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Wine

Meet Steve Webber from DeBortoli

The Wine Selectors Wine of the Month for September is the De Bortoli Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2014. So we caught up with winemaker Steve Webber to find out a bit more about the man behind the wine.

Can you recall the first wine you tried?
Not really. My father enjoyed Pirramimma Shiraz so it was probably something like that.

When did you fall in love with wine?
I have enjoyed wine since I was 18 (38 years ago) and been fascinated by it, however, I feel I only fell in love with wine about 20 years ago after spending lots of time in France and Italy, breaking out of the wine bubble, enjoying delicious inexpensive wine with friends and secretly enjoying the odd delicious expensive bottle with Leanne (and maybe 1 or 2 friends).

Do you have a favourite wine?
Pinot Noir. Ridiculously alluring, charming, gracious and great with fatty cuts of pork and duck.

What is your favourite wine memory?
A bottle of 1996 Salon Champagne that Leanne and I vacuumed after her final cancer treatment. It must be why she is fighting fit today.

Other than your own, which wine do you like to drink at home?
Pale dry Rosé in carafes from lots of different Australian and French producers.

What is your favourite wine and food match?
Fine minerally Chardonnay with pan fried John Dory.

How do you relax away from winemaking?
Hanging out at our beach house on the Mornington Peninsula – good food and the odd bottle.

What is your favourite….

Book: McEnroe – talent to burn, had attitude.
Movie: The Rock – love the one liners
TV show: Rake – too funny
Restaurant: France Soir – unfortunately my kids favourite as well
Lunch: Dory, Chablis and friends
Dinner: Charcoal roasted chicken with the family
Time of day/night: Twilight in spring in the Yarra Valley – amazing colours
Sporting team: Geelong

