Category Archives: Australia

Going back to school with Wine Australia

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 15.44.09The idea of offering a one day wine school event in London first came from the talented Yvonne May, head of Wine Australia for UK & Ireland. Sadly her battle with illness cut her inspirational and tireless work short but her legacy championing Australian wine continues.

The aim of this compelling event is to make UK wine professionals aware of the diversity of Australian wines and provide them with up-to-date knowledge about new vineyard and winemaking techniques as well as a concise overview of todays developments, challenges and potential. As we can’t all fly to Australia, this is the next best thing.

So who better to guide us through the day than charismatic and knowledgeable Tim Atkin MW, UK wine journalist and the straight-talking and accomplished Steve Webber, chief winemaker at De Bortoli in Yarra Valley. The tasting flights were organised by Emma Symington, UK events and education manager, who had the tough job of selecting wines that demonstrate best the typicity of the key regions and their distinctive styles.

The challenge for the speakers was not only to captivate the diverse audience but also to summarise the entire Australian story within one day. It would seem that Australia has had a complete personality change so regardless the level of knowledge or experience in the room, there was plenty to learn. And if you have missed it, here are the highlights.

Australia boasts some of the oldest vines in the world (Tahbilk still has ½ hectare of un-grafted pre-phylloxera Shiraz vines from 1860). Despite only 0.025% of the land being planted under vine, you can find any climate and type of soil here. The diversity of wine styles has few limits. The finest quality wines are produced between 30 and 40 South latitude but you may be surprised to know that you can find wineries pretty much anywhere in the country (for example Granite Belt in Queensland). But some of the best wines come from cooler parts of warm climate regions. This is achieved through either higher altitude (Orange, Canberra district, Pyrenees) or going south with proximity to ocean (Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania).

Australian wines have come a long way since 1845 when the first bottle was exported to the UK. Then the majority of wines were fortified and it was not until the 1970’s that table wines took over the reign. Thanks to introduction of temperature control, the focus on international varietal styles and an open-minded attitude towards marketing, brand Wine Australia established its reputation in the export market for high quality table wines by the 1980’s.

However, as with best things in life, success did not last forever and today Australia is being challenged by a strong Australian dollar hindering its export markets, an imbalance between demand and supply skewed to over-production, limited water access and risk of droughts (it is impossible to establish new vineyard without irrigation) and the seeming lack of strong big brands as the market diversifies.

According to Steve, reducing the vineyard area to 120 000 ha from the current 150 000 ha would help to reduce the overproduction. Furthermore, in order to maintain sustainable profitable growth for producers, limiting their production to wines that can achieve retail value of at least £7 per bottle is advisable if not essential.

Comparing wines from a decade ago to those made in the last couple of years shows obvious changes implemented in the vineyards and wineries. So when was the last time you had a glass of Australian wine? And if you have to think more then five seconds to answer this then you had better visit your local independent wine shop, right?

Many boutique wineries are focussing on organic and biodynamic farming with notable attention being given to the vineyards. Despite the new technology and possibly because of it, producers find it challenging but inevitable to let go and move towards minimal handling. Spontaneous alcoholic fermentations are slowly replacing or complementing the use of cultured yeasts. Earlier picking and only token use of new oak (more French less American) is being reflected in fresher, more balanced, lower alcohol wines.

Riesling is no longer only produced in cooler higher altitude sites of Eden (500m) and Clare Valley (400-570m). But new ventures have proven successful in Tasmania (Josef Chromy) and Western Australia (Plantagenet in Mount Barker) thanks to their proximity to the cooling ocean breeze. Also Strathbogie Ranges in Victoria with its unique granite soil is starting to be known for its fine Rieslings (Mac Forbes), some fermented in old French casks for richer texture (Fowles Wine). There is a move towards slower alcoholic fermentations especially at the end of the ferment in order to reach balance between acidity and residual sugar. The majority of styles are dry but a few are starting to experiment with residual sugar, Grosset from Clare Valley being one the earliest pioneers (try his Alea with RS 12g/l).

Chardonnay, love it or hate it, is Australia’s best grape according to Tim. First planted in South Australia in 1937, it has transformed from a peachy and buttery spotty teenager to more sophisticated elegant grown-up. The trend now is towards extracting more phenolics and focussing on dryness away from sunshine ripeness. The ability to access more suitable and a wider variety of clone material is improving the quality. The combination of earlier picking, more use of whole bunch press followed by spontaneous ferment and minimal oak treatment (more old than new French) is reflected in crisper, delicate Burgundian styles.

Chardonnay is produced almost everywhere from warm & humid Hunter Valley (Tyrrell’s), high altitude Orange (600m) to cool coastal regions in Yarra Valley (Oakridge Wines), Mornington Peninsula (Kooyong), Tasmania (Derwent Estate), Margaret River (Leeuwin Estate) and Adelaide Hills (Shaw & Smith). However, there are strong differences in opinion on what Australian Chardonnay should taste like. Some are manipulating flavours by purposefully oxidising must, using wild yeasts or experimenting with different vessels whereas others prefer minimal intervention and focus on terroir, letting the wines speak for themselves.

Pinot Noir is everyone’s darling. Numerous winemakers are obsessed with this variety and as a result produce some of the best examples reaching the heights of Cote d’Or. Gone are the days when Pinot Noir was boosted with a small portion of Shiraz. Balance and lower alcohol (sometimes managed by using open tanks which blows off some of the alcohol) is aspired for. The focus is not on creating a particular style but to reflect an individual terroir/vineyard site which is what Pinot Noir does best. Unconventionally, use of whole bunch in order to exaggerate perfume and stalky freshness has a strong following despite being rarely used in Burgundy. Maybe it is all that inspirational and extensive drinking of DRC or Dujac who use 100% whole bunch as a textural component, jokes Steve.

Most Pinot Noir is planted in Yarra Valley (De Bortoli) as it thrives in this relatively free draining clay/silt/limestone soil. However, there are great Pinots made in many areas with cooling influence. From Mornington Peninsula (Ten Minutes by Tractor), Gippsland (Bill Downie), Geelong (Farr), Tasmania (Stefano Lubiana), Southern Fleurieu (Tapanappa).

Semillon used to be called Hunter River Riesling. There is definitely a resemblance to German Riesling with its high acidity, lower alcohol, lemony zestiness and occasional kerosene aromas. Three distinctive styles are produced in Australia. Hunter Valley Semillon (Brokenwood) has low alcohol (10.5% abv) and is dry, fresh and lean thanks to the warm humid climate, very early picking, no MLF and no oak. Their potential to age is timeless (Tyrrell’s). Barossa Valley Semillon (Peter Lehman) is richer but despite being picked early its alcohol resembles classic white wine. Margaret River Semillon (Suckfizzle) has more vibrant character thanks to blending with pungent Sauvignon Blanc. Its style resembles Bordeaux Blanc in many respects thanks to similar gravel and clay soils and French oak barrel ageing. But even Semillon is changing now as the tendency is to make early drinking more instantly approachable wines, possibly to re-capture the interest in these undervalued and possibly misunderstood wines.

Shiraz is the signature varietal of Australia. I feel that to state that there are two styles of Shiraz now produced would not do justice to this exceptional and outperforming grape. The trend is towards producing fresher, peppery, lower alcohol styles using a portion of whole bunch and old French cask than new oak. Suitable climates vary from Yarra Valley – Beechworth (Jamsheed), Pyrenees (Dalwhinnie), Heathcote (Greenstone Vineyard), Canberra (Clonakilla) to traditional regions such as Barossa Valley (Penfolds), Eden Valley (Yalumba), Clare Valley (Taylors Wines), McLaren Vale (Wirra Wirra) and Hunter Valley (Brokenwood). But classic rich, dark fruit-flavoured, full-bodied highly concentrated styles are still around, collecting gold medals and being highly sort after (Torbreck).

