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My Picks of Pinot Palooza

The weekend before last marked the first Pinot Palooza. One of the best ways to spend an afternoon that I could think of: tasting a great cross section of Pinot from across Australia and New Zealand. The guys at The Wine Guide did a brilliant job of bringing it all together, complete with ridiculously loud playing of Gangnam Style and #realperoni in the hands of all of the producers.

We took a bit of a scatter gun approach to the tasting, tasting a few producers whom I’ve not previously tasted (had been looking forward to tasting Bannockburn’s wine for a while), a few randoms and a few old favourites.

Overall I would say that the standing of Australasian Pinot is top notch. Young Pinot vines can sometimes produce a thin, slightly insipid wine which struggles for depth and balance. This is often the kind of Pinot that’s cheaper, but not worth the price of the glass.  I can safely say, I didn’t taste a single wine like this. In fact, some of the cheaper wines really held their own.

The following are the photos I snapped of my standout wines. I seemed to have missed taking a photo of what was my favourite wine of the day, the Valli Gibbston Valley 2010.

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Suffield Wines – Eden Valley

On our recent trip to McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and Clare Valley we had the pleasure of stumbling across the cellar door of Suffield Wines. Getting there wasn’t by design, it was a matter of taking a wrong turn down a road and pulling into the first winery we saw.

The story of Suffield Wines is much the same story as how we stumbled upon it. With no experience of winemaking or vineyards, Nick and Lyne bought the vineyard in 1998. At the time they were living in the US managing their businesses and bought the cute little farmhouse and vineyard with the goal of taking things easy. That never happened, but spending a short amount of time with Nick, that’s no surprise – he has an insatiable passion for everything and anything he mentions.

The house was run down, with dirt floors, no bathroom and in desparate need of attention. The vines too were in a similar state, left to their own devices for god knows how long. The house was run-down and the state of the vineyards were no better. The exact years of planting aren’t really available, but they estimate that the Shiraz and Riesling are around 80 years old. Neither of these have ever seen much irrigation, so they have deep root structures and a consistent harvest. Turns out the age and establishment of the vines were their saving grace, and with a bit of well placed pruning, some active maintenance and a lot of hard work they are seeing better days.

At the time the Suffield’s bought the vineyard, most of the fruit was sold by contract to Henschke. Since then, the have continued the contract selling but have started making an increasing amount of their own wines. Using a combination of minimal intervention in the wine making, the help of a contract wine maker, and great fruit the wines Suffield is producing are not only sensational but also great value.

The earlier vintages of Shiraz were heavy-handed and off balance, but age has treated them well and they are well priced. The newer vintages have been made with a far subtler hand and will mature into some crackers. The older Rieslings have the roundness which I love in older Riesling and the later vintages have fantastic acidity, almost to a fault. The 2010 vintage was bone dry, all citrus and acid and lacking in complexity – this Jim told us is the style that all Eden Valley Riesling are moving towards. Personally, I like a touch of residual sugar, it plays well with the acidity and lifts it.

McLaren Vale

A day in McLaren Vale. For the Shiraz fiend, that may sound like heaven. But quite frankly, I’m just not that in to it. I love a good Rhone style shiraz, but the general style of Australian shiraz just isn’t to my liking. But as I’ve learnt many times, a trip to a wine region is almost never about that region’s flagship wine. It’s about the gems you find on the edges of the wine lists. Things like Sangiovese, GSM and Nebbiolo that perhaps aren’t available widely, but given the chance you will fall in love with.

McLaren Vale was no different. The standout was Grenache followed closely by Sangiovese (which inexplicably isn’t very widely produced in McLaren Vale.) Grenache is one of the most widely grown grapes in McLaren Vale (rivalled only by Shiraz.) It was introduced in the 19th century and was generally used in fortifieds. Today however it is being used to produce still wines, either by itself or blended with Shiraz and the results are terrific. It has an almost delicate spiciness and a refined richness with a fine not overbearing structure. It is interesting in that it is a “big” wine, yet doesn’t tend to overpower your palate.

And the growers of McLaren Vale obviously know they are onto something with their Grenache as they have a scheme wherein producers can showcase their Grenache based wines through a special brand, Cadenzia. I’m not entirely sure of the specifics, but someone mentioned they have to be deemed to be of a certain quality and be majority Grenache based.

