That’s right after many years in the making a Podcast is LIVE!!!
Our Founder Luke Campbell with his good friend Comedian and Bon Vivant Luke Morris, have finally released a Pod, devoted to all things wine and the culture that surrounds drinking.

If you have already been following along, we want you to vote in our Hottest 100 wines of the year….

You can do here >>>> https://bit.ly/3SFg7Sd It is very easy.  You might even ***win**** Wine.

Hottest 100 Wines


This is by no means a serious podcast but what it is, is an insiders view looking out at the the wine industry.  They talk about what to drink, some of the drink trends, think hints and hacks of wine and of course and insight into what the lads are drinking on a weekly basis.

You wont need to know wine when tuning into Lukes Talk Wine, but you might need a glass in hand, for what is a fireside chat that your are listening in on….

You can listen in on All the  podcasting channels,  you can email in at e: lukestalkwine@gmial.com or you can simply watch @luketalkwine on instagram.

Each week the lads share stories, and the impact wines had on their lives, together they will swap some feel-good stories about their personal journeys in in wine. Join In. + Don’t forget to vote!!


Is Chablis better than New World Chardonnay?

 It’s an age worthy question that required time, tasting and interest to answer.

Really if we are straight up about it, naturally, it is a question of taste. What does your palate prefer and what suits your context.

Chablis – an area of Burgundy in France’s Yonne district that makes benchmark dry and mineral expressions of the Chardonnay grape – and has done for most of the last century. Often, the wines do not see much, if any, oak and are fresh, linear, energetic and have a unique ability to deliver stoney flavours to the palate. The area has two defining soil types. A base of Portlandien soil which is rich in clay and marly . The more exclusive area where the best vineyards sit is a Kimmeridgean soil which has a high proportion of limestone as well as fossilised tiny oyster shells. These zones provide great mineral background to the wines and a cool to moderate growing season. Chablis in its essence is classic Chardonnay and something which cannot easily be replicated.

When the wines do see oak, it usually gives them a more rounded and generous feel and some producers like Raveneau and Dauvissat make the best and age worthy examples of these. They are wines that will age gracefully and often take time in the bottle to show their best. The Chablis Appellation offers Petit Chablis, Chablis Village and Premier Cru as well as a bunch of vineyards that are bottled under a Grand Cru AC. There are many idiosyncrasies to these wines, and they are usually defined by where they sit in regard to being the North or South of the river in Chablis.

Given the high proportion of ancient fossils in the soil the archetypal Chablis offers Oyster Shell minerality with soft stone fruit, citrus, and a wet stone complexity. This seems to be the only grape growing area with these traits making it unique. All in all, these are traditional wines to drink on many occasions, especially with seafood.

Crossing over to the New World Wines we find much more of a myriad of styles. In Australia at least gone are the days of big, buttery, and malolactic bottlings as producers freshen up their styles with more verve. Pairing back the use of oak and winemaking to produce styles that are, at least generally, more akin to the style of Chablis wine than they have been for a long time. The one discerning difference is the common use of oak barrels to age and store the wines. In part a great deal of Aussie Chardonnay sees maturation in wood giving it much more of a generous mouthfeel than its French counterparts. This is both a stylistic and historical technique and the general fruit quality here at least will always be phenolically riper than fruit picked and grown in the Northern Hemisphere.

In the United States the style in the past, at least with reference to the wines that reach us here, is one of lavish wood maturation and richness – generalising this toward the West Coast and the bottlings from California. A reference area for US Chardonnay. Hare also the styles are becoming a little more vibrant and fresher as they are in our neck of the woods.

New Zealand certainly produces some magic wines form this grape and we also see some traditional vineyards such as Kumeu In Auckland and Neudorf in Nelson reverting to winemaking with more of deft touch and pairing back on the wood treatment.

In closing Chardonnay is a fine medium for winemakers to do their thing and no matter whether or not you prefer your wines rounded or more elegant there is certainly plenty of room in the world of wine for both.




Champagne Time OR Bubbles – Let’s talk about the different styles.

‘A glass of sparkling, perhaps?


We have all had this question popped at fancy restaurants and often, and correctly, would respond with something like – ‘Local or Champagne?’. This simple interaction brings up much complexity and layers of tangents and styles to converse on.

Yes, there is both French Champagne and French Sparkling. In Australia 9/10 French sparkling examples would likely be Champagne and therefore 5 x the cost but is it 5 x the quality?

Couple this with other sparkling styles and we have a massive list –


Other Traditional method wines i.e. Franciacorta

Method Ancestrale (Pettilant Naturale / Pet Nat)

Cava, Crémant, Cap Classique, Pezsgő, Lambrusco



Etc – it’s quite confronting

So, let’s go through the various styles and see what the main differences are.

Let’s go through the list

Champagne – Method Champenoise aka Traditional Method

The highest quality sparkling using bottle fermentation to create bubbles Often complex and dry i.e. Brut is dry at 0-12gm/l sugar. Brut nature would be super dry less than 2g. Highly regulated in Champagne AOC – yield, grape training, location etc.

Tank fermentation (Charmat Method)

Used in styles like Prosecco, Cava and others. Secondary fermentation takes place in tank, usually steel which allows for less labour and fresher flavours.

