Wow! It’s been 10 years we started right at the GFC’S peak. The world’s markets were in free fall and big wineries were tightening the purse strings, and Kevin 07’s reign was about to come to an abrupt end. People were craving service – whether from a company or from me, a retailer or a tradesperson. People wanted service and they weren’t getting it – everything became automated and digital.
Melbourne was awash with fine diners – Andrew McConnell had possibly not even tasted a lobster roll yet, Guy Grossi was then and still is the king of all things Italiano and Jaques Reymond was still at the helm of his eponymous dining room in Prahran.
As a city we were in the midst of a Mexican wave of taquerias and Coronas – thankfully it subsided and left us with Mamasita, which Melbourne’s dining scene would be incomplete without.
Then we saw the second and third wave of coffee shops, albeit the Melbourne formula – they all looked the same with low hanging lights, whitewashed walls, smashed avocado and 17 other things on the menu that you didn’t want to eat nor pronounce, so several coffees were the answer. It is Melbourne after all…coffee is in our blood, isn’t it?
Salvatore Malatesta and ST. Ali exploded. Then it was warehouse coffee, small roasters attached to cafes…there was no boundaries coffee couldn’t cross. Had and espresso Martini lately? Out went Vittoria and Lavazza and in came small batch and St Ali, cold brew and Aeropress cafes. What a ride!
Then came chalkboard bars and bottle shops. For a while, all I heard was “oh, it will be in the style of the City Wine Shop.” I could have screamed. Granted, the City Wine Shop is where (and still is) everyone from our small industry would meet our colleagues and cohorts, but once you start taking this concept out of the city… it becomes more like and bar and less like a shop!
There are some exceptions to the rule – Barkly Johnson in Yarraville, Toorak Cellars, Seddon Wine Shop, and Gertrude Street Enoteca, each have stood the test of time and we’ve seen many other suburban incarnations come and go in 10 years. People understand you really need to build a relationship with your local wino and support your independent retailers because they are the ones that are supporting the producers you want to drink.
Fast forward to now. Now we are in the grip of the “shared dining and plenty of lining” dining scene.
Fine dining is dying a slow death, with chefs like Shannon Bennett selling up and starting a burger chains, George Calombaris starting his souvlaki houses all over the city, where there’s no bookings, a line out the door and where your dining experience means you pay, eat fast and leave, because someone is waiting in line for your spot.
Apparently, this is the new hospitality!
Then we get to the wine… We no longer drink Cabernet, we have to qualify the difference between wines from Orange and Orange wines nor can we find a big juicy buttery chardonnay, for love nor money. (I know, I know a lot of them fell over and the malolactic fermentation didn’t allow them to age) but hey, we still loved drinkin’ ’em. (send samples if you have one PO box 9408 South Yarra. ha, ha )
Upon Vinified’ inception, people were pulling out their cellars and installing home offices and now, 10 years later….guess what the thirst for knowledge is unprecedented and people are starting to collect again. People are installing cellars again, looking for advice and of course, our Victorian food and wine scene is well and truly thriving.
So much so we are hosting an all Victorian Secrets of Cellaring Workshop in August 2019 for the first time ever to celebrate all things Victorian. Two Cult wineries are joining us, including Mac Forbes Wines and Wild Duck Creek Estate. Follow the link to uncover the secrets: http://www.vinifiedmelbourne.com/events
Selecting the right wines for your cellar.
There is nothing quite like the experience of pulling out a perfectly aged bottle from the cellar and dusting it off in preparation for opening. A wine cellar is different from a collection of bottles and it can convey your journey through life. You start to stash bottles in secret places. You wonder what wine could be a keeper.
Then you start taking random notes and selfies with special bottles of wine. This is how wine collecting begins and as you take your first baby steps towards a real cellar, the questions start too: where to buy and what; how to store and where; when to keep and when to quaff. What do I choose, these are the questions raised when you are entering the grip of the grape….
Tip 1.Think about the wines you love, look at their styles and think about where they come from i.e you love Coonawarra Cabernet, its homeland is Bordeaux – try adding in some Cabernets from other renowned regions like Bordeaux – France, Hawkes Bay – NZ, Tuscany – Italy or the Yarra Valley in Victoria.
2.Make a plan and divide your cellar into three broad drinking windows sections:
- Drink Now (3- 5 years)
- Store Midterm (7-12yrs)
- Store Long term ( 15 years and above)
Approximately 50% Now, 40% Mid and 10% Long, then divide between colour and styles i.e 70% Red 15% White and 5% Sparkling…oh and don’t forget magnums…bigger is better!
The producer counts for everything – put producers in your cellar with pedigree, we know it’s easy to jump on the new biggest brightest upcoming stars in the wine industry and by all means, store a few bottles in your drink now section, however, they are bright and shiny for a reason. They are NEW, which could mean that the vineyards they are working with are also young, i.e fruit hasn’t yet reached maturity.
3.Buy brands with pedigree – remember that wines don’t get better forever. Drink wines younger rather than older.
4.One last golden rule when selecting the right wine for your cellar:
“Buy Pinot Noir now!! if you like it or you don’t, buy Pinot Noir now!”
Pinot Noir is the seductress of grape varieties.
Red wine doesn’t have to bowl you over with alcohol. This French mistress coolly caresses your palate with subtle fruit and oak characteristics making it a great combination with fowl, game dishes, or its classic partner duck.
Pinot Noir is softer and as your palate changes you begin to look into your cellar for rounder softer less tannic wines and if you don’t have pinot in your cellar you will leave yourself short…
You build a cellar by taking advice, researching wines, reading, writing notes and tasting – lots and lots of tasting (responsibly). This is a true secret of cellaring. Learn more about cellaring and join us at our Secrets of Cellaring Workshop in conjunction with Melbourne Food and Wine Festival: http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/program/secrets-of-cellaring-workshop-7221
EVENT: OPEN THAT BOTTLE NIGHT
The last Saturday in February is Open That Bottle Night, an unofficial but gloriously vinous holiday invented by former The Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher in 1999. On the last Saturday in February, wine lovers everywhere will pull the corks on their wines – old, expensive, or just sentimental—that they’ve been saving for “someday.”
