Issue: 39 / Sunday 9 September, 2018
At last, I have returned to the job I am employed for and thoroughly enjoy. Spending two weeks picking, packing and dispatching wine has been rewarding but the downside rather disruptive. Nonetheless, and with a gracious heart, may I take this opportunity to thank you for your sale orders. It’s been a record-breaking fortnight, which I cannot see being beaten for a very long time. I draw parallels to Bob Beamon’s long jump world record, which stood for 44 years… One hundred wines have completely sold-out which underlines the extraordinary success. Thank you.
This week I am faced with a new challenge, and that is how on earth do I fill so many gaps, which and perhaps naively, I wasn’t expecting. Some, yes but not over one hundred lines. Popping to Australia for a quick re-stock is not an option as the logistics of shipping wine to our shores can take as long as ten weeks and that’s if the weather far out in the big oceans and HM Revenue & Customs play nicely. Moreover, and as The Vinorium has developed, we seek to source and represent producers exclusively, which takes some serious planning. It reminds me of a quote I read many years ago “A man may plant a tree for a number of reasons. Perhaps he likes trees. Perhaps he wants shelter. Or perhaps he knows that someday, he may need the firewood”. This is particularly pertinent as many of our initial producer contacts happened several years back. Today, we are just about to receive the fruits of all our hard work. Others are very much a work in progress…
Our latest shipment, which left Adelaide many months back, docked in the UK on Monday. With customs clearance, we are hoping to physically take possession by Wednesday / Thursday. Nick Glaetzer’s Tasmanian wines are special, which is something I have been unable to keep under wraps. We promised ‘first-dibs’ to those who requested the same. For those of you on the list, you will be receiving our offer one week ahead of our general release.
What can I say about Dan Standish and his wines which also arrived? A craftsman, a magician with Shiraz and utterly useless at responding to my emails. Forgiveness aside, we hold the Shiraz jewel amongst our vast portfolio, which makes our exclusivity a little more special. Call it a reinforcing coincidence, the wine powerhouse that is Robert Parker.com released part one of their ‘Australia, South Australia: Barossa Revisited’ last week. Joe Czerwinski (the critic behind the report) spent over 18 years at Wine Enthusiast, he moved through a succession of positions: senior editor, tasting director, managing editor, becoming the foremost American authority on the wines of Australia and New Zealand which is commonly respected in our industry.
An extract from Joe’s report “Barossa has dynastic grape-growing and winemaking families, like the Hoffmanns, the Kalleskes and the Henschkes, to name but a few, but it is also home to winemakers who’ve chosen to come for the grapes and stayed. Many of them can trace a different sort of lineage, one of employment history, often intertwined, but ultimately leading back to Chris Ringland, Dave Powell and Rockford. Two of the most notable of these are Dan Standish (Standish) and Fraser McKinley (Sami-Odi). The wines from Standish and Sami-Odi take Barossa’s traditional richness and power to higher levels of freshness and refinement without sacrificing anything along the way. Quantities of these wines are small to begin with, and only a fraction of the total production is exported to select markets, but they’re worth the necessary search”.
Dan’s 2016 clearly impressed as three wines received 99 points and one 98 beating the likes of Hill of Grace, Chris Ringland (formerly Three Rivers) Hoffmann Vineyard Shiraz and many Run Rig vintages to name a few. We have placed an embargo on all international trade orders as one of our Hong Kong traders wanted our entire stock holding which is healthy but something we are not prepared to lose.
Fortuitously, Joe also sampled Greg Hobbs' wines (another exclusivity and arrived on the same vessel) and awarded 98 Points for Greg’s 1905 Shiraz. Chris Ringland assists Greg with all his wine, which and given the price of Chris’s wine makes them an exceptional buy (to quell curiosity – Joe awarded the same 98 points for the Chris Ringland (formerly Three Rivers) Hoffmann Vineyard Shiraz which sells around £300.00 per bottle and one point less for the 2012.). Greg also received 96 points for his 2016 Gregor Shiraz which Joe described as “fantastically concentrated elixir”. Full details and tasting notes are below…
I digressed, as last week I mentioned I would return with some exciting news. The above certainly fits the bill but the subject centres around our new partnership with one the global super-players, Accolade Wines who delivers approximately 38 million cases to more than 140 countries annually. I am the first to admit that Accolade’s portfolio contains several producers who are less than impressive; Echo Falls, Stowells, that horrid plonk served in the crappiest of pubs and Babycham which is certainly iconic but not the ‘iconic’ we’re looking for.
