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  1. Merlot – the ducks nuts or just plain old bollocks?

    Merlot – the ducks nuts or just plain old bollocks?

    Quite unlike like Miles Raymond in the awesome film ‘Sideways’ … if anyone orders Merlot, I’m staying. I am very happy to drink f%^&ing Merlot!

    Merlot doesn’t get much love here in Australia – variously accused of being thin and reedy (region too cold) or soft and fat (region too warm) but rarely awesome, refined, structured or fruit intense. Much of the blame for Aussie Merlot being ‘crap’ has been ascribed to our clonal selections of Merlot – the most widely planted being D3V14, sourced from UC Davis in California in the mid 60s. It can make superb wine but it needs to be planted in the right sites and requires a lot of work in the vineyard to produce quality fruit. Historically most Aussie producers simply haven’t treated Merlot with that level of care. ‘Proper’ varieties, like Pinot, Shiraz, Cabernet etc have more time and money spent on them in the vineyard and winery because they yield a better return

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  2. Chardonnay


    Chardonnay sits on the fence of many a wine enthusiast. Versatile, kind in nature and oh so compliant, however for most it's still dressed in attire that's so distinctly... 90s. Shoulder pads, overalls and bike shorts saw this particular version of white wine with such a wooded vengeance, we were practically asking the chefs to take the butter out of the meals to make way for it. Thankfully however, times are a changin'. Underneath all that 90s getup reveals elegance and sophistication and Australia is doing its bit to make Chardy interesting again.
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  3. Anything But Chardy!

    Anything But Chardy!

    What a decade the 90s was! A quick poll in the office had my colleagues recalling happy pants, grunge, MC Hammer, 90210, mobile phones, the twilight of the Hawke/Keating era, Monica Lewinsky and of course... Chardonnay. It’s important to note that Chardonnay was here well before the 90s but this was the decade it was introduced to us, the masses, in two very distinct phases – wooded and unwooded. The wooded era came to us in the early 90s when many of the larger companies were serving up Chardonnay so cloaked in oak flavour and so oily in texture that the variety itself was lost in the noise. I kept hearing descriptors like ‘coconut and vanilla’ to describe the nose and ‘sweet’ to describe the taste. This was a time where we got to learn more about the application of oak in all its forms (chips and barrels) and residual sugar added in spoonfuls. Inevitably the overcorrection came where suddenly producers were scrambling to unleash their unwooded
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  4. Grenache - the oldest new world wine ever!

    Grenache - the oldest new world wine ever!

    You gotta love the classics - a true classic will be a true classic forever! It will ride the waves of trends and bide it’s time until the next generation discovers it in their Mum and Dad's record collection or cellar - who then go on to painfully tell their parents how they discovered it and how cool it is.

      Those who have been enjoying Spanish wines or Rhone blends for years will already know of the classic varietal I’m taking the long road around to. It, like so many classics, has been rediscovered over the last little while and is enjoying a resurgence in popularity that is seeing it bust out from cult hero status at the local pub open-mic night to front and centre in stadiums, thrusting and twerking on its own headline tour. The humble varietal Garnacha or Grenache as we know it.
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  5. Durif: A Warm Climate Variety with Legs

    Durif: A Warm Climate Variety with Legs

    Durif was originally something of a Rutherglen secret, with typically brilliant wines made by Morris, Stanton and Killeen, Campbells, Fairfield and others. Of late it has quickened its stride with plantings in the Barossa, Riverland and McLaren Vale. I love it and I reckon it’s got legs in the glass with it’s high alcohol and in the vineyard because of the stunning wines it so often produces.

    Durif is particularly well suited to warm climates as it is drought tolerant and seems to avoid shrivel, even in extreme conditions. It retains acidity and bright fruit even when very ripe, minimising the chance of dead or indistinct fruit finding its way into the glass. Handled well it makes massive, tannic wines with an inky core of bright fruits and a strong spine of acidity. Fruit tends to plum and blackberries. You might also find liquorice, blood plum, cinnamon and cloves. Andrew Seppelt from Murray Street likens it to Shiraz on steroids and says it is … ‘akin

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  6. Hot climates hot cultivar: An introduction to Vermentino

    Hot climates hot cultivar: An introduction to Vermentino

    The hot vintages of the 2008 and 2009 growing season definitely put South Aussie vineyards through their paces, especially in the hotter regions. For many vignerons these record heat conditions punished vines, stalling flavour development while sugar levels raced ahead.

