Dear Wine Explorer,
Congratulations, you have discovered the home of three of Australia’s very different wines. One of James Halliday's 5-Star choices in the 2013 Penguin Good Wine Guide, and rated a Top 10 'Dark Horse' in the previous 2012 edition.
Freeman Vineyards was established in 1999 in the Hilltops region of New South Wales, a location largely overlooked by expansionist wine companies – other than the McWilliam family whose Barwang brand is well recognised. Best known for cherries, stone fruits and top quality merinos, the terroir of the Hilltops is also ideally suited to viticulture, especially the classic red varieties, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.
But you don’t have to have a Charles Sturt University wine science degree to realise Australian drinkers don’t necessarily need another cool climate peppery shiraz label. That’s partly why I opted to plant two Italian-origin varieties – Rondinella and Corvina – the backbone grapes of Italy’s Amarone and Valpolicella wines.
The home block of the 40-hectare estate was propagated from just six cuttings of each variety sourced from the CSIRO’s grape breeding collection. Time and effort, trial and error, have combined to create our flagship - an unusual red wine that is inspired both by Italian tradition and local Hilltops horticulture.
To create the Freeman 'Secco' Rondinella Corvina we dry a portion of the grapes in a neighbour’s solar-powered prune dehydrator. The grapes are layered on racks and gently heated in air tunnels at 400C for three days, a process that concentrates flavours and modifies the tannin structure of the seeds. The dried grapes are then added to the fermentation tanks. Subsequently, the wine is aged for 12 months in a combination of old French and American oak barriques.
The traditionalists of the Veneto probably wouldn’t approve, but I do hope this different savoury wine appeals to you. The 2004 has twice been honoured with the 'Best Mature Dry Red' Trophy at the 2011 and 2009 NSW Wine Awards, and the 2003 vintage Rondinella Corvina was selected for Qantas First Class service.
Northern Italy also provides the inspiration for the Freeman Fortuna Pinot Gris+ our white wine, which was rated one of the 'World's 100 Most Exciting Wine Finds' in the prestigious WINE REPORT 2008 by UK wine commentator Tom Stevenson MW. Within months of its release it was chosen in the Top 40 of the 2006 NSW Wine Awards and also selected for service in Qantas First Class.
This unusual wine is a savoury, textural aromatic blend of several varieties – pinot gris, riesling, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, plus a dash of Aleatico. It is reminiscent of some of the multiple white varietal blends of the Alto Adige and Friuli, an ideal unconventional Italian-style white companion for the flagship Rondinella Corvina.
The third wine in the northern Italian inspired portfolio is Freeman Rondo Rosé, a dry savoury style again inspired by similar wines that originate from the Veneto region in northern Italy.
In addition, Freeman produces limited releases of Freeman Tempranillo, a trophy-winning Freeman Cabernet Sauvignon and Freeman Shiraz sourced from the estate Altura Vineyard.
These wines are available from the winery by Mail Order and will be couriered to your nominated Australian address FREIGHT FREE.
'Brian Freeman's wines, made in homage to the reds of the Italian Veneto region and the whites of Friuli,
have received great critical acclaim, but nothing I've so far read or heard does justice to how
truly exciting, innovative and inspirational they are.'
MAX ALLEN, THE FUTURE MAKERS
'Dr Brian Freeman has embraced Italian varietals to make some of the nation's most luscious wines.'
MARK EGGLETON, WINE UNCOVERED