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Thursday, 07 April 2016 01:13

From Start To Finish

Perfecting the art of winemaking is no easy feat – but goes hand-in-hand with creating a flavoursome wine. April Davis enlists the expert knowledge of Hardys Tintara brand ambassador, William Hardy, to establish just how important the winemaking process is in creating a mouth-watering vintage.

When Thomas Hardy first relocated from England to South Australia in 1850, he had no idea of the impact this fruitful region would have on both his life and the lives of his family for generations to come. Flash forward more than 160 years and Hardy has transformed the 30 pounds in his back pocket into Hardys Tintara, one of Australia’s largest producers of quality wine.

Here, Wineries of South Australia delves into the company’s rich history to break down the complexities of the winemaking process and uncover the secrets behind its premier reds.


William Hardy first developed an interest in winemaking while studying agricultural science at the University of Adelaide. It was here that he first became intrigued by the winemaking process and started to understand how the process is both an art form and a science.

“The whole idea of winemaking being a mixture of art and science, which demands an understanding of viticulture, biology and biochemistry greatly appeals to me,” he says.

His passion and knowledge then grew through his studies at the Universite de Bordeaux, where he obtained the Diplome d’Oneologue, which is the French national qualification in winemaking. Here, he learned all about the art of producing a premier quality wine. According to Hardy, in its simplest form, winemaking is essentially the fermentation of grapes into an alcoholic beverage.

“The winemaking process is primarily aimed at extracting colour, tannin and flavour from the fruit, encouraging yeast to ferment natural sugars into alcohol. From here, the wine is gently transferred to a bottle where it will be aged to ensure the smells and flavours are maximised for the drinker’s enjoyment.”

Expert knowledge and execution during this process is how high-quality wines are created; more specifically, those that stimulate the senses through impeccable structure, texture and balance.


A successful and delicious vintage is determined by the climate, quality grapes and the proper equipment – but to what extent does tender, loving care play a role?

Vigilance should be practiced through each stage of the winemaking process because the procedures and recipes followed by the winemaker will significantly impact the overall quality of the wine.

For Hardy, ‘respecting the grape’ is an essential consideration for all of Hardy Tintara's wines.

“Our winemakers see their role as nurturing the expression of the varietal and regional characteristics brought to the wine from its vineyard.”

Nurturing the grapes from the day they’re planted until the day they’re transformed into a palatable vintage will fortify the wine against any undesirable flavours and colours, which is why the role of a winemaker is a vital one!


The processes undertaken by each winemaker are fundamental to the intrinsic quality of a wine, and any differences in method will produce a very different sort of vintage. Here, we outline some of the basic principles of winemaking.


Winemaking always begins with harvesting the fruit. As far as Hardy is concerned the backbone of a great wine is made up of its ingredients.

“Great wines are made from great fruit, always! Choosing the right time to pick the grapes is essential in optimising the flavour, structure and balance of the wine. It’s also important to always handle the fruit gently to ensure no undesirable phenolic compounds are extracted.”

There’s no doubt that a flavoursome palette requires a deep understanding of the vineyard the grapes are growing in. Everything from the soil, temperature and harvesting techniques are integral in optimising the taste and aromas of the wine.

“Australia benefits from an enviable combination of an ideal climate in its south- east and south-west corners, a level of soil fertility that ensures vines are not over- vigorous, low disease pressure from mildew, and plenty of sunshine, which guarantees ripeness,” says Hardy.

A myriad of factors contribute to the quality of the wine’s grapes, and each of these can alter the tastes, smells and colours of the final product.


In simple terms, maceration is the process of soaking crushed grapes, seeds and stems to extract colour and fragrance compounds, as well as tannins. Differences in maceration techniques are what leads to different wine varieties and can completely alter the wine’s flavour palette. For example, frequent stirring extracts more tannin from the fruit into the wine, while less-frequent stirring will extract less tannin, which can dramatically change the taste of the wine.

The amount of time wine is left to macerate also varies; longer periods of maceration will create wines that are more opaque and rich, while shorter periods of maceration will produce pale and delicate wines that more closely resemble a pinot noir. It’s also important to note that maceration can take place before or during fermentation, depending on the intended flavour and colour combination.


Fermentation is where the fun begins and the actual alcoholic component of the wine is produced. Essentially, once the grapes are collected and gently crushed, the sugars from the grapes are released, exposing them to yeast. The sugars will remain exposed to the yeast until the level of alcohol in the juices reach around 15 per cent. Once the wine reaches this stage, the yeast will die off naturally and any remaining sugars will linger to sweeten the wine.

Once again, different fermentation techniques will produce different results. Some winemakers favour traditional methods, where fermenting is done by hand, or modern approaches, which utilise the introduction of new technologies. Hardys Tintara, for example, uses a combination of both.

“Our premium red wine cellar contains cutting- edge fermenters that combine traditional winemaking principles with innovative handling techniques. Pressing, however, still takes place in basket presses that date as far back as 1919,” says Hardy.

Both traditional and modern techniques will wield broadly similar results – but subtle variations in the textures, flavours, colours and aromas can be noted when using different fermenting methods.


After the grapes have been harvested and the wine has been macerated and fermented, it’s time for this concoction to age gracefully.

There’s a noticeable difference in taste between young reds and well-aged reds, but the latter has usually developed more depth and maturity than its younger counterparts. Red wine that hasn’t been left to mature often smells of ripe berries, but will have a bitter taste. Young wines contain considerably more tannin and when sipped, the tannins in the liquid will bind with the proteins on the tongue and inhibit the production of saliva, leaving the mouth feeling dry and chalky.

When ageing a wine, winemakers will always ensure temperatures and optimal storage conditions are maintained, in the interest of creating a delicious vintage that’s well worth the wait.

