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Wine Reviews

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The Buds have burst in the high altitude wine region of Orange, NSW and to celebrate the region’s winemakers and foodies have launched the 2019 Orange Wine Festival program; and it looks to be packed with adventure. Running from Friday, October 18 through to Sunday, October 27, events include behind-the-scenes access to wineries, meet-the-maker opportunities, a range of quality culinary experiences paired with the region’s award-winning wines and wine education sessions across a 10-day a…

From Mansfield to Beechworth these are some of the best places to eat and drink  in Victoria’s High Country. Eldorado Road Cellar Door, Beechworth, Victoria Visiting Eldorado Road’s newly expanded Beechworth cellar door and cantina is a destination to underline on your High Country itinerary’s list. A tasting of their ultra premium wines, local and imported artisan cheeses and charcuterie presents a gourmand’s dream, all delivered effortlessly in a relaxed and somewhat micro storefront tastings…

Celebrating the launch of the new Aussie online retailer Epic Wines Online, Essentials spoke to founder Trevor Knaggs about which wine pack makes Epic Wines Online a good choice for premium red wine lovers. Why Epic Wines Online? ‘At Epic Wines Online we only sell organic, biodynamic or sustainable wines. These wines are produced in ways that respect the planet and as they’re chemical free, are not harmful your body. We curate these premium wines…

When it comes to rieslings, Australia has some fantastic regions now producing wines that in their own style match the quality and finesse of some of the most renowned wines from the Rhine River and Alsace regions of Europe. Aussies are also spoiled for choice, with winemakers experimenting with a wide variety of differing styles, some featuring youthful clean acidity with floral characteristics bursting from the glass, and others that present with a more layered…

In late 2018 Mansfield winemaker Ros Ritchie opened a new Cellar Door and Function Centre within the historic Magnolia House – a late 1800s American Victorian-era kit home that was shipped to Melbourne as ballast, and on to the High Country via steam train by then owner Harry Amor of the Mansfield Courier. Constructed in 1908, the venue is a fascinating place for sampling Ros’ premium cool climate wines. Essentials dropped in to explore a handful of…

Some of the best wines made in Australia are produced by vineyards in faraway places with limited staff and often no cellar door. For these select few, time is purely focused on producing the best possible wines and often it is only the most dedicated sommelier that manages to get their hands on the small allocation of wines offered. One such winery, Souter’s Rosewhite Vineyard in the foothills of the Victorian alps, is owned and…

The aroma of citrus fills the air in the small factory in Melbourne’s west. Boxes of thick-skinned lemons are piled up on the floor. Jon Caneva smiles as he carefully takes to the lemons with a small, sharp knife. ‘You have to remove the outside of the skin without taking any of the white pith, otherwise the limoncello will become bitter,’ says Jon. He’s a man who wears a happy demeanour like a well-fitting jacket.…

Billy Button Fiano is a spring/summer stunner: its bright gold colour simply glistens in the glass. It’s the perfect pair to our soft prawn taco recipe (below). This fiano from Victoria‘s Alpine Valleys region is hand-crafted by the energetically talented alternative-varietals ‘queen’, winemaker Jo Marsh, formerly of Seppelt Great Western. A few years back she wisely packed her bags and headed for the sub-alpine hills of Porepunkah. Though she was not then a vineyard owner,…

Back in 1999, Italian-born Otto Dal Zotto planted a few rows of prosecco grapes in Victoria’s King Valley. He had no idea, when planning then with his sons Michael and Christian to produce their very own Italian-style sparkling wine, just what an influence their project would have on the Australian wine industry. For Otto, the first L’Immigrante Prosecco, released five years later in 2004, was the obvious way of connecting their Australian cellar door and…

Souters 2009 Cabernet – Alpine Valleys Allan Souter’s 2009 Cabernet is a truly remarkable wine – rich, full flavoured, generous on nose and palate with its ripe and lush fruit and decadently soft tannins. It’s harvested from a steep, well-draining north facing vineyard in Victoria’s Happy Valley where fruit ripening is slowed but well paced due to cooler bright summer days and moderately cool nights. This promotes more savoury notes: mint, clove, star anise. That’s…