Accolade’s strength lies in their strong Aussie portfolio which includes the Clare Valley producer, Leasingham which produces standout Riesling. Houghton
holder of Western Australia's highest tally of awards on the National Wine Show circuit. Notably, it holds the most awards for Cabernet Sauvignon – Jack Mann being the star in their impressive line-up. Grant Burge from the Barossa and most famous for their Meshach Shiraz joins the list along with Chateau Reynella widely regarded as the birthplace of South Australian wine industry and rather sentimental to me as I remember purchasing these wines over twenty years ago. Australia’s pre-eminent sparkling wine producer, House of Arras from Tasmania will add some sparkling diversity to our portfolio. I’ll be joining House of Arras Chief Sparkling Winemaker Ed Carr for a special awards dinner next month – I’ll report back on the evening.
St Hallet has access to the Barossa’s most prized vineyards with some dating back over 100 years. Over time St Hallett has built up a deep understanding of the rich tapestry of sites and climates in the Barossa and with it an appreciation of both dedicated growers and quality vines. Their Old Block shiraz is most famous however, I am looking forward to working with their ‘other’ single block wines. Petaluma’s produces some cracking Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, their Tiers Chardonnay (a special single vineyard wine) sourced from the very first planting of Chardonnay in the Adelaide Hills is fabulous and Hardys Thomas & Eileen wines are world class and those of you who have taken my advice to purchase, will agree…
When partnerships of this size take place, the obvious question centres around ownership and direction of The Vinorium. To dispel any concerns, The Vinorium remains 100% in my control and ownership. Accolade has zero input into our direction and what we can offer and cannot. In short, it’s a relationship which suits both parties. Accolade works with an award winning and the largest Australian specialist in the UK and we have access to some fantastic wines and exciting future projects. We also receive first dibs on each wine and have the option to take full allocations which effectively gives us the control of where it ultimately ends up. We have also been given the option to work with their portfolio further afield. Clients throughout Europe will enjoy the benefits of our newly formed partnership. Pricing is an enormous headache particularly with Brexit uncertainty which in turn creates currency turbulence. We have negotiated a strong, stable position and will be offering these wines at highly attractive price tags.
Together with group winemaker, Paul Lapsley, our plans are exciting. Imagine the scale of their reach and Paul’s intimate knowledge of each producers’ vines? They own or have access to some amazing fruit which we plan to identify individual barrels and produce something rather special. We will endeavour to produce a wine that takes Australia by storm. Chardonnay is our first target as special parcels have already been identified. It’s time Australia produces (albeit with the assistance of an Englishman) a ‘true’ iconic white wine. We’re not going to jump on the back of Australia’s White Grange (Hardys Eileen Chardonnay has this title courtesy of Steven Spurrier – Sorry, Yattarna). Instead, a wine that has its own name and no equal. Of course, and a further benefit of our partnership, Vinorium customers will be the first to sample and purchase.
The good news continues – The tension is palpable as Decanter’s Specialist Wine Retailer of the Year 2018 for Australia will be revealed at the awards ceremony on the 20 September. It goes without saying, the significance of this award and the positive impact for our company will be tremendous.
I suppose I should sign off with some form of justification to why I am suggesting you purchase more wine. How does ‘One wine can change your life. If you haven’t found it, keep buying’ sound?
A 6th generation Barossan, Dan Standish established his eponymous winery in 1999 whilst still working as winemaker at Torbreck Vintners. His endeavour initially began around an ancient parcel of Shiraz owned and farmed by his father... All batches of fruit are fermented and matured individually then follows a strict selection in the winery that can see as much as 80% of the original blend discarded and sold off in bulk. As with the finest producers in Europe only the finest material is sold under the Standish Wine Company label.
