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Life

Cellar Doors Italian style

Like most producers in the world, Italian wineries are constantly looking at making better quality wine. In Italy in recent times, this search has become a study of the ‘fashion of form’ – uncovering the intricate concept of structure of wine to help conceive that perfect drop.

This thinking has also extended to ‘Turismo Enogastronomico’ (food and wine tourism) with spectacular results. Old estates have been transformed by a collection of famous Italian architects, so that the cellar door and winery has become as much the centre of attraction as the wine. It is a union between tradition and modernity, a road map that directs guests and the curious to an unexpected and beguiling journey.

These new concept wineries have been designed by architects and engineers in conjunction with Italy’s most famous contemporary sculptors, and using biodynamic principles so their designs are at one with their environment. Gone are the boring rusty tinned walls of decaying estates, ushering in is a new era of engineering that utilises the natural shape of the landscape as the centre of attraction. Buildings don’t just go up, they also flow out, around and even down inside the earth.

Natural inspirations

The choice of materials, most of the made from recycled or sustainable products, and the sensitivity for the surroundings have been critical elements in this architectural revolution.

The most precious inspiration for Arnaldo Pomodoro, one of Italy’s greatest contemporary sculptors and designers, was a turtle, a symbol of longevity and stability. In this case, the shell of the turtle became the domed copper roof of the Tenuta Coltibuono di Bevagna, a winery in Umbria. Pomodoro had produced many sculptures in his time, but this was the first for the wine industry and the success of the project reverberated on an international scale and set the tone for the design wave to come in the Italian wine industry.

Other wineries followed suit, embracing the art of the concept and seeing it as a way to reinvigorate tourism to the wine regions. Designers and architects Paolo Dellapiana and Francesco Bermond des Ambrois collaborated to conceptualise the Cascina Adelaide di Barolo in Cuneo, Piemonte. This amazing structure has been built into the hills, and from a distance it almost disappears into the countryside, perfectly camouflaged with the rest of the habitat – almost like a Hobbit house full of wine, if you will.

Structure and form

While many of the structures are dazzling from the outside, just as much thought and design has been applied to the internal workings. Everything from barrel halls to crushing rooms have transformed wineries’ inner workings into virtual exhibition halls. The new Antinori Cellar Door in the Chianti Classico area near Florence is a perfect example.

Designed by Mario Casamonti it is a truly unique structure. With a surface area of 24,000m2, it took eight years to construct, with an investment of 40 million Euro. The structure is developed horizontally rather than vertically, with the winery hidden in the earth. The production facilities and storage are spread across three stunning levels. And the interior design is simply breathtaking with terracotta vaults to ensure perfect temperature and humidity levels. 

The new world order

Where Italy once had wineries they now have monuments. And while there are still plenty of the old style ‘casale’ with moulded walls and giant dirty barrels, the way forward is for large, clean, bright and spacious structures with areas dedicated to each individual phase of wine production. 

This concept of wine and design seems to be resonating around the globe with architects working on amazing structures  from California to Chile, from Spain to France, from Alto Adige to Sicily, and even right here in Australia – think Chester Osborn’s big Rubik’s Cube plans for d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale. The future is now and it is an exciting time for those who appreciate design in architecture and in their wine glass.