Cabernet Sauvignon is the work horse of Australia and after Shiraz and Chardonnay the third most planted. It has been entirely transformed, many examples showing the typicity of bright cassis fruit with bitter sweet spice and fresh tannins. Arguably Coonawarra and Margaret River offer some of the best examples. Coonawarra (Wynns) is a unique region full of contrasting climatic conditions with hot temperature on one side and frequent spring frosts and rain at vintage. Margaret River (Cullen) with its terroir and climate resembling Bordeaux produces remarkable quality Cabernets. Clare Valley’s (Jim Barry) cool nights help to preserve fresh acidity and finesse in Cabernets and despite its relative remoteness it produces newsworthy wines.

Sparkling styles are still rare. Some of the best sparkling wines are produced in Tasmania taking full advantage of its cool climate. Both Jansz and Arras are well-established and distributed in the UK but there are many boutique producers that are waiting to be discovered in order to appear on British shores. The tendency is to produce Champagne style blends of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but surprisingly Pinot Meunier has not been planted yet in Tasmania.

Sweet wines have been made in Australia since 1982 and De Bortoli Noble One Semillon was one of the first successful brands. What may surprise you is that back in 1920’s botrytised Semillon was also made in a fortified style. These botrytised styles are now aged in new French oak creating a very similar style to Sauternes.

Fortified wines (rare muscats/topaques and ports) once accounted for almost all production but this has dramatically changed to the extent that only a few remaining producers such as Campbells and All Saints Estate in Rutherglen still excel at this blending art and Penfolds producing limited release ports in Barossa Valley.

Whatever the future holds with all its challenges, I believe that UK and Australia will continue their strong symbiotic relationship. The UK still remains Australian number one export market despite the stick that Brits sometimes give to Aussie wines, historically being too ripe and now for being too lean. Brits seek Australian innovation and their easy-to-understand wines that don’t break the bank. As the worldwide focus thankfully tends to premium wine production with individual site distinction improving quality and profitability, Australia is well positioned. After all I believe that this spectacular country is still at a learning stage and the best wines are still to be made and discovered by us.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 5, 2014 in Australia


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What happens when an MW student goes on holiday?

photo 4-3

My hubby, Ben is an angel. Not many people would put up with their partners spending holidays meeting winemakers and viticulturists, talking about yeast cultures and canopy management and even fewer loved ones would be persuaded to be dragged along to visit wineries instead of well-deserved lie-ins and beach tranquillity. Well, my hubby has been doing just that for the last two years and the recent three-week trip in Australia was the ultimate proof of what a lucky wifey I am.

Being an MW student practically means you are married to the wine industry. From the initial “I do” you breathe wine for better, for worse, in sickness, in health. Holidays are no exception. This time we travelled across five wine regions (Tasmania, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Margaret River, Mount Barker) visited close to 30 wineries and sipped through hundreds of wines. And we are still happily married, I hasten to add.

photo 3-9

Let me be absolutely clear about one thing – Australian wine rocks! We were instantly struck by the infectious passion for food and wine here. From delicately roasted, nutty and frothy flat whites wherever you go (from petrol stations to your ordinary corner cafés), the high standard of locally produced ingredients to a sheer stubbornness to create the best possible wines. Melbourne in particular is a true gastronomic destination, full of quirky wine bars and gourmet bistros (see below for our recommendations).

photo 3-15

Australian wine producers are very proud of their hard craft and so they should be. What we liked the most is that many are not afraid to have fun, innovate and diversify. They understand the importance of giving people want they actually want. At the same time, many are proud of their land and are realising the regional potential and creating their own distinctive style of wines. It is common sense that is driving winemaking and viticultural decisions here rather than regulations and chasing after specific certifications.

Whether you believe in climate change or not, Hobart in Tasmania with its cool Southern Ocean influence and latitude similar to Nelson in NZ is showing great potential for early-ripening Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs and not only for the production of premium sparkling wines. No wonder Penfolds are sourcing Chardonnay grapes for their Yattarna in Derwent Valley and Shaw & Smith are growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Coal River Valley for their new premium label Tolpuddle.

photo 1-9

However, the 2014 vintage will see a very small harvest. Talking to Andrew Hanigan and John Schuts of Derwent Estate and Stefano Lubiano, they all predict a significant loss of yield due to windy and rainy weather during flowering and fruit set. Luckily, the quality of the remaining fruit is bound to be exceptional.

photo 4-12

This year’s harvest in Yarra Valley is very similar to Tassie. Timo Mayer and Andrew Marks of Gembrook Hill Vineyard in Upper Yarra had their yield reduced from 40hl/ha to 25hl/ha due to low fruit set. The loss of crop of up to 50% has particularly affected early ripening Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Mornington Peninsula seemed to be affected even more. Lindsay McCall of Paringa Estate and Ten Minutes by Tractor reported only one third of their normal harvest. We saw a noticeable millerandage on Chardonnay grapes at Moorooduc Estate. Luckily, Richard McIntyre uses Mendoza clones, which he believes still achieve good quality crop.

In fact the harvest was so small that Mac Forbes in Yarra Valley was done and dusted by the 3rd of March. Similarly, when we arrived to Gembrook we were greeted with a generous glass of Andrew’s gin (called The Melbourne Gin Company) instead of traditional tank and barrel sampling. Ben was particularly pleased about this outcome as trying half fermented cloudy juice and then trying skilfully to spit it in a gutter is not exactly his forte.

photo 2-13

When leaving Healesville I could only reflect upon the change in wine styles I saw compared to my last visit 4 years ago. The intense ripe fruit and opulence was already being replaced with lean and elegant styles then but it is now reaching a point of subtlety and restraint that is reminiscent of Burgundy. Noticeable acidity and reductive character is the trend now but I did wonder whether some producers have gone too far with earlier picking, stressed ferments, blocked malos and pH & oxygen management. All these tricks are making it an absolute nightmare when trying to pinpoint wines during blind tastings.

But the overall quality is high and I must agree with David Gleave MW of Liberty Wines when he predicts that it is the premium regional offering that will pick up strength in the years to come, and not only in the UK.

Bree Boskov working her magic and gently pressing and caressing 2014 Oakridge Pinot Noir while being supervised by David Bicknell and Steve Wood

Bree Boskov working her magic and gently pressing and caressing 2014 Oakridge Pinot Noir while being supervised by David Bicknell and Steve Wood

Many old snobs argue that the New World cannot produce minerality in wines. Well I would suggest them trying David Bicknell’s 2012 Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Yarra Valley (Oakridge), Dom Valentine’s 2012 Valere Riesling (Crisp Wines) from Long Gully Road vineyard or Gary Gills’ 2012 Beechworth Syrah (Jamsheed). It is when we tasted (drank would be more appropriate) wines like these that Ben started to realise that this wine tour disguised as a holiday is not that bad after all.

photo 2-17

The willingness to spit lessened significantly after a delicious lunch at Ten Minutes by Tractor. This classy joint in the heart of Mornington was a perfect watering hole and an oasis of calmness and exceptional food. Despite the initial stiffness of this place, the head sommelier and the other waitresses took a shine (possibly pity) to our unpretentious outfits and geeky enthusiasm over their extensive wine list. It was also time to make Ben happy and a couple of glasses of 10XTractor Chardonnay 2007 did the trick, knowing that we have more wineries to visit and more knowledge to absorb in Mornington.

photo 4-17

If you ever wanted to learn more about vine grafting and clonal selection but lack an affinity to books about viticulture, like me, then meeting Richard McIntyre of Moorooduc Estate is your best bet. His vineyards are a wealth of carefully selected Pinot Noir clones (some grafted onto original plantings) from the most widely planted MV6 (originally brought here by James Busby), Davis clones selected for their high yields to some of the best Dijon clones 777, 114 and 115. Indeed, Richard spends much of his time in the vineyards and also found a handy and so far successful way of dealing with Eutypa disease (which according to Dr Richard Smart could become as disastrous and widely spread as phylloxera once was).

