Written by Stuart McCloskey
We have all seen the government easing more lockdown restrictions with pubs, restaurants and hairdressers soon able to reopen, providing they adhere to Covid secure guidelines. This is great news for many who work in the hospitality sector, although I am nervous for them. I wonder if fine dining guests will be as accepting of the new norm – the loss of intimacy, the perfectly executed service and all waiting staff wearing face masks. More worryingly, can a top kitchen run with fewer chefs or financially survive with fewer covers?
Early signs are extraordinary as Paul Ainsworth, the owner of No.6 and Caffè Rojano in Padstow, The Mariners pub in Rock and the Padstow Townhouse announced this week that he’s received 3,000 bookings in two days, which is mind boggling. Time will surely tell for the success of the hospitality sector and the many wine importers and merchants who service them – I wish them all well. Professionally, I understand the need for the government to kick start our faltering economy, but I fear the cost of a second Covid-19 wave will overshadow their efforts. My team and I are fortunate that we operate both nationally and internationally with 99% of our business conducted at arm’s length. In fact, and as a direct result of our business model we have flourished over the past three months with a super-bright future ahead of us (Our six-month report will be released next weekend which I am excited to share). As an owner of a company I must consider the needs of my staff and their safety will always take precedence over sales. As such, and regardless of the new guidelines, I am not prepared to open our HQ shop until September at the earliest. I apologise to those customers who love coming in for a cuppa, a glass
of wine and a good natter but reducing the risk to my staff is my priority.
The sheer volume of wine and Zalto glassware sold during the past three months has been staggering (I will never tire of thanking you all for your continued support), which has allowed us the opportunity to clear-out the old, bring in the ‘new’ and asses our portfolio as a whole.
Clarendon Hills and Colonial Estate sales are coming along nicely with all under bond stocks of Émigré 2006, Explorateur Old Vine Shiraz 2005, John Speke 2006, Richard Lander Old Vine Shiraz 2006 selling out and now join our delisted collection. You may find a few bottles lying at our HQ shop if you are quick. All remaining stocks can be viewed here or by the banner below. It is worth revealing that HQ stocks will not be topped-up from the bond – once they are sold, they are gone for good (rather dramatic I know).
We have also dropped Joshua Cooper from our exclusive list of producers, which and given the fact I awarded his Springs Syrah my 2019 Wine of the Year must come as a surprise. The quality and style of his wines was never an issue as the entire collection is nothing short of outstanding. We work with some incredibly generous wine producers who really go out of their way to communicate with us (and in turn you). Sadly, Joshua has a unique ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude and has no intention of answering a single email or helping to establish his name in a new market which curious to say the very least. So, and out of respect to our willing winemakers and our own ethics, he’s been unceremoniously dropped from our portfolio. There is some good news! We’ve slashed the prices as space is at a premium and reserved to wine producers who care about their customers.
SAVE UP TO £27.30 ON A CASE OF 6
"The quality and style of his wines was never an issue as the entire collection is nothing short of outstanding."
Doug's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018
97+ to 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “A fabulous and powerful nose which oozes with blood orange, fennel, crushed strawberry and cranberry. Lots of minerality with more aeration (I suggest a good hour in the decanter). The palate is broad, textural and the sweet fruit wrapped with filigree tannins. There’s a distinct orange sorbet (orange peel) freshness which is very appealing and harmonises with the cranberry and raspberry notes. As usual, all of Joshua’s wines come across unforced and wonderfully natural – this is a lovely, effortless example of great Aussie Pinot Noir. Moreover, this will be fascinating to watch develop over the coming years. The tongue tingles for minutes (sherbet sorbet)… Another faultless wine from the Cooper stable and deeply impressive. Drink now to 2030”.
* 134 bottles available *
Was £34.50 per bottle
Now £29.95 per bottle
Captains Creek Chardonnay 2018
97+ to 98 Points - Stuart McCloskey "I will start with my conclusion – A stunning wine, thoughtfully produced, complex and incredibly natural. This wine makes me reconsider my rationale behind parting company! The nose is electric and filled with citrus, lemon grass, green olive and saline. The palate is sensual, perfectly judged (and I mean ‘perfectly’). The complexity is beguiling with layer upon layer of spiced tinged citrus fruit balanced by a lovely streak of acidity. I detect a little lemon thyme after a minute or two. Ripe citrus is a dominating factor however, the roundness is the winemaker’s deft touch. The spicy flavours fan out towards a saline finish. This is as good as I am describing. Irksome winemaker but a seriously fabulous wine… Do not overchill and ideally, decant for 20/30 minutes. Drinking 2020 to 2030. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware.”