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Six of the Best Clare Valley Wineries and Cellar Doors
Discover the best Clare Valley wineries and cellar doors to taste and experience the region’s delights with our guide and interactive map . Less than a two-hour drive from Adelaide, the Clare Valley is home to some of the world’s best Riesling and offers fantastic food and wine experiences that are just waiting to be enjoyed. The region is blessed with a climate ideal for premium grape growing and the combination of consistently good winter rains, hot summers tempered by cool nights and a long ripening period produces grapes of exceptional flavours and balance delivering exceptional regional Riesling , Cabernet Sauvignon , Shiraz and more. With more than 30 cellar doors to choose from, visitors to the Clare Valley are spoilt for choice, and with many of the wineries family owned and operated, you’re bound to meet the people whose wines you’re tasting. Here are of our Top 6 Clare Valley Wineries to Visit. Claymore Wines
With all their wines named after popular song titles , Claymore Wines offers a fun, memorable and delicious tasting experience at their Leasingham cellar door. Meander your way through a mixed tape of top tunes – Purple Rain Sauvignon Blanc, Joshua Tree Riesling, Skinny Love Summer White Viognier Whole Lotta Love Rosé, Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz, Bittersweet Symphony Cabernet Sauvignon and more. Take a seat outside and enjoy the sunshine with a platter of South Australian cheeses and local produce with a glass of wine or prop yourself up on a stool at the bar and lose yourself in the wine tasting experience. You can also treat yourself to some local produce including olives and oil from Evilo Estate, sauces from Patly Hill, soaps from The Sugar Shack Soap Co., Chickpeas from Pangkarra and Hot Wine packs from Kooky Drop Co. 7145 Horrocks Highway, Leasingham Open daily 10am to 5pm Visit Claymore website Eldredge
Take a drive along the Spring Gully scenic drive route and you’ll discover the picturesque Eldredge Vineyards. Located directly west of Sevenhill, Eldredge is on the boundary of the Clare Valley and overlooks the Blyth Plains, with the vineyard rising to 530 metres. Their Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, Malbec and Riesling are all produced using 100% Clare Valley fruit with the focus on creating premium quality, yet affordable wines that reflect the region’s unique character. A 98 year-old stone cottage houses their cellar door and restaurant, which was opened in 1994 after many months spent carefully renovating the lovely old building. Settle in for a relaxed tasting, enjoy a shared platter or a light lunch featuring a range of local products. Spring Gully Rd, Spring Gully Open daily 11am to 5pm Visit Eldredge Vineyards website Koonowla
Located just east of Auburn, Koonowla is one of the district’s most iconic properties with its historic stone buildings and rolling broad acre hills. The property was first planted in the 1890s by John Tothill, who also built a winery to produce wine for the thriving export trade to England. The business continued to prosper and expand until a disastrous fire in 1926 destroyed the winery and wine stocks, and the property was converted to grain and wool production. In 1985, eight acres of Cabernet Sauvignon were planted, relaunching Koonowla wines. Current owners, Andrew and Booie Michael, purchased the property in 1991 restoring the old homestead and boosting the vineyard plantings to almost 50ha of Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Shiraz, Merlot and Semillon. Today visitors to the cellar door are welcomed to taste the fruits of their labour – Koonowla Cabernet, Shiraz, and Riesling, along with Merlot and Semillon. 18 Koonowla Road, Auburn Weekends and public holidays 10am to 5pm. Monday to Friday by appointment Visit Koonowla Wines website Mitchell Wines
Andrew and Jane Mitchell established their winery in 1975 and have created a fantastic tasting experience, showcasing a true Australian family-owned and run winery. On arriving at the cellar door, Jane welcomes you like you’re one of the family and you can tell her and Andrew are proud of their wines and vineyards. Mitchells Wines have four vineyards that are located in and around the Watervale, Auburn and Sevenhill sub-regions with vine age ranging from five to more than 55 years-old. Within their quaint cellar door, they present stunning single vineyard Rieslings, as well as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Semillon. “There is always something special about wines where the same family develops and cares for the vines, makes and bottles the wine and then sells that wine,” says Andrew “An old fashioned ideal perhaps, but our reputation is at stake with each bottle of wine we sell.” 246 Hughes Park Road, Sevenhill Open daily 10am to 4pm. Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Visit Mitchell Wines website Paulett Wines
