Tuesday, 26 December 2017
“You know, some days a bit of luck comes your way – that’s why this one’s called Wildcard” said distiller Nathan Williams. Baker Williams Distillery will this week launch their brand new spirit ‘Wildcard’ a mix of both malt spirit and wine spirit.
What started out a bit of an experiment combined with a healthy dose of serendipity has resulted in a unique spirit – malt undertones & brandy sweetness with lovely caramel and vanilla from the virgin Bourbon cask it’s been aging in.
The spirits composition is quite unusual in that it blends two types of spirit – one normally destined for whiskey – malt spirit; and the other usually destined to be brandy. “We’d actually made a bit of a blunder in mixing the two different types of spirit – it sat around in a holding vessel for about twelve months at which point I was going to strip this batch to a neutral liqueur base but on a bit of a whim we thought we’d try running it like a whiskey. From the moment we’d finished the distillation, I was convinced it was going down into barrel” said Mr Williams.
The craft distilling industry has embodied a sense of adventure and relative freedom that has allowed craft producers to take different directions with respect to product and the Mudgee based distillers are keen for this to continue.
“Our industry isn’t shackled to pre-existing ideas, or rigid dogma -tradition remains important, but innovation and a desire to explore is evident – it’s a great time to be a distiller as well as a consumer. Importantly it’s not just innovation for innovations sake – we’re searching for new flavours, new processes, new ingredients that enrich and broaden the beverage market”.
A genuine limited release - only 99 cask strength bottles (a whopping 63.5%) are available and 288 at 50% abv– each bottle signed and numbered by the distiller.
Product: Wildcard A unique mix of Barley, Wheat & Rye Malts + wine spirit aged in a Virgin Bourbon Barrel for 18months. (To our knowledge there is nothing else like this in the marketplace). All spirit drawn from a single barrel.
Wildcard is Baker Williams Distillery’s very first aged release and will be followed in quarter 1 calendar 2018 with their first edition Whiskey.
Flavour profile: Unique whiskey/brandy hybrid characters – sweetness from wheat & wine, with underlying malt and rich oak notes.
a) Cask Strength 63.5% ABV – 99 Bottles b) 50%ABV - 288 Bottles
Distilled by Baker Williams Distillery, Distiller Nathan Williams on their custom 400 litre pot still and aged on-site.
All bottles are hand crafted - hand bottled, hand waxed, hand labelled, signed and numbered
Target audience: Whiskey; Brandy & Bourbon lovers.
Wildcard is available at the Baker Williams Distillery Cellar Door at 194 Henry Lawson Drive, Mudgee NSW 2850; online at store.bakerwilliams.com.au and at select liquor stores and bars.
Monday, 25 December 2017
JOHN ROZENTALS looks at a new pig entering the house to join the ranks of organic wine,
One of NSW's leading organic wine producers, Canowindra's Pig in the House, has released two new wines in time for the summer break — Pig in the House 2017 Organic Rosé and Pig in the House 2017 Organic Chardonnay.
Both wines retail for $25 at full margin.
The growth in sales for Pig in the House correlated with the growth seen in the organic wine market over recent years, with figures revealing that the number of consumers who claimed to have purchased organic wine increased from 13per cent in 2012 to 20 per cent in 2016.
"We are also seeing this increase in consumption through our distribution channels," said winery owner and vigneron Jason O'Dea.
"This growth, along with increasing demand for rosé made it an easy decision to make the new Pig in the House Organic Rosé."
Pig in the House 2017 Organic Rosé ($25): Winemaker Anthony D'Onise chose mainly sangiovese, blended with just a touch of shiraz, to make this wine, which is resfreshingly crisp, enticingly flavoured an quite dry. "Stylistically speaking, we were aiming to capture the varietal characters," said D'Onise. Mission accomplished.
Pig in the House 2017 Organic Chardonnay ($25): I like this modern style of chardonnay, with its just subtle of oak gained through 15 per cent barrel fermentation. D'Onise likes the "white peach purity" of chardonnay from the Cowra district. So do I.
Wednesday, 20 December 2017
Award-winning teams at Grain Bar and Archie Rose have joined forces to create an exclusive small batch gin, which features a rare mandarin botanical that can only be enjoyed at The Rocks bar while stock lasts.
Crafted at the distillery in Rosebery, Grain Archie Rose Gin is a unique combination of six botanicals, which were carefully selected and combined by Grain representatives and master distiller Dave Withers to come together as a perfectly balanced and intense distillation.
This batch celebrates the floral and earthy notes of coriander seed, herbaceous and peppery tones of Dorrigo Pepperleaf organically sourced from the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, spiciness from cassia and cardamom; and vibrant sweetness of mandarin – a rare botanical that can only be found in this tailored blend.
“By respecting each botanical and the role they play when flavours marry together, as well as utilising Dave's wealth of experience and expertise, we've crafted a one-of-a-kind and deeply complex gin,” Grain bar manager Roderick said.
“The result is an elegant and sensual spirit that elevates and adds a freshness to classic dry martinis and compliments a variety of tonics. Top notes greet you to the glass and linger on the palette to keep gin enthusiasts coming back for more.”
To celebrate, Grain will be the home of gin this summer, hosting a series of five Summer of Gin events from 12 January until 2 March for newcomers and connoisseurs alike. The journey of flavour and discovery will commence with a launch party where the Grain Archie Rose Gin will be unveiled, followed by a collection of special activities including unexpected house-made infusions, Australian tasting plates, unique sensory experiences and a special gin cocktail menu for guests to enjoy the spirit as they have never experienced it.
Calendar of events:
1) For the lovers of gin | Summer of Gin launch party | The official unveiling of custom Grain Gin including a detailed talk on the gin making process by Lachie Beange, Archie Rose ambassador. January 12, from 4pm.
2) For the newbies | Australian gin tasting trio | Discover the unique flavour of Australian gin with our tasting plate of three of the finest gins from our backyard. January 19 – January 26.
