Wines by Versace

While one Versace family designs high couture, another offers fine, organic wines produced in harmony with nature. TAN BEE HONG takes a sip… and another

Mention Versace and the Italian design empire started by Gianni Versace immediately pops into mind. Now think floe wines… more specifically Dominic Versace, from Australia’s Barossa Valley.


Incidentally, the two Versace families are totally unrelated and, in a touch of humour, the back of the wine bottles actually carry the disclaimer that “there is no connection of any kind between our company and Gianni Versace”.

And thanks to a chance meeting between Nikko Hotel resident manager lion Brooks and an agent for Dominic Versace wines, you can get to sample these chemical-free wines at a one-night only Dominic Versace Wine Dinner at the Benkay Restaurant this Wednesday at 7.30pm.

Diners will start the evening with an excellent Non Vintage Sparkling Bel Moscato while nibbling on hors d’oeuvres of Pressed Sushi, Grilled Squid Meatballs and Yahata-style Grilled Chicken.

This light, sparkling wine is fruity, with a refreshing bouquet and an amazing range of tropical flavours. A tad more on the sweet side than most sparkling wines, it was the perfect foil for the pressed salmon sushi, squid halls and rolled chicken slices.

The pressed salmon sushi is cut into fingers and come with shredded shiso leaves in the centre, lending a minty flavour when chewed.

The squidballs are conveniently cut into squares and skewered with toothpicks. These are delightfully crunchy. For a more meaty bite, have the Yahata-style chicken which is chicken meat rolled with vegetables and wrapped with the outer layers of leek for grilling.

Then the serious dining begins, with an Avocado And Tuna Caesar Salad, paired with a chilled Non Vintage McLaren Vale Premium Sparkling Shiraz. The tuna, sandwiched between slices of ripe avocado, is lean and fresh. It’s an unusual style of serving, with chopped romaine and chicory leaves but delirious nevertheless, especially with the full-bodied shiraz. One of the few sparkling reds in the world, this wine has lots of berry flavours and a deep ruby colour.

Next is a 2007 Reserve McLaren Vale Unwooded Chardonnay to go with a light soup. This is an elegant wine with crisp edges and a distinct chardonnay flavour. Served chilled, its well-balanced texture complements the light, clear soup with seaweed, whole prawn, fish fillet and himeji mushroom.

The main course is Teppanyaki Salmon in Kuwa Style Sauce, paired with the 2004 Ruspantino Adelaide Plains Sangiovese. This fabulous red has the flirty nature of maraschino cherries and a strong berry tone. Smooth and velvety, its intense nature balances the sweetness of the terriyaki sauce clinging to the salmon fillet.

For dessert, there’s Japanese Rice Cake with Red Bean with a 2007 Bossism Adelaide Plains Rose. At present, only the 2007 Reserve McLaren Vale Unwooded Chardonnay and 2004 Ruspantino Adelaide Plains Sangiovese Sangiovese are sold here but according to Jeremy Khaw of importers Fond Wine & Spirit Sdn Bird, the rest will be flown in just for the dinner. “The dinner offers connoisseurs an opportunity to taste the range of Dominic Versace wines,” he adds.


Italian flavor, naturally

DOMINIC Versace wines date back to 1950 when Carmine Versace migrated from Italy to Australia. His wife Teresa, son Dominic and daughters Lina and Maria followed.

But it was only in 2000 that Dominic Versace Wines was finally released, when Dominic and his brother-in-law Armando Verdiglione combined their vineyards and their skills. With an extensive family history and tradition in vineyard and grape production, the duo set out to produce a natural, rich quality of wine to be shared and enjoyed.

The Dominic Versace winery and vineyard, located 35 minutes north of Adelaide, is free of artificial fertilisers and sprays, continuing the Italian tradition of making wine for family consumption. Except for the sparkling wines, all Dominic Versace wines come with screw-caps.