* 94 bottles available *
Was £30.95 per bottle
Now £26.50 per bottle
Cope-Williams Chardonnay 2018
96+/98 Points - Stuart McCloskey “An electric bouquet of lemon oil, intense citrus, liquid minerals, chalk and faint wafts of nougat. The palate is an intense experience as it fights between grace, citrus power and an impressive line of acidity. Thrilling, tense, nervy and must be decanted for 20-30 minutes. I detect a little sherbet, more citrus fruits, sea salt, very saline with flavours fanning out with more time in the glass. This is a direct and precise wine but there’s a charming sense of harmony and poise towards the finish. Fabulous and I am intrigued to see how this develops over the coming years. Perhaps the most fascinating Aussie Chardonnay of 2019?”.
* 17 bottles available *
Was £34.50 per bottle
Now £29.95 per bottle
Old Port Righ Chardonnay 2018
97-98 Points Stuart McCloskey “Fascinating notes which flit from confit lemon, poached ripe pear, apple, crushed rocks to pastry cream and almond croissant. The palate is tightly coiled, tense and comes alive with yuzu, lemon & lime – a bright streak of acidity runs through the core. This is a wonderful example of a wine which is all about purity and precision rather than leanness which we are seeing far too often. This will shatter the perception of Aussie Chardonnay and will leave no room for argument about its stunning quality. Today, a wine for those seeking unforgettable purity. Epic and will remain so for at least a decade… Ensure you do not serve too cold and decant for 20/30 minutes… Served using Zalto’s Bordeaux glassware, an essential to appreciate great Chardonnay.”
* 50 bottles available *
Was £34.50 per bottle
Now £29.95 per bottle
Josh Cooper 4 bottle mixed pack
Or try one of each of Josh's wines in this delicious 4 pack
* 17 packs available *
Was £134.45 per 4 pack
Now £116.25 per 4 pack
The Vinorium is the UK’s leading Australian specialist but our portfolio has taken a severe battering this year and is looking decidedly thin on the ground. Despite torrid times for many in our trade, Magda and I have been busy scouring Australia for the next group of amazing winemakers, and we have unearthed some absolute belters. Our aim is to double our portfolio in the coming months with firm UK exclusivities already established with Elderton wines, Mulline, Rymill and Dilworth & Allain.
Many of you will be excited to learn of our new partnership with the Barossa producer, Elderton. Our opening order (some 2,000 bottles) consists of ten wines from their impressive portfolio. Their ‘elite single vineyard’ release consists of the Command Shiraz, Ashmead Cabernet Sauvignon and Fifteen Shiraz and will feature along with Ode to Lorraine (Cabernet / Shiraz / Merlot blend). The Ashmead family produce some of the best value ‘estate’ wines in the Barossa – We have shipped their GSM, Cabernet Sauvignon and an entire pallet of Shiraz, all being offered at £18.50 which represents fantastic value. We sampled a bottle of their E-series Eden Valley Chardonnay which was a delight – superb value. I already fear I should have doubled our order as this will over impress for £15.95 per bottle.
From Geelong, Victoria (home to By Farr wines) we have come up trumps with Mulline, an exciting new wine brand created by Ben Mullen and Ben Hine and we are absolutely thrilled to be their UK agent. The purpose and concept of Mulline is to produce single site, structural wines with definition and freshness that bring new ardour and vitality to the Geelong region. Their wines are crafted by Ben Mullen who grew up in the Barossa and studied at Adelaide University. Ben has worked at numerous wineries around Australia including Yarra Yering, Oakridge, Torbreck, Leeuwin Estate, and worked as winemaker at Craggy Range in Hawkes Bay in 2015. His love for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay truly originated during his harvest at Domaine Dujac in 2013.
