Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Another interest of mine is Whisky, I can't be sure when it became interesting, but it definitely got serious when I attended my first Johnnie Walker Black Label Journey. I was fascinated by the variety and depth of the single malts that go into the blend. Over years, I had dabbled with some good drops coming to love Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Talisker as my regulars. Slowly trying each of these single malts, I had thought I had it all covered. That was until I was introduced to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Following introduction, it was in quick order to organise a tasting. You may have seen or been to the tutored tasting on 6 May, which introduced a whole new level of whisky. These beasts are single cask, single malts from all the great distilleries that you know and love from their commercial bottling range. We were lucky to be shown 4 of these rare bottlings, from: Clynelish 7yo, Glen Grant 13yo, Highland Park 12yo (commercial) & 26yo, and Laphroaig 9yo.

For mine sample were of great diversity, showing the range and depth of whisky but if I may choose two, I would have to say the 26yo Highland Park stood out for the sort of complexity that comes with such age. Only 146 bottles ever made, Shiver Me Timbers, showed the reason that these bottlings are so very special. My own pick, reflective of my own whisky palate, What a magnificent & handsome nose, was a peat monster. Great industrial nose, cigars and just great all-round drop. If you are lucky, you may one-day get a dram of this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Vale: A Final Word

South Australia is truly blessed with great wine regions and McLaren Vale is a fantastic example of just that. It speaks to a sense of place, the geology, the terroir, the community. It embodies a list of winemakers and grape growers that strive to express themselves through their art.

The route to Cabernet and Cabernet Blends Tasting was cross-country viticulture tour From Penny's Hill & Mr Riggs to Maxwell Wines via Chalks Hill. The picks of this lot were:
  • 2006 Geoff Merrill G&W Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2007 Geoff Merrill Wickham Park Merlot
  • 2008 Geoff Merrill Fleurieu Cabernet Shiraz
  • 2008 Kay Brothers The Cuthbert Cabernet Sauvignon - STANDOUT
  • 2008 Kay Brothers Basket Pressed Merlot
  • 2008 Kay Brothers Basket Pressed Cabernet/Merlot
  • 2008 Maxwell Wines Lime Cave Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2008 Maxwell Wines Little Demon Cabernet/Merlot
  • 2007 Mitolo Serpico Cabernet Sauvignon - STANDOUT
  • 2009 Wirra Wirra Sparrows Lodge Cabernet Sauvignon
The final master class was at the Woodstock Coterie featuring Grenache in two brackets of four wines which proved to be (with the notes of curiosity):
  • 2010 Wirra Wirra Original Blend Grenache Shiraz - great qwoffer [honourable mention]
  • 2009 Penny's Hill Grenache - Fleshy, sea salt and summer fruits
  • 2009 Chapel Hill Old Bush Vine Grenache - dried apricots, light confectionary
  • 2009 Kay Brothers Grenache - fairy floss, confectionary, lovely tannins and clean finish [GREAT DROP]
  • 2009 Shingleback Red Knot Grenache - Limestone & Orange
  • 2009 Maximus Cadenzia GSM - This is featuring on the PM's table [TOP PICK]
  • 2008 d'Arenberg Ironstone Pressing GSM - Love to see in 5-10 [honourable mention]
  • 2007 Yangarra High Sands Grenache - I can't believe there is no oak! [GREAT DROP]
McLaren Vale is the Italian to Barossa's German, expressing varieties that are best shared with food or at very least don't dominate them. I associate McLaren Vale with the fruity mid palate and the perfume. Grenache and Shiraz are the stand outs for mine, and obviously for the community of McLaren Vale with Scarce Earth and Cadenzia.

This is a region of olde favourites, namely:
  • d'Arenberg
  • Samuel's Gorge
  • Chapel Hill, and
  • Woodstock
but I will take it on that more attention needs to be given to some new finds:
  • DogRidge
  • Kay Brothers
  • Maxwell
  • Wirra Wirra
  • Yangarra
  • Penny's Hill
  • Mitolo
  • Paxton, and
  • Scarpantino
And that is all I have to say about the Vale...

Another Day in the Vale

There is something about walking into the garden at Coriole that triggers The Godfather Theme to instantly play in my head. You could imagine Vito, Fredo, Connie and Sonny all sitting in the partial shade sharing an bountiful feast with la famiglia. Maybe that is just me...