Join us at SAXE Restaurant for a 3-course dinner in a 1 Hat Restaurant. Our first dinner of our Tenth Anniversary Year – 2019. It’s a bring-your-own event in conjunction with #OTBN 2019 – an event where you bring the wine.
DETAILS: Saturday, 23 February from 6:30 pm at SAXE Melbourne. Join us: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/open-that-bottle-night-dinner-tickets-54620433186
EVENT: ALTERNATE VARIETIES LUNCH
Update! Our Alternate Varieties Lunch at Uncle’s Collins St restaurant will now be held on Saturday, 2nd March.
We’ve got some beautiful varieties to share with you and we can’t wait to see you there.
Secure your spot at the table: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/alternative-varieties-wine-lunch-tickets-55880283432
NEWS: VINIFIED X MELBOURNE FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL
Join us as we teach the five secrets of cellaring at our Secrets of Cellaring Workshop with Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
Event date: Saturday, 23 March from 3pm-5pm at Melbourne’s iconic QT Hotel on Russell Street
Mark it in the diary:
We’ll guide you through a tasting and a discussion of how wine matures, looking at the various ageing and cellaring qualities of iconic varieties like riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz.
This month, we’re thinking about drinking differently.
Don’t know your Nero D’ Avola from your Nebbiolo or not sure about Pinot Blanc? We’re excited to bring you our first event for 2019. Join us for our Alternate Varieties Lunch on Saturday Feb 2nd and explore varieties from Southern France, parts of Italy and Spain.
Held at one of Melbourne’s favourites – Uncle on Collins St, we’re celebrating East meets the rest. It’s not only beers or lagers that suit Asian food – wine is a great option too.
Enjoy dishes that are beautifully aromatic – they’ll often command perfumed wines to match. Join Luke for lunch and explore aromatic wines ranging from white, rose to red that match perfectly with the Vietnamese food (with both French and Chinese influences).
At $79 it’s a great way to casually ease into your wine imbibing for 2019.
WHEN: Saturday, 2nd March, 12:30pm-3pm
WHERE”: Uncle Restaurant – 15 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Now, let’s talk wine.
Although Australia’s wine industry has been built on the back of Shiraz and Chardonnay, at present, there are more than 100 commercially planted grape varieties in Australia – so really, we are just scratching the surface.
There has been a recent surge in interest in the so-called ‘alternative varieties’ and styles – the two major drivers are consumer knowledge and a thirst for it (and maybe a small thing call climate change).
According to Wine Australia…there’s also a commercial imperative. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Australian Chardonnay and Shiraz were the breath of fresh air that the doctor ordered. Now, in a global market with wine producing nations ranging from Argentina to Zimbabwe, ”Australia needs to find another USP and unusual, high-quality new wines are just the thing to inspire a new generation of wine lovers.”
We are all looking for something softer in the warmer months and some of us even enjoy a red. Did you know you can chill a red? Don’t rule out red just based on temperature…Drinking red wines slightly chilled can be a great alternative to crisp whites or rosés during the summer months. In any case it’s important to stop reds getting too warm. Think about the lighter styles with good crunchy fruit and little tannin, like Grenache, Dolcetto, Gamay (a.k.a Beaujolais) Tempranillo, or a Nero d Avola.
Every now and then you get bored of drinking the same thing and you look for new flavours or different styles to get excited about. Why not explore a whole new world of wine with some exciting alternative varieties and styles… look out for Roussanne, Fiano, Vermentino, Pinot Gris ( we might have discovered this one) Gruner Veltliner, Barbera Montepulciano, Gamay or Nero d’Avola.
A bit on alternates from around the world and where they come from:
- Southern Italy: Fiano ((White) ), Nero D’Avola, Sagrantino, and Aglianico.
- Central and Northern Italy: Vermentino (White) Sangiovese, Barbera and Nebbiolo.
- Spain: Godello (White) Tempranillo and Monastrell.
- Southern France: Grenache, Marsanne (White), Roussanne (White) and Viognier (White)
We know Melbourne is notorious for food and beverage trends…turmeric lattes, Nutella cocktails and more. Here are the trends we expect to emerge in 2019:
- Sherry cocktails – yes Sherry is here and not just in your grandma’s fridge, try it!
- Chilled reds – as above, you might’ve already discovered this one!
- Canned wines – yes canned wines…While Americans embraced the idea years ago, it’s taken longer for the concept of canned wine to catch fire in here in Australia. Not least because of the snobbery surrounding drinking wine out of anything other than a 75cl glass bottle. But the world is changing, minds are broadening and wine packaging is evolving.
Over the years the wines I cellar have developed a certain commonality. Whether that be the tilled earth of Central Spain, The ‘Norsca’ ‘fresh flavours of the Huon Valley or the sunshine in the glass of a Hunter Semillon. Once poured they all deliver this sense of place. As a rule wines genuinely have to excite me on first impression for them to get a guernsey into my cellar (no second chances). “So many wines, Never drink a bad one: Len Evans”. However the real test of the wine comes in the ‘difficult vintages, this is when you really see what the site throws up. You also find out, if all of the work the winemaker has done in the vineyard has paid off. Because although its been a challenging year… the wine is ‘STONKING’ in the glass and that’s what counts!
