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Wine

A bounty of bling

“The Royal Queensland Wine Show is one of the first in the series for the year and it’s a real honour judging alongside some of our industry leaders,” says Nicole.

Over 4 days, 26 judges, including new chief judge David Bicknell, tasted over 1,801 entries from 243 wineries from across Australia.

“Yes, that is a lot of wine,” says Nicole. “With my fellow panellists I judged everything from Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Sparkling to Muscat, Cabernet and red blends, but I was especially impressed by the 2014 Shiraz, 2015 Semillon and 2015 Pinot Noir brackets.”

“What is really exciting is that the House of Arras 2007 Grand Vintage from Tasmania made history by becoming the first Sparkling to take out Grand Champion Wine of Show,” says Nicole. “And to further reinforce its consistency and the excellence of Tasmanian Sparkling, the same wine was named Best Wine of Show at Sydney. And again, this was the first time a Sparking had won the major award since the show’s inception.”

Royal Brisbane Wine Show 2016 Trophy winners include:
Brokenwood Wines 2009 ILR Reserve Semillon – Best Semillon of Show, Best Mature White of Show, Best Single Vineyard White of Show and RNA Best White of Show.
Yabby Lake 2015 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir – Best Pinot of Show, RNA best Red of Show, Best Single Vineyard Red of Show and Best Young Red of Show.
Norfolk Rise Vineyard 2015 Shiraz – Best Shiraz of Show

While the House of Arras took out the top prize at the 2016 KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show, the other big winner was the Chalkers Crossing CC2 Shiraz 2014 with Trophies for Best Shiraz, Best Value Red, Best Single Vineyard Wine, Best Red and Best Small Producer Wine.

The Hunter Valley maintained its reputation as the nation’s top Semillon producer with Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 2005 taking out the Trophy for Best NSW Wine. Brokenwood Wines 2009 ILR Reserve Semillon won Best Semillon and Best Mature White, while Best Value White was awarded to De Iuliis Wines for their 2016 Semillon.

Nicole Gow and fellow Tasting Panellist Adam Walls attended the trade tasting, which allowed them the opportunity to taste the entire range of wines.

“It’s always exciting to taste the entries of the Sydney Royal Wine Show and this year was no exception,” says Adam.

“For me, the thing that really stood out, and was a common thread through all of the wines I tasted, was that they had great vibrancy and acidity that made them immensely drinkable. From the biggest, richest reds to the lightest whites, they were all mouth-watering, vibrant and full of energy.”

“So many of the wines were a mid-weight style which really reflects the way people are enjoying their wines, “ Nicole says. “ There were some smart alternative and food-friendly whites, and a great diversity of elegant Chardonnays showing a lot more experimentation and refinement from all of the regions.”

Enjoy exclusive access to some of the Gold medal winners from the KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show for just $17 a bottle.

