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Italian Heroes – Andrew Peace Wines, Swan Hill

Andrew Peace 2015 Shiraz Methode Ripasso
3.5 stars – $24 [view wine ratings info]

Andrew Peace Wines is one of Australia’s largest family-owned wineries, though it’s virtually unknown among Aussies, which is a great shame. Why? Well, since first vintage in 1996, the company has focused on a highly successful export program, selling about 95 per cent of its product into Europe, the UK, the US and Asia. It’s become a household name to British winelovers and is the fifth biggest-selling Australian wine brand in the UK. Now, thanks to representation by Melbourne-based sales agent Wine Connexions, it is gaining a following in Australia, with a growing presence in bottleshops and on winelists.

The Andrew Peace 2015 Shiraz Methode Ripasso gets off to a fine start with an attractive deep cherry colour and vibrant, lifted fragrances bursting from the glass. Complex aromas of cherries, violets and candy apple are complemented by hints of tobacco and raisin. Ripasso – the word means re-pass – is a traditional Italian technique in which fruit is fermented on the pressed skins of a previous ferment to add character to the new wine (and potentially raise its alcohol content). It is historically associated with the making of Valpolicella in the province of Verona, Italy, east of Lake Garda. The resulting wine is complex, rich and layered in flavour though medium-bodied, cleverly retaining an extremely fresh and easygoing appeal.

There is an overall welcoming ripeness to the fruit, grown in the warm-climate region of Piangil, Victoria, a little north-west of Swan Hill. Surprisingly, there are some gentle spice notes, savoury elements more typically found further south in cool-climate areas such as the King Valley. The Methode Ripasso offers a wonderful return for the winemaker’s effort, showcasing the benefits of extra time and care in winemaking.

Andrew Peace 2015 Shiraz Methode Ripasso is an easy-drinking wine thanks to its medium body, though it’s at the slightly sweeter end of the scale compared with typical premium Australian shiraz. Don’t let this point turn you off; it’s in no way over-cooked. Pair it with food, as it does finish with some grippy tannins, making it the perfect accompaniment to your midweek pizza or tomato-based pasta dishes. An inexpensive and well-crafted wine, it’s a gem worth hunting down for its voluptuous complexity.

Australia Felix 2012 Swan Hill Sagrantino
4.5 stars – $45 [view wine ratings info]

Thick-skinned, deep, dark and edgy, this complex and brilliantly balanced sagrantino is an absolute cracker. The excitement is immediate; as soon as you swirl the glass the fragrance of the wine hits you. Sagrantino, known for its powerful tannins, is a grape variety that’s difficult to tame, often producing extremely dry wines. It can prove challenging for the uninitiated, especially when the wine doesn’t have some solid bottle age behind it.

Time has allowed the tannins to soften and integrate seamlessly with the fruit in the Andrew Peace Australia Felix 2012 Swan Hill Sagrantino. The tannins still have grip, but they’re perfectly balanced by the fruit. Many sagrantinos can feel heavy, but this wine is, thankfully, medium bodied, which makes that second glass ever more pleasing. I adore the subtle fragrances of clove, cinnamon and black olive that play in the glass, brilliantly and delicately layered. Deeper, darker fruit flavours of prune, chocolate and cherry give this wine rich complexity. There’s no surprise that the Andrew Peace team label this drop full-bodied. With elegant touches of French oak complementing each mouthful for a long, lingering and classy finish, it’s a wine you cannot ignore. This is a class-leading wine from Northern Victoria. Delicious, daring and totally more-ish.

Andrew Peace Wines
4077 Murray Valley Highway,
Piangil, Victoria
apwines.com