Here are ten wines I faithfully put in my cellar and why,
Thomas Wines ‘Braemore’ Semillon, 2017 Hunter Valley – New South Wales. If you have got a cellar you are always looking for whites to put in it. Semillon, moreover the Braemore vineyard (sandy alluvial site) is the quintessential example that belongs in your cellar. Its hallmark characters are lemon curd, kaffir lime and tangy blood orange in some vintages. It just satisfies year in year out; in its youth it’s so crisp and cleansing. As it comes of age it fills out becoming all buttered toast and honey-suckle with this unique vanilla note. Cellar 15yrs RRP$32
McHenry Hohnen Calgardup Brook Vineyard Chardonnay, 2015 Margaret River – Western Australia. Margaret River Chardonnay possessesworld-beating value at the minute. Chardonnay is back; and yes it belongs in your cellar! This is complex, with crushed nuts and saline notes (sometimes found in Chablis) on the nose and lemon meringue and nectarines fill the palate. It’s Cherry ripe from about 4 years of age. “I heart Chardonnay” Cellar 5 – 7years RRP$ $60
Mac Forbes Riesling (Any of the RS’ styles) Strathobogie Ranges– Victoria. There is a Riesling revolution happening in Australia and Mac is leading the charge, He spent time in Austria crafting his love of the variety and it shows in his annual release of ‘Gold Label’ off dry (RS) Rieslings from the Strathbogie Ranges. There are usually 2, 3 levels (RS19 – 2017 + RS28 – 2017)Generallythese styles are restrained and grapey, but they can throw up ginger biscuit, green apple skin and fresh cut lemongrass, They are so versatile with food in their youth and as they evolve in the cellar the fruit becomes the narrative, a choose your own adventure story. Viva the revolution I say!! Cellar 7-10yrs RRP$35
Stonyridge Vineyard Larose Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Waiheke Island – New Zealand. Waiheke’s long-time hero is a stellar addition to my long term cellaring and Bordeaux style red featuring Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Francfrom the small island of Auckland. This is always elegant, yet powerful tannins wrap a fistful of fruits. Sit back and relax with this wine it will deliver with time.Cellar 15yrs RRP$120
Wild Duck Creek ‘Yellow Hammer Hill’ Shiraz/Malbec Blend, 2015 Heathcote – Victoria. This wine just keeps on giving, it wouldn’t usually be considered the greatest cellaring prospect however, it should be. I love it with 3 – 4 years of age. It’s succulent and juicy and just delivers all of these cola and chocolate notes that I love, and lets face it you have too drink something while everything else is maturing. Cellar 7yrs+ RRP$32
Telmo Rodríguez Castilla y León “Pegaso” Barrancos de Pizarra Old vine Garnacha, – Central Spain. Grenache is and underrated cellar prospect, this wine comes off vineyard that’s quartz flecked and is 1200metres above sea level. It starts out as a brute filled with Graphite characters and tobacco notes but evolves into a beautiful melange of meatiness and black cherries. Cellar 8 – 12years RRP$55
Lakes Folly Cabernets’ 2016 Hunter Valley – New South Wales. Australia’s second most collected wine, Lakes Folly is one of the mythical creatures of Australia’ wine landscape. The wines are rare and regularly sell out. Often deep in colour, with a minimum of 5 years of age, they begin displaying hallmark characters of lifted red currants and cigar box. But what makes this wine a standout cellar prospect for me is the core of fruit sweetness and a long stylish finish. Cellar 12 – 15yrs RRP$80
Paradigm Hill ‘Lami Sage’ Pinot Noir 2016 Mornington Peninsula – Victoria . Lets face it; we can no longer afford to collect Burgundy with prices on the rise and yields on the decline so we look for styles closer to home. From one of the unsung heroes of the Victorian Peninsula this producer oozes respect for the site and in every glass you can taste the vineyard. A violet perfume with a bounty of berry fruits and unrivalled density in the mid palate. Punctuated by sophisticated, oak tinged finish. Cellar 7 – 10yrs RRP$65
Home Hill Estate – Pinot Noir, 2016 Huon Valley – Tasmania. Love it or hate it everyone needs Pinot in his or her cellar, because as your palate changes we begin reaching for something softer. Pinot is that. This wine is truly special, from about 50 mins south of Hobart in the spectacular Huon Valley. It is a blackberry and savoury example of southern Tasmanian Pinot Noir. It always bats way above its $$ bracket every year, think cut plum and a generous palate that starts this crunchy blood plum window and works through into in the black olive character and cherry pip note, alongside subtle tannins. Cellar 5-7yrs RRP$40
Roger Sabon Lirac, GMS Blend, Lirac, 2015 Southern Rhone Valley – France. From the famed Chateaunuef producer, this cheeky Grenache fuelled number is a delight. Its fresh as, laden with red fruits, forest floor and between about 3-5 years it shows cut herbs; lavender and thyme and yes its an earlier drinking wine. All too often with fill our cellars with long term cellaring prospects and when you go to the cellar there is noting ready to drink. This is always ready to drink. Cellar 5 yrs RRP$35
A good cellar will be diverse and always have wines reaching maturity, Want to discover the Secrets of Cellaring? Click Here. Happiness is a working cellar.
Bigger is better.
A magnum protects your wine from dangers – light, heat, temperature variance or vibrations. A thicker bigger bottle has thicker glass than regular bottles.
“The real beauty of these abnormal bottles, are their ability to allow wine to age slowly and gracefully”.
The corks are generally better and porous, so they let oxygen in, albeit very slowly. Oxygen modifies the wine over time and this results in a better maturation, based on the smaller surface area in the bottle.
Wines are usually made in Magnum 1500mls or (half magnum/ Standard size) 750mls 5 glasses to a bottle – after that the Biblical guys come in…
3.0 litres | Double Magnum
Two Magnums or four standard 750 ml bottles, equating to approximately 20 glasses of wine.
4.5 litres | Jeroboam
AKA the King of Kings – six standard 750 ml bottles.
6.0 litres | Imperial
This bottle yields eight standard 750 ml bottles – you’re looking at about 40 glasses of wine; that’s no less than a lot of wine to get through. Solution? Have 10 people for dinner – problem solved.
9.0 litres | Salmanazar
Named after an Assyrian King, this is 12 standard 750 ml bottles. That’s a full case of wine in one big ol’ bottle.
