Issue #135, October 2020

A look back at the
start of the year: Part 1

 
 

I must begin with a huge Utopos thank you – Kym and I are bowled over by the level of support. I accept that the 2018 Standish collection has sold five times the value however, the sheer speed and volume of Utopos sales surpasses any wine we have ever offered.  The ’18 Shiraz and Cabernet have both sold out – only a handful of 2017s (both varietals) remain in stock. There is a smidgeon more of both MSGs which and I will echo my earlier sentiment, this pair stand head and shoulders above their peers. The team and I have spent one full day picking, packing and shipping your wines, which should have all arrived safely with you. Understandably, the temptation is to open the wines to see what all the fuss is about, but I would urge you to give them a week or two to rest a little.

Save for the gentle, rolling seas – they have been trucked to port Adelaide, decamped in the UK, loaded and unloaded onto various articulated vehicles, handled by team Vinorium and god knows how many people at DHL before they arrived with you. Everyone is tired after a long journey and wine is no different. We always allow our samples to rest a little before opening as the shock of aggressive movement can and will impact on the flavours. Decanting times are critical too as these wines will age for decades. I advise a minimum of 6-8 hours and preferably longer if time allows. Your glassware choice is also critical – I advise the use of Zalto’s Bordeaux glassware or something very similar. Your choice of glassware is the difference between drinking a good to a great bottle of wine…

I have been liaising with Kym regarding his 2019 Shiraz and Cabernets and a few ‘special’ projects which I will return to later this year. Kym advises that he will be bottling his ‘19s in the first quarter of 2021 with a release date later in the year.

Shit! I thought, as this is a long time to wait, but patient I shall be. Actually, and if truth be known, I am not patient and have no stocks for myself – I have been selfless and placed your needs above my own but I must have some of these wines for my own cellar – What is the point of running a wine company if you cannot take advantage of the stock?

Today (Friday), I have placed our second order, but the available volumes are much smaller and the ’17 Cabernet has sold out domestically. We expect these to arrive towards the end of January. Of course, I cannot wait to hear your own views and would urge you to write to the team with your own assessments, which we will share mid November.

Now, the team and I are preparing to receive a tsunami of new wines which will be arriving throughout October and November. These include; Topper’s Mountain (New England, NSW), Ghost Rock (Tassie), Stolpman (USA and one of the best Roussanne wines on the planet), Soumah’s The Butcher Shiraz/Cabernet blend with a seasoning of Nebbiolo which is SENSATIONAL, Wantirna Estate (Victoria), Grey Sands (Tassie and epic Pinot Gris and Blanc de Noir), Shadowfax (Victoria), House of Cards (Margaret River) and a flood of new wines from Wild Duck Creek (Sparkling Shiraz, and new Cornelia Shiraz, Dabbler Cabernet / Carménère, Alan’s Cabernet, White Duck and fortified Duck for Christmas). 

Like Utopos, we’re running on fumes and need some R&R. Thus, and given that so much happens at The Vinorium, we thought a little reflection is in order. However, the task was much bigger than we first imagined. The writing and research skills of the team have been tested. Part I comes to you with a hot cup of tea, a warm pastry and a fabulous video from Mike at Gemtree (you cannot reflect on the past without the future in sight)

As ever, we send our very best wishes,

Stu, Magda, Michelle, Natalie, Shontelle and James…  

(Video will open in a new window)

 
 

JANUARY 2020

We began the year launching three new and exclusive producers to the UK. Owen Latta shared the Eastern Peake story and introduced his wines to you all.  His Intrinsic Chardonnay 2016 and fabulous Pinot Taché both quickly sold out.  We are still eagerly awaiting the new delivery of Pinot Taché but we do have the new 2018 vintage of Intrinsic Chardonnay which we believe will attain 99 points in the next 5-8 years…For now, Stu awards a mere 97++ / 98 points and still stands as “One of the highlights of my year”. He also declared that he will be “pinching three dozen for sure” which he did, but his invoice remains unpaid!