Located in the Polish Hill sub-region of the Clare Valley, Paulette Wines is owned and operated by winemaker Neil Paulett and his wife Alison. The couple established the cellar door 35 years ago and with fantastic wines and absolutely stunning views, it’s a ‘must visit’. "Thirty years ago, visiting a cellar door was not that common, so we felt we had to offer that extra inducement to bring people to the Valley,” says Neil. “Our cellar door, our premium wines and the spectacular views all enhance the sense of well-being that wine lovers have come to expect from Paulett's Winery." In addition to the staples of Shiraz and Riesling, you can expect to taste a Late Harvest Riesling, Sparkling Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet and Malbec blend and Cabernet Merlot. To top off a fabulous experience you can dine at the winery’s Bush Devine Café which is inspired and partly sourced from the adjacent Bush Food Garden that boasts over 80 different species and 1000 plants. Sevenhill-Mintaro Road, Polish Hill River Open daily 10am to 5pm – cellar door Open daily 11am to 4pm – café, bookings essential. Visit Paulett Wines website Stone Bridge Wines
Family-owned and operated, Stone Bridge Wines started out as a hobby but has turned into a successful business for Craig and Lisa Thomson, and their daughters Lauren and Sarah. Their boutique winery currently produces Shiraz from their own vineyard, plus Riesling, Pinot G, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec using select parcels from local growers in the Sevenhill, Watervale and Armagh areas. Drop into their earth-rammed cellar door to taste their award-winning wines, stroll around the picturesque grounds, and if you’re visiting on a Sunday in September to May, you can also enjoy a gourmet pizza cooked in their wood-fired oven. Gillentown Road, Sevenhill Open Thursday to Monday 10am to 4pm Visit Stone Bridge Wines website Clare Valley Winery Map Planning a trip to Clare? Download our interactive Clare Valley winery map. To save on your browser or device,  click here And, if you’re the energetic type or into pedal power, a day spent cruising the Riesling Trail on a bike is a must do. Wine Selectors Membership Consultant, Elliot Watt, shares all his tips for touring through this spectacular wine region on the Clare Valley Riesling Trail .
Life
Switzerland: expand your wine horizons
When you think of travelling through Switzerland, images of breath-taking natural scenery and exciting cities full of art and culture no doubt come to mind. But do you also picture stopping at cellar doors to taste world-class wines? If not, you need to expand your Swiss horizons, because this diverse country is home to over 200 types of vines, at least 40 of which are indigenous and have histories dating back to ancient times. What’s more, with only extremely limited quantities made, you’ll only find 1-2% of Swiss wines outside their homeland. There are seven wine regions throughout German-speaking, French-speaking and Italian-speaking Switzerland: Eastern Switzerland ; Geneva ; Lake Geneva Region ; Three Lake Country ; Ticino ; Valais ; and Graubünden . Heritage haven For winelovers who like a dose of history with their tastings, the Lake Geneva region is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Lavaux Vineyard . Dating back to the 11th century when Benedictine and Cistercian monks called the area home, this fascinating site features 14 kilometres of terraced vineyards stretching above Lake Geneva. These incredible vines are still producing wine, with Chasselas, a full, dry and fruity white, the most common. For keen walkers, two routes wend through the region, both taking around two hours and starting at Grandvaux station with one finishing at Cully and the other at Lutry . For a more sedate tour, there are also two miniature train excursions on either the Lavaux Panoramic or the Lavaux Express. In the glass As well as Chasselas, a visit to the Lake Geneva Region will see you sampling unique expressions of Gamay and Pinot Noir. Further south-west in Geneva itself, you’ll also find Chardonnay, Riesling-Sylvaner (Müller-Thurgau), Pinot Blanc, Aligoté via Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris through to Gewürztraminer and Viognier Gamaret, and in the reds, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. For another lakeside wine experience, the Three Lake Country will see you again savouring Chasselas, as well as Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Home to the highest vineyard in Europe at 1,150 metres above sea level, Valais is another region that sees Chasselas at the top of its whites list, while Pinot Noir is the most common red. However, you’ll also find varieties here that few outside the area have heard of, including Petite Arvine, Amigne, Humagne Blanc, Humagne Rouge and Cornalin. Heading further east and south of the Alps is the Italian-speaking Ticino region, where 90 per cent of the wine produced is Merlot. They even make a white called Merlot Bianco. Less common red varieties include Bondola, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and in the whites, Chardonnay, Chasselas, Sauvignon and Semillon. “Great things come in small packages” is the motto of German-speaking Switzerland where Pinot Noir and Riesling-Silvaner are the most common varieties. Local specialties include Räuschling and Completer, along with Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.