Method Ancestral (Pet Nat), One of our Faves

Classically things like Crémant de Limoux & Bugey Cerdon in France. The wine is transferred to bottle to finish its fermentation creating a more rustic and savoury style. Currently very in fashion.

Bottle fermentation as traditional method is without doubt the finest and most complex method giving us Champagne amongst others. This is not to say that other methods don’t produce fine sparkling’s – they absolutely do – but this method is summised in its name of tradition!!

In the new world the best styles usually use method traditional and are definitely higher in price and complexity.

In South Africa this is known as Cap Classique. The German sparkling wines are labelled Sekt or sparkling, as are Austrian examples. Pezsgő in Hungary means Sparkling. Crémant is associated with French regional bubble such as Crémant de Bourgogne or Sparkling Burgundy. Prosecco is famed as a dry refreshing bubbly from the Veneto region of Italy. The sparkling wines of Franciacorta in Lombardy rival Champagne in complexity and style. Cava is the name given to regional Spanish bubbles. Lambrusco is semi sparkling rosso from Italy a fine pairing with cured meats and antipasti.

Whatever your taste or budget ,most regions in the wine producing world make a sparkling and whilst they are not all available at your local you will likely come across many of them over time and have a more direct answer to the question the next time you sit down in a restaurant.

Check out out Top sparkling of 2021 in our Unmasked offer below,




Why Whisky when you can Whiskey?

A guide to imbibing

There is something extremely Sean Connery about pouring yourself a dram of Glenlivet in Winter. There is also something very Robert Downey Jnr about stirring yourself a perfect Manhattan in Summer. Whilst spelt similar and made using similar methods there are deep and divisive differences between the Single Malt Scotch Whisky (classically produced in Scotland) and the Bourbon Whiskey (produced in US). Couple this with the rise in craft distilleries and you have a recipe for the confused and uneducated spirit drinker. Today I try to demystify and explain the situation as well as attempt to give some solid guidance to how to drink these classic spirits.

So, what are the differences? To put it simply Scotch Whisky ( the benchmark for most of us in the dram world and those trying to emulate a classic style) must be produced in Scotland and aged min of 3 yrs in cask. It must meet the following also

-Processed at that distillery into a mash

-Converted at that distillery to a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems

-Fermented at that distillery only by adding yeast

-Distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8%

Then must be wholly matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres for at least three years

-Retain the colour, aroma, and taste of the raw materials used in, and the method of, its production and maturation

-Contain no added substances, other than water and plain (E150A) caramel colouring

-Comprise a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 40%

Once all the legal jargon is complete you have a Scotch! These spirits are often defined by the water of the area and this gives most their unique signature and flavour.


Bourbon and Rye

To be a Bourbon Whiskey(spelt with an E) it used mostly corn to distill and

-Produced in the United States and Territories (Puerto Rico) and the District of Columbia

-Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn

-Aged in new, charred oak containers

-Distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) proof (80% alcohol by volume)

-Entered into the container for aging at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume)

-Bottled (like other whiskeys) at 80 proof or more (40% alcohol by volume)

Then, to confuse the issue we have Rye Whiskey, Tennessee and a bunch of others all which mainly associate themselves to a maker – many of these can also be combinations of styles.

Rye whiskey is the same as Boubon but at least 51% rye grain in the distillation. And Candadian Rye is historical.

Generally, these styles are sweeter than single malt Scotch and the Rye can be somewhere in between. If you fancy a Rye access Woodford Reserve, delicious on its own or on the rocks and stirred down with bitters.

How to drink

Neat – enjoy the pure spirit at its most naked form

Water – add a splash to release the flavours (malt whisky is based on H20)

Ice – to take a cube or 2 and let it release its power slowly

Mixer – for those of us less firm in our taste

Cocktail – the class of this beverage is easily suited to fine cocktails

Manhattan(rye, bitters, vermouth)

Rob Roy( Scotch, Vermouth)

There are many legal settings surrounding these fine beverages and those in Scotland were updated in 2009.

Currently there is a massive movement towards craft spirit and alternatives to Scotch whisky. Japan produces some amazing products and they actually have the largest distillery in the world owned by Suntory. This gives the consumer plenty of choice when it comes to fine spirits.

Food & Scotch

 What is the best thing to drink with these spirits? When you get to the finer styles fine food pairs very well. Think fine Speyside malts and abalone or chocolate dark and a rich Highland scotch. Temperature is very important when it comes to spirit and food matching. I.e. if your having a cold desert think about putting ice or water in your malt so the temperatures of both are more complementary. Once you start mixing your malts with a soda or similar you create an even more challenging match. These styles of pairings needs to be more precise as the flavours are more diluted.

Classics – If you are looking for benchmarks, a few to look for

Highland Scotch – Macallan

Islay Scotch – Laphroig

Speyside Scotch – Balnevie

Lowlands – Auchentoshan

The list goes on…..

Rye Whiskey – Rittenhouse

Bourbon Rye – Makers Mark

Canadian – Canadian Club

Japan – Try Hakushu if you can find it

Tasmanian – Overeeem, Spirit Thief

And again we go on. Whisky is now produced in almost every corner of the globe with home distillers doing their thing and trying out new spirits. Some of these eventuate into new projects and companies but many remain home brew. The amount of time and effort to get something polished enough to market is massive if you consider the finer single malts are at least 10yeras in barrel before they are ready.