We have shipped their Bannockburn Fumé Blanc, Portarlington Chardonnay, Sutherlands Creek Pinot Noir and Bannockburn Syrah. Sadly, there are only 144 bottles of each wine available – I believe these will sell out soon after arriving as we are overawed with the quality. Quite amazing in fact.
The genius that is Owen Latta (Eastern Peake) selflessly introduced Chris Dilworth and Loique Allain of Dilworth and Allain to Magda and I. Chris works with Owen as a winemaker and also in the vineyard. The pair (Winners of the Young Gun Wine Award and Best New Act in 2020) have created a small négociant business and currently work with three different vineyards in the Macedon Ranges (some are the same sites as Joshua Cooper – it’s a small world). Quantities are tiny with an overall annual production of some 350-400 cases per year. We loved their wines and cannot wait to introduce them to you all….
We are short on great Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (We love Majella, but this is a non-exclusive wine to us) and are currently looking at several producers. Rymill believe they put a contemporary spin on the classics, are proudly innovative and produce world class wine in their stunning winery, nestled amongst their Certified Sustainable Coonawarra Estate. Bold words which three of their wines back up perfectly and the reason we are delighted to partner with them.
We may have found one of the best value, mature Aussie Cabernets with their 2013 ‘Classic Maturation Release’ hitting all the high notes. We will keep you updated with all the respective delivery dates.
Magda and I have enjoyed lots of enthusiastic emails from Aussie winemakers who would be thrilled to join our impressive collection. From Tasmania, Invercarron and Ghost Rock samples are en-route to the UK which we cannot wait to open. From New England, Topper’s Mountain looks very impressive. Their production is small, only a few hundred cases per batch and all bottles are individually numbered. Their wines are handcrafted to complement traditional wine offerings and to present a point of difference, introducing interesting varieties that Australia can provide but is not renowned for. These are going to be fun to sample.
Many of you were disappointed to learn that Hentley Farm was being delisted – simply on the basis that we are not their agent. However, we are delighted to introduce Andrew Quin (the winemaker at Hentley Farm) and his own wines, Quin wines. Riesling, Shiraz (Eden and Barossa), Grenache and Nebbiolo are in the air and heading to our HQ for sampling.
Meerea Park Wines (Pokolbin, NSW) have a lovely list of Roussanne, Marsanne, Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz which we are very keen to sample. You can never have enough great Chardonnay and Shiraz however, we certainly do not have enough Roussanne, Marsanne and Semillon which we are keen to change.
From the McLaren Vale, Gemtree wines (a sustainable and biodynamic producer) has airfreighted a lovely mixed dozen filled with lots of goodies for the team and I to sample – their sparkling looks great. From Victoria, we have a selection of samples from Box Grove Vineyard with Rhône varietals (Shiraz, Roussanne and Viognier) being their speciality. We are super-excited to sample Sarah’s sparkling Roussanne which is a first for me.
Magda and I have already developed a soft spot for Margaret River producers Jo and Chris Davies of Windows Estate. Their approach to the possibility of working with The Vinorium has been infectious – Their wine collection looks amazing, ranging from a delicate dry sparkling wine produced from estate grown Chenin Blanc. They produce an impressive looking Fumé Blanc, Chardonnay, Malbec, Cabernet and a few Margaret classics. Liz from the famous Toolangi winery (Yarra Valley) has got us really excited with their range. Located in the northern Yarra Valley region of Dixons Creek, Toolangi Vineyards is a special site for growing grapes. Sheltered by the Toolangi state forest on one side, the vines are positioned on undulating slopes and the block design follows the natural curve of the land. Planted in 1995, with additional plantings in 2001, the site produces premium Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. We are promised an exceptional tasting.
Rochford winery purchased Toolangi in 2017 and they also form part of our buying strategy. Like Toolangi, their wines are serious and the breadth of their portfolio is impressive. The Rochford experience has expanded to include two gins, made with infusions of Rochford Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which will make for an interesting tasting. All-in-all, I believe we are sampling some 30 wines from these two, outstanding producers.
