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Wine

Margan turns 20!

Having been named the Hunter’s Viticulturist of the Year in 2015, Andrew Margan is celebrating again! It’s 20 years since he and his wife, Lisa planted vines in Broke Fordwich and they’re going strong.

To grow grapes and become a winemaker were childhood dreams of Andrew’s, who grew up among the Hunter vines. His father planted the DeBeyers vineyard in the 1960s and was one of the country’s first wine and food journalists.

Andrew spent 20 vintages as a winemaker with Tyrrell’s under the tutelage of the great Murray Tyrrell, before establishing his own label with Lisa. A chef, Lisa has also been instrumental in the success of the brand, with their restaurant being one of the region’s must awarded.

Wine Selectors is proud to have had a great relationship with Margan from their beginnings and our congratulations go to Andrew, Lisa and the whole Margan team on being one of the driving forces in making the Hunter Valley a truly great wine region.

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Yalumba's Magic
In celebration of the Yalumba Galway Vintage Malbec 2012 being the Wine Selectors Wine of the Month for May, we chatted with Robert Hill-Smith, Yalumba’s Chairman of the Board and 5th generation owner. Malbec is really stepping out from its role as a blending partner and looks set to become a mainstream favourite – what makes your Galway Vintage Malbec 2012 so special? We know the vineyard and I see Malbec as a forgotten part of heritage. I loved many of the Mildara Cabernet Shiraz Malbec from Coonawarra and only Bleasdale seem to be having a serious dip. The time was right and given its juiciness and accommodating mid-palate we thought it was time to partner our Galway Vintage Shiraz with another Barossa beauty at an accessible price. Yalumba is in Angaston, a village at the entrance to the Eden Valley, and you also have vineyards in other parts of the Barossa Valley– why are these regions so great for making wine? We know both regions backwards, so that’s a start! Far from being a one trick pony the Barossa and Eden Valley have many sub-districts that favour various styles. Not many regions can make world-class fortifieds yet 15kms away grow classy dry Riesling and Viognier of greatness. Established over 160 years ago, Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family-owned winery – it must be such an honour to be a part of its history and its future? It is if you don’t think about it too much! With it comes a variety of positives and issues, but we respect our vineyards, our people and our community whilst we seek to craft interesting quality, fine wines. As a 5th generation of the Hill-Smith family, did you ever consider a career in a field outside the wine industry? Of course! Every long-haired 18-year-old rebel in the 1970s wanted to do anything other than join the family. They were great years, and whilst I studied, sport was a huge part of my life as was the penchant for beer, wine and song. However, the smell of the ferment cellar reeled me in and I haven’t looked back. You have three daughters, are they planning to join the family business? There is no pressure and no rush. If they do then that is a bonus for me. They show some talent, they like wine and are keen to soak up a lot of information, so you never know. Yalumba is a member of Australia’s First Families of Wine – why is this association of families so important? We need to share our wine history with the world to put Australia and its styles and aspirations into context – we do it with our family stories and characters. What can you see as the future of Australia’s wine industry? Ultimately very positive, but not without much, much more hard work. We make great wines across many varietals and regions, however, Australia needs to work harder to get our fine wine story across and make the world take us even more seriously. Making a success in the wine industry takes a lot of hard work and dedication – what advice would you give someone looking to start a career in wine? As a winemaker, have a theme, be a specialist and be very good at it. It takes more money and more time to do than anyone wishes, but the end game justifies the patience. What’s your ‘go to wine’ when you’re a home relaxing with your family? We have many – Pewsey Vale Riesling, Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache, Dalrymple Pinot and many, many more! May is Aussie Wine Month – is Yalumba holding any special events to celebrate? We are be conducting a few events but May is also time for the London Wine Fair and Vinexpo in Hong Kong, plus we are planning the launch of some new vintages of special wines and mature releases. Every month is busy, busy, busy!
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Who makes my wine?
Words by Tyson Stelzer on 28 Apr 2016
Walk the aisles of your local Dan Murphy’s or First Choice store and you won’t find a wine labelled “Dan Murphy’s Select” or “First Choice Home Brand”. But lurking on those shelves are more than 100 brands owned by the supermarket chains with no disclosure on the label. In an age in which we are more interested than ever in the origins of our products, how can we distinguish a small family estate from a supermarket brand? The growth in supermarket “Buyer’s Own Brand” wines in Australia has been substantial, estimated to have mushroomed from five percent a decade ago to between 16 and 25 percent of the market today. The wine industry is concerned that this growing category of major retailers could mislead consumers. In February 2016, a Senate Inquiry report into the Australian Wine Industry put forward a proposal from the Winemaker’s Federation of Australia (WFA) “that the Government amend labelling requirements so wine labels must declare whether wine is produced by an entity owned or controlled by a major retailer.” “What we would like to see is that home brands are identified so consumers can make their choice,” WFA Chief Executive Paul Evans told the Inquiry. The enquiry’s report is not binding, but the government is expected to respond within six months. It can choose to accept or reject the recommendations. Not so simple The question of whether it should be the government’s place to legislate on this issue has been widely debated, but even if it is, the dilemma of how it could be defined and regulated is perhaps more pertinent. Buyer’s Own Brand wines have a fully valid and important place in the market, and the major retail chains own perfectly legitimate wineries under which