Moorooduc wines are very unique. Chardonnays are lean and elegant as they are picked early and only about 50% undergoes malo. The Pinot Noirs have distinctive blood orange, anise and wild strawberry perfume. And if you appreciate whole bunch perfumed style, like Ben as it turned out, then try Richard’s 100% McIntyre vineyard 100% whole bunch Shiraz.

photo 4-22

Next stop, Margaret River in Western Australia. The most exciting about this region is the sense of change to come. The investment from Perth and the mining industry focussed on Wilyabrup and Wallcliffe has already reflected in rising wine quality and smartly equipped cellar doors.

photo 2-7

Despite being so far away from anywhere else, 3,5 hours drive from the most remote city in the world Perth, this place is full of potential. For Bordeaux blends in particular. The ideal soil combination of shallow red sandy and granite loam full of oxidised iron and gravels perfect for drainage and clay subsoil ensuring rainfall retention is not that dissimilar to Medoc. Sustainable water sources are ensured thanks to remaining vegetation deterring salinity and easy access to dams. The region does not suffer annual weather extremes that are so frequent and cause such significant damage elsewhere in the world. Apart from occasional hail and the risk of bushfires, Margaret River seems to be your perfect spot for viticulture.

photo 2-22

Much attention is also being given to clonal selection. Rob Mann of Cape Mentelle is bringing sexy back to Merlot by replanting their vineyards with more consistent high quality 181 clone whose origins can be traced to Pomerol. Rob also revealed to us his not-so-well-kept secret. He is making a very intriguing white wine from the first truly Australian grape variety – Cygne Blanc. This extremely rare grape, a seedling of Cabernet Sauvignon, was first discovered 25 years ago in Western Australia and kept under wraps until now. It is reminiscent of its grandparent Sauvignon Blanc with its herbal and floral perfume and has delicacy and waxy notes of Semillon.

photo 2-31

To finish off our trip in style, we were treated to a relaxed and private tasting and lunch with the very charismatic Vanya Cullen. As we sipped through her delicious Chardonnays and Cabernets we reflected on our Australian adventure.  It has left us super excited about all things Australian. Furthermore, thanks to everyone’s openness and friendly attitude I have gained so much invaluable information that I hope will help me during those 4 crucial days in June.

photo 3-23

Delicious Places To Drink & Dine


Speakeasy Bistro in Bondi Beach (with only 5 tables this is the cosiest place, hidden away behind the main tourist promenade – simple yet flavoursome and fresh small dishes will get your taste buds tingling)

Café Sydney at Circular Quay (must book)


The Town Mouse Restaurant on Drummond Street (relaxed high class drinking and dining)

Harry&Frankie at Port Melbourne (shop/ wine bar with $15 flat corkage for any wines – heaven for wine geeks)


Innocent Bystander at Healesville (your perfect chill-out place in the heart of Yarra – everything here is locally brewed, fermented, toasted, baked or churned)

Healesville Hotel & Restaurant (great place to stay and dine)

Ten Minutes by Tractor Restaurant in Mornington Peninsula (outstanding high quality, well-crafted dishes worth the pennies (not cheap) and a wine list you could spend hours admiring)


Sidecar Bar at Hobart (a cosy natural wine bar in the city also offering simple yet tasty snacks)

Garagistes Restaurant at Hobart (ever-changing five course dining with matching Sake or a choice of organic, biodynamic or natural wines from round the world)

The Source Restaurant at Mona in Hobart (modern French cuisine + fantastic wine list) – the modern art museum is amazing

Smolt at Hobart (great food but service could have been more attentive)


Settlers Tavern in the centre of Margaret River (Spectator awarded this place World’s Best Wine List and rightly so – you can buy wines here that you will not find anywhere else thanks to hard work by the owners – Karen and Rob)

Leeuwin Restaurant in Margaret River (must-visit for lunch)

Cullen Restaurant in Margaret River (great for biodynamic produce and tranquillity)

Gnarabar Pub in Margaret River (simple pub but with a great location and some huge portions)

Maleeya’s Thai Café in Mount Barker (this place may not sound much but we had the most authentic and tasty Thai food outside Thailand – tucked away in the middle of nowhere this place is a real treat – many of the ingredients are grown and farmed on the premises)

Raats Bar at Middleton Beach, Albany 

photo 3-10

Wines worth trying


Moorilla Estate (not in the UK)

Derwent Estate (not in the UK)

Pooley Wines (not in the UK)

Stefano Lubiana Wines – Whirly Wine

Shaw & Smith Tolpuddle Vineyard – Liberty Wines


Gembrook Hill Vineyard (not in the UK)

Timo Mayer – Les Caves de Pyrene

Mac Forbes – Clark Foyster

Luke Lambert – Les Caves de Pyrene

Innocent Bystander – Liberty Wines

Oakridge – Matthew Clark

Jamsheed – Indigo Wines

Yabby Lake – Swig Wines


Moorooduc Estate – Coe Vintners

Ten Minutes by Tractor – Bancroft Wines

Ocean Eight – Hallowed Ground

Paringa Estate – Hallowed Ground


Moss Wood – Laytons

Leeuwin Estate – Domaine Direct

Cullen – Liberty Wines

Cape Mentelle – Moët Hennessy

Woodlands Wines (not in the UK)


Plantagenet – Liberty Wines

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 30, 2014 in Australia


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Things are looking up again for the Australian Wine Industry in its international markets – or are they?

AustraliaChina is a lucrative market for Australian premium wines.

Australia is not only the second largest bottled wine exporter to China with a 15% market share in value and 13% in volume but exports “are expected to rise by 50% over the next three years” (The Drinks Business, Oct 2013). This projection would make it surpass the current biggest export market, the US. Annual Chinese consumption growth (+59%) is way ahead of its production (+24%) and China is expected to become the sixth largest consumer of wine in the world by 2014. With a growing middle class interest in premium wines in particular and decreasing demand for EU imports, Dean Person the National Australian Bank’s head of industry analysis is predicting a huge potential for Australian winemakers.  Australia’s First Families of Wine visited China this year in a bid to highlight the quality and diversity of Australian wine and Mitchell Taylor, AFFW chairman proudly announced “Our Chinese launch was an overwhelming success”.

Opening high-end tasting rooms and cellars in China has proven to be a successful way to engage and penetrate this new market for wineries like Yabby Lake. This Mornington Peninsula winery has a presence in eight provinces with five cellar doors offering wine education experiences. Having a cellar door in the current market saturated with cheap and often counterfeit wines, offers confidence to the consumers. “There is a lot of scepticism about wine in China… that cellar door base gives the wine some credibility” says Duane Roy, winemaker of Glandore Estate.

Despite the love-hate relationship with the UK, Australia knows it can sell volume here.