Eastern Peake's Stunning
'Intrinsic' Chardonnay

 
 

97++ to 98 Points 
"This wine aligns with many Grand Cru Burgundies any day of the week"

 

Eastern Peake Intrinsic Chardonnay 2018

97++ to 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey  “Different and rightfully individual, but I can see glimpses of my old friend. The nose is evocative and builds with more aeration. Grilled, creamy nuts, buttery pastry, crème pat, fresh vanilla pod underpinned with confit lemon, crisp orchard fruits and the most striking mineral freshness imaginable. The palate is a little subdued but that’s ok with me as this beauty will last a decade or more. It’s textural, satiny, fleshy and elegant in a muscular sense. I love the salinity, purity and that same buttery pastry. The acidity is racy and the pithy structure chewy and delightful. Supremely sophisticated and yet again, in a class all of its own by an indescribable sense of completeness. One of the highlights of my year and I am pinching three dozen for sure. Do not overchill, decant for 20-30 minutes and ideally serve in Zalto Bordeaux glassware or similar. Drink now to 2030+ (I believe this will be 99 points in 5-8 years)”

£28.95 per bottle

180 bottles available

 
 

Vinden Estate from the Hunter Valley was the next of our new partnerships to be announced.  Magda and Stu spent a great day with Angus Vinden eating Tapas and drinking his wines… Angus is an incredible young producer and one of our favourites. Domestically, Angus has received a list of glowing awards and tributes including; Rising Star of the Hunter Valley, 5 Stars James Halliday 2019, named a Dark Horse Winery by James Halliday in 2018, Top 50 Winemakers in Australia 2019 and a nice quote from Mike Bennie 

“Fast becoming one of the ‘wineries to watch’ in the Hunter.” 

Vinden Estates provided many cracking wines including our first Hunter Semillon.

 
 

Vinden Estate Reserve Semillon 2015

Gold Medal – Sydney International 

Wine Show Gold Medal – Hunter Valley Boutique Wine Show 

96 Points - James Halliday "Vines planted '69 on fine clay-loam soil, the juice fermented with fine solids, extended lees contact before bottling. Full to the brim with flavours in a lemon circle - zest, grass, mineral."

Winemaker "Sourced from the Trevena Vineyard, planted in 1920 on sandy loam soils, these unirrigated vines are situated along what has become known as the golden mile of Semillon on Hermitage Road. A select portion the hand picked grapes were separated to make this wine. A beautiful wine which whilst young is fresh and zesty, full of citris and refreshing acidity, but will reward those with patience to cellar for up to 10 years."

£26.95 per bottle

Vinden Estate Headcase Single Barrel Shiraz  2018

97 Points – Nick Butler, The Real Review "Firm, toasty oak, stewed, mixed berries, clove spice and dried herbs - it's brooding. Just enough of everything. It's ripe. Tannins are grippy. Oak is measured. It shows incredible length. This will live comfortably for decades and encapsulates a stellar vintage. Just a stunning Hunter Shiraz.

96 Points - James Halliday "From the eastern slope planted '66 on red volcanic soil. Open-fermented, cold soak, wild-fermented in open concrete fermenter, matured in French oak for 14 months, not fined or filtered, gravity bottled. More black fruits and more tannins than Fountainhead. Will be very long-lived."

 

£31.95 per bottle

Vinden Estate Headcase Semillon 2019

Winemaker "Sourced from the Howard family Somerset Vineyard where I once worked; I know this vineyard almost as well as my own. Planted in 1969 over fine sandy loam soils, the fruit was hand picked in early February. The juice was fermented on solids in tank/ neutral oak and given extended lees contact to building complexity and texture. The wine shows the character of the old gnarled vines, balancing fruit with minerality."

Huon Hooke, The Real Review "Light, bright yellow colour with a malty, almond meal-like bouquet that overlies the lemony varietal notes. Very pleasant. The palate is similar: light-bodied, soft and rounded, with a mild personality but refreshing acidity on the back-palate and finish. Soft, round, harmonious. Good drinking. Generous fruit."

