Issue: 98 / Sunday 26 January, 2019
Where to start this week? Lots of exciting news but, and on a serious note, I wish to start by thanking Michael (who has asked to be kept anonymous) for his incredibly generous bid of £5,000 for our 103-bottle collection. We decided to split the funds equally between NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund and WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.) which has been rescuing and caring for wildlife for over 30 years and is the largest wildlife rescue organisation in Australia.
On Wednesday evening we finally received full planning permission for our new HQ build and vineyard. The support from our brilliant architects, Guy Hollaway has been nothing short of fantastic. Unfortunately, and as I mentioned in our opening communication of 2020, the matter was being heard in front of a planning committee which I attended. Guy took the all important three-minute slot and explained why this build was so important. Our local parish councillor was away on holiday, but took the time to write to the entire committee as he was fully supportive of the build – Great letter councillor Mulholland.
Fifteen councillors were able to offer their respective support or objections which was both fascinating and frustrating to hear. Most arguments were intelligent with the odd daft objection. Planting a vineyard for ‘show’ being the most ridiculous. I wanted to rise to my feet and declare this assertion was utter nonsense – Who plants a vineyard just to look at the green leaves and hanging summer bunches? But I had to keep quiet which, and for those who know me, is not easy. Nonetheless, and following some superb arguments in our favour, the planning committee agreed by an overwhelming majority of 13:2. I look forward to welcoming the committee members to our new HQ (perhaps just the 13). We now have a busy eighteen months ahead as we plan to move in during the summer of 2021. We will keep you updated with our progress and lots of photos too…
Last week, Wine Australia held their annual tasting in London, which and as ever, received a tremendous turnout. Unfortunately, and for reasons relating to HQ planning, Magda and I were unable to attend. Understandably, there was a shadow over the event as the toll of the bushfires was the main point of discussion. It is understood that 1,500 hectares of vineyards have been affected by the fires, with Adelaide Hills being the worst affected region. For me, the impact on winemakers, growers, their friends and families is difficult to grasp. The sheer devastation to land and life is unquantifiable and I pray that Australia will have time to heal itself.
Despite the lack of our personal appearance at the tasting, several of our wines were showcased which is lovely to see. Top scoring wines from the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards were presented to represent benchmark wines from across Australia. The stunning 98-point Domaine Naturaliste, Artus Chardonnay, was joined by our sell-out ’17 Soumah Equilibrio Pinot Noir (PS: the Equilibrio Chardonnay is now close to selling out too). Master Sommelier, Ronan Sayburn ran a special masterclass titled, “The 8 most inspirational Australian wines of Ronan Sayburn MS.” The 2018 Sanskrit Gamay Noir, from Domaine Simha was one of the elected eight wines… Ronan picked this limited production Gamay as a standout inspiration on his travels to Tasmania. The grapes for Sanskrit come from a single biodynamic vineyard in Huon valley, the coolest region in Tasmania, the winemaking involves whole bunch, no fining or filtration. Ronan announced the wine as “refreshing and fun to drink” and “love that bright juicy cherry and raspberry fruit.” Nav produces only 600 bottles each vintage which sell-out to his domestic customers. We will be twisting his arm for a further small allocation…
Australia Unearthed II has a firm date in the diary and will be running from Thursday 21 May to, and including Saturday 23. There are lots of changes from last year’s inaugural tasting – The venue has changed to the OXO Tower, London, which regularly hosts many high-profile wine events. We have opted for both wings which allows us the luxury of space and the potential to run a series of special masterclasses.
Thursday is for the press only as they do not like to mix with the general public!
We plan to open the doors for our customers on Friday at 4:30pm to 8:30pm as we appreciate that many of our London customers would like the opportunity to sample in the region of 150 wines before heading home for the weekend. Saturday is a full day and given the size of the venue, you are welcome to arrive whenever you wish. Wines will be poured from 10:00am through to 6:00pm.
What else has changed? Predominantly, the people pouring the wine, as many of our winemakers are travelling to join us for the three days.
You will have the opportunity to meet and talk with Dan Standish, Jaysen Collins (JC’s Own), Nick Glaetzer, John Pooley, Nav from Domaine Simha, team Greenock Creek, Owen from Eastern Peake, Stuart from Hutton Vale Farm, Julian & Alana from Nocturne, Craig Stansborough from Purple Hands / After Five Wine Co, the boys from Wild Duck Creek, Soumah are back, hopefully and with fingers crossed Paul & Gilli from Sailor Seeks Horse, Angus from Vinden Estate, Valli (from New Zealand)… and we are waiting on more confirmations.