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Wine
The Hunter’s best on show
While last month saw our athletes competing for medals in Rio, it also saw the wineries of the Hunter Valley going for gold at the Hunter Valley Wine Show. A huge success, the show saw 644 entries from 70 local producers. Of those entries, 59 won gold, 108 silver and 208 bronze. Among the judges at this prestigious event were Tasting Panellist Nicole Gow and Selector magazine publisher, Paul Diamond, who were both thrilled to have the opportunity to judge alongside local winemakers and others from key interstate regions. For Nicole, one of the highlights of the show was the fact that it reinforced her long-held belief that alternative varieties have a strong future in the Hunter Valley. “It was great to see the varieties we all know the region does very well like Semillon , Shiraz and Chardonnay , but it was also wonderful to see varieties like Vermentino, Fiano, Barbera and Tempranillo doing well.” “Wine Selectors has been championing alternative wines from producers like The Little Wine Co, David Hook and Margan for some time now, and they’re finally getting the recognition that their lesser known varieties deserve.” Paul added that he was also impressed with the rise of the categories outside of the traditional varieties and he also enjoyed how some producers were combining the traditional with the new with blends like Shiraz Tempranillo. Nicole was also excited to see the Hunter’s first ever trophy for a Rosé . “Overall, it was a really strong class”, she says. “The winning Rosé was made with Shiraz, but there was a mixture of varieties among the wines including Merlot and Sangiovese.” While the Wine Selectors team has worked hard over the years to build relationships with a huge number of Hunter Valley wineries, there is always someone new to meet. So for Nicole, judging at the show is a fantastic opportunity to discover some fresh faces to add to the Wine Selectors family. When all the awards had been given out, though, it was one of Australia’s favourite wineries that shone the brightest. The Tyrrell family proved that their passion and dedication never wanes with another 17 gold medals and 10 trophies added to their collection! The Clear Image Hunter Valley Wine Show 2016 trophy winners were: Marshall Flannery Trophy for Best Current Semillon : First Creek Wines 2016 Single Vineyard Murphy Semillon George Wyndham Memorial Trophy for Best Current and One-Year-Old Chardonnay: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2015 Belford Chardonnay J.Y. (Jay) Tulloch Trophy for Best Verdelho: Hungerford Hill 2016 Hunter Valley Verdelho Best Other White Trophy: The Little Wine Company Vermentino 2016 Henry John Lindeman Memorial Trophy for Best Two–Year-Old and Older Chardonnay: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2013 Vat 47 Chardonnay Ed Jouault Memorial Trophy for Best One-Year-Old Dry Semillon: Peter Drayton 2015 Semillon Elliott Family Trophy for Best Two-Year-Old Shiraz: Silkman Wines 2014 Reserve Shiraz Best Other Red Trophy: Dimbulla Estate 2014 Tempranillo Shiraz James Busby Memorial Trophy for Best Mature Three-Year-Old and Older Shiraz: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2013 Vat 9 Shiraz McGuigan Family Trophy for Best Mature Two-Year–Old and older Semillon: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2009 Vat 1 Semillon Trevor Drayton Memorial Trophy for Best Fortified Wine: Drayton Family Wines Heritage Vines Liqueur Verdelho John Lewis Newcastle Herald Trophy for Best Museum Red Wine: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2007 Vat 8 Shiraz Graham Gregory Memorial Trophy for Best Museum White: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2006 Stevens Semillon Rosé Trophy for Best Rosé: Australian Vintage Limited – 2016 Tempus Two Copper Series Shiraz Rosé Hector Tulloch Memorial Trophy for Best Shiraz: Silkman Wines 2014 Reserve Shiraz Innovative Red Wine Trophy: Margan Family Wines 2011 Breaking Ground Ripasso Shiraz Maurice O’Shea Memorial Trophy for Best Semillon: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2009 Vat 1 Semillon Murray Tyrrell Chardonnay Trophy for Best Chardonnay: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2013 Vat 47 Chardonnay Drayton Family Trophy for Best Named Vineyard Red Wine: Lucy’s Run Wines 2014 Shiraz Tyrrell Family Trophy for Best Named Vineyard White Wine: Meerea Park 2009 Alexander Munro Semillon Len Evans Trophy for Best Named Vineyard Wine: Lucy’s Run Wines 2014 Shiraz Petrie-Drinan Trophy for Best White Wine of the Show: Tyrrell’s Vineyards 2009 Vat 1 Semillon Doug Seabrook Memorial Trophy for Best Red Wine of the Show: Dimbulla Estate 2014 Tempranillo Shiraz Iain Riggs Wine of Provenance: Tyrrell’s Vineyards Belford Semillon –¬ 2005, 2013, 2016
Wine
How climate change is changing our wine
In 2012, a leading Coonawarra viticulturist looked out upon a vineyard in the northern part of the region, a place of shallow soils, home to 25-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines. It was a good site, had been a strong performer for his employer Wynns Coonawarra Estate, but now, viticulturist Allen Jenkins decided to see just how robust it really was. He divided the block in half. For one set of vines it was business as usual. For the other, a harsher new reality was about to set in as he deliberately reduced the amount of irrigated water it would receive for the next three years, just 10 per cent of its normal allowance. When the results were collated, there was nothing but sad news for those parched Cabernet vines. “Yield dropped for each of those three years by 40 per cent, on average,” says Allen. “The berry number also dropped, berries were much smaller, there was an increase in colour and tannin, but the problem was you lost some of that Cabernet varietal