£18.95 per bottle

Vinden Estate Basket Press Shiraz 2018

96 points - Stuart McCloskey “A more lavish feel to both the nose and fruit profile. Clearly, made for immediate enjoyment, but with the structure to age well for 8-10 years. That tell-tale warm red clay soil emanates from the glass, with oodles of plush, dark fruits. Ripe, sumptuous with touches of cassis, oak and espresso. The palate is equally friendly and greets you with a wash of crisp, ripe red & dark fruits. The tannins are impeccably balanced and work in harmony with the zap of acidity. There’s heaps to like about this wine as it’s so accessible, flavoursome and friendly. Another 12-24 months in bottle will do it a lot of good. I could even imagine this dunked in an ice bucket for ten minutes and served on a warm, summer evening. Just a joy.  Served in Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”

£22.95 per bottle

Vinden Estate Fountainhead Shiraz 2018

97+ Points - Stuart McCloskey 
“Sourced from the Howard family Somerset Vineyard and a blend of three slopes: Eastern, Northern and Western – planted 1966, 1968, and 1970. Warm earth, dried spices, raspberry, green olives and vanilla waft from the glass. Medium-bodied, layered, elegant and immensely appealing. The tannins are super-fine and meld beautifully with the fruit, which is ripe, crunchy and juicy. I love the subtle star anise, spice, liquorice, touches of violet and toast which I imagine emanates from the French oak in which the wine rested for 16 months. Incredible length and finely polished – sensitive winemaking and will drink beautifully over the next decade. Ideally, leave this in the cellar for 3-5 years. Served in Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”

£31.95 per bottle

 
 
 

At the end of January, we chose the After Five Co. Barossa Shiraz 2017 as our wine of week which is another special wine for us. The producer, Craig Stansborough is a good friend and an amazing ambassador for Aussie wine. Many know Craig for his work and wines at Grant Burge which he continues to manage successfully. But, we know Craig would love to focus all his energy on his own label wines and we (along with your help) would love to make this possible…

 
 

(Craig Stansborough at Grant Burge Winery)

"it’s just a joy to experience such great winemaking"

After Five Wine Co. Barossa Shiraz 2017

97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “A thrilling, single vineyard Shiraz which has been meticulously crafted by the skilled hands of Craig Stansborough. The site is around 260-280m above sea level with vines planted in 2000 and is own rooted, clones are heritage and 1654. The nose is heady and aromatically perfumed with intense black raspberry, crème de cassis, bramble and fennel seed. The warm earth notes keep it grounded (forgive the pun!) as do the cedar notes. Vanilla kicks in after many hours in the decanter (we decanted for 6). The palate is medium-bodied and offers a lovely sense of nimbleness. The tannins are fine and weave perfectly with the fruit. The combination spreads across your palate with such ease. A Barossa Shiraz which is svelte, controlled, neat & tidy. Nothing is overdone – it’s just a joy to experience such great winemaking. Remarkably approachable but I do believe this will be showing at its best in 5-8 years’ time and will go on for a good decade. Immensely appealing. Served with Zalto Bordeaux glassware”

Was £26.95 per bottle
* Now £22.95 per bottle *

 
 

FEBRUARY 2020

 

On 2nd February we launched the incredible Artisans of Barossa; a group of seven wineries who share a like-minded approach to winemaking. The original collection included Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, Schwarz Wine Company, John Duval Wines, Sons of Eden, Lienert Vineyards and Spinifex Wines. Craig Stansborough strengthened what was already an impressive line-up. They all have a determined and heartfelt commitment to work together, to encourage and promote the art of small batch, sub-regional Barossa winemaking.