Stylistically Dan's wines are as rich and profound as you would expect from Barossa Valley old vines, but they have a satin texture and dreamy perfume that sets them far apart from his contemporaries. Here, dark fruits are encased in cocoa and earthy richness but with gentle spice, soil tone, asphalt and a stony minerality that gives the wines a beautiful dimension. These are special Australian wines
**Available 14th September 2018**
Standish The Relic Shiraz Viognier 2016
99 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "Everything about Standish's 2016 The Relic Shiraz-Viognier is remarkable, starting with the ridiculous color. It's so dark, so purple, so vibrant. Then the nose boasts soaring florals and stone fruits, while the palate delivers fresh blueberries and dried spices. It's full-bodied but creamy-textured, with supple tannins and concentrated fruit that lingers on the plush finish. Just awesome stuff.
I consider Dan Standish the reigning king of Barossa Shiraz. On a conference-room table at Peter Lehmann, surrounded by other top-quality wines, his 2016s completely bowled me over for their intensity, complexity and harmony. And, according to Standish, 2016 was an easy vintage. One-and-a-half inches of rain in January slowed down the ripening until harvest could take place under slightly cooler conditions. "We had tiny berries, we had to do nothing in the vineyards," he said. Sourced from single old-vine plantings in the subregions of Ebenezer, Marananga, Greenock and Hutton Vale, this is a prodigious collection of wines, meticulously produced in tiny quantities from old vines and low yields."
Standish The Standish Shiraz 2016
99 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "Dan's 2016 The Standish Shiraz comes from a vineyard in the Greenock subregion. It's inky in color, loaded with plum, blueberry and raspberry fruit. Full-bodied, creamy-textured and rich, it's intense, concentrated and long beyond belief, picking up hints of licorice along the way. Nearly embryonic, it will need at least a couple of years to show more than the primary fruit."
Standish The Schubert Theorem 2016
99 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "From a Marananga vineyard, Standish's 2016 The Schubert Theorem Shiraz is even darker hued than The Relic. Blueberries, licorice and violets appear on the nose, while the full-bodied palate is rich and creamy-textured, growing more tannic and savory on the nearly endless finish. Monolithic and young, give this at least a couple of years to become more approachable."
Standish Lamella Shiraz 2016
99 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "I suspect the 2016 Lamella Shiraz will be the longest lived of Standish's impressive 2016 releases. Sourced from Hutton Vale, it was made using 100% whole clusters and does appear slightly more tannic than the other bottlings. It starts with gorgeous florals, mint and blueberries, which carry onto the full-bodied, concentrated palate. It's richly tannic and velvety, with tremendous length."
All 2016 Standish wines are available at:
£311.70 per case (6x75cl) IN BOND
Greg and Allison have lived next door to Chris Ringland since 1995. Chris, initially made their first few vintages and set them on the path to making their own wine. An outstanding winemaker, he has been their friend, next-door neighbour and consultant since, sharing and working together with the ideal of growing superb quality fruit to make great wine. The Hobbs’s have enjoyed many a long and animated discussion with Chris in the vineyard, as well as over good meals and a glass or two of wine blending thoughts and ideas that have helped form the individual styles of their wines. For the past 4 years Greg and Allison have worked alongside Chris to make the 1905 Shiraz and the Tango Shiraz/Viognier on their own estate.
Pete Schell from Spinifex Wines has been the Hobbs winemaker for the past 10 years. He concentrates now on the Gregor, Tin Lids and Viognier as well as our semi dried dessert wines. Pete has made wine in both Australia and France. He was the head winemaker at Turkey Flat before starting out on his own. Hobbs believe Pete is one of the very best winemakers around. He has a sensational palate and nose and superb winemaking skills. He believes in the quality and power of fruit and has great integrity and honesty that comes through in his approach to winemaking.
Greg and Allison both have a fine resume of winemaking experience both in hands-on experience and in the finer art of studying wine science at the Wagga Wagga University. The combination Chris’s and Pete’s skills, Hobbs belief in their own fruit, and their desire to make only wines of exceptional quality, are fast making Hobbs one of Australia’s true premium labels. Hobbs produces wines from grapes grown on their own 15 acres of vineyard in the Barossa Ranges. Their vineyard is old, and yields are low. Nature and the seasons dictate their production; the amount of wine produced is limited by the yield of the vines.
**Available 13th September 2018**
98 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "Produced from vines planted in 1905 overlooking Flaxman Valley, Hobbs's 2015 1905 Shiraz was made with the assistance of neighbor Chris Ringland. Despite being aged in 100% new French oak puncheons, raspberry and chocolate aromas mark the nose, while the palate is full-bodied and creamy-textured. The wine is dense yet fresh, vibrant and actually made my hair stand on end when I tasted it—it's that exhilarating to taste such a magical amalgam of richness and drinkability. At around 150 cases produced, it may not be easy to find, but for true Shiraz lovers it should be a required quest."
