After a pretty crazy 2016 that saw some of the most incredibly creative individuals in the world taken from us, it seems pertinent to reflect on my own somewhat auspicious year. I released 36 episodes of The Vincast wine podcast with incredible guests like Max Allen, Viv Thomson, Jane Faulkner, Guill de Pury and Iain Riggs. On my YouTube channel I chronicled the making of my first wine – a Heathcote Sangiovese – which I will be releasing early next year under the brand Vino Intrepido. I was named the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show Fellow and got a behind the scenes look at Australia’s most exciting wine show. In addition I was as a finalist for Digital Wine Communicator of the Year with Wine Communicators of Australia (the award was won by The Vincast guest Jane Thomson). Most importantly of all, I have a son arriving next year around the same time that I will hopefully be making my next wine(s)!
In 2016 I also tasted some incredible wines, and released almost 70 video tasting reviews under the Let’s Taste series on the IntrepidWino YouTube channel. Some of the wines were from my cellar, some were submitted by wineries, and some were gifts. The wines below are the ones that had the biggest impact on me this year!
Simao & Co. Ugni Blanc 2015
Simon Killeen was a guest on my podcast this year, and is possibly one of the most exciting young winemakers in the country. Branching out on his own with the Simao & Co. brand, he has already turned a lot of heads, particularly with this white wine made from a grape commonly associated with brandy production in Europe.
Part of a new style of wine being made in Australia … being influenced by not only wines made in Europe and other parts of the world, but also the evolving nature of cuisine [in this country].
St. Leonards Hip Sip Tawny
Fortified wines are far from cool and trendy in Australia, particularly not with younger consumers. The Brown family who run All Saints in the Rutherglen region are hoping to change that. They have designed this very eye-catching brand with the Coles Liquor Group, attempting to break barriers and encourage ‘the kids’ to try something different, even use fortified wines in cocktails!
It has really lovely openness [but] it’s still quite fresh, very good acidity, the fruits … are still very vibrant, lovely and juicy.
Stefano Lubiana Late Disgorged 1996
Not long before we fell pregnant my partner and I took a trip to Hobart back in May. Apart from dining at some exciting restaurants like Franklin and visiting MONA for some culture, we also visited a few valleys out of town popping into famed wine producer Stefano Lubiana. A private tour with Steve and delicious lunch in their Osteria was made infinitely better with a thorough wine tasting of the range. One bottle I bought and tasted back at home was a cellar door only release, the Late Disgorged 1996.
This is the kind of wine that … is not an aperitif wine, it’s not really vibrantly bubbly like you would expect aperitif style sparkling wines to be, this is definitely a food wine … at it’s price it’s an absolute steal.
Reed Wines ‘Alexia’ Grenache 2015
One of the most compelling guests I’ve had on The Vincast this year was Sierra Reed Milne. Originally from California with careers in modelling and media, Sierra fell in love with wine, and then an Australian, and as such she decided to make her own wine in Australia. She gave me one of the few remaining bottles from the 2015 vintage, and I found it to similarly be one of the most compelling wines I tasted this year. Apologies for saying the wrong name in the video!
What I like is that the savoury elements are very interesting, very complex, they’re making me think of food, but at the same time there are sufficient fruit characters with that freshness that mean you can easily enjoy this wine on it’s own.
Glenguin Estate ‘Aristea’ Shiraz 2014
I was contacted by Phil Jones the cellar door manager from Glenguin Estate in the Hunter Valley this year. As an ‘avid listener’ of the podcast he was interested to see what I thought of a range of their wines, which I looked at over two episodes. By far the highlight was the Aristea Shiraz that looked unlike almost any Australian shiraz I’ve encountered. The wine was made that much better by the fact that my Western Bulldogs won only their second AFL premiership, something they hadn’t done since 1954.
A really interesting, delicious and different Australian Shiraz … it’s been let go [to] find it’s own rhythm, it’s really really interesting.
Out of Step Lusatia Park D Block Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Single Block Sauvignon Blanc wines are nowhere near as common as Chardonnay or Pinot Noir wines are. That didn’t deter the guys from Out of Step in releasing this absolute winner this year. Lusatia Park is their most important fruit source, and they are getting quite a name for their SB wines from this vineyard. This is possibly the best Australian Sauvignon Blanc I’ve tasted, and if there are any bottles left then jump all over it.
It’s like a piece of meat that’s been perfectly cooked all the way through and then just captured at the right point. I like the texture here … it’s very delicate, very elegant, very paired-back, but builds beautifully on the palate.
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Vineyard Merlot 2016
Never could I have guessed that a Merlot wine would be one of the highlights of this year. Such was the state of astonishment I found myself in when I opened a range of red wines from Margaret River producer Moss Wood. No doubt part of the surprise came from the fact that I have tended not to expect much from the variety. Vine age and an ideal location clearly contributed to this outstanding wine from Moss Wood, and I’m quite happy to eat my words regarding Merlot.
It’s funny, it doesn’t look like Merlot, or like I think people perceive Merlot to be. It’s not jammy or obnoxious, it’s a really really elegant wine. Nice firm tannins, very mature tannins as well, and it’s not all about fruit as well, there are some lovely savoury characters.
Main Ridge Half Acre Pinot Noir 2014
Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2002
Seppeltsfield Para 100 Year-Old Tawny 1916
Best’s Thomson Family Shiraz 2014
Many thanks to all for the support this year, it’s been an honour to speak with amazing wine industry professionals, and to taste so many great wines from Australian producers. I look forward to even bigger and better things in 2017, and can’t wait to taste even more wines in the new year!