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Win the Ultimate Hunter Holiday

December is five long months away…

Can’t wait for Christmas? Start decking the halls with boughs of holly now! String up that mistletoe and warm your palate with wines that will uncork your yuletide spirit. Yes, it’s Christmas in July at Wine Selectors, and to celebrate, our Tasting Panel has assembled a line-up of delicious red and white gems for your enjoyment. There are also a stocking-full of Member Benefits and Privileges just waiting for you to discover.

This month we’ll help you assemble the ultimate Christmas feast; assist in planning your next party or event; and our experts are sitting down to answer all of your wine-related questions.

It’s time to make the most of the cold weather and indulge in festive drops that will bring a little warmth back to your winter. So sit back to the sounds of sleigh bells, relax with a glass of wine and let’s give December a run for her money – this is going to be a Christmas in July to remember.

Cheers – the team at Wine Selectors

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Producer Interviews - Leconfield
Leconfield  

We catch up with Winemaker Paul Gordon from McLaren Vale and Coonawarra’s Leconfield wines. Owned by the Hamilton family for five generations, this is one of Wine Selectors’ favourite family producers whose wines never cease to impress.

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Leconfield has a simply philosophy – great wines are crafted from great vineyards. What makes your vineyards unique?

Our vineyards are situated in two of the noted regions in Australia ¬– Coonawarra and McLaren Vale – with excellent site selection within these areas. Leconfield prides itself on producing 96% of its own fruit, allowing us to have full control over all aspects of grape growing from pruning, right through to harvest. Our dedicated staff have worked with our vines for many years and have an intimate knowledge of every part of every block. Aesthetically, our vineyards are characterised by hedges of roses that form the boundaries, not only providing a striking display, but also serving as a reminder of the fastidious approach we make to all aspects of wine growing.

Yuu have been with Leconfield since 2001. What is your approach to winemaking and how have you ensured Leconfield’s success?

I have been winemaking since finishing my oenology degree in 1978. The key lesson to be learnt over that time is to approach every variety as though it was the best fruit resource in the world, never underestimating its potential. Individual blocks and batches are kept separate to determine if the wine lives up to its expectation as grapes, and to test if the various tinkerings one does during the maturation process enhances the quality. Every vintage adds to the learning of winemaking.

What are some of Leconfield’s most popular wines and why?

The Leconfield Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon is a consistently great example of how a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon should be made and has been the flagship of Leconfield since the first release in 1977. Our philosophy is to produce a Cabernet Sauvignon displaying both depth and elegance where oak complexes and enhances the fruit, but is not allowed to dominate.

Likewise, the Richard Hamilton Shiraz is highly popular as it is crafted to present excellent fruit definition and length and that typifies both the Shiraz fruit and the McLaren Vale region.

The SYN Cuveé Blanc is very popular as it is both beautifully presented and a well crafted sparkling wine, which makes it an elegant offering for any occasion. It is placed at a price point that makes it a very affordable alternative to some of the more expensive sparkling wines on offer – and is their equal in flavour and style.

The Leconfield Merlot this year was awarded Best Merlot In Australia at the 2012 Royal Sydney Wine Show (Arthur Kellman Perpetual Trophy) and in the 2012 Brisbane Show, as well as being a contender for the Jimmy Watson Trophy in Melbourne. While this was an exceptional achievement for the 2010 Vintage, our Merlot consistently performs well and is the perfect example of how great a wine a Merlot can be.

You make a Sparkling range called ‘SYN’ – what was the inspiration for this name?

The name ‘SYN’ originally came from ‘Synergy’ – being the synergy between McLaren Vale/Richard Hamilton and Leconfield/Coonawarra. The name was later shortened to the more catchy, ‘SYN’, which has proved a very popular move and has strengthened the brand.

Richard Hamilton is the fifth generation of his family to be involved in wine. Can we expect to see a sixth?

Annasofia and Thomas are Richard and Jette’s children. As young adults, they are forging their own ways in the world before becoming fully committed to the family winemaking business.

Thank you so much for joining us Paul.

Try the Leconfield Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 which allures with aromas of currants, cedar and regional mint. The mid weight, elegant palate is varietal and regional with a core of red, curranty fruit, firm tannins and long savoury length. It is also currently our July Wine of the Month, which means you can save 20% off this masterpiece.

The Ultimate Christmas in July Feast
Christmas Feast 

The best thing about a Christmas in July feast is that you’re not neck-deep in ovens and stirring three different boiling pots – all in 40-degree heat. Sweat does not a marinade make… Why not take advantage of the cold weather and celebrate this special culinary tradition as it was intended to be experienced.

