Penfolds Re-corking Clinic

Oct 27, 13 Penfolds Re-corking Clinic

Posted by in All, Australia

I had heard of Penfolds re-corking clinic but really didn’t know what it entailed. I just assumed people would bring in their old bottles of Grange and have the cork replaced periodically. Not so, as I found out when I was invited to see how a Penfolds re-re-corking clinic actually works. Chief Winemaker, Peter Gago was in attendence (he attends all of the Penfolds clinics around the world and examines many bottles personally) , along with 3 other Penfolds winemakers. They had set up shop in the ballroom of the Berkeley Hotel in Mayfair for a day of re-corking. Peter bubbled over with enthusiam while explaining the entire process to us. It turns out that Penfolds will only re-cork a wine once in it’s lifetime and have a very strict traceability system in place. Peter explained that once an old wine has been opened and certified, they refill it with 15 mls of the current vintage. This translates into 2% of new wine which will not affect the wine. Imagine if you had the wine re-corked every few years, after awhile, it would no longer be a 1950-something Grange, it would be something entirely different. Peter said that in the past they used to have difficulties persuading people that they should wait to have their wine re-corked but now they have a handy coloured guide which they can use to measure the amount of wine in the bottle. If the level falls below a certain zone, they will re-cork it, otherwise, they advise the owner to come back next time. The clinics are not only a chance to check on the state of a particular bottle but also a chance for Penfolds to hold what Peter calls “authenticity” clinics. In China, Penfolds does 3 day clinics where people have the opportunity to not only check on the vintage but also ensure that what they have really is a Penfolds wine. The clinics are also a chance for Penfolds to educate the consumer , informing...

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Featured Post – Visiting Australian Vineyards

Oct 10, 13 Featured Post – Visiting Australian Vineyards

Posted by in Australia

Australia offers some of the most incredible vineyards and wines that are well known all over the world for their distinct flavors. There are also many more wine regions than you might expect in Australia, allowing the country to achieve a world-renowned reputation for its award-winning wines. Discover Australia’s incredible wine regions and vineyards and find out how you can enjoy some of the best Australian wines. Barossa Valley, South Australia Barossa Valley, where European immigrants first settled in 1842, is one of the oldest wine producing regions in Australia. It offers around 150 different wineries, with plenty of wine trails to discover. You can even tour this beautiful wine region by motorbike, helicopter, vintage car or hot air balloon. Clare Valley, South Australia Clare Valley, one of the oldest wine regions in Australia, is renowned for its Riesling wine. In fact, it is often referred to as the home of Australian Riesling. Clare Valley offers over 40 wineries, the majority being small wineries located between the towns of Clare and Auburn. This South Australian region has a Mediterranean-style climate making it perfect for producing high quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, Semillon and Shiraz grapes. Hunter Valley, New South Wales Hunter Valley is the oldest wine growing region in Australia, renowned for its broad selection of wines from over 150 wineries. Explore the gorgeous vineyards and sample different wines at wine tastings available throughout the region. McLaren Vale, South Australia McClaren Vale, which has some of the oldest grape vines in the world, was the starting point of the wine industry in South Australia. This region has around 65, mostly boutique-sized wineries, in addition to around 270 independent grape growers. You can take a walk, bicycle ride, or horse ride along the Shiraz Trail in McClaren Vale to explore the beauty of numerous vineyards here. Mornington Peninsula, Victoria Mornington Peninsula, which is located not far from Melbourne, offers over 200 vineyards, the majority of which are located around Balnarring, Main Ridge, Merricks, Red Hill and Shorham. Mornington Peninsula is well known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and hosts a...

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Guest Post – How to drink your Hunter Semillon

Oct 06, 13 Guest Post – How to drink your Hunter Semillon

Posted by in All, Australia, Guest Post

I get approached often to host guest posts but as I have such a backlog of material, I don’t have much room for them. But Australian blogger Lisa Johnston (The Wine Muse) submitted this post on Hunter Semillon and I’d like to share it with my readers. Enjoy!  Guest Post: How to drink your Hunter Semillon As a style, straight varietal semillon seems to be low on the list of favourites and yet, like riesling, it is one of the most versatile whites in the world. The Bordeaux white grape has found many expressions within Australia from 100% oak fermentation such as Mount Horrocks Watervale Semillon to the austere Hunter Valley versions. As a fresh ripe semillon, with or without oak, food matching is easy as the grape lends itself to a wide range of food. Hunter Valley semillon is one of those varietal wines that is beloved by the wine trade – winemakers, writers, sommeliers and all but continues to be under appreciated by drinkers. In one sense, I find this hard to reconcile considering how we expect our celebrities to be size zero with angles and personality in their youth developing rounded cheeks & elegance in their prime. And our white wine? No, we seem to want them to be the opposite – flamboyant, plumper for our immediate enjoyment. On the other hand, there are enough styles of Hunter semillon being produced, particularly with the likes of McGuigan Semillon Blanc, that there is something for everyone. While 100% semillon is still uncommon in the world, because of its purity, lack of oak and longevity, Hunter Semillon has earned its place as one of those distinctive styles, like Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine and Barolo. Picked early with naturally low alcohol, the best shows a fine line of acid, pure citrus along itslong length in its youth developing a toasty, honey and lanolin complexity in its prime. I have recently tasted a 10 year old Hunter Semillon from one of the best vineyards that only shows a hint of waxiness in deference to its age. A good wine to enjoy sitting in a...

