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Win the Ultimate Hunter Holiday

Autumn in winemaking country

Leaves turning gold, a cooling wind, the sound of crunching frost underfoot – these are the sights, sensations and sounds of autumn. Now discover taste as you explore Australia’s best wine regions without leaving the warmth of home. This month you’ll also meet our Tasting Panel, who have searched long and hard for the best wines available and now their discoveries are here for you to enjoy, as well as some interesting viticulture related articles.

March marked the success of Enrich Brisbane, a three-day celebration of life, food and wine. Bodies were nourished with tasty, wholesome food paired with premium examples of first-class winemaking, while innovative events left people inspired and applauding. Crowds watched as tried-and-true favourites like spaghetti bolognaise were transformed into 5-star dishes and cheered when Australia’s best-loved food personalities took to the stage, including Anna Gare, Alastair McLeod, Ben O'Donoghue, Fast Ed, Paul Mercurio and Lyndey Milan. We would like to extend a massive thank-you to everyone who attended.

So sit back and relax with a glass of wine, toast to autumn and enjoy the better way to buy wine.

Cheers!

Greg Walls

Greg Walls, Managing Director

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The team behind the tasting
Tasting Panel

Every shimmering red, refreshing white and all the delicious bottles in between go under the noses and across the palates of our Tasting Panel members. These eight professionals are your assurance that every wine we offer has been carefully selected using Australian Wine Show judging criteria. This means that only wines which have achieved a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal-winning score are included in our offers. Thousands of wines are poured into their glasses, but only the very best make it through their rigorous selection process.

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Our Panel of personalities and palates comprises winemakers, international wine show judges and educators. With an amazing 140 years collective experience in the wine industry, our Chairman Karl Stockhausen, winemaker Christian Gaffey, Trophy-winner Keith Tulloch, international wine judge Trent Mannell, Nicole Gow – who helped establish the Australian Wine Bureau in America, wine educator Chris Barnes, winemaker Dave Mavor and Robert Jones, who has over 33 years of industry experience, are extremely knowledgeable. Most importantly, all of them have spent more years than they’d care to admit enjoying wine themselves! With an age range spanning 50 years, our Tasting Panel is very much in tune with the palates and requirements of all Australian wine lovers.

The integrity and expertise of our Tasting Panel is just one of the reasons why Wine Selectors is unique among suppliers. Whilst traveling through Australia’s wine regions, our Panel members come across wines that have individual appeal. A wine may be chosen for its good varietal expression, its value for money, or simply because it’s a personal favourite – now let these mouth-watering gems become yours. Cheers!

View our diverse range of amazing wines and if you receive regular deliveries, make the most of your Wine Selectors experience by taking advantage of our exclusive Member Benefits today.

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Region vs. varietal
Varietal

We’re all drawn to wine bottles for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s the style and variety that we find alluring and the evocative flavours that each promises. Or it can be the label itself. For some though, one thing above all else proves the major draw-card: the region.

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Australians are by and large, obsessed with wine varieties. Names such as Cabernet, Shiraz, Chardonnay and the like dominate labels, while regions dwindle into the background. Highly recognised blends emphasise fruit over producer or region, backed by wine industry regulations which state that a wine can be named as a single varietal on the label even if there is up to 15% of other grapes used. It can be a complicated, albeit very mouth-watering, affair.

So this month we’re giving credit where credit is due and asking wine lovers to turn their attention to Australia’s finest regions state-by-state. It is in these scenic locations that you will find century-old vines, unique terroir and, at certain times of the year, a Tasting Panel member or two!

The wine regions of New South Wales stretch from Hastings River in the north to Tumbarumba in the south. Australia’s first state is also home to its oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley, where grapes were first planted in the mid-1800s. This is where you’ll find some of the country’s most famous winemaking names including Tyrrell’s, McWilliam’s and Drayton’s.

Victoria is home to 22 wine producing regions. At its northern-most point is the warm Murray Darling region that sneaks over into New South Wales and is Victoria’s largest wine region. Down on the coast, pioneering winemakers on the Mornington Peninsula planted the country’s first Pinot Gris/Grigio, while out west, regions such as the Pyrenees excel in cool climate Sparkling styles.

