Wine Lists

Alternative varieties to try

By Halliday Promotion

7 Dec, 2020

Get ahead of the curve with these versatile and awarded alternative styles.

Australia's diverse wine country allows for the successful cultivation of many kinds of grapes. Varieties that were once exclusive to their European homes are now cropping up next to tried and true Aussie classics, with local producers championing alternative styles as the next big thing. These wines are food-friendly, bold, fresh, exciting and age-worthy – and they thrive in our native climate.

If you're looking to try something new but don't know where to start, we've rounded up a list of some of 2020's best new release and awarded styles – complete with drinking recommendations from the winemakers themselves. Branch out and find a new favourite below.


2020 Woods Crampton Sleeping Dogs Red Blend
This bonvedro-mataro-graciano blend features a complex nose of red and dark berries, earth, exotic spice and cedar. The palate is medium to full-bodied with ripe berry flavours, framed by baking spices, dried herbs and a finish of soft tannins and bright acidity.

Winemakers Nicholas Crampton and Aaron Woods say: This wine is made from a unique and unusual blend that is all about the fruit. A deliciously easy-going style that is eminently drinkable and preservative free, so it appears fresh and bright in the glass. Best enjoyed at a relaxed casual event with anything chargrilled on the barbecue.

RRP $25 | Drink to 2024 |

2020 Berton Vineyards Metal Label Vermentino
Pale lime in colour with silver hues. Fragrant citrus, green apple and lemon sherbet aromas are evident. Lush flavours of pineapple, honeydew melon and fresh lime lead into a crisp palate with zesty acidity providing a long, persistent finish.

Winemaker Glen Snaidero says: Originally from Italy and found in the wine regions of Sardinia and Liguria, vermentino is well suited to warm climates due to its ability to retain acidity and develop fresh citrus and tropical flavours. The Metal Label Vermentino is best served chilled on a warm summer’s day – it’s very food friendly and will pair well with fresh seafood platters, citrus salad, or light Asian-inspired dishes.

RRP $13 | Drink to 2023 |

2019 Farm Hand One of a Kind Sangiovese
Trademark sangiovese cherries on the nose with a savoury note of a leathery, herbal bay leaf. More berry intensity features on the palate, carried along by chalky tannins and high acidity on the finish.

Winemaker Corey Ryan says: The One of a Kind Sangiovese is a perfect example of the fusion of Old World and New. Taking an alternative variety like sangiovese and putting it in a distinctive South Australian region like McLaren Vale has created a wine that mixes up sweet fruit with a savoury edge. An awesome food wine paired perfectly with a classic pepperoni pizza or mushroom risotto.

RRP $22 | Drink to 2024 |


2020 Trimboli Salvatore Trebbiano
Light straw, with green silvery tinges. A subtle bouquet, with hints of lemon and stone minerality, followed by a refreshingly dry and crisp palate of citrus and mineral notes. Aging in untoasted oak delivers a very appealing fruit-driven, creamy finish.  

Winemaker Salvatore Trimboli says: Trebbiano is an Italian wine grape that is one of the most widely planted varieties in the world. Us Italians love sharing food and wine with our big families and most native wine varieties are at their best paired with Mediterranean foods. Trebbiano is perfectly suited to being enjoyed alfresco on a sunny day at the beach – best served chilled.

RRP $18 | Drink to 2023 |

2019 Tar and Roses Sangiovese
Red candy and wet slate characters on the nose with hints of fennel and dry herbs. Fine, substantial tannins combine well with the sweet red fruit and dried herb flavours on the palate – finishing with a touch of mocha. 

Winemaker Narelle King says: Sangiovese is a thin-skinned variety like nebbiolo and though generally medium-bodied, wines often appear lighter in colour with red cherry hues. The variety's high acid backbone and tannin structure make it the perfect food wine. Try it with rich roasted meat, cured sausages, tomato-based dishes and hard cheeses – or anything Italian.

RRP $27 | Drink to 2025 |

2020 Hahndorf Hill White Mischief Grüner Veltliner
Mouth-watering citrus and tropical aromatics on the nose, followed by a vibrant palate of guava, nectarine, ruby-grapefruit and gentle spice. This is all held together with a super-juicy acidity and the all-important textural rub.