3) For the dabblers | Tanqueray perfume making sessions | Elevate your favourite spirit with a Tanqueray perfume making session. A unique sensory experience, guests will have the chance to create their own take-home perfume using botanicals found in Tanqueray gin. Early February.
4) For the connoisseurs | The elite matching menu | Select from our special menu of carefully chosen gins with our boutique tonic and garnish recommendations and discover the most refined ways to enjoy the spirit. February 16 – 23.
5) For the truly adventurous | Gin infusion selection | Treat your palate to an explosion of flavours with our variety of house-made gin infusions. Up for something truly different? Ask your bartender for their serving suggestion (not for the faint hearted!). February 23 – March 2.
Specials available throughout the entire period:
1) Summer of Gin Cocktail Menu – Five creative and classic cocktails specially crafted by our talented mixologists using some of our favourite gin varieties.
2) The Grain Signature Martini – The signature taste of summer showcasing the aromatic blend of carefully selected botanicals in our custom spirit, Grain Gin, and served with dry vermouth.
Grain bar is located in Sydney's The Rocks at 199 George Street, within Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. For more information and group bookings, +61 2 9250 3118, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.grainbar.com.au.
Monday, 11 December 2017
|THIS one began with a small vineyard intended|
to simply keep its owner busy in semi-retirement.
But with both site and climate being "just right" for a trio of grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo) and the backing of consultant viticulturist, Tim Esson, the Samodol's found the Rowlee Vineyard fruit they were selling was being made by others into multi-award winning wines.
And so Nik and Deonne and their daughter Nicole and Tim Esson and his family teamed-up in 2013 to create Rowlee Wines, and to make their own vinos with guidance and backing from "mentor winemaker," PJ Charteris. Their 2016 Rowlee Chardonnay is a stunner, with a vineyard load of stone fruit and citrus flavours and a creamy texture that makes it a perfect match with a summer's chicken salad, or veal chops barbecued and topped with creamy mushrooms.
Order online at $40 through www.rowleewines.com.au
|ACCLAIMED label had its beginnings|
back in 1912 at the hands of a teetotaller.
COLOURFUL YARNS BEHIND CLASSIC LABELS
THERE'S many a colourful story around the founding and success of so many Australian wine companies, one such being McLaren Vale's acclaimed d'Arenberg Wines whose founder, a Mr Joseph Osborn was a teetotaller who sold a stable of prize-winning horses to buy the property in 1912 that now houses the d'Arenberg winery, cellar door and restaurant.
And although a teetotaller he was also a director of wine company Thomas Hardy and Sons, so knew plenty about the industry and with son Frank bought several vineyards around their property. On his death in 1921 young Frank took control, initially selling their grapes to other wineries before building the family winery in 1927.
When he too fell ill in the early 1940s his son Francis (generally known as d'Arry) left school at 16 years of age to help his father, taking full control on his father's death in 1957, and creating the d'Arenberg label after his mother's maiden name.
D'Arry's son Chester joined-up in 1984, cementing d'Arenberg's place firmly on the Australian wine map, and now as Chief Winemaker creates some sixty wines annually from 25 grape varieties. One current outstanding drop is a 2017 "The Money Spider" Roussanne that has marvellous flavours spanning green mango, papaya and pickled ginger, and at $20 is great value to enjoy with shellfish, pork or veal dishes.
Monday, 4 December 2017
ONE TO NOTE: FOR a long time one of the most famous blends in France's Bordeaux region was Cabernet Malbec, until growers there were devastated both emotionally and financially when frosts in 1956 wiped out a massive seventy-five per cent of their Malbec crops, and nervous about re-planting they shifted growing to Cahors in the country's south-west.
Coincidentally around the same time the blend was being put together for the first time in South Australia's Clare Valley – where today many serious aficionados believe Cabernet Malbec has become the "Holy Grail" of the Valley's red wine production.
And a master of the blend, Tim Adams Wines has just released their 2014 vintage, winemakers Tim Adams and Brett Schultz bringing together 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Malbec for this rewardingly lip-smacking drop. The Malbec component, they say, adds to the complexity of the Cabernet's mid-palate by giving it violet and mulberry flavours, and additional texture and richness that all makes for a full-bodied wine with generous chalky tannins.
This one is priced at $25 and makes for a great match with braised lamb shanks, or a good meaty lasagne.
 IF you have a fondness for braised lamb shanks, here's a perfect match on the table.
4 Dec 17
REWARDING RESULT FROM OLDER VINES
IF like us you enjoy your Chardonnay, Margan Family Wines currently have a lovely 2017 made from the fruit of low yielding old vines originally planted by Lindemans on the volcanic soil of the Hunter Valley's Fordwich Sill over 40 years ago.
Close planted and managed with vertical shoot positioning to give a good mix of sunshine and shaded fruit, this early 1970s vineyard crops at around two tonnes per acre, which while quite low for white grapes, ensures full fruit ripeness at lower sugar levels, and high acidity.
The 2017 vintage in the Hunter Valley was hot and dry, resulting in outstanding fruit across the whole spectrum of wine grapes, with Chardonnay perhaps the stand-out performer. As a result Andrew Margan crafted a lovely 2017 wine, one that's got a wonderfully creamy texture, lively acidity and nice suggestions of nectarine, cashew nut and lime zest on the palate.
At $20 Andrew suggests that a great food match would be seared scallops with jamon serrano (dry-cured Spanish-style ham,) watercress, hazelnut and blackcurrant vinaigrette. Or for something simpler, a Summer's day ice bucket of fresh prawns.
 A REWARDING drop from older, low yielding vines planted in the Hunter Valley over 40 years ago in the early 1970s.
Monday, 27 November 2017
|STEEPED in a family history going back to 1838|
and links to the pioneering Macarthur family's first
commercial vineyard in Australia.
ONE TO NOTE: WE don't hear a lot about Robert Stein Wines out near Mudgee in NSW's Central West, but here is a small maker with a prestigious history it is certainly justified in being proud of.