some of their labels are branded. Some retailers’ own brands are even made by small, private estates. Further, many high profile winemakers, including Giaconda, Clonakilla, Oakridge and St Hallett, make exclusive labels for particular retailers under the winemaker’s own brands. Such relationships are of value for all levels of the wine industry. And if retailers are required to declare brand ownership, what of companies like Treasury Wine Estates, Accolade Wines and Pernod Ricard, who together own many more brands and a much greater market share than the supermarket groups? And, for that matter, what of the hundreds of private little “virtual” wine brands who own no vineyards, buy fruit and have it contract made in someone else’s facility? The big issue behind this discussion is the market dominance of Woolworths (who owns BWS, Dan Murphy’s, Cellarmasters and Langton’s) and Wesfarmers (Liquorland, First Choice and Vintage Cellars) and the increasing presence of Metcash (Cellarbrations, IGA Liquor and Bottle-O), Costco, and ALDI stores in the wine market. It is estimated that Woolworths and Wesfarmers together share just under 60 percent of the domestic wine retail market, with some estimates putting this at 70 percent. There is a bigger picture at play here, of which wine is just one small category. Controversy surrounds the supermarket duopoly and its increasing dominance across many categories. Legislative change for wine would not only be fraught with complications surrounding definitions and implementation, but such a precedent would have enormous ramifications for groceries, fuel, hardware, office supplies, insurance, etc.
Wine
Talking with Taylors
In celebration of the Taylors Merlot 2014 being the Wine Selectors Wine of the Month for April, we caught up with Chief Winemaker Adam Eggins to talk Taylors and winemaking. You’ve had huge success at Taylors with Merlot, what makes it such an appealing red variety and what’s the secret to getting it right? Merlot is challenging. The French say Merlot is very fickle, very demanding. The site must be perfect, the soil, the drainage, the amount of wind and sunshine. Ultimately, your belief in Merlot is what drives your winemaking approach. Everyone tells me we have the wrong clones in this country. I think not. We may have Merlot in the wrong viticultural sites and we may be approaching the variety with the wrong mind set, however, Merlot can be one of the world’s greatest wines so the question becomes what can we do or not do to release its worldly potential. Tannins are important, or more importantly, the carefully controlled lack of over extraction. Our Merlots are cuvee wines, predominantly free-run, which has greater levels of aromatic intensity and a natural beautiful delicacy for which the variety is renowned. What makes working for such a historic family-owned winery so special? Making wines for the Taylors family is very special. Wine is in their blood and every decision we make is in the best interest of their wines, as ultimately their wines are their brand. The family thinks generationally and makes decisions for a sustainable future. Working against drought conditions, your first vintage with Taylors was a challenge? Are the challenging vintages sometimes the most rewarding? South Australia is a beautiful winemaking climate, but we can have it all: drought, bushfire, heatwave and flood and a bit of frost and hail to boot. The tough years can produce spectacular wines and it feels like they are more deserving, as you may have had to look harder to find them. The great years are a pleasure too, however, and South Australia is generally blessed with how many great seasons. We can have somewhere around 6-7 out of 10 vintages rate incredibly highly. What’s your favourite wine style to make? Is it also your favourite to drink? To make, it’s probably Shiraz , the sheer colour and flavour spectrums available are fascinating to work with and I also love how the variety absorbs and harmonises with the right level of the right oak. To drink, it’s much harder. Great Chardonnay has incredible appeal, as can Riesling and Pinot Noir and our finest Cabernets can’t be beat in the middle of winter. Of late, I have a growing interest in Tempranillo and taste it as often as I can, especially the lovely wines of Rioja. What’s been your most memorable winemaking moment? To be honest, there is no one moment, but many. What we like doing is some small scale research to raise the quality bar, then the following vintage taking it to large scale process to have a quality impact on an affordable wine. We have been researching the early application of oak with St Andrews Shiraz for many years, which has worked well, but our greatest honour is when our ~$18 rrp Estate Shiraz won the Best Shiraz in Australia twice, against all competitors. Why is this more special? Well, the wine is affordable and widely available, so that people all around the country can enjoy it. This is largely Taylor’s philosophy, to make great wines in an affordable scale. What makes the Clare Valley such a special region to make wine in? I have asked myself that many times and I rate Clare equally with two other regions – Margaret River and the Yarra Valley . These regions have the potential to do many things well. World Class Riesling , Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and possibly in the future Tempranillo can be achieved in the Clare Valley. Not many regions have this depth of potential that the Clare Valley offers. It is an unusual combination of the heat of the region and its altitude and the proximity to the coastline that gives us beautiful ripening weather during the day, but very cool evenings, which helps retain natural elegance and restraint. Taylors certainly has an admirable approach to sustainability. Do you think enough Australian wineries are doing their bit for the environment? Taylors are very disciplined about making decisions based around sustainability. This can involve employees, growers, vineyards, winemaking approaches and/or our community. Yalumba is another company who excels in this area. I wish more companies would be more active in this space, however, I do understand that for many wine businesses the core focus is the retail sale and the state of the market. The benefits of family companies are often they can take a broader, much longer term, generational view of the industry, which will often lead to a better outcome for all.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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