Category Archives: Wine Events

AAVWS 2016 Part Three – Trophies Long Lunch

Without question, the most fun part of the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show calendar is the famous Long Lunch where the trophies are announced. The five-course menu is designed by none-other than Mildura institution Stefano Di Pieri, with a selection of wines from the previous years show, many of them trophy winners. The festivities are emceed by the Chair of the AAVWS, which this year was former guest on The Vincast wine podcast and all around lovely guy, Ashley Ratcliff. Have a watch, then head to the show website to find out all of the trophy winners. Don’t forget to let me know what you think in the comments below, like share and subscribe, and be sure to visit my website and follow me on social media. Many thanks to the AAVWS for the opportunity to attend as the 2016 Fellow, and also for the use of some pictures from the Facebook page.

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December 5, 2016 · 2:07 pm

AAVWS 2016 Part Two – Talk and Taste seminars

On the second part of a series looking into the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show, I look at one of the most valuable events of the week – particularly for the producer exhibitors – Talk & Taste. These seminars provide a forum for guest speakers, some of whom are on the judging panel, to discuss topics very pertinent to those working with alternative varieties in Australia. This year panels covered three areas, I took some (very amateurish) footage from the front row, here are a few talking points. Many thanks to the AAVWS for the opportunity to attend as the 2016 Fellow, and also for the use of some pictures from the Facebook page.

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November 28, 2016 · 5:39 pm

AAVWS Part One – How the show works

I was honoured to be named the 2016 Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show Fellow, given an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the show and the events run around it. Heading up several days early and offering to steward a few days, I took the opportunity to learn more about the show, and how it improves the quality of Australian wine made from emerging grape varieties. Here is the first video in a short series on the show, outlining how the show is run. Please let me know if you have any questions, feel free to make comments below!

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November 20, 2016 · 5:09 pm

Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz Retrospective Tasting – 21/9/2015

When you start learning about wine in Australia, particularly Victorian wine, one of the first names you learn about is Tahbilk. There are a number of reasons why this is the case. The first is that it is one of the oldest in the country, and boasts some of the oldest shiraz vines to boot, not easy to do in the phylloxera-affected state of Victoria compared to South Australia. The second is that they make an iconic (and hugely under-appreciated) white wine ideal for ageing, in their Marsanne, particularly the 1927 vine wine. Thus Tahbilk has a soft spot for many wine industry professionals like myself.

So it was with great pleasure that I got invited as a “new-media” guest to the release of the 2010 vintage of the 1860 Vines Shiraz, celebrating its 150th birthday this year, with a number of very special people to taste through almost every vintage since its first release. It was thanks in part to former guest on The Vincast podcast Kathy Lane that I managed to get an invite, as her business Fireworks PR did an amazing job helping Tahbilk put it together at Vue de Monde.

Finding original-rooted pre-20th Century vines in Victoria is not easy, which adds to the lustre of this iconic wine. What helps these vines is the very sandy soils they are planted on, which the phylloxera aphid can’t live in. When current owner and CEO Alister Purbrick took over the business from his father, it was his decision to bottle a wine exclusively from these old vines. At the time Australia was only just coming out of its fortified wine-dominant production, as markets started to discover the quality of Australian dry red wine, particularly made from shiraz.

Below you will find my impressions of each of the vintages that were on offer. I strongly urge people to get their hands on some of the 2010 vintage as it is a belter, and as seen in this tasting the wines have immense ageing potential. I also urge people to subscribe to The Vincast podcast, as after the tasting I recorded an episode with Alister which was an amazing insight into how far the wine industry has come in the past 40+ years.

(Chateau) Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz

(Chateau) Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz

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Mount Mary Dinner – 17/09/2013

There are more than a few words that get thrown around pretty indiscriminately in the marketing and communication of wine. Words like premium, estate, reserve, authentic, terroir and unique. In most cases it is a pretty empty assertion, rarely can the claim be legitimately justified. Few people can truly say they are a pioneer, but John Middleton certainly can. With a background in the RAAF he found himself in the Yarra Valley as a regional family doctor back in the 1950s. He established the estate, inspired in part by the Swiss settlers of the 1850s (de Castella, de Pury), and the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Continue reading

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Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Roadshow – 3/09/2013

I think I’ve probably mentioned it before, but the Mornington Peninsula happens to be my favourite region in Australia for various reasons. The region is best known for the quality of its wines, particularly pinot noir and chardonnay. but it also happens to have some of the most beautiful scenery, exceptional golf courses, and fine dining in the country. For the last 30 years it has been one of the only bastions of small vineyard artisan wineries, with very little corporate presence and predominantly family owned businesses. 26 of the regions finest producers made the trek to Melbourne to show their wares both to trade/media and also to consumers. I have separated many of the producers into individual posts, but here are my notes on a range of older vintages that were also on show.

Miceli Rosé Brut 2004
Quite intense bright aromatics, cheesy red fruits. Density and weight on the palate, juicy red fruits, raspberry roll-ups, dried apricots.

Montalto “Eleven” Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2008
Quite prominent leesy buttered oak, peachy cream. Reasonably light fresh on the palate, dried peach/pear, fat and textured on the back.