12.0 L |Balthazar
Named after one of the three kings who first met Jesus, there are 16 standard 750 ml bottles in this baby.
15.0 L Nebuchadnezzar
Also known as the King of Babylon, this is the equivalent of 20 standard 750 ml bottles. If you’re a little slow on the maths, that’s 100 glasses – nothing short of A – lot!
We always get asked, when do I drink my wine?
There really is no definitive answer as every person’s palate is different.
Do all wines age….
An overwhelming majority of wines purchased today are consumed later that day often with lunch or dinner. As a result of consumers behaviour, winemakers are producing more styles of wines that can be enjoyed young and are not making as many age-worthy wines. Only when fruit is of highest quality with the ability to develop nicely over time spent in a cellar. Some producers will put a “when to drink” range on the back label below the tasting description. Some will be a rather conservative estimate for example 2020-2025. Provided the wine is stored correctly, cool temperature & minimal light exposure is key, they can last for longer.Even expensive wines might not be age-worthy. White and sparkling wines should be consumed within 1 or 2 years of the vintage, the exception to this would be Riesling, Semillon, Marsanne, chardonnay & vintage sparkling.
“Having a glass of an aged Hunter Valley Semillon or a glass of an aged Tahbilk Marsanne is one of life’s great joys! ”
If a wine is age worthy it needs to have a few things in balance, look for solid representations of fruit, acidity, tannin & balance.
In red wines, good levels of acidity and tannin are important, as these are what are going to hold your wine together over time & give it structure. In white wines, it’s about quality of fruit & acidity that will allow it to develop over time from, for example, crunchy stone fruit to a more secondary palate of dried fruits. People speak of ageing wines often and that’s why wine collectors come to believe there are several age-worthy vintages available in the market. That’s simply not true as only around 1% of the wines available now are age-worthy. The biggest myth in wine BUSTED!!
How do you know is a wine will age?
If you taste a wine while its young, think it has the potential to get better with age & it meets the criteria of good quality fruit/acidity/tannin/structure, buy a bottle or 3,4’s or 6’s depending on your budget & leave it be in your cellar & see if it will get better with age.
If you want to learn more tips like this check out our next “Secrets of Cellaring” workshop on 18th August at QT Melbourne.
The Variety: Sangiovese is considered synonymous with the Chianti and Brunello regions of Tuscany, which are among the many famed styles of Italy. It is one of Italy’s widest planted varieties. According to Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (D.O.C.G) regulations a minimum of 75% of Sangiovese is required to make Chianti. These wines are responsible for 11.7% of Italy’s entire production. Sangiovese is often blended with other varietals in the Old world. However in the last decade it has come to prominence in the new world as a single varietal medium bodied red wine. Lets explore regionality and styles.
The Rules: In 1992 the Italian government had to redefine their wine laws to sort out the anomalies and bring more wines in under its wing. Until this time, only 13% of Italian wine harvest was covered by DOC rules (compared with France 55%), Germany (98%). The significance of the vini da tavolas* extends right across Italy, and has meant radical changes in both vineyard and winery.
Denominizaione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Similar to French appellation laws, regulates geographical origin, vine varieties, yields, pruning methods, alcoholic strengths, ageing requirements.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)
Introduced as a higher tier of DOC, a way of recognising the finest Italian wines, supposed to supply some guarantee of quality. Restrictions are tighter, wine must be tasted and analysed by a panel of judges.
Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) i.e. Super Tuscans
Low level of table wine based on French Vin de Pays, the rules are less stringent than for DOC.
*Vino da Tavola (VdT) The most basic quality classification. But also appropriated by some of the best producers allowing them to make wine not bound by wine laws.
The Region: Chianti, situated in Tuscany in central Italy, Chianti is home to probably the best known and most iconic of all Italian wines. Although a wine of ancient origin, Chianti has been recognized by its geographical area only since the Middle Ages. This emblematic wine is made all over the Tuscan countryside, but the historic heart lies in a region between Florence (in the north) and Siena (south). In 1716, Chianti Classico, the heart of the region became easily recognisable by the gallo nero- its distinctive Black Rooster label.
The Style: ‘Key flavour attributes would have to be it’s lifted aromatics and ruby colour, aromas of cinnamon and other spices, cherries and cherry pips, supple berry fruit and just little nuances of oak. The skin on Sangiovese is quite thick which generally equates to bright colours and ripe tannins. Think of these wines coming between Pinot Noir and Merlot on the flavor meter. This variety brims with style and bursts with flavour.
Sangiovese and Chianti have often had a reputation as cheap, however the reverse is true, there are some great value styles from both here as well and Italy and they do belong in you cellar. Join us for a super fun, casual tasting and lunch at our next winter lunch series event which features Sangiovese in focus. Book Today
What’s the difference between a collection of bottles stashed under the bed and a bona fide wine cellar? Do you want to know about the Secrets of Cellaring?
A well-stocked cellar will bring you years of memories and hours of drinking pleasure. Let us explain more about wine collections. When you enjoy a good wine there is nothing better then being able to pluck one of your favourite wines from its temperature controlled slumber. It’s the equivalent to a baker and the best yeast, a chef and good olive oil or a BBQ bon vivant and good salt! Nothing beats the experience of consuming a wine in its optimal drinking window (at maturity). A collection of bottles has no rhyme or reason to it. A wine cellar is something that is considered, temperature-controlled and has a method.
It’s easy to fall in love with the romance of wine. We start buying random bottles that we like, in odd quantities from various sources and before you can say ‘pull that cork’ you have a collection of bottles.
These sporadic buying habits often lead to having an excess of one style of wine and not enough of wines that you wish to enjoy. Hence a collection of bottles. Wine is a living, breathing thing that changes and evolves over time. A cellar allows us to watch and share the wine’s journey to optimal drinking. Think of it as turning the pages of time in a storybook.
