As I experienced, you simply cannot grow up in South Australia and not have an affinity for wine. My childhood was spent in the tasting rooms of some of the most famous Australian wineries (drinking lemonade of course), as my dad and grandfather were red wine obsessives. You can probably guess that this love for wine made its way down to me.
Then, once I moved to London, I was able to experience a whole new variety of wine regions. Believe it or not, I had actually never drank Italian wine until I moved to London and heard the cries of “Pinot Grigio” in many of the city bars on a Friday night! So, after doing my fair share of testing out the delicious wines from Italy, my affinity for the region’s grapes grew. It’s so hard to feature only six Italian wines, but I chose some of my most memorable bottles.
Nino Franco | Rustico Prosecco NV
Ah Prosecco! I don’t think I had heard of it until I moved to London, and yet it is the key ingredient in my favourite aperitifs — The Bellini and Aperol Spritz — and also rather wonderful on its own.
The legendary estate of Nino Franco, in the celebrated region of Valdobbiadene, has been producing stunning Prosecco for three generations, and their Rustico is one of my favourite bottles of Prosecco to share. If I close my eyes and think of the “delicate floral notes,” I am transported to the canals of Venice. This is a celebration staple in my life!
Jermann | W … Dreams … … …
I’ve mentioned this Chardonnay before and, yes — it really does have this crazy long name — but let’s just call it “Dreams.” Not only is this a gorgeous, bold chardonnay with “exotic hints of ripened fruit, melted butter, vanilla and pastry …,” but if you read about the wine on their website, you will learn that it’s dedicated to U2′s The Joshua Tree — specifically to the song “Where the Streets Have No Name.” You can read more here.
One of the reasons I love it is because it’s attached to a very lovely personal memory. I enjoyed a bottle with my husband during a perfect barefoot lunch at Conca del Sogno in Massa Lubrense on the Amalfi Coast a few years ago. The food was divine — pasta with zucchini and clams — and this wine was the most wonderful accompaniment.
Jermann | Pinot Grigio
One more from Jermann because I like this vineyard so much. This is not your average Friday night Pinot Grigio — this one is more special. The tasting notes describe it as “intense, full and fruity, with excellent persistence” and maybe that’s why I identity with this unique bottle. For the record, it’s ideal with seafood and porcini mushrooms.
I remember a sunny day dining at my favourite London Italian restaurant, Petersham Nurseries, with my dad on one of his trips over from Australia. We enjoyed a gorgeous bottle of this stuff. What’s even more exciting, the very next day we saw photos of this wine being shipped in crates destined for the wedding of George and Amal Clooney in Venice. If it’s good enough for George..
Ca Dei Frati | Lugana I Frati
Until I visited Lake Garda, I had never heard of a grape variety called Turbiana, and I certainly did not know that the wonderful region of Lugana existed. It took a trip to Villa Feltrinelli in Gargnano on the shores of Lake Garda — and one glass of complimentary house white on that stunning terrace — to change all of this.
Upon returning to London, I made it my mission to source some of this wonderful wine. There was a slight delay in my plans as I discovered shortly thereafter that we were expecting our first child. However, when I was able to drink again, I found this gem of a bottle with aromas of white flowers, peaches and lemons. We’ve been drinking it ever since!
Zisola | Nero D’Avola
Zisola Nero d’Avola is a Sicilian Red Wine made on the Zisola Estate near Noto.
I first tried this gorgeous red with a “plum, forest fruit, orange peel and floral aroma” at Petersham Nurseries with — you guessed it — my dad, over a long lunch upon the recommendation of a Sicilian waiter. We enjoyed it so much that we actually visited the winery for a tasting in March.
If you follow our Instagram account, you may recall that our visit was a bit of an adventure. The owner was in Naples for the weekend and the tasting rooms were closed. However, the Estate Manager graciously showed us around and opened 5 bottles in the tasting rooms just for us. Oh and what’s more — he filled my handbag with lemons to take home! Talk about an unforgettable occasion.
Joseph | Moda Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
The Joseph label is part of the Primo Estate Winery in South Australia. Whilst these grapes are not grown in Italy, Primo Estate has as strong an Italian heritage as any vineyard. In 1953, Primo Grilli arrived in Australia from the Le Marche region of Italy with a vision of growing grapes. He then lived out his vision and planted the family's first vineyard in 1973.
Primo's eldest son, Joseph, then studied Oenology and currently runs the family business. The pinnacle of the label is the Moda Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot which is inspired by Amarone wine making techniques. With flavours of “mocha, cinnamon, vanilla and cedar,” I adore this family-run label.
My dad sat next to Joe at a dinner a few years back, and this resulted in the most wonderful case of Joseph Moda arriving on my suburban London doorstep one day. It definitely wasn’t the last crate of Joseph that’s made it through my front door...
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