To help, we’ve put together the ultimate Christmas feast for you to enjoy. So sit back in your chair and allow the aromas of beautiful wines and perfectly cooked food wash over you.

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Enjoy an entrée of barbecued prawns with lemon myrtle aioli.

INGREDIENTS

8 green prawns, unpeeled for the aioli

1 egg yolk

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 cup olive oil

1 tsp lemon myrtle powder

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

METHOD

  1. Thread prawns onto skewers, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; BBQ or grill over a medium heat until cooked.
  2. Whisk egg yolk, mustard, garlic and salt in a mixing bowl. Gradually add olive oil, whisking constantly, until the aioli is thick. Stir through lemon myrtle. Serve prawns with lemon myrtle aioli for dipping.

Pair this entrée the Jackson's Hill ‘The Under Block’ Semillon 2011. This outstanding Semillon has been hand-crafted from 100% estate grown fruit and grown on red basalt over limestone soils. Lemon curd and fine talc aromas precede a rich and savoury palate – the texture is similar to French Vouvray, making it a perfect food-wine. A brioche-like finish completes this mold-breaking Hunter Valley Semillon.

Now that your mouth is well and truly watering, here comes the main course:

Chinese style roast duck.

INGREDIENTS

2kg duck

1 orange, rind removed with vegetable peeler

5 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

3 tsp sugar

3 tblsp soy sauce

½ cup water

1 tblsp honey

1 tblsp cooking wine

1 tsp five spice

Steamed bok choy, to serve

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Wash the duck inside and out. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, plunge duck in for 30 seconds. Drain well and pat dry.
  3. Place orange rind, star anise and cinnamon sticks inside the duck and seal with skewers.
  4. In a saucepan over low heat dissolve the sugar in the combined soy sauce, water, honey, cooking wine and five spice powder. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Brush the duck with soy glaze and cook for 90 minutes, basting frequently. Slice duck and serve with steamed bok choy and rice.

The Alastair McLeod Pinot Noir 2010 is the perfect compliment to this meal. This medium ruby coloured wine opens with varietal aromatics and earth driven characters. The palate is equally powerful with generous black fruit flavours, but the structure is perfectly juxtaposed, being faultlessly soft and supple. This is a well-crafted Pinot Noir with good weight, intensity and length.

And finally we present your dessert…

a chocolate sour cream cake with coffee spiced dates.

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp ground espresso coffee

¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar

150g Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Chocolate

1/3 cup condensed milk

½ cup sour cream

2 eggs

¾ cup self-raising flour

Icing sugar, to serve

250g thick cream or Greek-style natural yoghurt, to serve (optional)

COFFEE SPICED DATES

150g butter

300g sugar

2 cloves

1 cardamom pod, bruised

1 star anise

1/3 cup (80ml) cognac, armagnac or brandy

500g dried dates

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170°C. Grease and line, or use a non-stick, 20cm round cake tin. Melt butter in medium sized saucepan and add sugar, chocolate and condensed milk. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens slightly and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  2. Wash the duck inside and out. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, plunge duck in for 30 seconds. Drain well and pat dry.
  3. Whisk sour cream and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add cooled chocolate mixture and flour and mix well. Pour into cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool, then turn out onto a wire rack.
  4. In a saucepan over low heat dissolve the sugar in the combined soy sauce, water, honey, cooking wine and five spice powder. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare coffee spiced dates; infuse coffee in ½ cup (125ml) boiling water, strain and reserve. Place sugar, spices and cognac in a small saucepan with 2 cups (500ml) water. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and simmer for one minute. Add infused coffee and dates and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the dates soften and plump up and the liquid reduces to a syrup consistency. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Remove the spices.
  6. Sprinkle cake with icing sugar and serve with dates and thick cream or yoghurt.

The flavours of cloves, anise and brandy present in the cake go hand in hand with the regional characteristics of the Leconfield Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. This beautiful example of Coonawarra Cabernet allures with aromas of currants, cedar and regional mint. The mid weight, elegant palate is varietal and regional with a core of red, curranty fruit, firm tannins and long savoury length. This delightful gem is also our Wine of the Month, and is 20% off for Members.

Now that you have finished your three-course feast, it’s highly recommended that you partake in a final Christmas Day tradition: the post-meal nap. And fingers crossed that once you’ve woken all the dishes are done.

We can help you create the perfect party
Party 

Whether you are organizing a casual evening with friends and family, or a significant event like a hen’s night or wedding, our team of wine experts have got you covered. We’re taking the stress out of party planning by supplying you with the perfect set of wines for your occasion, no matter how big or small.

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The process is easy. Simply inform us of your budget, the amount of guests you will be having and what type of food will be served, and we will tailor a wine list on your behalf.