While some were worse for wear in the morning, I was about ready to go again as we pulled into Coriole for Breakfast, Whites, Rosés and Sparklings. Breakfast was not only much needed, but also a great opportunity to catch up with d'Arry Osborn.

In the theme of yesterday, there were some olde favourites and some new found joys.

Of the olde favourites d'Arenberg tops the list, with Peppermint Paddock, Hermit Crab and Dry Dam but from the newly founds:
  • 2010 DogRidge The Pup Sparkling Chardonnay
  • 2010 DogRidge Moscato
  • 2010 Geoff Merrill Bush Vine Grenache Rosé
  • 2010 Paxton Shiraz Rosé
  • 2010 Scarpantoni Ceres Gamay Rosé
  • NV Scarpantoni Fleurieu Sparkling Red
  • NV Scarpantoni Black Tempest
It was time for Penny's Hill and Mr Riggs for a Cabernet Master Class. The two brackets of four wines proved to be (with the notes of curiosity):
  • 2009 Mitolo Jester Cabernet Sauvignon - slight grippiness to the tannins, menthol, stewed oranges
  • 2009 Penny's Hill Cabernet Sauvignon - great length, fruit cake
  • 2009 Kangarilla Rd Cabernet Sauvignon - well structured lines, great tannin and length with the signature mid palate fruit
  • 2009 Woodstock Cabernet Sauvignon - Savoury, tobacco, definitive oak
  • 2009 Chapel Hill The Chosen Cabernet Sauvignon - Dark, brooding, ripe fruits [honourable mention]
  • 2009 Shingleback 'D' Block Cabernet Sauvignon - Chunky fruit, dark ruby colour, mintiness [honourable mention]
  • 2009 Wirra Wirra The Angelus Cabernet Sauvignon - Cedar Wood, brambly fruit [Best of Class]
  • 2003 Geoff Merrill Pimpala Vineyard Cabernet Merlot - Greenery/Shrubs, oaky, aged and still going. [Great Drop]

5 years in Air Force, 50 in the Wine Industry

Following on, the first afternoon in McLaren Vale tour was started with Shiraz and Shiraz Blends Tasting at Kangarilla Road. 40 different samples from the region where on show, further to those that stood out in the Master Class, my picks were:
  • 2009 d'Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier
  • 2008 d'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz
  • 2008 d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache
  • 2005 Geoff Merrill Reserve Shiraz
  • 2008 Kay Brothers Hillside Shiraz
  • 2008 Kay Brothers Basket Pressed Shiraz
  • 2008 Maxwell Ellen Street Shiraz
  • 2008 Mitolo Jester Shiraz
  • 2009 Mitolo Savitar Shiraz
  • 2009 Paxton MV Shiraz
  • 2009 Paxton AAA Shiraz Grenache
  • 2009 Penny's Hill The Skeleton Key' Shiraz
  • 2007 Yangarra Ironheart Shiraz

but by this stage the most impressive drop was the 'hail mary' from McLaren/Vale Beer/Company and their Vale/Ale and Vale/Dry.

After a chopper flight over the region and quick refresh at the McLaren Vale Motel, it was off to Willunga. The dinner plans were at Russell's Pizza accompanied by Aged Wine, Fortified and Stickies.

Now Russell's Pizza is quite the institution around the Vale, only opening Friday and Saturday evenings. In a rustic shed with big trestle tables, the pizza coming out of the wood-fired ovens leaves no doubt why it is a regular sell out. If you get the chance, eat there!

My opening drop was a 1998 Coriole Chenin Blanc that was simply sublime, the difficult job of staying on the wine after such a big day was made much easier by such a fine drop. But that was as far as I got before Scott from Woodstock had found me to show off a few of his craft.

His opening gambit was the 2008 Pilot's View Shiraz, an ode to Douglas Collett A.M. Douglas was a Spitfire and Hurricane pilot over Europe in WWII, the views from which was said to influence his decision to enter the wine industry on return to Australia. It is from his autobiography that the title of this post is taken. In 1973, he purchased Woodstock Wines which is now in the hands of his son Scott, who had some more plans for me in the name of 1999 & 2001 The Stocks Shiraz. True to the Woodstock name, you could probably pull the splinters out of your tongue even after a decade in the bottle. Great big tannins that are unique to this singular winery.

