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About Chrismont Wines

Chrismont Wines was formally established in the upper reaches of King Valley, North East 
Victoria, in 1996 by husband and wife team Arnie and Jo Pizzini, with Arnie and his father Arnold having planted the first Chrismont vineyards in 1980 at Cheshunt and Whitfield.

The vineyards replaced a tobacco plantation that was planted by Arnold and his brothers in 1959 following his migration from Trentino, Italy. At its peak in the 1960s, it was the largest tobacco plantation in the Southern Hemisphere. Success was short-lived: legislative changes to the Australian tobacco industry in the 1970s rendered Arnold and his family bankrupt virtually overnight.

The move to plant grapes was a joint father/son decision: Arnold drawing on experiences as a share-farmer of grapes in Trentino; and Arnie as a passionate young man wanting to make the most of the land; The new vineyard development was named “Chrismont” – a tribute to Arnie’s sister Christine and her friend Julie Montgomery who were killed in a car accident in 1977.


The grapes were initially contracted to Brown Brothers for 10 years, with the vineyards managed under the tutorship of John Chales Brown.


The original plantings included Riesling, Barbera and Chardonnay chosen based on King Valley’s suitability to cool climate European varieties.

About the Vineyard

The first block of Chrismont’s vineyards was planted in 1980, with the vineyards now spanning 250 acres. With a similar climate and landscape to Piemonte and Tuscany in Italy and Alsace in France, long summer days enable the grapes in the vineyards to achieve genuine flavour ripeness, which gives lovely fruit richness to the wines, while cool nights allow elegant cool climate characters to emerge.

About the Region

The King Valley region was originally settled in the mid 1800s by Chinese migrants who landed in Robe in South Australia and walked across to gold fields in Rutherglen and Beechworth. In the late 1800s it became home to an influx of Irish settlers which included Australia’s most recognised bushrangers – The Kelly Gang. It was around this time that John Brown began a little winery in Milawa which was to become Brown Brothers.


After the Second World War, Italian migrants made their way into North East Victoria and quickly shifted the King Valley's focus from dairy cattle to tobacco. In the late 1970s, when Brown Brothers was rapidly expanding its operation and tobacco was in decline, contracts were offered to grow grapes and very soon a strong base of vineyards emerged.


The expansion continued and the vineyards grew in size until the King Valley had become one of Victoria’s largest premium grape growing regions by the mid-1990s, major wineries such as Domaine Chandon, Yalumba & Miranda, to name a few, came to recognise the high quality of King Valley grapes, thus encouraging additional vineyard plantings in the region.


It was at this point that several grape growers laid the foundations for their own brands, including Chrismont.

About the Winemaker

 

Originally from Tumut NSW, Chrismont winemaker Warren Proft had not planned for a career in wine but fate and serendipity intervened, and Warren, having no information or knowledge about winemaking, quickly caught the ‘wine bug’ and has not looked back since.


Warren started his winemaking career in Griffith NSW, working for Orlando Wyndham and then Miranda Wines. During Warren’s four years in Griffith, he gained a valuable insight into the big end of the Australian wine industry.


From here he broke free to explore the wider world of winemaking by taking on vintage work overseas. For three years, Warren travelled between Spain and Australia, working vintages and taking in the vast cultural diversity that exists in the global wine industry. “I did vintage in Spain,” Warren recalls, “for three years in a row. The reason I kept going back was the European sense of wine, community and culture...It’s quite refreshing (in Europe) to see, for example, wine being sold in a supermarket as a food item, wine being consumed through the day in moderation, wine being socially acceptable everywhere and there being a lot less problems with alcoholism and binge drinking. That changed my whole perception of alcohol, food, lifestyle and culture. That also changed the direction of where I wanted to work and how I wanted to work when I came back to Australia.”


Armed with a new appreciation of regional and varietal diversity, Warren was attracted to North East Victoria, a place where many European migrants settled over the years creating a great culture mix and an expanding wine industry. Warren worked for the next 6 years at King Valley Wines, a contract winemaking facility, as Senior Winemaker. He also consulted to small local wineries, including Chrismont. Warren is now a full-time member of the Chrismont team.
“It’s much more creative to be able to have a hand from the vineyard right through to the bottle,’ Warren says, referring to hi

s responsibilities at Chrismont. ‘You can choose in a sense how the grapes are grown, when they are picked – which are two of, probably, the most vital parts of winemaking. And then of course, there’s the carefully detailed and exciting winemaking process. Adding creative input into the bottle, and label design as well as the way it’s sold also gives me great satisfaction. I can feel assured that all Chrismont products are made to a premium standard and absolutely no shortcuts are taken.”


For Warren winemaking is all about balancing and making a nice, smooth, comfortable drink using the quality of the fruit.

Varieties Produced

Chrismont produces the following varieties under the 'Chrismont' Label

-    Riesling
-    Petit Manseng
-    Merlot
-    Shiraz
-    Shiraz Viognier
-    Cabernet Sauvignon
-    Cabernet Merlot

The following wines are made under the ‘La Zona’ Label

-    Prosecco
-    Arneis
-    Savagnin
-    Pinot Grigio
-    Moscato
-    Rosato Mezzanotte
-    Tempranillo
-    Barbera
-    Sangiovese
-    Marzemino
-    Fragolino
-    Marzemino Frizzante

What Makes Chrismont Unique

Through the La Zona wines, Chrismont offers one of the most extensive collections of Mediterranean varietals grown and produced in King Valley with 11 wines currently available

Chrismont is one of just six King Valley – and quite possibly Australian – winemakers who grow and make Prosecco, a dry, not sweet, lively sparkling wine produced in the authentic Northern Italian style with apple and pear characters from secondary fermentation to increase dimension.

Ordering the Wines

Chrismont’s home is located on the outskirts of Cheshunt in the upper reaches of King Valley, North East Victoria. It is here visitors can taste through the Chrismont wines in the original cellar door and meet the owners. Chrismont also has a second Cellar Door tasting room, located on the Snow Road in the Milawa Gourmet Region

Christmont Wines are available throughout Australia and can be purchased directly through their Cellar Door or Online.

All the details are located at their website: www.chrismont.com.au

 

My Thoughts on the Wines

The 2011 releases from Chrismont under the La Zona label use the difficult 2011 vintage to their advantage with the wines produced having bright fruit, edgy acidity and a structure that support early drinking and an excellent match with food.

Reviews:

2011 Chrismont La Zona Barbera

2011 Chrismont La Zona Sangiovese

2011 Chrismont La Zona Tempranillo