Following some heavy hitting, iconic Australian wines of recent weeks, we are now bringing you an incredibly satisfying mid-week, couch-wine, red whose quality smashes through its modest mid-twenties price tag. This wine is also homegrown, from a thoughtful producer in Beechworth in Northern Victoria. The winery is Fighting Gully Road, a small vineyard planted by experienced vigneron Mark Walpole. Mark is incredibly well respected among the industry, with a long career as Brown Brothers chief viticulturist and is the brain and hands behind some of Victoria’s top vineyards. In 2017 he was awarded the title of Australian Viticulturist of the Year.
After several trips to the motherland, Mark recognised the opportunity for Italian varieties in Central and Northern Victoria... in fact, he thought the potential was obvious. He quickly planted Tuscany’s famous Sangiovese grape when he acquired the land that is now Fighting Gully Road vineyard in 1997. He revived the land over two years before planting the site to a vineyard that is farmed sustainably. The wine is also fermented and aged with minimal intervention that reflects the approach in the vineyard. It is a natural process and the result is an effortless and enjoyable wine. Below our text is an article from 2019 explaining Mark’s journey with Sangiovese and Fighting Gully Road Vineyard.
Generally speaking, we are in the formative years of producing classic Italian varieties in Australia. A criticism has been that our versions don’t carry the varietal signature of their Italian counterparts. Many are tasty dry reds that lack identity. This Fighting Gully Road is a great exception. When we think about quality, early drinking, Italian Sangiovese, we think… red fruits, dry flowers, dry herbs, savoury, medium bodied, firm tannins, salivating acidity with a bit of rusticity. This is the roll call of flavours and feelings that you experience when you drink the Fighting Gully Road Sangiovese. It is a steal at $26, if it was from Italy it would be north of $40.
Furthermore, when you put this on your dining room table, know that you will be supporting a great small winery that suffered a lot during the 2020 vintage. There were no fires in Beechworth in 2020, but they were close by, and the entire vintage of Fighting Gully Road has been written off due to smoke influence.
The 2018 vintage was a good one however, and is destined for early drinking. It was a wet December and a very warm January for the cool Beechworth region. The fruit was harvested in mid-February. There is a small amount of Colorino which is a tip of the hat to the Chianti style, and it fills out the mid palate with a nice juiciness. We hope you enjoy this one.
Tom and Dan