A bottle of wine is only as good as the ingredients and care taken to produce it. As Hardy implores,

“Winemaking is all about delivering distinctive aromas and flavours that are complemented by subtle winemaking influences.”

A great tasting wine is heavily influenced by the winemaking process and is only as good as its winemakers.


Thursday, 07 April 2016 01:09

Uniquely Riverland

Since 1971. Here, Emily Williamson speaks with Sharon Nitschke of the RVIC about The Riverland Vine Improvement Committee (RVIC) is a not-for-profit organisation that has specialised in supplying vine information to the Australian wine industry the organisation and the region in which it works.

The RVIC is one of Australia’s leading suppliers of vine information, with a particular focus on quality cutting production of rootstock and Vinifera. In addition to viticultural assessments and trials, the organisation has also expanded into the winemaking industry. Since 2005, the RVIC has been producing wine from 21 grape varieties, with each vintage being distributed to industry personnel to provide comment and feedback.

According to Sharon Nitschke, these winemaking trials proved to be incredibly successful and were the launchpad for the Cirami Estate label, which was named after a man who generously dedicated his time to the industry.

“(Cirami Estate) is named in honour of Mr Richard Cirami, who was a member of the RVIC for 20 years in the early days. He was a pioneer in clonal research and was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his service to viticulture. It seemed a fitting tribute to a man who made such a valuable contribution to the grapevine industry.”

The wine produced by the RVIC has since enjoyed incredible success and gained industry acclaim for its varieties. It has also highlighted to the Australian wine industry which grape varieties – such as durif, fiano, lagrein, montepulciano, saperavi and vermentino – would thrive in the Riverland region.

“All of these varieties performed well in the hot, dry conditions of the Riverland and have consistently produced good-quality fruit for the winery,” says Nitschke.


The ‘Cirami’ block is the RVIC’s premium Vinifera-source block and was first planted in 1995. The property now has more than 40 hectares (150 cultivars) of producing vines, of which approximately 30 hectares are used for the planting of mainstream grape varieties.

“The primary purpose of this block is to produce high-quality scion material suitable for grafting. This is achieved by applying specialised management practices that best promote quality cane growth. The ‘Cirami’ block has the capacity to produce in excess of two million cuttings annually.”

The RVIC has a strong focus on alternative grape varieties and allocated the last ten hectares for small plantings to encourage diversity. Since the first alternative varieties were planted in 2000, the number has grown to an incredible 70.

Nitschke says creating diversity in the varieties available is important for two reasons.

“The object of creating this diverse range is to firstly provide a readily available cutting source to supply the industry with vine material for propagation. The second reason is to evaluate varieties and identify those suited to the hot Riverland conditions. Small lot winemaking was (therefore) introduced in 2005 to assist with the evaluation of potential new varieties.”


“Over the past 30 years, the RVIC has strived to ensure that consistently high-quality products are delivered to its customers. The focus on quality has seen the nursery develop a trusted reputation throughout most of Australia for its product,” says Nitschke.

Thirty hectares of rootstock-source vines are also supplying Australian nurseries with their grafting requirements.

“On the 30 hectares there are 22 different varieties of rootstock planted. These vines are purpose-grown with optimum irrigation and nutrition to produce high-quality cuttings suitable for bench grafting. This property can produce more than four million first-grade cuttings each year.”

The RVIC is now looking forward and hoping to plant new grape varieties, which will originate from the arid regions of Spain, Portugal and Italy. The organisation is excited about the new challenges to come and cannot wait to provide its consumers with different and exciting wine choices.


Thursday, 07 April 2016 01:04

Retire On Wine

Boasting one of the best-performing asset classes of the last two decades, fine wine investment is by no means a new phenomenon. Selecting a wine synonymous with sophistication and elegance that will perform as a tangible asset, however, can be tricky. Whether you’re a fully-fledged aficionado or a naïve novice, April Davis delves into how funnelling your savings into liquid assets can give your early retirement fund a much needed boost.

Fine wine is undoubtedly an asset; it’s a luxurious product that we aspire to own, consume and know more about. For many, it’s far more useful than gold, and easier to enjoy than art, and this makes wine investment a pivotal point of interest to wine connoisseurs and investors alike. The most important factor is the supply, which is limited, so the prevalence of any particular aged vintage is constantly diminishing. This is why having a well-aged vintage from good stock in your possession can see you reaping financial rewards.

To ensure you’re making the right long- term investment choice, Wineries of South Australia teams up with Tamara Grischy, head of auctions at Langton Fine Wine Auctions, to explain everything you need to know about investing in wine.


In the 1990s demand boomed for top-quality wines from renowned regions, such as Bordeaux, as the traditional market for these wines — namely Europe and North America — was joined by a new one, the Far East. This saw unprecedented growth by these new markets, especially China.

Today, an increase in customers’ vinous knowledge has expanded the interest and appetite of buyers, while the tough economic climate has attributed to attractive prices. If you’re looking at making a viable long-term investment, iconic vintages from 2009 and 2010 still hold cachet and will be a high-quality addition to your portfolio. Shrewd buyers, however, are encouraged to seek out quality and value from previously under-priced vintages, such as wines from 2006 and 2008.

It’s also worth noting that wine portfolios are expanding beyond what has been seen as traditionally the best-quality and most expensive wine suppliers in Bordeaux and
shifting towards markets in Burgundy, Spain, Italy and North America.


Armed with all of this knowledge, it’s important to consider why wine is a better investment than other more traditional forms of financial investment.

In a nutshell, wine is a finite product. You’re putting money into a tangible, improving asset with limited production and global demand. The supply of this already limited asset declines over time, which therefore drives prices up.

“The consumption of wine directly impacts the amount of specific brands and vintages available on the market. This rarity factor is the biggest influencing variable impacting the growth of value in the wine market,” says Grischy.

According to Grischy, however, the wine market is more than just a money-making scheme.

“Wine allows us to travel the world and explore regional differences by simply opening a bottle. In a culture driven by food and wine indulgence, the taste experience is becoming more important, even among those who don’t know much about wine.”

The phenomenal demand for high-quality, mature wines makes it a great way to generate some extra money, while also having fun!


Like any financial endeavour, investing in wine is not guaranteed to give you a profitable return. The key to any beneficial investment is always research, so make sure you learn everything you can about the market, including the history, current economic state and what successful wine investors are doing to see a return for their money. According to Grischy, a high-quality wine that’s worth investing in will need to meet the following criteria:

“A high-quality wine should capture consumer imagination, have limited production, a good track record, regional provenance and be of an exquisite quality.”

Here, we delve further into some of the essential factors you need to learn about before you invest.

Know Your Price

Knowing your price covers two key areas; knowing how much you can spend and knowing how much a bottle is actually worth.

Wine is a valuable commodity and sales are becoming more impressive, however, making a profit or even breaking even is not always guaranteed. You should only spend what you can afford to lose and never use money you need to live off. As enticing as investing in a premier bottle of red may be, it’s not worth risking your financial wellbeing or your ability to provide for yourself and your family.

You should also make sure your wine merchant isn’t ripping you off. A professional will be able to spot a naïve novice from a mile away and an untrustworthy one won’t hesitate to charge you above market value for the sought-after vintage you have your eye on. This will not only see you spending more in the short-term, it will also affect your profit margin.

Invest In The Best

A cheap no-name bottle of white wine, even if you keep it for ten years, probably won’t make you any money, while a good-quality bottle of wine from a reputable winery could potentially line your pockets with some extra cash.

The trick is to invest in wine with a good track record that also has global secondary demand. Many would suggest you should stick to the main chateaux of Bordeaux, which is an excellent tip since historically this region has fared better than any other. You can, however, also look at the wine investment potential in other countries, such as Italy, America and even Australia. Most importantly, make sure you only buy the best wine available within your price range.

Make A Long-Term Commitment

The best investment-grade wines are produced in small quantities (usually a maximum of 20,000 cases) and the demand and supply imbalance brought about through consumption drives the prices higher over time. This means that a minimum five-year investment period is more likely to wield results. Purchasing a wine and then selling it a month later is probably going to be a waste of time. Many investors will hold onto their purchases for five-year intervals, with ten-years being a popular and successful investment length.

Find The Right Home

Correct storage of investment wines is crucial. Regardless of how good your wine is when you purchase it, the quality and value of your wine will be compromised if it isn’t stored correctly.

Fine wine will age best if it’s stored in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. Ensuring it’s in sealed, unmixed wooden cases, potentially in a paid warehouse, will keep it safe. There are ‘in bond’ locations across the globe where for a small fee your wine will be professionally stored in optimum conditions to ensure it retains its value for the life of your investment.

Find The Right Insurance

Much like you wouldn’t purchase a house or a car without insuring them, you also shouldn’t purchase a bottle of wine that you intend to keep as an asset without insuring it. Ideally your wine should be insured for its potential value; at the very least make sure it’s insured for the purchase price.

Know When To Sell

Keep track of the market and trends, to know how much your wine has grown in value and if it’s expected to keep growing. You need to hold onto your investment for a period of time, but not too long. This can feel like a bit of a balancing act, but if you keep yourself up-to- date and well-informed, and seek advice from professionals, you’ll be more likely to find the perfect balance.


Despite the fads and fashions of the wine industry, certain wines have historically fared better than others in terms of investment. First released in 1991, the Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine has become the benchmark for investing in Australian wines. It ranks the country’s best-performing wines based on market demand and secondary market performance over time.

“Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine ranks wine based on its reputation and track record at auction. The classification is compiled every four years from auction sales results, including volume of bidding and price movements,” says Grischy.

Another indicator of how well a wine might perform in Australia is Penfolds Grange.

“Penfolds Grange leads the market in Australia and is distinctive in the international wine market. The brand has established some unique and very attractive qualities that are rarely seen in the international market, especially since there’s always a high demand for complete sets of Penfolds’ wine and for Grange magnums, which trade for high prices,” says Grischy.

Another benchmark is The Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 Index, which is a great resource available to budding or established wine investors. The index is the fine wine industry’s leading global benchmark, which represents the price movement of 100 of the most sought- after fine wines. It’s highly recommended you refer to its index prior to finalising any buying decisions.


Starting the research process from scratch can be daunting, which is why we have compiled a selection of high-quality vintages that are real commodities!


Wines from Bordeaux have a long-established history and a good reputation for consistent quality and cellaring potential.

On Bordeaux’s ‘left bank’, chateaux Latour, Lafite-Rothschild, Margeau, Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion are all reliable investments. On the ‘right bank’ plush merlot-based wines from Le Pin, Petrus and Lafleur are some of the most popular investment wines.


Red and white wines from Burgundy are only made in small quantities and are usually snapped up by local enthusiasts very quickly. When they re-appear on the market their scarcity drives the prices to astronomical heights.

The Grand Cru wines from de la Romanee- Conti, Henri Jayer and Comte Georges de Vogue are also among some of the best.

Rhone Valley

The Rhone Valley doesn’t produce as many wines capable of commanding high prices, but there are still a handful of attractive prospects. Most notable are those from Jean-Louis Chave, particularly the Cuvee Cathelin and Vin de Paille. Any of the top-end Chateauneuf-du- Pape wines from Chateau Rayas, including the standard Reserve, the Pignan Reserve and the white Reserve Blanc, are all worthwhile investments.