 

We all agreed that their Barossa Blend Shiraz was without doubt one of our best value Shiraz wines and this was clearly seconded by you as we very quickly sold out! You will be pleased to hear that our second Artisans order has been placed and we have 600x bottles of their 2018 Artisans of Barossa Barrel Blend Shiraz making their way to our shores as we write. This order also includes their small batch Shiraz and Graciano which both Stu and Magda loved. Unfortunately we will all have to wait until early 2021 but until then the Grenache and Shiraz projects are still available –

 

Artisans of Barossa Grenache Project 2019

 

Artisans of Barossa Six Origins 2018

 

2018 High Eden Shiraz - Peter Schell, Spinifex Wines
95 Points - James Halliday "Dry-grown 20yo east-facing vines at 500m above sea level, two-thirds destemmed, the balance whole bunch with 14 days on skins, matured in a single used 600l French demi-muid. Particularly fresh and elegant red and black fruits on the palate with fine, persistent, tannins carrying a savoury message."

2018 Light Pass Shiraz – Jason Schwarz, Schwarz Wine Co.
96 Points - James Halliday "Light Pass is named in honour of Colonel Light who discovered the break in the hills leading from the Barossa Valley to the Eden Valley. Medium-bodied, and literally flows along the supple palate, unfolding black fruits then spices allied with fine, balanced tannins. No hint of alcohol heat, instead a splash of red fruit."

2018 Keyneton Shiraz – Greg and Allison Hobbs, Hobbs of Barossa 
96 Points - James Halliday "An immediately delicious bouquet and palate, blackberry and plum fruit, ripe tannins in perfect balance. Length and focus are part of an indissoluble whole, but with the grace of a medium-bodied shiraz."

2018 Angaston Shiraz – Corey Ryan and Simon Cowham, Sons of Eden
95 Points - James Halliday "40% of the fruit was whole bunch and hand-plunged for 25 days, pressed to French hogsheads (45% new) for 15 months maturation. A powerful, evocative wine, its spicy/peppery notes coupled with a long, zesty, red berry-accented palate with detailed tannins providing both texture and structure"

2018 Gomersal Shiraz – John Lienert, Jack West Wines
95 Points - James Halliday "The wine is powerful and very focused, but is unexpectedly light on its feet thanks to mouthwatering juicy fruit flavours that coexist with the tannins."

2018 Ebenezer Shiraz – John and Tim Duval, John Duval Wines
96 Points - James Halliday "The grapes were grown by viticultural master John Scholz in the driest and warmest part of the Barossa Valley, cool nights due to the vineyard's 290-305m elevation and east-west row orientation. This wine has a pulsating bouquet, the palate laden with blackberry and stewed plum flavours; plus dark chocolate added for good measure. The ripe tannins leave it until the last moment to appear."

£205.95 per case of 6

or £158.25 per case of 6 In Bond

 
 

9th February saw the 100th edition of our ‘Taste of the Vinorium’ magazine with musings from Stu on the early days of The Vinorium

 

For those of us who can remember a time pre Covid-19, the news focused heavily on the tragic bushfires in Australia. At the Vinorium we found the Australian wildfire crisis difficult to comprehend. We were in regular contact with all our producers, who fortunately fared better than many. There were genuine concerns about smoke-taint and how grapes would be affected by this disaster, however and thankfully, there do not seem to have been any lasting effects. We will shortly bring you an introduction to a new winery, Topper’s Mountain, the wines are due to dock in the UK next week.  The Topper’s vineyard was terribly affected by the bushfires, with the death of over 3000 of their vines.  The 2019 vintage was decimated for them with only their exquisite Hill of Dreams wine being produced as this was luckily picked the day before the fires hit.  Thankfully they are one of a few Australian wineries who keep a stock of older vintages rather than selling these to be consumed when young and this has enabled us to bring these wines to you all…    

Australian bushfire report through the eyes of our winemakers

 
 

23rd February we published a follow-up article focussing on the powerhouse varietal Shiraz. This highlighted feedback gained from our customers on their experiences of Australian wine and winemaking styles along with a deeper insight into the wealth of the statistics generated both by The Vinorium in-house and which we source from Wine Australia.

 

Highlights from the article

 
 

Artisans of Barossa Six Origins Shiraz 2018

The 2018 Six Origins by Artisans of Barossa features six Shiraz produced from six Barossa vineyards by six artisan winemakers.

