Last Friday I flew into the Murray Valley town of Mildura to check out some grapes that were ripening slowly.
By co-incidence the bright Italian-origin local Stefano de Pieri shared the flight. One chat after another and we were soon sharing some decently-brewed caffe lungos at his nearby cafe.
“Mildura has been a twenty year journey for me, and for that it’s meant perseverence in a large country town” says Stef.
I quickly processed the fact that Mr de Pieri had engineered some new directions with his commercial bent, and with these on the tip of his tongue I garnered the excitement.
First there is Stefano de Pieri branded wines. These wines dare to be made different but this has been underpinned by his stalwart support for the the wine show of no equivalent-the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show (AAVWS).
“The first year of the show had just 17 entries. Last year there were over 600, and this year I expect 700” says the expectant vigneron.
Stef has cleverly developed his wine to contain varieties figuring in this show, but probably not well known. Now they receive a moment of national glory when the publicity shines on the AAVWS and the results pour from this wine-producing town.
His Tre Vini 2009 (three wines) or what I expect to be a three grape blend is in fact quite obscure: moscato giallo, greco di tufo and garganega together. If grown in Italy the wine would join three regions: Piedmont (north, white muscat), Campania (near Rome) and Soave (west of Venice). 10.5% alcohol.
Stef’s vision is quite clear. “I wish to make lower alcohol wines-10.5-12.5%-with more savoury characters for my styles of food; not to be heavy. They need to be inexpensive (USD 9.50), memorable and easy drinking summer wines.” I guess his request has been answered with Tre Vini.
The next de Pieri enterprise is the Mildura Brewery (a disused picture theatre) now churning out artisan quantities of Stef-named micro-style beers.
Two beers caught my eye-his Pilsner (from a homeland taste influenced by the Austrians) and Choc Hops (640 ml), 5.2%.
The choc hops is a dark, sweet, chocolated up with ample aromatic hops and superbly roasted malt in the stout mould. It’s a dessert beer.
And of course Stef comes from the Veneto town of Treviso, also the origin in 1910 of the very popular dessert tiramisu (means pick-me-up).
So I hope you can see it coming! The liqueur used in tiramisu being marsala can easily be substituted by Choc Hops, and there you have it-an original Mildura tiramisu recipe to enjoy alongside this vanilla-etched stout.
Also Treviso is the big city close to the most unpretentious sparkling wine region around-Prosecco.
Stef has gone the whole way and imported a single wine but only one in sync with his Slow Food convictions. This is an artisan wine known as Farmers Prosecco.
It is a wine having its first ferment in bottle and that’s the bottle you buy. It comes with the normal tirage closure which is a crown seal.
However the contents contain the original yeast, so it will pour cloudy, just like a Coopers Sparkling Ale where drinking the yeast is a religion.
The wine is non-vintage, historically the way Prosecco was sold, 11% alc, and as tradition would have it, a blend of the widely-known prosecco grape plus two rarer wines from the area in Valdobbiadene, verdisa and bianchetta.
For the i-Phone App try Beer Buddy; it’s very instructive.