Ask an international wine lover to name Australia’s most famous wine region and they’re likely to say South Australia’s Barossa Valley. With its big, bold Shiraz, some made from the world’s oldest Shiraz vineyards, and names such as Penfolds, Henschke and Jacob’s Creek choosing the Barossa as home, it’s no wonder that it’s held in such high esteem. Of course, don’t forget other highlight SA regions including Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and more.

Vying for the position of Australia’s most beautiful wine region would have to be Western Australia’s Margaret River. Reflecting this diversity in terroir is the variety of styles, from Riesling to Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir to Shiraz. Moving further north past Perth is Western Australia’s oldest region, the Swan District, where the warm, dry climate is perfect for Chenin Blanc and Shiraz.

Queensland also has pockets of wineries in many regions including Toowoomba, the Gold Coast hinterland, Mt Tamborine, the Scenic Rim and the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Our Tasting Panel are currently seeking wines from Queensland to add to the Wine Selectors range, so watch this space!

Tasmanian wines share an elegance with the wines of Europe because the climate is similar (mild summers and long autumn days that ensure grapes ripen slowly). The most famous wine route is the Tamar Valley, located north of Launceston along both sides of the Tamar River and north-east to Pipers River.

Discover wines from any or all of these regions and access exclusive Member Privileges including savings at cellar doors, accommodation and much more today.

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Fennel and sage rump roast with radicchio, field mushrooms and cherry tomatoes
Rump Roast

Enjoy this hearty rump roast with a bottle of the amazing Shottesbrooke Merlot 2009, which is brimming with ripe fruit flavours and spicy balancing acidity.

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Ingredients

  • 1.5kg beef rump or veal

Fennel and sage rub

  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • ¼ cup sage leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp (20ml) olive oil

Grilled radicchio, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes

  • 2 heads radicchio 1 tbsp balsamic glaze or caramelised balsamic vinegar
  • 6 medium flat mushrooms, stalks removed
  • 350g cherry tomatoes, halved

Instructions

  • Remove beef from fridge. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).
  • Blend the fennel and sage rub ingredients in a pestle and mortar or food processor until it is a paste. Score the fat of the beef rump and rub over the fennel and sage rub.
  • Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the beef. Cover then place in a baking tray in oven and cook for 60 minutes for medium or until the meat thermometer reaches 70°C. Remove, cover loosely and rest for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, slice the radicchio in half lengthways and then in three, ensuring some of the stem is attached to each piece. Submerge the radicchio in iced water for at least 5 minutes to clean and reduce excess bitterness. Drain well on kitchen towel. Combine extra olive oil and balsamic glaze and toss gently through radicchio.
  • Heat griddle pan over medium heat. Cook glazed radicchio and flat mushrooms for 3 to 5 minutes, turning occasionally. One minute before the radicchio and flat mushrooms are tender, add tomatoes and toss until softened. Combine with radicchio and any glaze left in bowl.
  • Serve slices of beef rump with grilled vegetables.

Looking for more great wine suggestions to go with this recipe? Browse through our amazing selection of premium Merlot wines

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Rutherglen – from gold mines to wines
Rutherglen

This pioneering gold mining region on Victoria’s Murray River is the undisputed capital of Australian fortified wines. Most famous are the unique styles of Muscat and Tokay, which is now known as Topaque in Australia following EU legislation. Although the success of these styles is highly prized, local producers are also keen to promote the quality of their table wines, particularly reds – a fine example of which is the rich and earthy Stanton & Killeen Shiraz Durif 2009.

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The first Rutherglen vines were planted in the 1850s by a pastoralist named Lindsay Brown, making this wine region one of the oldest in Australia. The arrival of the railway system made it possible for the Rutherglen wine industry to flourish and it has gone from strength to strength ever since, resulting in amazing Fortifieds like the Campbells 375ml Isabella Rare Rutherglen Tokay NV – a seductive and luscious wine that was awarded 98 points from international wine critic Robert Parker.

Some great examples of Rutherglen’s success are the four generations of virtuoso viticulture displayed in the R.L. Buller & Son’s Fine Tawny and the Fine Tokay and a Muscat NV from All Saints. As an added bonus receive two FREE Mondial liqueur glasses valued at $20!