My other special mention for the evening goes out to Kay Brothers Rare Muscat, which was the last wine for me... till the morning...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The First Morning

To be clear this was a wine appreciation trip. After a quick stop at Toops Hill, view shown left, I was off to Yangarra Estate the hosts of the Grenache and Grenache Blends tasting, not to mention a much needed coffee and a bite of breakfast.

The standouts from the tasting were:
So what is Cadenzia? Well it is a wine that is 100% McLaren Vale fruit, Grenache-dominant and approved by the members, or more eloquently from the McLaren Vale site:

"Cadenzia - n. A creative and individual expression of McLaren Vale Grenache made by an inspired winemaker to demonstrate harmony, excitement and energy.

McLaren Vale’s CADENZIA project makes music from Grenache. Great composers like Beethoven and Bach often left gaps in their sheet music, where the lead soloist could play a Cadenza, letting go some heartfelt improvisation before returning to the score.

At the end of vintage, McLaren Vale’s winemakers look away from the score and infuse some virtuoso interplay with Grenache, each blending something that’s rhythmically driving: CADENZIA. Music you can drink."

Really the Cadenzia project is one of those organised things that define a region, a deliberate pursuit of an expression of place and style. Similarly, for Shiraz, McLaren Vale has recently launched the Scarce Earth project. And although these great wines weren't on the schedule, a Shiraz Master Class was -- off to

Wirra Wirra.

On show turned out to be (with my notes of curiosity):

  • 2006 Ulithorne Frux Frugis Shiraz - Aged Release (Feb 2009), Graceful

  • 2008 Mitolo GAM Shiraz - Made by Ben Glaetzer

  • 2008 Maximus Shiraz - Colour & Blackcurrant

  • 2008 DogRidge Shirtfront Shiraz - Surprise Find

  • 2008 Paxton Jones Block Vineyard Shiraz - Great Savoury Drop

  • 2008 Woodstock The Stocks - Great one to age, Nearly get splinters

  • 2008 d'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz - Well known, Greatness

  • 2008 Chapel Hill Vicar - Could've sworn it was a Grenache... Apricots

  • 2009 Maxwell Silver Hammer - Ripper food wine

  • 2009 Shingleback The Gate - Taste directly follows nose

  • 2009 Wirra Wirra Woodhenge Shiraz - Another great Foody; and

  • 2009 Yangarra - Perfume and Purple.

You can see how detailed tasting notes could get lost! If I had to pick the top 5... Shirtfront, Silver Hammer, The Stocks, Vicar & Dead Arm with honourable mentions to GAM, Woodhenge and Maximus.

Well it was now 1225 on Day 1, and time to head for the burgeoning varieties tasting at Chapel Hill. The highlights were:

2010 Coriole Sangiovese
2009 Coriole Sangiovese Shiraz
2006 d'Arenberg Sticks and Stones Tempranillo Grenache Tinta Cao Souzoa
2009 d'Arenberg Cenosilicaphic Cat Sagrantino Cinsault
2005 DogRidge MVP Petit Verdot
2009 Kangarilla Rd Sangiovese
2008 Kay Brothers Basket Pressed Mataro
2009 Yangarra Mourvedre, and
2010 Yangarra Roussane.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

One Thing Leads To Another...

The quality of the South Australian Wine Regions, often leads to some oversight of the wonderfully diverse and old region of McLaren Vale. I am guilty of too often stopping at the same olds, but who isn't?

The standard tour that I would run around McLaren Vale when I resided there, would start with d'Arenberg, then onto Chapel Hill, before the amazing Samuel's Gorge. There might occasionally be a new opportunity stop, such as Woodstock, but really they were just speed bumps on the way to Hahndorf for lunch, but you have heard about that before.

I recently got the opportunity to have a deeper look at the region, 30 km South of Adelaide. The region is firmly rooted in viticulture, grape-growers with a purpose and a region with a sense of place. The story of the region goes beyond the 1838 Reynell first plantings to geological formations and change of the order of 1.6 Billion years history. The remnant soils on geology are attributed with many of the unique characteristics displayed by McLaren Vale wine. No more clear than the abundant citing of perfume arising from the sand on clay from Blewett Springs.

