01 Apr Australian winemakers on Italian reds
Sangiovese, montepulciano, barbera, nero d’Avola, nebbiolo, dolcetto, and zinfandel are just some of the hundreds of varieties that hail from Italy. Australia, in particular South Australia and Victoria, is home to some of the most well-suited regions for growing Italian-style reds. We spoke to Adrian Santolin, Alex McKay, and Stephen Henschke about making Italian reds in Australia and exactly what they love about their preferred varietal.
Adrian Santolin – Santolin Wines, Yarra Valley VIC
H. What do you love about blending nero d’Avola and negroamaro?
A. Nero d’Avola and negroamaro are perfectly suited to the warmer Australian climate, producing super juicy, fleshy wines. When the two are blended together, they create a full-flavoured wine with great complexity and length. I think we might be the only producers in the country creating a nero d’Avola and negroamaro blend – the nero brings dark fruits, spice and subtle floral notes, and the negroamaro adds complex tannins, colour and weight. This wine, the Il Capo, embodies everything we love about Italian reds.
H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
A. My Italian heritage definitely inspired my interest in Italian varieties; they’re extremely well suited to the Australian climate and I believe they’re our future. We first made this wine in 2016 as a predominant nero d’Avola blend, since then, it has continued to evolve. The varieties may change slightly each year, which is why we don’t list them on the front label. This allows me to continue to explore new and interesting blends to create the ultimate Italian experience.
H. How is the Il Capo best enjoyed?
A. This wine is delicious, soft and juicy, full-flavoured and complex. It’s an ‘anytime wine’, best paired with family and friends and lots of delicious Italian food: homemade pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, garlic ciabatta, pasta, pasta and more pasta. Il Capo translates to ‘the boss’ and that’s exactly what this wine is – it’s boldly unique.
Cosa Nostra translates from Italian to ‘our thing’ in English, and that’s exactly what this wine is – our thing. A creative, experimental mix of two southern Italian varieties that form our own unique blend. Deep and dark in colour, this wine is medium-bodied on the palate. Juicy notes of mulberry and dark cherry with savoury, earthy undertones. 82% nero d’Avola, 18% negroamaro.
Winemaker Adrian Santolin says this wine is best enjoyed with almost any Italian-inspired dish, but especially with prosciutto pizza on a Friday night.
RRP $25 | Drink to 2025 | santolinwines.com.au