The R.L. Buller & Son’s Tawny has lifted spirit aromas of plum pudding and rancio. The warm, mouth-watering palate is plush, sweet and viscous with cedary oak and a firm, assertive finish. The Fine Tawny, also from R.L. Buller & Son, is layered and complex with butterscotch and cold tea aromas. Its persistent palate boasts cedar and earth flavours with a slippery, viscous mouthfeel.

Visiting Rutherglen? Take advantage of exclusive Member Privileges, including restaurant specials, Rutherglen cellar door discounts and much more, or purchase these fantastic Fortifieds today!

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A view into vintage with Christian Gaffey
Christian

Wine Selectors Tasting Panel member Christian Gaffey, has worked extensively for wineries in NSW and is now the winemaker at Jackson’s Hill in the Hunter Valley. Throughout his career he has been awarded numerous trophies and awards. Christian is also a highly respected Wine Show judge and for the last four years has judged at the London International wine show. He is giving us a unique insight into crafting of the Jackson's Hill The Under Block Semillon 2011.

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What is vintage like behind the scenes?

Vintage is an extremely stressful time for winemakers — we only get one shot at getting it right. Everything we do in the growing season leads up to Harvest for that one shot. We’re not making beer, we can’t dump and start over with new ingredients it if it doesn’t turn out … The fruit of the vine is imperative in terms of quantity and quality. For example, the Hunter is a challenging place to grow and make wine, but when it works, it rivals the best in the world.

Generally, a typical vintage is approached with mixed feelings. It’s nerve-wracking and stressful, but very exciting. The hours are long and the work is demanding, but there’s a magic to making wine. The wines become spellbinding and captivating; it’s like experiencing a child being born. You can’t wait to see them develop and guide them, but ultimately, they will do what they do. That is why it is difficult for many winemakers to move on from a particular winery. By the time a wine has matured, they have made more and want to see them through. It’s addictive.

Can you explain the vintage process to us?

Vintage is the process of harvesting fruit and turning it into wine. Basically, it involves crushing and fermentation. There are many little things that we do to achieve this but essentially that’s it, though different wines require different processes.

Let’s take Semillon for example, where at Jackson’s Hill, after harvesting and pressing, we do things a little differently. Our winery is located in the Mount View sub-region of the lower Hunter, where the soil profile is shallow red self-cracking clay over limestone, giving our fruit a latent quality. Hence, we approach our Semillon with the aim of creating wine with the texture of French Vouvray. When we crush the grapes rather than remove all the solids, we retain approximately 20 – 25% to add flavour and texture. Additionally, we also put between 7 – 10% in 3 and 4 year old French oak 300 litre barrels. We do this not to pick up oak flavour, but rather add texture. These barrels are then allowed to ferment naturally with wild yeast, producing interesting characters and flavours in the final wine. The balance of the juice is fermented in stainless steel with approximately 15 – 20% of solids retained. The tank is inoculated with pre-determined yeast and fermented. When fermented, the wine is blended and cleaned up for bottling, you get a texture that is unique from other Hunter Semillons. It is very much designed to have with food.

What happens after the vintage?

The vineyard is quiet after vintage. Some people till in cover crops that they were growing for the grapes, but generally the vineyard sits for a couple of months as the seasons change. Things gear up again in winter. The vines are pruned and any damage removed prior to the sap starting to flow. By this time all the leaves have fallen off the vines and they are in a state of dormancy. Springtime is when they fire up and start their growth cycle again.

What is autumn like in wine country?

Winemaking is a mysterious art form; it’s about thinking on your feet and making decisions that will benefit the wine. That’s why autumn is a time to assess if your vintage plan is going to be achievable given what actually happened. For many, it’s a time of relief. Winemakers and staff will try to spend time with their families around this time. They may have been physically and or, emotionally absent for a few months. This is the main reason that people involved in the production of wine are so passionate. We live and breathe it when we have to as well as when we want to. We also generally drink a fair amount of beer.

Is your mouth watering yet? Discover the enticing flavours of Christian’s Jackson’s Hill The Under Block Semillon today.

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Wines supplied by Australian Wine Selectors (AWS) ABN 64 056 402 772 Liquor Licence No: 117140. Subject to availability and prices are subject to change at any time. For the latest prices and availability, visit www.wineselectors.com.au