Early one spring morning we headed into the Southern Highlands region in New South Wales Australia to visit Tertini Cellars. It was October and we were staying on the coast in Shoalhaven. We arose early and headed inland up through the Kangaroo Valley, past Fitzroy Falls. It was a rainy morning and the driving felt a little treacherous; winding roads into the mountains, with the rain and driving on the opposite side of the road and car than we were accustomed to.
This area is so lush and green. Spring was definitely in the air. It was so different than the Shoalhaven area we had just left.
We made it, arriving before the cellar door opened and Jonathan Holgate, the Tertini winemaker met us to tell us a bit about the wines, and show us the winery. He took us out to the Yarrandoo Vineyard which is closest to the winery before taking us through a tasting at the cellar door.
This is a high-altitude region with a moderating maritime influence. We had just driven up from the coast. This gives them a long growing season. When I say high-altitude, the vineyards here sit between 650 and 715 meters above sea level. That’s around 2100-2300 feet. The Yarrandoo Vineyard is the highest of their vineyards at 715 meters. Here they grow, Pinot Noir, Arneis, Riesling, and Chardonnay.
Tertini is sensitive to the needs of the wildlife locally and leaves 30% of their property undeveloped. They say doing this gives the animals shelter and places to forage, so they don’t bother the vines, so everybody wins.
Tertini 2018 Private Cellar Collection Arneis
This Arneis is from the Yarrandoo Vineyard that we visited with Jonathan on that drizzly spring morning. There were only 62 cases produced. This does a partial oak ferment. Yes, I said ferment. Jonathan said that at the time he did not know of another Arneis being made in this way in Australia.
13.5% abv SRP $42 AU
This Arneis was medium lemon in color, with notes of light smoke, dusty citrus, bruised herbs like tarragon, grilled peach, earth, and roasted nuts.
Medium in alcohol, body, and medium to high acidity, it had pronounced flavors of tart yellow apple, almond, vanilla, and under-ripe white peach, with a long finish.
This wine was not loud, but quietly confident. It swam around the food enveloping it beautifully. When you return to sip it on its own it is bolder and brighter. It’s like a brilliant friend who is a good listener.
This vintage is sold out, but the 2019 Vintage is now available.
We paired this with a grilled peach, roasted chicken, and tarragon salad. If I could have found duck, I would have used duck, but…pandemic, ya know!
Grilled peach, roasted chicken, and tarragon salad paired with the Tertini Arneis
I sliced the roasted chicken and warmed it in a pan with olive oil and butter. After removing the chicken to a plate to keep warm, I added honey and more butter to the pan. When the butter melted I added lemon juice and salt, stirred this up, and removed it from the heat.
Sliced peaches and shallots are cooked on a grill pan, then the salad assembles with greens on the bottom. We used artisan salad greens, frisee, red leaf, and butter lettuce, but you can use whatever you have on hand. This gets topped with roasted chicken, grilled peaches, and shallots and drizzled with the honey dressing. Finish this off with fresh tarragon and sliced almonds.
I found that this barrel-fermented Arneis really made the tarragon pop.
Dessert was a peach crisp made in two individual gratin dishes. We mixed fresh and frozen peaches with sugar and flour to coat and placed them in the buttered gratins. This was topped with a mixture of butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and rolled oats. We served this warm with vanilla ice cream.
This was warm and wonderful with the Arneis, much of that was due to the fresh peaches which cut the sweetness of the dish.
Finding Tertini and the Arneis
If you find yourself in Australia (I realize that is unlikely to happen soon unless you already live there). Head to Southern Highlands and visit Tertini. The region is beautiful especially in the spring and the wines at Tertini are a step above.
While they are sold out of this vintage, I spoke with Craig their Cellar Door Manager and he recommends the Tertini 2019 PCC (Private Cellar Collection) Arneis, which spends 10 months in oak and he says “Looks terrific”.
More by Crushed Grape Chronicles on Tertini and Southern Highlands
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.