For current winemaker Jacob Stein is the third generation of his craft, his grandfather Robert Stein having planted their vineyard on the slopes of Mount Buckaroo in 1976, and his grandfather's ancestor Johann Stein sailing to Australia from Germany in 1838 to work on the famous Macarthur family's pioneering commercial vineyard as their "vine dresser," and bringing with him vine cuttings for them from his homeland.
A just-released 2016 Robert Stein Reserve Chardonnay was made from those vines planted in 1976, and has a generous body, wonderful citrus and yellow stone fruit flavours, some fine spice, and a creamy palate with nice acidity.
Pay $40 and pair with poached salmon, salmon fish cakes, or grilled pork or veal chops topped with a creamy mushroom sauce.
FOUR INTO ONE – THAT'S A MATCH
BLUE PYRENEES Estate in western Victoria has a full-on-taste 2013 Estate Red that winemaker Andrew Koerner created by bringing together four different varietals, maturing them in French oak for two years, blending and bottling in 2015, and then cellaring with care until now.
And his patience has certainly rewarded, for himself and for the recognition this wine is receiving, and for consumers for a wonderfully more-ish drop that at $42, has got "partner with premium dining" written all over it.
Andrew brought together 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 4% each of Malbec and Shiraz for this beautifully rich drop in what he likes to call "a traditional old world style suitable for aging," one that's loaded with fine grain tannins and lovely lingering fresh berry and choc-mint flavours.
Get into it now for that special occasion, or think of cellaring for some other major event any time over the next twenty years, and you'll appreciate why this is a true benchmark wine that Andrew blends only from the best of vintages.
This Blue Pyrenees 2013 Estate Red would make for a wonderful match with the Christmas turkey – either hot or cold – or with a good steak any other time.
27 Nov 2017
Friday, 24 November 2017
|THIS colourfully named drop has a colourful|
background to it that dates back some 150 years,
and will help start the conversation as you
start to pour.
STEALING A LEAD WITH A THIEF
WHEN then-Poundkeeper in the Flinders Ranges' town of Melrose in South Australia was charged with stealing a cow way back in 1867, it's a safe bet he'd never have envisaged it raising him to something of celebrity status 150 years later.
But that's the case with Mr John Walter Mooney who was sent to gaol with hard labour for allegedly pinching the cow in cahoots with his own stockman and a local butcher, and slipping it in with his own for slaughter and sale through the butcher's shop.
And when the poor fellow told the presiding judge that his official Pound-book would show that he was holding the cow legally, but that he didn't have the book with him in court to prove it, the judge grunted that he should have brought it with him, and sent Mr Mooney off to the slammer for four years.
Bizarrely, when he died fifty years later, as a consequence of his imprisonment Mr Mooney was excommunicated and disallowed a Catholic burial – a slight that saw his entire family then withdraw from their life-long faith.
Now his great, great granddaughter, winemaker Natasha Mooney has created a label in her forebear's memory and honour, using fruit off her vineyard at Greenock on the north-western edge of the Barossa Valley, and with that label somewhat impishly titled The Thief?
Natasha's 2015 The Thief? Shiraz has a wonderful depth of red fruit flavours to it and a tingling spiciness from 18 months in oak; at $22 it's a well-priced stand-out with all manner of beef dishes.
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Mean and menacing, The Box throws up thick square barrels that suck out over submerged rocky outcrops. In contrast, there is nothing to fear from The Box Tempranillo. A warm and generous red with nutty oak flavours, it displays spicy hints of the variety's Spanish heritage.
WINEMAKER'S NOTE: A deepish red purple colour with lifted berry fruit and cinnamon oak aromas. A bright spicy palate is bright with fine dark cherry and American Oak spice flavours leading to a balanced tannin finish.
VINTAGE: Fine and warm with good conditions throughout.
VINEYARDS: Bunkers's Tempranillo vineyards are in northern Margaret River with gravel soils over an ironstone base. All vines are vertically shoot positioned and run in north south aspect.
VINIFICATION: Hand-picked fruit was fermented in open vats and about 25% of the blend was fermented in new American oak, matured further for one year prior to bottling.
VARIETAL: 100% Tempranillo
TOTAL ACIDITY: 6.5 g/L
RESIDUAL SUGAR: Dry
WINEMAKER: Brian Fletcher
WINEMAKER'S NOTE: This is the classic blend from Margaret River - pale green with aromas of succulent Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The palate is flinty and dry, with an explosive first impact of sweet racy fruit, creamy middle palate with a fine and lengthy finish.
VINTAGE: After a cold and wet start to spring, warmer weather through December and January provided good ripening conditions leading into vintage. The 2017 vintage was significantly later in the season than the past few years due to a fairly mild summer. Overall it was a good vintage – producing grape varietals with clean, crisp and pure fruit flavours.
VINEYARDS: Dispersed across the Margaret River region.
VINIFICATION: Harvested in early morning, crushed grapes were juice-extracted to a bright condition and cold fermented in stainless steel, then early bottled to retain varietal character.
VARIETAL/S: Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
RESIDUAL SUGAR: Dry
WINEMAKER: Brian Fletcher
CELLARING: Drink now
WINEMAKER'S NOTE: Made by the saignée technique – that is to "bleed off" juice from a red wine has produced a savoury but delicate style.
VINTAGE: 2017 vintage conditions were exceptional for this wine style.
VINEYARDS: The 2017 growing season was characterised by a return to average winter rains followed by a very cool spring free of high winds that led to good flowering and fruit set. These cool conditions with heavy falls of rain in February and March continued into summer leading to a delay in ripening compared to recent vintages. These were ideal conditions for the aromatic white varieties and could have been tougher for ripening the reds however the sun kept shining long enough to develop great colours and fine tannin structures.
VINIFICATION: Red juice was run off several red wine ferments, lightly clarified and then fermented in stainless steel. Bottled early to retain freshness.
