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Your Questions


In  your October/November edition, you had an article on the 2017 Barolos (Nick Stock). Each label mentioned in the piece produces a number of Barolos, with different names and different price points. Can you tell me what those different names refer/relate to and why the price points within one producer’s range can vary so greatly? Are they different vineyards or subregions, or is it different winemaking techniques that result in differently named Barolos?

Heidi Evans, Sydney, NSW

Barolo is a complex region, made up of 11 villages, each of which is divided into many individual vineyards.  Most wines labelled as Barolo DOCG will usually be blended from several vineyards. But as Barolo increased in popularity, producers looked for new ways to distinguish themselves so began personalising their labels with additional designations such as the names of the vineyards or villages. It was felt some order was needed and in 2010, specific sites were formally recognised as Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva (MGA).

A producer may release a number of wines from these individual sites and to distinguish them will usually display the name of the MGA on the label. These wines will definitely command a price premium. Winemaking techniques will vary as each producer has their own philosophy and even small differences – fermentation temperature or length of maceration – will account for distinct styles. But Barolo’s DOCG regulation, that wines must have been aged for a minimum of 38 months in total (Barolo) and 62 months (Barolo Riserva) is common to all.  


I  have heard that saperavi from Georgia is one of the few grapes that has both a red skin and red juice. Are there any others that we’re likely to come across in the Southern Hemisphere?

Ellie Foster, Orange, NSW

A  native of Georgia, saperavi is regarded as a teinturier variety (teinturier is the name given to grapes that have both coloured skins and flesh). While its flesh isn’t as deeply pigmented as some, it is highly prized for its ability to contribute both acidity and colour to blends. It makes a pretty robust style of wine whose heroic levels of tannin mean the best wines need time to develop in bottle. Saperavi is planted in Australia where it makes wines of excellent quality, though possibly not quite as heartily tannic. Australia has other teinturier varieties such alicante bouschet and chambourcin. Although they have their supporters, these varieties are not as highly prized so are probably destined to play a supporting rather than starring role.


Are durif and petite sirah the same grape variety? Why the difference in name and is it related to syrah?

Fiona Stead, Geelong, Vic

They are indeed. Durif was discovered in the French vineyard of Francois Durif but when the vine was exported to California, it was labelled as ‘petite sirah’. DNA profiling has shown it to be related to true syrah, but, although it can make decent, full-bodied red wine, it isn’t generally held in the same regard.  

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