Finding the right wine for the right meal can be a challenge, and we’d be the first to admit it can be complicated … For example, which red wines bring out the flavours of meat dishes? Which whites are best suited to cheese or fruit platters and sweets? And what of dessert wines?

The answer to these questions is: don’t worry. Contact us and we will ensure that every guest has that perfect glass of wine in hand and that every meal is perfectly complemented.

Q&A with Nicole Gow
Nicole Gow 

Tasting Panel Member Nicole Gow answers some of your frequently asked questions.

Once you’ve cracked the seal on a wine, how long can you keep it for?

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Well, the first thing most of us on Panel would ask is “Who doesn’t get through a full bottle?” However, with my RSA hat on, you can pretty well safely say a wine opened and sealed tightly and placed in the fridge (red or white) will be fine the next day. On the second day there may be some oxidation obvious. But if the wine tastes okay and enjoyable to you, there’s nothing more to think about. The anomaly would be wines with age, e.g., a red with 8-10+ years age, will normally benefit from decanting half an hour prior to drinking, but needs consuming pretty much straight away.

What’s the best way to keep the fizz in Sparkling wine once you’ve popped the cork?

So the legend goes – hang the spoon, handle down, in the neck of the bottle, store it in the refrigerator, and the Sparkling wine is still bubbly days later. But when a team of Stanford researchers put the idea to the test, they found that the spoon theory falls flat. The spoons, silver or stainless, were not especially successful in maintaining the sparkle of the wine. But spoons and all other treatments worked better than re-corking the bottles. At least in this test, re-corking seemed to make Sparkling wine lose the most effervescence and taste.

Leaving the bottle open and untreated worked better than hanging a spoon inside. In fact, the two bottles left open in the refrigerator for 26 hours averaged a higher score than any other treatment – including just-opened Sparkling wine.

Another tip: Make sure you refrigerate it. Carbon dioxide stays dissolved to a greater extent in cold liquid. To me, the most obvious is, share the bottle with someone special or a group of friends, then there’s absolutely no debate about what to do with the half opened bottle of Sparkling wine!

What’s the ideal serving temperature for different varieties?

Wines should be served at a temperature that best reveals its characteristics and aromas. But in very general terms, red wines are served at cooler room temperatures and white wines are best served chilled. When wines are served too warm they tend to taste unbalanced with an alcohol or hot mouthfeel. When wines are served too cold, the innate flavours and aromas are significantly suppressed. So, to serve your wines just right, take a look at the guidelines below.

White Wines: 7-10°C Red Wines: 10-18°C Champagne or Sparkling Wines: 6-11°C

Why are there different glasses for different varieties?

I can’t emphasise strongly enough the importance of good stemware to enhance the wine tasting experience. With that being said, most well known producers of stemware produce a different glass for almost all varieties. Is it really necessary? Personally, I think to have at least a quality all-rounder white and red stem and Champagne flute will get you by perfectly. But if you can expand your collection, I’d recommend doing so in the varieties you prefer to drink, stem by stem.

In designing stemware, cues include balance, ability to develop aroma and taste, sensuality in the hand and on the lips. Every glass contains the suitable volume (area in the bowl) to bring the wine to its full potential. A narrower, finer glass would suit an aromatic Riesling and a bigger, rounder bowl for a Pinot Noir, for example. A good wine tastes better in the right glass!

Why do different varieties come in different shaped bottles?

Basically, tradition is the real reason bottle shapes have been paired with particular varietals for centuries.

A little bottle knowledge can give you a bit of a clue as to what the contents might be, even without reading the label. Most drinkers are familiar with the tall, slender Germanic bottles that are typically used for Riesling, for example.

Today we have two main bottle shapes, although a third, taller version does exist and is used mostly in Alsatian and German varietals. The two are still high-shouldered and soft-shouldered, used in red and white production. High shouldered are Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), soft-shouldered are Burgundies (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). The grapes of Burgundy produced what were thought to be softer wines when compared to the sturdier, more structurally tannic Bordeaux. They both contain the same volume of wine, standardised today at 750ml for the ordinary bottle. Then there are Sherry and Port bottles that have a bulbous neck to collect any residue.

At the end of the day, the bottle shape does not affect the actual taste of the wine, except in the case of Champagne, or Sparkling Wine, where fermentation happens in the bottle and the thicker glass walls are there to handle the Co2 pressure.

Highlights from the lowlands – discovering Tasmanian Wines
Tasmanian Wines 

Tasmanian wines share an elegant kinship with the wines of Europe because of a striking similarity between the two climates, primarily the mild summers and long autumn days. This cool climate ensures that grapes ripen slowly, resulting in highly sought after styles, especially Sparkling. Other varieties that perform well in Australia’s most southern point are Pinot Gris and the hard-to-perfect Pinot Noir. It is believed that the effects of global warming have caused the area’s grapes to ripen slightly earlier, allowing for successful vintages, yielding an increase in red wine production. As a result, lovers of mouth-watering Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz are in luck.