Samples from the Barossa producer, Utopos have arrived and look striking. The fates were kind when Neil Panuja, a friend of Kym Teusner's from 'the big smoke' said he had the wish (and the cash) to get into fine wine production, and asked that Kym keep an eye out for something special. Fate stepped in shortly afterwards and Kym’s favourite piece of land in the Barossa hit the market. Kym also believes he could make wines equal to those that he has most admired.
To provide some perspective – The vineyard is located on Roennfeldt Road, straddling one of the highest points of the boundary between Greenock and Marananga, perched on the northern end of the ironstone ridge that lays claim to some of the Barossa’s most famous vineyards. Indeed, right next door is the source of Kym’s own Righteous Shiraz, Torbreck’s Laird, Two Hands, Greenock Creek and the list goes on. At 315m it sits among the most elevated sites on the ‘valley floor’ and being on the end of the ridge there are three distinct aspects to the block – East being planted predominantly to shiraz, North to Cabernet Sauvignon and West to Grenache and Mataro. “It doesn’t come any sweeter than this” says Kym…
I’ve had my eye on Adelaide producer, Deviation Road Winery for a long time. They produce a string of exciting cool climate wines from mature vineyard resources in the Adelaide Hills. Owners Hamish and Kate Laurie continue a five-generation winemaking tradition. Devoted to the high-altitude sites of the Adelaide Hills and with Kate’s French oenology training, the wines they produce are at once traditional and contemporary. To quote “With a fiery passion to create premium bottle fermented and aged Australian sparkling wines together with textural aromatic whites that can genuinely cellar, their signature style is restrained, elegant and balanced.” Doesn’t this sound amazing? We are stoked at the possibility of working together…
From the Coonawarra we are looking forward to sampling the wines from Highbank, regarded by many as the best from the region and some of the best Aussie Cabernet produced. Mike Bennie (WineFront) enthuses regularly “Natural wine from before natural wine became a thing – that’s Highbank. Long term biodynamic-organic farmed, wild ferment, only additive is (low-ish) SO2. Such brilliant, wonderful wines here. Highbank are one of my favourite South Australian wine producers that I seem to always forget about. The wines are stoically traditionally, grown and raised organically and deliver a near peerless Coonawarra expression. These are natural wines that defy the naysayers of the category.”
Finally, Montalto produces premium cool climate wine on the Mornington Peninsula, specialising in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We’ve requested their full offering which we know is going to be such a treat. We are still in talks with more producers but it’s early days even to request samples. As ever, you will be the first to know the outcome of each tasting and when commercial relationships are cemented.
We’ve also been looking at the opposite side of the globe and are excited to announce a shared partnership with Stolpman Vineyards (Ballard Canyon AVA, California). Over 20 years ago, Tom Stolpman discovered what he believed to be one of the greatest viticultural sites on earth.
Hidden in the hills of California’s Central Coast, on a rare Limestone outcropping and unobstructed from the Pacific Ocean wind, this unique land is naturally suited to grow Syrah and Roussanne grapes. They are committed to preserving this natural environment for their vines through conscious farming, dry farming, and sustainable employment. In the winery, they prefer native fermentation and minimal manipulation. Stolpman
isn’t new to The Vinorium as we regularly stock their two Roussannes – Their L’Avion is one of the best examples you will ever sample outside of great Rhône properties. Magda has done a fabulous job liaising with Pete Stolpman as we now have access to their entire collection. We hope to be shipping early August… Stay tuned, as they say!