    While there have been plenty of good and even exceptional wines made, many of these wines carry the double albatross of excessive alcohol and dead fruit even after reverse osmosis. In hotter regions particularly, many traditional varietals suffered, with low yields, excessive baume and loss of varietal flavour being just some of the side effects. Varieties commonly found in the warmer parts of Europe fared much better in terms of vine health during the heatwave and fruit quality when picked. I wondered to what extent these extreme vintages would influence the planting of warm climate cultivars like Vermentino and if Vermentino has a viable mainstream future. You may well ask why I wondered, well I’m a big fan
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  7. Touriga - Are We Ready?

    Touriga - Are We Ready?

    There’s a decent argument that anyone planting significant quantities of touriga nacional has rocks in their head. It is a challenging beast to grow and market and in the vineyard it is both vigorous and difficult to ripen. It has a high skin to juice ratio, so the harvest seems to shrink as it passes through the crusher. Also, Australia is already blessed with grenache and shiraz, each of which can each produce exceptional examples of rose, red and fortified. Happily, drinkers are embracing new flavours and textures. Old Mill Estate is listening, fashioning cutting-edge pink and black wines from the variety. Evidence from the recent vintages also suggests that touriga has good potential as a climate change variety. At the very least, Old Mill have demonstrated that touriga is ready for us! Getting fired up for Touriga Old Mill Estate’s Peter Widdop says ‘There was no bolt from the blue - Stuart (Blackwell) from St Hallett wanted us to plant a bit
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  8. Drinking Outside the Square

    Drinking Outside the Square

    Walk into any good wine store or better yet switch on the computer and put your favourite grape variety into the search engine and you’ll find an imposing array of choice. 15 years of dizzying growth in production, varieties and brands has led to a situation of chronic oversupply. Recent effects of the GFC and strengthening Aussie dollar have brought the industry to a screeching (if temporary) halt. Bargains are plentiful and the rewards great should you occasionally venture away from the safety of familiar offerings. What does this mean for the consumer?  Twenty years ago choosing wine was much easier with around only 400 producers sharing the market. Now that number is over 2800, ouch! Equally ‘alternative’ varieties now have a presence which is quasi mainstream, well supported by wine writers and increasingly widely available and accepted.  The recent multiplication in brands and varietals makes for an intimidating array of choice but there has never been
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  9. A Tale of Two Blends

    A Tale of Two Blends

    A Sunday drive visiting wineries, an interstate football road trip broken up with winery pit stops (using the spittoon of course) and making random selections at your local are great ways of broadening your taste and bypassing wine boredom.
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  10. Albariño – what’s in a name?

    Albariño – what’s in a name?

    I have been on the Albariño bandwagon ever since I tasted Gemtree’s first non commercial bottling of the variety a couple of years ago. Frighteningly trendy on the global scene and much loved by sommeliers, Albariño saw many producers, notably Gemtree, Tscharke, Irvine and Chapel Hill, with commercial quantities in the marketplace by the time Jean-Michel Boursiquot, an ampelographer or vine detective from the University of Montpellier visited Australia last year. Boursiquot set the cat amongst the guinea fowl by suggesting that much of what has been planted as Albariño in Australia might in fact be Savagnin, originating from the French region of Jura. DNA testing has borne this out, but significant confusion still abounds.
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  11. Chenin Blanc

    Chenin Blanc

    Chenin blanc (known also as Pineau de la Loire among other names), is a white wine grape variety from the Loire valley of France. Its high acidity means it can be used to make everything from sparkling wines to well-balanced dessert wines, although it can produce very bland, neutral wines if the vine's natural vigor is not controlled. Outside the Loire it is found in most of the New World wine regions; it is the most widely planted variety in South Africa, where it is also known as Steen.


    The grape may have been one of the first to be grown in South Africa by Jan van Riebeeck in 1655, or it may have come to that country with Huguenots fleeing France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Chenin Blanc was often misidentified in Australia as well, so tracing its early history in the country is not easy. It may have been introduced in James Busby's collection of 1832, but C. Waterhouse was growing Steen at Highercombe in Houghton, South Australia by

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  12. Cortese


    Cortese is a white Italian wine grape variety predominantly grown in the southeastern regions of Piedmont in the provinces of Alessandria and Asti. It is the primary grape of the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) wines of Cortese dell'Alto Monferrato and Colli Tortonesi as well as the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wine of Cortese di Gavi. Significant plantings of Cortese can also be found in the Lombardy region of Oltrepò Pavese and in the DOC white blends of the Veneto wine region of Bianco di Custoza.


    Cortese has a long history in Italian viticulture with written documentation naming the grape among the plantings in a Piedmontese vineyard as early as 1659. The grape's moderate acidity and light flavors has made it a favorite for the restaurants in nearby Genoa as a wine pairing with the local seafood caught off the Ligurian coast.

    In Australia

    Cortese grown outside of its native region is unheard of,

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Items 1 to 12 of 30 total

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