Winemaker’s 60-year love affair

IN MOST countries, drinking alcohol is only permitted to those aged 21 and above, but for winemaker Dominic Versace, his adventure with wine started when he was just six.
Versace, who grew up in a large family in Calabria, Italy, said they would often have wine at any time of the day.
Curious to know how the drink tasted, the lad jumped at the chance when his grandfather offered him a sip.

A love for quality and perfection: Versace with the range of Dominic Versace wines served at the dinner.

“When you are young, you want to try everything, and my grandfather was cool enough to let me try it,” Versace recalled with a smile.

That brief introduction to wine satisfied his curiosity, so he was never tempted to try it secretly without his father’s knowledge, which, Versace believes, is what many teenagers end up doing.

Years later, the family migrated to Australia, where his father gained employment with a leading wine company.

Versace followed in his father’s footsteps and later bought a huge piece of land in Adelaide, where he and his brother-in-law Armando Verdiglione jointly created their own brand in 2000. They named it the Dominic Versace Wines.

With a love for perfection and quality, the 66-year-old Versace even set up home with his wife Maria in the middle of his vineyard, where he grows three varieties of grapes.

“Now I live around the Shiraz, Grenache and Sangiovese grapes which I had planted and they are all free from all artificial chemicals, which makes them very special to me,” Versace said.

The Sangiovese, he said, was the most widely planted variety in Italy and Versace was the third winemaker to bring it to South Australia.

During a wine dinner held at Decanter PJ recently, Versace was on hand to introduce the range of Dominic Versace wines to guests.

The dinner started with a light and refreshing number, the Rossino Rose paired with chef Elvis Yang’s creation of Oyster Fritter with Honey Orange Sauce, Oyster Shooter with Passion Fruit Dressing and Baked Oyster with Hollandaise Sauce.

Guests then had a choice of main course, with three options available: the Australian Rib Eye, Grilled Lamb Tenderloin or the Lobster Thermidor. The Australian Rib Eye I had was well paired with the much-talked-about Ruspantino Sangiovese 2005.

The hosts had definitely saved the best for last, as the sweet and fruity Sparkling Bel Moscato NV served alongside the Hot Chocolate Pudding with Penettone Ice Cream was my favourite of all and a great way to end the night.


Tuesday September 29, 2009 – The star online