RESIDUAL SUGAR: Dry
Calneggia Family Vineyards www.cfvwine.com.au
Monday, 20 November 2017
|VERMENTINO is one of our fastest-growing "alternative"|
wine varieties, and this one an excellent match with
summertime seafoods, salads and light Asian dishes.
A BOOM SUMMER COMING FOR VERMENTINO?
AMONGST the fastest-growing in sales in Australia of "alternative" wine varieties is Vermentino, a light-to-medium bodied white you'll find makes for excellent summer-time enjoyment with fish and seafoods, salads and light Asian dishes.
Over in Europe it's long been the biggest selling white variety on the French island of Corsica, in the Mediterranean 90kms off Italy's west coast, and is also going gang-busters on Italy's Sardinia Island just to Corsica's south. And on Italy's mainland, too, where it is grown along the Tuscan coast it is now so popular that growers there are having difficulty keeping up with demand – something we would not be surprised to see happen here in the not-too-distant future.
And one Aussie Vermentino well worth looking at over our coming warmer months is a first for the variety from La La Land Wines near Mildura in Victoria's warm north-west. From their 2017 vintage and carefully crafted in Sardinian style by La La Land's Frank Newman and Aidan Menzies, this is a wine whose fruit does the talking, and also rewards with delightful texture and mouthfeel.
Pay $18 and enjoy embracing flavours of fresh limes, almonds, green apples, peaches and fresh acidity, that all together in the glass will make for a great dining partner with those summertime seafoods, salads and pasta dishes.
and from John Rozentals:
The more I taste of white wines made from this newish-to-Australia Italian variety the surer I become of its future here, especially in our warmer regions. The variety retains acidity beautifully and offers plenty of racy, zesty fruit flavours. My only query about the wine concerns what I see as a quite frivolous name. What’s in the bottle is great.
IF you are starting to think about the
fast-approaching Festive Season,
here's a value-priced Aussie sparkler
for party-room or dining table.
Comprising 89% Chardonnay and 11% Pinot Noir off vineyards that interestingly nestle amongst orange, citrus and mango groves at Red Cliffs in north-western Victoria, this is a creamy bubbly with bright acidity, fresh lemon, brioche and yeasty flavours, and has a fine and persistent mousse – the eruption of its tiny bubbles in your glass.
This is a rewarding local sparkler to serve well-chilled in the Festive Season party-room, or at the lunch or dinner table, with fare from oysters to petite roast vegetable tarts and sushi, and if you've a sweet tooth, strawberries dipped in chocolate.
20 Nov 17
Monday, 13 November 2017
ONE TO NOTE: RYMILL have been making Gewurztraminer for over thirty years now, drawing on fruit from a single vineyard they planted back in 1985.
So you would be right in presuming they've got it right when it comes to growing the vines, harvesting the fruit, and making the wine, their recently-released 2017 proving, you'll find, that it'll be a true lip-smacker for enjoyment chilled on upcoming hot summer's days.
Winemaker Sandrine Gimon says this now-available 2017 gt (as Gewurztraminer is generally referred to) is clean, crisp and exquisite, and equally perfect for entertaining large numbers, or to complement fine foods – think Asian or all manner of duck, chicken, pork, seafood or roast vegetable dishes – at more intimate dinner parties.
With suggestions of cumquats and lychees to the forefront on the palate, it's also got undertones of turmeric and butterscotch and is nicely priced at $20.
 MULTI-CUISINE lip-smacker with all manner of duck, chicken, pork, seafood or roast vegetable dishes.
THE industry and buffs of Katnook Estate wines are mourning the sudden passing on November 5 of the Estate's long-time senior winemaker, Wayne Stehbens. He was 62.
In his youth Wayne worked in his school holidays alongside his father Ray who was then Katnook's General Manager, went on to study winemaking at Charles Sturt University, and returned to Katnook as its winemaker in 1979 – winning 49 wine show awards for the company in his first year.
He is survived by his wife Michelle who is Katnook's Cellar Door Manager, and family.
- David Ellis
A just-released Shaw Vineyard Estate 2017 Riesling is a classic drop from this maker's Murrumbateman vineyard in the Canberra premium cool climate wine region, and made all the more classic with a touch of botrytis that's helped concentrate sugars, fruit acids and wonderful passionfruit and tropical fruit flavours to more than usual prominence.
And it's little wonder that owner/winemaker Graeme Shaw is quick to offer how this one's drawing enthusiastic response from visitors both at cellar door tastings, and over meals in the winery's Olleyville Restaurant.
"We sourced the grapes from low yielding spur-pruned vines," Graeme says, "and we harvested in the cool of night to ensure fruit was delivered at temperatures of less than 20 degrees, contributing greatly to the unique character of this wine."
The weather was on side too, Graeme adds, with heavy spring rains followed by a reasonably average summer that was not too hot, and came with just the right amount of rain. "The result is that this is a Riesling that lives up to the acclaim of previous vintages of our Estate label, and punches well above its $30 price point," he said.
Enjoy with salmon or scallops if you like your seafoods, or equally with spicy stir-fries and curries if they're more to your fancy.
 CLASSIC Canberra region cool climate Riesling to tuck into with seafoods or spicy stir-fries.
Monday, 6 November 2017
|IF you like tomato-based pastas and pizzas,|
this is a wine to go ideally with both.
ONE TO NOTE: ANGULLONG Vineyard at Orange in the central west of NSW, has released a 2016 'Fossil Hill' Sangiovese that's named after significant fossil sites more than 450 million years old and discovered around the 1890s on the-now Angullong vineyards.
Angullong once lay under the sea and has been inhabited through the millennia by some of our earliest forms of life, with these reflected in the 263 species of fossils that have been found there. As well, in mid this year a network of significant limestone caves on the property known as the Cleifden Caves was added to the NSW State Heritage Register.
And wine-wise, a now-available 2016 vintage Angullong 'Fossil Hill' Sangiovese is a nicely medium to lighter bodied drop with flavours suggesting blueberries and sour cherries, and a touch of spice.