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Wine
Howard Park Dream Vertical
Words by Paul Diamond on 30 Sep 2015
Western Australian wine is a true phenomenon.It contributes less than 5% of Australia’s total production, but in a good year, can create some of the country’s best Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. And in such a short space of time, just over 40 years, the west has come a long way.  Margaret River has an identity of “bush, blue sky and surf” combined with “pioneering spirit meets entrepreneurial drive” to create something that is completely unique, stylish and undoubtedly Australian. One of the stories that completely embodies this special identity is the Burch family that owns and operates Howard Park Wines . Like many of the great Margaret River estates, Howard Park did not start as a Burch family concern, but as a side project. In 1986, John Wade, while working as a winemaker at Plantagenet Wines, made a Riesling and Cabernet at Denmark Agricultural College and labelled them in honour of his father Howard. During this time, John attended a single bottle club lunch in Perth as a guest and sat next to Jeff Burch. Over this lunch a kinship was formed and not long after that Jeff and his wife Amy became partners in Howard Park. Two years later, Jeff Burch purchased a picturesque 138 acres of pasture in Margaret River that has the Wilyabrup creek running through it. Named Leston after Jeff’s father, it was situated in the heart of prime vine growing territory. The partnership between John and Jeff grew and in the early 90s they added Chardonnay to the Howard Park stable and started to release wines under the MadFish label. Early on, MadFish gained attention due to the striking depiction of the Aboriginal water turtle that symbolises perseverance and tolerance. Produced from cool climate fruit as approachable, contemporary and solid value wines, MadFish is now 20 years old and one of Australia’s most recognisable wine brands. A family business Over the next decade, the MadFish-Howard Park growth story accelerated. They purchased a property in Denmark upon which the first winery and cellar door were built. Jeff’s brother David and sister Lesley came on board and foundations for a new winery and cellar door at Leston vineyard were poured as the flagship single vineyard range of Scottsdale Cabernet and Leston Shiraz was released. By this stage, John had left and Howard Park-MadFish became a Burch family operation. In the early 2000s, they acquired a 200 hectare, cool climate property in Mt Barrow (Great Southern). As the wine stable grew and the quality increased, the accolades started to roll in. Jeff and Amy’s daughter Natalie joined the business, and the Burch family combined forces with Burgundian winemaker and biodynamic ambassador Pascal Marchand on a project to produce wines from both WA and Burgundy under one label. The Marchand & Burch range includes French bubbles (Cremant), Pinot and Chardonnay and Australian Shiraz, Chardonnay and Pinot. Today, family is still at the fore with Jeff CEO, Amy GM and marketing director, David managing the vineyards, daughter Natalie managing operations and sons Richard and David managing east coast sales and marketing. Tasting history Wine is the Burch family’s religion and it binds them in a way that is both humbling and inspiring. To get closer to their story, along with Wine Selectors Panellist Dave Mavor, I headed to Margaret River for a tasting with the family. In their newly opened Wine Chapel, we absorbed the family narrative through the varieties they hold dear: Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet. Howard Park Riesling 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014 Howard Park Chardonnay 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2014 Marchand & Burch Parongurup Chardonnay 2011, 2013, 2012, 2013, 2014 Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir 2012, 2013, 2014 Howard Park Leston Shiraz 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2012 Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012 First up was Howard Park Riesling from the cool climate of Great Southern, a wine that since 1986 has defined the identity of Howard Park and is one of Australia’s most collected. Stylistically, Great Southern Rieslings are quite different from those of Clare or Eden Valley in that they start out as tight and slender with positive minerality, and with age, blossom into generous and elegant wines that have wonderful complexity. The older examples of 2001 and 2004 proved that these Rieslings age wonderfully with both wines showing delicate, youthful flavours balanced by toasty development. Everyone had favourites for a range of reasons: winemaker Janice McDonald loved the 2012 for its concentration and effortless neutrality and Natalie favoured the 2014 for its refreshing zest and weight. The highly awarded Chardonnay was next, stretching back to 2003. These wines are constructed with a mixture of fruit from Mount Barker, Porongurup and Margaret River and represent the leaner, cooler side of the Chardonnay spectrum. Very pretty and elegant, they have fresh acidity and bright, clean flavours that help them age slowly and gracefully. Minerality and texture are noticeable with the standouts holding beautiful fruit flavours of melons, grapefruits and nuts with a creamy, savoury complexity. Dave enjoyed the 2007 with its fresh citrus core and Jeff loved the 2013 for its balance and length. French connection Next came the Marchand & Burch Porongurup Chardonnays. The standard was high with a lean and tight style that delivers citrus and melon flavours with complexity, minerality and finesse. Standouts were the 2013 for its crème brulée aromas and tropical fruit palate and Jeff loved the 2007 for its French leanings and flinty complexity. Pinot Noir followed with the Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow line-up. These wines showed a distinct development of style that highlighted how critical vine age is to creating wines that have weight