96 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "Owner Greg Hobbs jokes that the 2015 Gregor Shiraz is their "big-production wine," because he bottles 500-600 cases annually. The grapes are picked a bit earlier than those for the 1905 Shiraz and then air-dried on racks before being crushed and fermented. Scents of smoke and black pepper emerge on the nose of this fantastically concentrated elixir. It's full-bodied and unabashedly rich, with notes of cracked pepper, chocolate and dark fruit supported by silky tannins and a long finish. It should drink well for a decade or more."
Hobbs Tin Lids Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
96 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) "This wine was made together with Sean, Bridget and Jessica Hobbs, their 'kids', or Tin Lids as they were often called. Their youthful influence on this traditional Aussie blend has resulted in a vibrant wine with the fresh herbal flavours of Cabernet merging seamlessly with the rich dark red and blackberry flavours of Shiraz.
On the nose, you’ll find liquorice and blackberry essence, spicy notes of pepper and sage with a hint of freshly picked mint, meaty and savoury aromas and subtle notes of cedar. The palate is full-bodied with dark red and blackberry flavours and the lovely herbaceous characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon The wine has a fresh acidity, very fine grain tannins and a long perfumed finish."
The 2018 Langton’s Classification VII
The 2018 Langton’s Classification VII, released 31 August, showcases Australia’s 136 best performing and most treasured wines, with 13 new entrants making their way into the list.
New entrants include By Farr Tout Pres Pinot Noir, Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards HJ Reserve Shiraz, The Standish Wine Company The Standish Single Vineyard Shiraz, and Hoddles Creek 1er Pinot Noir. We sampled Franco’s / Hoddles Creek wines earlier this year and will be representing in 2019.
Released every four years, the Classification is considered to be the highest accolade an Australian wine can achieve, and highlights the development and growing demand for Australian fine wine.
The Classification VII ranks wines in three categories: Exceptional, Outstanding and Excellent. The classification is compiled by analysing the track record of fine wine in Australia’s leading wine auction market, including prices and volume of demand over a long period of time. It is a unique rating system based on consumer demand rather than a single opinion, and therefore rates more accurately Australia’s finest wines.
Langton’s GM Jeremy Parham said: “With over 450,000 bottles of wine and 600,000 bids analysed, the wines in the Classification are a true reflection of the most collected and in demand wines produced in Australia. Penfolds Grange has again solidified its position as Australia’s most collectible wine. It has also been exciting to see new entrants such as Deep Woods and Oliver’s Taranga make the list.”
The Classification also includes the first ever Heritage Five category, which lists the very best wines within the Exceptional category and along with Penfolds Grange, includes Henschke Hill of Grace, Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, Mount Mary Quintet Cabernet Blend and Wendouree Shiraz, reflecting their celebrated status and ground-breaking influence within Australia’s fine wine scene.
A few names which you will recognise, and we have stock of…
Chris Ringland Shiraz, Barossa
Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz, Eden Valley
Torbreck RunRig Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale
Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Greenock Creek Roennfeldt Road Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon, Eden Valley
Henschke Keyneton Estate Euphonium Shiraz Cabernet Merlot, Barossa Valley
Houghton Jack Mann Frankland River Cabernet Blend, Great Southern
Kay Brothers Amery Vineyards Block 6 Old Vine Shiraz, McLaren Vale
Yarra Yering Dry Red Wine No.1 Cabernet, Yarra Valley
By Farr Sangreal Pinot Noir
Chambers Rosewood Winery Rare Muscat, Rutherglen
By Farr Tout Pres Pinot Noir
Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon
Deep Woods Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River
Hardys Eileen Hardy Shiraz, South Australia
Hentley Farm Clos Otto Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Oliver’s Taranga HJ Reserve Shiraz
Petaluma Coonawarra Cabernet Blend
St Hallett Old Block Shiraz, Barossa
The Standish Wine Company The Standish Single Vineyard Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Torbreck Descendant Shiraz Viognier, Barossa Valley
Wolf Blass Black Label Shiraz Blend
Yarra Yering Dry Red Wine No.2 Shiraz, Yarra Valley