With subtle tannins as well it's a nice one at a suggested $26 to enjoy with tomato-based pastas and pizzas.
6 Nov 17
Monday, 30 October 2017
|FROM Calabria Bros Wines in Griffith NSW|
an exceptional 2016 Barossa Valley Sophie Rosé,
that at $18 is ideal with Italian antipasti tapas,
or a coconut prawn curry.
ONE TO NOTE: GRIFFITH-based Calabria Bros Wines have an almost magical rosé in their Barossa Valley Sophie Rosé 2016 that maestro Bill Calabria crafted from Barossa Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre and a touch of Pinot Grigio.
With flavours suggesting fresh-cut apples and succulent red forest berries, this wine named after Bill's first granddaughter Sophie, has a nicely savoury and dry finish to enjoy slightly chilled with a coconut prawn curry, or with Italian antipasti tapas. And at $18 it's nicely priced for family enjoyment.
30 Oct 2017
Monday, 23 October 2017
Hillbillies at heart can escape the big smoke and experience nature for real at the newly opened Hillbilly Cider Shed in the heart of Bilpin apple country.
Wend your way up the famed Bells Line of Rd and follow the comforting aroma of fermented apples into the Hillbilly Cider Shed to discover a hidden refuge of Prohibition-era speakeasy ambience overlooking a working apple orchard.
There, you can escape the foot-stomping winter chill outside and imbibe in a belly-warming mulled cider and munch on fresh salted popcorn while learning about the cidermaking process and the Hillbilly philosophy from Hillbilly Shane or Hillbetty Tessa McLaughlin themselves.
In 2007, the couple shifted to a bohemian existence on 35-acres at Bilpin, where fourth-generation farmer and Canonbah Bridge winemaker Shane set about making a cider in a cellar he dug by hand under the house.
The result? Just apples. With altitude. And a squeeze of good old Hillbilly magic.
``We don’t add sugar, we don’t pasteurise and we don’t add artificial flavours,’’ the Cider Australia treasurer says. ``We’re all about keeping it real and honest – 100 per cent crushed fruit fermented with minimal intervention for an easy bohemian bubble.’’
Dedicated Hillbillies can seek out the uninhibited honest earthiness, mountain air, memories of good times with friends and fermented fruit of Hillbilly Cider straight out of the barrels at the new cider shed.
Tasting cider straight from the barrel is but one experience available exclusively at the inner Hillbilly sanctum.
In season, pick the very apples that go into the cider.
Stock up on the new Scrumpy and Sweet Julie ciders – the ones you don’t see around too much outside the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury, and grab new ciders the moment Hillbilly Shane releases them.
In fact, the Sweet Julie is the only cider in the world made from the Julie apple, discovered and grown at the orchard onsite and the newest apple discovered in the area since the Granny Smith 100 years ago.
Environmentally conscious cider lovers can reduce packaging purchase to zero by investing in their own 1.854lt Hillbilly Cider growler, only at the Hillbilly Cider Shed.
It’s also the only place in the country to buy a cider canimal. Filled with nearly a litre of Hillbilly liquid goodness, canimals ``are mini kegs so they’ll keep you going for a while – you won’t lose your place around the bonfire’’, Shane says.
Have your canimal filled on the spot with your choice of cider straight off the barrel and pressure sealed by the first and only canimal machine used for cider in Australia.
Hillbillies can picnic under the trees with the company of cider shed dog Star or sit on the deck and soak up the vibes of raw Hillbilly music, meaningful conversation and the nostalgic scent of crushed cider on the breeze.
After tasting the award-winning alcoholic and non-alcoholic apple and pear ciders, cleansing the palette with salted popcorn, stocking up on your chosen flavour of bottled bohemian lifestyle, be sure to proclaim your Hillbillification with pride on clothing and other items available at the cider shed.
Hillbilly Cider is also available throughout the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury and beyond via independent bottle shops, funky bars and restaurants, or catch the Hillbillies at farmers markets and music festivals.
The Hillbilly Cider Shed, Shields Orchard, 2270 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin, is open from 12pm to 5pm Friday and 11am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday (check website for extra open days during school holidays). Go to hillbilly.com.au for more information.
Angullong 2017 Fossil Hill Orange-Region Rosato ($24): This wine recently went a treat with the nibblies we grazed on before a suitably long lunch in Angullong's vineyard near the locality of Panuara, on the southern slopes of Orange's main landmark, Mt Canobolas. It may be quite a frivolous pink in colour, but this wine has some substance to it. It's made from the Italian red variety Sangiovese, completely dry and packed with quite a delicious, morish flavour.
Huntington Estate 2013 Mudgee Special-Reserve Shiraz ($36): This is a fine example of Mudgee red — and exactly of what Tim Stevens is talking about. It's a richly flavoured, full-bodied dry red with a lot of earthy flavours and plenty of fine-grained tannins that are already well balanced against those flavours. It's drinking well now and will only get better. Match it with some of the best steak, char-grilled medium-rare for me.
JOHN ROZENTALS returns from Mudgee thinking about full-bodied dry reds and urges readers to go with the flow of the tannins.
Tannin structure is critical to the way that a red wine tastes and responds to food, yet I doubt that most wine lovers understand tannins.
Tannins come mostly from the skins of red grapes and aren't bitter, they're astringent. There is a big difference.
They have a high affinity for proteins and combine them to form long-chain insoluble molecules. That's why they dry the mouth. Saliva contains a lot of protein. Red wine combines with these proteins and hence your mouth feels dry — and you can sometimes scrape red-coloured residue off your tongue with your teeth.
It's why protein-based fining agents, such as egg-white and skimmed milk, are sometimes used to remove tannins from red wines.
Foods such as red meat contain a lot of protein, so when you consume them with red wine, the wine's drying effect on the tongue is lessened. That's one reason they go well together, and it's certainly why you should taste wine with appropriate food before buying it.
The tannin structure of grapes — and hence of the wines they make — depends much on environment, grape variety, growing conditions, timing of harvest, etc. The extraction of that tannin, and its persistence in the wine depends much on winemaking techniques.