Offering a wide range of aromas, tastes and textures, Australian-made Italian varietal wines are growing in popularity. Sampling a collection of brands – some well-known, some not – Jamie Durrant discovers regional wines of quality and diversity. Brown Brothers 1889 Pinot Grigio – King Valley 2016 (vintage) Unlike many gin-clean pinot grigios, this wine has an elegant blush in the glass. The label notes a pale straw colour, but we saw a slightly warmer touch of golden…

I’ve had the pleasure of following the progress of Chrismont Winery as an ever-growing highly creative business dedicated to continued focus and refinement in delivering Australia’s finest Italian varietals under the La Zona label. Thirteen years ago Essentials sang the praises of their beautiful marzemino and sangiovese releases. Today Chrismont’s expanded list of Italian varietals presents the visitor with a compelling cellar door tasting experience. The Chrismont label featuring classic French grape varieties could be…

Andrew Peace 2015 Shiraz Methode Ripasso 3.5 stars – $24 [view wine ratings info] Andrew Peace Wines is one of Australia’s largest family-owned wineries, though it’s virtually unknown among Aussies, which is a great shame. Why? Well, since first vintage in 1996, the company has focused on a highly successful export program, selling about 95 per cent of its product into Europe, the UK, the US and Asia. It’s become a household name to British…

In terms of world-famous wines, it’s impossible not to respectfully mention the region of Rutherglen, Victoria and in particular Buller Wines’ rare collection of fortified wines. Aged for 40 years, the Rare range of tokay, muscat and frontignac are simply astonishing wines, unrivalled in their category. Very few wines receive a full 100 points from leading US wine critic Robert Parker. He awarded the Tokay its 100 point score in October 2005, and the Muscat…

Chrismont’s wonderful new release La Zona Fiano from the King Valley is a most exciting aromatic white and should be considered a serious top-tier restaurant quality food wine although it drinks perfectly well on its own. Fiano originated in Campania, Italy and is also found in Basilicata, the Salentine Peninsula in Puglia and in Sicily. Fiano loves the sun so it is suited to Australia. Its small berries retain their high acid levels as they ripen,…

This fiano from Victoria‘s Alpine Valleys region is hand-crafted by the energetically talented alternative-varietals ‘queen’, winemaker Jo Marsh, formerly of Seppelt Great Western. A few years back she wisely packed her bags and headed for the sub-alpine hills of Porepunkah. Though she was not then a vineyard owner, she cleverly connected with a group of local growers to take advantage of the enormous range of alternative varietals found in the area. Without any hesitation she…

Each year King River Estate produces cleaner, more vibrant fruit, the result of pesticide-free biodynamic vineyard management. I’ve noticed a progressive advance in wine flavour profiles across King River Estate’s range over the past three consecutive years and the just-bottled 2016 Pinot Grigio again amps things up to a new level. This wine’s bouquet leaps

The Dal Zotto prosecco story is the stuff of legends. Just over a decade ago Otto Dal Zotto, King Valley tobacco grower turned grape grower and winemaker, launched himself into a quest: he wanted to make sparking wine from the prosecco grape, the grape he grew up with in his town of Valdobbiadene in Veneto in Northern Italy. After much effort searching he found some prosecco vines in Australia – in a backyard in Adelaide.…

I’ve been lucky enough to know Alfredo ‘Fred’ Pizzini for quite a while and I’ve never seen him quite like this. He’s clearly rattled and seems a bit uneasy. ‘I can’t find my bloody ’91!’ he eventually confesses, as we head out of Wangaratta towards their headquarters in Whitfield where a complete tasting of every vintage of Pizzini Nebbiolo awaits us. Except, it seems, the elusive 1991, the first tiny vintage Fred ever made. You…

Review: Rutherglen Estates 2014 Tempranillo The Rutherglen Estates’ Tempranillo wine lifts the bar with a sweet, succulent and rich bouquet. It’s everything a ripe and lush Spanish-styled tempranillo should be, combining wonderful expressions of those moreish toffee-apple candy scents with ripe cherries. Some parcels of the wine are matured in American oak then blended back with parcels from softer French oak, creating a strong but well-integrated textural appeal. A vanillin fragrance from the  American oak…

