What's News Today

Friday, June 25, 2021

This week I have a bit of trivia for you and the announcement of the upcoming Canberra International Riesling Challenge.

KYLIE MINOGUE:  To kick off, Kylie Minogue (Australian singer/songwriter/actress) has recently added a Rosé Prosecco wine to her wine range – which sold one million bottles in the UK, in the twelve months since it was launched. Sadly, there is only one Australian wine in the whole range, a Margaret River Chardonnay, with the bubbles being a Spanish Cava, the Rosé a Côtes de Provence, the Merlot from Languedoc and the Sav Blanc from Gascony.  “Proud to be an Australian”, hmmm?

CANBERRA:  It is fifty years since vines (Riesling) were planted in Canberra. There had been scattered vines planted in Canberra since the 1840s but this commemorates the first proper commercial plantings made by Dr Edgar Riek. He was followed closely by Dr John Kirk planting the Clonakilla vineyard.

In that shortish time frame the region has grown to encompass 140 vineyards covering some 450 hectares and today has over forty cellar doors. Along the way Tim Kirk at Clonakilla basically started/created the Shiraz/Viognier Class which is quite prominent in Australian wines these days.  Ken Helm AM planted Riesling and then went on to create the CIRC (Canberra International Riesling Challenge) which, each October attracts around 700-900 entries from nine of the best Riesling producing countries across the globe. It is the foremost International Riesling Show in the world. Having attended and reported on it several times in the past, I can assure you that at the public tasting on the Saturday, you can taste a fair number of the world’s best Rieslings and is well worth the effort.

For details of this year’s public tasting go to this website link:  www.rieslingchallenge.com

SHIFTING GEAR:  Parcel delivery provider, DPD Austria, has reported a 230% increase in wine shipments within Austria during 2020 and a 174% increase in shipments of wine parcels overseas, showing that the Europeans won’t let a “small” thing called, Covid-19, stop them from enjoying top quality wines.

NEXT PLEASE:  Over the last few years I have tasted many excellent wines from Myrtleford (Victoria) based, Gapsted Wines. At the start of this month, the three current owners, having reached retirement age put the winery up for sale.

This cool-climate winery was established in 1997 by a group of Alpine Valley and King Valley grape growers and has gone on to become one of the largest wineries in the region.  Along the way they have demonstrated innovation and creativity, such as being one of the first companies to release a Saperavi (a fabulous native Georgian red variety). More recently they released a Sparkling Saperavi which is sensational.

They have a great range of excellent emerging variety wines which includes in the whites, a divine Pinot Blanc, a cracking Fiano and a nifty Viognier. In the reds, the other superstars apart from the Saperavi are their “Ballerina Canopy” Durif and Sangiovese.

Their second tier “Tobacco Road” wine range offers exceptional value cool-climate wines.

I sincerely hope that a suitable buyer/s is found for this excellent winery and that the new owners continue to make wines which are as outstanding as the current ones.

In the meantime, I would strongly suggest that you find a way to get hold of some of these excellent wines, as I am sure that you won’t be disappointed by them.

Bonne chance! I look forward to tasting the new owner’s wines in due course.

Winery Link:  www.gapstedwines.com.au

Have a great week, enjoy delightful wines remembering to #chooseaustralianwine and where possible #emergingvarieties

This Week's Wine Review:

Today I am talking about one of our greatest vinous assets the CABERNET/SHIRAZ and/or SHIRAZ/CABERNET. Australia created and has always “owned” these blends, in fact until very recently no other country made such a blend. A Frenchman would rather poke his eyes out than mix Bordeaux with Rhône – Mon Dieu!!!

However, while it is “ours”, it is an underappreciated blend. Probably the best known such blend is the Penfolds Bin 389. Interestingly, the very first Jimmy Watson Trophy was won by the 1961 Stoneyfell Metala Cabernet Shiraz, whilst according to Decanter Magazine the best wine ever made in Australia was the Penfolds 1962 Bin 60A Cabernet Shiraz.

How did this rare and exceptional blend occur? Somebody way back in the mists of time probably had a Cabernet wine which was displaying a significant case of the varietal doughnut character (a hole in the mid-palate) and they splashed a smidge of their Shiraz into the wine and lo and behold, a better wine was born.

So, today I am raving about the new benchmark in CABERNET/SHIRAZ (the just released), bloody magnificent, YALUMBA 2016 “THE CALEY” – a blend of Coonawarra Cabernet and Barossa Shiraz. How cool is that?

The Coonawarra characters are superbly supported by the bright Barossa component to form a superbly structured, ripe, succulent, and densely flavoured wine. The colour is intense and the bouquet is magnificent, requiring masses of descriptors to do it justice, a few of which include: aromas of cherries, cedar, florals, cassis, fresh herbs, spice, a hint of savouriness, as well as a smidge of earthiness of a damp forest floor.

Then we hit the palate and OMG more superlatives are required, blackberries, cherries, rich, superbly layered, seamless, dense, tight and restrained with silky tannins and a finish that lingers for eons. It is needing plenty of time to show its true magnificence.

Whilst truly magnificent now, I believe that THE CALEY will continue to evolve and blossom over the next decade and will be a joy to behold for those souls lucky enough to be at the annual Yalumba Museum tasting in 2066!! By the way, the presentation for this wine was stunning - it arrived in a specially designed gift box which also contained a notebook sized history of the adventurer, Fred Caley Smith (1864-1913), grandson of Yalumba's founder, Samuel Smith. The tissue paper which wrapped the bottle was printed with a map of his journey.

So for me, the YALUMBA 2016 THE CALEY is the new benchmark for Australian CABERNET/SHIRAZ blends and it will take a whole lot of beating!!

To check out this amazing wine, and the rest of Yalumba’s range of great wines go to winery link below or go to your local premium bottle shop.

Winery Link: www.yalumba.com

Cheers, have a great week and remember #drinkaustralianwine