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Tasmania’s first vineyard was planted in 1821 at New Town in the city of Hobart. In 1848, a white wine from this region won an award at the highly regarded Paris Exhibition – even then, eyes were turning towards this emerging region. However, it wasn’t until the early 1970s when the industry developed into the internationally recognized region it has since become.

Because Tasmania is an island, the climate is strongly influenced by the winds blowing off the Indian Ocean, Bass Strait and Tasman Sea, making protective screens around the vineyards a necessity. The cool climate results in a relatively late harvest in or around April. But this hard work results in a number of stunning viticultural victories, including fortified dessert wines, which in the past have brought Tasmania international acclaim, with such bottles being deemed as an Australian equivalent to Port.

The two major wine producing areas are the Tamar Valley Wine Route in the North, located north of Launceston along both sides of the Tamar River and north-east to Pipers River, and the Southern Tasmanian Wine Regions. This second location enables you to explore the Derwent, Coal River and Huon Valleys, all of which are regions of high regard. Then on the way to Cradle Mountain there are the north-western vineyards while the route to Freycinet and Wineglass Bay reveals more boutique treasures.

Many of these vineyards and wineries offer tastings on site and several have beautiful restaurants offering vineyard or water views. As a Wine Selectors member you have exclusive access to wines otherwise not available on Australian shelves, plus discounts on accommodation and cellar door experiences. To find out what is on offer for you, visit our Member Privileges and enrich the flavour of your next visit to this scenic region.

A fantastic example of Tasmanian winemaking is the Josef Chromy Pepik Pinot Noir 2010 which is an amazing wine of great varietal definition and remains one of the best Pinots the Panel has seen this year. A vibrant red colour in the glass, it allures with aromas of cherries, chocolate and hints of forest floor. The palate is rich, ripe and soft with sweet cherry flavours balanced by soft tannins. For those who appreciate quality white wine, discover the Ninth Island Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – a pale gold coloured wine with a tinge of green. Aromas of lilies, geranium, gooseberries and honeydew melon characterise the nose, while the palate is fresh and lively with hints of tropical fruits, asparagus and green pineapple, which are nicely balanced by savoury notes and fresh, crisp acidity providing a tight delicate finish.

Tasmania may seem far away for most, but our Tasting Panel has brought their discoveries within reach. So be sure to check out our extensive cellar list of Tasmanian wines today!

Citadelles du Vin
Dave Mavor May 2012 

Every May, over 40 top-level tasters from all over the world meet in Bordeaux, France for Citadelles du Vin, one of the most prestigious wine competitions in the world. The contest involves three days of tastings to select the best wines out of 800 samples coming from approximately 30 countries. Tasting Panel member and resident winemaker Dave Mavor, had the pleasure of being invited to judge at this year’s event.

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Thanks for joining us, Dave. Was this the first time you attended Citadelles du Vin?

This was the third consecutive year. The first time was an eye opening experience. It’s all very different to the show judging in Australia. They also judge wines one at a time, while back home we judge wines simultaneously. But you adapt to these differences as you go along. The only real challenge is that everything’s in French and I only speak a little. But I got by!

Did you go as a judge, or were your wines under ‘the nose’ of others?

I went as a judge. It was an honour. There were 40 to 50 judges from all over the world – which in and of itself is a big departure from the way things are done in Australia … We’ll have a maximum of 20 or so judges at a big show. There were even some familiar faces there this year, which is always great.

How was this year different from the past?

Each year they run a conference with a specific focus on a particular variety or region, and this year it was all about Australia! So that was great. And even better, I spoke at the conference. It was pretty scary, actually. I had my translator working double time. A tasting of fantastic Australian wines followed my speech, including a Tyrrell’s Semillon – so the Hunter Valley was very well represented.

How long were you over there for?

The conference itself runs for three days but I was away for two weeks. I didn’t get much of an opportunity to do any other tastings because I spent the first week brushing up on my French. However, I did do some “research” at the bars there… Good fun.

What reputation does Citadelles du Vin have?

Citadelles du Vin has an international reputation, even though it is held in Bordeaux. To receive a medal at that show holds you in good steed, plus it’s a wonderful marketing tool.

And finally, do you find that being a wine judge and winemaker changes the way you enjoy / drink the other people’s wines?

Honestly, it does change the way I drink wine. It’s hard to just pick up a glass without analyzing and wondering about what went into it, without thinking about the effort made behind the scenes. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy it, of course. I definitely do!

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