But geology and soils are but a part of the oft misattributed terroir. Climate and geography are critical components too. McLaren Vale, bounded by the Gulf of St Vincent, from Hallet Cove to Sellicks Beach sees coastal climate-moderating effects typical to the Mediterranean, where the southern Mount Lofty Ranges crash into the sea. The border of the region runs up the foothills along Willunga Fault until it reaches the Adelaide Hills region at around Clarendon. The belly of this approximate triangle is undulated and diversity of terrain, incorporating:
  • Ancient Rocks,
  • Sand and Sandstone
  • Limestone Country,
  • Clay Plains of Aldinga,
  • The Piedmont,
  • Talus Slope, and
  • Alluvial Flats.
To round out this introduction to McLaren Vale, I should probably introduce the wines. Based on 2008 figures, the region produces approximately 80% Red Wine of which it is dominated by Shiraz (66.4%) with some supporting roles by Cabernet Sauvignon (15.9%), Grenache (6.7%) and Merlot (5.2%). In the White Wines, the usual suspect of Chardonnay (54%) is the major, supported by Semillon (12.3%), Sauvignon Blanc (11.9%) and Riesling (4.7%).

I promise we will eventually get to the wines...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 Harvest Festival

After a previous post, I was tempted to try something a little more than wine, jazz & cheese. The first such place visited was Little Bridge Wines, an intriguing quadrumvirate dabbling and seemingly doing well in their efforts. I recommend the site linked above to read of their tale. It is a refreshing change to "Alfred who begot Gertrude who begot Caufield succeeded by Jiminy", if you take my meaning.

Their range includes a Vintage Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Shiraz, Cabernet Blend and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Personally, I was taken with the Riesling and the Cabernets (although the latter may have been inspired by another little Bordeaux-styled number).

It wasn't particularly the wine that drew us there, as I was embarrassingly ignorant of them, nor was it the obligatory "band & cheese" that is the apparent cost of featuring a winery in the Canberra region. The attraction of something novel is what made the decision for us, that novel thing was the opportunity to make wine.

The details were sketchy and barely made more clear prior to arrival, but true to the promise, there were freshly picked Pinot Noir grapes (reportedly of 13.4 Baume). The deal for the day was merely to see to the crushing of the Pinot and the beginning of fermentation. A simple contribution but with the promise of further involvement and ultimately some wine at the end, well worth the effort.

Some other wineries visited on the return journey were Affleck Vineyard, who offered a range of very decent drops at very approachable prices, and Shepherd's Run, who were overrun and not accommodating to our party.

I look forward to more novelty in the future of the Canberra Region.

2010 Penfolds Bin 23 Pinot Noir

For me, this was the pick of the Penfolds Bin Release Tasting. You might find that surprising, considering a previous post, but this is not inconsistent.

The 2010 is only the second release of this Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir in the Bin series. It is designed to be an approachable wine, amply achieved with confectionery on the nose. Red berries on the palate with the softest tannins.

A curious qwoffer, a great starter wine that's easy to drink now and often.

2009 Glaetzer Anaperenna

Following on from the Dutschke, is this big bad Barossan.

Swirling around the glass, it is crimson and leggy. Wafts of plum jam and tastes of red berries, chocolate and coffee. The tannins linger for eternity showing that this goddess of the new year will be lay down for 10+, but you won't be able to...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2001 Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon

Nostalgia reigned supreme as I dug this one out of the cellar. The reason that I came to wine was two little Penfolds numbers 128 and 407, albeit a few vintages earlier. It was some years later that I began to be in a position to lay some down and you can be sure that the Bin 407 was amongst the first few of those.

Cracking it out ahead of the impending Penfolds Bin Release Tasting, that was to be the next day, was to be a great idea.

The wine had transformed, no longer the inky purple, now brick red and a faint taste of blueberries. A rusty colour that told of the tannins that used to be sharper but now flat, eroded and nostalgic. The wine tasted of its life, not well cared for, well-travelled transiting from Canberra, through Brisbane to Adelaide and back again to Canberra. It's trip was at an end.

Tasting the new release (2008) it came back. The gateway wine that it was for me, this easy and approachable Cabernet Sauvignon - Drink it now.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Makes a Region?

The first time I visited the Canberra Wine Region was 2008, it was a fleeting visit, a test of it's maturity. As a region, it failed. But it made me wonder what makes a wine region? It is clearly more than terroir, the Barossa is as diverse in terroir as all of NSW's growing regions. It is more than one or two flagship wines or even varieties.