character.” Recovery for the vines once water was returned was another big hurdle, it was far from immediate and they continue to struggle to this day. Cabernet Sauvignon is the flagship grape for Coonawarra , a symbol of its national and international standing in the world of wine, and here it was being stripped of its noble character by a deliberate man-managed climate intended to mimic global warming in all of its nastiness. Allen had made his point. Climate change was capable of treating even the most celebrated of grapes with disdain. Now, he’s learning to adapt. He’s not the only one in the Australian wine industry. A harsh reality Between now and the year 2030 the annual average temperature is expected to rise between 0.2ºC and 1.1ºC in many of Australia’s grape growing regions. By 2050, the projected increase is 0.4ºC to 2.6ºC. A warmer future will go hand in hand with a drier one and one, it is believed, that will be increasingly erratic, throwing up unpredictable extreme weather conditions. Under this scenario, the annual Australian wine grape harvest will be earlier; grapes coming into full ripeness during the hottest parts of summer, stressing vines. Some suggest it’s already here. “Vintage 2015 was our 35th in the region,” says Jeffrey Grosset of Jeffrey Grosset Wines in the Clare Valley . “We commenced harvest for our two Rieslings (Polish Hill and Springvale) 35 days, almost to the day in both cases, earlier than we did 35 years ago. The suggestion of a (earlier vintage) trend to around roughly one day earlier each year, seems compelling.” His Clare colleagues at Jim Barry Wines, to the north of his vineyard, had already picked and were fermenting their 2015 Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet by mid February, a first for them. What does climate change mean for my wine? In a warmer climate, vintage will probably be shorter and more compact, which might suit earlier ripeners like Chardonnay , but won’t go down well with late season starters such as Cabernet. The heat that drives sugars up will also force acids down. A drier season scenario similar to what Allen Jenkins found   with smaller yields and lack of varietal flavour may become a widespread problem. The effect will be more noticeable in inland regions that are expected to be hotter than coastal areas. Australian research suggests grape quality will be reduced nationally by seven to 23 per cent by 2030, and 12 to 57 per cent by 2050. The fact that climate change is real and not some annoying trend that will eventually cycle off and bring certainty back into our lives, would appear to now be acknowledged by Australian winemakers. And it’s not exclusively about heat. “Climate change to me is both heat and rain,” says Peter Barry at Jim Barry Wines. “Yes, it’s the unpredictability of the weather, all that is puzzling and a little terrifying.” Dr Leanne Webb, Climate Projections Liaison Manager at the CSIRO and an academic with more than a decade’s research into the subject, chooses her language carefully when describing the causes behind our changing climate. “Increasing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are altering the composition of the atmosphere,” she wrote in her seminal paper, Modelled Impact of Future Climate Change on the Phenology of Winegrapes in Australia (2007).   “It is very likely that most of the global warming since the mid-20th Century is due to increases in greenhouse gases from human activities.” For the first time in recorded history, the earth’s temperature is clearly more than 1.0ºC above the 1850-1900 average. Since 1997, which at the time was the warmest year on record, 16 of the subsequent 18 years have been warmer still. What to do? Dr Webb suggests Australian wine producers do three things to address its impact on their vineyards: 1. Look to grapevine management techniques, 2. Shift vineyard sites and 3. Think about different grape varieties. In the Yarra Valley , winemaker Dan Buckle at Domaine Chandon, one of Australia’s leading sparkling winemakers may be locked into the classic Champagne trio – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier – but he is still free to look at different sites. “I think that by focusing on altitude in vineyard selection we can avoid risks of climate change,” he says. “Certainly the results we see from our Whitlands vineyard are exciting.” Whitlands is one of the highest vineyards in Victoria, around 800 metres on a high point in the King Valley , and was planted by Brown Brothers in 1982. In 2010, Brown Brothers went in search of parts potentially cooler, buying the extensive Tasmanian vineyards of troubled forestery giant, Gunns Ltd. for $32.5 million. It was an expensive commitment to a changing climate, ironically, coming at a cost: the forced sale of Whitlands. But not everyone can change vineyard location. It’s far easier and cheaper to change the grape variety. McLaren Vale boasts a sunny, Mediterranean-style climate. With that in mind, Coriole winemaker Mark Lloyd thought it obvious to look to Italian varieties. Some didn’t work. Nebbiolo and Barbera are real sooks in the heat, as he discovered during the January heat wave of 2009. Fruit all but disappeared on the vine. However, grape varieties sourced from Southern Italy are a different story. Fiano has become possibly his greatest success story, an inspiration to others. It is already being hailed as making the region’s best white wine. Nero d’Avola, a late maturing red variety, is also performing well. And this year, he has Apulia’s dark-hearted Negroamaro planted. In the Clare Valley, one of the most surprising alternative grape stars is an unpronounceable Greek variety that originally hails from the fabulous volcanic soils of Santorini. Assyrtiko was brought into Australia by Jim Barry Wines and from its first vintage in 2014, its crisp acid personality was a delight. The grape absolutely thrives in the dry and the hot. Still, new grape varieties, many with difficult-to-pronounce names, may be trending, but there are others who simply look to adapt what they’ve got. Maybe they’ve read the controversial new book from pioneering Western Australian viticultural scientist, John Gladstones, Wine, Terroir and Climate Change (Wakefield Press) which doesn’t want to be too doom and gloomy about the future. His message? Terroir is resilient. Others may see hope in new varieties being developed by the CSIRO. Brown Brothers had moderate success with Cienna some years back and are now backing Project Enigma, another first in the wine world, a totally new grape variety that laps up the heat. Climate change means change. But, if handled with thought and positive action, it could signal an exciting future for winemakers and drinkers alike.