The UK with its discount culture and consumption driven by brands is an opportunity and challenge for Australian big brand owners, if they are willing to listen and invest. Paul Schaafsma, UK and European head of Accolade Wine with its number one UK brand Hardys, believes that producers need to “closely engage with retailers and understand what their consumers want to drink” (Harpers, Oct 2013) to succeed. Accolade Wines has just signed a three-year deal with the UK’s largest retailer, Tesco. This may well bode well for Accolade, but it raises questions for that company’s Australian competitors that have yet to sign that kind of agreement.

Australians know how to throw a party.

Savour was one of the biggest marketing initiatives undertaken by the Australian Government and Tourism Australia. The event attracted 750 of the world’s leading wine trade professionals offering a potential economic benefit to Australia of AU$2.8 million according to The Advertiser. It demonstrated two key things. Firstly that Australian producers are aware of the current unprofitable situation. Exports have dropped visibly from AU$3 billion in 2007 to AU$1.8 billion in 2012 according to the Winemaker’s Federation of Australia. Secondly they are committed to innovation and willing to listen to the world. Paul Schaafsma praised the event’s “appropriate focus on Australia’s regional and premium wine offer” and highlighted its necessary balance. One of the positive outcomes was a three-year joint food and wine campaign between Tourism Australia and Wine Australia. The fact that both small and big producers got together to promote their wines shows an important commitment to the Australian future as a whole.

The weakening Australian Dollar is helping to stimulate sales again in the US.

The fact that “the single most important economic factor in the last 20 years affecting Australian wine has been the exchange rate” as suggested by wine economist Mike Veseth, shows how fragile both margins and retail prices can be. Prayers for exporters were answered early in 2013 when the Australian dollar started to depreciate. No one was more pleased than Casella Wines, whose brand Yellow Tail has 75% of its sales in the US.  They experienced their first ever-financial loss (AU$30 million) last year due to the exchange rate after 20 years of trading. According to The Drinks Business, Yellow Tail is now looking to regain its lost profit. Yalumba from the Barossa (Australia’s oldest family-run winery) has already achieved 300% sales growth in the US after the favorable exchange rate enabled the retail price of its Y Series to be lowered by $2 to $10.

However Australia is finding it tough to make a come back in the US.

Despite the promises of growth and restored quality reputation, there remain some doubts. Will Australia be able to grow its market share in the US? Will it be able to reclaim its profitability yet again? According to The Drinks Business, Treasury Wine Estate anticipates shipments to the US will fall by up to 2 million cases in its 2014 financial year. Further more, Paul Rayner, the chairman, suggested “the company may look to offload its US business after chief executive David Dearie was shown the door over a AU$160 million loss” (The Australian, Sep 2013). The business also revealed a 53% drop in profit, down to AU$42 million in 2013, causing the shares plunge from AU$6.50 to $4.45. Larry Gandler, a Credit Suisse analyst, echoed this saying that “The underlying problem in the US is the health of the brand because of underinvestment in marketing” (The Australian, Sep 2013). Mike Veseth also pointed out during his Savour speech that “US market is so fragmented with at least 52 wine markets and the consumers are so diverse with more than 40% of adult Americans not drinking any alcohol at all, it is a maze to find your consumers and the right distribution.”

The real test is whether Australia can learn from its mistakes.

Overproduction and overreliance to selling the volume through the UK and the US are still haunting the Australian Wine Industry.  Treasury Wines Estates was forced to pour AU$35 million worth of excess wine down the drain in the US (the equivalent of 500,000 cases) in July 2013. According to Bloomberg, a bumper grape crop this year is threatening to encourage further price cutting that could damage Australia’s quality image abroad (The Drink Business, Aug 2013). This calls for a review of Australian strategy.

Despite the fact that the industry has observed that the commercial grape oversupply causes distortion of the price and potentially the image, no effective solution has been find to tackle this issue. Muray Valley Winegrower chief executive Mark McKenzie lashed out after the outcomes of the Expert Review of the Wine Industry and said “It is ironic that the wineries blame fruit oversupply from independent growers for much of their woes, but they have not advocated any direct action to reduce excess production either through cool climate commercial wine grape production, or through the removal of excess wine production capacity” (Sunraysia Daily, Oct 2013). Whereas Mike Veseth spins more positive view and suggest that “Australia has come a long way toward alighting supply and demand in the markets and removing its excess capacity which various by regions yet there is still work to be done.”

Combination of all these thoughts justify the conclusion that yes things are, for many producers, looking up. Growing markets such as China are opening doors to Australian premium wine producers. UK thirst for promoted big brands will guarantee sales, even if margins will remain poor, for big brand owners. Savour has demonstrated that Australia has a good story to tell and is engaging with its customers. Yes exchange rates cannot be controlled, are hard to predict and have crucial impact on the margins but the current weakening of Australian dollar is stimulating sales. However, changes and strategy reviews are also due in order to tackle the wine surplus and falling prices. With the global consumption of wine exceeding global production of wine for the last 6 years, the new world is full of rising opportunities.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Australia


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tahbilk vertical tasting and lunch at 28-50 Maddox Street

Tahbilk Maddox Street is the newest addition to the 28-50 family with other restaurants at Marylebone and Fetter Lane  A brain-child of visionary Xavier Rousset and top chef Agnar Sverrisson who have created a relaxing place to enjoy fine yet affordable food and wine. The main room has a bright and airy interior with a chic wine bar displaying tempting seafood and an aficiado cigar humidor. The side-wall made of classic French wooden boxes is a neat way of storing bottles of wine while giving you the impression that this place means business. There is also a cosy underground space with polished wooden tables and a view of the kitchen, creating a perfect hide-away for those long boozy lunches.

Talking about lunch – ours was fair, but nowhere near as good as the last couple of times I dined at 28-50 at Fetter Lane. The starter (ranging £7 – £9) of baby beetroots, goat’s cheese curd and salad leaves was simple but delicious. Our main (around £15) chicken spatchcock was average, lacking taste and a bit dry unfortunately.

While this was bit of a let down on the day, a rare opportunity to try older vintages of Tahbilk, one of the oldest and most beautiful Australian wineries, more than made up for it. There are two things that you should know about this unique producer.

Their famous 100-acre (40 ha) Marsanne vineyard is the largest single holding of the variety in the world with 16 acres (6 ha) of vines dating back to 1927. The current release of 2011 (Armit £78 per 6) is delicate, pure and floral with lemony vibrancy and green apple freshness. By the time you start sipping the 1995, the wine is unrecognisable. Dark in colour reminiscent of an aged Sauternes, this is an aromatic infusion of orange peel, honey and dried fruits with a spicy, resiny finish and still with mouth-watering acidity. The 2004 vintage was a great balance between the two wines, perfect drinking now and my personal favourite.

The second fact you should know is that Tahbilk’s 1860 Vine Shiraz is one of the great 25 vineyards in the world and amongst the oldest Shiraz vines in the world with less than one hectare left. Many of these 153 years old vines did not survive the difficult 2006 frost and it is predicted that the remaining vines have only about 20 years left in them. So now is your chance to try these still affordable and available wines before they become a mere memory. Only 80 dozen were produced of the current release 2006 vintage but luckily Armit still has some in stock (£600 per 6). At the moment the 2006 vintage tastes like a young Hermitage but give it another 8-10 years (if you can) and nervy intensity with bright black pepper and sweet oaky notes will mellow to a rich, deep and complex delight. The 1999s were my favourite showing that these wines definitely shine with moderate ageing.

Let’s hope that Xavier will add some of these treasures to the wine list so that everyone gets the chance to try them. They should be a great addition to what is already a pretty interesting offer with many rarely seen wines. The fact that the majority are served by the glass, in a carafe or a bottle, is a great way to give people confidence to try and discover something new.