What stood out to me were the responses to questions of where else to try in the region. Such questions were often met with indignation. No favourites, no cross-referrals, no sense of community.

There is something else about a region, a sense of community. The sense of community needs to be more than the farmers having been neighbours for as long as the vines have grown. It is more than the kids playing together and following in their forebears footsteps. There is a certain maturity that comes to a region that is beyond the first Cellar Door. It is all of these things; a definitive variety, flagship wineries, iconic labels, a daring to go beyond the expectations, ever emerging new talent and genuine belief that all of the produce of the region should be enjoyed by as many as possible.

Please take this as it is meant, there were some great wines tasted on that brief tour including Clonakilla and Helm, lovely people and fantastic characters. What was missing was the glue, the sense of place, the unity of region.

Now in 2011, I feel the region has come a long way. The region is varietally defining itself with Riesling and cool-climate reds, flagship wineries are standing up and being counted. There is new blood, emerging talents and just the right amount of challenging the status quo.

I am an advocate of Canberra wines, but as a region it is still maturing. Take, for example, the imminent Harvest Festival. 26 of the 33 wineries in the region advertise activities, but most are a simple variation on the cellar door being open, a few gumboot tours and a smattering of Jazz. I'll admit there are a few different things like Dionysus bottling wine, Little Bridge Wines making wine (well crush and begin ferment, but you can go back over the weeks to engage in various parts of the process) and even a unique Thai-style dinner (unfortunately cancelled). But it still feels disjointed, lacking unity of action and a centre of critical mass.

Where do people gather? They have to arrange their own transport between wineries. How do people know where to go? They have to choose or flit between the options. Lots of things may actually occur, but there can be no sense of where or what is happening beyond each venue.

I will be out there trying a few of the interesting options during the festival, but I yearn for the day when it becomes a celebration of the community of the Canberra Wine Region.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2008 Dutschke St Jakobi Shiraz

You may recognise this winery from a previous post.

The 08 Dutschke St Jakobi Shiraz is an alluring ruby red juice that dances around the glass catching the light.

It is unmistakably big. The 15.5% alcohol hits you in the nose but there, just beneath the heady waft, subtle cherries. But as the wine touches your tongue, a fruit explosion takes over. Raspberry at first puts the heaviness out of mind. Subsequent sips reveal port-like chocolate and toast. The tannins are sharp and linger.

In all the fruit flavours carry the alcohol well, you just feel it’s warmth. A great drop, has me chasing more... and more...

2010 Barwang Granite Track Riesling

I picked the 2010 Barwang Granite Track Riesling up in a blind mixed dozen from the 2010 Canberra International Riesling Challenge. An event well worth checking out if you get the chance, but that is a story for another time.

This entrant in the 2010 CIRC picked up a Bronze in the 2010 Sweet Class.

Tasting Notes: Pale in colour, as expected in a young riesling. Faint grapefruit on the nose prepares you for the subtle lemon juice finish. Guava, minerals, tantalising sweetness with a crisp finish

Saturday, March 26, 2011

2007 Helen’s Hill Fume Blanc Evolution

From the first wisps of scent, you can tell that you are not dealing with one of the myriad of NZ Sauvignon Blancs flooding the market. Those wisps are honey and melon which prepare you for the gooseberry tartness and clean finish. The Fume Blanc appellation is an homage to the Californian means of showing intent to achieve a Loire Valley-style Sauvignon Blanc.

Aged 18 months in French Oak, the Fume Blanc Evolution shows another side to this recently bounteous variety. Recommend drinking now while it is young and fresh but won't be surprised to see it cellar for 2-3 years.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Check out this website I found at

Bleasdale, a really great stop down in Langhorne Creek. Free pour, taste at your own pace/style yet still great friendly staff! These guys really got me interested in Malbec...

Posted via email from tayls81's posterous

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beer wars: big retail v Foster's - The Age

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Foster's cuts beer supply

Foster's cut supplies to Coles and Woolworths after learning they planned to extend their price war to beer, Ian Verrender reports.

Beer has become the new battleground in the supermarket price war after Australia's biggest brewer, Foster's, pulled key beer brands from Coles and Woolworths upon learning of a plan to sell them for $28 a slab - well below cost.

