Earthy style a Paul Conti specialty

A LONG time ago a bloke called Camelo Conti set off on a voyage of discovery. The voyage took a long and winding course, which eventually lead to the purchase of land in Wannaroo, north of Perth.

The land Carmelo bought originally was set up to grow vegetables for the local market. As many Europeans will testify, you can’t eat without a glass of vino alongside a plate full of tucker, so Carmelo planted his first vines in 1940. It is these vines which begin the story of Paul Conti Wines.

Paul took over the winemaking duties from his father in the late 1960s and, although he had no formal training, his wines continued to gain accolades as his knowledge and skills improved.

Paul was able to hone his skills under the watchful eye of some of Western Australia’s undisputed winemaking gurus, such as Jack and Dorham Mann.

Paul Conti is certainly one of the great characters of the wine industry and, if you’re visiting the winery when Paul is around, you will gain a wealth of knowledge from his down-to-earth approach.

Since 1992, Paul and his son, Jason have worked very much as a team. Jason has added his own mark on the Conti wines and continues to establish his own reputation as a winemaker of note.

Paul Conti ‘Fronti’ 2000 rrp $16.99, 18/20 points

Jason Conti told me that this is the hardest of their wines to make, originating because of a ferment that got stuck. To my mind, Conti Fronti is one of one of the benchmark Western Australian wines. It is made using Frontignac grapes from some of the oldest vines in the region. The wine is fresh, fun and funky with floral aromas of violets and musk. The palate displays sweet fruit yet has a refined crispness and a long refreshing finish. Fronti, as it’s commonly known, is simply delicious and very well made. A glass of this while you are tucking into a hot salsa dip works a treat.

Paul Conti Midici Ridge Pinot Noir 2000 rrp $23.99, 16.5/20 points

This is a relatively new addition to the wine from the Contis and is beginning to make headway in the pinot circles. Pinot is never an easy wine to master and some will say that you never get it right. That said, this offering of pinot shows some luscious characters. There are some usual suspects hanging around in the form of ripe berry fruits, wild strawberries and redcurrants, the integrated acidity holds the palate together and complements the tannin structure and oak use. A really sound wine most Pinot followers will really enjoy.

Paul Conti Tuart Grove Chardonnay 2000 rrp $19.99, 17/20 points

Another delight from the Conti portfolio showing a great deal refinement and elegance. Enticing citrus, nectarine and tropical notes show of the fruit quality coming from the vineyard. Backed up with a palate that displays tight fruit with balanced acidity and oak use, the weight of the fruit on the palate sits up and shows elegance and excellent handling. Still a bargain and certainly worthy of purchase. Did you know that it gets its name from the Tuart trees that grow along the coastal plane down to about Capel?

Note: Last week’s wine column prices should have read: Sandalford reds, $25 each; the Element chenin verdelho, $14. The Sandalera fortified is now only available at cellar door for $92, though some retailers may have stock at the old $37.99 price.

LOVERS of fine wine can browse pre-1980 wines by appointment at Sterling Auctioneer’s rooms at Subiaco ahead of its latest auction, which starts at 6pm on Wednesday, May 16.

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