Bella Riva is Italian for “beautiful riverbank” according to the winery website and seeing as the vines are situated overlooking the King River in the King Valley of the state of Victoria in Australia. Bella Riva is part of one of the big players in Australian wine, the De Bortoli winery.
De Bortoli makes a wide range of wines and the Bella Riva range is meant to showcase their Italian heritage at everyday prices. It’s still family run and the aim of the Bella Riva Sangiovese/Merlot blend was to pay a bit of homage to the family’s Italian roots. The Bella Riva 2009 is a field blend which means that the vines were planted in the same field, harvested at the same time and vinified at the same time.
The red is an everyday wine, no pretentions, maybe a bit rustic in character but Sangiovese has historically been an everyday wine in Italy; it’s more commonly known as the main (sometimes only) grape used to make Chianti – as well as everyday drinking wines in Italy. Merlot, although not as well known, has been grown in Italy – though not as widely as it’s bottle-mate.
I first tried the red at a virtual tasting: read, I tasted this online with a bunch of other wine bloggers and we posted our notes while we were drinking it. I have to admit that at first I was a bit underwhelmed by the wine but after about half an hour it really opened up. A savoury wine on the palate but with plenty of red and black fruit aromas jumping out of the glass and into my nose. Savoury, smoky, earthy on the palate with faint fruit notes, this is really a wine meant to go with food. I had it with a simple tomato and pancetta sauce over linguine – perfect!
The Bella Riva is available in the UK, suggested retail price £9.99. I’d certainly recommend opening it about half an hour before hand, pouring a glass and letting it sit before drinking with dinner, it really does open up so well.