Clearly, Australia Unearthed II has gone-up several notches which is just how we like it and early preparation is key to its success. We are aiming to provide customers the opportunity to purchase tickets next weekend (possibly Friday – please check your inbox at lunchtime). Vinorium customers (those who purchase wines from us) will receive the full allocation of tickets with the general public (non-buyers of our wines) being offered any remaining tickets in the week following. Places are limited but much healthier than 2019. We aim to offer a maximum of 150 tickets for the Friday slot with 250 offered for the Saturday. 50 complimentary tickets have already been allocated to Vinorium Profit Share investors and they are welcome to choose a day that suits them best. We will be in touch with you in due course.
Not a certainty, but and to keep the excitement going, we plan to run eight masterclasses on the Saturday. A further ticketed event with each masterclass running for 45 minutes – Circa 25 places for each session will be up for grabs. This is a wonderful opportunity should you prefer a quiet, tutored tasting with one of your favourite producers; Nick Glaetzer, Dan Standish, Julian & Alana Langworthy et cetera… These will be very special and offered (in the first instance) to Vinorium customers only. These will also be offered for sale at the same time as the main ticketed event. And before you ask, NO. A masterclass ticket does not entitle you to sample the rest of the room. Finally, all tickets are non-refundable with all proceeds from cancelled places or no-shows going to assist with Australia’s recovery. We will advise of the donation post the event.
With lots of ‘new’ wines arriving, it is time to take stock of wine producers who do not fit the bill for the year ahead. It sounds rather mercenary but ambitions and focus changes or and on the odd occasion, a lack of synergy between two parties will have inevitable impact. We have declared our plans to work directly with USA producers with samples now arriving and that’s how we like it. We have enjoyed working with Gallo wines, but the US giant has, and understandably so, enormous aspirations in the UK, which conflict with ours. No one is at fault and I am convinced we will work together again in the future, but we’re currently on separate courses and cannot find a happy medium. For now, the following producers are being delisted immediately; Orin Swift, Talbott and Louis M Martini. In fact, and to offer balance to the above, we plan to replace our entire USA portfolio in preference to working with ‘new’ producers on an agency basis. The benefits for you and The Vinorium are immense and something we should all get excited about…
My final note (for the USA) today – I opened a bottle of my favourite Pinot Noir last Sunday. The ’14 Finn produced by DuMOL was extraordinary in every sense, a moving wine and utterly perfect. Save for the legendary 1974 Heitz Martha Vineyard (sadly now departed from my cellar) this must be the most spectacular and worthy of 101 points. Stupidly, I once had a case of the ’74 Martha Cabernet Sauvignon which I purchased for around £500 some twenty years ago… Today, I could receive some $12,000 for the case, but what memories!
(Our glorious new HQ, opening Summer 2021)
New Block Six -
Historical Tasting from
The Wine Front…
The lucky guys at The Wine Front had the pleasure of attending a very special Kay Brothers Block 6 Shiraz historical tasting event – here are Mike Bennie’s thoughts…
Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
“In October 2019 a wonderful opportunity arose to dive deep into cellared bottles of the famed 1892 Block 6 planting of shiraz. The generous folk of Kay Brothers showed a group of enthusiasts this very special collection of wines, including the 1985 offering which was poured from a demijohn that was originally hand-bottled and hand corked by Colin Kay. It’s clear that the wines age magnificently even though they chart some of the fad periods of Australian wine in their reflective changes in shape and size of wines. It’s great to see the cuvee in full strength from recent releases too.”
Kay Brothers Amery Vineyard
Block 6 Shiraz 2017
125th Anniversary Release
Mike Bennie: 2017:
"This is the 125th anniversary of Kay Brothers wine and the 34th vintage of this single vineyard wine. What a wonderful estate. Pretty perfume here. Red berry-cherry fruits, slight medicinal lift, touch of eucalyptus. The palate is silky yet dense, hemmed with spicy-chalky tannins, drawn long, very fine, fresh-feeling and kind of cool despite all that potent fruit rolling in. Tannins, superb; lots of tension here in best way. Quiet power, then has a prettiness and almost light finish, so very appealing in the scheme of things. Fantastic."
