Time to dig out your thermals, winter is here and temperatures across Australia are plummeting.
While the cool weather and short days may hinder your ability to soak up that much needed vitamin D while refreshing yourself with truckloads of your favorite crisp white wine, or delicious Aussie sparkling, these winter months have something even more exciting in store for you and your love for wine-drinking.
To help you on your way, The Wine Pig has put together a list of wines which we think you should be drinking this winter.
Mayfield Vineyard, Orange – 2009 Pinot Noir Chardonnay sparkling
There is no season, time or occasion that a glass of fantastic bubbles is anything other than entirely appropriate. And this one is up there with the best! Mayfield Vineyard’s 2009 Pinot Noir Chardonnay is delicate and light with tiny bubbles and soft berry notes which give it a slight pink-orange tinge. This is one not to miss.
Petersons, Hunter Valley – 2004 Sparkling Durif Zinfandel
While Aussie sparkling wine has a place in every winter wine collection, so too does a brilliant sparkling red. This sparkling Durif Zinfandel is a perfect compromise on a light sparkling and a big heavy red. It’s inky black with fine little bubbles and lashings of full and rich dark berries with hints of savory spice and chocolate. As Petersons say themselves... "life is flat without bubbles"!
Lou Miranda Estate, Barossa Valley – 2015 Leone Pinot Grigio
For those among us who are looking for something fresh and zesty, even though its already fresh enough outside, Lou Miranda’s 2015 Pinot Grigio is an excellent example of fresh and vibrant white wine with plenty of green apple acidity and a slight floral note. Refreshing enough to knock back curled up on the sofa but not so acidic that it’s impossible to drink if the sun isn’t beaming!
Mount Pleasant, Hunter Valley – 2007 Elizabeth Semillon
Semillon is an excellent winter wine for those who aren’t quite ready to move into a wintery red. Mount Pleasant’s golden version is packed full of fresh citrus and finished with a little bit of pineapple sweetness. It’s lively with a fine acidity but also rich enough to complement those big hearty meals on chilly nights.
Kaesler, Barossa Valley – 2012 ‘The Bogan’ Shiraz
One of our absolute favorites, it’ll be difficult for everyone not to fall in love with this Shiraz! It’s full and ripe with a deep red colour from the plum and cherry notes and hints for savory spice. But it’s so unbelievable smooth and velvety that it’s like drinking the wine world’s equivalent of silk. If you haven’t already had the pleasure, find ‘The Bogan’ and drink it now! And the best bit, how on earth could you ever forget that hilariously quirky name?! It’ll stay with you for a lifetime, for more reason that one.
Robert Stein, Mudgee – 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
No winter meal is complete without a juicy Cabernet Sauvignon to wet your whistle. Robert Stein’s version is a classic example of excellent Mudgee wines can be. Its hints of savory French oak is perfectly complemented by spicy berry and cassis making it into a fantastically rich and elegantly full bodied wine which is hard to put down.
Pieter van Gent, Mudgee – 2010 Durif
There is no better time that these chilly winter months to kick back with a hearty stew great big goblet of a big juicy Durif! It’s intense, it’s rich and with a colour to match. Pieter van Gent’s version is big and full bodied giving a huge round mouthful of cherry and blackberry. It’s like being slapped round the face with a wet shoe, and loving it. A Durif wine demands respect and its hard not to comply.
Patina Wines, Orange – Old Tawny Liqueur
Patina Wines’ amazing Old Tawny Liqueur is to die for. It’s had many years of aging in small oak barrels and the outcome is fantastic. A wonderfully fruity and complex post-winter dinner wine which is offset by luscious nutty and sweet toffee notes. There is no way you’ll get away with having just one little sip!
Tony and Jill Bryant took over the oldest winery in Mudgee back in 2004 before passing the legacy down to their daughter Trine, and son-in-law Andy.
With a background in agriculture and business management Andy is very hands on with Burnbrae and effective ‘Top Dog’ of the business while Trine not only ensures that the quality of their wine is top notch, but also brings big events together at the picturesque winery to celebrate Burnbrae’s cracking wines.
The duo talk of the philosophy, passed down by Trine’s parents, to always maintain the integrity of each wine while nurturing every vintage to bring out its finest characteristics, and wow, have they smashed it.