We have also been busy buying small, exciting parcels which do not follow the norm of our portfolio. We have a small allocation (only 30 x cases of 6 x75cl) of Gaja’s first release from their Sicilian sites located on the ridges of Mount Etna. We sampled the wine on Thursday and we were all impressed, very much so. Our full release will be launched the week of 6 July. Contact Magda early if you would like to get on the buying list. Please note she’s on an enforced weeks’ holiday but it’s better to be safe than miss out…
We’ve had some interesting conversations with Robert Oatley and Villa Maria who are both keen to provide exclusive barrels of super premium wines to The Vinorium. The latest Pennant Chardonnay will be leaving Australia soon however, allocations are small. Currently only thirty cases are available which will sell out in one day (hence the need for exclusive barrels). Villa Maria, New Zealand’s most awarded winery has a conflict of identity. Their range is vast and the supermarket sales are enormous, which and unfairly discriminates their top flights. For years, I have appreciated their Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc which I believe is sensational quality and value. Their single vineyard Taylor’s Pass Chardonnay really impressed – a real ‘wow’ wine particularly if you serve it in Zalto Bordeaux glassware or something similar… Their 2013 ‘Icon’ Ngakirikiri, awarded 100 points and has been described as “Is this perfection? No, it is better than that, if that is possible.” It’s one for the cellar for sure but a nice wine to have stashed away. I believe we have a handful of bottles available. We’re really looking forward to sampling their new ‘icon’ wine, the Keltern Chardonnay, located east of the Maraekākaho region in Hawkes Bay, directly in the path of cool air currents flowing from a mountain range to the West. We will let you know our views…
Interestingly, we received a few Loire samples this week – both the Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé disappointed, as they often do for the money. Try the new Dog Point Section 94 which has just arrived – less reductive than the previous vintage and an immediate sensation. A fuller bodied, textural style of Sauvignon Blanc (take note in the Loire as lean and mean does not excite). This single vineyard parcel is situated within the Dog Point Vineyard, using the same low cropping level from vines planted in 1992. Fruit is hand-picked, whole bunch pressed and fermented and aged in older French oak barrels for 18 months. Bottled without fining and bloody brilliant. 97+ points, drinking fabulously now, but bury a six pack for 6-8 years and enjoy one of the best New World Sauvignon Blancs produced.
We also have lots of wine on the water and impending arrivals from many of our producers. From one our most consistent overachievers, Soumah, we have 2,000 bottles arriving in the UK within weeks. Save for a handful of bottles, much of our original shipment has long sold-out which is no wonder as the quality versus price is unmatchable. We have purchased a much larger allocation of the Hexham and Upper Ngumby Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a further pallet arriving in September. A full pallet (600 bottles) of their Equilibrio range (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) will have to see us through until next year, which I do not believe is likely, but we just have to make do. We have also shipped several new wines including, Hexham Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo, Wild Savagnin and a small quantity of their delicious d’Soumah Chardonnay which is a ripper at £15.95 – clearly too much time spent talking with our Aussie friends!
Eastern Peake wines will be following in August which includes one of my favourite wines of the year, 2017 Intrinsic Chardonnay, which sold-out in a blink of an eye. We have sampled the 2018 which comfortably stands shoulder-to shoulder with the 2017 however, Owen is not a mass wine producer as each wine is limited and often to just one barrel (600 bottles). We have half the barrel and that’s it until August 2021. Drop an email to the team if you wish to pre-order the ’18 Intrinsic Chardonnay at £28.75 per bottle. Domestically, Owen’s Pinot Noirs are in huge demand which has a negative impact on export quantities. We have shipped his 2016 Mount Block, Walsh Block and ’17 Morillon OBC – Only 60 bottles of each will be available. Again, please let the team know if you would like to secure a small allocation. Arguably the best Rosé I have sampled / enjoyed in the past twenty years also goes to Mr Latta as his Pinot Taché excelled and thrilled me. We have doubled our order (sadly, only to 300 bottles) however, this will not be arriving until the Autumn. Only 264 bottles will be available as I am taking 36 for myself – perks of being the boss!
From California’s North Coast, we have shipped 840 mixed bottles from one of my personal favourites; Anthill Farms Winery, with an eta into port for mid-August. We only have 120 bottles of each wine (all from the 2018 vintage); Campbell Ranch Syrah, Peter's Vineyard Syrah, Campbell Ranch Pinot Noir, Baker Ranch Pinot Noir, Comptche Ridge Pinot Noir, Harmony Lane Pinot Noir and Hawk Hill Pinot Noir. We are incredibly fortunate to be offered such a varied collection as the US critic, Antonio Galloni has awarded some amazing scores and tasting notes – here’s a few to whet one’s appetite. “Savory, deep and bursting with energy, the Peters Syrah is a wonderfully complete wine from Anthill Farms”. “Deep, dense and creamy, with tremendous fruit richness, the Baker Ranch Pinot Noir is vivid and wonderfully complete”. Hawk Hill Pinot “Crushed flowers, sweet red berries, mint, chalk and blood orange give this mid-weight Pinot striking aromatic presence. Understated, vibrant and classy, the 2018 is so finessed and so sculpted. It is one of my favorites in this range.” Campbell Ranch Syrah “the 2018 with tons of flavor complexity, but it is the wine's textural richness that stands out most. The 2018 is simply dazzling. That's all there is to it.” We cannot wait to sample the collection and share our notes with you…
Next week’s edition is going to be jam packed with interesting statistics covering our performance for the first half of this year. Until then, please keep safe and well.
