About a month ago at one of our @chelseawinesociety meet-ups we had special guest, Ben Austin of Benjamin Austin Consultants, come and speak to us about a small family owned winery that grows Italian varietals in the heart of Heathcote, Victoria. I sat down eager to hear what he had to say and try the wines, but I can't lie and say I wasn't skeptical. A Nebbiolo and Sangiovese from Australia? I tend to take my "50% Italian" side quite seriously and feel pretty confident I know a true Brunello when I taste one. How could these varietals show a true expression coming from an Australian terroir? There was no way a blind side by side tasting was going to fool me...
Mario Marson of Vinea Marson grew up surrounded by vines. His great-grandfather and grandfather were both winemakers in Italy, and his father planted vines in the backyard of their Melbourne home. Although not in the old country, the spirit and essence of the Italian varietals were always present in the household. I've mentioned in other posts that wine can transport us to other places and memories. It can keep our souls alive and fill us with so much joy. Those strong connections to Italy gave Mario the impetus to create wine with passion and love. These are the elements that can truly only be tasted by a family-owned boutique winery (in my opinion).
We tried the Prosecco 2016 before we dove into the the blind side by side tastings. Green apple and fresh white flowers were abundant on the nose while the palate boasted with a rushing acidity, lemon and a bit of a nutty personality. Normally I don't think too much when I drink Prosecco, but this one made me stop and give myself time to really enjoy.
Then the time came for the blind side by side tastings with 2012 Nebbiolos and 2013 Sangioveses. I was able to sniff out the Barolo vs. the Vinea Marson Nebbiolo, but agreed with the group that in terms of approachability, the Vinea Marson could be enjoyed with OR without food. The Barolo was a little tighter and definitely needed more aging to round out.
I was feeling like an Italian wine connoisseur after getting the first tasting correct. I was cocky and so sure of everything going into the Sangiovese vs. Brunello tasting. I took a sip and was overcome with dried cranberry, black cherry, violet and a hint of vanilla. "This is for sure the Brunello" I said so confidently to my friend Tom sitting beside me. It was the wine I liked better...it must have been the Brunello.
I was quickly humbled. I was so wrong.
I was so blown away by how the Vinea Marson Sangiovese could have such a true expression coming out of Heathcote, Victoria. It was a wine I could take out to my back patio and sip for hours, or have with Sunday meatballs. My husband and I couldn't wait to buy this wine! You could imagine our buzzkill when we found out that wasn't possible as they are still searching for an importer to bring these wines to the US.
My thoughts? As New Yorkers we like things different. We don't conform when it comes to the way we dress, the music we listen to or the food we eat. When it comes to wine, we see the fad of biodynamic, organic, natural and orange wines sweeping the market. Well how about Italian varietals grown fabulously in the New World? Wines made with passion and Italian spirit? Something JUST different enough to be truly intriguing. This is something we NEED here in New York.
Vinea Marson needs an Importer! Spread the word and let me know what you think in the comments!