Kangarilla Road

If Grenache was the winning wine of the day, Kangarilla Road was the winning winery. It’s a fresh, modern winery with a great lineup of wines. The custom built cellar door itself lacks the heritage of many of the other cellar doors in the region, but what it lacks in character it makes up with it’s spacious interior and tasteful appointments.

The catalogue of wines is slightly off center. While it produces the requisite Grenache and Shiraz it also has plantings of Primitivo and Zinfandel. These wines are really well suited to the region and both wines show a unique rich character.

My favourite Kangarilla Road wine however was the Sangiovese. In comparison to the usual style of Sangio in Australia this is a different take. A darker browner colour in the glass, a stronger structure and a darker flavour profile might take this away from a traditional style, but I believe it plays into the the hand of the region perfectly.

Kay Brothers

If Kangarilla Road is new, fresh and modern then Kay Brothers is slightly dated. With an aging cellar door and retro labels the winery isn’t going to win any design awards. Though that surely is the furthest thing from their minds. The cellar door features an amazing section, “100 years today” featuring the diaries of the owners of the properties 100 years ago. The page I read featured some amazing tidbits, things like: Shot birds (10). Painted door. Looking back 100 years, the mundane seems almost exciting.

Don’t get me wrong though, in this case, it’s far from a bad thing. Kay Brothers is one of the few producers of wine in McLaren Vale who have been making wine since before federation, so I suppose they are allowed a bit of leyway.

Not that they need it, the wines do all the talking. The Shiraz (I tasted 06, 07, 08) is tightly wound and ready to ooze out over a good 10 years in the cellar. The 2008 was the most open of the 3, fruit driven yet not a hint of over-ripeness.

It is also worth mentioning the Moscato. Classic grapiness, clean and refreshing. According to the cellar door staff, it’s best served with gin and lime.


Coriole bills itself as an italian varietal specialist, but confusingly only has 3 italian (and about 6 regular) varieties available for tasting at the cellar door. Luckily for us, there was a Barbera and a Nebbiolo open. For mine, the Sangiovese was a little thin, lacking enough structure to make it interesting. The Barbera on the other hand was well balanced, juggling structure and savoury notes beautifully.

Coriole also has a cafe attached to it and although it was closed for the day, the courtyard and decks are amazing, decked in dappled sunlight they invite you to lie down and enjoy the day.

Olivers Taranga

Tucked away in a valley on what seems to be the edge of the Vale, Olivers Taranga is a family owned winery that does so many things right. The cellar door is in a heritage listed cottage with a small, tasteful family history section they serve pizzas on the weekend and the wine tasting experience is perfect. Professional and friendly, with a good range of wines and a very casual, no worries attitude.

While all of the wines were well made and considered, the 2 hightlights were the Tempranillo and “The Banished” Fortified Grenache. The Tempranillo is a beautiful wine, balanced and well structured without taking itself too seriously.

Governor-General’s Wine Cellar

A few weeks ago I posted about the Governor-General’s wine cellar. At the time there was very little information at hand other than the article in The Age so I contacted Senator Scott Ryan’s office who has provided the entire list. Here for your viewing the entire list of wine at Government and Admirality House. This cellar is pretty impressive and I would personally be very disappointed if it was sold and not appreciated by the guests of our “head of state”.

The purchase price of the current cellar is $88,067 but I would suggest that the real value is more than twice that. Needless to say, whoever has put this collection together (the previous Governor-Generals) has pretty good taste, or at least pretty expensive taste.

