Strange Bird grape varieties

Rare delights are flourishing at Ballandean Estate

We love our Strange Birds™! And so do Friends of Ballandean and wine judges.

  • Our Saperavi Strange Bird™ won GOLD at the 2018 International Saperavi Prize and at 2017 Australian Alternative Varieties wine competitions.
  • Ballandean Estate owner Angelo Puglisi planted his first Strange Bird™ variety  Malbec in 1984.
  • In early 2019, launched Queensland’s 27th Strange Bird™,  the first Ballandean Estate Malvasia vintage.

What is a Strange Bird™?

A rare and alternative wine! Granite Belt wineries offer a boutique and authentic wine experience, where in many cases the hands that pour your glass are the same that tended the vines and made the wine. We banded together to promote our unique high altitude destination with the Strange Bird™ Wine Trail. It gives you the chance to taste your way through 30 Granite Belt wineries.

What makes a grape variety alternative?

To be called an “alternative”,  a variety must represent not more than 1% of the total bearing vines in Australia as defined by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority.

Why is Australia embracing Strange Birds™?

Enjoyed in Europe for generations these alternative varieties are now emerging as Australian favourites.  Why? They match perfectly with food. Capture a Strange Bird™  and take it home today.

Along the Granite Belt's Strange Bird Wine Trail with Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi

Our Strange Birds™

The alternate varieties produced by Ballandean Estate are:

Durif (Doo-riff)

One of the new kids on the Ballandean block with the first vintage release being the 2013 and it looks like another happy Strange Bird™ in the vineyard.  The wine is full bodied with typical Durif characters of fruit cake and a touch of liquorice.

Fiano (Fee-ah-no)

A variety that hales from the southern part of Italy, particularly Sicily and Calabria. This variety is very happy here in Ballandean, its gorgeous vines flourishing in our cool climate,  producing a well-balanced and consistently flavoursome wine. Our Fiano displays a heady bouquet of ripe pineapple and lychee with a rich palate of tropical fruit and a luxurious mouthfeel.  This wine is also well-suited to rich seafood dishes such as salmon.

Jacquez (Ja-kes)

Once again, a very old planting at Ballandean that was originally used to intensify colour and for blending.  The juice of this variety is red and results in an intensely coloured wine that is perfectly suited to being blended with our Malbec — a very rare blend indeed! New research has suggested that this variety is actually an indigenous variety from North America, going against the old suggestion that it was from Europe. An intriguing variety.

Malbec (Mahl-bek)

A big and flavoursome wine that was traditionally used at Ballandean as a blending wine for Cabernet as was the trend at the time of planting.  Forty-plus years on, the vineyard is blessed to have a significant planting of this variety and is producing award-winning wines with them.  Our Malbec is big and juicy with touches of herbaceousness and leafiness.  The palate is well rounded with soft tannins and well integrated oak.

Nebbiolo (Neb-ee-oh-lo)

A finicky variety to grow in Ballandean, but when it’s right, it is so right! Usually produced as a medium-weight style with a heady bouquet of tar and cherry with a flavoursome palate and strong tannins.  This is most definitely a food wine and is well suited to anything Italian.

Saperavi (Sap-a-ra-vee)

One of the most rare varieties we have planted and indeed very rare in Australia.  This variety has red juice (very rare) and as a result, the wine is extraordinarily dark in the glass.  With a fruit-driven bouquet and big colour, you could be fooled into thinking that this wine was also very tannic, but when in your mouth, you soon realise the tannins are quite soft and the fruit flavours abound.

Sylvaner (Sil-var-na)

Originating from Alsace, this grape variety has been used a number of ways here at Ballandean. First as a dry white and then by the mid-1980s after a visit to France by Angelo, as a cordon cut dessert wine. The Sylvaner is famous for its luscious front palate with touches of honey and marmalade and its divine, crisp finish.  It is the perfect wine to serve with a crème brulee or try it with a rich cheese plate after dinner.  Ballandean Estate’s Sylvaner is recognised as the best of its style in the world. ,

Viognier (Vee-on-yay)

Often described as a red wine drinker’s white wine, as it is usually a heavier white wine with touches of spice and complexity. Our Viognier exhibits an enticing bouquet of apricots and is well suited to a rich seafood dish such as Prawn and Scallop Risotto.

Try our Strangebird Varieties

Love rare and alternative wines?

We produce a unique range of alternative grape varieties and are proud to be a part of the Granite Belt’s Strange Bird™ Wine Trail. These darlings are magnificent wines to pair with food.


Rated 4 stars by James Halliday

2015 Saperavi

  • GOLD — 2018 International Saperavi Prize
  • GOLD — 2017 Australian Alternative Varieties
  • SILVER — 2017 Australian Small Winemakers Show

2015 Fiano

  • Top 5 alternative whites in Australia and NZ — Winestate Magazine

2016 Fiano

  • Trophy champion alternative white Queensland Wine Awards

2016 Durif

  • Silver Royal Qld Wine Show
  • Bronze Toowoomba Royal Wine Show
  • Bronze Australian Small Winemakers Show

2016 Saperavi

  • Silver Toowoomba Royal Wine Show

2018 Fiano

  • Bronze Australian Small Winemakers Show

2016 Viognier

  • Bronze Australian Small Winemakers Show

Your wine discovery starts here

Like to become a Friend of Ballandean? Here’s a few ways you can go about it:

  1. Join our wine club free of charge by subscribing to our mailing list. 
  2. Sign up to our mailing list free of charge at the cellar door.
  3. When you purchase your first 12 bottles of wine, you automatically become a Friends of Ballandean member and you start saving straight away on your next purchase. You will receive life-long discounts, save money and enjoy exclusive invites to members’ events. You can also join our wine club any time you like no purchase required via email registration. Find out more on Friends of Ballandean

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