An Italian in AUS? Meet a 2006 Montepulciano from Tscharke

The last of the last. This is it, the last bottle that I bought from a Grateful Palate Warehouse sale, one that was first tucked away in my grandfather’s wine cellar, and then tucked away in my own: a 2006 Montepulciano from Tscharke.

Because Sue loves Montepulciano, a love that started because it is so fun to say,  but one that has lasted because “it has never let me down, it is a fun grape to taste and goes with most Italian fare,” I knew that one day I’d open it with her so we could write about it.

And we finally did for today’s Italian Food Wine Travel prompt to write about a wine with Italian origins being grown somewhere else. Unlike French grapes that abound in the new world, Italian grapes are much less common. In the San Francisco Bay Area, where many Italian immigrants settled as farmers, a lot of zinfandel was planted to make their own wines but not much else. Today you might find sangiovese or wineries specializing in Italian grapes like Mosby in the Santa Barbara area, but they just aren’t as common as grapes from France.

But we’re here today to tell you you should seek out Italian grapes grown in other countries! And definitely check into ones from AUS! By the way, did you know that the Wine Bloggers Conference is going to Australia in 2019?? 

2006 – Tscharke – Barossa Valley Montepulciano – 15% alcohol
purchased at a Grateful Palate Warehouse Sale

According to winemaker Damien Tscharke, his father persuaded him to plant the lesser known Montepulciano grape. In a land of shiraz, the traditional Italian grape has found a home suited to it in the warm Barossa Valley climate. This wine, called “The Master,” is made for his father Glen Tscharke whose “skill and dedication in the vineyard continue to be an inspiration to me.”

The Tscharke family has farmed in the Barossa since arriving in the 1860s; some 100 years later, they have a 15 acre vineyard.  Around 2000, Damien Tscharke planted Tempranillo, Graciano, Montepulciano, and Albarino. in addition to the Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mataro and Grenache on the property. Soon after, Damien Tscharke studied viticulture and was awarded the prestigious 2004 Peter Olson Fellowship for Innovation and outstanding Performance in Agriculture.

Tsharke takes a holistic approach to grape growing by using organic farming principles. Wines are produced using minimal intervention and they don’t filter or fine. Today, the winery specializes in single vineyard wines using traditional wine making techniques and features a pottery studio as Damien’s wife Eva is a potter!

They keep the wines affordable because “We’d like (Tscharke Wines) to be in your home every day, for that to happen the wines need to be very accessible.” He also points out that “winemaking is all about maximizing yields and quality by minimising inputs from our viticulture practices.”

Color: This 12-year-old wine is a bit on the brown side. Super dense, it looks like a fresh ripe plum right of the tree.

Nose: Plum, red stone fruit rather than berries. Earthy eucalyptus like you are in a grove of trees on a damp day. When first opened, a rush of fresh turned earth that dissipates a bit as it opens up and becomes more like dutch processed cocoa. Green notes at the top whereas the earth is at the bottom. Menthol develops more after opening and becomes very engaging. The complexity on the nose makes us want to just dive in to the wine.

Palate: Rich and sensual, this wine covers and coats the palate. Bright red fruit at the front of the palate, mostly fresh tart cherries which mellow to mulberries and ripe plum at the back palate. The flavor lingers nicely leaving us with eucaptlyus on the finish. Smooth going down, with a bit of silty earth in texture. For being such a high alcohol wine, it is beautifully balanced.

Pairing:  Loved the spicy salami on the cheese plate! Great with Spring Chamay, it really handled the washed rind well. It also was happy with a Tomme de Savoie, but wasn’t that great with Gorgonzola. At the end of the evening it even went well with a zucchini cobbler bar that Sue prepared. That being said, it went well but did not sing, which in its own was surprising to Sue who did not think it would work at all with a dessert. Dark meat from chicken on the grill with lemon, rosemary, oregano worked well, but chicken or eggplant parmigiana might have been better. I could definitely see this wine with duck.

We were amazed at the bright fruit in this twelve-year-old wine. It was beautiful, fresh and vibrant,  enjoyable on its own or paired with food. This wine definitely made us want to experience more of this grape – and if possible to age it!

The 2017 Montepuliciano is AUS $15: “Aromatic and lifted, the enticing aromas will keep you coming back for more. With notes of young red cherries, raspberries and subtle spice on the nose. A delicate palate layered with rich red fruits, spice and ripe raspberry all beautifully interwoven with smooth tannins.”

Curious about Tscharke? I wrote about another Tsharke wine  here, a Glaymond Zinfandel which I compared with Bianchi’s from Paso Robles.  

What about other traditional Italian grapes around the globe? Read more about what others experienced by following the links below. You can also join us this Saturday August 4th at 11am EST on Twitter at #ItalianFWT as we chat about Italian grapes from around the world.

Join us this Saturday August 4th at 11am EST on Twitter at #ItalianFWT and chat about Italian grapes from around the world.

Camilla of The Culinary Adventures of Camilla features “Italian Grapes
in Paso Robles: Aglianico, Malvasia Bianca and Some Pairings”



Jeff from Food Wine Click shares “Eating Pizza / NotPizza with Italian / NotItalian Wines”


Lauren from The Swirling Dervish features “Ryme Cellars Ribolla Gialla: A Taste of Friuli in Napa Valley”

Lynn from Savor the Harvest shares “This Italian Wine Grape Fooled You” 

Susannah from Avvinare shares “Noteworthy New York State Wines Made with Italian Grapes”


Jen from Vino Travels will be sharing “Italian Grapes in Lodi with Harney Lane’s Primitivo”

Gwendolyn from the Art Predator features “An Italian in AUS? Meet a 2006 Montepulciano from Tscharke”

5 thoughts on “An Italian in AUS? Meet a 2006 Montepulciano from Tscharke

  1. Pingback: Ryme Cellars Ribolla Gialla: A Taste of Friuli in Napa Valley – The Swirling Dervish

  2. What a treasure from the cellar! And it sounds like it has held up reasonably well – and surprisingly good with a wide range of foods. Hope you’re enjoying your European trek; sure looks like it from the photos!

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