, peppery, cherry and berry fruit and spice that softly hits the mid palate and lasts long into the next sip. This blend works well, the shiraz offering pepper and plump, ripe plum fruit and a depth of colour with the sangiovese lightening the palate. A soft mouthful of fruit and spice.
The Pizzini Nonna Gisella Sangiovese (AUD $21 Cellar Door only) is a more recent addition to the lineup. This is a wine that proved very compelling in a recent tasting. It was the one that quickly established itself in the conversation and won hearts. Scented with cherry, nutmeg and some liquorice coated with dark chocolate overtones when it first gets into the glass, it gets more chocolatey and spicy on the nose as it settles in. It then fills the palate with ripe cherry fruit and more chocolate without overwhelming in any way. An elegant wine that needs some breathing space to show its best and it would be a candidate for a light chill on a warm summer’s day too.
A more serious red is the Pizzini Pietra Rossa Sangiovese (AUD $28 Cellar Door only). Here there is a cedary nuance to the plum, cherry and mixed spice and chocolate characters. It has a fuller body and more of a tannic grip on the finish. Still elegantly built with moderate alcohol, it has a minerally earth edge. Very food friendly.
Launching with the 2013 vintage, the new kid on the block is the Pizzini Forza di Ferro Sangiovese which is now available direct from Pizzini. This is such a more-ish wine that it is bound to be resounding success from launch. Complex, nutty spices meld with pretty floral scented plums and red cherries and smooth sweet vanilla. Juicy and vibrant, the palate of has been texturized and polished by a more ‘considered’ oak regime and powdery tannins. Some mint creeps into the chocolatey length. The oak is certainly noticeable in this wine, however, it is worn well and will develop into more of a supporting role in the future. It will start as a cellar door only wine ($55), so I would get your order in before this vintage sells out.
A pinnacle is reached with the Pizzini Rubacuori Sangiovese for lovers of bolder styles of Italian red wine. The current vintage is the 2005 and was reviewed here, although there are some retailers switching over to the 2008. I recently tasted the 2008 vintage and it has been aged gracefully and it still has a cellar future ahead of it. Rubacuori means ‘stealer of hearts’ and it is a very fine and expressive example of what Australian Sangiovese can become in the right hands. Rich and fuller, certainly, but it still retains its elegance and has a moderate 13.8% alcohol.
This Sangiovese is densely packed with earthy chocolate, tobacco and cedar amongst the black plums, cherries and berries. Ever so smooth and fleshy mid palate and then the powdery, finely tuned tannins provide a little pull as they extend the long, even finish making the Rubacuori a more conversational wine.
While, it is made for food, it is not necessary to stick to that rule. It is good company without food as well. I think that this wine can remain in the cellar for a little longer if you wish, however, it is released with some age on it so that you can enjoy it now. It will give an Italian competitor a run for its money.
There is also the Pizzini Il Barone which is a blend of Cabernet, Shiraz, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo that is also well worth seeking out.
These wines are all available on the Pizzini website.
You can read more on Pizzini with the following links: