Not only does Robert Stein Winery & Vineyard’s chief winemaker Jacob Stein have a wealth of knowledge, passion and the good fortune of being born into the wine industry, he also has a collection of enviable awards under his belt to match – most recently he won the 2012 Gourmet Traveller Young Winemaker of the Year award!
After graduating from University, Jacob spent 5 years away from Mudgee, visiting and working in many wineries including Italy, Canada, Western Australia, Victoria and Germany (where his love for Riesling really took off).
But before long he was enticed back to our beloved Mudgee where he, and the wine, only continues to blossom further.
Here, The Wine Pig was extremely grateful for the opportunity to speak to the man behind some of Australia’s best wine.
What drove your decision to become a winemaker?
Growing up between Sydney and our family farm in Mudgee, I saw the best of both worlds. However the potential to carry on the lineage and tradition on our farm was too much to neglect.
My role is predominantly winemaker, but our farm encompasses a vineyard, winery and livestock, and it's the diversity that each day presents is what keeps me going. Winemaking is a great mix of art, science', management, hard work, passion and learning from your mistakes - I love the challenge and thrill of vintage variation, and working with many growers in our region.
Can you describe your winemaking style, and how it differs to your peers in the region?
Our winemaking style is generally fairly similar to others in our region. Mudgee is mostly small family run wineries, where the wines are made by hand and t are from single vineyards with a focus on quality.
Our vineyard is run with wine quality in mind, with a focus on soil and vine health in order to limit or eliminate the use of synthetic chemicals to combat pests and diseases.
Our fruit is picked by hand and a gentle approach to winemaking employed, in order to allow the fruit to express itself in our wines. Our Riesling style is quite unique, and has been mentioned being "Alsasce" like, typically from having a European approach of minimal intervention.
Which of your wines are you most proud of and why?
Hands Down, our Riesling wines. We have been focusing on this variety for many years, but it's most recently paying off.
Our show success is huge, winning many major trophies and awards for the last 8 vintages of Rieslings.
It's also ironic that Riesling is the variety which we have an important historic background " it's really in our blood! "
What most surprises people most about you or the wines you produce?
Again it's our Rieslings that surprise. Mudgee has historically been known for rich, earthy, age worthy red wines, and rightly so, we make very good examples of these styles. But good Riesling from Mudgee is a fairly recent occurrence, and seeing we have won "wine of show" for the last two consecutive years at the Mudgee wine show, it's vastly becoming the one to beat. However I believe this to be the case for all of Mudgee’s white varietals, extremely underrated and will thrive in the future showing how versatile our region is.
What are you drinking now, and what are you cellaring?
Tassie Sparklings and Pinot Noir (literally drinking now).
I'm starting up cellaring classic Aussie wines again, after a few year hiatus. Grossett Riesling, Moss Wood Cabernet, Bannockurn and Giacondas - it's expensive now, but I'll be happy in 15 years.
If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would that be?
How could I choose anything else but Riesling, it's a celebratory drink, relatively cheap to buy now and will last forever.
It’s hard to go past good Rheingau and Rheinhessen…
What is the most exciting thing coming up for both you and the business over the next 12 months?
We have a few exciting events on over the next few months, being our 40th year anniversary.
Our 40th lunch will be a great day to reflect on our past 40, and celebrate with friends, hopefully setting us up for the next 40.
There are a few expansions plans for the business, and as usual some equipment upgrades, but I hope we can keep the vineyard heading in the same direction with our increasing fruit and wine quality.
A few exciting personal tasks on the hush for now, and slowly working on them!
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!
The Mudgee Region is the third largest grape-growing region in NSW and one of the oldest wine regions in the state.
This May, Pyrmont Festival has returned for the seventh consecutive year with a giant 10-day program which showcases the best that this stunning region has to offer.
The Wine Pig popped along to experience both the country charm of the Mudgee wine region and meet some of the most iconic winemakers from the area.