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Saturday Snapshot – The Widow Hen from Wirra Wirra

May 25, 13 Saturday Snapshot – The Widow Hen from Wirra Wirra

Posted by in All, Australia, Saturday Snapshot

As it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, here is a tasty little wine to have with, why not? chicken! It’s called The Widow Hen and comes from the Australian producer Wirra Wirra. I have written about Wirra Wirra before and as you may recall, it was founded by a rather eccentric fellow, Robert Wigley. The story goes that The Widow Hen got its name from a boisterous rooster that insisted on crowing when the sun came up. This rooster’s crowing always awakened Robert far earlier then he preferred and one day he took axe in hand and that was the end of the rooster. Robert got his sleep but there were a lot of sad hens moping around the chicken coop. The current winemakers of Wirra Wirra liked the story so much that they named The Widow Hen in honour of it. A shiraz and cabernet sauvignon blend, it’s easy going, full of red and black fruits on the palate and quite simply, delicious. I had this with a roast chicken and suffice it say, it was very good. The Widow Hen to go with a plate of hen, so to speak. You can get the 2010 Wirra Wirra Widow Hen from Ocado, rrp £9.99. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Wirra Wirra ‘s Trebuchet, Lost Watches and Church Blocks

Apr 05, 13 Wirra Wirra ‘s Trebuchet, Lost Watches and Church Blocks

Posted by in Australia

Quick! Off the top of your head,do you know what a trebuchet is? Unless you’re  a fan of Australian winery Wirra Wirra or a Medievelist, you probably wouldn’t know it’s another word for “catapult”. That was one nifty bit of trivia I picked up while having lunch with Sam Temme, International Sales Manager for Wirra Wirra. We were at the Spanish restaurant, Camino, and enjoying tapas with the delicious wines of Wirra Wirra. The vineyard was originally planted by Robert Strangeways Wigley but fell into disrepair after his death in 1924 and it was not until 1969 when the property was bought by cousins Greg and Roger Trott that the vineyard was revitalized. Gregg was apparently quite a character and liked to give his wines, er, unique names. Besides the “Catapult” shiraz, there is the “Lost Watch” riesling (named after a lost watch, natch), “Woodhenge” shiraz (use your imagination) and the “12th Man” Chardonnay (something to do with cricket but Sam lost me there) as well as a few other whimsically named wines. The vineyards of Wirra Wirra are in the McClaren Vale and have a great site, only 7 kms from the ocean which means the vines benefit from the ocean and gully breezes that blow over the vines. They own their own vineyards which are certified biodynamic but as they use grapes from growers as well, they cannot guarantee that their wines are biodynamic. We tried a variety of Wirra Wirra’s wine including the above mentioned wines as well as a few others. The Lost Watch 2011 is a riesling and in another bit of trivia, when Greg discovered he had lost the watch his father had given him, he swore never to wear another watch again,which might explain why he was rarely on time for anything. The  Lost Watch is a light and lively little number, almost water clear, it doesn’t have as much zip as say its Eden Valley counterparts but nonetheless, it is a refreshing, limey riesling. Another crowd...

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Oldenburg Vineyards Rhodium 2010

Apr 03, 13 Oldenburg Vineyards Rhodium 2010

Posted by in Australia

Rhodium sounds like a precious metal and it is, it’s found alongside platinum and 90% of it is in South Africa. It’s also the name of Oldenburg’s newest release. I think we know where they got the inspiration for the name of the wine. It’s always exciting to be at the launch of a new wine and last Thursday at High Timber restaurant, I was present at a dinner with Oldenburg Vineyards owner Adrian Vanderspuy when he poured for us the first vintage of Rhodium, the 2010. But first a bit of background on Oldenburg Vineyards. Oldenburg Vineyards is owned by South African Adrian Vanderspuy. The estate is a boutique winery comprised of 30 hectares and is in the Banghoek Valley in Stellenbosch. Adrian is just starting out on his winery adventure with Oldenburg, having planted the vineyard only a few years ago and he is still finding his feet so to speak, in regards to what works best for the winery. He’s is a big supporter of chenin blanc and rejected the more conventional sauvignon blanc when he was planting his vineyard. He feels that chenin blanc has a strong connection with South Africa and that they should be encouraging it’s growth within their wine industry. As a matter of fact, Oldenburg have been so successful with their chenin that respected winemaker Ken Forrester buys the grapes Oldenburg doesn’t vinify. As for the reds, thankfully, Adrian is not a big fan of pinotage. I’m not either, although having spoken to some producers, they claim that it’s a matter of finding the right terroir for pinotage. Adrian prefers to leave them to it. He believes that South Africa should lead with single variety and Bordeaux based blends. As such, he is focusing on growing cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and syrah. The Rhodium is the result of this desire to produce world class Bordeaux blends from South Africa. We were treated to the soon to be released and first vintage of the Rhodium, the 2010. What is...

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