and complexity. The 2012 was lovely, with pretty sour cherry fruit, savoury spices and soft tannins and the depth and structure built as we moved through to the 2014. Considering how demanding Pinot Noir can be, especially from young vines, the potential of the Marchand & Burch Mt Barrow Pinot is massive. Amy and Natalie were both wowed by the 2014 due to its luscious layers and fine complexity. Leston Shiraz was next, stretching back to 2000, and considering Margaret River is not known as a Shiraz region, the high quality and consistency came as a pleasant surprise and highlighted the diversity of Australian Shiraz. All the wines had a lovely soft, black fruit signature with delicate layers of spice and fine tannins. As Shiraz goes, these wines are definitely on the savoury side and the oldest wines were aging beautifully. Richard loved the 2003 for its complexity, Dave’s standout was the balanced 2005 and Janice loved the perfume and fruit integrity of the 2009. Flying the Cabernet flag Lastly came the flagship Abercrombie bracket crafted from a selection of the oldest vineyards in Margaret River, Mount Barker and Porongurup. These wines are serious; they have depth, structure, complexity and would easily rank as some of the best Cabernet Australia can produce. Named after Jeff’s great-grandfather Walter Abercrombie, the wines are earthy, savoury and full of black fruits, but have incredible finesse and harmony. Jeff was impressed with how well the 2000 had aged, Natalie loved the 2012 “just because.” The tasting was a special line-up of wines that highlighted that Howard Park, just like WA wine, has come a long way in a short space of time. The exercise was made extra special by the generosity of the Burch family in sharing their wines, their stories and proving that wine is made better with family. www.howardparkwines.com.au
Wine
Dream Vertical With Tahbilk
Words by Paul Diamond on 6 May 2016
Most can appreciate that survival in the wine game is no walk in the park. Exposure to the vagaries of weather, economics, politics and trends are all factors that can sink a wine business quicker than you can grow a vine. Despite that, Australia’s wine industry is filled with impressive stories of families going into business, surviving decades, flourishing and producing beautiful liquid all the way. The story of the Purbrick family is one and the 150+years they celebrate goes beyond impressive and lands somewhere in the inspirational ball-park. Tahbilk is an Australian success story that is not talked about enough and whilst they were anointed ‘winery of the year’ by Halliday recently, the family’s contribution to the Australian Wine landscape is sadly underrated. It could be the ebb and flow of wine fashion, but rarely do you read or hear that the Purbrick family are the custodians of the oldest and largest holdings of Marsanne on the planet. The family could have quite easily shifted their focus to Sauv Blanc during the 1990s and chased profit, but they stayed the course, realising the importance of the long game, heritage and just how glorious Marsanne can be. From their entry level wines to the complexity of the 1927 Vines, the Tahbilk Marsanne is world beating and they have been making it for well over a century. As part of the celebrations of the 150th release of their 1860 Vines Shiraz, Wine Selectors Tasting Panellist Adam Walls and myself travelled to Tahbilk and joined 4th Generation CEO and Chief Winemaker Alister Purbrick for a tasting to explore and revel in this Australian wine treasure. A special place Tahbilk is located along the Goulburn River within a mosaic of billabongs, creeks, waterholes and wetlands that in turn create a special meso-climate that is cooler and milder than that of the surrounding area. The sandy loam soil contains a high concentration of ferric-oxide that imparts unique characters in the wines and manifest themselves in different ways across their impressive range, particularly Marsanne and Shiraz. The vertical begins We started the tasting with 1927 Vines Marsanne and the bracket, dating back to 1998, reinforced how delicious these wines are. Picked young with relatively low acidity, the fruit is allowed to oxidise and then is pressed. The free-run is simply fermented, producing a fairly neutral wine that, like Riesling, develops its characters in the bottle. The younger wines have aromas of beeswax, lanolin and spiced lemon curd, whilst on the palate they are soft and elegant with citrus cream, minerals and apples. As these wine age, all the flavours and aromas remain, but they deepen and as each year passes, they develop layers of beguiling flavours. Standouts were the 2005, the 2000 and the 1999, but all were unique and special. Next came Shiraz, one of the first varieties planted at Tahbilk in 1860. Half a hectare of those gnarled, resilient old vines have survived and become some of the oldest pre-phelloxera Shiraz in the world. Accordingly, this glorious plot is recognised as one the 25 great vineyards of the world. When the vintage conditions are perfect, the fruit from these vines becomes the Purbrick family flagship ‘1860 vines’ Shiraz. This four-wine bracket was a true celebration of history and it was hard to fathom that as these vines were just sprouting, the foundations were being laid for what still remains today as the operating winery and cellar. Critics greater than I have rated the Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz amongst the world’s great reds and I have to agree. Earthy, old-school aromas billow out of the glass and manifest as complex and bright red and black fruits laced with spices and herbs. In the mouth, the experience is almost overpowering - intense but elegantly balanced fruit lines driven by cherry and blackberry. The 1860 Shiraz, just like the vines that they come from, are made to last and reflect winemaking that has changed little since Alister’s grandfather Eric Stevens was at the helm.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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