Dan's Blog


Friday, February 22, 2019

As per usual, the sensational CELLAR DOOR FEST is on in Adelaide again this year. It is going to be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from Friday, March 15 through to Sunday, March 17. It will include wineries participating from every wine growing region of South Australia showing their wines. Additionally, these days it also features most of the State’s boutique brewers and boutique spirits distillers.

This event offers a unique opportunity to compare the same variety of wine, such as Shiraz from across different regions to see the difference in their styles and flavours. Or, with so many wineries there you can compare the difference in wine style for a variety, within the one region, say for example, the differences in Shiraz from within the Barossa Valley.

To add to the excitement there will be a plethora of different varieties out of the new Emerging varieties to taste. These are varieties which are well renowned in their native countries, but are just starting to flourish here in Australia, such as: Zinfandel, Touriga National, Tannat, Nebbiolo, Pinot Blanc, Fiano, Vermentino, and so on. Again, a great opportunity to try so many new/unusual varieties in the one place.

There will also be some of the “hottest” white wines on the planet there – i.e. Grüner Veltliner (a divine Austrian native white wine) from a number of the 35 different wineries in the Adelaide Hills that are producing it and thereby making the Adelaide Hills the “Gruner Capital of the Southern Hemisphere”. This will give you the opportunity to check out the subtle differences that vineyard site makes to this classy, elegant white wine.

As if this wasn’t enough for keen wine enthusiasts, they also conduct Masterclasses on Cheese + Sparkling Wine, Wine Blending, Gin Blending and the Riedel Sensory Workshops. There is the opportunity to meet some “New” winemakers as they show off their wares in the Emerging Winemakers section of the event. Motoring body, the RAA, has got in on the act by sponsoring “Mini Masterclasses” with d’Arenberg, The Lane and Seppeltsfield as well as brewers – Lot 100 and spirits purveyors, Prohibition Liquor Company.

To cap this all off there are the “Long Table Dining” sessions where you can have a fabulous relaxed meal.

To make sure that you don’t miss out on this fantastic, informative and educational event, go to the website and book your tickets now to the CELLAR DOOR FEST. I’ll be there. Will you?


TOPPER’S MOUNTAIN:  Late last Friday afternoon I received a tragic email from Mark Kirby and the crew at New England’s, TOPPER’S MOUNTAIN (a quality producer of emerging varieties). They advised that due to bushfire damage they had to cancel their, “ALL TOGETHER! – Picking & Party Day” event which was to be held on the Sunday. The bushfire in Topper’s Mountain State Forest had burst out of the forest and paid them a devastating visit! As they said in their email: “Once in there, we couldn’t stop it. Abt 80% burnt, driplines gone, 10% of the posts burnt off, no idea of vine deaths yet & worst of all, vintage 2019 is finished before we really started.

Can you imagine losing a year’s income plus the damage to future income all in one afternoon? Shattering!

Over recent years I have waxed lyrically and even raved about the unusual, interesting and sometimes even funky wines that these guys make. I have yet to try one I don’t like.

I have met the affable Mark a few times at wine events and last year I got to know and became friends with, Jan Taborsky, when he came down to Adelaide – first, to Judge at the Winestate EVAs (Emerging Variety Awards) and later at the inaugural, Global Grüner Challenge (judging Grüner Veltliner from around the world) also run by Winestate Magazine and in conjunction with the Austrian Wine Marketing Board.

My heart bleeds for you guys – and to all who read this, I say, please consider buying some of their wonderful wines as a way of helping them survive this catastrophe and get back on their feet.

The TOPPER’S MOUNTAIN wines that I can personally recommend are:

Topper’s Mountain 2016 GewÜrztraminer: 5-Stars, Top in Category – Inaugural (2018) EVAs (Emerging Variety Awards) – An absolute cracker wine!

Topper’s Mountain 2016 Barrel FERMENT GewÜrztraminer:  Complex, multi-dimensional and supremely elegant – YUM!

Topper’s Mountain 2015 Bricolage Blanc: A delicious slick and classy blend of Chardonnay, Sav Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Petit Manseng.

Topper’s Mountain 2015 Barrel Ferment Sauvignon Blanc: Oh, so European in style but with greater depth.

Topper’s Mountain 2016 Wild Ferment Petit Manseng: 3½ Stars – Inaugural (2018) EVAs (Emerging Variety Awards).

Topper’s Mountain 2014 Wild Ferment Nebbiolo: 3-Stars – Inaugural (2018) EVAs (Emerging Variety Awards) – Extract, my judging notes: “very svelte and moreish”.

Topper’s Mountain 2014 Bricolage Rouge: The epitome of an emerging blend – Tempranillo/Nebbiolo/Tannat/Shiraz/Viognier – bloody magnificent!!

Topper’s Mountain 2014 Wild Ferment Pinotage Viognier: Unique! The only such blend in the world. Tannic but smooth, a great food wine.

Topper’s Mountain 2013 Wild Ferment Tannat:  Reviewed in an upcoming WBM article on Tannat as: “ out of “left field”. This natural yeast fermented wine is tremendous with a funky bouquet, unlike any of the others (Tannat), a palate with masses of complex flavours making it rich and seductive. Not typical of the variety but a divine wine!!”

So how about doing your taste buds a favour whilst helping out a great mob who make smashing “out of left field” wines? Go to and place an order for some superb wines. I promise you that you won’t regret it!!!