Campanian white and Pecorino join Chalmers line-up
Innovation. We tend to think of technology when we hear the word, but you get it in nature, too. Evolution entails innovation for survival, and good farmers adapt to thrive in changing conditions. Again, technology can intervene to solve problems – but how much simpler to let the plant do the work?
Bruce Chalmers is no Silicon Valley type. He’s into plants – the kind that grow, not the kind that manufacture. But he’s most certainly an innovator, and his daughters Kim and Tennille have inherited the gene. As climate-change awareness grows and curiosity draws more and more people towards these lesser-known varieties, Chalmers becomes as important a name on the wine scene as it has long been in the realm of viticulture.
Thus the Chalmers range has evolved to focus on those varieties that grow most auspiciously in their Heathcote soils. Vermentino, Nero d’Avola and an excellent Rosato combining Aglianico, Sagrantino and Nero are the bedrock of the range. Greco and Fiano, the two Campanian white varieties, come next, with slow-ageing Aglianico the top red wine. Then you have a sweet wine from rack-dried Lambrusco grapes, as well as a white sparkling Fiano and red-fizz Lambrusco.
When we say ‘range’, we mean it…
And now we’re delighted to unveil the latest additions, both of which were first imported in 2015 and trialled to great acclaim under the Chalmers Project label. The varieties are Falanghina and Pecorino, the former another Campanian grape and the latter hailing from Le Marche, an eastern Italian region that sits between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea.
These two newcomers make the Chalmers proposition even more compelling to open-minded wine-lovers. The great Bruce Chalmers provided a peerless palette, allowing Tennille and Kim – plus Kim’s winemaker husband, Bart Van Olphen – to add an unrivalled splash of colour to the Australian wine and dining scene. The sustainably grown grapes get to shine with vitality and personality. And we all get to bask in this thrilling diversity.
2016 Chalmers Felicitas Sparkling Fiano $43
100% Fiano grown at an elevation of 150-170m on the red Cambrian soils of the family’s vineyard in Heathcote. Handpicked on 2nd February 2016. The fruit was pressed as whole bunches before traditional-method vinification with 27 months on lees. Zero dosage at bottling. Vegan friendly.
The wine is perfumed, elegant and refreshing, with notes of daffodil, nougat and crunchy peach.
An unusual sparkler made from Fiano and lees aged for 27 months. Pale and fragrant, with aromas of figs, stone fruit and nougat, it’s appealing, clean and appetising. A foaming mouthfeel and soft mid-palate are enhanced by a crisp tang and a light drying grip on the finish. Crown seal; 12.5 per cent alcohol.90 points. Ralph Kyte-Powell, Sydney Morning Herald
2019 Chalmers Vermentino $28
Chalmers first imported Vermentino vines into Australia in 2002 and made a first wine from the variety in 2004. This is 100% Vermentino from the Chalmers vineyard in Heathcote on rich, red Cambrian soil, sitting 150-170m above sea level. Handpicked fruit was whole bunch pressed and wild fermented. The wine sat on less for 6 months. This vegan-friendly wine saw no addition save for a pinch of sulphur.
Clean and crisp, this Vermentino shows lemon verbena, brine and white nectarine with an overall chalkiness, leaving you wanting more. – Kim Chalmers
While this has plenty of citrus flavours with a moreish lemon saline acid line, it’s really textural, too and just glides across the palate. Stone fruit and ginger spice also add to its appeal.92 points. Jane Faulkner, Halliday Wine Companion 2021
2020 Chalmers Falanghina $32
This is the first release of Chalmers Falanghina, a vine variety this visionary grape-growing family first imported in 2015 and vinified as a Project wine in 2018. The vines grow on the Chalmers vineyard’s soils of basalt, shale, sandstone, dolerite, quartz and limestone at an elevation of 210-220m.
The grapes were handpicked on 2nd March 2020. The must was fermented with indigenous yeast in stainless steel, where the wine spent six months on lees. This vegan-friendly wine was made with no additions apart from a pinch of sulphur.
It’s an aromatic, racy wine with notes of freesia, lime and white stones and a tangy, persistent finish.
2020 Chalmers Pecorino $32
This is the first release of Chalmers Pecorino, a vine variety this visionary grape-growing family first imported in 2015 and vinified as a Project wine in 2018. The vines grow on the Chalmers vineyard’s red Cambrian soils at an elevation of 170-190m.
The grapes were handpicked on 21st February 2020. The must was fermented with indigenous yeast in stainless steel, where the wine spent six months on lees. This vegan-friendly wine was made with no additions apart from a pinch of sulphur.
It’s a distinctive and relatively powerful dry white wine with aromas and flavours of flint, nectar, cassia, white melon and beeswax.
The Chalmers family have long been involved with promoting Italian grape varieties new to Australia, by importing and selling cuttings of those varieties, and also by making their own wines using the grapes. The latest additions to the Chalmers label include this mouthwatering example of the pecorino variety, originally from the Marche region. True to style, richly grapey but savoury, it makes you crave salty fish. The new 2020 Chalmers Falanghina, all lemon-oily charm, is also very good.Max Allen, The top 20 wines of 2020 – Financial Review
2019 Chalmers Greco $32
The Chalmers family imported the first Greco vines into Australia in 2002 and produced a first wine from the variety in 2005.