The Age has learned that Foster's, in a late-night operation this month, stopped the delivery of tens of thousands of slabs of VB, Carlton Draught and Pure Blonde to Coles' First Choice liquor stores and Woolworths' Dan Murphy's chain.

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Illustration: Ron Tandberg

Illustration: Ron Tandberg

An order went out around the country for Linfox delivery trucks loaded with beer to be emptied until further notice.

The decision came in response to intelligence received that Coles had prepared a brochure advertising brands including VB for $28 a slab.

A slab of 24 VB stubbies usually wholesales to the big supermarket chains for about $33 and retails for $38. Smaller retailers say they are being charged between $37 and $41 - with some even higher - for the same slab.

''We personally sell a slab of VB for $40.95, making a profit margin of around $1.95 and that's not taking into account the cost of refrigeration, etc,'' said Justin Grant, who said he was an independent liquor retailer with more than 30 years in the industry.

A slab of 24 VB stubbies usually wholesales to the big supermarket chains for about $33 and retails for $38. Smaller retailers say they are being charged between $37 and $41 - with some even higher - for the same slab.

''We personally sell a slab of VB for $40.95, making a profit margin of around $1.95 and that's not taking into account the cost of refrigeration, etc,'' said Justin Grant, who said he was an independent liquor retailer with more than 30 years in the industry.

Inner city prices can be even higher. One independent outlet on Spencer Street in Melbourne's CBD was selling a slab of VB for $48.99, while a nearby IGA rival was offering them at $52.81.

A Foster's spokesman said supply was withheld to protect its brands against ''loss-leading'' - the practice of deliberately selling a product at a loss in the hope of attracting customers who will also buy other products that are not discounted. ''We take loss-leading of our brands very seriously," the Foster's spokesman said.

For at least three days this month, some liquor stores put up signs explaining why they were out of VB. One sign said: "We're out of stock because Foster's, the supplier of VB, says we are selling it too cheap."

Coles and Woolworths, which control 50 per cent of Australia's liquor distribution, have never before been taken on in this way by a supplier.

The milk industry, which is the subject of a continuing price war between the supermarket chains, has been unable to stop the discounting because it involves brands that are not well known and suppliers lacking the same market clout as Foster's.

There are also legal issues associated with withdrawing supply, including restraint of trade. Foster's relied on an aspect of competition law that permits companies to withhold supply when their products are being used as loss-leaders.

Apart from the objections of Foster's, the move by the big retailers to try to extend the milk war into the multibillion-dollar beer industry could also raise social issues about whether an age-restricted and potentially harmful product such as alcohol should be used as a loss-leader. Foster's and its main rival, Lion Nathan, have spent large amounts of money and time trying to promote the notion of responsible drinking.

By trying to sell alcohol at lower prices than bottled water, the supermarkets risk drawing the negative attention of government and regulators concerned about rises in drunken violence, one industry expert warned.

In Britain, brewers persuaded legislators to pass a law preventing the sale of alcoholic beverages at below cost price.

The aborted beer war between Coles and Woolworths was not the first such attempt at heavy discounting in Australia. In February, online discounter tried selling Crown Lager for below wholesale price.

Woolworths is the biggest player in liquor retailing, with more than 1200 stores, including the Dan Murphy's chain.

Asked about recent events involving discounting of Foster's products, a Woolworths spokeswoman said: ''Beer is an extremely competitive product regardless of whether it is sold at independent or larger chains.''

A Coles spokesman said: ''We have been trying to offer the most competitive beer offer for our customers whenever we can.''

On the Foster's intervention, the Coles spokesman said: ''There was some disruption to the supply, but that has not been material to the business and we have continued to meet consumer demand for beer.''

Had a conversation with a Rep about the Wine-side of this war today. As a consumer, one might bemoan the missed opportunity to relive genuine 1990s Beer Prices, but it is unlikely to bode well for the future if there are only two retailers left in the market at the end of the "war". On the wine side, it seems it is in the interests of the, newly renamed Treasury Wine Estate, to focus on Independent Channel and On-Premise brands... RSA is an interesting diversion but IMHO just that..

Posted via email from tayls81's posterous

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I just don't (Pi)know

Mornington Peninsula... Well it turns out that half of Victoria heads there for the summer break yet strangely the wineries are left untroubled by the influx unless of course they happen to have a restaurant... and they all have restaurants...

