FROM small beginnings in 1983, the Davis Wine Group has grown to boast 172 hectares of vines in four regions, the Hunter Valley, Wrattonbully and Coonawarra in South Australia's Limestone Coast zone and Orange in Central Western NSW.
Conventional chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, semillon, shiraz, merlot, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, riesling and pinot gris plantings are prominent, but geologist and oil exploration company chief-turned vigneron John Davis and his team also have an array of more exotic varieties. There's the Spanish-origin white albarino and the Italian-origin reds aglianico and sagrantino and fiano and verduzzo whites.
V - FOR VERDUZZO is best known for table and sweet dessert wines in Italy's Friuli area and follows the stream of Italian grape varieties springing up in Australia. The Davis group's Carillion arm headed by John Davis's son Tim has verduzzo in its Orange vineyard. Under Carillion's alternative varieties-focused Lovable Rogue brand, it produces a table white and a non-vintage apassimento dessert wine, the current releases of which are reviewed below and can be bought on carillionwines.com.au and in the Hunter at the Mount View Tallavera Grove cellar door.
Carillon winemaker Andrew Ling makes the apassimento from grapes dried Amarone-style for four weeks on wire mesh. The finished wine comes out of a solera system consisting of tiers of barrels, with the lower tiers containing older wine and the tiers above containing younger wine. The top tier contains new wine and, as wine is drawn off from the bottom casks, it is replaced by wine from the rows above.
Tim Davis had a circuitous path into the family wine business. After school he gained a Sydney University agricultural economics degree and a 2007 PhD on wine market economics. He then worked in the Reserve Bank before deciding in 2012 that his heart belonged in vineyards and wineries.
W - FOR WHITE BURGUNDY for 68 years this was the name carried by the hugely popular Western Australian Houghton chenin blanc-based white. It was first produced by celebrated Houghton winemaker Jack Mann in 1937 and long reigned as one of Australia's biggest-selling brands. In 2005, however, the parent Accolade Wines Group changed the name to White Classic to conform with the ban on Australian wines using the names of European wine regions such as Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne and Sauternes. It's still a great quaffer and the Houghton 2018 White Classic blend is at Liquorland, BWS, Dan Murphy's and other bottle shops for about $8.
FUNKY FUN VERDUZZO
FROM Carillion Orange vineyard on the slopes of Mount Canobolas, this wild yeast-fermented Lovable Rogue 2019 Funky Ferment Verduzzo is well-named with its herbal scents, green-tinted straw hues and zingy gooseberry front-palate flavour. The middle palate shows nashi pear, sherbet and mineral characters and the finish gunmetal acid.
DRINK WITH: spring rolls.
AGEING: three years.
RATING: 4 stars (out of 6)
WITH lemon hues, molasses aromas and luscious apricot front-plate flavour, the Davis group Lovable Rogue Non-Vintage Appassimento Verduzzo showslychee, toffee apple, mixed peel and pecan nut on the middle palate and mocha coffee characters at the finish.At carillionwines.com.au and the Mount View Tallavera Grove cellar door.
PRICE: $30 (500ml).
DRINK WITH: tiramisu.
AGEING: six years.
RATING: 4.5 stars
This good-value gluggable Campbells of Rutherglen 2019 Trebbiano, AKAugni blanc,shines bright straw and has lavender scents and zesty kiwifruit front-palate flavour. White peach, tangelo and slate characters show on the middle palate and steely acid refreshes at the finish. It's at campbellswines.com.au and the Rutherglen winery.
DRINK WITH: fish and chips.
AGEING: drink now.
RATING: 4 stars