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Wine

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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Wine
Passing on the Passion
Australia’s next generation of winemakers really have the goods. Producing amazing wines, from contemporary takes on much-loved favourites, to new and exciting blends and varietals, they’re taking Australian winemaking into the future. Some, like this talented bunch are blessed to have winemaking in their blood, with invaluable skills, knowledge and experience passed down from their fathers. We asked each of them the same two questions; how do you see the future of your family winery? And what influence has your father had on you and your winemaking? Ben Portet and Dominique Portet – Dominique Portet “Exciting and bright. Innovation and productivity is key to our family story and we feel proud to be part of the Australian wine landscape.” “His determination, flare, and pioneering spirit are been huge qualities that I admire greatly. I'm extremely fortunate to work with my father Dominique and share his same vision for quality.” Rob Ellis and John Ellis – Hanging Rock “It’s interesting, my parent’s original goal in the 1980s was to produce around 15-20,000 cases of really top quality wine from Heathcote and the Macedon Ranges, sell it all in six months and live the rest of the year in France. Over the years the model has changed and we are currently producing about double the quantity with grapes coming from all over Victoria. Slowly but surely my sister and I want to get back to the original plan – especially the France part.” “My dad John is an amazing winemaker. One of his biggest talents is the art of blending. He was the first person in Australia to make a Cabernet Merlot . He could see that Merlot filled the natural hole in the mid palate of the Cabernet , making it a more complete wine. Our Sparkling wine ‘Macedon’ is a blend of up to 30 different components from different vintages, varieties, clones and barrels. It’s quite a challenge to fit them all together, picturing how they will taste in up to 15 years. Dad has taught me a lot in this regard. Dad and my grandfather (Murray Tyrrell) both instilled in me from an early age not to rely on numbers (baumé level) when deciding when to pick grapes – the most important part is tasting the grapes to ensure they have the right flavour. For that reason, I drive thousands of kilometres each vintage going to vineyards to taste and sample the fruit myself.” Alex Cassegrain and John Cassegrain – Cassegrain Wines “As Cassegrain Wines moves into the future, we’d like to continue to build upon our brand profile, increasing our foothold in the export market. We have a very good presence in Japan and would like to expand on this further.” “My father John has had a profound influence on my career as a winemaker. As well as sharing his love and passion for wine, he has imparted a great sense of respect for terroir and the appreciation of different regions. Winemaking is in many aspects a science, but it is also an art; his philosophy of getting the most out of each parcel has been fundamental to not just my own learning, but also the individuality of our product.” Luke Tocaciu and Pat Tocaciu – Patrick of Coonawarra “Patrick of Coonawarra has been through some difficult times recently, with the loss of my father, Patrick, three years ago. It has also arguably been one of the toughest times in the wine industry through this period. To be able to grow and develop the business since then has been a great achievement. This gives me confidence that my father’s legacy will continue and the future is bright for Patrick of Coonawarra.” “My father had a huge influence on both my life and my winemaking – I always wanted to follow in his footsteps and be a winemaker from an early age. To be able to work together in the family business for a few years was a huge achievement and one that he was very proud of. He had the knowledge and experience of years in the industry and I had the ‘fresh out of university’ science background. He trained me to make a lot of decisions on taste rather than what the numbers tell you. This has given me a greater appreciation for the tradition of winemaking and helped me to balance this with the modern technology that we use today.” Chris Tyrrell and Bruce Tyrrell – Tyrrell’s Wines “I see the future of Tyrrell’s Wines being a continuation of the last few years of repositioning our business. Gone are the days of trying to play with the big boys and wanting to be everything to everyone. I think that we now really know our strengths, in the Hunter Valley making high-end single vineyard wines as well as our vineyard in Heathcote. I also see Tyrrell’s continuing to be the beating heart of the Hunter Valley and a leader in the Australian Wine Industry. It’s an exciting time and I’m very much looking forward to the challenge.” “My father Bruce has taught me more that I think I will ever know. We are so different, just as he and his father Murray were. We are both obsessed with making the best wine possible, and that’s one of the main things I have taken from him. If it’s not worth doing well, then don’t do it. And the vineyards are the key, without them we are nothing. Also to surround yourself with the best people you can find in areas that aren’t your strength.” Jason Sobel and Kevin Sobel – Kevin Sobels Wines “We’re fortunate to live in the Hunter Valley, one of the oldest and best known wine regions in Australia. Enjoying stable growing conditions which allows us to make a variety of wine styles, and being located in what is recognised as the most visited wine tourism region, I believe our business has a great future.” “What I have learnt from my father Kevin is that winemaking is always evolving and that you have to produce wines that are different and interesting as well as the traditional styles characteristic of the region.” Jen Pfeiffer and Chris Pfeiffer – Pfeiffer Wines “I feel very positive about the future for Pfeiffer Wines. My parents started Pfeiffer Wines 32 years ago and over all those years they have developed a very loyal following of "pfans of Pfeiffer"! I came home and started my winemaking career in 2000. Apart from the 17 vintages I have worked in Australia, I have also worked vintages in France and in Portugal. I see the future here taking on some grape varieties from the Iberian Peninsula to add to our extensive portfolio of grape varieties and wines. That way we will work alongside the changing weather patterns and adapt our vineyards in grapes and farming practices. It is a challenge but I have always been invigorated by a challenge.” “My dad, Chris, is one of my mentors. I don't have many but I truly value those that I have. I have learnt so much from them all but especially from Dad as we have worked together for so long. Over my 17 years making wine here at Pfeiffer Wines, my Dad has given me a free hand to experiment, take risks and make changes...be it all under a watchful eye, especially at the start. We do all our barrel tastings together and consult with each other after tasting the wines independently and making our own assessments. I really value my Dad's opinion, after all, this is his 43rd vintage!”
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
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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