Posted on 3 Comments

The rise of the ‘Alternative’ Variety Wines

So, it€™s Friday night and I€™m sitting down after a busy week. I find myself with an awesome glass of Vermentino from Wine by Brad€™s Amato Vino range in my hand which I had never tried before, and I have just been reading a little about the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show (AAVWS) and I get to thinking€¦. wow, the landscape of Australian wines has really changed over the last 10 years. No longer am I drinking just Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. In fact, nowadays I€™m usually itching to try something new, or drink alternative variety wines made by alternative grape varietals, in particularly the Italian varieties that often really suit some of Australia€™s warm climate. I think back to a post the Vino Geek did after chatting to me a few months back and yep, I realise that I even mentioned it then, but I hadn€™t even really noticed. Why? The wines are just amazing. I hadn€™t even really noticed that I had started trying and loving these relatively new and relatively €˜alternative€™ varieties.

In April this year I launched a new business WineCloud which allows winemakers to sell directly to the consumer via WineCloud. The site supports the winemakers, allows them to set the price, allows them to discount wines when they want to, and it allows winemakers to sell small batches of premium wine. Wineries making small batches (of alternative varietals in particular) now have a way to reach a greater audience. I thought about some of the wineries that come on-board and feel pretty stoked that there are so many amazing small batch producers that have incredible wines with incredible reputations.  I€™m suddenly feeling the urge to share the love, spread the word about some of these wines. So bare with me while I just mention a few that you just have to give a try.

We currently have winemakers such as Bassham Wines from the Riverland, selling Lagrein, Montepulciano, Graciano and more. Wine by Brad has their Amato Vino range of Nero d€™Avola and Vermentino and we have Unico Zelo selling Fiano and Nebbiolo. Whilst I€™m certainly not an expert, it€™s the excitement surrounding tasting these wines that I really want to share. So, here it is, my revelation of the night: The general wine loving community (of Australia in particularly) needs to know about the alternative varietals being used to make amazing wines. So, give it a crack€¦ Try one or two of these wines and you won€™t be disappointed.

Unico Zelo delivery.I grew up in the Riverland, South Australia so  I€™m super excited to see some fantastic wines being made from alternative varieties come out of a traditional €˜ mass market, export only€™ wine region. Ashley Ratcliff€™s  Ricca Terra Farms is a small vineyard property specialising in alternative southern Italian grape varieties. Grape varieties based on their capacity to produce high quality wines in a warmer environment, and in contrast to the vast majority of Riverland grape-producers, the Ratcliffs use hands-on techniques usually associated with premium region such as minimal irrigation, leaf-plucking, shoot and bunch-thinning, wire-lifting and general canopy management to ensure even ripeness and low yields across the board. The resulting wines are changing the way many are now thinking about the region.

So, is it just me loving these new alternative varieties? I doubt it€¦ There€™s probably just not enough of it out there. So, here you go€¦ Here€™s a few to try and let me know what you think with your comments below.

Red wines

Bassham Wines 2012 Lagrein – This Lagrein is a wonderful dark rich wine, deep ruby red in colour. A favourite of mine, this is also organically grown.

Amato Vino 2013 Nero D€™Avola – Juicy strawberry, sour cherry, sweet roasted tomato; also baked quince, rhubarb and plum. Eastern spice and white pepper. Soft, light style that is best enjoyed with food.

White Wines

Amato Vino 2013 Vermentino – savoury marzipan and coconut; salted lemon; pear and granny smith apples. Clean and crisp, a light bodied classic Italian white wine.

Bassham Wines 2013 Fiano – pale straw coloured wine with strong aromas of spiced honey notes, a hint of nuttiness, palate full, rounded, well balanced, clean finish with flavours of cumquat and lemon


Unico Zelo 2014 Rosato РA Rosato crafted from a Saign̩e of our Nebbiolo (predominantly), with minor components of Dolcetto, Grenache and Merlot. A more generous style of Rosato, with aromas of sweet cherries, almond blossom and fragrant rose petals.

I could list a lot more, but how about I save that for next time. I really hope you enjoy these as much as I do.