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Wine Selectors goes for Gold

The Olympics have wrapped; we’ve amassed 35 medals; and the Spice Girls are packing away their reunion shoes—let’s unwind. We’ve assembled a line-up of drops from some of Australia’s champion independent winemakers to take the edge off your sports high. For a prime example of this award-winning quality, see the Regional Landscape dozen in our Spring Catalogue, which boasts a grand 11 Gold medals!

This month, discover the secrets to wine ageing (sadly, unlike boasting that we beat the Kiwi’s on the medal tally, wine does get old…); we shine our spotlight on Gewürztraminer; and uncover the intricacies of oak. We would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that there have been slight adjustments to our freight charges. For your convenience, the freight calculator on our website will provide you with estimated delivery times and freight costs for every order. If you have any questions, just contact our friendly 
Customer Service team for more details.

All of our wines are of medal-winning standard, so curl up with confidence and toast to all of our athletes who have done us proud and are coming home with medals around their necks. Enjoy!

Cheers – the team at Wine Selectors

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Getting long in the tooth – The Ageing Potential of Wine

There are many factors that contribute to a wine’s value. There’s the aroma it opens with, the flavours it embodies, even its colour in the glass – but it doesn’t end there. What about its ageing potential? This final factor has long bewildered wine drinkers, leaving them to trust the recommendations of wine connoisseurs like our Tasting Panel. But how is longevity predicted, and what differentiates wines that should be enjoyed now from those that should be cellared?

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There are a number of clues that reveal a wine’s ageing capacity, but it boils down to a primary few: tannin amounts, acidity, alcohol, the size and shape of the bottle and the storage conditions. For example, a wine with the combination of strong fruit intensity and high tannin content will age longer than a wine without these two important factors. Tannin comes from the seeds, stems and skins of grapes, or in some circumstances, from the wood during barrel ageing. Over time, tannin will become sediment in the bottle, revealing the complexity of the wine’s flavour from the fruit and acidity. Due to white wines having little to no skin contact during the winemaking process, they only contain slight tannins. As a result, many whites do not age spectacularly (between three to four years), while there are red gems that can be cellared from anywhere between five to 30 years.

But tannin breakdown alone does not make for a well-aged wine. Alcohol and acidity need to act as preservatives, with the combination of these attributes fighting off oxidation. Wines that are high in acidity but which also possess a strong core of fruit, will age well, with the acidity maintaining the structure of the wine as the fruit content progressively fades.

Also, the amount of wine that’s in the bottle can affect the ageing process. Larger format bottles age slower than 750ml examples simply because there’s more liquid. In addition, the “bottle fill” (the amount of space between the wine’s nimbus and its bottle cap) indicates how much oxygen was trapped within the bottle. Finally, dramatic or rapid temperature changes during storage will have a proportionate ageing, and like oxygen, can become a wine’s worst enemy. This is why all of your favourite drops should be kept in controlled environments and never in kitchens, for example, where temperatures are bound to fluctuate.

Yet despite all of this, some wines are just not designed to age. It’s a common misconception that the longer you keep a bottle, the better it will be. Eventually, all wine will reach its zenith, and from there it’s all down hill. You are best to enjoy a wine within the boundaries of its recommended cellaring. Our Tasting Panel has done the hard work for you and put every wine to the test. And take comfort in knowing that their keen eyes, noses and palates, unlike some of the wines that don’t meet their criteria, have not diminished over time.

Some of our oldest and most beautifully aged wines are showcased on our Hidden Treasures page. Indulge in their stunningly aged qualities – proving that in some regards, getting long in the tooth can be a very good thing.

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Understanding the Unpronounceable – Gewürztraminer

Though the name may rest uncomfortably in the mouth, the flavours most certainly don’t. Easily recognisable by its heady, aromatic scent, it has a pungency that could be mistaken for no other white grape. It is also intensely flavoured, distinctive and highly site specific. The fruit has pink to red skin, but makes for a white wine that perfectly matches Asian cuisine, making it a favourite amongst Australian drinkers.

