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!
Mount Pleasant Wines relatively new team member, Jim Chatto, this year became the vineyard’s fourth-ever chief winemaker since Maurice O’Shea established the winery back in 1921.
Joining from just down the road at Pepper Tree Wines, Jim brings with him a number of awards and exceptional passion for the purity of Hunter Valley wines.
Here, the very excited Wine Pig is lucky enough to find out what drives one of the region’s most loved winemakers.
Why did you decide to become a winemaker?
I started out in hospitality. The hours and thus lifestyle weren’t for me. However, it was through hospitality, I grew to love wine and the vitality of the folk involved. I was strong at science, yet fancied myself as an artist – winemaking kind of ticks both boxes.
What attracted you to the Hunter Valley wine region in particular?
I fell in love with the 1984 Lovedale Semillon tasted at university. I was keen to learn about such a unique style of wine.
Can you describe your winemaking style, and how it differs to your peers in the region?
I keep it simple, and don’t try to fight nature. Site and season make a great wine. The winemaker is there to guide it through the stages, and ultimately realise potential that was on the vine. I’m not sure this is particularly unique.
Which of your wines are you most proud of and why?
2014 Mount Pleasant Rosehill Vineyard 1965 Vines’ Shiraz. Possibly the best wine I will ever make.
What most surprises people about you or the wines you produce?
Might have to ask some ‘people’? Maybe that; I am pretty ‘down to earth’ about what I do and how I approach things; this is reflected in the wines I make.
What are you drinking now, and what are you cellaring?
It’s still pretty warm in the Hunter. I am mostly drinking fresh young whites and medium bodied reds. I am cellaring everything I can get from the 2014 in the Hunter Valley. It’s a once in a lifetime vintage that is guaranteed to reward cellaring.
If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would that be?
1978 DRC La Tache, Oh and Comtes de Champagne from Taittinger :)
What is the most exciting thing coming up for both you and the business over the next 12 months?
The release of the Mount Pleasant 2014 Reds. Feedback so far from critics and consumers alike has been overwhelming.
READ MORE about Mount Pleasant Wines from The Wine Pig here:
Event highlights: Sydney Cellar Door 2016
Easter Wines: The Wine Pig's hot picks
12 Wines of Christmas
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.
The Sydney Cellar Door event is back for 2016, showcasing the very best that NSW’s wine industry has to offer in Sydney's Hyde Park south, hosted by The Sydney Morning Herald.
As the largest celebration of wine in the state, wine lovers can challenge themselves to visit every one of the 100 winery stalls over a three-day period to sip and savor their way to wine heaven.
And for those which need a bit more guidance, here are The Wine Pig’s highlights to help you on your way.
Established in 1967, Hungerford Hill is a gorgeous boutique estate in Australia’s oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley.
Not only is Hungerford Hill’s winery is a landmark of the Hunter Valley region, the notorious Muse Restaurant boasts some of the finest food in the Valley and with a fantastic view across the vineyards to the Brokenback Ranges.
Cellar door guru Beck is an expert for those which want to be taken on a wine journey through Hungerford Hill’s ample variety of wines. Any wine festival visitors should certainly swing by this stall!
Wine to look out for: 2010 Dalliance Sparkling Pinot Noir
Mt Pleasant Wines
Also nestled in the infamous NSW wine region of Hunter Valley, Mt Pleasant Wines has a number of different wine ranges from five of its own vineyards, each known for their outstanding quality.
Having recently appeared in The Wine Pig’s top 12 wines of Christmas blog – the 2014 Eight Acres Semillion – it was an absolute pleasure to swing by and greet the friendly team at this iconic wine event. Whether you’re looking for a perfect drop for a special occasion or you just want to check out their range, we recommend you pop by!
Wine to look out for: 2007 Elizabeth Semillon and the Rosehill Vineyard Shiraz
Pepper Tree Wines
Another Hunter Valley favorite. Pepper Tree Wines actually produces a range of premium varietal wines sourced from its own vineyards in NSW’s Hunter, Orange, Connawarra and Wrattonbully regions and distributes not only in Australia but also internationally.
Split into four different ranges, these wonderful wines range anywhere from a light and zesty sauvignon blanc to a rich chocolately shiraz – there is something for every type of wine pig! Make sure to give the very lovely Pepper Tree ladies a visit!
Wine to look out for: 2015 Polly Fume
With grapes grown in the region and made and bottled onsite, James Estate is another premium Hunter Valley-based winery which deserves a drop in at their stall.
The vineyards spread over two sites in the Hunter Valley, with their cellar door set in the beautiful Pokolbin and vineyard in Baerami, with plantings which date back to 1968.
Swing by the stall and ask the team to tell you more about the range. And if you’re looking for a selection of wines but are finding it too difficult to choose, these guys do an excellent mystery box. Oooh!
Wine to look out for: 2015 Reserve Rose
Carillion Vineyard on the slopes of Mt Canobolas in NSW’s Orange wine region produces some brilliant cool climate wines.
Red/brown volcanic clay loams on light-medium clays provide the base for growing premium Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in the whites, with the focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz in the reds.
Any Sydney Cellar door visit should definitely drop in at the Carillion and ask for the very helpful and very lovely Tim. The wines are an utter treat!
Wine to look out for: 2015 Carillion Riesling
Di Lusso Estate
Mudgee’s iconic and extremely wonderful Di Lusso Estate produces a fantastic range of Italian-inspired wines. A visit out to this stunning cellar door is an absolute must – sit outside overlooking the mudgee valley and feast on some amazing Italian food and sample through the wine list.
For those which find a trip out to the region a little too much, you definitely need to swing by their stall at this weekend’s event and say hi to Rob!
Wine to look out for: 2015 Pinot Grigio