Here were our highlights.
Bunnamagoo Estate Wines: This fabulous winery focuses its efforts on individual and traditionally-made wines, with the grapes sources from its two vineyards both in and nearby to Mudgee. The very friendly Tom talked us through the bottled they’re most proud of – and for the rest, we have an excuse to take a trip!
Top picks: The 2014 Chardonnay was a clear favorite for The Wine Pig. The old French barrel fermentation alongside the traditional winemaking method really brings out the delicate oaky stonefruit flavours.
Burnbrae Wines: One of the oldest wineries in Mudgee, with the lovely Trine and Andy having recently taken over the vineyard from her parents Tony and Jill, and its cracking wines make it a standout in the region. They’ve got a brilliant selection of wines, ranging from a fruity and citrusy Pinot Gris right down to a spicy Shiraz… and even some beer.
Top picks: The 2014 Shiraz is spicy with some subtle oak and plenty of dark berries.
Di Lusso Estate: Mudgee’s iconic and extremely wonderful Di Lusso Estate produces a fantastic range of Italian-inspired wines. Any visitors should definitely swing by the stunning cellar door and absorb the views of the valleys while sipping on some wine. And for those who maybe want to stay a little closer to home should pop over to their stall at this weekend’s event – marvel over the wine and say hi to Rob!
Top picks: Di Lusso’s 2014 Sangiovese is light and supple with lashings of sweet raspberry and cherry. Delcious!
Huntington Estate: Back in 1969 Bob Roberts shoved a few thousand sticks in the ground and hoped they would grow. And it worked! Huntington Estate has an impressive collection of both the whites and reds, with something to suit every type of wine enthusiast. The Wine Pig has been lucky enough to sample a few of their wines in the past and it’s wonderful to see how they always continue to develop and impress further.
Top picks: If you’re looking for something a little different, the juicy, oaky 2015 Semillion Chardonnay is a fantastic pick and certainly one of our favorites.
Moothi Estate: Boasting one of the highest cellar doors across the wine region, Moothi Estate’s sundrenched grapes have given a wonderfully diverse collection – across three collections – of fabulous estate-only grown wines.
Top picks: The 2012 Moothi Estate Chardonnay is crisp and fresh but balanced beautifully with a creamy texture muddled in with mild oak.
Petersons of Mudgee: A swan around a Mudgee-based wine festival wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Jamie at the excellent Petersons of Mudgee. We’ve been lucky to be able to swing by the cellar door a couple of times before, and these wines never fail to delight and excite the palate. We highly recommend a visit to both the stall and the cellar door!
Top picks: The light and incredibly cleansing 2015 Verdelho is packed with tropical and citrus fruits while the elegantly smooth 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is packed full of black juicy berries and dark chocolate notes.
Robert Stein: The iconic Robert Stein produces some exceptional wines, making winemaker Jacob somewhat of a celebrity of the region. It’s trademark Riesling is one of the most talked about wines from the whole area and even challenges the best of the best from Australia’s classic Clare and Eden Valley region. And what’s even better is he doesn’t stop there, the whole range is outstanding and every wine needs to be sampled.
Top picks: The crisp 2015 Riesling was obviously a highlight with its citrus tones and touch of sweetness. Meanwhile The Wine Pig is also a big lover of, and can highly recommend, the newly-released rich and bold 2012 Reserve Cabernet.
Slowfox Wines: The fresh and vibrant Slowfox Wines handpick and handmake all their wines. The boutique winemakers haven’t yet opened their own cellar door, but its close on the horizon and we’re excited to pop in for a visit when its up an running… especially to taste some of Slowfox Wine’s highly anticipated Malbec!
Top picks: These guys are wonderfully proud of their lovely 2012 & 2013 Blends – Merlot (50%), Cabernet (40%) and Petit Verdot (10%) – and we were also pretty bowled over by the spicy, fruity 2014 Shiraz.