di Lusso Wines
By Franz Scheurer
Just over 80 years ago Dr Thomas Fiaschi established the Augustine Winery in Mudgee, next to where di Lusso Wines are today. Being Italian he started to plant Italian varietals and was the first to bring Aleatico into Australia. Mudgee still has a sizeable Italian community today, and Franco Belgiorno-Nettis, Carlo Corino and David Paul from Montrose Winery have continued the Italian varietal tradition. In 1999 the di Lusso team planted Barbera and Nebbiolo and established an olive grove, adding Sangiovese and Picole in 2000 and a fig orchard in 2001. Their first wines, from the Barbera and Nebbiolo plantings, were made by Drew Tuckwell in 2002, the year they also released their first Aleatico. 2003 saw the completion of the cellar door and their first commercial crop of figs and olive oil and finally, in 2004, some of their wines are available at a few Sydney outlets.
I had the chance to try most of their wines last week. At this stage the following wines are available:
di Lusso 2004 Pinot Grigio: Made from fruit sourced from Orange. The wine is tight, flinty with pear and citrus flavours with a long, clean finish and definitely follows the Italian style.
di Lusso 2004 Vermentino: This wine is made from the first ever crop of this varietal in Australia. Originating from Spain and Portugal, the Moors brought this variety to the Mediterranean islands and the Ligurian coast, and this particular clone arrived from Sardinia and was planted by the Chalmers Nursery in Euston near Mildura. The aroma is akin to a Viognier, lots of tropical fruit, honeydew, pineapple and banana characters, confirmed on the palate and finishing with bright, short citrus notes. This is a very aromatic and fresh wine that could easily become addictive.
di Lusso 2002 Mudgee Rosso: This is the winery’s quaffing red. A blend of 55% Barbera, 30% Nebbiolo, 10% Sangiovese and 5% Aleatico it is crimson in colour, a mix of sour cherries and spice on the nose and floral with cigar box undertones on the palate. A light and agreeable red wine with lots of character.
di Lusso 2002 Sangiovese: The main varietal in Chianti this wine exhibits bright colour and lots of red berries on the nose. Fruit is the main component on the palate as well with a touch of vanilla, with a savoury finish that makes you reach for your glass, again and again.
di Lusso 2003 Barbera: Originating in the Piedmont, in Italy’s north-west this varietal has been planted in the Mudgee district for over 30 years and is capable of greatness. Purple in colour it smells like a field of tomatoes after rain. On the palate the fruit is there, mainly red berries, but is held together by cedary undertones and the unmistakable vanilla from the new French oak. It is a lot more elegant than most Australian Barberas I have tasted, showing complexity rather than brute power.
di Lusso 2003 Aleatico: The grape’s origin is believed to be the Island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany and it has mainly been used in rich and heavy, often fortified, wines. The wines made a hundred years ago by Dr. Fiaschi would have been very much in this overblown style, when di Lusso revived it however, they chose to make a modern, much lighter and brighter style, retaining the natural aromatics of the grape. The aromas are ‘grapey’, a bit like a muscat with overtones of Christmas pudding and delicate rose petal. It tastes a lot lighter than it actually is (13.2%) with a finish of cinnamon and fairy floss.
As a consumer, what you have to keep in mind is that these wines are food wines, in the typical tradition of Italian winemaking. With the right food they come into their own and I was surprised just how good they really are. I am enamoured of the Vermentino and the Rosso and have ordered both for my cellar. I’m sure they won’t last long…
For more information or to find a stockist near you:
di Lusso Estate Pty. Ltd.
Mudgee NSW 2850
Tel.: 02 6373 3125
You can also get the wines from Mike Cutrupi at
977 Anzac Parade
Maroubra NSW 2035
Tel.: 02 9344 5556