The wines marked with ** have been purchased by the current Governor-General

of wine
Number on hand
Baileys Bundarra Cl Herm 1989 12
Bannockburn Shiraz 1996 48
Bleasdale Shiraz Cab/Sav 2003 6
Bleasdale The Wise One Verdelh 12
Blue Cutting Rd Cab/Merlot 03 9
Brands Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 12
Brands Shiraz 1997 12
**Brindabella Ries 08** 7
Brown Bros Banks. Shiraz 1997 24
Brown Bros Fam Res Chard 1995 3
Brown Bros Graciano 1997 9
Brown Bros LH Nob Ries Dess 96 6
Brown Bros LH Noble Ries 1998 1
Brown Bros Orange Muscat/Flora 6
Brown Bros Pat Pinot Chard 97 12
Brown Bros Pat Shiraz 2000 24
Brown Bros Verdelho 1999 9
**Chalkers Cross CabSav 06** 24
Chalkers Crossing Merlot 04 4
Charles Cimilky CabSav 1992 23
**Clare Vall St John Blanc de B** 58
Clare Vall Stephen John Blanc 28
Coldstreams Hills R Chard 1996 6
Dalwhinne Shiraz 05 12
Dalwhinnie Moonambel Chard 00 3
Dalwhinnie P/Noir 2001 3
D’Arenb GrenShirMourvedre 1993 12
D’Arenberg CabMerl Franc 2002 12
**D’Arenberg Ceno CAT 07** 18
D’Arenberg D’arrys Orig SG05 34
D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz ’00 18
D’Arenberg Fort Shiraz 2000 12
D’Arenberg Noble Reisling 95 10
D’Arenberg Noble Ries 1998 12
D’Arenberg Pepperrm. Pdk Champ 10
D’Arenberg Shiraz 2000 4
D’Arenberg The Stump Jump GSM 25
**D’Berg Fish Sav Blanc 09** 24
**D’berg Money Spider Rouss 06** 24
**D’berg Money Spider Rouss 07** 12
**D’Berg Noble Riesling 08** 6
**D’Berg Stump Jump Sticky 08** 48
Devils Lair Chardonnay 1998 36
Elderton Botrytis Semil 2004 12
Elderton Botrytis Semillion 02 4
Elderton Botrytis Semillion 05 3
Elderton Command Shiraz 2001 6
Elderton CSM 2001 24
Elderton Friends Riesling 05 13
Elderton Merlot 2001 7
Elderton SB Verdelho 04 1
**Fire Block Grenache 03** 12
**G/Burge Hillcot Merlot 07** 1
**Geoff Merrill Shiraz Gren Mouv** 35
Grant Burge H.T GrenShirM 1997 23
Grant Burge Mashach Herm 1991 12
Grant Burge Meshach Herm 00 6
Grant Burge Meshach Herm 1996 24
Grant Burge Meshach Herm 1998 36
Grant Burge Shad. CabSav 1996 24
H/ford Hill Btryt Sem 2004 9
Hav Alkoomi Blackbutt Blend 98 24
Hav Alkoomi CabSav 2001 24
Hav Alkoomi LH Chard 2004 12
Hav Alkoomi Shir Viognier 2002 12
Hav Edlerton Est Shiraz 2002 12
Hav Wil Br Rs CabSav Rose 2003 12
Hav Willow Br CabSav 2001 24
Hav Willow Br Est Merlot 2001 2
Hav Willow Br Res Shiraz 2001 10
Henscke Hill of Gr. Shiraz ’94 19
Henscke Hill of Gr. Shiraz ’96 6
Henscke Hill of Grace Shir 1993 2
Henscke Mt Edelstone Shir 1996 8
Hungerford Botrytis Sem 2000 1
Hungerford Hill Botrytis Sem05 26
Ingoldby Cabernet Sauvignon 89 12
Jasper Hill G. Padd. Shiraz 93 36
Jim Barry The Armagh Shir 1998 4
Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz 96 2
Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz 99 36
Kilikanoon Conv Shiraz 2002 12
Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz 2002 8
Lindemans H.R Burg. Shiraz ’91 24
Lindemans L.R Shiraz Cab 1992 24
Longview My Fat Goose SSB 06 38
**Longview Red Bucket Shir Ca 07** 21
**Longview Red Bucket SSB 07** 8
**Longview Whippet SBlanc 08** 48
**Majella Musician 07** 67
Majella Musician 2004 26
Majella Musician 2006 12
McWilliams Mt Pleas. Shiraz 96 24
Miceli Michael Meth/Champ 2001 12
Moorilla B/L UnW Chard 03 6
Moorilla Botrytis SB 05 6