Crittenden Estate Chardonnay 2006
Dried stone fruits, thin but hot at the same time.

Moorooduc Chardonnay 2005
Quite dense rich mineralic heat coming off, leesy ripe stone fruits and citrus. Quite ripe and rich but very balanced elegant, exquisitely long, holding together beautifully.

Yabby Lake Pinot Noir 2008
Stalky floral musky lavender blueberries. Pure focused lean still very fresh, purity and finesse.

Phaedrus Pinot Noir Reserve 2008
Darker fuller on the nose, sweet briny earth. Denser fuller tannins, warmer rounder sweeter fruits.

10x tractor Judd Pinot Noir 2008
Quite pale in colour. Subtle but classic Mornington Pinot notes. Fresh light long and balanced. Ethereal length, balanced fruit and tannin.

Port Phillip Morillon Pinot Noir 2008
Darker more brooding nose. Quite warn and fairly extractive, a touch overworked, cooked okay fruit.

Quealy 17 Rows Pinot Noir 2007
Darker colour, more intense. Black ruby intensity, warm fruit ripeness. Broad fat juicy bland short.

Stonier Windmill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007
Dark earthy clumsy oak. Hot maderised fat. Not what I think of for Mornington Pinot.

Hurley Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008
Bright pretty earthy savoury. Full dense concentrated structured. Powerful and generous.

Prancing Horse Pinot Noir 2006
Meaty oyster sauce soy. Old-world style with a touch of new world fruit. Very unique and excellent wine.

Paringa Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2006
Certainly big, plenty of oak still sitting over everything and making the tannins a little aggressive, pretty aromas but just a bit too much intervention.

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Voyager Estate Masterclass 2013

For the fifth year in a row, Margaret River producer Voyager Estate hosted a masterclass in Melbourne and other Australian cities to benchmark new releases of some of their wines. This was my second time at this event; one of my first entries on this blog spoke about the first time back in September of 2011, just before I left for my trip. The exercise is designed to show sommeliers, buyers and media that Voyager is very confident about the quality of their wine against exceptional examples from around the world. Showing even more hubris, they do this against their three key wines; chardonnay, shiraz and a cabernet/merlot blend. That’s serious chutzpah.

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Felton Road

Back in 2011 not long before I left for my trip I attended a media lunch at Vue de Monde with Blair Walter from Felton Road, by accident. I should have been there the day before at the trade lunch but got mixed up, and somehow was able to stay with the illustrious likes of James Halliday, Jane Faulkner, Jeni Port, Dan Sims, Ben Edwards, Matt Skinner and a number of other Melbourne-based journalists and educators. Feeling very guilty and intimidated I then had the fortune of sitting next to Blair himself for the tasting of the entire range of new releases and then the insane lunch prepared by the Vue staff on the hundred-and-whatever floor of the Eureka Building. Over the many courses we were all regaled by tales from the god of Australian Wine James Halliday working the classic 1983 vintage in Burgundy, which not only put me further in awe of his legacy but also look forward to my trip in the hopes I would have even half the experience. That surreal afternoon will stay with me and created quite the connection with Felton Road wines. This week I had the chance to catch up with Blair again as he was in town for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, and taste a few of the wines.

Blair Walter

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Vinitaly 2012

Having visited one of the largest wine trade fairs in the world only three weeks before, it is hard to imagine anything I would want to do less than attend the largest (if you want to know why feel free to read my entry on Prowein 2012). But I was in the same situation I was before, where I wouldn’t be able to arrange any visits to wineries as everyone would be at the fair, and it was also a good opportunity to meet a large number of producers whose regions I would be visiting. Having the experience of Prowein was a huge help as I had some idea what to expect. Without that experience I would have been even more overwhelmed than I was at Prowein. Secondly I knew a lot more Italian regions and producers than I did for Germany and Austria, having specialised in Italian wines and varieties at the store I worked in. Finally I was meeting up with the two most important Italian wine importers in Australia – Arquilla and Trembath & Taylor – to join them for some of their appointments, so it was great to have some structure to the four days.
Verona Fiere – where the magic of Vinitaly happens

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Prowein 2012, aka "The Business" – Dusseldorf, Germany

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a Wine Trade Fair virgin. Way down in Australia we don’t have anything like this as it is not a big enough market for such a trade fair, and most of the market is dominated by six wine companies. The closest thing we have is individual distributors inviting their producers to show new release wines either once a year or every other year. Having visited Prowein 2012 I can say that this is preferable, as there are far less producers to see and I am familiar with them all. There is also the fact that I know many other attendees and can chat about the wines with them. Attending Prowein is a little bit like the edible room scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, except in that scene they knew what everything was and what they wanted to taste. I spent most of my time wandering around not knowing many of the producers and not knowing which were good enough to visit. It is amazing to see all of these big bright shiny stands, and the layout is generally clear and makes sense. There are a lot of stands for negociants and importers, so you sometimes stumble on Australian wines in the German hall, or French wines in the Spanish hall.

Shiny Prowein 2012

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