This wine is 100% Greco handpicked on 15th and 21st March from the Chalmers vineyard in Heathcote, where the vines grow on red Cambrian soil at an altitude of 150-170m. The grapes are whole bunch pressed and wild fermented in stainless steel, then aged in a old puncheons. This vegan-friendly wine was made with no additions apart from a pinch of sulphur.
True to the variety, this Greco is bold, intense and mouthwatering, with elements of ripe apple, poached quince and citrus pith.
2019 Chalmers Fiano $36
Fiano is a vine variety this visionary grape-growing family first imported into Australia in 2002 and made a first wine from back in 2005. The vines grow on the Chalmers vineyard’s red Cambrian soils at an elevation of 150-170m.
The grapes were handpicked on 27th February 2019. The fruit was pressed as whole bunches and the must fermented with indigenous yeast in stainless steel. It was then aged for 10 months in a seasoned chestnut botte. This vegan-friendly wine was made with no additions apart from a pinch of sulphur.
It’s a generous, balanced style with notes of lemon curd, dandelion and pine needle, finishing fresh with an appealing soft, pithy bitterness.
2019 Chalmers Rosato $28
The three vine varieties in this unique rosé blend were imported into Australia by the Chalmers family in 2000 and 2001. Handpicked from the Chalmers Heathcote vineyard on soils of ironstone, colerite, green basalt and quartz, at an altitude of 210-225m. This blend of 73% Aglianico, 14% Sagrantino and 13% Nero d’Avola is whole bunch-pressed and wild fermented in stainless steel. The Aglianico is aged in old barrique and the Nero d’Avola and Sagrantino in stainless steel. Six months on lees. No acid adds. Vegan friendly.
Made mostly from Aglianico, with decent splashes of Nero d’Avola and Sagrantino. And the Aglianico is fermented in barrel, which explains the wine’s lovely creamy texture. It’s also vibrant, laced with bright spicy fruit and lemony acidity. The essence of summer in a glass.93 points. Jane Faulkner, Halliday Wine Companion 2021
2018 Chalmers Lambrusco $43
The Chalmers family imported the first Lambrusco Maestri vines into Australia back in 2001. A first sparkling Lambrusco was produced under the Chalmers label in 2012. This is 100% Lambrusco Maestri from the Chalmers Vineyard in Heathcote, where these vines grow a 150-170m on red Cambrian soils. The grapes are handpicked before traditional-method fermentation. The wine spends nine months on lees and is given 4g/L dosage at disgorgement. Vegan friendly.
Made in a dry, aperitif style, this vibrant wine displays notes of violets, blackcurrant and spice, with a slight but affirming tannic grip.
2019 Chalmers Nero d’Avola $28
Nero d’Avola is a vine variety this visionary grape-growing family first imported into Australia in 2002 and made a first wine from back in 2009. The vines grow on the Chalmers vineyard’s soils of basalt, shale, sandstone, dolerite, quartz and limestone at an elevation of 210-220m.
The grapes were handpicked on 21st March 2019. The fruit was fermented as whole berries with indigenous yeast in stainless steel. This vegan-friendly wine was made with no additions apart from a pinch of sulphur.
It’s a vibrant, juicy wine with fine tannins and notes of dusty raspberry, cherry and graphite.
2016 Chalmers Aglianico $43
The Chalmers family first imported Aglianico vines into Australia in 2001 and produced a first Aglianico wine back in 2004. The grapes grow in the highest part of the Chalmers Heathcote vineyard atop the Mt Camel ridge at 225m elevation, in rocky Cambrian terrain. The fruit is handpicked and wild fermented as whole berries, then basket-pressed prior to aging in chestnut botte. Unfined, unfiltered. Vegan friendly.
The wine has lovely lavender, plum and cocoa notes, with fine, building tannin.
Excellent. It’s a wine of gravity and presence. It tastes of bright berries, florals and leathers and and when it says goodbye it shakes your hand firmly. It’s not heavy but it means business. 95 points. Campbell Mattinson, Halliday Wine Companion
2017 Chalmers Appassimento 375ml $48
The Chalmers family imported the first Lambrusco Maestri vines into Australia back in 2001. Their first Appassimento – a wine made from rack-dried grapes – was produced in 2009. This wine is 100% Lambrusco Maestri, handpicked from the Chalmers Murray Darling vineyard of red sand and limestone. The grapes were naturally rack-dried and wild fermented. There is 1.5kg of grapes in every bottle. Vegan friendly.
Luscious, mouth-coating wine of balanced sweetness (140g/L RS) with notes of dark cherry, dark chocolate and black cardamom.
The aroma and flavour of pure, rich prune and crushed, woodsy spices. It’s soft, mouthfilling, well-balanced and exceptionally easy to drink. It’s a curio, but a good one. The word ‘pure’ should be emphasised. 375ml.93 points. Campbell Mattinson, Halliday Wine Companion 2020