You build a cellar by taking advice, researching wines, reading, writing notes and tasting – lots and lots of tasting (responsibly). This is a true secret of cellaring. Some wines you’ll love and some wines you won’t. Remember, if you’re not sold on a wine in its youth you’re not going to enjoy it once it matures. If you have random bottles in your cellar you could always have them liquidated by a professional. When starting a cellar consider the following: when do you want to drink? Now, this year, or when the wine has had time to reach maturity? This is the question of Wine Collections vs. Cellars, and becomes the method by which you begin to buy.
A cellar should always have wines that are reaching maturity in it. If you buy in multiples of three you will be able to compare tasting notes as your wine ages. Then decide what wines you wish to keep – try to branch out across varieties, include some sparkling wines, include whites, Hunter Semillon’s, German Rieslings and of course reds, WA Cabernets or Italian Barolos.
Reds generally are the most age-worthy wines but not all reds age well (be warned). If you like Coonawarra Cabernet, look to its homeland of Bordeaux, France and try the styles of their origin. Collect across varieties and styles – this will help you build a cellar that becomes an open book and you will always have something that is ready to drink.
A well-stocked wine cellar is the gift that keeps on giving. It grows with you, tells a story and is a constant reminder of how your life has changed. Keep and eye out for our upcoming series of the ‘Secrets of Cellaring’ Workshops in both Sydney and Melbourne.
*N.B This is the extended excerpt of the June- July Article that was printed in Hallidays Wine Companion…issue #40
We are hosting that Open that Bottle Night (OTBN) dinner for you, to give you that opportunity; Are you waiting for that perfect occasion…This is it! We will ask everyone to share a few words about their significant wine they brought. Remember, everyone has that “one” wine that seems too special to open. The bottle sits there….. dying. There are bottles of wine out there sitting in Cellars and literally being loved to death!
Every year it’s held on the last Saturday in February (Feb 25, 2017). Start planning your OTBN experience from the people you bring along, to the special wine you will bring. Choose your wine, it doesn’t have to be your most impressive bottle, but a bottle that means the most to you, and one that you would simply not open just “any time”. You are looking for a bottle full of memories!
Since the millennium, a night deep in the month of February has been brightened for wine lovers by the creation of a day to celebrate cherished bottles. “Open That Bottle Night” was created by New York Times “Tasting” columnists, to motivate people to reconnect with each other over a favourite bottle, and create more memories with friends. Wine is more than the liquid in the bottle. It’s about history, geography, relationships and all-important things in your life.
Join us at Noir Restaurant for a 2 -3 course wine dinner and we can do the same. This event is a bring your own event, that’s right; In conjunction with #OTBN 2017 we are hosting an event where you bring the wine, (will also be drinking alot of wine from Luke’s cellar) So… mark your calendars, Luke will talk to you about your bottle, and uncork some of his own.
There will be special offers to buy cellared gems on the evening we will talk all things aged, cellaring, oxidation and what the 5 factors are to consider when starting a cellar. $99 or $180 per couple come one, or come as a table. #OTBN17
Demand for Chardonnay is back. Whether the big oaky numbers of the past, or the lighter, fresher, more refreshing Chardonnays that has buyers clambering from their roast chicken dinner. Thankfully the ABC club (Anything But Chardonnay), have moved on but what people most likely mean when they say they dislike Chardonnay, is that they had too much of the Chardonnay on offer throughout the 80s and 90s. (i.e the wines were as big as the shoulder pads fighting for space on the nation’s nightclub dance floors.) Over time winemakers have realised that allowing complete malo reduces the wine’s ability to age and smashing the juice with lots of new oak considerably masked the true varietal characters. Now.. times have changed and the wines some people grew up with have faded away. As such, it is about time we again explore and explain the wines and the true romance behind one of the world’s most fashionable varieties – Chardonnay.
Click here and you can join us for our upcoming Chardonnay Classics Lunch !
Chardonnay belongs in your wine vocab. It was at a time when wine slowly started to become the alcoholic drink of choice for initially women and then men. Consumers have come back and are becoming more knowledgeable and they are happy to try these new punchy, flavoursome wines with colourful wine labels and broad spectrum varietal appeal. These styles from the new world are now standing up and standing out on shelves and wine lists against the tried, tested yet often misunderstood wines of France, Chablis and co.
Yes it originated in France, the Burgundy region in particular, and has spread throughout the world. The chardonnay grape is small, round, with a limey-yellow colour. It enjoys humid, moist growing conditions in a mineral rich, limestone or chalky soil. It doesn’t mind some oak treatment during winemaking and has a diverse flavour profile depending on where it is grown. It is a vigorously growing vine, and winemakers sometimes refer to it as it the “winemakers white”, as it can be a blank canvas on which they have the freedom to paint whatever they wish. It can also age well in the medium term, and is a sommeliers’ dream – when pairing it with New England Lobster rolls or Roast Chicken this variety simply sings.
Chardonnay, whether elegant and lean or broad and buttery, has spread to almost every top wine growing country in the world. It first moved from Burgundy to Champagne, and now has a home in Australia, The States (specifically California and Oregon), Italy, New Zealand, and even South Africa. Chablis of course is a specific site; the district is the most northerly vineyard area of France’s Burgundy region. It is a place where heavy clay and chalk soils produce a flinty, refined Chardonnay that is much prized for its intense minerality. To focus on this fruit flavour most wines in Chablis are unwooded. I honestly consider this area to be one of the most under-estimated wine regions in France. Reserved for still white wines, made with 100% chardonnay grapes, there are 20+ communes (Villages) with designations of origin. These include quality demarcations such as Petit Chablis, Chablis and the Chablis Grand Cru – of which there are seven sites. As the White Burgundies from the southern counter-part (Cotes de Beaune) are becoming increasingly expensive, Chablis represents great value drinking and excellent for the cellar if you like your Chardonnay with age and a fuller mouthfeel.
