The flavour imparted by oak barrels has been dwindling for decades now, as drinkers seek fresher, fruit-forward styles that showcase grape over everything else. Fine French oak barrels aren’t cheap either. Enter the amphora — its shape helps fermentation, it is made of natural material and it’s a little porous. It’s like an oak barrel in every way except that it imparts no flavour and seems to have worked well for centuries, from the Ancient Georgians, Greeks, Romans and now a growing number of winemakers.
Quealy Lina Lool Mornington Peninsula 2019 $30
Linalool is a terpene found in the three aromatic varieties that make up this wine: malvasia istriana, moscato giallo, and riesling. It’s the maceration time on skins that releases the musky, intensely floral aromatics or ‘terpene’. Skin contact time is six months, then six months’ maturation in amphora, of course. Food-friendly and especially well-suited to spiced dishes like fish curry or fresh cheese made by a grandmother.
Trofeo Estate Chosen Few Shiraz Mornington Peninsula 2016 $48
With more than 100 amphorae on site, Trofeo might well be the biggest producer of terracotta wines in the southern hemisphere right here on the Peninsula — Harrisons Rd in Dromana. The Chosen Few shiraz is a beauty, with classic syrah violet purples and a real juiciness and lush, long finish. By using amphora, there is a real elegance that lets the fruit shine.
Yangarra Ovitelli Grenache 2017 $50
Not local but made by superstar producer Yangarra, which means you have to know about it. ‘Ovi’ means ‘egg’ and ‘vitelli’ means ‘life’. From the sands of McLaren Vale, the 2017 growing season was one of the coldest on record. Grapes from dry-grown bush vines planted in 1946 were given a long, luxurious ferment for a whole autumn on skins in big ceramic eggs. This is Yangarra’s most elegant grenache, with great emphasis on perfume, tension and precision.