No matter what your choice, or taste, there a world of devine spirits accessible to all consumer’s – the only issue is is trying to decide where to go next.


Ben Skipper


Not all wines are built to age.  The act of “cellaring” wine implies that aged wine does indeed taste better. You have to ask yourself “ Do I enjoy aged wine? ”…Well, Do ya?


Here are a few people that have summed it up better than us…

“Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.”

– Joan Collins

“Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust and old authors to read.”

― Francis Bacon

“Philosophy is like wine. There are good years and bad years but, in general, the older the better.”

― Eric Weiner,

All wine has at least some age to it

With the exception of the well-known Beaujolais Nouveau and perhaps some lesser known equivalents, such as the Italian Dolcetto or Vermentino, the vast majority of wine has at least some age to it. Beaujolais Nouveau (Made from gamay a relative to its Northern Cousin, Pinot Noir)  is intended for immediate drinking, bottled only 6 to 8 weeks after harvest. The method of production means that there is higher acidity and very little tannin, with bright, fresh, red fruit flavours along with fruity ester flavours of banana, grape, fig and pear drop. While some can be kept for a few years, there is no real reason to, as it does not improve with age,  compared to standard Beaujolais AOC which are released the following year and can be stored for several years before consuming.

What is age?

So, at a basic level, we could say that an aged wine could be anything older than 6 months. Given this, aged wine must taste better, or we would be drinking a lot more wine earlier than we currently do. The exact length of time is harder to determine. How old you prefer wine is much like how dark you like your toast or how strong you like your cup of tea; personal preference will vary from person to person.

Unlike the majority of food and beverage products, there is no “best before” date on a bottle of wine. It’s a subjective question… When do I like my wine? What the best age to drink my wine?  Your palate decides…HINT: If you like it it’s a good wine.


As a wine ages, a complex chemical reaction occurs between sugars, acids and phenolic compounds. Over time, this reaction can affect the taste of wine in a way that is pleasing. The chemical reaction can also alter the colour, aroma and the mouthfeel of the wine. These phenolic compounds primarily come from tannins, found in the stems, skins and seeds of the grape as well as wooden barrels that some wine are aged in. So, given these criteria these wines have the potential to evolve much better with age:

  • Sweet wines (sugar): Sauternes, Tokaji, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese, Ice wine (Eiswein) and botrytis wines
  • Higher acid wines: Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir
  • Higher tannin wines: Cabernet family, Nebbiolo, Aglianico, Tempranillo

Previously, we looked at umami and how this affects our perception of flavour. Ageing is one of the processes that accentuates umami, thereby increasing the flavours of wine as it gets older and the umami levels increase. As a wine ages, it develops additional layers of complexity. Flavours develop and evolve. The acids soften and the tannins mellow. The key is to find the right balance of all these variables. HINT: Once YOU find that balance that’s’ when you will enjoy your wines.

Ageing by law

In fact, some appellations feel that ageing is so important, and the wines are not at their best for a least a minimum period of time and designate that any wine labelled under that appellation be aged for certain periods*, either in wood, bottle or both, before release. Just of few of these are:

  • Champagne: 15 months for NV and 36 months for vintage
  • Barolo 38 months (or 62 months for Riserva)
  • Barbaresco 26 months (or 50 months for Riserva)
  • Brunello may not be sold before January 1 of the 5th year following the harvest
  • Rioja Crianza 2 years up to Gran Reserva 5 years ( Although Crianza + Reserva are terms seldom used in Rioja any more)

Unfortunately accountants don’t like seeing a product sit around for up to 5 or 6 years before seeing a return on investment, so a lot of wines from the new world are often released before its prime with the consumer having to buy the wine “early” and wait for it to reach its peak rather than buy the wine when it is “ready” to drink.

Have you tasted older wines?

Have you had the opportunity to actually taste older wines? Can you remember an aged wine that stood out? Like a  Tahbilk Marsanne at 10 years of age, or maybe it was a beautifully  aged Marc Bredif Vouvray from the Loire Valley in France, nearly 20 years old. Seeing a wine develop and change over the years is part of what makes cellaring wines so interesting. It’s great to try a wine as it’s released and then again in 2,4, 10 years and seeing how it changes and evolves. Sometimes you have to go too far to see how your own taste preferences lie. Hunter Semillon can often be a great way to do this as it is often affordable to buy a whole dozen wines and taste a bottle every 6 to 12 months and watch how the wine changes. It is a lot harder to do this with Bordeaux or Burgundy but some of the best drinking experiences could be with wines as old as ourselves. Try older Rieslings or Chardonnays, try older Cabernets or Syrahs.

They may not be your everyday wine, however, were sure that the more you explore, the more you’ll will want wines with age. Birthdays and Anniversaries will be long remembered with that special bottle of wine either from the vintage of the event or just because it has been in the cellar for some time. Your wine can define your time, explore and enjoy. Want to learn More –> Click Here for our Wine Course


Hamish Small and Luke Campbell


What is Umami?


Umami is a Japanese word, from the words umai” (delicious) and mi” (essence) and translates to English as “pleasant savoury taste.” It was discovered by Japanese chemist, Kikunae Ikeda in 1908, so it is not something new. Ikeda was searching for the distinct flavouring that was present in dashi, a Japanese broth made from kombu (kelp). He determined that it was glutamic acid that was the cause. The glutamates, molecular compounds within glutamic acid, bind to specific tongue receptors creating that magical taste sensation in your mouth. Ikeda went on to produce umami in the form of monosodium glutamate (MSG) to substitute this flavour. The production of this began in 1909 and was sold as the ‘essence of taste’.