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 12, 2013 in Australia


Tags: , , , , , , ,

My 10 Best Australian Wines from Liberty



There is no doubt that the strong Australian dollar is a double-edged sword on all producers’ minds. Rarely have export margins been squeezed so much due to exchange rates. Talking to several winemakers, it appears that having a strong bond and trust in your importer is crucial in times like this. In fact, having a good importer can be the key reason for sticking with a mature market rather than shifting focus to emerging markets. Investing & making the time for such tastings and talking about their wines directly to their customers is exactly what needs to happen if they want to prosper.  Those winemakers in the room – seem to get this.

Here is my shopping basket from the tasting:

Plantagenet Museum Riesling 2005, Great Southern, Western Australia – £18.99 (Cath Oates, winemaker since 2012)

Dawson & James Chardonnay 2010, Tasmania – £46.99 (Tim James, winemaker)

Dawson & James Pinot Noir 2010, Tasmania – £54.99

Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling 2012, Clare Valley – £17.99 (Stephanie Toole, winemaker)

Grosset Alea Off-dry Riesling 2012, Clare Valley – £19.99 (Jeffrey Grosset, winemaker)

Innocent Bystander Moscato 2013, Yarra Valley – £7.49/375ml (Steve Flamsteed, winemaker)

William Downie Pinot Noir 2010, Gippsland – £48.99

By Farr Chardonnay 2011, Geelong – £46.99 (Nick Farr, winemaker)

By Farr ‘Farrside’ Pinot Noir 2011, Geelong – £52.99

Greenstone Vineyard Shiraz 2010, Heathcote – £23.99 (Mark Walpole, viticulturalist)

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 7, 2013 in Australia, Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,



Australian Wine and Rococo Chocolate matching

At Australia House, The Strand WC2B 4LA

Wednesday 11 April 2012


Who has not tucked into an after-dinner chocolate whilst finishing off a glass of red and experienced a strange tingling sensation when the two tastes meet? Well I can tell you – wine and chocolate matching is quite a challenging task. You need to think not only about the flavours of wine and the chocolate but also about the perceived sweetness of each.  Should we try to match the two anyway?  Isn’t cheese the best match for wine at the end of a meal? Maybe, but there is something delicious and rather naughty in having a piece of fine dark chocolate with a sip of Sauternes.

So we (a group of foodies and vino lovers) had a go at this tricky art. From trying to find the perfect chocolate match for an oaky Chardonnay, an aromatic Gewurztraminer, a warming Grenache, a spicy Shiraz to a sparkling sweet Moscato and a luscious Rutherglen Muscat. And the conclusion?

There is no formula to tell you what the best match is, as we all found our personal preferences differed so much. All you can do when it comes to wine and chocolate matching is just to have fun and enjoy it. I found that the best combinations were the most unusual ones. Not necessarily just sweet wines but also dry styles.

My favourite wine to match with a variety of flavoured chocs was Innocent Bystander Moscato 2011 – a lightly sparkling sweet pinky from Victoria.  The refreshing sweetness and gentle strawberry and raspberry fruit flavours worked well with white chocolate cardamom & saffron ganache, sea salt wafer and red berry ganache.

PS. One tip I learned is that the best storage temperature for quality chocolates is at 17C, which is not easy to achieve. The closest I could find is my wine fridge at 14C. Funny that hey?

Australian Wine and Rococo Chocolates

1 Comment

Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Australia, Uncategorized


James Busby Travel in Australia – October 2010

First week in Victoria (William Downie in Gippsland, Kooyong and Philip Estate in Mornington Peninsula, Ocean Eight in Mornington Peninsula, Tahbilk in Nagambie Lake in Goulburn Valley, De Bortoli in Yarra Valley, Giant Steps & Innocent Bystander in Yarra Valley, Mac Forbes & Luke Lambert & Timo Mayer in Yarra Valley, Campbells in Rutherglen, All Saints in Rutherglen, Yabby Lake & Red Claw in Heathcote, Bindi in Maceron Ranges, Bests in Great Western, Crawford River in Henty)
Second week in South Australia (Majella in Coonawarra, Paxton in McLaren Vale, D’Arenberg in McLaren Vale, ((Battle of Bosworth, Cascabel, Chalk Hill, Noon, Rudderless, SC Pannell and Ulithorne in McLaren Vale)), Shaw & Smith in Adelaide Hills, Penfolds in Adelaide,(( Pauletts, Wakefield (Taylors), Skillogalee and Kilikanoon in Polish Hill River in Clare Valley)), Jim Barry in Clare Valley, Some Younk Punks and Adelina in Clare Valley, Yalumba in Barossa Valley, Henschke in Eden Valley, Spinifex in Barossa Valley, Torbreck in Barossa Valley)
39 wineries and over 500 wines tasted
1. Wiliam Downie – Gippsland
Winemaker & owner – Bill Downie
Wife – Rachel Downie
UK distribution – Liberty Wines
• Bill established his own label in 2003 after several years working in Burgundy
• Specialist in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Gippsland, Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula – currently contacts vineyards
• Own vineyard – Followell Farm, Yarragon in Gippsland (first release 2013)
• His intention is to produce wines with purity, reflecting their place of origin, made in natural way (no sulphur added)

2. Kooyong and Port Philip Estate – Mornington Peninsula

Winemaker and general manager – Sandro Mosele
UK distribution – Great Western Wines
• Both Kooyong and Port Philip Estate brands are owned by the Gjergja family
• Kooyong brand established in 1995 with 30 ha under vines, meaning ‘where the wild fowl gather’ by Chris and Gail Aylward (currently Ocean Eight)
• Land was extensively mapped out prior to planting selection of varietals and clones – soil type analysis, geology and drainage
• Warm and dry climate with light, sandy clay soils
• Specialist in single vineyards Chardonnay (Clonale, Farrago, Faultline), Pinot Noir (Massale, Ferrous, Haven, Meres), Pinot Gris (Beurrot)

3. Ocean Eight – Mornington Peninsula

Winemaker and owner – Mike Aylward
Viticulturist – Luke O’Conner
UK distribution – (Brian Oakwell)
• Chris and Gail Aylward sold Kooyong in 2004 to Gjergja family and started producing wines through Ocean Eight Estate holding 17 ha of vineyards now
• Specialists in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris (also producing sparkling wine)
• Mike did vintages in Burgundy, Alsace and Champagne
• RRP $32 Pinot Gris, RRP $35 Verve Chardonnay, RRP $40 Pinot Noir, RRP $65 Sparkling wine

4. Tahbilk – Nagambie Lakes in Goulburn Valley

Winemaker and owner – Alister Pubrick (daughter Hayley Pubrick)
Export Manager – Matt Herde
• Established in 1860, about 100km north of Melbourne, the Aboriginals called the site ‘tabilk-tabilk’ meaning ‘place of many waterholes’
• Owned by Pubrick family since 1925 (Eric Stevens Pubrick), fourth generation
• Flagship wines are the Rhone varieties of Marsanne and Shiraz
• Boasts the world’s largest single planting of Marsanne with the oldest vines from 1927 and the oldest Shiraz vines dating back to 1860 (half ha of un-grafted, pre-phylloxera planting)
• Tahbilk ‘1860 Vines’ Shiraz are listed as ‘Outstanding’ in Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine V
• Meso-climate is dramatically influenced by inland water mass (one of only six worldwide) and is more moderate and cooler than expected
• Also unique soil type (duplex 2.2) – red sandy loam
• Total production around 100,000 c/s and 20% exported