£205.95 
per case of 6

Cobaw Ridge
Syrah 2015

This high-altitude site sits at 610m above sea level, yielding Syrah imbued with floral aromatics and a spicy flavour profile. 

£29.50 per bottle

Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Père Shiraz 2017

Jancis Robinson 
"Very northern Rhône nose – pepper, game and floral notes.... What a lovely half-way house between Old and New World."

£42.50 per bottle

Hutton Vale Farm Shiraz 2014

97+/98+ Points
Stuart McCloskey

"So natural and so effortless. A remarkable wine."

£35.95 per bottle

JC's Own Greenock Shiraz 2017

Mike Bennie
"A big red... autumnal but sweet flavours. It’s a pretty darn epic wine here."

£36.50 per bottle

Massena Eleventh Hour Shiraz 2017

"The opulent palate is full of black cherry, raspberry and dark chocolate with typical Barossa black fruits and a rich, supple mouthfeel."

£24.95 per bottle

 

MARCH 2020

 

Stu began the first weekend in March divulging his reasons for falling in love with Pinot Noir. The article featured several Vinorium beauties, including Anthill Farms Campbell Ranch Pinot 2014. This particular Pinot Noir is a very firm favourite of Stu’s (all of Team Vinorium in fact!) and recently we received a small delivery from Anthills which included their latest vintage of their Campbell Ranch which we have to say, albeit very boldly, is the best Pinot Noir in our portfolio to date.  We have just 67 bottles remaining and I’m not too sure how long they’ll last… Amongst many delightful Pinot Noirs included in this weekend read, was another Vinorium favourite and regular staff pick;  Hoddles Creek 1er Cru Pinot Noir, and we are thrilled to have their stunning new vintage in stock now…

Anthill Farms Campbell Ranch Pinot Noir 2018

98+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “Perhaps not the most complex in their collection however, the deep-set flavours satisfy me beyond description. Odd for some to understand, but I have a nostalgic / emotional connection and there is not much more I can add save for, it is comparable to hugging an old friend you haven’t seen for years. The bouquet is breathtaking and evocative with wild strawberry, black raspberry, sweet spice, cedar, pencil wood and orange peel. Scents of autumnal woodland emerge with more aeration. It’s so homely and incredibly inviting – I'm swooning! The palate is perfectly balanced. The fruit is judiciously ripe and balanced with a zip of blood orange acidity and super-fine tannins. The harmony, grace and presence are as attractive as the fruit itself – ethereal and exquisitely defined. Poured with Zalto Burgundy glassware and straight from the bottle. Decant if you wish (one hour will suffice). Exceptional now but has the potential to age for 8-10 years. Unquestionably, my favourite and most sustaining Pinot Noir in 2020…”

£45.50 per bottle

 

Hoddles Creek 1er Cru Pinot Noir 2018

James Halliday "Bright, clear colour; a highly perfumed/scented, spicy bouquet leads into a beautifully structured and weighted palate. Hints of forest add to the complexity and simultaneously the length of the red-berried palate."

Gary Walsh (The Wine Front) "Perfumed, slight mintiness over red berries and red cherry, mineral/earth stuff, spiced biscuit. Light to medium-bodied, well-defined, bright and fine, succulence of fruit but with restraint, super fine emery tannin, spiced fresh strawberry and earthy bunch in the aftertaste, which is pretty long. Understated, but confident."

£30.95 per bottle

 
 

In January we revealed some of our exciting new exclusitivies, and on March 8 we were very excited to release Greenock Creek to you all, which became available for purchase. 