What exactly is “umami”? Why was I not taught about it at school when I was learning about the four tastes: sweet, salt, sour and bitter? Umami is the fifth taste that was officially recognised in 1990. However, there is more to it than that…..

It was not until 2006 that neuroscientists in America were able to locate taste-bud receptors for umami and further validate its existence. So, it has only been in the last decade or so that we have really begun to embrace the concept of umami.

The MSG conundrum


MSG seems to have had a fairly negative reputation for some time. This probably stems from the fact that people may have a hypersensitivity-type reaction to it in large doses, in the form of headaches, fatigue, general weakness and even nausea. It was often added to food in Chinese restaurants which coined the term “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” in the 1960’s. It was essentially phased out in the 1990’s but many still associate MSG negatively in this way.

Perception is that MSG = bad, umami = good, yet they both do the same thing and can be found in many common foods including vegemite, parmesan cheese and tomatoes. This is why we add vegemite to toast, parmesan to pasta and tomato sauce to everything.

The effects of Umami


Umami can be hard to describe, it is that savoury, meaty, mouth-filling sensation you get. It is often perceived, not as a taste itself, but as an enhancement of other flavours. It is a savouriness that makes us salivate and leaves us wanting more, making it hard to resist. It is the reason we just want more of it.

Umami levels increase at a basic level by the ripening of fruits and vegetables, which is why a ripe tomato has a much higher level of glutamates than an unripe tomato. Umami is then accentuated by the processes of drying, curing, aging or fermentation. Dried shitake mushrooms contain more umami than fresh, prosciutto has more than uncured pork, aged beef has more than fresh beef and fermentation increases the umami in soy sauce and fish sauce.

Grape juice actually comes in the top 20 naturally occurring foods that contain umami. Factor in the accentuating effects of fermentation and it is hardly surprising then that wine contains plenty of umami. If you then take even riper fruit from a warmer climate such as the Barossa, then you have a natural recipe for “tastiness”.

"Understand flavours and you will understand Umami”.  Plating beef dinner

Umami and Wine


Most of the literature that talks about matching food and wine does not really comment on umami, probably because it is only recently recognised. Really, the only issue with umami is that it will make tannin and bitterness in wine become increasingly more bitter. However, most foods that are high in umami are generally high in salt, and salt is very friendly when it comes to matching food and wine, helping to balance it out. According to Harvey Steiman in Essentials of Wine, “Burgundians choose their older wines for braised beef and chicken. The reduced tannin in older wines doesn’t clash with the umami.”

The Italians have also managed to find counterbalance in an umami rich Bolognese sauce with a wine such as Chianti, which has moderate tannin and higher acidity. It also partly explains why an aged Barolo, with its mellowed tannins and high acidity is a perfect match for umami rich truffle dishes. Conversely, one of the main reasons that Asian food can be challenging to pair with wine is that the majority of ingredients are so high in umami. Kelp, seaweed, fish sauce and soy sauce have some on the highest natural concentrations of umami of any foods.

Some umami enthusiasts, such as Tim Hanni MW, believe that the existence of umami make it possible to pair almost any wine to with any dish by making a few minor adjustments. A touch of salt, a splash of lemon juice, to balance the umami could be all it takes. As we gain a further understanding of umami, it is only going to help the relationship between food and wine and enhance our enjoyment of both.


Hamish Small and Luke Campbell


With over 60 regions in 28 zones, Australia is not spoilt for choice or diversity in our wine. While everyone might know about Barossa Shiraz or Hunter Semillon, there are still a lot of smaller or newer wine regions waiting for consumers to discover them. Here is our list of the top five that you should look out for, or even make a ‘B’ line for.

Canberra District, New South Wales

Canberra District is home to one of Australia’s highly rated wines, Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier. Established in Murrumbateman in 1971 by the Kirk family, Clonakilla has not only flown the flag for the region but been one of the standard bearers for Australian cool climate shiraz.

Canberra District is actually predominately in New South Wales and joining into the ACT. It benefits from being so close to the city of Canberra itself for local trade and tourism. It forms part of the of Southern New South Wales zone, along with Gundagai, Hilltops & Tumbarumba, all of which are demanding more respect than previously granted. Shiraz and Riesling are the mainstay varieties of the region, but you will also find Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Noir. The fact there are over 30 cellar doors here just goes to show how much potential there is here.

Besides Clonakilla, look out for Collector Wines, Eden Road Wines, Lark Hill, Nick O’Leary & Helm Wines.

Photo c/o Collector Wines

Granite Belt, Queensland

Queensland is not a state that necessarily comes to mind when one thinks about Australian wine, but it is still included in the generic, catch-all that is the South Eastern Australia zone. While much of the state is considerably too hot and too far north to grow grapes, the Granite Belt has the benefit of altitude to counteract this, giving it a cool climate. It is even cold enough here for them to occasionally get winter snow! Located around the town of Stanthorpe, its southern boundary being the New South Wales border, most vineyards are planted between 600m-1300m above sea level on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range. There is plenty of diversity within the area due to the many different aspects of the slopes. The region gets its name from the plentiful granite deposits that it sits upon. The region is still relatively new, having only been granted a Geographical Indication (GI) in 2002 and becoming only the second GI in Queensland. There are also a number of orchards in the region and consequently produces plenty of cider.