The United States is a new force in the wine investment industry and is making its mark with its potential to produce expensive, top- quality wines.

California dominates the American market with collector’s items produced in small quantities that drive a strong return. Napa Valley cabernet sauvignons, such as Screaming Eagle, Schrader Cellars’ Beckstoffer To Kalon and T6 RBS, are among the best.

Outside of Nappa, Sonoma County’s Vérité winery produces three wines, La Joie, La Muse and Le Desir. The value of these wines has grown consistently over time and can lead to good investment returns.


Australia is home to a handful of wines that are being recognised globally for their investment potential. Penfolds, in particular, produces several wines that have been consistently increasing in value over the past decade. Among these are Bin 95 Grange, RWT, Bin 389 and Bin 407.

“1998 Penfolds Bin 389, in particular, has increased 300 per cent over the last ten years. The original purchase price was $18 and the current price is $120,” Grischy explains.


Thursday, 07 April 2016 01:02

The Nectar of Summer

Summer is the time for entertaining in style, and what better way to enjoy the warmer months than with a nectarous bottle of wine at the table? Here, Rene Hart looks at the perfect summer wines that are ideal for sipping in the sun.

Every year, during the glorious summer months, it’s time to pack away the slow cooker, dust off the barbecue and prepare for the entertaining season. From casual alfresco dining to formal dinner parties, these relaxed summer days can only be enhanced by a chilled glass – or bottle – of your favourite wine.


An irresistibly refreshing and delicious pink rosé is a summertime staple, and whether it’s delicate and sweet, or savoury and dry, both are equally delectable in the heat.

The 2014 Longview Boat Shed Nebbiolo Rosé from the Longview Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, is a perfect thirst-quencher that pairs marvellously with a mouth-watering table of tapas. With its rich salmon colour and slight orange tone, the wine possesses wonderful aromas of orange peel, rose petal and ripe strawberry. The palate has rich cherry and musky flavours, and delivers the ideal combination of crispness, vibrancy and texture in the mouth.

If you prefer something with a little extra body, the 2015 Paxton Rosé is 100 per cent shiraz, and is sourced from a biodynamically grown vineyard in McLaren Vale. The bright fruit characters are testament to a healthy vineyard, which produces vibrant rose-pink rosé that is crisp, yet refreshingly fruit-driven, making it perfect for red and white drinkers. This medium-bodied wine represents the South Australian sunshine and warm days by the beach, displaying fragrant raspberry and cherry aromas. The fruit is beautifully balanced by acidity and a fleshy texture with a resounding long, full-fruited palate that leaves your mouth singing for more. It means this rosé can handle food with a bit more heat, such as beef with black bean sauce and chillies, or Mediterranean pizza with plenty of spicy chorizo.

A bottle of 2014 Caudo Vineyard Rosé on a blistering hot afternoon provides plenty of refreshment and fun. The wine is produced from the Caudo Vineyard in the Riverland wine region of South Australia – the heartland of Australia’s wine industry. This rosé gets its deep ruby-red colour from a combination of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz. Refreshing, dry and zesty, the wine has a delicate nose of raspberries and ginger. It also holds a soft and velvety texture, and finishes with apple raspberry tannins.


With a novel palate presence and a style that is favoured among many, moscato is a wine that finds friends in all circles. Fun, festive and full of flavour, this is a gem that can start a party, make a brunch, or pair beautifully with your favourite desserts. The sweetness is refreshingly pleasant, especially on a hot day when you need something to help lift you up, and with its low alcohol content, it will keep you happy without taking you over the edge.

The 2014 Annie’s Lane Moscato is a versatile wine that is perfect for quaffing on its own, or with a lazy lunch. The Clare Valley region where the moscato is produced is a phenomenon in terms of viticulture, as it not only produces full-bodied red wines but it equally produces floral rieslings and sweet moscatos that are beautifully silky and elegant. This blushed- rose moscato is a fun and buoyant wine that offers vibrant aromas of strawberry, musk and Turkish delight, as well as full and luscious exotic fruit flavours and a finish that perfectly balances crisp acidity and zest.

An easy-drinking, effervescent style of moscato is ideal for poolside entertainment, and to help keep fresh and cool as the mercury rises. The 2014 Angove Long Row Moscato is the perfect choice, with a nose of crisp apple and fresh tropical fruits that burst through in this delightfully aromatic wine. The moscato presents as crystal-clear in the glass with a pale green tinge, and delivers a palate of gooseberry and orange zest. A subtle spritz leads into a delectable sweetness that fills the mouth and lingers, and its exotic flavours are perfectly matched with Asian cuisine.

The Barossa is widely recognised as Australia’s most varied district for premium grape growing and produces some of South Australia’s best wines. The 2014 Grant Burge Moscato epitomises this region’s remarkable wine- making capabilities, as it is handcrafted from Grant Burge’s premium vineyards and other respected growers throughout South Australia. Pale gold in colour and distinctively presented in a unique rippled bottle, the spicy, citrus tones and floral aromas are complemented by hints of apricot and lychee. There is an abundance of unbearably sweet offerings out on the market – wines that would put a diabetic into immediate peril – however, this moscato finds a balance between its honeyed sweetness, spicy ginger and zesty lemon flavours. The wine finishes with a soft, clean acidity and lingering ‘frizzante’ that dances lively on your tongue, making it a beguiling and seductive drink.