Burnbrae’s wines are simply delicious and their brilliant selection ranging from a fruity citrusy Pinot Gris right down to a spicy Shiraz are a standout for the region.
Here, The Wine Pig has been lucky enough to speak to Trine to find out more about the duo’s passion for the wine world.
Why did you decide to become a winemaker?
We didn’t, we have just fallen in love with Burnbrae Wines and have built our knowledge through my dad’s passion and my older brother is the expert of wine in our family. Andy is the knowledge behind the vines, with dad, and finance side, and I am the one that has the passion for marketing and events. Our family make a great team with everyone being an expert in their own areas. We are very lucky to have a fabulous winemaker, Chris Derez from Orange, that works with us and utilizes my brother’s feedback to turn our fruit into delicious wine.
What attracted you to the Mudgee wine region in particular?
My family has always been in the Mudgee region and when dad purchased Burnbrae Wines in 2004 both Andy and I had a great interest in the business. Andy and I were based in Sydney for many years however we didn’t really want to start a family in the middle of the city so we decided to head west over the mountains in 2011.
I worked with Dad in the business whilst having my own contracting business. Succession planning started to take place and Andy and I saw a little dream in Burnbrae, as Dad did, and we took on the adventure in 2015.
Can you describe your winemaking style, and how it differs to your peers in the region?
I don’t really know how we are unique however our winemaker tries to display the best characters of the fruit. Our winemaker is very good at guiding us through the stages of winemaking and displaying the potential of the aged vines that we have.
Which of your wines are you most proud of and why?
Good questions, we are very proud of most of our wines that are coming to the table. But if you were to ask the question then I would say our sparkling as I am a person who loves the bubbles, and I must mention the Chardonnay.
Chardonnay is one of my favorites because I love the fact that when you pick up a chardonnay you are just not quite sure what style it may give you. Ours is lightly oaked with French oak which gives it delicious melon and white peach aromas.
For Andy, I would say he loves the Shiraz. This is the wine that it receiving a lot of attention at the moment and winning us loads of accolades such as The Best Mudgee Red in 2015, a silver in the NSW Wine Awards, also a great review from Houn Hooke.
What most surprises people about you or the wines you produce?
That every wine on our tasting bench is delicious, cheeky… maybe, but we do get comments like this rather frequently. We may have to put this out to the public as I am not really sure.
What are you drinking now, and what are you cellaring?
As its rather chilly here in Mudgee I’m loving GSMs or a brilliant Tassie Pinot Noir.
I do admit to not being able to cellar… if I have wine in my house I tend to enjoy it straight away.
If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would that be?
If I only had to drink one wine for the rest of my life then… I’m out. That’s the great thing about this industry that amazing wines just keep popping up.
However if I had to choose it would be the amazing champagne Perrier Jouet.
What is the most exciting thing coming up for both you and the business over the next 12 months?
Growth of our business is very exciting for us. Its extremely hard work but we love seeing the improvements and achievements we have accomplished over the past year. The other great thing we look forward too every year is our blacktie@burbrae party, which is a tradition that my Dad started and has carried out every year. It’s a party which is all about food, wine and loads of fun!
Find out more at: www.burnbraewines.com.au
Alex moved to the Upper Hunter Valley in mid-2015 to join the James Estate family, just four short years after his wine career began, and quickly rocketed, at a Port Macquarie winery.
With grapes grown in the region and made and bottled onsite, James Estate is a premium Hunter Valley-based winery which spreads over two sites – and a cellar door in the beautiful Pokolbin – and plantings which date back to 1968.
With a new vibrant winemaker on board and the ongoing revamp of its cellar door and the James Estate Guest House nearby, these are very exciting and innovative times for Alex and the rest of the James Estate gang.
Here, The Wine Pig has been lucky enough to speak to Alex to find out more about his passion for the wine world, and what we can look forward to from James Estate in coming months.
My father worked in the wine trade in the UK and Germany in his youth so I grew up with great stories of the industry and great wine to accompany those stories. I travelled a bit after finishing school and worked in a few different trades while still continuing to have a keen interest in wine. When the opportunity came up for me to work my first vintage I jumped at it and I have been hooked ever since.