Wine
What's in a label?
Words by Mark Hughes on 19 Aug 2017
I recently had the privilege of watching the legendary Liverpool FC towel up Sydney FC in a soccer friendly in a private suite at ANZ Stadium courtesy of Claymore Wines . The Clare Valley winery is owned by Adelaide doctor Anura Nitchingham, who became a lifelong Liverpool fan while attending university in the northern England city back in the 80s. Since founding his own winery, he’s been able take his fandom to the next level with the Claymore Wines Liverpool FC range , hence the invite to the match. During the half-time break, with the Reds comfortably leading 3-0, I observed a young couple at the bar looking through the range of Claymore Wines on offer. “Can I try the Purple Rain Sauvignon Blanc …I just love Prince,” the young lass asked of the barmaid. “I’ll have the London Calling,” said he, seemingly unaware of the varietal. It’s a Cabernet Malbec blend, by the way, and a good one, having recently won Platinum  at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Besides football, Anura’s other great love is music. So instead of having wines like a ‘single vineyard Shiraz’, Claymore’s labels bear the name of some of Anura’s favourite songs and albums, such as the Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz, Joshua Tree Riesling and Voodoo Child Chardonnay. “I just wanted to have some fun,” Anura tells me when I ask him the reasoning behind the labels. “After all, wine is meant to be fun, right?” Marketing Wine to Millennials
While it does seem fun, Claymore’s labels seem to fly in the face of traditional wine marketing, where the producer’s logo is consistent across all their wines and information such as varietal, origin and vintage is first and foremost. “It was a struggle early on because the inconsistent branding was deemed anti-marketing,” admits Claymore’s general manager, Carissa Major. “But once we explained the story, we had a more personal conversation with the customer. Now, people come to our cellar door, pick up a Bittersweet Symphony (Cab Sav) and say, ‘this is from my generation, I get it’. The labels were never meant to be a gimmick, they are the sound track to Anura’s life. But marketing-wise today, they present exciting opportunities rather than barriers.” Recent studies from California State University help explain the marketing swing. Researchers looked at the fastest growing buyer market in wine – millennials – people born after 1980, so termed because they hit maturity at the turn of the millennium. This generation is cashed up, brand savvy and, most importantly, they are on the verge of overtaking baby boomers as the biggest buyers of wine. The university study found that millennials prefer wine labels that are brightly coloured, less traditional, more graphically focused and feature creative brand names. If you’re a wine producer listening to a baby boomer marketer, maybe it’s time to think outside the box. The story of Fowles Wine’s Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch is a great example. The label shows an art deco-style image of a lady in her finery out for a hunt. “My wife designs the labels and we actually took advice from a leading marketer about whether this was a good idea. Their response? No!,” explains Fowles Wines owner, Matt Fowles. “We ultimately disagreed and released the wines, but it was useful advice in the sense that it was liberating. We thought, if there is no place in the market for this, then we should just do the designs we really love, so we did. It was all a bit of fun and, surprise, surprise, they sell well.” Art for art’s sake
Riverland producer Delinquente Wine Co. has taken label art in an even more contemporary direction channelling a punk ethos on their wines such as The Bullet Dodger Montepulciano and the Screaming Betty Vermentino. “The starting point with the artwork for Delinquente was to do something very different to traditional wine labels, but also to represent things we have a passion for, like street art and alternative culture,’ says winemaker/owner Con-Greg Grigoriou. “The art represents our ideas and allows us to connect with people in an interesting way. We all know a ‘Screaming Betty’, or would at least like to party with her. So they have taken on a life of their own.” Not everyone is a fan. Seventy-nine-year-old wine critic James Halliday described Delinquente Wines as setting “the new low water-mark” for labels in Australia. But he likes their wines. And that’s the thing, the wine has to be good to get the buyer to keep coming back. These days, wine is fashion and bottle shop aisles are the catwalks. Marketing a label is just as important as the wine inside the bottle. Get both right and you could just make it. Traditionalists will most likely continue to stock their cellars with family crested bottles. The millennials crave new and exciting. As for me, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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