Moorilla Res Pinot Noir 1999 6
Moorilla Vintage Brut 2000 12
Mount Langi Ghir Shiraz 1990 3
Mount Langi Ghiran Ries 1999 16
Mount Mary Lilyd Cab 1990 4
MSV The Barossa 2005 12
Oakridge Res Cab Sauvignon 91 5
Old Station Gren/Shiraz 1999 8
Parker Estate TRFG Shiraz ’98 24
Penfolds Bin 407 CabSav 1990 30
Penfolds Bin 707 CabSav 1997 24
Penfolds Bin 707 CabSav 1998 22
Penfolds Gr Herm 1985 17
Penfolds Gr Herm 1986 32
Penfolds Gr Herm 1987 12
Penfolds Gr Herm 1988 8
Penfolds Gr Herm 1989 12
Penfolds Gr Herm 1990 2
Penfolds Gr Herm 1991 6
Penfolds Gr Herm 1992 3
Penfolds Gr Herm 1993 36
Penfolds Gr Herm 1995 30
Penfolds Gr Herm 1996 48
Penfolds Gr Herm 1997 42
Penfolds Mag.Est Shiraz 1992 24
Penfolds Mag.Est Shiraz 1997 12
Penfolds Mag.Est Shiraz 1998 24
Pepp Tr GR C’Warra CabSav 2000 12
Pepper Tree R C’Warra Mer 1998 12
Petaluma (Hanlin Hill) Ries 02 26
Peter Lehm Ment CabMerSM 1996 12
Peter Lehm Ment CabMerSM 1997 12
Peter Lehm Stone. Shiraz 1991 12
Peter Lehm Stone. Shiraz 1996 24
Peter Lehmann Shiraz 1998 24
Pirramimma R Petit Verdot 2001 24
Pitchfork Cab Shz Mer 2005 12
**Pitchfork Sem SB 08** 36
Polkolbin Lks Foll Cab 1996 2
Polkolbin Lks Foll Cab 1998 3
Polkolbin Lks Foll Cab 2000 12
Redbank Emily NV 48
Rosemount B.S Shiraz 1995 6
Rutherglen Botrytis  Musca 05 24
Rutherglen Ratafia 2003 6
Rutherglen Ratafia Viognier 03 1
Rutherglen Shiraz Durif 2006 24
Rymeill Merlot Cabernet 2001 6
Rymill June Traminer 1
Rymill Merlot Cabernet 2001 15
Sandalford Sandalera 7
Seagrams Sambucca Liqueur 2
Shottersbrooke Merlot 2003 12
Tatachilla Cab Sauvignon 1999 24
Tatachilla F.L Shiraz 1998 24
Thomas Hardy C’Warra CabSav 90 11
Tyrrells McLaren Merlot 99 16
Tyrrells McLaren Shiraz 00 24
Tyrrells RH Shiraz 00 15
Tyrrells RH Shiraz 98 6
Tyrrells Rufus S Merlot 00 12
Tyrrells Show Res Cab Sav 1990 4
Tyrrells T Block G’traminer 05 7
Tyrrells Vat 1 Sem 96 3
Tyrrells Vat 1 Semillon 1996 24
Tyrrells Vat 1 Semillon 1997 1
Tyrrells Vat 47 Chard 00 10
Tyrrells Vat 47 Pinot Chard 00 1
Tyrrells Vat 47 Pinot Chard 99 36
Tyrrells Vat 55 Shiraz Mer 98 24
Tyrrells Vat 6 Pinot Noir 1996 9
Tyrrells Vat 9 Shiraz 1991 23
Tyrrells Vat 9 Shiraz 1995 36
Tyrrells Vat 9 Shiraz 1998 12
Vasse Felix noble Riesling 00 2
Virgin Hills Blends CabShir 88 12
Water Wheel Memise Red 06 69
**Water Wheel Memsie White 07** 6
Water Wheel’Memsie’ 2003 7
Watermark Cabernet Sauv 2002 12
Wellington Iced Reisling 2001 6
Wellington Iced Riesling Des. 1
**West Cape Howe Riesling 08** 37
**West Cape Howe Rose 08** 1
**West Cape Howe Sau Blanc 08** 24
**West Cape Howe SS Blanc 08** 31
**West Cape Howe Tempranillo 07** 7
West Cape Howe Viognier 07 6
Wilson Leucothea Liq Gew 1
375 Wirra PinotGris 2003 1
Wirra Wirra Late Picked Pinot 8
Witchmount Estate Cab. Merl 04 12
Wynns Cent. Cab Shiraz 1991 24
Wynns C’Warr Ridd Cab Sav 1992 3
Wynns C’Warr Ridd Cab Sav 1993 13
Wynns C’Warra Cab Sav 1986 5
Wynns C’Warra JR CabSav 92 6
Wynns C’Warra ridd Cab/Sauv 90 7
Yalumba Menzies Cab Sav 1988 36
Yalumba Menzies Cab Sav 1992 11
Yalumba Menzies Cab Sav 97 12
Yalumba Octavius Shiraz 1992 11
Yalumba Signat Cab Shiraz 92 12
Yalumba Signat Cab Shiraz 97 18
Yalumba Signat Cab Shiraz 98 24
Yalumba Virgilius Viog 2000 10
Yarra Yering D.R Cab Shiraz 88 12
Yering Station R Pinot G Botry 3