It's the regionality that comes to the fore when Huntington Estate owner and winemaker Tim Stevens claims the area can produce some of the best red wines in Australia, and hence in the world.
"There is no doubt that our style of red wine is unique; we have high levels of high-quality tannin and acid that can make the wines somewhat astringent when young. I make no apologies for this, as the structure makes the wines great for aging and great with food … In time the fruit and tannins integrate to become sublime," he said.
"Our wines are old-style and don't suit tastes where body and complexity are not important. The style of Mudgee reds is not something we can change, even if, God forbid, we wanted to. This is because of our unique climate and soils, which are what they are.
"Time and again, I have seen Mudgee winemakers (myself included) try to tame these tannins by manipulating the vineyard conditions or playing too much with the wine in the cellar. Invariably, the wine becomes stripped or dull. Handled properly, Mudgee wines are full-bodied, have loads of super-fine tannins, good acid levels, with concentrated and complex flavours that last of the palate.
"The trick is to be guided by the vineyard and intervene as little as possible. Go with the tannins, not against them."
Caption: Tim Stevens working on a Huntington Estate red … "The trick is to be guided by the vineyard and intervene as little as possible."
TASSIE PINOT GRIS' COOL SUCCESS STORY
WHILE living in the UK in the early 1980s, Bob and Rita Richter spent a lot of time exploring the wine-growing regions of Europe, and concluding that Europe's best wines were coming out of its cooler regions.
So on their return to Australia at the end of 1984, and keen to get into cool climate winemaking, Bob enrolled into a winemaking course at the Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1985 – and he and Rita gave themselves a holiday to Tasmania that same year to see what was already there, and what the potential may be for their own future in the cool island State.
As a result, in November of 1987 they bought land in the Tamar Valley, and because as Rita puts it "everyone down here was growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay," they opted instead for Pinot Gris and Merlot… with smaller quantities of some 16 other varieties on their Grey Sands vineyard (so-named after the silty sand atop hardpan and clay.)
With some varieties struggling in the Tasmanian conditions the Richter's did a bit of varietal juggling, and today they've still an amazing seventeen different varieties.
And their decision in 1987 to include Pinot Gris has proven a judicious one, for sales today of the variety are the fastest-growing of any white wine in Australia, at around a healthy 15 per cent annually.
Interestingly, Pinot Gris is something of a What Is Old Is New Again as it was first planted in Australia in 1832 by James Busby in the Hunter Valley, but never really took off, probably because being a cool climate variety it ripened in the warm Hunter Valley before developing any significant flavour or aroma. But then in the 1990s when plantings began in cooler regions, it suddenly hit its straps.
Bob and Rita Richter's Grey Sands 2015 Pinot Gris is a particularly inviting example of the varietal, with wonderful aromas of crystallized pineapple and custard apple, and with a lily of the valley floral lift to it. And when it comes to flavour, this one's beautifully rewarding with deep and ripe varietal fruit flavours coupled with suggestions of ginger and quince, and a long, long finish.
Certainly well worth it's $45 cellar door and website price with spicy foods like Thai fish cakes, green chicken curry – or if you aren't into spiciness, with calamari or paté as a meal starter. To see more and order online, go to www.greysands.com.au
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 FROM out of the cool of Tasmania, a perfect match with spicy Thai fish cakes or a green chicken curry.
 "Should we net these now or can they wait a bit longer?" That's the question for the Richters in their constant battle with fruit-stealing birds (mainly Silver Eyes)… they delay netting as long as possible as it reflects some of the important radiation.
Thursday, 28 September 2017
The finalists of the 2017 Pier One Sydney Harbour NSW Wine Awards have just been revealed, and the 22nd annual NSW Wine Awards has unveiled one of the most exciting and diverse ranges of new gold medal wines on record.
In fact, 58 gold medals have been awarded this year, to wineries from 10 different NSW wine regions and to wines made from Semillon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Vermentino, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Barbera, Merlot and Durif, as well as blends of the above!
President of the NSW Wine Industry Association Tom Ward clarifies, “We have indeed had a great result for both the show and our state’s wineries this year, with a high proportion of gold medal winners highlighting the quality and diversity of NSW wines available out there. This is in no way a result of us trying to punch up the wine and make everyone a winner; a gold label is a level of trust for the consumer and our gold medals have to be seriously earned. That is why getting such a high profile and experienced panel of judges is so important. This year we were thrilled to have Dave Brookes as our Chief Judge, leading a panel of 8 other expert judges from across Australia, and 6 associate judges.
We have also introduced a more hi-tech scoring process with an iPad based system from the Australian Wine Research Institute. This has enabled us to really get the best out of the judging - correlates all the scores in one system and monitoring judges high and low scores - and be as efficient as possible.”
Please see below a full list of all the wines that are now competing for top honours and one of the 20 Trophies available (preliminary results for all entries can also be accessed at www.nswwine.com.au). Announcement of the 2017 Trophy winners will take place on Friday 27 October at the NSW Wine Awards Presentation Lunch at Pier One Sydney Harbour.
Who do you think will take home the coveted title of 2017 NSW Wine of the Year?
List of gold-medal-winning Finalists ~ in alphabetical order only …
Monday, 24 July 2017
|GREAT match with a winter's beefy stew|
or roast beef with a pepper sauce.
ONE TO NOTE: TUCKED away on a quiet street in suburban Dover Gardens in Adelaide is historic Patritti winery and cellar door, the last of what were once many such family-owned suburban wineries in the city.
Established in 1926 they've just released a very more-ish 2014 Shiraz made at Dover Gardens from fruit hand-picked off Patritti's Lot Three Elliott Road vineyard at Blewitt Springs in McLaren Vale. With typical McLaren Vale Shiraz black fruits and dark chocolate notes, this one's backed-up with blue fruits and savoury elements that make it quintessentially Blewitt Springs.
