Wines in UK under £10, boring labels, Wolf Blass

The Guardian, 17 February, Fiona Beckett

You can find just about any grape variety in Australia these days, so innovative and diverse is its winemaking scene. That’s good news, you’d think, but there is a catch: some pretty steep prices. I made it my mission at a recent Australia Day tasting to see what the country could deliver for under £10, a challenge that one of the big boys didn’t even bother rising to: Treasury Wine Estates, owner of Seppelts and Penfolds, had nothing under that figure on show. Full article

The Australian Financial Review, 17 February, Max Allen

If you’ve spent much time browsing in a good bottle shop recently, you’ll have noticed there’s a revolution taking place in Australian wine label design.

About time, too: local winemakers have traditionally been a pretty staid lot when it comes to packaging, usually defaulting to a variation on the “plain-text on white paper with line drawing of vineyard” formula. There’s nothing wrong with this when it’s done well: the classic label that Wynns Coonawarra Estate adopted in the 1950s is essentially the same more than half a century later. But too often Australia’s conservative, keep-it-simple approach has resulted in some of the most boring and predictable labels in the world of wine. Full article

Manila Bulletin, 16 February, Gene Gonzalez

The tandem of Premiere Wines and Spirits president JP Santa Marina and national sales manager Mike Sanvictores never fail to amaze everyone who love and appreciate wines.

Their most recent activities of creating monthly wine socials had been well attended by vinophiles and had been a venue for sharing opinions among the collectors.

Recently, they hosted a three-day activity that showcased the wines of who Aussies consider as the father of Australian Wine, Wolf Blass. Full article

Campbell River Mirror (Canada), 23 February, Doug Sloan

Here in British Columbia, our long-term love affair with Australian red wines seems to have waned.

In the ‘New World’ category we’ve been distracted by funky new Malbecs from Argentina, complex Carménères – alone and in blends – from Chile, intriguing Petit Verdots from California and cheeky kitchen sink blends from South Africa.

And while this was going on, Australian winemakers just kept upping that ‘jammy’ factor in their red wines.  Today, however, many winemakers in Oz have dialled back that exorbitant and sometimes excessive ‘fruitiness,’ At the risk of generalizing, Australian reds are much more food-friendly, now – still voluptuously ripe but remarkably well-balanced! Full article and reviews 

The Guardian, 24 February, Cathy Adams

Margaret River: the Australian wine region that’s now big on beer

This part of south-west Australia is known for great cabernets and chardonnays but could soon have as many craft breweries as it does vineyards. Full article

The West Australian, 24 February, Tayler Neale 

Wineries in the Great Southern region are starting to notice a national trend towards increased growth of cellar door sales, according to Great Southern Wine Producers Association chairman Andrew Hoadley.

A recent report from Wine Australia found small winemakers had seen an increase in revenue growth for cellar door sales of 7 per cent in the 2015-16 financial year.

The report also noted an average increase in revenue for small winemakers of 12 per cent, with cellar door sales accounting for 27 per cent of revenue. Full article

The Peterborough Examiner (Canada), 24 February, Shari Darling

Just be sure to buy a couple of bottles of quality Australian wine at the LCBO. Here are my recommendations: Yalumba Y Series Viognier, (CSPC 470062), $13.95. From Australia’s oldest family-owned winery (1850), this exotic white is medium bodied and dry with loads of tropical fruit and ginger. The palate is creamy with good acidity to clean the palate. A lovely glass of wine to pair with buttery popcorn and a few episodes of Offspring. The wine’s creamy palate matches the fattiness in the butter and cheese. Red wine also works with authentic cheese popcorn. The saltiness in the cheese nicely offsets the tannin in red wine bringing about a smoother texture.

Cheese and butter are also fatty and so require a red with enough viscosity (thickness from alcohol) to match. Mojo Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, (CSPC 383539), $17.95, South Australia, 13.5 per cent alcohol: This is a medium bodied, fruity red with lots of black current, leather and some more subtle herbal notes on the nose and palate with good tannic structure. The saltiness of the popcorn will soften some of this tannin and astringency.

Grape Expectations 18 February Max Crus (Simon Hughes)

At some point in the week these reviews and article will appear in The Daily Examiner (Grafton), Border Mail (Albury), Rotary Down Under (National) and Australian Petroleum Marketer News (National) 

Reviews for

Di Giorgio Family Montepulciano 2015, $23. The allure of the grape’s name has never left me, it just rolls off the tongue beautifully as does the wine over it. Take me to Tuscany. 8.9/10.

Di Giorgio Family Kongorong Riesling 2016, $19. Sunday workers might be able to afford one of these…per month. Well, I am happy to share my riesling, and my profits. 8.6/10.

Brown Brothers ‘Patricia’ Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut, 2010, $47.15. “How much is this Max”, is a clarion call from Sunday workers (and Ms L.) for delicious bubbles, specially for anyone called Pat of course, except blokes called Pat. 9.2/10.

Brown Brothers Patricia Chardonnay 2012, $45. The Big Pat has scored a few big gongs (including a million medals and trophies) and big pretty much sums up everything about this. Surely Patricia would approve. 9.1/10.

Cuttaway Hill Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013, $22. You could be forgiven thinking this tastes of WA, but I’ve always sung the praises of the Southern Highlands. Perhaps someone will listen one day. 8.5/10.

Cuttaway Hill Pinot Gris 2015, $28. For many, Cuttaway Hill conjures mines and roadworks and stuff. Don’t get cut up about it, but this Cuttaway is a cut above. “Cut it out Max”, cried Ms L. 8.8/10.

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