Vinography in Australia

One of my favourite wine bloggers, Alder Yarrow, is currently in Australia checking out a few of our wine regions (the trip is sponsored by Wine Australia and Tourism Australia). I’ve long been a fan of his writing, the focus on people and place is something I believe is sorely missing in the traditional wine media and I’m really excited that it is Australia’s turn. From his Twitter account and inital post, it seems he started in the Yarra Valley, has been to Heathcote, Beechworth, King Valley, Mclaren Vale and is now in the Barossa Valley.

If you are interested in his adventures in Australian wine, I will keep the following list up to date.

Teusner Wines

Another week, another wine tasting. This week Randall’s hosted winemaker Kym Teusner of Teusner (Toys-ner) Wines who are a small northern Barossa winery, based around Ebenezzer. They make a small number of Rhone style reds and are slowly adding some whites with some serious character to the lineup.

One thing that distinguishes Teusner from a lot of wineries is that they are not vignerons. They buy all of their fruit from a few carefully selected vineyards, the owners of which are treated more like business partners. Their largest supplier of fruit is the Riebke brothers, this family have been growing grapes in the Barossa for generations and were slowly being made to pull all of their old growth, but unprofitable Grenache and Mataro vines and replace them with Chardonnay. Forced by big corporations and the government and their big bank accounts.

Kym overheard the Riebke’s at a barbecue talking about this predicament and quickly raised enough capital to buy a small portion of the fruit. This, along with a lot of patience and financial assistance from the Riebke’s saved the vines and neither the Teusners nor the Riebke’s have looked back.

The story doesn’t stop there, not long after – Kym was working at Rolf Binder wines while trying to get his own label off the ground when one of the Riebke’s showed up with a truckload of fruit and asked Kym if he wanted some more fruit. Kym told him that he would come out tomorrow and have a look at the vines, the Riebke’s reply was that tomorrow wasn’t soon enough, the fruit was in the truck, they didn’t want to take it to the big guys down the road and Kym could pay him when he could afford it. Turns out the fruit was great, the wine was amazing, the bill was paid, the vineyard was picked and taken to the Teusner’s each year, not Fosters.

This process of taking good, old vines that are being “wasted” in massive mass produced wines is a common theme, their Woodside Sauvignon Blanc is from growers in a similar situation. The wine was being all taken to a “big” producer and being mixed into whatever was seen fit, the grower offered his wines to Teusner, who decided they could make great wine with a bit of helpful guidance and good winemaking. The Woodside Sauvignon Blanc is like very few Sauvignon Blanc you will have tasted. Full of character and minerality and very little of the crazy acidity and citrus flavours.

This wasn’t Teusner’s only gain at the loss of the big guys. The Grange Hermitage fruit is taken from a number of vineyards around the Barossa. For this fruit to be used in the Grange it needs to meet the Foster’s quality levels this amongst other things involves maximum vineyard yield and in 2006 this was too high. Turns out the fruit was amazing and it went into the Astral Series Riebke FG Shiraz, a wine that at $130 is worth every cent (this coming from a guy that can’t afford it)

The Joshua, Avatar and Riebke are Teusner’s staple. The first 2 are both Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro and both completely different. I’m pretty sure I ended up with 2 of the same glass and only got to taste the Avatar. This was a complex, savoury blend that would match well with spring rolls, a rich red curry or a rare steak. I’m told the Avatar was a much different beast, a much more not over-ripe fruit driven wine made in a northern-Rhone style.