At a recommended $35 it's a great match with a winter's beefy stew or with roast beef and a pepper sauce.
24 July 17
|IF you like oven-baked salmon fillets,|
here's a perfect pairing.
GREAT RESULTS FOR A HARSH TASKMASTER
JONATHON Hambrook is a pretty harsh taskmaster when it comes to the Pinot Noir vines on his Stockman's Ridge vineyard at Orange in the high, cool climate Central West of NSW.
But being that harsh taskmaster has paid off, with vines planted closer together (around just half the norm in distance between each vine,) pruning reducing each vine to just one cordon (the arm of the vine extending away from the trunk,) and each of those cordons being kept to eight spurs from which fruit will grow.
"This means that in a good year we're only asking each vine to produce eight excellent bunches of fruit after its 50% thinning rate, and in a bad year we can drop that crop further to ensure the vine produces just four really good bunches," Jonathon says..
"So it means that essentially we value quality over quantity, with each vine having to do less, and putting all its energy into the fruit and not the vine itself."
Jonathon took inspiration for this from many vineyard visits to France, particularly the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions, where he saw the advantage of such vineyard management. And as Pinot Noir is one of the better candidates for high density planting, it's all come together very well on his Stockman's Ridge.
A now-available 2015 Stockman's Ridge Handcrafted Pinot Noir has lovely forest floor and berry aromas plus hints of peppery sweet spice, and on the palate blackberries and plums that coat the mouth beautifully.
Pay $30 and pair perfectly with oven-baked salmon fillets.
24 July 17
Monday, 17 July 2017
ONE TO NOTE: THOSE who compile the figures tell us that the second-most popular red wine in the world today after Cabernet Sauvignon is Merlot, with sales in Australia putting us amongst those making it the current hit that it is.
With a velvety softness on the palate and less tannin than Cabernet, Merlot has an ability to prove a great match with just about any food – just dodge anything highly spiced, or fish or leafy greens.
This wine proves perfect with grilled lamb chops, roast chicken, pork loin with a mushroom sauce, tomato-loaded Italian dishes, casseroles it can also be tossed into during cooking, barbecued steak, and beef or veal burgers.
And one label ideal with all of these is Logan Wines' 2013 Apple Tree Flat Merlot from the Central West of NSW, where altitude and cool climate see it develop abundant yet soft flavours of blackberry, plum and black olive, and which winemaker Peter Logan sums up as "a deliciously fruity, soft and fun mealtime drop."
Only query is the price – some buffs wonder if at just $13 it's not perhaps a little under-valued?
 AT just $13 a bottle, some Merlot buffs wonder if this one's perhaps a little under-valued considering its quality and flavour.
TUCKER TIME RED AND WHITE TWOSOME
THERE were plenty of reasons for smiles in South Australia's Clare Valley this 2017 vintage, amongst grape-growers because of highest prices they'd enjoyed for years – coupled with above-average quantities of fruit off their vines – and amongst winemakers in having fruit they've lauded as the best in three decades.
Plus there'll be smiles to come amongst wine buffs too, as the outstanding wines of this vintage start coming onto the market.
And one you'll find already on the shelves is Tim Adams' 2017 Clare Valley Pinot Gris, a drop of outstanding structure, flavour and acid profile, and reflecting a vintage that Tim ranks in the Top Five in his 40-odd years as a winemaker and vigneron.
With rich and robust fruit characters on the palate and bright acidity, pair this one with fish, prawns, lobster or oven-roasted chicken.
And at $22, there's reason to smile at the price, too.
WINESPEAK: When a winemaker refers to a wine as being "Big" they're not referring to the bottle size, but to the wine being high in alcohol content, or in intensity of flavour.
 HERE'S a drop that makes for a great pairing on the table with fish, prawns or lobster, or with oven-roasted chicken.
Friday, 14 July 2017
By John Rozentals
I wrote a few weeks ago about Orange's Brangayne having two vineyards — one decidedly higher and cooler than the other.
They're certainly not the only ones in the district adopting this approach. Ross Hill also has two vineyards — their 'home' vineyard at Wallace Lane, high on the slopes of Mt Canobolas, and the Griffin Road Vineyard, on the milder north-western edge of Orange as you head along the Mitchell Highway towards Molong and Dubbo.
If winemaker Phil Kerney didn't have the Griffin Road Vineyard at his disposal, the only red in Ross Hill's premium Pinnacle Series would be a pinot noir.
That's the only red variety that Phil and Ross Hill's owners reckon will ripen at Wallace Lane, and hence it's the only red variety planted there.
But the Pinnacle Series label carries four reds, of which the 2015 vintages have just been released — the two I've reviewed here plus a 2015 Shiraz and a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, the latter already having sold out.
They formed a very solid quartet, which will expand to a quintet if Phil Kerney gets his way, by the addition of a pinot noir made 100 per cent from the Griffin Road Vineyard.
That should make for a highly interesting comparative tasting — two pinots made by the same hands from vineyards separated by a couple of hundred feet in altitude.
Ross Hill 2015 Pinnacle Series Cabernet Franc ($45): Meets all the Pinnacle Series requirements by being made 100 per cent from a single estate-owned vineyard, in this case Griffin Road, a vineyard I often pass on trips between my Molong home and Orange. Cabernet franc is a bit of a freak at Griffin Road, easily qualifying for its own individual guernsey. I really like the power and length of this wine, as well as its perfumed, herby characters. Visit www.rosshillwines.com.au.
- John Rozentals
- John Rozentals
Thursday, 29 June 2017
Tempranillo really seems to have taken off in Australia — and for the very good reason that the variety is making some exceptional dry reds. This is a firmly structured dry red with excellent balance of fruit, oak and tannin. The fruit lies predominantly in the dark-plum spectrum, but there are spices too, principally of the Middle Eastern persuasion. But for me the main feature lies in the long flavours of an elegant, firmly structured wine … and then there's the elegant package you'd be proud to display on your table at the local bistro. Suggested retail: $32
|Doing it the old-fashioned way … Stuart Olsen uses his feet to stir up a red ferment.|
The Australian wine industry may be brimming with characters but it is essentially a fairly conservative place, with just about everyone pursuing clinically perfect wines. It's a goal that Stuart Olsen, who makes wine at Dubbo under the Eloquesta label, principally using fruit from Mudgee and Orange, reckons leads to a boring sameness.