In many places, it was nearly a surprise that someone was there only to taste. Which shows one of the peculiarities of the region, that being the common practice of the region for there to be a cost associated with the tasting (not payable if a purchase is made). These contributions are generally a modest $2-$5 per person which is a cheaper option than my usual inclination to make a sympathy purchase. I am indifferent to the charge, if anything, it relieves me of any moral obligation to buy a wine that I don't particularly like, which I am sure is not the result that the Vintner is aiming for much like the freakonomics story of the day care that imposed a penalty of $3 for each failure to pickup a child on time. As an aside, I would be interested in what impacts, if any, the paid tastings have on sales.

One can't really talk about Mornington Peninsula without broaching the topic of Pinot Noir. I am aware that it is a wine obsessed over and pursed with religious fervour, but I have to admit that I do not understand the obsession. I have enjoyed good pinot, but I can't help but finish up with the argument that it is not a $40/$60/$80 red wine. I realise that Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are not the same beast or even that Pinot is not even a beast. I wonder if this is different for people who come to wine through softer and more subtle flavours and I wonder if whether the opposite is true for them. I also wonder with the rise of cool climate shiraz and it's softer smoother grape juice, whether this will change the attitudes of people like myself who have been introduced to wine through the big Reds. I am not saying I don't like pinot, just that I don't understand it and thus I run it in a price contest with the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignons. The best solution really is to just spend more time with Pinot, which can hardly be a bad thing.

Pino-losophy aside, it turns out that we didn't take advantage of the obligation-free(ish) tastings as there really was some great drops on offer. Our first port of call was, in fact another great passion, Red Hill Brewery which purveys fine ales from their Brewery/Verandah nestled amongst their onsite hopyard. Red Hill start with a Golden Ale and a Wheat beer but it was their other stock the Scotch Ale that was closer to my taste. They have a range of seasonals, the highlight for us was the Christmas Ale at a solid 8.3% it will bring on the cheer. I am incredibly keen to take part in their hop-picking and associated Hop Harvest Ale.

Our first winery was the next morning, The Cups Estate showed some diversity of the region featuring Blanc de Noir, Rosé, Moscato and Pinot Gris. The standouts were the Sparkling Shiraz, Merlot and Fortified Pinot that is made at Pfeiffer's in Rutherglen. For lunch, the stop was the Pig and Whistle, an english-style pub that features not only Old Speckled Hen but the Mornington Peninsula Brewery Beers of which the Right-Knacker Brown Ale was absolutely stellar.

After lunch, we struck out to Ten Minutes by Tractor, which I have to tout as the one cellar door in the region that absolutely can not be missed. As a one stop show of the region, Ten minutes shows the wonder of terroir with the single vineyard (Wallis, McCutcheon and Judd) ranges in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir showing great diversity each with unique and worthy characteristics. The reserve range Ten Minutes by Tractor produced from the best barrels of the flagships and also a Tempranillo. The entry level label 10X displaying great value drops that are a great introduction to the region and the label. By far and away, the best wine tasted in the region was the 2006 Wallis Whole Bunch Pressed Pinot Noir which has opened my palate to what Pinot can be, and I was left wanting more.

Foxeys Hangout was the next stop in the short tasting day (11-5), featuring a funky cellar door that really does have to be appreciated. The still wines from Foxey's featured great showings from the Rosé, Pinot Noir and Shiraz but the unique aspect to this particular haunt was the Sparkling. Foxey's can run an educationally focussed tasting in preparation for the disgorging, dosing and corkage of your own tailored blend. Our last stop for the day was Paringa Estate, but it was such a rush that I really don't think we could do it justice. Instead it will go on the list of places to head back to when we next try the region.

The drive home presented an opportunity for a quick stop or two in the Yarra Valley. With no preparation at all, we gave the first stop of the region over to Helen's Hill Estate. It was a fantastic decision, where we were entertained by Allan Nalder and shown through some fantastic drops. The standouts in the Ingram Rd range were a great dry Pinot Rosé and the Syrah. The top of the tree in the Helen's Hill range was the Bordeaux-style blend The Cabernets which showed as a genuine big Red, that still needs some time for it's full potential to be realised.

Our last stop before we headed back up the Hume was at the Innocent Bystander complex including little brother to Little Creatures, the White Rabbit Brewery. Truly, if you can't find something that you like here -- Give up.