Young wines in the Chablis/unwooded vein can be lean and flinty, with some green-apple and citrus characters in the mouth, along with floral and saline aromas alongside fine acids and real palate drive. The richer style of Chardonnay is made in warmer climates and can be bold, big fruited, and with the right oak there are overtones of nuts and cream. This is the Australian classic style of Chardonnay, which is itself reflective of some of the communes south of Chablis – Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault, as they show ripe flavour profiles hinting at tropical fruits like pineapple, guava and mango. Some oak is used during winemaking and this offers those hints of cashew nut, almond and sometimes a thick chicken skin like flavour profile. Acidity is just as important in this style as it is in Chablis, as acidity will hold these wines together and help the wine mature. The mouthfeel in Blanc de Blanc Champagne for example can be almost custard like yet still with good acid. The aromatics of vanilla, butter, and coconut all come directly from the oak usage, whether it is matured and/or fermented in oak. Malolactic fermentation and lees work also both play a part in these wines. If these are your styles try a Chardonnay from Shaw and Smith, Voyager Estate, Toolangi, Tyrrells or Giaconda in Australia, and look for Oliver Lefliave, Domaine Vincent Giradin, and Domain Paul Pillot from Burgundy’s Cote d’or.
Essentially the biggest difference between Chablis and Chardonnay from the rest of the world is; Chablis are 95% unwooded. As such; Chardonnay belongs BACK in your wine vocab.
1. Know some varieties.
Pick some familiar wine varieties and explore them. Taste and learn about their history, and then use these wine tips and knowledge as a base from which to continue the drinking adventure!
The wines could be made from grapes such as chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, riesling or pinot noir, and you should learn a few facts about them, such as how cabernet sauvignon is ideal for aging, its homeland is Bordeaux (Fra), and that it grows well in warm, coastal climates like Margaret River (Aus) and the Napa Valley (USA). Cabernets also range from medium-bodied to full-bodied and are characterised by their high tannins and mixed spice or currant flavours alongside the richness of ripe berry, tobacco and sometimes green pepper aromatics. As a food pairing, a Cabernet Sauvignon matches with red meats, hearty pastas, lamb, strong-flavoured cheeses and dark chocolate.
Once you’ve investigated three or four styles, introduce them to you friends. Your insight will enable you to understand other varietals better, and your friends will instantly assume you have the knowledge!
2. Wine is subjective
Everyone’s palate is different, and while we all sniff, sip and slurp in the same way, what follows is a personal interpretation. Someone might taste lemon and another may taste orange. One person might like young Hunter Shiraz, as it’s bright and fresh, and another may enjoy Hunter Shiraz that’s medium-bodied, plummy and at least 10 years of age.
Even words are subjective, as some people think a young wine is anywhere between one and three years old, and another person might consider anything under ten years to be young. There is no right or wrong.
Here’s another of my top Wine Tips: If you like it, it’s a good wine. Let nobody tell you any different.
3. Not all wine styles benefit from aging
It is a misconception that you must age wine. The fact is that 90% of wines made today are meant to be consumed young, and most wines are consumed relatively soon after production, perhaps 12 to 18 months. As an example, Cabernet Sauvignons will age for longer periods than most Merlots, however Beaujolais is a ‘drink now’ style that doesn’t benefit from aging.
In general, red wines are better candidates for aging because of their tannin, acid, alcohol and fruit. Some whites like sémillon, riesling and white Chateuuneuf du Pape also benefit from cellaring, though in actual fact there is no precise way to determine the aging capacity of a wine. As a guide the palate length can be a good indicator, though usually it is a best guess scenario with one’s ability to analyse the acids, tannins and fruit utilised. Unfortunately wine labels offer no indication of cellaring potential, not even back labels
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A personal cellar can be littered with vinous mistakes, your palate changes over time, winemakers move on and styles fall in and out of popularity. When starting a cellar ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I like aged wine?
- How much wine do I want to collect?
- Do I need wine racks or a wine cabinet?
Once these questions are answered and you are about to start a cellar, I urge all of our members to first buy some aged wines, whether Pinot Noir or Shiraz, choose some varieties you enjoy and taste them. You could save yourself a lot of time, money and possibly some embarrassing moments. While there are many, many different wine varieties that are cultivated worldwide, the below list of wines styles to cellar is based on years of managing private cellars at Vinified. Typically you don’t need wine cabinets or wine coolers you need wines with a good balance of fruit, acids, tannins and length to be able to age.
Here are our top 5;
Types of White Wine;
- Riesling: German, Eden Valley, Clare Valley and also the emerging region of the Great Southern in Western Australia should not be forgotten.
- Chardonnay: White Burgundy/ Chablis, Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley or Margaret River
Types of Red Wine;
- Pinot Noir: Grand Cru Burgundies of France, Tasmania, Yarra Valley and Martinborough, NZ
- Sangiovese: Chianti or Chianti Classico, McLaren Vale, Brunello di Montalcino
- Syrah/ Shiraz: Cote Rotie of the Rhone, the Hunter Valley, Heathcote and of course the Barossa Valley, there are so many styles to choose from.
A little extra… 3 top tips for your home cellar;
- At home leave wines in boxes or original packaging. Some insulation is better the no insulation.
- Don’t worry about humidity so much, Melbourne’s RH (relative humidity) averages 65% which is near enough to perfect. In most domestic circumstances the humidity argument becomes mute.
- Whether you enjoy Pinot Noir now or not, start putting it in your cellar now. Your palate will change. 9/10 Vinified Members wish they had started cellaring Pinot Noir earlier.
Note: In general, more expensive wines are made to become better with age. They are some times made with better fruit and more complex styles of oak. Most inexpensive wines do not benefit from ageing.