The Granite Belt does well with both Chardonnay and Shiraz, However, it is the alternative varieties that they are starting to make their mark with. Known as their Strange Birds, these alternative varieties represent less than 1% of the total bearing vines in Australia as defined by Wine Australia. These Strange Birds are a feature of the Granite Belt Wine Trail Map. Distribution is currently limited with most wines only available either at the Cellar Door or via mailing list. If you are in Brisbane, however, you will start seeing these more and more on local lists with most restaurants starting to offer at least something from here.

Look out for Boireann Winery, Heritage Estate, La Petit Mort & Golden Grove Estate.

Swan Valley, Western Australia

Swan Valley is not new. In fact, it is home to the oldest vines and part of the oldest region in Western Australia. The well-known Houghton Wines was established here in 1836. The quintessentially Australian, Houghton White Burgundy (now White Classic), created in 1937 and Australia’s oldest consecutive-vintage white wine, has the Swan Valley as a major contributor to the blend. Considering Houghton have only had 13 winemakers in history since then is testament to how good the region is.

Swan Valley is a sub-region of the Swan District, barely 20km north-east of Perth, up the Swan River. It is the better known than both Peel and Perth Hills, the other two regions that comprise the Greater Perth Zone. Although the area has a warm to hot Mediterranean climate, the moderating influences of the south-westerly sea breeze, the Fremantle Doctor, and the Swan River cool it enough to produce full flavoured and full-bodied whites, Chenin Blanc, Verdelho and Chardonnay. You will also find some Shiraz and Cabernet here too, along with a good selection of fortified wines. Chances are, if you dine in Perth restaurant, you are just as likely to find something from the Swan Valley being poured by the glass.

Look out for Corymbia, Sittella Wines, Sandalford & RiverBank Estate.

Wrattonbully, South Australia

Wrattonbully is essentially the northern extension of Coonawarra. Originally better known for its prime lamb, beef and pasture seed production, it contains large tracts of terra rossa soils over limestone that have now become synonymous with Coonawarra. As part of the Limestone Coast zone, it is home to the World Heritage listed Naracoorte Caves which would be a perfect excuse to take the family there for an “educational” holiday. The climate is more continental than Coonawarra, bigger diurnals allow for perfect slow and even ripening of the fruit. Vines were first planted here in the 1960’s, but major interest in the region did not happen until the late 1990’s.

This is predominately red wine country, Cabernet, Shiraz, Malbec and Tempranillo. However, you will also find some Chardonnay here too. Merlot might be out of favour with the market, but trust me, this is the region to put Merlot back on the map. Yalumba, one of the biggest brands in Australian wine, has significant holdings in the region, which shows just how much potential there is here. Yalumba’s only dessert wine, the FSW8B Botrytis Viognier is sourced from 100% Wrattonbully fruit.

Look out for Merite, Bellwether, Terre A Terre, Smith & Hooper & Pepper Tree.

King Valley, Victoria

King Valley sits in the North East Victoria zone, along with Beechworth, Glenrowan and Rutherglen, so it should come as no surprise that great wine can come from this area. Brown Brothers, a key member of Australia’s First Families of Wine, have been here since 1889, yet the region was only formally recognised as a GI in 2007. Sitting within Victoria’s High Country means the region lends itself to better to white varieties, but the diversity in climate and soil over the region produces a range of styles from sparkling to fortified.

The King Valley produces the majority of Australian Prosecco which, given the popularity of the style, shows just how much people like the region, although I doubt most would actually think about the origin of the grapes when they drink the wines. The strong Italian heritage in the area has also meant that the Italian varieties have thrived here, in particular Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese.

Look out for Brown Brother’s Patricia Range, Dal Zotto, Pizzini & Wood Park.

Hamish Small and Luke Campbell


In August 2020 Luke Campbell, founding Sommelier proudly launched the ‘Vinified Wine Academy’ online starting with the Advanced Wine Course. Campbell has the belief that there are many options for people who want to know about wine, (excluding industry focused WSET and CMS programs) but not a lot of options for people who want to learn about wine. Courses are designed and taught be Melbourne’s leading Sommelier’s. Utilising the skills of those who would ordinarily be treading the boards at establishments like Ezard, Vue du Monde and the like. You can read about the other presenting Sommeliers’ Ben Skipper and Jackson Watson.

The Advanced Wine Course is taught from within the industry, by actual sommelier’s. The four-week course is designed for those who have discovered the wines they like in a basic course and want to ‘level up’ their skills. In addition to CMS and WSET qualified Sommelier’s mentoring you, special guest winemakers and presenters are also invited in to present via Zoom sporadically over the journey. Several modules are covered throughout the course;

How to taste like a Pro

Compare and Contrast: Old World – New World

Fermentation: The Winemakers Hand

Find your Palate: Structure and Texture

The Art of Champagne and The Aged Wine Argument


Courses are run monthly,  (August SOLD OUT in under a week) Join the Vinified team in an online forum,  two hours per week. Learn correct wine terminology, understand label information, appellation concepts as well as food and wine pairing theories. Acquire knowledge and experience direct form industry professionals all in the comfort of your own space. This Advance Wine Course will open your mind to wines not just your eyes. Join us and unlock the keys to your wine journey.