5. De Bortoli – Yarra Valley

Chief Winemaker – Steve Webber
His wife – Leanne De Bortoli
One of winemakers – Sarah Fagan
UK Distribution: Gonzales Byass
• Family company established by Italian immigrants Vottorio and Giuseppino De Bortoli in 1928
• Vineyards across Victoria and New South Wales (house and winery in Yarra Valley)
• Brands – La Boheme, Riorret, Gulf Station, Sero, Windy Peak, PHI, Shelmerdine, Noble One

6. Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander – Yarra Valley

Owner – Phil Sexton (also co-founded Little Creatures Brewing)
Head winemaker – Steve Flamsteed
Winemaker – Dave Mackintosh
UK Distribution – O.W Loeb (Giant Step) and Liberty Wines (Innocent Bystander)
• Giant Steps was established in 1997 by the Sexton Family, soon after they sold their highly successful Devils Lair Winery in Margaret River
• Focuses on distinctive expression of single vineyard sites in Yarra Valley (Sexton, Tarraford, Gladysdale and Arthurs Creek Vineyard)
• Vinification based on gravity-flow

7. Mac Forbes – Yarra Valley and Strathbogie Ranges

Owner – Mac Forbes
Winemaker – Tony Fikkers
UK Distribution – Clark Foyster Importer
• Mac spend some time at iconic Yarra Valley winery Mount Mary
• Grape Varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Syrah, Riesling (Woori Yallock, Gruyere, Yarra Valley)

7. Luke Lambert – Yarra Valley and Heathcote

Owner and winemaker – Luke Lambert
UK Distribution – Les Caves de Pyrene
• Low chemical inputs in the vineyard, hand harvesting, wild yeasts ferments, low level of new oak, no manipulation in the tank or barrel, no fining or filtering, low use of sulphur at bottling
• Syrah $38 (280 c/s), Nebbiolo $38 (670 c/s), Reserve Syrah $65 (100 c/s) and Reserve Nebbiolo $65 (100 c/s)

8. Timo Mayer – Yarra Valley

Owner and winemaker – Timo Mayer
UK Distributor – Les Caves de Pyrene
• Single Vineyards – Bloody Hill Chardonnay and Pinot, Big Betty Shiraz, Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir (Bloody Hill vineyard is 2.6 ha)
• No back labels and no barcodes – bring back the funk!

9. Campbell’s – Rutherglen

Owner and winemaker – Colin Campbell (brother and Viticulturist – Malcolm Campbell)
His daughter – Susie Campbell
UK Distribution – Awin Barratt Siegel Wine Agencies
• Family owned winery established in 1870 by John Campbell – Scottish immigrant, situated in North east Victoria
• All vines were re-planted on phylloxera resistant American rootstock (all 65 ha)
• Muscats (made from Muscat a Petits Grains Rouge = Brown Muscat they called in OZ) and Tokay (=Topaque) (made from Muscadelle)
• Classification from 1996 based on quality (not ageing) – Rutherglen (5yrs), Classic (10 yrs), Grand (15yrs), Rare (20yrs) – not ageing just style reflection
• Table wines – Bobbie Burns Shiraz, Brothers Shiraz, The Barkly Durif

10. All Saints – Rutherglen

Owners – Eliza, Angela and Nick Brown
Winemaker – Dan Crane
UK Distribution – Cockburn & Campbell (Robin Knapp)
• Established in 1864 by two enterprising Scots, George Sutherland and John Banks
• The winery was built in the 1880’s and based on the design of The Castle of Mey in Caithness
• Producing Muscats, Toakys and table wines (Marsanne, Riesling, Sparkling Shiraz, Durif and others)

11. Yabby Lake – Heathcote, Mornington Peninsula, Strathbogie Ranges

Chief Winemaker and General Manager – Tom Carson
Marketing/Communication – Tiffyn Smillie
UK Distribution –
• Founded by the Kirby family in 1992
• Yabby Lakes Labels – Yabby Lake Vineyard (Mornington Peninsula), Red Claw (Mornington Peninsula & Heathcote), Heathcote Estate (Heathcote), Cooralook (Strathbogie Ranges and Heathcote)
• Grape Varieties – Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Grenache
12. Bindi – Macedon Ranges

Owner and winemaker – Michael Dhillon
Wife Wendy and Farther Bill
UK Distribution – Les Caves de Pyrene
• Bindi is family owned vineyard 50 km north-west of Melbourne
• 6 ha of Chardonnay (2) and Pinot Noir (4)
• Separate blocks – Quartz, Composition, Original Vineyard, Block K and Block 5
• Bindi label features Kostas Rind (Lithuanian mathematician)
• Vineyard elevation 500 meters above sea level
• Soils predominantly shattered quartz over siltstone and clay with some eroded volcanic top soil over clay, generally unfertile
• Natural yeast ferments, gentle ferment, delicate pressing, long lees ageing in French barrels and minimal racking, no fining and restricted filtration

13. Bests – Great Western (GI Grampians)

Owner – Viv Thomson
Winemaker – Adam Wadewitz
Sales & Marketing – Jonathan Mogg
UK Distribution – Stevens Garnier
• Established during the Victorian Gold Rush in 1866 by Henry Best and then sold to vigneron Frederick P Thomson in 1920
• Great Western is part of the Grampians wine region
• Concongella Vineyard – blend of old and new plantings, producing high quality grapes for the Best’s Great Western Icon wines
• Grape Varieties – Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Dolcetto, Shiraz

14. Crawford River – GI Henty

Owner and winemaker – John and Catherine Thompson
Daughter and also winemaker – Belinda Thompson
UK Distribution – O.W.Loeb & Co.
• Thompson family planted their vineyard in 1975 at Crawford River
• Famous for its Rieslings, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc (and Nectar)
• The Crawford River vineyards lies at the alluvial edge of a volcanic lava flow (11.5 ha) – unusual complex mineral-rich soil base (gravelly, friable, basalt loam, clay and limestone)
• No use of herbicides or insecticides, follow organic and biodynamic practices
• No phylloxera
• Cool temperatures, moderate maritime influence (20km from the sea), long growing season, Riesling prone to botrytised


15. Majella – Coonawarra

Owner – Brian Lynn (Prof)
Winemaker – Bruce Gregory (joined in 1999)
UK Distribution – Alliance Wine Company Ltd.
• Brian planted a vineyard with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Riesling in 1968
• 70 ha of mainly Shiraz and Cabernet
• Mediterranean climate, flat fields, 160m above the sea level
• Soil – red loam over limestone, 100%terra rossa with great drainage, rich soil with no phyllloxera
• Labels – The Malleea Cabernet/Shiraz (released in 1998), The Musician Cabernet/Shiraz (released in 2005), The Melody Rose (2007), Majella Sparkling Shiraz
• Use of pro-cork (cork with membrane)

16. Gemtree – McLaren Vale

McLaren Vale Regional overview with Mike Brown – research into generational farming

16. Paxton – McLaren Vale

Owner – David Paxton
Winemaker – Michael Paxton
Viticulturist – Toby Bekkers
UK Distribution – Stratford’s Wine Agencies
• Family owned and established in 1979 by David Paxton with the first vintage released in 2000 (history of crayfish and almond farming
• Converted over 246 ha of vineyards in McLaren Vale and Kanrgaroo Island to biodynamic farming practices!
• Conversion to BD started in 2004 after conference on this subject and after 6 years Paxton is in conversion certified (by body called NAASA)
• No use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and only copper and silica spray allowed in case of powdery mildew
• Use of natural compost and planting native trees around the vineyards to encourage wildlife
• Following holistic sustainable organic approach
• Decrease of irrigation as this is seen as intervention
• Use of manure – buying cow horns filled with cow manure and egg shells which is then fermented and sprayed on the vineyard
• Keeping diverse population of plants and fungus in the vineyards
• Following the rhythm of sun and stars
• Paxton Family label – Pinot Gris ($23), Chardonnay ($29), Rose ($20), AAA
• Shiraz/Grenache ($23), Quandong Farm Shiraz ($30), Jones Block Shiraz ($39), EJ Shiraz ($85)