The Riebke is one of the best valued bottles of wine you will find, priced around $20 this is a perfumed, fruit driven shiraz without a hint of raisins or sultanas. The oak-driven spices hold up perfectly against the fruit and is carried perfectly by the soft tannins. This will sit perfectly against a meaty lamb or duck dish.

All Saints Rutherglen – Wine Tasting

Randalls Albert Park hosted yet another wine tasting masterclass this weekend, presented by Nick Brown and Dan Crane from All Saints Rutherglen. All Saints is a family owned and run winery with a tragic modern history. It was bought by Peter Brown and his 2 brothers about 10 years ago and subsequently the brothers shares were bought from them. Peter then met an untimely demise in an motor bike accident while out on his Sunday ride. This left Nick and his sisters with the winery and a quandry about whether they should hold onto the business or sell. Rutherglen seems like a pretty small place and apparently people were asking the siblings when they were going to sell up.

They didn’t, and the 150 year old winery couldn’t be in better hands.  The first priority was refreshing the brand, making the packaging a more contemporary and appealing in style while making the wines a little more approachable. You can see the results of this refresh with the new silver labels appearing modern and fresh, yet still showing respect to the century old winery. The fortified labels have also been refreshed and the bottles are now capped with a very classy glass stopper. It is amazing how something so simple as a nicer cap and a new label can improve the whole feel of the bottle and the brand.

Unfortunately for those working in the winery, this brand refresh hasn’t gotten around to refreshing the winery itself. Winemaking is a tedious task using 100 year old technology (for want of a better word.) The basket presses are all manually operated, with pressing being a hand cranked operation and then once complete the pressed grapes are manually shoveled out. The open fermenters are also dated and require a rewaxing each year, something that involves Nick, a flame thrower, a paint brush and a new bucket of wax.

Nick’s priority was to make wine that he could convince his friends to drink – something winemaker Dan Crane has achieved beautifully. The 2009 Moscato is a light, fresh and grapey breakfast style wine, the sort of wine that can actually replace a beer. Aside from the Moscato, I wasn’t a fan of the whites. I felt like they weren’t doing enough to warrant the $15 – $25 price range. The Chardonnay/Viognier was clean but too subtle, and the fresh taste of the Marsanne wouldn’t stand out in a crowd, though I suspect this may change as it develops with 2-5 years of age.

The reds, however, are amazing. The 2006 Sangiovese/Cabernet has a beautiful blood red colour and great savoury notes, $19 a bottle seems too cheap for such a great wine.The 2006 Shiraz is a little bit young. A touch of alcohol and the fruit flavours haven’t developed yet, but time will definitely open this up. The 2006 Durif is solid but young. It’s medium tannins, rich flavours will develop and will be much better drinking in 2 years time.

The All Saints flagship is the fortified wines and they are something Nick is particularly proud of. One of the major reasons the winery was purchased by Nick’s father was for the massive stock of aging fortified wine. They are aged in a solera system and each year a certain amount of wine is bottled and sold. With this system the wine can essentially age forever, allowing them to release a variety of aged wine every year. They have 4 releases of the Muscat and 3 of the Tokay. As the age of the wines increases the richness, complexity and smoothness develop. The Grand Muscat has a lovely smooth butterscotch flavour and tastes like it should be chilled and poured over icecream, though I’m not sure that would do it justice.

All Saints has recently released their “Museum” Muscat, this is made with fruit of an average age of about 80 years. Bottled in what looks more like a perfume bottled and individually numbered it sells for $1000 a bottle. Thankfully we had the opportunity to taste it. It’s hard to actually describe the flavours, but it is extremely rich and perfectly integrated. The liquid itself is extremely syrupy, a result of the 80 or so years of evaporation.

All in all, it was a really educational experience. Getting to know Nick was a please, he is a young wine producer on a course of action he wouldn’t have chosen. The decisions they are making for the winery are well measured and visionary. With the Browns and winemaker Dan Crane this century old winery couldn’t be in better hands.

More All Saints information