Participants packs include 2 Gabriel stems, 8 half bottles ~ 2 wines per week, a tasting grid and guide and course notes, all ready for course commencement.   Investment; $199

To speak to any of our mentors or course participants, please contact ben@vinified.com.au for questions or book online via our shop www.vinified.com.au Courses are available nationally now. New DATES RELEASED each month.

Join us on a totally independent and online journey!!   (BOOKING INFO and FAQ’S HERE)

“Second night of wine tasting and im loving it….I now even know old world from new world wines, and I started using words like sophisticated and Balanced Thank you”. Anon


‘Winespeak’, ‘Wineterms’, the language that winemakers, sommeliers’ and tasters’ use can seem foreign tongue to many so if you have ever had trouble translating words or phrases, do not fret, you are certainly not alone.

Champagne is a classic area of the world which often uses words like ‘disgorge’, ‘sur latte’, ‘aldehydic’ and so on in context with the wines and winemaking. Are these words that you are supposed to understand?

The answer is no; but if you take a small discourse into production and historic context they slowly start to make sense. Often these words become ‘Anglicised’ with time, for example – disgorge comes from the French disgorgement, meaning to release the champagne from a process whereby the secondary ferment has taken place in the bottle, the wine is topped up usually(to create a house style or note) and then recorked post disgorgement, labelled and packed for sale. Sur Latte is a French term describing how the bottles lay in the cellars with wooden slats separating each layer.

Autolysis is a biproduct or a flavour ‘state’ reached through the fermentation process. Autolysis definitely has a flavour component – when you smell the bready, yeasty biscuit like flavours this is exactly what creates them. The mind boggles with old terminology but they are certainly terms which have more depth of meaning once understood.

When winefolk describe or taste wine this is another circle where terms can be misunderstood or totally baffling at the same time. A simple example to explain would be minerality. What the hell!!?? Is it Kryptonite or a strange rock formation? Mineral components are often translated into flavours we perceive because the area in which the grapes have grown possesses high earth and therefore this is translated through onto the tasters palate. Known as minerality they may be noted as chalk, talc or limestone, wet rock and many others, though these are most common.

Organic vs inorganic earth? Take the smell of rotting leaves in a creek after rain. This is an organic smell or note. Inorganic may be mineral or seem like a rocky earthy smell whereas the leaves would most certainly be organic. Think; Wet Gravel, Slate, Flint, Schist, Granite, Chalk, Sulphur (burnt match) You start to see how it works??

Another beauty to discuss could be oxidation and reduction. Concepts which confuse and detain even the most experienced taster. Essentially these are opposites of each other and are created through the winemaking process. When something is said to be oxidised, or oxidated even oxidative these all refer to the product (often Sherry’s or old style fortified wines) being handled in an environment where oxygen has been allowed or been present. Reduction or reduce is looked at as an environment where there has been a distinct lack of space and oxidative conditions. i.e. the lid is closed or the tank is shut during fermentation. This is often a muted state and is also used as a tool to create certain styles of wines. Too much oxidation or too much reduction: Oxidative and reductive are two polar ends of an extreme. Wines are rarely made either totally oxidatively or totally reductively because each extreme carries risks.


The big one, the ones you see on the back of labels and probably the easiest to misinterpret. Structure of wines. So we are talking about tannin, balance, acidity, body.

Body essentially is a reference to the weight of the wine in your mouth. It usually parallels the alcohol level so a Australian Riesling at 12.5% would be assessed as medium bodied whereas an Italian Amarone from the Veneto would be full in body.

Tannin is the component created by grape skin and by wood in the wine. It is a gritty, ‘drying’ feeling when it coats the side of your mouth. Ever tasted over brewed black tea? Same thing here.

Don’t let that ‘Drying’ sensation be confused with ‘Dry’ as in a dry white wine, confused yet? Don’t be;

A dry wine is one without residual sugar. A wine can be rich but still technically sugar-dry. You might hear some people say a wine is “very dry,” which just means that it is both technically dry and tastes even dryer than that because it has plenty of acid and/or tannin to make it appear even dryer.

Residual Sugar (RS)  can be confusing for those learning about wine, as some wines that have lots of fruit weight can be quite rich, but they mightn’t actually have any sugar in them. Wines that are sweet, like some German Rieslings or dessert wines, have just had the fermentation stopped at a certain point, at the point some of the sugar is not converted to alcohol, hence residual sugar. n.b Avg Champagne (750ml) RS 4-7 grms, Avg White Wine (750ml) 1-3rgrms RS, Avg Red Wine (750ml) 12-15grms RS

A little sugar in wine isn’t a bad thing, so don’t go on a sugar witch hunt before tasting the difference! Many wine drinkers actually prefer a little residual sugar in their red wine because of the richness, complexity and body that sugar adds to wine

Balance is when all the ‘structural’ components are in harmony with no or little rough edges. When wines are in balance they are usually ready to start drinking or cellaring. If a wine is balanced in its youth, it will be balanced as it matures.