In the sweltering heat of summer, it’s hard to imagine knocking back a heavy red, but if you pick a wine that is light and can be served slightly chilled, even reds can be the perfect summertime wine. Pinot noir is a leisurely red that can easily suit summer situations, especially when matched with smoky meat just off the barbecue. Refrigerate overnight and take it out before you leave home, and it should be the perfect temperature by the time you arrive at your favourite picnic spot.

The 2013 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir will keep you sipping, totally captivated, until the bottle is empty. This satisfying cherry-red pinot noir is modest with a lot of fresh red fruits and earthiness on the nose, as well as savoury elements and exotic spices. The palate is medium-bodied, and layered with complex tart berry flavours and subtle oak. The structure is delicate and savoury, with finely textured tannins and balanced acidity that leads to a refined and lingering finish. It’s an ideal accompaniment to roast duck or mushroom ragu with polenta.

The delightfully plush and juicy 2013 Pinot Noir is one of Shaw + Smith’s newest family members, sourced from the cooler regions of the Adelaide Hills. The vine fruit is handpicked and hand-plunged to avoid fruit damage, and is matured in French barriques. The light colour belies the intensity of this wine with its captivating fragrance of strawberry and rose. This is a wine with tension and style, and an organised complexity of both flavour and texture that is all held in place by fine silky tannins. Red fruit aromas in the red cherry and redcurrant spectrum carry through onto the palate with a supple mouth feel, followed by flavours of ripe berries and spicy cedar, as well as a touch of meatiness on the finish. This medium- to full-bodied style is well paired with roast pigeon breast and confit leg, blood sausage and quince.

When it comes to quality summer wines, South Australia is indeed the lucky state, showing perfectionist traits year after year that produce perfect wines for warmer weather. From a pinot noir with extra fruity depth, to a rosé with layers of flavour, and moscato with delectable sweetness and balance, there are so many delicious wines to choose from. Now all that’s left to do is invite the crew over, stock up on a few bottles, and let the celebrating continue in style!


Thursday, 07 April 2016 00:59

Hallowed Ground

As the Australian wine industry celebrates the 30th edition release of the Australian Wine Companion, Alexandra Brocklehurst discusses the milestone with its author and veteran expert within the world of wine, James Halliday.

Each year without fail, winemakers, wine consumers and all those with an interest in the Australian wine industry, eagerly await the release of the Australian Wine Companion (now the Halliday Wine Companion). Over the last 30 years, the book – which includes detailed tasting notes, wine ratings, and information on hundreds of wineries and winemakers throughout Australia – has evolved to become the definitive guide to Australian wine.

As well as tasting notes and winery profiles, the Halliday Wine Companion includes awards for best wine, winemaker and winery of the year, as well as naming the ten best new wineries and best-value wineries in Australia.

To keep the page count from exceeding the thousands (the 2016 edition is a hefty 776- page volume) the Halliday Wine Companion website and iPhone app also contain more than 55,000 tasting notes that date back to earlier editions, allowing users easy access to a wealth of knowledge.


Growing up in Sydney, Halliday’s fledgling interest in wine was initiated by his parents’ own enjoyment of bottles they had collected in their cellar. Nonetheless, Halliday’s more formal wine education began while working at a major Australian law firm, Clayton Utz. During the mid-to-late 1960s, Halliday attended wine education classes hosted by the late Len Evans, who became his mentor and a life-long friend. Through classes with Evans, Halliday learnt about the great wines of France and Germany, and by the late 1960s he was becoming a more serious wine buyer with cellars in several locations.

Along with Tony Albert and John Beeston – two of his close friends and fellow members of their college Wine Club during university – Halliday set off to the Hunter Valley with the intention of buying land to establish their own vineyard and winery. In October 1970, the trio purchased a 4-hectare block in the Hunter Valley, and planted vines the following year. They named the vineyard Brokenwood Wines, and the Brokenwood partnership expanded over the following decade, until Halliday sold his shares in 1983 and moved to Melbourne. During this time, he became more involved in writing about and judging wines at shows, where he would take comprehensive tasting notes – a clear indicator of the fount of knowledge he would later become.

In 1985, Halliday’s wine-producing experience grew when he established Coldstream Hills in Yarra Valley. In 1996 it was acquired by Southcorp in 1996, and led Halliday to spending brief periods of time in the renowned French wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

As his career in the wine industry expanded and his reputation as a trusted critic and wine writer grew, Halliday received the ultimate accolade in 1995 when he won the coveted Australian wine industry’s Maurice O’Shea Award. Fifteen years later, Halliday was also made a Member of the Order of Australia.


Tasting each wine that features in the Halliday Wine Companion, as well as those that are included on the website and accompanying iPhone app, is a vast undertaking that would arguably intimidate even the most dedicated wine experts. Even as he heads into his late 70s, however, and the number of wines he tastes in a day has decreased, Halliday approaches the task with the same vigour as he did 30 years ago.

Until recently, Halliday completed all the tasting notes himself and 25 years ago he tasted approximately 160 wines per day. Nowadays, Halliday has two staffers who help out in the office and the number of tastings he completes per day has decreased to a respectable 80 wines.

“I alternate between white wines and red wines... [ideally] tasting in blocks of ten wines,” explains Halliday. “I use soda water (alkaline) to neutralise the build-up of acidity from the wines, rinsing my mouth with this every 20 minutes or so.”

“I use green olives on their stones when tasting red wines to strip the tannin build-up – only a small portion of an olive will be nibbled each time. [Alternatively], I use hard cheese when tasting white wines, once again, with a tiny amount,” says Halliday of the tasting rituals he has refined over the years.