My very best wishes to you all,
96 Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "Captivating aromas hinting of intensity and elegance. Struck-match, minerals as well as citrus and white nectarine make for an amazing nose. The palate follows suit with layered textures delivering delicious complexity. Impressive and long on the finish with a touch of cashew and spice. Quite simply, Taylor’s Pass Chardonnay over-delivers on every level especially when considering its modest price tag."
£18.95 per bottle
Clifford Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Bob Campbell "Dry, concentrated Sauvignon Blanc with passionfruit, nettle, oyster shell and mineral flavours. Quite a textural wine with good weight and length. A pretty wine with good regional and varietal identity."
Winemaker "Pungent aromatics of lemongrass, jalapeño and fresh herbs leap from the glass, with the classic flavour of limes and the crunch of freshly picked garden peas."
£12.95 per bottle
2017 Dog Point Section 94
97+ Points - Stuart McCloskey "Dog Point's Section 94 has always been a favourite of mine and can, in correct cellaring conditions, mature wonderfully over a decade. This is another example of a medium to full-bodied, textural style of Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes for Section 94 come from a single, low cropping vineyard parcel first planted in 1992. The fruit is hand-picked, whole bunch pressed and aged in older French oak barrels for 18 months. Every vintage has a funky edge which you either love or not. Those seeking simplistic Kiwi fruit pops should avoid at all costs as this is a serious, large scale wine that deserves a little respect. The aromas are taut, tightly wound with the ‘funk’ reducing with 20/30 minutes in a decanter (highly recommended). Tropical no - Yellow stone fruits in abundance with a vein of minerality appearing mid-palate. There’s a real intensity which is exceptional and rarely found with the majority of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. The finish is endless… In short, brilliant!"
£21.95 per bottle
2019 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc
17 Points - Jancis Robinson
"Very slightly reductive, struck-match nose and extra-bright fruit with strong passionfruit aromas and a certain amount of delicacy. Chalky finish. Lots of interest here. Very youthful and energetic indeed. Complimenti!"
95 Points - Bob Campbell
"Intense, precise sauvignon blanc with grapefruit, citrus, subtle passionfruit and a suggestion of struck flint character. A powerful wine that's long and linear, with strong varietal definition that's made more interesting with a hint of reductive character"
£15.50 per bottle
2017 Dog Point Chardonnay
17 Points - Jancis Robinson "Yup, a little struck-match character on this one as well as on the Sauvignon Blancs – as one might expect. Completely deeelicious in my book. What a bargain! If, and only if, you like this style. But this seems constructed for the long term with exceedingly true and bright fruit. Coche fans could save a fortune ... Fairly rich fruit but with no shortage of trademark Marlborough acidity to keep it fresh."
£21.75 per bottle
Vidal Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2018
94+ Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "Oozes with a tropical perfume of passionfruit, lychee and melon. The palate opens up with lip-smacking citrus, a result of cool fermentation retaining purity and aromatics. The wine expands on the palate with generous, beautifully ripe fruit. Lees ageing prior to bottling has developed that great mid-palate weight and added to the wine’s intense fruit characters. Delicious example of Sauvignon Blanc which manifests its scope for generosity and ripeness."
James Suckling "This has a bright array of passion fruit and grilled yellow peaches. Green mangoes, too. Really fresh and energetic palate, it has a sense of focus and concentration with very upfront fruit."
£13.95 per bottle
Wines of the Week
Some of our in house favourites...
A home to our personal favourites and a reference point for something a little special.
The criteria is simple; outstanding quality, drinks amazingly well, super-value or (preferably) a combination of all…
High quality hand-blown glasses from
"The most important upgrade to any wine collection and the overall drinking experience simply comes down to glassware..."