Whether its oxidative or sur latte the only way you can come to terms with these is to delve into the process of fermentation in depth either through reading, tasting or talking.  Remember there is no right or wrong,  everyone’s palate is different, tasting is learning, one day some of these terms  may even become common in your wine vocabulary.


Ben Skipper and Luke Campbell


Its on a lot of peoples lips at the moment, ‘Do you have any natural wine’? 

What does this question mean and how do we deal with this, current, fermented trend in the wine scene? Please be aware these styles are not new (excluding Steiner and Biodynamics circa 1930’s). Sure they are the current fashion however these styles have been around since the 4th century Roman times and some would suggest the  Phoenicians before them.

Natural Wines

As a broad statement, natural wines are wines made with minimal intervention in the vineyard and during fermentation. Usually they have little to no sulphur added for protection. (Low Ads) They can be a little ‘wild’ on the nose without these ads. This is the major differential between natural and traditional winemaking. 

Orange Wines

In a crossover category are the orange wines, or skin contact wines. These wines, particularly on white grapes, see extended contact with the skins resulting in (orange) colouration and enhanced phenolic structure. In Georgia the classic method is to age them underground in clay Kvevri  (large, egg-shaped amphorae) which gives them even more earthy taste and palate feel. They are products which benefit massively from being served at correct temperature and context.

Brad Hickey (Brash Higgins) w his Amphora, Mc Laren Vale.

Biodynamic Wines

Those that are made through biodynamic preparation, based on the Rudolf Steiner principal, from beginning to end. These may feel more seasonal in the glass as they are affected by lunar cycle and time of the year. Anyone who has tasted Nicols Joly’s Coulee de Serrant Savennieres will know what we are talking about. 

Consumers are in a conundrum as to what natural vs biodynamic vs traditional wines are, knowledge is power, we hope this account helps you further understand the specific differences. Also more importantly how to consume these wines. If your Gravner ‘Berg’, a benchmark natural producer in Italy, is served at the wrong temperature or indeed with the wrong food it can give you a bad taste in your mouth for revisiting the styles. If served correctly it can be an experience up there with the best. 

No matter what the style or origin of the producer there is a place on wine lists for all these styles and sommelier’s are embracing the current trends and fashions to encompass new flavours and new feels to their lists and their combinations at the table. The dining scene is certainly more dynamic for it. 

At the end of the day there is no right or wrong, its simply a matter of personal flavour preference and there is little as satisfying as sharing good wine and food with friends. Try them, Share them and Discover them.

authored by – Ben Skipper (BS) and Luke Campbell (LVC)


If you have a wine collection that’s lost its way, Vinified’s Head Sommelier + Cellar consultant Luke Campbell shares five steps for getting it back on track.

For many wine lovers,  tending to their bottles stored at home,  can quickly get out of hand. Regardless of a collection’s size, systems can fall over, boxes can build up and the wines can prove hard to navigate. So, where to start?

  1. Get ruthless

    • Luke says the first thing to do when sorting through your wines is cull the bottles you’re never going to drink. “Maybe somebody gave you a bottle of something you don’t enjoy, or perhaps your tastes have moved on,” the sommelier says. Whatever the case, box them up and put them aside. “Give them as gifts, share them with people who love them or give them to someone who is going to enjoy them more than you. You might not love it, but someone else will. Take these wines out of your collection!” This will free up much-needed space to properly organise your remaining wines and also make room for the new bottles you will really want to drink.

  2. Organise by variety

    •  “Then you have to look at the logistics of how to stack your wine fridge or cellar or wherever you store your wines. Put the oldest ones at the back, away from the light and out of reach, and the youngest ones to the top or wherever is most accessible – where people are likely to pull something out that’s not too important.”
      Luke advocates grouping wines together by variety. “I always do this because I want to taste, compare and contrast varieties from different regions. If you put wines together by vintage, you lose that learning power of your palate,” he says. This system will not only help when you’re searching through a collection, but also identify any lacking or overstocked varieties.

  3. Develop a system 

 People should always log their wine so every bottle is recorded, whether that’s in an app or a simple spreadsheet. It    should track the wine’s name, winery, region, vintage, price and drink-by details, and also have room for your own notes and other insights. From there, some people use necktags or sticky labels on the bottles to convey these details at a glance. Knowing how much a wine cost, its rating and drink-to date can be helpful when rifling through wines and deciding what to open. You can also seek a second opinion, Get a Cellar appraisal. It also means any friends and family who have access to the wines should know what they can – and can’t – touch.


4. Make some decisions

    • Luke also suggests people should start drinking any single bottles they have within their collection – pending their significance. “You really need a minimum of three bottles – one to know what it tastes like, two to know when it’s changed, and three to know when it’s developed,” he says.
      If you’re in the early stages of building a wine collection, Luke suggests first considering the most critical factor. “You have to ask yourself if you actually like aged wine,” he says. The characters in aged wine aren’t always to everyone’s tastes, so seek out museum releases and back-vintage wines to decide whether cellaring is for you. It may mean you can instead create an inspired collection of versatile wines that are ready to drink now.


  5. Restock diversely 

    Most wine collectors will have at least a few favourite brands and labels they buy year in, year out, but beyond those wines, there’s always room for diversity. It’s a rule that Luke encourages among his clients when organising their cellars, and one that he also lives by, having seen too many people’s palates change over time and no longer enjoy the wines they have stocked. “If I’ve drunk through my Clare rieslings, for example, I try to resist the urge to buy those same wines again and instead go for rieslings from New Zealand or Great Southern because I want to educate my palate further,” Luke says. “I want to be drinking diversely and not restocking like for like so I’m not always going back to the same wine.”