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Pronounced Guv-erts-tram-ee-ner, it performs best in cool climates such as Tasmania and the Eden Valley, where the conditions allow natural acidity to be retained. The hallmarks of the variety are aromas of rose petal, rose water and Turkish delight, with some examples showing delicious spicy notes. The palate is thickly flavoured with lychee fruit and sour citrus and has an oily texture. It can be quite full bodied, more so than most other white wines.

The grape’s thick skins carry high levels of phenolic compounds, lending the wine a distinctive full body and heavy palate weight. Typically, winemakers will deliberately offset the phenolics with residual sugar, which, along with the high natural alcohol, adds up to a full-bodied rich wine with a big mouthfeel.

There are a number of producers who are achieving great results with this variety, and wine lovers are discovering the wonderful food pairing potential of the wine. As mentioned before, Gewürztraminer pairs well with Asian dishes, but is certainly not limited to this particular cuisine. Also, try it with pork belly or veal sausages – delicious!

We have a wonderful selection of this stunning variety in our cellar just waiting for you to discover. Take for example the The Little Wine Co Gewürztraminer 2011, which presents lychee, wild honey and a hint of toffee on the nose. The dry palate is a lovely mid weight style with a core of subtle lychee and honey, zesty acidity and spicy length. Or enjoy the Tomich Hill Reserve Gewürztraminer 2009 from the Adelaide Hills’ award-winning winemaker Peter Leske. This highly aromatic white wine is perfumed to perfection with rose petal, lychee and Chinese spice. It's fine, delicate and floral with superbly balanced fruit weight.

But it doesn’t end there. Be sure to check out our extensive range of Gewürztraminer and other great white varieties – all great wines to enjoy while watching the Olympics.

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The Hills are alive with the aroma of fine wines

While the Barossa might be South Australia’s celebrity wine region, just east of the capital, the Adelaide Hills has local and international winelovers full of enthusiasm for its cool climate wines.

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Although the Adelaide Hills has only really gained notoriety for its wines in the last 20 or so years, it is, in fact, the oldest wine region in South Australia. John Barton Hack established an acre of vines at his Echunga Springs property near Mount Barker in 1839 and produced his first wine four years later. In 1845, a case of his local white wine was sent as a gift to Queen Victoria.

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?

With some vineyards situated at over 600 metres, altitude is the main climatic feature of the Adelaide Hills. The summer months are generally warm and dry, but the average temperatures are considerably cooler than surrounding regions. The myriad hills and valleys means there is a collection of microclimates, while fogs and heavy rain during budburst are the major hindrances for winemakers. The variation in topography means soil types are a mixture of sandy and clay loams over acidic clay subsoils with shale and ironstone sometimes present.

Sauvignon Blanc thrives in the Adelaide Hills and the region is one of Australia’s most famed for quality examples of the variety. They are renowned for being fresh and aromatic with a wonderful acid structure that makes them excellent food wines. Chain of Ponds’ Gold medal winning Black Thursday Sauvignon Blanc certainly fits the regional bill with its aromatic and varietal nose of lifted passionfruit, nettle and tropical notes. Delicate and light, it’s brimming with zesty, fresh acidity.

The cool climate of the Adelaide Hills is also ideal for the rising popularity of delicate Shiraz. Exemplifying this style is the Bird in Hand Two in the Bush Shiraz 2010, which won World’s Best Shiraz and a Trophy at Decanter World Wine Awards 2011. Vibrant and intense, it features ripe, juicy berry and plum characteristics, adding plenty of flavour depth and wonderful texture.

Chain of Ponds and Bird in Hand are two of the 33-plus cellar doors in the Adelaide Hills and a visit affords the opportunity to sample the wines of these great producers as well as names such as Tim Knappstein and Geoff Hardy. However, if the region is going to be on your bucket list for a bit longer, you can take a tastebud tour with wines such as the K1 by Geoff Hardy Rosé 2009 – Blue Gold medal winner at the Sydney International Wine Show. From one of the region’s most famous vineyards, it’s dazzling and fresh with forest berry fruits dominating the nose and scrumptious juicy flavours of red cherries and strawberries and cream on the palate followed by tangy crisp acidity.

Enticed by the allure of the Adelaide Hills? Explore the extensive range of wines from this superb region today!