When judging a wine, Halliday critiques the “balance and length, plus appropriate varietal and/or regional definition”. In a previous interview, Halliday had said that he came to the “conclusion in a millisecond” when deciding on Serrat’s 2014 Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier for Wine of the Year in the 2016 Halliday Wine Companion, which seemed to be an almost instinctive decision.
When asked if he has developed a kind of ‘sixth sense’ for great wines, Halliday explains that “it’s seldom a question of sixth sense; the process is more structured than that, however, there are some wines each year that go close to ultimate perfection, and are instantly recognisable.”

“There are some wines each year that go close to ultimate perfection, and are instantly recognisable.”


Despite the continual growth and success of the Halliday Wine Companion, Halliday says he has “never felt the pressure” as such a trusted voice within the industry, because for so many years his wine writing income was so small in comparison to that of his law career.

In the 2016 edition, Halliday named Tahbilk – a winery located in the Nagambie Lakes region of Victoria – as Winery of the Year for its great-quality wines, which are steeped in the vineyard’s history. These vineyards, which spread across 227 hectares of the 1214-hectare property, include 16 varieties. At Tahbilk, there are vineyards that date back as far as 1860, and with winemaker Alistair Purbrick at the helm, Tahbilk has overcome a decade of financial struggle and secured a loyal customer base through a highly-successful wine club.

The title of Winemaker of the Year in the 2016 edition was taken by Peter Fraser, who first tasted great Australian red wines when serving in the Australian army. Since then, he has moved through a successful career to become chief winemaker at Yangarra Estate Vineyard in McLaren Vale, South Australia. Halliday notes Fraser’s philosophical and practical changes to his winemaking approach as significant, such as the reduction of alcohol levels. In addition, Fraser’s use of 675-litre ceramic eggs for red wine fermentation in 2013 is a technique that highlights his dedication to biodynamic winemaking.


Just as the Halliday Wine Companion continues to hold its place as one of the most important books within the Australian wine world, Halliday explains that “the future [of the Australian wine industry] is brighter than that of most of our competitive countries”. He is equally excited about the new techniques and technologies on the horizon for the global wine industry.

“Berry-to-berry selection is now possible for those countries/winemakers who wish to, or can afford to, use the new automated sorting. The vibrating sorting system can be mounted on a mechanical harvester, radically improving the picking process.

“The same technology can be installed at the winery to do the same job, getting rid of any foreign matter (leaves, stalks, etc.) or damaged (by botrytis or mould) grapes. In the winery, cross-flow filtration has revolutionised filtration of juice and/or finished wine.”


As well as the latest Halliday Wine Companion, Halliday has released another book under his publisher, Hardie Grant, titled Varietal Wines. As the name suggests, “the book covers all 130 different grape varieties being grown in Australia as at 2015 [that] are used to make varietal wines”.

“There is no question of choosing the varieties covered; every variety grown in Australia is discussed. There is far greater content for the classic varieties, where I look at the places in the world where they are used to make great wines, noting some of the best producers of such wines.

“There are also exciting changes in understanding the evolution of grape varieties. Thus, we now know that pinot noir is one of the great-grandparents of both shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, and that pinot noir, pinot gris, pinot meuniere and pinot blanc are genetically identical.”

Publication of the book is timely, as wine producers around Australia continue to refine their approach to matching individual grape varieties to specific sites, so the book is a great supplement for any Australian wine enthusiast wishing to learn more.

Halliday notes that this new book adds to the “vast amount of information that has become available over the last three or four years” on wine varieties. Varietal Wines sits alongside the 1242-page tome Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and DNA evidence expert Jose Vouillamoz, which covers 1368 vine varieties, their origins and flavours, and their genetic makeup.

“The other mine of information has been research carried out by Professor Kym Anderson at the University of Adelaide, tracking every variety country-to-country, showing the hectares of each variety planted in Australia and elsewhere in the world.”

These explorations of the different wine varieties grown in Australia emphasise the importance of understanding the history of every vine across the country and highlight the depth of knowledge that is available for all those looking to broaden their own knowledge of varietal wines.

As an author, writer, wine judge and vigneron, Halliday juggles an ambitious and busy schedule. “Tasting for the 2017 Wine Companion commenced on 20 May 2015,” explains Halliday, who also assessed more than 1200 wines that were submitted for the 2015 Top 100 Wines published in the Weekend Australian in November. Three decades after his career as a wine critic began, Halliday remains the most respected voice in the Australian wine world. With opinions that are informed and based on a broad, as well as in- depth knowledge of wine, his books continue to attract wine lovers, both old and young.


Thursday, 07 April 2016 00:58

A Fine Drop

The effort to decipher the elements of a good wine, and indeed acquire a palate for the task of assessing wine, is complicated, mesmeric, and dependent on precision. Hara Carragher looks at the characteristics of award-winning wine and reveals the top ten most highly-acclaimed Australian wines of the 21st century.

Over the last two centuries, the Australian wine market has steadily grown, and due to the wines’ quality and diversity, has taken the international wine market by storm. What makes any wine exceptional rests on a vast number of factors including the location and topography of the vineyard, soil type and quality, biological structure of the grapes themselves, and the process in which the grapes were fermented. To define the qualities of an exceptional wine, Wineries of South Australia speaks with renowned wine writer and boutique wine distributer Patrick Walsh, who has worked for ten years as a sommelier and reveals the requisite constituent of an award-winning wine.


An exceptional wine should hold balance in its complexity and be seamless in its overall demeanour.

“You’re looking for wines that have a true sense of place; wines that are balanced, wines that have intensity of flavour and concentration,” says Walsh.

In order to identify the qualities of an exceptional wine, it’s essential to look at the characteristics that the vintage holds.


Wednesday, 06 April 2016 04:21

Brand's Laira Coonawarra

The legend of Brand’s Laira Coonawarra dates back to 1893, when a retired sea captain named Henry Stentiford purchased a 28-hectare vineyard in Coonawarra. Stentiford named the property ‘Laira’, after an old square-rigged ship that traded around the coast of Australia and New Zealand at the time.