Wine
Behind The Vine At Helen's Hill
To celebrate the  Helen's Hill Ingram Road Pinot Noir 2015  being our April Wine of the Month, we caught up with Allan Nalder from  Helen's Hill . What makes the Ingram Road 2015 Pinot Noir so appealing? To answer that I need to take a step back. All of our wines are 100% single vineyard and are all made at my winery. Only fruit that we grow on our vineyard goes into the wines that we make. It's not that we don't trust anyone, it's just that we don't trust anyone. We think this is super important. Come visit and I can take you to the very vines that make the wine you are going to enjoy. Call us "control freaks". I'll take it as a compliment. The  Ingram Rd 2015 Pinot Noir  benefits greatly from this approach. Pristine  Yarra Valley  single vineyard fruit, French oak maturation, careful "hands-off" winemaking and a great vintage all combine to produce a wine that expresses hallmark  Pinot Noir  characteristics. And its price point is extremely compelling. You have over 50 acres of Pinot Noir, what makes you so enthusiastic about this often-difficult grape? You're right, Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to grow and can really only grow well in specific, little tucked away corners of the world. The Yarra Valley, and the little patch of dirt I call home, is one of those places. It also helps to be a bit of a Pinot Noir fanatic. To me, it is one of the most remarkable red wines in the world. I once saw a quote about Pinot Noir growers from a wine writer: "its makers are lunatic-fringe, questers after the holy grail…" - Marc de Villiers wine writer. We fit that mould. Who is the Helen of the hill? We bought the property from Mr. Fraser in the mid 90s. He had owned the pasture land from the early 1950s. The reason he bought the land was because he fell in love with a woman called Helen, who wouldn't marry him unless he owned a farm. True love prevailed and he bought the farm. Sadly, Helen passed away some 6-7 years after their marriage. Mr Fraser never re-married and throughout the property inspection, he recalled many stories of Helen and her time there. From his stories, it was obvious that she had a passion for the land. We share that passion and thought it appropriate to name the vineyard after her. What makes Scott McCarthy a standout winemaker? To be blunt, the fruit. We live by the very old, well used, but absolutely true saying: "great wine is made in the vineyard". The most important decision we make in the winery is deciding when to pick the fruit. The rest of the process is relatively simple. Pristine quality fruit allows us to rely on natural fermentation, minimal filtering and minimal winemaking intervention. Our ethos is not to describe "perfection" as when there is nothing left to add, but rather, when there is nothing left to take away. We feel this is the key to winemaking. Ensure that we do as little as possible so we can deliver mother nature in the bottle. You also  make a range of beers  - why did you decide to go into brewing and what do you think makes a top beer? It gets pretty hot and sweaty picking grapes. Added to that, I ain't getting any younger, so after a big day in the fields a nice, cold craft beer is a perfect tonic. As winemakers and vignerons go, we drink a lot of beer, so it wasn't that hard to come up with the idea of brewing our own. Getting the recipe right, the choice of hops and quality malt is critical and keeping the fermentation process under control. The rest depends on what you like. We serve our brews at Cellar Door and luckily our customers reckon they're pretty tasty. What are the top 3 attractions you'd recommend to a first-time Yarra Valley visitor? The great thing about the Yarra Valley is the diversity. You can visit the  YV Dairy  and sample a variety of cheese, the Chocolate Factory, world class art museum, on-farm produce stores for things such as apples, strawberries, etc, 6 top golf courses, mountain biking, bush trails, historic buildings, micro breweries, gin distillery and of course the odd cellar door and vineyard restaurant. The valley really has a huge range of things to do. Obviously, a great place to start is Helen's Hill. Full al-carte restaurant on top of the hill with sensational views or our Cellar Door and casual dining nestled down in the winery amongst the vines.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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