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The oak factor

A stack of barrels in a winery: it’s a quintessential winemaking image. But while all barrels might look fairly similar, the origin of their wood can make a world of difference to the finished wine.

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Most winemaking barrels in Australia are made from either French or American oak. There’s also a small amount from Russia and Hungary being used, as it’s the same species as that used in France, but cheaper.

While opinions between winemakers differ in terms of the influence of French oak compared to American, Tasting Panel member Dave Mavor explains that the following general rules apply. French oak is said to have a subtle influence characterised by vanillin flavours, while American oak imparts a harsher flavour profile with more obvious coconut flavours.

Historically, Australian winemakers have used more American oak because it’s cheaper than French. However, over the last 20 years there’s been a trend towards French, especially for white wine fermentation. Super premium wines are always fermented in French oak.

That’s not to say that French oak is always considered superior. Dave Mavor used both types when he was making Shiraz and said that his choice of oak depended on the intensity of the fruit. For example, more robust Shiraz grapes went well in American oak, while the lighter, spicier Shiraz responded better to French oak treatment.

Another way the oak influences the finished wine is the level to which it has been toasted. If a winemaker is looking for a wine with strong toasty/smoky characters, he or she will request a barrel that’s been heavily toasted, but for more delicate styles will ask for a lightly toasted one or medium for styles in between.

The age of the barrel also has an effect. Obviously, the newer the barrel, the stronger the oak characters, so in the trend away from heavily oaked wines, winemakers will often use a combination of new and used, or seasoned, barrels.

Barrels are generally used for fermentation for a period of up to five years. After this, they can continue to be used for maturation, as barrels allow small amounts of oxygen to enter the wine; an important part of the maturation process.

Due to the high cost of barrels, cheaper alternatives have been developed. Winemakers can use oak chips or staves to impart similar characters to those achieved through barrels. This process was frowned upon in its early stages and, in fact, in the European Union the use of oak chips was outlawed up until 2006. Over time, however, manufacturers have refined the products and winemakers have learnt how to handle them more sensitively in the winery. The result is that many producers can now use these alternative methods with such success that it’s difficult for even the experts to tell them apart from barrel-fermented wines.

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Kangaroo with red wine risotto

There’s nothing like a cosy night in after a long work day. So why not unwind with a delicious meal, a perfectly paired glass of wine and the Olympics broadcast. Indulge in the rich and peppery flavours of kangaroo with red wine risotto, matched with a glass of Best's Grampians Range Shiraz Cabernet 2010.

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4 x 170g kangaroo fillets or strip loin or equivalent amount of venison

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp (40ml) olive oil

200g Swiss brown mushrooms, thickly sliced

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 ½ ci[s (300g) Arborio rice

1 cup (250ml) dry red wine

1L hot chicken stock

½ cup finely grated parmesan

150g baby spinach leaves

Shaved parmesan, to serve

Freshly ground black pepper, to serve



1. For the risotto: add half the oil to a large frying pan and cook the mushrooms, stirring, for 2 minutes or until golden. Reverse.

2. Add the remaining oil to the pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, then add garlic and cook until softened. Add the rice and ‘toast’ the grains for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the wine and stir until the liquid is completely absorbed. Add ½ cup (125ml) of stock. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the rice is tender/firm. There may be some stock left. The risotto should be creamy and glossy.

3. Remove from heat and stir in mushrooms, parmesan and spinach. Season to taste.

4. For the kangaroo: heat frying pan over high heat. Brush kangaroo with olive oil and pan fry until brown on all sides. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes, turning once (remembering kangaroo is best served rare). Remove from heat, cover loosely with foil and rest 5-10 minutes. Carve into medallions.

5. Divide risotto among serving plates. Top with extra shaved parmesan, kangaroo and a generous sprinkle of ground black pepper.

Pair this beautiful meal with the Best's Grampians Range Shiraz Cabernet 2010. Deep red with a hint of brick, this classic Australian blend has a savoury, inky nose with plummy fruit and a whiff of eucalypt. Its ripe, plush palate flows seamlessly with a juicy mouthfeel, savoury tannins and good length. Enjoy!

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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