What attracted you to the Hunter Valley wine region in particular?
One of the best things about making wine is that every single day presents you with a new challenge and as far as regions go there are few as challenging as the Hunter Valley. I have always been a fan of Hunter Valley wines and how unique the varietals can be from any other region. The Upper Hunter Valley is also a beautiful place filled some very genuine people and is a great place to raise a family.
It is very difficult to say I have a particular style of winemaking, I still consider myself a green horn. I am constantly learning new and innovative techniques from colleagues and peers in the industry. I feel the key to making good wine is being able to recognize how to use and adapt these techniques for each individual wine you produce.
This has been my first vintage in the Hunter and also my first in leading the team. I am very happy with the wines we have produced this year and look forward to the first of the 2016 whites hitting the shelves in June and getting feedback. There is a particular batch of Pinot we hand picked, open fermented in oak and basket pressed this year. I seem to find myself at these barrels on a daily basis to taste.
I’m a bit Semillon obsessed at the moment. It’s a great wine to grab two bottles of, drink one now and cellar one for a few years to see how it rewards.
What a terrible world it would be to live in where you were only limited to one wine for the rest of your life! If it did come down to it though it would have to be our 2013 Reserve Shiraz, Medium bodied with subtle oak it is drinking beautifully right now but will cellar well and develop for many years to come.
I am very excited to see our wines from this vintage starting to make its way to bottle and on the market. We had a great vintage and some excellent fruit came off the vine. Obviously for me being the one in the driver’s seat for the first time I am very anxious to hear the publics reviews. We will be releasing some exciting new wines including a couple of sparkling wines that the winery has not done for many years.
The lamb is in the oven, the Easter egg hunt has been set up, and now onto the most important part of the day: what to drink.
To help you on your way, The Wine Pig has put together a list of wines which should be gracing your dinner table this Easter weekend.
Mayfield Vineyard, Orange – 2009 Pinot Noir Chardonnay sparkling We should all start off the Easter weekend with a glass of bubbles.
And this one is up there with the best.
It has a soft berry-ish taste, which probably explains the slight pink-orange tinge. YUM. It’s a wonder they have any stock left! Petersons House, Hunter Valley – pink blush rose If pink is more your flavour, look no further than the Petersons Blush.
The soft bubbles and pale pink colour, combined with the slightly sweet but very fresh finish makes this wine a perfect pre-dinner celebration drink to share with friends, if you are feeling generous enough to share that is.
LOWE Wines, Mudgee – ‘Bobby Lowe’ organic sparkling merlot For something a little different, definitely look for a great deep red sparkling to compliment all that lamb.
This is a perfect smooth and earthy sparkling red wine, also with the added benefit of being organic.
LOWE has made sure the wine has a low sugar level, meaning it’s really quite dry and fruity and lovers of ‘big’ reds will be excited to have a red sparkling with a bit more umpf.
Voyager Estate, Margaret River – 2014 Chenin Blanc
We all know lamb is the Easter dish of choice, so for those who aren’t ready to tackle a rich and bold red wine, a great Chenin Blanc should be on your list.
Voyager Estate have done a great job with this very easy drinking, early Chenin Blanc.
It’s got all the succulent and juicy tropical flavours with a hint of great sweetness while also being a fine full bodied white wine which is robust enough to stand up against all that meat.
Mount Pleasant, Hunter Valley – Singing in the Rain Rose
Picked early, specifically to make a rose, rather than using the juice that has been run off reds as an afterthought gives this wine a lot of its character. The Shiraz-based wine is pale salmon pink in colour has earthy and slightly floral undertones but with a powerfully juicy red berry finish. Perfect to enjoy with your Easter seafood entrée.
Two Hands, Barossa – Gnarly Dudes 2013 Shiraz For those looking for something a little more traditional to go with your Easter feast, definitely keep an eye out for this Two Hands wine.
This bold wine has a lovely medium but rich density and weight, which is full of flavour with ripe with berries, chocolate notes and a hint of smokiness.
This spiciness of this wine makes it worryingly and perfectly quaffable meaning we just can’t get enough of it in our mouths at once! Oink oink.
