Aussie winemakers and grape growers are experiencing very good success with Italian wine varieties.

According to sales data from leading wine retailer Cellarmasters, Italian varieties have increased with 132 percent in the last 12 months.

“For Italians, food and wine go hand in hand, so Italian wines tend to be food friendly with beautiful textures and refined flavours that are not too overpowering,” said celebrity chef Stefano de Pieri, who has a popular, namesake Italian-style wine range.

This week, the Mildura-based chef expanded his range with a Nero d’Avola and Fiano.

 “This Fiano is a beautiful, medium bodied white wine which is perfect for drinking even in cooler months, while the Nero d’Avola is a medium bodied red wine with lovely red berry flavours,” he said.

 The Italian born chef has made the wines in collaboration with his long-time friends the Chalmers, Australia’s most famous alternative varieties grape growing family. The grapes for the wines were sourced from the family’s Merbein Vineyard in Murray Darling.

 “The Murray Darling district has a hot and dry climate, so my parents took an interest in growing Italian varieties because Italy has a similar climate. Basically, our recipe for success has been to find the right varieties and grow them in the right region, and thus raising the quality of the wine,” said Kim Chalmers, Director or Chalmers Wines.

The Chalmers started importing vines from Italy in the late 1990s, and the popularity of the more than 50 different Italian varieties they have grown has been steadily increasing, especially over the last decade. 

“Italian varieties have become popular because wine drinkers are looking for diversity, and there is a high demand for textural whites and light-bodied reds, which happens to be a fitting description for many Italian varieties,” Ms Chambers said.

 Stefano and the Chalmers family have been friends since the 1990s. The friendship started with a shared passion for great, fresh produce, and evolved with a mutual passion for alternative wine varieties.

In 2001, Stefano, Bruce  Chalmers and one other launched the first Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show in Mildura. Only 27 wines were submitted in 2001.

Last year, over 800 wines competed for the coveted wine awards – a testament to the increase in popularity of alternative varieties.

 Stefano, who has studied wine in his motherland Italy, has an entire food-friendly Italian and Mediterranean inspired wine range with Cellarmasters.

His award-winning wines are also served at his namesake famous restaurant Stefano’s in Mildura’s Grand Hotel.

The Stefano de Pieri range is exclusively available at Cellarmasters.