Greenock Creek is under new ownership and with a new winemaker who we took a little time getting to know. The world market became obsessed with this small, boutique winery, when and at his most prominent, Robert Parker awarded 100 points for the ’95 Roennfeldt Road Shiraz. Parker awarded a further 100 points for the ’96 & ’98 vintage. Their ’98 Roennfeldt Cabernet Sauvignon also received 100 points. Skip a few vintages until the ’01 & ’03 Creek Block Shiraz scooped 100 points and both the ’02 Roennfeldt Road Shiraz & Cabernet received the same accolade. Five wines have been awarded 99 points and nine, 98 points… To date, Greenock Creek is the most ‘Parker’ celebrated Australian winery and we very much encourage you to enjoy these charismatic, individual and rare wines which are produced in minute quantities…​

 
 
 

Greenock Creek Apricot Block Shiraz 2014

This vineyard was planted in 1995 on an old apricot orchard which we removed from our Roennfeldt Road property at Marananga near Greenock. The vines crop at 1.2 to 1.5 tonnes per acres from the short rows, and 1.5 to 2.0 tonnes per acre on the long rows. The grapes are picked and kept separate to produce a single estate wine. This rich, dark red wine has complex aromas of spice and fruit, plums, berries and a splash of dark chocolate with a lingering velvety finish.

£44.50 per bottle

Greenock Creek Apricot Block Shiraz 2017

Winemaker "This vineyard was planted in 1995 on an old apricot orchard which we removed from our Roennfeldt Road property at Marananga near Greenock. The vines crop at 1.2 to 1.5 tonnes per acres from the short rows, and 1.5 to 2.0 tonnes per acre on the long rows. The grapes are picked and kept separate to produce a single estate wine. As with all our grapes they are picked on phenological ripeness and flavour at a baume range of 14 to 16º. This baume sometimes produces a naturally occurring high alcohol, although this will depend on seasonal conditions.

£31.50 per bottle
or £139.60 per case of 6 IB

See all Greenock Creek Wines

 

APRIL 2020

 

As we entered the second week of the UK’s national lockdown we reported on how this unprecedented situation was affecting The Vinorium and the wine industry as a whole.  We all began to adapt to a new way of working while facing new challenges.

“Our HQ is situated on the busy A20 between Leeds Castle and the medieval village of Lenham. The A20 is a main arterial road and often doubles-up as the main drag when the M20 is closed, however, for the past two weeks it’s been unnervingly silent.”  However, for team Vinorium it was business as usual as we continued to operate within the new guidelines, sending an unprecedented number of deliveries out to our customers.  We cautiously reported that March had been our busiest month ever, we sold out of 131 wines during the month and sales were up by 89% against March 2019. We were over the moon to welcome 130 new customers to the Vinorium at the start of lockdown. April got off to an amazing start and was beginning to look even busier than March. 

To make choosing from our vast collection easier, we put together a selection of new mixed cases which proved an ideal introduction to our range of wines for both new and existing customers.

“Wine is a sociable marvel. Not only the act of sharing it, but also the leisure of visiting your local wine specialist, where vinous experiences can be exchanged. Many customers appreciate a healthy measure of helpful advice which assists with navigating through the numerous shelves and bins - an experience often missing in some larger stores. We recognise that purchasing wines online may offer a limited experience however, we try our hardest to ensure you receive as much wine TLC as you would in-store.” 

April also saw the much anticipated arrival of Dan Standish’s 2018 collection to our shores. This represented our biggest investment and single order to date – some $400,000 which is a big number for us and any wine producer. Weeks passed before the collection landed and finally made their way our HQ.  The ‘not very’ arduous task of tasting our way through the whole range ensued and we were all amazed – truly so. These high-scoring wines went on to be our bestselling wines of the year so far.  Sarah Ahmed has written an in depth review of these wines (and Dan’s 2017s) for Decanter and the article is due to be published in the next 2-3 weeks. Much like Covid, we are anticipating a second surge of sales from our already vastly depleted stocks… Six months on and Stu is really excited to be talking to Dan and Nicole about their 2019 vintage and planning an en-primeur campaign for later this year. The 2019 and 2020 Barossa vintage has endured a radical reduction in yields, but the quality is rumoured to be higher than ever. Given this, we expect one or two of Dan’s 2019s to sell out before they leave his winery…