New Zealand wines are the words on everyone’s lips with a relatively young history they have added a tidal wave of influences on the greater wine regions of the world, we are now standing and listening. New Zealand Wines moreover Pinot, should hold a worthy place in your cellar. Native to Burgundy and notoriously fickle the Pinot Noir grape has found in New Zealand a home away from home. Their special combination of soil, climate and water, innovative spirit and their commitment to quality, come together to deliver pure and intense wines. Our members always ask where do we buy Pinot from in New Zealand. In this offer we give you some options, we feature Pinot Noirs from North to the very south of the island and define some regional styles. Some of these examples are exclusive to Vinified. You can decide which style is better North vs South more importantly Martinborough vs Central Otago.
Marlborough centred on the town of Blenheim, is New Zealand’s flagship wine region. Which, in combination with Sauvignon Blanc, put the country on the international wine stage. More than just Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough offers increasing depth in varieties and terroir. Established in the 1960’s, the region has come of age. It is dissected by a river and made up by three valleys, the combination of a cool, yet high sunshine climate, low rainfall and free-draining, fertile soil produces lively and fresh Pinot Noirs. Look out for vibrant red colours and cherry fruits. Famous producers: Montana, Fromm La Strada, Cloudy Bay and Dog Point.
Martinborough, for some 30 years has been quietly work toward becoming a world-class wine village. Look out for Pinots with big structure, fruit sweetness and complexity. 20,000 years of ancient geology sets these wines apart, vines are grown in alluvial river terraces, loam soils and stony escarpments. Low cropping levels partly due to the strong northwest winds sometimes present at flowering time, further concentrate flavours in grapes. The climate is about hot dry summers and cold frosty winters, perfect for further capturing acid and texture of fine Pinot Noir. Although only accounting for one percent of New Zealand’s wine production, this regions bats above its weight and is regularly compared to Burgundy. These wines in general are heavier than those of their southern counterparts. Famous producers: Palliser Estate, Escarpment, Craggy Estate, Dry River and Ata Rangi.
Central Otago ‘ Central’ is an awe-inspiring place to make wine, centered around Queenstown, this is the world’s southernmost wine outpost and the country’s highest, with its semi-continental climate frosts are an accepted. However the marked variation, high sunshine and short, hot summers provide an eloquent, albeit brutal, landscape for vines: site selection is everything here. Dry autumns and overall low humidity are significant assets, helping to coax both amazing purity and complexity from the fruits of the vine. Central has six sub – regions stretching from Wanaka 80kms to the north of Queenstown through Bannockburn, Alexandra, Bendigo and the Crowell Pisa basin located on the valley floor 25 Kms south of its namesake township of Cromwell at the foot of the picturesque snow capped mountains. Your looking for wines with a nervous energy of acid and robust tannins, soft and sweet red fruits. Some even have added complexity of herbs and spice and all things nice. Famous producers; Rippon, Felton Road, Chard Farm and Amisfield.
Ata Rangi ‘Lismore’ Pinot Gris 2014 – Martinborough
Almost clear, gentle aromatics on the nose, musk, pear and white florals like jasmine. This example of white Pinot in the mouth is fine, textured with nectarine and almond tart characters. Some alcohol warmth on the back palate if anything. Fermented in both tank and puncheon for texture. Will fill out over the next 3-4 years. Cellar 2015 – 2018
Shaky Bridge, ‘Pioneer’ Alexandra 2012 – Central Otago
Founded in 1973 This is a savory example of southern Pinot Noir. It is beautifully lifted on the nose with dark blueberry and floral aromas, followed by a juicy forest floor palate that’s well rounded with and gamey undertone. The wine is well balanced and has integrated tannins and will develop rich complexity. Cellar 2015 – 2017 5yrs+
Pisa Range ‘Run 245’ Pinot Noir 2011 – Pisa Range, Central Otago
The is a super seductive wine, taken from a group of vineyards. Reddish purple in colour, broad aromatic spectrum of olives, bay leaf and blueberries. A mid palate wine with dark cheery fruit and hints of spiced oak with clove and coffee overtones. Batting well above its average. With good cellaring potential. This is a sophisticated wine with good acids, integrated tannins and has an intensely fruity finish. Great concentration. One of the wines of the night at our series of Mister Jennings dinners in Richmond, Melbourne. Cellar 2015 – 2017 5yrs.
Julicher Estate Pinot Noir Te Muna Road 2011 – Martinborough
From a Dutch husband and wife team, these grapes were hand-harvested and de-stemmed into small open top vats for fermentation and finished in French oak. The nose here is gamey and has a little funk, the mouthful is rich, balanced with silky tannins wrapped around spicy black cherries and a hint of mocha on the finish. Sensational palate and exclusive to Vinified Cellaring: 2017 – 2019 8yrs + 13% alcohol and choc-full of goodness.
Quest Farm Pinot Noir 2011 Pisa Range – Central Otago
Mark Mason and Michelle Crawford live and work on a stunningly beautiful site located on the Parkburn, nestled in the foothills of the Pisa Range. From a 150-hectare site, 20 hectares have been planted into 18 different vineyard blocks. Different soils, aspects, altitude, clone and rootstock add layers of complexity. Hand picked, small batch fermented, hand plunged, basket pressed – made with passion this wine this is so pretty. It was a standout in the line up. Light-ish in colour, aroma’s build to crushed strawberries and red rose and there is just an inkling of French oak spice here. The palate delivers with roundness wand fruits of the forest alongside star anise with silky and defined tannins. WOW! Cellar 2015 – 2017, 5 – 7years.
Cellar release – Escarpment ‘Te Rehua’ Pinot Noir 2009- Martinborough
2009 was a cracking vintage in Martinborough, this single vineyard wine from a 22 year old vineyard is a standout. Winemaker Larry McKenna and his team stand at the top of the tree for quality. This is dense dark and a black bold example from the deep alluvial gravel soils of Martinborough terraces. Way bigger than I expected. It has been matured in 30% new oak, it has good acids, a really soft mouth feel with notes of plums and clove. Very big style. Cellar 2017 -2019, 10 years
Hawkdun Rise Pinot Noir 2011 Cromwell Basin – Central Otago
We love this wine a blue elite gold winner at the recent Air New Zealand Wine awards (1 of three). It is beautiful. Crimson in colour, initially quite light on the front palate, builds with thyme and sage notes, filling out with some plush plump red berries in the mid palate and a long savory finish. Exclusive to Vinified. Classy wine with good cellaring potential. Cellar 2017 – 2019, 8 years.
