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

Return to video

Video feedback

Use this form to:

  • Ask for technichal assistance in playing the multimedia available on this site, or
  • Provide feedback to the multimedia producers.
Return to video

Video feedback

Thank you.

Your feedback was successfully sent.

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Return to video

Video settings

What type of connection do you have?

Return to video

Video settings

Your video format settings have been saved.

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.

Got a tip? email

Advertisement: Story continues below
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