Owner Larry Jacobs says: Grüner veltliner is a unique Austrian white variety having the potential to make wines of great complexity and exceptional food-pairing ability. Our White Mischief Grüner is special because it’s specifically made in a New World style, celebrating all its aromatics and flavours. Its structure, texture and natural acidity make it well suited to a range of cuisines, from white meats, seafood and South East Asian dishes, to vegetarian.

RRP $25 | Drink to 2029 |


2019 Purple Hands Colours of the South Barossa Valley Rosso
Vibrant colour; aromas of red berries, florals, herbs, orange peel and sweet spice resembling red wine-based vermouth. A crunchy, lively and crisp palate showing floral, herb and spice elements and citrus, rose and red berry flavours. Fine tannin and natural acid on the finish.

Winemaker Craig Stansborough says: This wine is a blend of three Italian varieties: negro amaro, montepulciano and aglianico. It is a bright, fruit-driven style that is perfectly suited to a charcuterie plate with a selection of cold meats, olives and some hard cow’s milk cheeses – or if you are looking to dine on something more substantial, a plate of Italian pasta with pork and fennel sausage and some rich tomato sauce. Try it chilled in summer.

RRP $28 | Drink to 2028 |

2020 Innocent Bystander Arneis
Aromas of white peach, lemongrass and salted cashew with flavours of lemon blossom, nashi pear and nectarine. A textural and mouth-watering wine with a fine, dry finish.

Winemaker Geoff Alexander says: Arneis is an aromatic Italian white variety that is often referred to as ‘The Little Rascal’ because it can be a bit of a troublemaker in the vineyard. Our Arneis is grown in a single vineyard at the heart of the Yarra Valley. It’s bright and fragrant and makes an intriguing alternative to pinot gris – try it with seafood dishes like char-grilled calamari or crab linguini.

RRP $25 | Drink to 2022 |

2020 Ricca Terra Bullets Before Cannonballs
The Mediterranean red varieties in this blend were hand-picked and then placed in a cool room immediately after harvest to preserve fruit quality. The aim of this was to allow the fruit flavours dominate – therefore only three year-old oak barrels were used to store this wine.

Winemaker Ashley Ratcliff says: Making a wine using blends of different grape varieties allows for the creation of a style that is consistent from vintage to vintage. Our 2020 vintage blend of the Bullets Before Cannonballs is tempranillo dominant with lagrien, aglianico and shiraz – plus a splash of nero d’avola. This is a highly versatile wine that can dressed up and taken to any high end restaurant and perform at its best, or enjoyed at home with a bowl of pasta and friends.

RRP $23 | Drink to 2023 |

2020 Rusty Mutt Catnip Viognier
A fresh and ripe fruit nose, displaying orange blossom, lemon curd, a touch of dried apricot and guava. The palate has some forward fruit sweetness balanced well by bright citrus acidity, finishing on a refreshing clean note.

Winemaker Scott Heidrich says: Viognier is a terrific white variety perfectly suited to McLaren Vale – it may be described as sauvignon blanc/semillon on the nose, and chardonnay on the palate. To best enjoy this variety, remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before drinking and pair with fragrant Asian dishes like lemon chicken, spicy Thai salad or Indian chicken korma.

RRP $30 | Drink to 2025 |

2020 Tahbilk Marsanne
Lifted floral, citrus and tropical fruits on the nose, enlivened by a bright mineral acidity that refreshes now and will support the development of classic honeysuckle and toasty, marmalade characters with further time in the bottle.

Winemaker and CEO Alister Purbrick says: Tahbilk has been growing marsanne since the 1860s and currently has the largest single planting and some of the oldest vines in the world. As a young wine, the variety is fruit-driven and makes for a perfect match with seafood – with 5-10 years aging, as the middle palate broadens and becomes more complex, I would match it with chicken, pork or spicy Asian dishes.

RRP $20 | Drink to 2030 |

2019 Hungerford Hill Hunter Valley Fiano
This rare white grape variety is well matched to the climate of the Lower Hunter Valley, producing a refreshing wine with mandarin and fresh garden herb aromatics; the palate is textural and defined by lingering lemon acidity.

Winemaker Bryan Currie says: Fiano is an aromatic white variety with great acidity that makes high quality wines in warm climates, like the Hunter Valley. It is a versatile wine that suits a wide range of food – try it paired with seafood, white meats, and creamy pasta dishes or as a refreshing aperitif.

RRP $27 | Drink to 2024 |

This article was produced in partnership with the featured wineries.