Pieter Van Gent, Mudgee – White Port
The original white port made in NSW’s Mudgee region, by the wonderful Pieter Van Gent, is smooth, silky and luscious with tinges of nectar notes. It is a fantastic accompaniment to your Easter chocolate desert feast, or simply with a hot cross bun on the side. It’s not too sticky, it’s not too sweet, it’s just right.
Josef Chromy, Tasmania – Ruby Pinot NV (Fortified)
If you’re looking to enjoy your Easter eggs with a more traditional style of port, then Josef Chromy’s Ruby Pinot is a great place to head to. It screams rich fruit cake with ripe and juicy dark cherry and plums. It’s silky, it’s vibrant and it’s delicious. Make sure to pour yourself a generous portion!
Petersons, Mudgee – Cellar Port NV
If something a little heavier is more to your taste, Petersons of Mudgee make a spectacular Tawny Port which can really truly be described as Christmas in a glass. Ok, so we’re nine months out from the silly season, but you can’t have Easter without an amazing port, and you wouldn’t find The Wine Pig’s dinner table without a bottle, and healthy glass, of this one. Heaven in a bottle.
Pokolbin Estate Vineyard in the Hunter Valley prides itself by producing elegant yet powerfully structured wines which are created to improve further over time.
Since 1999, Pokolbin Estate Vineyard has been presented with over 100 Hunter Valley Boutique Wine, NSW Wine and National Wine awards for its Semillion, Riesling, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo and Fortified vintages.
Here, General Manager, Graham Ward, talks to The Wine Pig about the vineyard’s success.
You’re based in the Hunter Valley. What's the main attraction of this region? And how does it differ in terms of winemaking and wine styles compared to elsewhere in Australia?
Well ultimately The Hunter Valley is one of the oldest Boutique wine destination in Australia. Besides that, it has become quite famous for golf, corporate functions & weddings and in the last 10 years a big entertainment destination for concerts. Our wine styles are quite unique to the region with Semillon fruit from the Pokolbin region being classified as the best in the world. Because of the region and climatic conditions the hunter is recognised as producing relatively softer style reds in comparison to the vineyards in SA & WA.
How does Pokolbin Estate Vineyard differs to its peers in the region? What is your point of difference?
Well firstly, we are the only vineyard in The Hunter Valley to grow & produce the traditional Riesling variety. We serve young, aged, late harvest, autumn harvest and fortified Riesling. Being the only vineyard in the hunter to grow this certainly doesn’t diminish the quality, with our 2011 Riesling winning the Best Riesling in Australia through Winestate.
Secondly, since 2006 Pokolbin Estate Vineyard has won the Best Semillon in Australia five times. To win this accolade so many times, one would have to conclude we consistently produce the best Semillon in Australia.
Why are you the only vineyard in the region to produce the traditional Riesling variety? What have you managed to do that others can't?
A couple of things. Our vines are now 60 years old and everything is still done by hand. We implement selective picking, bunch thinning for premium quality and might do 2-3 different pickings in a vintage. Because our vines have developed over time and have been meticulously cared for is a big reason for this. If another vineyard in The Hunter planted Riesling today, it probably wouldn’t produce high quality fruit for 10 years.
Our Semillon vintages & our Riesling because of the extraordinary results nationally. Beating the likes of Claire & Eden Valley to the Best Riesling in Australia was certainly a massive achievement.
What most surprises people about Pokolbin Estate Vineyard and your wines?
I think the broad range we have from our Pokolbin & Belebula vineyards. We have wines suitable for all level of wine drinkers. Additionally, we only make wine if it is a good vintage, so we have a high quality of product across all our varieties.
What are you drinking now and what are you cellaring?
Our 2010 & 2011 Ken Bray Semillon are really drinking exceptionally now. For me personally I would be cellaring our 2009 Phil Swannell Semillon & a selection of our 2009, 2011 & 2014 Reserve Shiraz.
It’s the end of a long day. You’re sitting down to your favourite meal and a great wine to go with it – what would that be?
I’m a big fan of Italian cuisine. Who doesn’t like pizza, pasta and risotto? For me, a simple wood fire pizza with a glass of our 2013 Sangiovese wins every time. The light, dry nature of the Sangiovese with the subtle spicy characteristics really compliments pizza well. Match made in heaven…