In 1966, Brand’s Laira Coonawarra was established by Eric Brand and his wife Nancy, and became one of the first small wineries in the region and has since celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. Continuing the traditional winemaking methods, Brand’s Laira Coonawarra consistently delivers premium-quality, award-winning wines from one of Australia’s most recognised wine regions and was given a 5-star rating in the Halliday Wine Companion.

Although cabernet sauvignon is the specialty wine of the Coonawarra region, the winery also produces fantastic riesling, chardonnay and shiraz. Passion and love is poured into all of the wines that Brand’s Laira Coonawarra produces. The winery’s primary focus has always been on wine, however it also stocks a number of locally-made products that are distinctive to the region.

Brand’s Laira Coonawarra offers guests a unique tasting experience by showcasing the best of what the region has to offer, and presenting visitors with the opportunity to try wines that are exclusive to its cellar door. This includes the winery’s Old Station range and its secret blend, August Tide.

The Brand’s Laira Coonawarra cellar door is also home to Eric Brand’s original cellar, known as Eric’s shed. The shed is an exceptional example of the heritage of the region and vineyard, and visitors are encouraged to wander through and view Eric’s old wine collection. During your visit, enjoy a ploughman’s platter in Eric’s personal cellar or head out onto the beautiful surrounding lawns.

Over the years, the winery has won numerous accolades for its exceptional wines, including The Stodart Trophy and Best Cabernet at The National Wine Show of Australia. The winery was also awarded back-to-back wins at the Limestone Coast Wine Show for Best Wine of Show with its cabernet sauvignon. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder Brand’s Laira Coonawarra is one of the region’s most recognised cellar doors.



2015 Brand’s Laira One Seven One Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

Having won the Best Coonawarra Cabernet award at the 2017 International Wine Challenge, this cabernet sauvignon is made for ageing and can exceed more than 20 years if cellared correctly. Hosting an array of intense fruit flavours, this wine integrates fine oak flavours for a balanced finish.

2013 Brand’s Laira Stentiford’s Shiraz

This elegant shiraz has vibrant plum, blackberry and cherry aromas and is accompanied by subtle spicy oak notes from fermentation and maturation. This wine displays pure plum and cherry fruits on the palate that combines well with the integrated characters of spice and nutty oak.

2014 Brand’s Laira Blockers Cabernet Sauvignon

This crimson-coloured wine displays a nose of classic varietal cassis and blackberry fruits with subtle spice, vanilla and dusty cedar oak notes. The palate regards the cool-climate style of wine with rich, dark berry fruits, as well as chocolate and vanilla notes.

2016 Brand’s Laira Old Station Riesling

This bright and fresh riesling has a palate of zesty citrus and pear flavours that beautifully balance its natural sweetness. The wine features a vibrant nose of Tahitian lime and Jonathan apple, accompanied by subtle spice notes.



Wednesday, 06 April 2016 04:01

O'Leary Walker

O’Leary Walker was established in 2000 by David O’Leary and Nick Walker. With more than 20 years of experience each and established reputations for making premium wines with big companies, these long-time friends decided to take control of their own destinies and began to craft small batches of wine from some of the best vineyards in South Australia.

Vineyard site selection is essential to producing wines with depth, character and regional personality. With a winery and cellar door in Leasingham, O’Leary Walker also sources fruit from other premium grape-growing districts, including the Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Coonawarra and McLaren Vale.

Opened in 2010, O’Leary Walker’s cellar door is a blend of contemporary design with historical ironstone and natural wood. It is designed to provide visitors with a relaxed, comfortable space to enjoy wines, while taking in the sensational panoramic views of the Watervale region. The winery offers a full range of Clare Valley wines for tasting, as well as a selection of regional platters, coffee and cake.

O’Leary Walker continues to build an enviable reputation for producing premium award winning, internationally-acclaimed regional wines at affordable prices.

O’Leary Walker has been judged as a 5-star winery in the 2016 Halliday Wine Companion. In both 2012 and 2013, the winery also received the Cellar Door of the Year award at the Clare Valley Regional Wine Show.



2017 O’Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling

With its powerful floral bouquet, this riesling is delicately perfumed with a hint of musk and clare valley bath powder. Displaying river stone minerality and a fine natural acidity, this wine complements freshly grilled eyre Peninsula scallops in a creamy garlic and lemon sauce, with a citrus salad.

2017 O’Leary Walker Watervale Riesling

Citrusy hints of lime and lemon are evident in the bouquet of this elegant, pale-straw riesling. With a wonderful mid-palate and length of flavour that’s balanced by beautiful natural acidity, this delicate wine is best paired with King George whiting and a squeeze of lemon.

2015 O’Leary Walker Clare Valley Shiraz

This ruby-red shiraz displays deep purple hues and has a gorgeous bouquet of dark fruits, licorice and pepper. The palate is concentrated and generous, with intense fruit and chalky tannins offering a balanced length of flavour.

2015 O’Leary Walker Cabernet Sauvignon

Perfumed with berries, blackcurrants and sweet cassis, this powerful blend is concentrated with generous flavours. With a hint of cedar and premium French oak spice, this cabernet sauvignon has a silky texture and chalky tannins. The youthfulness of this wine shows great elegance and it will continue to improve over the next six to seven years.


Wednesday, 06 April 2016 03:51


Starting out in 1994 with just 24 hectares of vines, Nepenthe was driven to become one of the Adelaide Hills’ benchmark wineries. Now, Nepenthe oversees three vineyards and is widely recognised for producing premium wines that showcase the diverse and wild nature of the region.

