There’s something special about getting a visit from the sommelier at a restaurant. It’s not just about getting a recommendation on what pairs well with your meal, but the sense that you’re about to drink wine that’s reflective of the restaurant, its people and what they care about. What if you could recreate that experience at home, sommelier and all?
Enter Broadsheet Wine, a monthly box of vino selected by us with help from some of Australia’s best restaurants and bars.
Each month, we’re collaborating with a different curator on a box of six interesting, restaurant-quality wines. Every box contains a snazzy tasting card written by its curator. It doesn’t matter if you’re a total novice who doesn’t know the difference between light and heavy-bodied wines, or a connoisseur who can rattle off facts about soils and climates – these boxes will satisfy all tastes.
First up is a doozy from the team at Carlton enoteca Agostino. Agostino joined the hospitable hum of Lygon Street in 2019 with a compact, seafood-centric menu. Find herb-laden schiacciata bread, an ever-changing selection of salumi and house-made pastas (we’re huge fans of the Moreton Bay bug and whipped bottarga dish that is tagliolini nero). But Agostino has built a real reputation for its temperature-controlled bluestone cellar packed with wines young and old, Italian and Australian, natural and conventional.
In true Agostino fashion, the team has put together an Italian summer box so fresh you’ll feel like you’ve just woken up on the Sicilian coast. If you’re not familiar with Italian varieties, consider this a great place to start. You’ll journey from easy-to-please, quaffable wines through to more obscure and thrilling varieties. The wines selected are sourced from an eclectic mix of small vineyards where winemakers are proudly reinventing the narrative around Italian varieties. Here’s what’s inside.
Babo Prosecco NV
This peachy, floral, creamy sparkling wine comes from a young vineyard in Friuli’s San Martino al Tagliamento, a village that has only recently been granted prosecco status (prosecco is a legally protected term like champagne and Parmigiano Reggiano). With just 10 grams per litre of residual sugar, it’s drier and more intense than most prosecco found in Australia, which tends to hover around 17 grams per litre.
2021 Mandi Pinot Grigio
An approachable summer wine for moments where you don’t know what to drink. It’s grown and produced in Mildura, which has a long history of visionaries bringing Italian varieties to Australia. Mandi’s winemaker, Kevin McCarthy, is one of them, and he’s considered a bit of a rebel in the wine world. He was making skin-contact, or orange, wine with friulano grapes at a time when Australians still believed orange wines came from Orange.
2020 Linnaea Cortese
Linnaea is an urban winery located in Malvern (yes, the suburb of Melbourne) and run by a husband-and-wife duo: Dan Fischl, an agricultural scientist and consultant to vineyards across the globe, and Michelle Edwards, a winemaker who made her mark in the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Together they make wines from “near and far”, including cab sav grown in Heathcote and this cortese from the hills of Piedmont. Cortese has been grown for centuries on and around the Ligurian coast for the fisherman to drink with their daily catch, and it pairs unbelievably well with seafood. Using skin contact, Linnaea has cleverly added an extra layer of texture and complexity to this classic.
2019 Quealy Friulano
Set up by the aforementioned Kevin McCarthy and his wife Kathleen Quealy, this Mornington Peninsula vineyard pioneered pinot grigio/gris in the region and is one of its most decorated wineries. This skin-contact white wine, made by their son Tom McCarthy, has hints of apricot blossom, honey and nuts.
2021 Ravensworth Barbera
At the Ravensworth vineyard, half an hour outside of Canberra, former chef, restaurant critic and food writer Bryan Martin runs the show with a love for genre-bending experiments. This particular bottle is brimming with sour cherry essence and zingy acidity.
2020 Di Majo Norante Moli Rosso
Combining delicious black-plum fruitiness with brooding earthy tones, this red wine comes from a tiny mountainous region called Molise (a place so obscure the BBC once covered a conspiracy theory saying it doesn’t exist). There, Molise’s top grower Alessio Di Majo is renowned for breaking tradition and producing some of Italy’s most colourful regional pours.
Starting from $150, the box is excellent value. Drink these wines any way you’d like – date nights, dimly lit dinner parties and Friday night solo guzzles all acceptable. But if you want to up the experience, take Agostino’s advice: “These wines are equally at home outside in the sun alongside antipasti, as they are on the dinner table with seafood and pasta.”
The Agostino x Broadsheet Wine box is available to purchase via the Broadsheet Shop from $150. Order quickly, as numbers are very limited.