Eloquesta 2014 'A Boy with Fruit' Orange Chardonnay ($32): Winemaker Stuart Olsen certainly thought laterally when he made this wine and consumers will have to do likewise when they taste it. The fruit comes from the Orange district, in two equal-size batches — from Gordon Hills Estate on the Cargo Road and from the warmer, lower-altitude Belgravia Vineyard near Molong.
It's made in an "antique style", as they did hundreds of years ago in places such as Croatia and Slovenia — foot-trodden on skins for two-to-three weeks, and pressed into old, new and reconditioned French oak and brand-new Hungarian oak, and matured for nearly two years. The barrels were stirred monthly on gross lees. It was only lightly filtered at bottling and retains some yeast sediment and hence potential cloudiness if stirred up —just like the best of Coopers ales. It shows a complex blend of fruit and associated flavours — Stuart sees dried stonefruit, mango, honey and acacia flowers in the bouquet, and I'm not going to disagree with him. It's a deeply golden-coloured, complex brew that won't be to everyone's taste but keen wine people will mostly love it for its uniqueness in Australia and the honesty of the winemaking approach.
Grab a couple of bottles and share them with wine-loving friends over some hearty, strongly flavoured eastern Mediterranean seafood dishes. And please excuse the lengthiness of this review, but it's a provocative white wine worth study, contemplation and much discussion about whether our wines are generally overly pure and too sanitised. Visit eloquesta.com.au.
Eloquesta 2015 ‘A Boy with Fruit’ Mudgee Rosalia ($22): This is another one out of left field. In Australia black muscat grapes are usually used to make frivolous pink moscatos and muscat liqueurs. Instead, Stuart Olsen has made a dry, quite aromatic rosé showing nuances of Turkish delight. It’s light, flavoursome, and good just about anywhere that doesn’t demand anything too serious. Rosalia, incidentally, is a Hungarian rosé festival — and the name of Stuart’s grandmother. Visit eloquesta.com.au.
Top New Zealand business event planners and decision-makers had the opportunity to discover Australia's creative business events delivery and immerse themselves in a bespoke Australian wineries experience in Auckland last night.
Hosted by Business Events Australia, Tourism Australia's specialist business events team in partnership with Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia, 60 guests were taken on a journey through five of Australia's leading wineries, showcasing the unique experiences available for the New Zealand business events market.
Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia is a hand-selected collection of Australia's premium wineries offering quality winery experiences, based around world class wines, warm and knowledgeable hospitality and culinary excellence. Going beyond wine tasting, last night's event provided guests with a multi-sensory experience of Australia's unique places, people, produce and business events offering.
"New Zealand is Australia's largest inbound market in terms of visitation and many business events planners in the market feel they already know Australia well. Last night was an opportunity to extend their knowledge of Australia's exceptional food and wine, business event delivery capabilities, friendly people and unique landscapes," said Penny Lion, Executive General Manager, Events for Tourism Australia.
Hosted at inner-city photography space, The White Studios, guests were treated to a degustation menu and matching wines inspired by each of the five wineries - d'Arenberg, Moorilla, Seppeltsfield, Montalto and The Lane. As the evening's facilitator, Australian wine writer, judge and educator Nick Ryan used his knowledge and passion for Australian wine to help bring the stories of each winery to life.
South Australian winery d'Arenberg shared details of its newest venue, the architect-designed d'Arenberg Cube, set to open in late 2017. With a vintage being laid down every year since 1878, Seppeltsfield Wines, also from South Australia, gave guests an exclusive tasting of their 1917 port. Also from South Australia, The Lane Vineyard showcased their 'blend your own' experience whilst Tasmanian winery Moorilla, situated at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), demonstrated the relationship between art with wine. The Mornington Peninsula's Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove offered guests a glimpse into their 'Estate to Plate' experience, a guided exploration of the property's two acres of kitchen gardens, olive groves and extensive sculpture collection.
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
SOBERING PRICE FOR WORLD'S BEST WINE
AN auction in London has just seen 152,750 pounds (around AU$262,680) paid for a case of near-30 years old French wine that the buyer's going to no doubt spend plenty of time looking at, but in no way pull a cork.
The vintage 1988 Pinot Noir came from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti vineyard in Burgundy, which at a mere 1.8ha (4.5 acres) is one of the smallest estates in France, and was first worked seriously by monks from a local abbey back in 1232.
Today it produces on average just 450 cases a year of Pinot Noir from a single strain of vines, that wine being described variously by connoisseurs as "the scarcest, most expensive and frequently best wine in the world," "a perfection of aroma and taste" and "the peak of Pinot Noir." And if you want one of those cases of the latest vintage, it'll cost you around AU$17,200 – IF there are any left.
Horses are still used in the vineyard to avoid tractors compacting the soil, fertiliser for the vines is a home-made compost of crushed vine roots, grape skins and residues from fermentation, and grape yields are kept low through severe early season pruning to remove substandard fruit and concentrate flavour in the remainder.
And on picking, every grape is hand examined for health and condition, meaning it can take the total fruit selected from up to three vines to make just one bottle of wine.
The 152,750 pounds for the case of 1988 was paid by a European wine investor at a just-held Fine and Rare Wines auction conducted by British auction firm Bonhams in London. If you'd like to see what other classic wines they have coming up in future auctions, go to www.bonhams.com
 HAILED as the frequently best wine in the world, this dozen-bottle lot of French Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Pinot Noir, has just sold at auction in London for the equivalent of AU$262,680.
 HORSES are still used in the vineyard to avoid tractors compacting the soil and damaging the vines' roots.
(Images: Bonhams Auctioneers)