Anyone who has visited the Mediterranean in Summer knows there is not really anything quite like a chilled glass of rose by the beach, with a plate of fresh seafood. If there was something we would rather be doing right now, that is it!!

Here in Australia we tend to only really lust after rose style wines in Summer. The heat and sultry conditions lending themselves well to pretending we are in coastal Europe!! Thankfully our winemaking style has moved away from those rich sickly fruit bomb style.  Now the pithy chalky citrus wines of Southern France are heralded.  The recent fashion is tabout making lean, nervy dry rose wines. These are more akin to the Provencal style form the South East of France where many would argue the best examples of these are born. A few favourites easy to roll off and hard to ignore. Domaine Tempier, Pibranon, Whispering Angel, Chateau Simone or Domaine Gueissard to name a few.

Different Grapes Different Flavour?

Does the grape make a large difference to the final product? It depends – most often the best examples of these are made in two varying ways. A light crush of the grapes to extract a little colour and pigmentation from the skin then straight to the fermentation style which preserves the fresh and bright Summer flavours on the palate and may be a little more typical of the variety on the nose than taste. The second is called Saignée (“sohn-yay”)  in French. Here the grapes are crushed and start to extract colour and the juice is bleed or drained from just under the cap.  This produces a little rose and the balance left to make its way towards a full red wine. This method often creates slightly bolder,  more savoury flavours and structure.

Does Skin Contact make a difference?

With the usual small contact on the skins the structure of the palate is slightly diminished. This means accessibility when it comes to matching to an array of flavours on the plate. The obvious match is fresh seafood. Its its salty, creamy and fresh flavour and texture is just the perfect foil for a cool glass of pink. Nothing gets in the way and the wines clean up the mouth with their vibrant acidity. Check out our current wine offers – HERE


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.

Fine Dining has died

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.

Coffees Third wave has arrived

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!

Wine Shop or Wine bar

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’s 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 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: //www.vinifiedmelbourne.com


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….

Top Tips

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 closer to home, 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!

Secrets of Cellaring

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.

Have you got Pinot in your cellar?

4. One last golden rule when selecting the right wine for your cellars…

“Buy Pinot Noir now!! if you like it or you don’t, buy Pinot Noir now!”

Red wine doesn’t have to bowl you over with alcohol. Pinot Noir is the seductress of grape varieties. 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. 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 our services  at our Secrets of Cellaring Workshops happening throughout the year.  {CLICK HERE}



Learning about or just your loving wine, one of our upcoming events will be right up your alley.


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.



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



  • Ombra Salumi Bar (upstairs) (map)

Sangiovese and Chianti have often had a reputation as being cheap, however the opposite is true. There are some great value styles from both here and Italy that really do belong in you cellar! Italian food and Chianti is a match made in heaven.  It will be a celebration of all things Italy @ Ombra Salumi Bar, a tutored tasting of top Sangiovese variety wines. Vinified’s Luke Campbell  will guide you on how to taste, what to drink and what to put in your cellar while tasting a casual lunch with antipasto and pizza serve alongside some sensory pleasure, education and fun.

Book your Tickets today 


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).

Uncle Restaurant, Collins Street Melbourne

At $79 it’s a great way to casually ease into your wine imbibing for 2019.


WHEN: Saturday, 2nd March, 12:30pm-3pm This events has passed but find more events here

WHERE: Uncle Restaurant – 15 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000

TICKETS: //www.vinifiedmelbourne.com/events/


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.

Other Varieties to look out for

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,

White Wines

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

Red Wines

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.

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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!

Don’t hesitate to contact us about source rare wines or magnums of your favourite wines for your cellar or cellar-brations, We love to help.


To cellar or drink now? That is the question!

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. Both are among the many famed styles of Italy. Sangiovese 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.

Chianti bottle tags – The Galo Nero

*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,  is home to probably the best known and most iconic of all Italian wines. Although a wine of ancient origin, Chianti has been recognised by its geographical area 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.

Style: The key flavour attributes would have to be the 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 thick which can equate to bright colours and ripe tannins. Think of these wines coming between Pinot Noir and Merlot on the flavour meter. This variety brims with style and bursts with flavour.

Want to Learn More

Sangiovese and Chianti have often had a reputation as cheap. However the reverse is true, there are great value styles from both here as well and Italy.  They belong in you cellar.


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.


wine collection


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

Got a wine question for our experts…Get in touch.


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:

  1. Do I like aged wine?
  2. How much wine do I want to collect?
  3. 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;

  1. Riesling: German, Eden Valley, Clare Valley and also the emerging region of the Great Southern in Western Australia should not be forgotten.
  2. Chardonnay: White Burgundy/ Chablis, Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley or Margaret River

Types of Red Wine;

  1. Pinot Noir: Grand Cru Burgundies of France, Tasmania, Yarra Valley and Martinborough, NZ
  2. Sangiovese: Chianti or Chianti Classico, McLaren Vale, Brunello di Montalcino
  3. 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;

  1. At home leave wines in boxes or original packaging. Some insulation is better the no insulation.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Tasting Notes

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?