Wow! Zalto Bordeaux glass...... The glass displays a true expression of terrior, a true expression of fruit and the true character of the wine! Amon Ra and Lilys Garden sampled! What a fantastic surprise considering I have been drinking from a Riedel glass for the past 2 years. Very impressed! - Robert
An incredibly elegant glass, you feel very connected to the wine through sight and smell. It creates a great drinking experience for any wine. Highly recommend! - Patrick
In 1974 Rob Gibson began working in the Penfolds Cellar which started a long and successful career spanning 22 years under Penfolds tutelage. He now runs the Gibson winery with his wife Anne and their knowledgeable team of wine enthusiasts.
We started with 2,340 bottles of 2003 Shiraz under stelvin closure, we are now down to our remaining 125 bottles
Last orders will be expecting to sell out next week
Weekend Edition 116: Magda wrote a fabulous account of her evening spent hosting Julian and Alana Langworthy (the husband and wife team behind the Nocturne label) and some very fortunate customers… Albeit a little late to the party, one of our customers, Jo has produced a wonderful account of his evening which we had to share…
Written by Jo Clarkson
My name’s Jo and I’m what the French would call an ‘amateur du vin’ –I’m passionate about my wine, but I’m no expert – so when I saw that The Vinorium were putting on a wine and meal evening with Nocturne wines and their creators Alana and Julian Langworthy, I jumped at the opportunity to meet and greet actual winemakers.
I’d never been to an event like this before, and when I looked up the venue (the most gloriously decadent 67 Pall Mall) I’ll be honest I was more than a little nervous. You see, I’m not your traditional looking wine connoisseur – I am 6’7” tall, have long dark hair, piercings and a penchant for all things black (just think middle-aging rock star and you’ll be there or there abouts) but I dug out my best striped shirt and smartest jeans and with my wife and friends, Sue and Martin, in tow we rocked up outside 67 Pall Mall not knowing what to expect.
Now 67 Pall Mall is quite a sight to behold – it’s a private members club that is renowned for its wine cellar, and its fabulous food. I’d never been to a private members club before, but it’s exactly how you’d imagine it – beautiful décor, art and sculpture bedeck the walls, studded leather bar stools, high backed booth chairs covered in peacock feather motifs and if you were wondering about the wine – it’s stored in the most extensive, glass doored, wall of wine that runs along the entire back wall from floor to high vaulted ceiling. If you’re a wine lover like me, it was like you’d died and woken up in wine heaven!
Once we were checked in, we were deftly shepherded up the stairs by the front of house staff to the wood panelled and mirror walled private dining room – Now I’d thought this event was going to be with like 50 people or something, so I was somewhat taken aback to see a table with seating for about 12 or so people. Cue my nervous laugh as Magda from The Vinorium, our host for the evening, introduced me to those that had already arrived. We were promptly given a glass of Nocturne’s Nebbiolo Rosé by Julian himself – thank god, as I was definitely in need of a calming drink! Now I’m not much of a rosé drinker, but my word, this was no ordinary rosé. As we all took to our seats around the solid oak table Julian explained that this was the grape normally used in Barolo wines but was his homage to the rosés of the bandol region of France in Provence. The Nebbiolo gave the wine real structure, almost chewy and deliciously crisp, red fruits a-washing the palate and delivering a long finish – the perfect companion to sun-filled afternoons in an English country garden.
Then as we ordered our food, black pudding scotch egg with piccalilli for starters and exquisitely grilled rib eye steak with chimichurri for main, Julian began talking to us about his own history and why he and Alana had set up Nocturne wines. Julian looked quite dishevelled in his faded blue and white linen shirt, and equally faded blue jeans but when he talks about his wine his eyes light up. The fire of passion burns deep in Julian, cut him through and I reckon he’d probably ooze wine, his enthusiasm for his subject is completely infectious – you can’t help but fall for his laid back Aussie charm.