Nepenthe’s vineyards consist of proven varieties such as pinot noir, chardonnay, shiraz and sauvignon blanc, as well as emerging varieties like grüner veltliner, arneis and zinfandel.

Nepenthe approaches winemaking with a minimal intervention philosophy, and the team believe that good-quality wine is made in the vineyard. Nepenthe sources fruit from a variety of sites throughout the Adelaide Hills, which achieves complexity in its wines. Never one to rest on its laurels, Nepenthe is constantly Contact Details    exploring new techniques to capture the essence of the region’s distinct micro-climates and varieties. Created by master craftsmen, Nepenthe’s wines are vibrant, fresh and textural.

Available throughout Australia and exported to select international markets, Nepenthe’s wines are celebrated for their quality and regional expression, and have impressed both the media and public throughout the world.

Nepenthe specialises in cool-climate, fruit-driven wines that are known for their elegant aromatics and textural palates. At Nepenthe’s cellar door in Balhannah, you can enjoy a guided tasting session of these unique wines, many of which are only available at the cellar door.

Boasting stunning views of the vineyard and the Mount Lofty ranges, Nepenthe’s cellar door is a warm and cosy environment in winter and a wonderful entertainment facility in summer. To complete the experience, the cellar door also offers antipasto options, which can be enjoyed on the deck or as a picnic on the lawns.

Nepenthe warmly invites you to discover its award-winning range of wines, which exemplify the versatility and scope of the Adelaide Hills wine region.




Nepenthe Winemaker’s Selection Grüner Veltliner

An emerging variety, grüner veltliner has found its home in the Adelaide Hills. Only available at Nepenthe’s cellar door, this wine displays notes of spice and white nectarines with subtle hints of wild honey. There is also a generous palate weight and length, with grapefruit and pineapple acidity.

Nepenthe Winemaker’s Selection Arneis

Arneis is a wonderful option for people who prefer a wine with bright acidity that’s backed by a fantastic fruit lift and palate texture. This wine exhibits pear and almonds on the nose, and apple and spiced pear on the palate, and finishes delightfully nutty and dry. This wine is only available at Nepenthe’s cellar door.

Nepenthe Pinnacle Ithaca Chardonnay

The high altitude, ancient terroir and pristine air of the Adelaide Hills produces chardonnay grapes with amazing purity, and Nepenthe’s aim is to craft wines that demonstrate the affinity between this variety and the region. This chardonnay exhibits lemon blossom, grapefruit and nectarine flavours with subtle oak complexity, and has exceptional length and natural acidity.

Nepenthe Pinnacle Good Doctor Pinot Noir

It may not be possible to cure all ailments, but premium pinot noir will bring you joy. Made with handpicked fruit and displaying brooding purple fruits and spice on the nose, this wine has a rich and powerful palate with bright herbal tones that are matched by strawberry and black cherry characters.




Wednesday, 06 April 2016 03:39


Founded in 1976, the Petaluma passion for winemaking is firmly rooted in its ‘distinguished vineyards’ philosophy, which relies on finding the best sites within a particular region suited to a chosen wine variety. Petaluma strives to enhance the quality of its wines and to bring all the smells and tastes of the vineyard to the bottle and straight to the consumer.

The subtle, hands-on treatment adopted by the Petaluma team and the attention to detail given once the grapes are in the winery ensures every wine is of the highest quality. Petaluma believes in the importance of growing grapes in the right regions in order to produce exceptional wines, which is why the winery has vineyards in three different regions.

Riesling is grown in its Clare Valley vineyard, Coonawarra houses its cabernet and merlot, and the Adelaide Hills vineyard is perfect for sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, shiraz and chardonnay. Crafting wines from three different regions allows Petaluma to deliver both still and sparkling premium wines.

Recognising the potential of Adelaide Hills’ Piccadilly Valley, Petaluma was the first to plant in its region. Here, the area displays some of the characteristics of the Champagne region in Europe, making it perfect for growing chardonnay and pinot noir sparkling wines, as well as chardonnay still wines.

Petaluma is one of the few wineries of its size that still controls the wine from grape to glass. The grapes are grown, the wine is made and matured, and then packaged to go straight to the consumer. The wine is not touched again until the seal is broken and the wine is enjoyed.

The Adelaide Hills cellar door references the three regions and the Petaluma winemaking history, while also offering fantastic views of Mt Lofty in the distance. As a James Halliday 5-star rated winery, Petaluma is at the forefront of creating premium wines and providing visitors with an experience like no other.



2011 Petaluma Croser Vintage, Piccadilly Valley

This elegant, fine-fruit driven sparkling wine displays a complexity as well as a delicate, persistent fine mousse that explodes on the palate. Raspberry and strawberry from the pinot, and ripe apple from the chardonnay are combined with a subtle biscuit and creaminess.

2012 Petaluma Coonawarra

A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz, this wine displays a blackcurrant flavor with a hint of plum, as well as spices, cedar, and wonderfully soft tannins. Mocha and a lovely hint of cabernet mint and leaf herald the Coonawarra as a wine that will age gracefully for many years.

2014 Petaluma Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay

This chardonnay is a rich, full- flavoured, yet delicate fruit-driven wine. Ripe white peach and nectarine flavours are complemented by minerality and wonderful complex nuttiness on the finish. The palate is soft and rich, and the acid is enticing.

2015 Petaluma Hanlin Hill Clare Valley Riesling

The 2015 Hanlin Hill riesling has bright floral aromas of citrus peel and orange blossom, with a hint of tropical fruit. Fragrant and lifted, the palate shines with a lively acidity and full rich lime marmalade. Crisp and focused, this riesling can be consumed now or will age gracefully into the medium term.


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