Most of us wine lovers in the Yass Valley are aware of the super-star varieties that are most prevalent on the shelves of the cellar doors in the region. Varieties like Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, all of which have their roots tracing all the way back to the wine “motherland’ – France.

But there is an increasing move being made in the region by varieties from two other European mainstays – Italy and Spain. And with good reason too – these varieties are often fabulously food-friendly and deliciously gluggable.

The Sangiovese (san-jio-vay-zay) grape variety hails from the Tuscany region of Italy and is famous for the Chianti wines that it produces.

It’s taken on another life here in Australia, being one of the original “alternative” varieties and is a popular choice by grape growers here in the Yass Valley. The Sangiovese wines produced here are of medium weight and mouthfeel with flavours of red cherries, red currants and dried herbs. They have a lovely, firm grip on the palate and are a champion choice for pizza, tomato sauce-based pasta, or lamb cutlets off the BBQ grill.

Tempranillo (tem-pra-nee-oh) hails from Spain and is the main grape used for that country’s famed ‘Rioja’ wines. It too has been plugging away into wine punters’ hearts for a while now and there are several options here in the Yass Valley region.

Tempranillo is usually medium to full-bodied, with flavours of ripe cherries, plums with dried herbs and cool climate spice notes of pepper, cloves and star anise. Pair these wines with rich, meaty dishes including lasagne, grilled BBQ meats and even Mexican foods with a chilli kick like tacos, nachos and burritos.

Other “other” reds that you might see around the local traps include Barbera (bar-berra) and Nebbiolo (neb-ee-olo) both from Italy.

The former has flavours of dark cherries, plums and dried strawberries with fragrant floral notes including lavender and violets. Whereas the latter often has flavours of cherries, leather and spices with a hint of earthiness.

Of the “other” whites starting to tout their wares, Vermentino (ver-men-teeno) is a ripper. If you love Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc then you’ll love Vermentino, with its clean and vibrant citrus fruit and crunchy apple flavours. Hailing from the Italian island of Sardinia, there’s no surprise that it pairs well with seafood dishes, especially those laden with herbs and a shake of spice.

Fiano (fee-are-no) also hails from Italy and produces wines that are slightly rich and plush in mouthfeel with pear, melon, citrus and nutty flavours. Try this with roast chicken – awesome.

So, get amongst these “other” varieties – hard to pronounce, but very easy to drink.

Cheers! Brent Lello | Yass Valley Wine Columnist