He was explaining to us that their 2017 Single Vineyard Chardonnay (which was being poured into our glasses as he spoke) came from a tiny 0.37 hectare plot that had almost the exact same terroir as the famous chardonnay growing areas in Burgundy. He’d sweet talked the Chinese owner (who probably had no idea just how incredible these grapes were) into allowing him to use the grapes for his wine – and the result is a serious glass of stellar chardonnay. I’m not usually a fan of chardonnay, I think I’d been put off by Australian and American oak heavy examples of the past – but this was everything you’ve read that a good chardonnay should smell and taste like. So fragrant on the nose, there was citrus, lemon peel and then the deliciously decadent taste - buttery brioche, followed by clean, crisp pink grapefruit and lemon mid palate ending with a minerality that transformed into a lemon zest finish that went on forever. I have to say, I was a convert – and as I’m writing this I know I’ve got one chilling in my fridge downstairs as a Saturday evening treat.
I have to stop a moment here to interrupt and just mention how first class the service and the food was at 67 Pall Mall. The food was to die for, and the service was silently efficient.
My starter and main were amongst the best food I’d ever tasted, and the perfect accompaniments to the wonderful wines we were tasting.
Nocturne wines are a husband and wife team, Julian the passionate but chilled out master wine maker who creates the wonderful and multi-award-winning Deep Woods wines and Alana his wife who has a fire-cracker of a personality. Alana looked incredible that night in a silver top that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a catwalk in London fashion week – a real wild-child with raw, unbridled passion for what she and Julian were doing together. This is a real passion project, they’re not doing Nocturne for the accolades or the awards (although I have no doubt they will come) they’re doing it because they want to make ‘the best ‘f***ing’ wines in Margaret river’ (I may not have got that quote quite right, but it was something along those lines, expressed in equally dynamic and fruity language!)
What I loved about them both, was their down to earth nature. Alana the fiery dynamic spark, and Julian the laid-back master of his craft. They welcomed questions and loved to give in-depth but fascinating insights into both the wine making industry itself but also what helps to make a good wine become great. At times Julian would be self-deprecating, ‘don't let me go on, I can be a real wine bore if you let me’ but the truth is, he was anything but – he was a wonderful curator of this world of wine and gave us a real window into the trials and tribulations of being a small boutique wine producer.
Then we were onto the main course – steak and cabernet sauvignon – the perfect match! Nocturne’s cabernet is lighter than many I’ve tried, but it’s chock-full of cassis, has a mineral edge and a wonderfully potent nose that leads onto a textured and long-lasting finish. I’ll be honest I’d not normally touch a cabernet this young, but as they’d been expertly decanted you can taste the potential of this fine wine and it led to me buying some after the event and putting them into my cellar (I still have three remaining, although I have to confess I’ve had to put them out of sight as they are really quite delicious and tempting!)
Alana and Julian had another treat in store for us as they’d brought their latest releases too, the 2018 Cabernet (which you can still get here at The Vinorium) and their new ‘sub-regional’ wines (which if you’re lucky you might still be able to get here too?) It’s so interesting to be led through wines by their creators, it adds a real extra depth to the wine tasting experience. I was asking as many questions as I could, as were many others around the table, and Julian and Alana were always honest, frank and often hysterical in their responses. They have no airs and graces about them, no perceptible ego, just a real PASSION that oozes out of them with every answer.
I have to say that this evening surpassed all expectations – it was a genuine delight and highlight of my year. Magda was the perfect host, and Julian and Alana were enlightening, knowledgeable but most of all FUN to be with. It was also lovely to meet all the other Vinorium guests, such an interesting and diverse mix of people. They say that a sign of a good evening is that you lose track of time, and sure enough when the servers came up to tell us that we’d have to leave soon, it was then and only then that we realised that it was not that far off midnight!
If there’s still some Nocturne wines left by the time you’ve read this, then please do yourself a favour and get yourself a selection, drink them now (the Nebbiolo Rosé and 2017 Chardonnay are both drinking beautifully now) or in the case of the Cabernets, open one – decant for 3-5 hours and you’ll taste the potential of what is to come. Then carefully store the black sleeved beauties at the back of your cellar or wine fridge. Put them out of sight, put them under lock and key – because otherwise you’ll find them irresistible – but you must control yourself. Don’t touch them for 5 years, then open them as a luxurious annual treat, one bottle at a time.
They often say that a wine is a reflection of the wine maker, of its creators. Nocturne is precisely that – so what does it reflect, what does it say about its creators Julian & Alana?
It says one word, loudly, clearly and that word is PASSION.