$20; 12.2% alcohol; screw cap; tasted December 2011; 92 points
Last year, this fabulous rarity won three trophies at the Alternative Varieties Wine Show: Best Italian Variety, Best White and Wine of the Show. The feverish accolades which followed reminded me of the critic/producer Jon Landau announcing in 1974 “I saw the future of rock’n’roll. Its name is Bruce Springsteen.” The Boss hired him; together they recorded Born To Run and off it quite literally ran, despite my dogged preference for the perfectly lyrical The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle. What made the wine’s run even more spectacular was the thought that this variety from sunny Puglia, formerly unknown in Australia, could thrive so impressively in the Riverland, beating hands-down very much posher wines from cooler, higher, more revered vignobles. It appears that Bianco d’Alessano could be very much better suited to the hot irrigated desert of the Mallee than, er, the omnipresent Chardonnay, which came from Champagne and Burgundy, where it snows. The wine brings to mind the odd spectacular Trebbiano/Garganega blend from Verona, where it also snows: it has a creaminess which is not like berries or peach, but more along the lines of a ripe Rocha pear, with the firm acid of loquat. Many writers have frothed on about its “minerality” which means nothing: I suspect that in this case, it’s polyphenols they’re talking of: simple, dry, fine-grained tannin, and maybe a dash of methoxypyrazine, the grassy natural grape ingredient most evident in the Sauvignons, blanc and Cabernet. It’s like the dry dusty smell of tomato leaf in the summer – a contrast to that Rocha butter and cream. The wine is a delight to sit and schlück in the shade, unfettered by food, or with cool fresh sliced pear and Woodside Cheesewrights stunning new vine-leaf-wrapped Manon (above), a piquant goat cheese flavoured with organic garlic and pepper. Get some. On the other hand, Salena’s Bob and Sylvia Franchetto, and winemaker Melanie Kargas recommend yabbies, prawns, calamari and scallops. Salena has recently opened a tasting and cellar sales outlet on the corner of Lower North East Road and Darley Road at Paradise. Shake your little arse, and go buy a box for Jesus birthday. It’s a bargain. Rocha AND roll!