Matthew Jukes discovers a new breed of wildy expressive ‘young gun’ table wines among the historic fortified classics of Rutherglen, Victoria. I recently had the honour of tasting alongside David Morris in my capacity as international judge at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show. On the evening of the judges’ dinner, in time-honoured fashion, everyone brought along a bottle for the team to taste. David’s bottle was a 1961 Topaque. This was a glimpse at an…

Extraordinary UK wine columnist Matthew Jukes is regarded as one of the world’s leading wine writers, having worked in the wine trade since 1987. He hosts corporate and consumer wine tastings all over the world as well as writing a weekly column for MoneyWeek and the Daily Mail. Matthew writes the most keenly followed wine column in the UK – he entertains 9 million readers each weekend. This year he has partnered with Essentials Magazine to launch…

Popular, affordable bottle shop brands vs boutique cellar door wines. I have a confession to make. When I walk into my local supermarket bottle shop, I wouldn’t have a clue what half the wines are. Sure I recognise the mainstay established brands such as Penfolds, Wynns and Jacob’s Creek. But scan the shelves and there seem to be so many labels. How on earth can the customer begin to know what their provenance is, and…

Logically, many Australian winemakers growing vines in our cooler climates admire and study techniques developed in some of Europe’s greatest wine regions such as Alsace in France’s north-east, and Trentino-Alto Adige in Italy’s north bordering Austria and Switzerland. Specialised local varietals ripen slowly there, retaining a firm acidity that conspires to produce delicate aromas and, in some sites, beautifully cleansing mineral and flinty notes. Historically, those regions have been recognised for producing outstanding wines such…

If there’s one thing Australian winemakers have become great at, it’s experimenting with new wine varietals and clones, often grafting them onto well-established rootstock, then monitoring fruit production and best growing conditions to learn how to perfect fine berry development and well-matured seeds for better tannin profiles. There are myriad steps in this process, including careful site selection, the choice of vine trellising styles, nutrient toppings or  irrigation additives, irrigation methods and countless other issues.…

Rutherglen Estates 2010 Zinfandel ‘WOW!’ was, honestly, the first impression and spoken word that sprang from my mouth on sniffing the complex and very brooding scents of this wine. It’s punchy, herbaceous and spicy, all the while presenting a lovely underlying sweet fruit layer. There’s a hell of a lot going on and it’s great to explore its expansive fragrances. So let me take this a little further. Coriander and cloves, Chinese five spice and…

Dal Zotto 2009 Nebbiolo (this vintage sold out) Deciding exactly which vintage of Dal Zotto Nebbiolo to sample and review for this article was a bit of a no-brainer, really, because I’d recently enjoyed a bottle with an authentic Italian gnocchi at Dal Zotto’s award-winning cellar door and trattoria. The 2009 Barolo styled wine carries with it all the hallmarks of a great Italian nebbiolo; shit, it drinks well!  Even the colour is that classic slightly…

I’ll admit it; I’m obsessed with wine. Not just any wine… Australian wine. Not always reds, but they tend to be a preference. The huge diversity of fabulously more-ish wines we enjoy, with all those complex fragrances,  owe their existence to a melting pot of cultures, of immigrants who arrived on our fine shores to grow, cultivate and shape a wide range of grape varietals. Don’t get me wrong here xenophobes: I am aware that…

A ride on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle following the King Valley’s corkscrew bends is just one way Trevor Knaggs likes to cool down at the height of summer. ‘I love jumping on the bike and going for a ride in this magnificent part of the world,  especially when the temperature starts to drop in the late afternoon,’ says the owner of King River Estate. Summer in the King Valley is the winemaker’s favourite time of the…

Yileena Park 2010 Pinot Noir Regular readers of Essentials will know that I’m a bit partial to the great luscious reds wines of the boutique Yarra Valley label Yileena Park. It has been recognised though that Yileena’s pinots were somewhat amply endowed in body, perhaps not quite delicate enough for those who want something lighter than the regular big bold red. Now however, I am excited to report that with the new 2010 release, Yileena…