La Zona's latest hero - Nero d'Avola.
As we release just our second make of Nero d'Avola into cellar door, we sat down with winemaker, Warren Proft, to get his inspirations and insights into this exciting varietal in the La Zona range of Italian wines.
Chrismont La Zona King Valley Nero d'Avola 2021
What inspired the making of a Nero d’Avola?
The inspiration came from wanting to represent the Sicilian element of the Chrismont story. Our Restaurant has built its reputation showcasing traditional Sicilian dishes and we wanted to make a couple of wines that also represent the culture and support the food. The white variety of choice was Fiano and the red had to be the well-recognised Nero d’Avola.
Paint a picture of the vineyard site where Chrismont's Nero d'Avola is planted.
Nero d’Avola is a variety that is well known for its ability to tolerate hot dry conditions and ripens later in the season. Potentially a challenge for the King Valley? The key was to find a well-drained vineyard site with a warm westerly aspect to help with ripening. Taking this into consideration, we approached Steve Lowe of Stoney Creek Vineyard to graft some of his existing vines to Nero d’Avola for Chrismont. Stoney Creek vineyard is an elevated site on the eastern side of the King Valley with decayed siltstone soils, limited water and a westerly aspect – potentially great for growing Nero.
Tell us about your approach to its winemaking?
With varieties that are new, we like to keep the winemaking simple to focus in on the fruit's potential. The fruit was crushed cool into a small open fermenter and yeast added. The yeast selected has a long lag phase which helps to extend skin contact time early while still protecting the must from oxidation. The ferment warms towards the end reaching the mid to high twenties before drying out. The ferment is then drained and gently pressed to older French Oak hogsheads for malolactic fermentation and maturation.
How would you best describe the style?
It's a medium bodied wine with good natural acidity, supple tannins and bright red fruits with aromatic spices and dried herbs. Can be drunk young or with some careful cellaring, it will develop rewading complexity.
What do you like best about the variety?
The wine is appealing in its generosity and diversity of flavour and the medium bodied palate makes it very approachable to enjoy with food or on its own.
Why do you think this variety is a good fit for King Valley soils/climate?
Grown on the right site, Nero d’Avola has the ability to produce excellent, true to type wines, as well as offering extra dimensions to the wine that a cooler climate can bring. Saying that, King Valley is a largely diverse region and not everywhere would be suitable, so careful site selection is critical to ensure good maturation of the flavours and tannins.
What are you hoping people will like about it?
As people's drinking habits seem to be trending to lighter and more medium bodied wines, I hope Chrismont’s La Zona Nero d’Avola will help to create another exciting option.
Your ideal food match or occasion to drink?
Matches well with bold flavoured dished like caponata as well as Sicilian pasta with sardines, or some lazy afternoon with tapas.
Pssst! Grab a bottle or two on your next visit to Chrismont Cellar Door, or enjoy a glass when dining in our Restaurant (bookings essential). This exciting new release is also available through our Online Store.