17. d’Arenberg – McLaren Vale

Owner and winemaker – Chester d’Arenberg Osborn since 1984
His dad – Francis d’Arenberg Osborn (d’arry)
Communication Manager – Luke Tyler
UK Distribution – Bibendum Wine Ltd, Oddbins Wines
• Established in 1925 by Joseph Osborn (teetotaller)
• 100% regional and family owned
• 500 acres of vines owned and more contracted
• Decrease in irrigation and use of fertilizers
• 100% organic (but not certified) and also tried to follow biodynamic practicies but did not find any difference in quality
• All grapes are basket-pressed, crushing 5,000 tones (in 10 wooden presses) – 10 tones per 1 hour
• Labels – The Blewitt Springs Grenache, The McLaren Hills Grenache, The Derelict Vineyard Grenache, The Ironstone Pressings Grenache/Shiraz/Mouvedre, The Money Spider Roussane, The Wild Pixie Shiraz/Roussane, Galvo Garage Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Petit Verdot/Cabernet Franc, The Laughing Magpie Shiraz/Viognier, The Sticks & Stones Tempranillo/Grenache/Shiraz, The Coppermite Road Cabernet Sauvignon, The Dead Arm Shiraz

18. Battle of Bosworth – McLaren Vale

Owner and winemaker – Louise Hemsley Smith
Husband – Joch Bosworth
UK Distribution – Vintage Roots
• Established in 2001 by Joch Bosworth and Louise Hemsley-Smith
• Single vineyard, organically grown and fully certified in 1995 (A grade organic by Australian Certified Organic ACO)
• No use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers or GMOs
• Wines – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay/Viognier, War of the Rose cabernet Rose, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Viognier, White Boar Shiraz – Amarone style

19. Cascabel – McLaren Vale

Owner and winemakers – Susana Fernandez and Duncan Ferguson
UK Distribution – Boutinot
• 5 ha vineyard located on a gentle slope, overlooking the cooling Gulf Saint Vincent, at the southern end of McLaren Vale
• Predominantly Spanish grape varieties – Tempranillo, Monastrell, Graciano, Grenache and Carinena
• Also planted Roussanne, Viognier, Shiraz and Cinsault

20. Chalk Hill – McLaren Vale

Viticulturist – Jock Harvey
UK Distribution – Naked Wines, Oddbins, House of Townend
• For three generations, the Harvey family have been growing grapevines in McLaren Vale from vineyards first planted in 1897

21. Noon Winery – McLaren Vale

Owner and winemaker – Drew Noon
UK Distribution – Seckfords Wine Agencies
• Small family owned business making only red wines (full-bodied styles from Cabernet, Shiraz and Grenache)
• Owning 4.2 ha of bush vine Grenache planted in 1934 and 1.5 ha of Graciano planted in 1999

22. Rudderless – McLaren Vale

Owner and winemaker – Doug Govan
Winemaker – Justin McNamee
UK Distribution – ??????
• The Rudderless Vineyards are grown in a five acres estate surrounding the historic Victory Hotel in the north of McLaren Vale
• Doug, the hotel owner and wine enthusiast has been collecting cuttings from Australia’s top vineyards to create diverse and unique vineyard
• Maritime climate and coastal topography mean hillside vineyards benefit from soil drainage and cooling ocean breezes following warm afternoons
• Specialises in Shiraz, Graciano, Malbec, Grenache, Mataro and Viognier

23. SC Pannell – McLaren Vale

Owner and winemaker – Stephen Pannell
UK Distribution – Liberty Wines
• Wines from McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills
• Shiraz, Grenache and Nebbiolo

24. Ulithorne – McLaren Vale

Winemaker – Rose Kentish
UK Distribution – Gunson Fine Wine, Oddbins
• Produces Cabernet, Shiraz and Spakling Shiraz

25. Shaw & Smith – Adelaide Hills

Owner and winemaker – Michael Hill Smith and Martin Shaw
Communication Officer – David LeMire
UK Distribution – Liberty Wines
• In 1979, Brian Croser (from Petaluma) planted one of the first vines in Adelaide Hills, being the first pioneer looking at soils (schist, slate, clay and loam) and climate (similar climate to Burgundy)
• Shaw & Smith began over a long lunch in 1989 when cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith decided to realize a long held dream to make wine together
• The practical approach aims to respect soil, cut water use, recycle, cut energy and greenhouse emissions
• Specialises in Sauvignon Blanc, single vineyard Chardonnay M3 Vineyard), cool climate of Shiraz and small batches of Pinot Noir and Riesling

26. Penfolds – Adelaide (Magill Estate)

Chief Winemaker since 2002 – Peter Gago (the fourth Grange winemaker following the footsteps of Schubert, Don Ditter and John Duval)
Senior White winemaker – Kym Schroeter
Ambassador – Jamie Sach
UK Distribution – Treasury Wines
• Penfolds Magill Estate was the original home of Dr Christopher Rawson Penfolds, who purchased the property in 1844 and named the cottage The Grange
• Fortified wine production dominated the industry throughout the first part of the 1900’s and Penfolds gain a strong reputation for its fortified wines during the 1920’s and 1930’s (Constantia, Grange Port, Grange Tawny, Pedro Ximenes, Tokay, Madeira, Grange Sherry and Muscadine)
• In 1951, Max Schubert made the first vintage of Grange, producing five hogsheads (1800 bottles) on an experimental basis
• By 1957, as a result of poor sales, Schubert was instructed to cease production of Grange but he continued undeterred for 3 years in secret, using old barrels and recycling bottles and hiding the maturing wine behind a false wall in the cellar
• In 1960, as the early vintages began to age and their true value appreciated, the management instructed Schubert to re-start production, little knowing that he had not missed a vintage
• Bin 389, 707, 28 and 128 were all introduced in the 1960’s
• In 1990’s saw the creation of Yattarna Chardonnay (‘White Grange’) and RWT Shiraz (Red Winemaking Trial)
• In 2010, the first Bin number Pinot Noir was launched
• 12,000 ha vines owned and more being sourced out
• Penfolds draws fruit from Barossa Valley, Magill Estate, Eden Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and Adelaide Hills, Henty, Tasmania, Limestone Coast, Padthway, Langhorne Creek, Clare Valley
• The single vineyard on Magill Estate uses 100 years old open top fermenters
• Barrels – Octave (110 ltr), Quarter (160 ltr), Hogshead (300 ltr), Puncheon (475 ltr)
• Grange 2005 – 95.9% Shiraz + 4.1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18 moths in new American oak hogshead, fruit from Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra

27. Pauletts – Polish Hill River, Clare Valley

Owners – Neil and Alison Paulett
Viticulturist – Mathew Paulett
UK Distribution – Ellis of Richmond
• Polish Hill River is one of the highest point of the Clare Valley and it’s slate rich soils produce some of Australia’s most famous and long lived Riesling
• The region is named after the Hill River which itself is named after a Mr Hill who mapped out the region in the 19th century
• Polish settlers moved to the region in the 1850’s so it was the Polish end of the Hill River Valley
• Neil and Alison brought their property in 1983 and have grown the vineyard from 47 ha to 147 ha
• Specialise in Riesling producing a wide range of styles from bone dry to late harvest, single vineyard, aged release and even sparkling (Trillians Sparkling Riesling)
• Also Shiraz, Cabernet and Malbec
• High risk of frost and strong winds are particularly dangerous during budding (introduction of windbreaks)
• Best vineyards are positioned in shady slopes away from the wind
• 7 different soil types from soft stone to the famous blue stone slate
• Continental climate with some Mediterranean influence (30 km from coast), cool nights but warm/hot daytime which helps long ripening
• Riesling clone D2V2
• Best vintage for Clare Valley Riesling – 2009, 2006, 2004, 2002 (ideal aging 10yrs +)

28. Wakefield (Taylors as it’s known in Australia) – Clare Valley

Owner – Mitchael, Justin and Clinton Taylor
Chief Winemaker – Adam Eggins
Winemaker – Cherry Stowman
UK Distribution – Louis Latour
• Established in 1969 by Bill Taylor and his sons John and Bill
• At the time the family were wine merchants in Sydney and it was a bottle of 1966 Mouton Rothschild that inspired Bill to seek out an Australian terroir suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon
• They purchased their first vineyard near the Wakefield River in Auburn, selecting the site for its combination of cool climate and red terra rossa soil
• The emblem of the three seahorse refers to fossilized remains found during the initial excavation of this vineyard dam
• Today the company is run by the third generation of brothers – Mitchell, Justin and Clinton
• The estate extends to 750 ha of which 415 ha are under vine

29. Skillogalee – Clare Valley

Owner and winemaker – Dan Palmer
UK Distribution – Enotria Winecellars
• Boutique family-owned winery in the heart of the Clare Valley
• Established by Dave and Diana Palmer in the early 1970’s
• The vineyards lie at almost 500 metres above the sea level on shaded east facing terraces
• Small modern winery allows for hand crafted winemaking and small batch ferments
• Gewurztraminer, Riesling (Also sparkling), Chardonnay, Cabernet, Shiraz

30. Kilikanoon – Clare Valley

Founder and Chief Winemaker – Kevin Mitchell
UK Distribution – Thorman Hunt & Co
• Kevin was inspired by his farther Mort Mitchell and purchased Kilikanoon property in 1997
• Along the way Kevin has been assisted by fellow investors – Bruce Baudinet (chairman), and two Australian musicians Nathan Waks and John Harding
• In addition to 150 ha of vines in the Clare Valley it’s partners have over 400 ha of vineyard across South Australia

31. Jim Barry Wines – Clare Valley

Winemaker – Peter Barry
Viticulturist – John Barry
UK Distribution – Negociants UK
• Established in 1959 by Jim and Nancy Barry
• Over 200 ha of vineyards – The Florita, The Lodge Hill, The Old Cricket Ground (in Coonawarra), Warevale, The Armagh Vinerads
• All manual harvest
• Sandy and clay soil predominantly
• Whites – The Nancy Sparkling Pinot Noir, Silly Mid On SB/Semillon, Lavender Hill Riesling, The Florita Riesling, Riesling Project Tank 8, Watervale Riesling, The Lodge Hill Riesling
• Reds – The Cover Drive Cabernet, The Clare Shiraz/Cabernet, The McRae Wood Shiraz, The Armagh Shiraz, The McRae Wood Museum Release Shiraz, Three Little Pigs Shiraz/Malbec/Cabernet, The Lodge Hill Shiraz, First Eleven Cabernet, The Benbournie Cabernet

32. Some Young Punks and Adelina – Clare Valley

Owner and winemakers – Colin McBryde and Jennie Gardener
Co-winemaker – Nick Bourke
UK Distribution – Boutinot Wines
• Small winery and vineyard situated south-east of the Clare Valley
• The vineyard was originally planted in 1910 with Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet and the Gardner family has owned the vineyard since 1986
• The Adelina label is used for wine from their estate vineyard while Some Young Punks is their experimental range
• Some Young Punks labels – Naked on Roller Skates, The Squids Fist Shiraz/Sangiovese, passion has Red Lips, Monsters, Monsters Attack! Riesling
• Adelina – Grenache and Shiraz

33. Yalumba – Barossa Valley

Chief Winemaker – Louisa Rose
Export Manager – Brett Friar
Robert Hill Smith
Stephen Lindner
UK Distribution – Negociants UK
• Barossa was settled by English and German people in 1830’s
• Relatively flat land growing 100 years old eucalyptus and gum trees with main rainfall during winter (April to October)
• All lakes are man-made as rivers are generally dry during summer
• First vines were planted in 1834 and still some surviving now (originally from Rhone pre-phylloxera)
• Soil – deep sand suitable for Grenache and black clay for Cabernet
• Barossa Zone IG – includes Barossa Valley and Eden Valley
• Picking Shiraz starts in Jan/Feb in Barossa Valley to April in Eden Valley
• Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family owned winery
• Founded in 1849 by Samuel Smith
• Five generations later Yalumba has grown in size and stature to become one of Australia’s most significant and influential mdern wineries
• Located near Angaston in the heart of the Barossa valley
• It has its own vine nursery and barrel cooperage (makes 6 barrels a day using both French and American oak)
• Icon wines –Pewsey vale Riesling (from Eden Valley), The Signature Shiraz/Cabernet, The Octavius Shiraz (from Barossa), The Menzies Cabernet (from Coonawarra), The Virgilius Viognier (from Eden Valley), The Reserve Cabernet/Shiraz

34. Henschke – Barossa Valley

Owner and winemaker – Stephen Henschke
Owner and viticulturist – Pru Henschke
Winemaker – Paul Hampton
Kylie Rosenzweig
UK Distribution – ??????
• Johann Christian Henschke purchased land for a farm at Keyneton in 1861 and planted a small vineyard and orchard
• Subsequently generations built upon this foundation, but it was the fourth generation Cyril Alfred Henschke who in 1958 created the first vintage of Hill of Grace
• Under Pru’s management the vineyards are now run incorporating organic and biodynamic practices (using certified organic compost), no pesticides or herbicides, grass management
• Soil – limestone and terra rossa
• 100 ha of vineyards – Mount Edelstone, Lenswood, Hill of Grace

35. Spinifex – Barossa Valley

Owner and winemaker – Pete Schell
UK Distribution – New Generation Wines
• Started making wine in 2001
• Peter and Magali are both originally from NZ, studied in Roseworthy University and then spent 5 vintages in France
• All wines (whites and reds) are unfiltered
• Range includes – Shiraz, Mataro, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Ugni Blanc, Grenache Gris, Marsanne, Semillon and Viognier

36. Torbreck – Barossa Valley

Founder and Chief Winemaker – Dave Powell
Winemaker – Craig Isbel
UK Distribution – John F. Fells & sons Ltd.
• Torbreck is named after a forest in Scotland where Dave worked as a lumberjack
• Tornbreck Vintners was founded by David Powell in 1994
• The roots go back to 1992 when Dave, who was then working at Rockford, began to discover and clean up a few sections of dry-grown old vines
• 450 acres owned + further 450 acres under contract
• Focus on Rhone grape varietals – Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Australia, Wine Tours


Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places

Food Stories – Helen Graves

Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places

Parla Food

Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places

Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places


Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places

The Gray Report

Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places

The Wine Kat

Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places

Wine Folly

Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places


Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places

Jamie Goode's wine blog

Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places

The Joseph Report

Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places

Matt Walls Wine Blog

Practical tips, tricks and info to help you get the most out of wine


Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places

Tim Atkin – Master of Wine

Czech girl living in London, studying for Master of Wine and discovering wine, food and far far places