Overall the differences in the two regions after two fabulous events are Martinborough, on average has older vines, their wines are bigger and bolder with savoury palates, earthy characters and forests floor flavours, very distinctive. Central Otago has exploded, with its several sub-regions stretching from Wanaka 80kms to the north of Queenstown through Bannockburn, Alexandra, Bendigo and the Crowell Pisa basin. The big difference on the palate in these wines is freshness and defined acids. Martinborough has tannins and Central has acids, Central wines are softer, red berry spectrum of fruit and can be simple in wetter years. Regions are equally cellar worthy but styles are very different. We can no longer bundle New Zealand Pinot Noir into the one bowl, the regions are now stand alone. When we started this journey our flagged was firmly rooted in the Martinborough camp, our thinking has changed…maybe.
Aromatic wines are varieties where the flavour and aromas of the wine is that of the grape. These wines tend to be fermented at cooler temperatures so that the primary aromas of the fruit are preserved, not only known for their vibrant fruit flavour — they also have strong aromatics of flowers and spice, hence the name of the style. Their vibrant scents and flavours are often best showcased by vinification and ageing in stainless steel or other neutral vessels.
Some of these grape varieties originated in one part of the world, like Riesling (Germany) or Pinot Gris (France), and are now widely grown throughout both hemispheres.
Regardless of their origins, these varieties; Pinot Blanc (France), Gruner Veltliner (Austria), Fiano (Italy), Gewürztraminer (France), share one thing in common, an impressive growth in popularity.
The rise of aromatic whites can be tied to two trends: the increasing popularity of Asian cuisine that combines sweet, spice and sour notes, and our love of the ‘shared table’ or dinner.
The same qualities that make aromatic whites so desirable to drink, including pronounced floral and spice notes, can make it challenging to pair them with food, especially if one flavour dominates, such as rose water or star anise. Balance is the key; whether in be a dry or sweet version, fruit, flowers and spice must be balanced by acidity and minerality, not to mention the level of alcohol in the wine which plays a part in matching foods.
Whatever your choice of food—Asian, Indian, cheese, charcuterie or barbecue—there’s an aromatic white that will make a perfect match. The suggestion is the higher the spice level the lower the alcohol and higher the sweetness needs to be for example Residual Sugar (RS) in the wine, try it you wont be disappointed.
Vinified recently held a series of wine lunches at St Kilda’s Uncle which matched some great Aromatic wines with the French inspired Vietnamese cuisine. Vinified guests are still raving about the wine and the wine and food matches.
At Vinified we always guide you on how to taste, what to drink and what to put in your cellar. Here are our top five wine discoveries from 2014 and Luke’s tasting notes. Enjoy!
Criteria of selection: Good wines are tasty, Great wines are evocative! All these wines have a story and covey a sense of place and enable the varieties to shine above all!
Jacquart Champagne Rosé, Reims, France
A Chardonnay-based blend, Pinot Meunier and pinot Noir (15% Pinot Noir added back in) salmon-pink in color and delightfully elegant with a brilliant balance of fruit and freshness. Medium bodied and dry.
A deliciously elegant, rounded, fruity style with hints of cherry and wild strawberry. Its fine streams of bubbles enhance the delicate pale pink color. It is fresh and vibrant in style with some notes of apricots on the finish.This rosé is made by adding red wine to the blend, which is a practice only allowed in the Champagne region.
2013 De Iuliis ‘Sunshine Vineyard’ Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW
Mike de Iulliis is cleaning up at present in all the national wine shows. A crisp, clean wine with intense citrus flavors, balanced by structured acids adding length to the palate. Planted on the sandy loam soils of Black Creek. This traditional style Hunter Semillon shows all the hallmarks of a classic. Fresh lifted lemon and limes dominate the aroma, the palate is lively and fresh. The natural acid ensures great length of flavor and gives the wine structure that will hold it in good stead for the future. 5 years Cellaring.
2013 Heirloom Riesling, Eden Valley – SA
Produced by a fabulous Female wine maker and organically farmed.
This wine is a really generous and expressive Riesling. Loads of lemons and limes jump out of the glass, with some nice floral aromas as well. The palate is pure and energetic and surprisingly textural – no doubt aided by the time it spent on its lees. Nice one. Deliciously ripe fruit, great length of flavor and mighty refreshing!
2013 Domaine Gueissard ‘Restanques’ Rosé, Bandol – Sth France
Palate cleansing freshness for summer. So clean! 40% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre. Screwcap.
Fresh, fruit forward and powerful. A creamy and briny nose amid gooseberry, guava and cucumber – Sancerre-like as some tasters have remarked. Where the 2012’s persona was serious and tense, this is a more giving release leaning to the tropical fruited spectrum, with great saline and schist-mineral derived length. Certainly refreshing, though layered and deceptively complex.
2011 Pressing Matters, Pinot Noir, Coal River Valley – TAS
Deep color, and displaying an essence pastille bouquet of plum and sage; the palate is thickly textured and unctuous revealing plenty of concentration and depth, toasty oak notes and a bitter mocha note to conclude; big boned and muscular stems and whole bunch.
2013 Ministry of Clouds Tempranillo / Grenache, McLaren Vale – SA
Ministry of Clouds is the name of a new selection of wines developed by two of the wine industry’s bright young talents, Julian Forwood, previously with Wirra Wirra, and Bernice Ong, ex Woodstock. 52-48% blend is homage, juicy and savory color flavors to those styles with silkiness and plenty of length on the palate. Fragrant and luscious and matured in old oak.
Have you got any of these wines in your cellar?