I’ve had the pleasure of following the progress of Chrismont Winery as an ever-growing highly creative business dedicated to continued focus and refinement in delivering Australia’s finest Italian varietals under the La Zona label. Thirteen years ago Essentials sang the praises of their beautiful marzemino and sangiovese releases. Today Chrismont’s expanded list of Italian varietals presents the visitor with a compelling cellar door tasting experience. The Chrismont label featuring classic French grape varieties could be considered the winery’s mainstay, but the La Zona wines, reflecting the family’s Italian heritage and passion, are something special.

Italian wine aficionados might race to sample the better known varietals in the La Zona line-up, including barbera (reviewed below), nebbiolo, sagrantino, arneis and fiano, but we’d urge them not to overlook the impressive balancing act that is La Zona’s Fragolino – cleverly made with a delightfully fresh acidity that balances the variety’s often overly-sweet strawberry flavours. The fragolino is a personal favourite for its individuality. That said, the other varietals are more serious and complex wines well suited to food pairing. Chrismont’s team of owner/viticulturist Arnie Pizzini and winemaker Warren Proft today produce wines of great balance and skill that will reward a visit to the cellar door.

Dining at Chrismont Wines

La Zona Fiano 2017

This bright straw-coloured wine with soft lemon lime hues features tropical fruit aromas of melon, lychee and gooseberry, coupled with lemon citrus and additional delicate, sweet floral notes. With its full and silky mouthfeel, the La Zona Fiano is surprisingly complex – layered with fresh fruit flavours that marry well with the delicate acidity. Adding to the palate weight are some attractive subtle spicy notes and peach stone. Overall it presents as a crisp, lively and extremely well-balanced wine that keeps on delivering. That surprising complexity makes it a perfect partner for vintage blue cheese. The wine’s gentle sweetness cuts cleanly through the acidity of a blue. Chrismont suggest the wine is also a good match with fresh seafood such as chilli clams and seafood pasta, plus goat cheese – all sensible options.

Just what makes fiano, a relative newcomer to the Australian wine market, special? Simple: it’s fresh, easy-drinking and approachable. This foundation, the exotic fruit fragrances and spiciness and its elegant weight make it a varietal well worth seeking out. La Zona’s Fiano is testament to the care and quality of vineyard management and direction from owners Arnie and Jo Pizzini.
4.5 stars – RRP $26

La Zona Barbera 2015

This beautifully crimson barbera features delightful savoury and sweet fragrances that burst from the glass, immediately announcing the complexity within. Layers of warm spice – cloves and nutmeg – colour the lifted fruit aromas of rich cherry, blackberry and ripe plum. The La Zona Barbera 2015 is a showcase cool-climate wine grown in the upper reaches of Victoria’s King Valley. Here in this sub-alpine region the fruit ripens slowly, naturally developing complex characteristics and nutty tannins that enhance the wine. Minimal intervention is exercised in the vineyard to craft this delicate wine; the rich flavours and tannins are the natural gift of optimally ripened grapes and seed. This gem of a wine boasts luscious fruit flavours and ultra-fine, velvety tannins that have been softened by a mix of new and seasoned French oak. After bottling the wine is rested for 6 to 12 months before release, ensuring it is ready to enjoy young, though a couple of years’ additional age will enhance that complexity. Pair it with tomato-based dishes like pizza or a classic hearty Italian meat ragu. It’s elegant and well balanced, and wonderful value for its price.
4 stars – RRP $26

Our Wine Ratings

We judge wine on how drinkable and how memorable it is – just the way you probably do at home. To simplify things, we rate them using a maximum of five stars. To learn more about how we see it, visit:

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