Italy's second most planted grape variety after Sangiovese, Barbera is said to originate from the Monferrato hills in Piedmonte. It has almost no tannin, but is very high in acid, with strong spicy and red fruit flavors which makes it an ideal accompaniment with food. Barbera is very durable and extremely productive, and can grow almost anywhere.
Matavino Barbera wines:
This is the most revered, very old(first mentioned in 1266) grape variety that makes Italy's top wines - Barolo and Barbaresco. Its name is supposed to come from la nebbia, which is a reference to the natural bloom that covers the ripe berries. This variety is difficult to grow outside it's native Piedmonte region, being an early starter and a late ripener. Although its skins are thin, it has huge chewy tannins and produces a lighter ruby colour wine. In the past this wine was stored for anything up to 15 years to make it drinkable, however with modern winemaking practices that is no longer necessary. It typically has flavours of tar, leather, truffles, strawberry and florals. Matavino Nebbiolo is very unique in NZ, and has been referred to as one of the best examples of Nebbiolo outside Piedmonte.
Matavino Nebbiolo wines:
Another Piedmonte native, it's name means little sweet one, which refers to its' sweet taste when ripe, but Matavino Dolcetto is actually a dry red wine. It has deep colours but with soft tannins and spicy, black fruit flavors. Dolcetto ripens early, and so is an ideal variety for the Matakana region as it also has big, open bunches.
Matavino Dolcetto wines:
Viognier is presumed to be an ancient grape. Whilst once fairly common, in 1965 there were only 8 acres in Northern Rhone producing 1,900 litres of wine. Today, while it's home is in the Condrieu and Chateau-Grillet appelations, Viognier can be found in many countries. In 2004, DNA profiling conducted at the University of California showed the grape to be closely related to the Piedmont grape Freisa, and to be a genetic cousin of Nebbiolo. It is prone to powdery mildew, and prefers warmer environments. Viognier wines are well known for their floral aromas, slightly oily texture, with flavours of tropical fruit, apricots and peaches with a low acidity.
Matavino Viognier wines:
Believed to have originated in the Burgundy wine region in Eastern France, today Chardonnay can be found wherever grapes are grown. The grape itself is relatively neutral, with many of it's flavours coming from the terroir and/or winemaking practices, including the use of oak or malolactic fermentation (MLF) which gives it the characteristic buttery mouthfeel. The vine has a short but vigorous growing season - budding early but also ripening early. It is still one of the most popular wines consumed today and the last decade's fashion of ABC (anything but chardonnay) has now been replaced by CBA. Chardonnay's back again!