50% of stock has already been sold
100 Points & probably, one of the greatest white wines outside of Burgundy
100 Points - Stuart McCloskey “Probably, one of the greatest white wines outside of Burgundy. The old-vine Roussanne Vieilles Vignes is produced from the original three-hectare parcel planted in 1909. The wine needs to be decanted to reveal a perfume so extraordinary, I am struggling to find the correct words. Complex layers of honey, wildflowers, nectarine, marmalade and hot wet stones. The palate is an incredibly intense experience – full-bodied, extravagant, viscous with an intense grip that doesn’t let go. Still primary and requires a decade to reveal its true self. Honey is intermixed with buttery fruits and lots of minerals. It’s vibrant and the acidity is mouth-watering (in a great sense). This is a wine which is relentless and doesn’t stop giving. Put a stopwatch to the length and you’ll be there until tomorrow. This is one of those ‘rare’ wine moments when words seem pointless.” Served using Zalto Bordeaux Glassware…
£120.50 per bottle
* 3 packs include OWC *
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”
After Five Wine Co. Single Vineyard Grenache 2018
95 Points - James Halliday's Wine Companion "From the Zerk vineyard at Lyndoch. An almost ethereal bouquet, displaying aromas of raspberry, rose perfume and sweet vanillin spice. Rich and easy drinking (in a positive way) on first impression, there's depth and dimension to the flavour and texture which builds in the mouth and develops further as the wine breathes. High quality for now or later."
95 Wines of the Week have been declared with many now sadly on our sold-out list. We played a little lunchtime game with the remaining 30. Which would you take home this weekend?
Explore our previous wines
of the week below
Simply click the wine that takes your fancy to learn more.
The 8 most inspirational Australian wines of Ronan Sayburn MS
"Ask Ronan Sayburn MS where the most interesting country for making wine is right now and his answer will be Australia. Sayburn is one of the most influential wine buyers in the world and, after a military-style two week tour of Australia’s wine-making regions, he came back with a long list of wines which will challenge most people’s preconceptions about what the country is capable of making. He picked this limited production Gamay as a standout inspiration on his travels to Tasmania, an island whose wine growing area combined would only fit into the Bordeaux appellation of Saint-Estèphe. Simha is a winemaker buying in fruit and making wines in a bright, fresh style. The grapes for Sanskrit come from a single biodynamic vineyard in Huon valley, the coolest region in Tasmania, the winemaking involves whole bunch, no fining or filtration."
“This is so refreshing and fun to drink,” said Sayburn, “ love that bright juicy cherry and raspberry fruit.”
"He was right too – the wine had a lovely fine, river stone texture, a clear glass bottle that emphasised that this was a wine to be drinking young – that is if you can get your hands on one of the 600 bottles made."
Domaine Simha 2018 SANSKRIT Gamay Noir
Jen Parr of Valli Wines named
NZ Winemaker of the Year 2020
by Gourmet Traveller WINE
"Jen Parr is a deserving winner. She is driven by enthusiasm, asks questions and tests the answers, and her passion for pinot noir is inspiring. “Pinot Noir may flirt with your senses but it has the power to really engage the mind,” she says. “I guess you might say it is a grape for intellectual hedonists!” In the words of Bob Campbell MW, she is one of New Zealand’s “most promising young winemakers.” Congratulations, Jen."
Ending 10am Monday morning
£42.95 per bottle
For this weekend only: £40.50 per bottle
Valli Vineyards Waitaki Pinot Noir 2017
Jen Parr "Light garnet hue with fruit aromas of wild strawberry, sweet cherry, and plum married with sage, wild thyme and a touch of cedar. The vibrant fruit, savoury notes and intriguing spice, layer wonderfully with the silky fine tannins and creamy texture highlighted by a fresh acidity that gives the wine tremendous energy. The cooler growing season saw a late April/early May harvest resulting in a beautifully fragrant wine with delicate fine tannins and exciting aromatics that are a true reflection of the Waitaki. A wine that is a touch exotic, lithe and exceptionally enjoyable upon release and will benefit from up to 8 years in the cellar. A real gem for those who love Waitaki Pinots!"
Valli Vineyards Gibbston Pinot Noir 2017
Jen Parr "Deep garnet hue with a fascinating array of aromas from mineral and floral to earthy/animal and baking spice/wild thyme. The fruit shines through on the palate with bright cherry, blackberry and mulberry complimented by a rich earthy vein. The savoury characteristics from a cool and exceptionally low cropping vintage are sensational when married with the classic Gibbston silky, fine tannins and electric acidity. Perhaps our most intriguing Pinot to date from this vineyard with vine age playing an important role in capturing a special vintage. This punchy young wine gives immediate gratification but it has all the hallmarks of a wine that is very worthy of cellaring and will show even more exciting features for many years to come."
Valli Vineyards Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2017
Jen Parr "This incredibly fragrant and elegant wine is from our relatively cool site in Bannockburn in a cool growing season resulting in a wine with great tension and incredible layers of red fruit, spice and earth. The aromas are both intriguing and complex: fresh berry, wild game, gun smoke, baking spice and wild thyme. The palate is long and bright with cherry, blackcurrant, cardamom, and delicious savoury undertones. Silky fine tannins compliment the vibrant acidity, giving the wine length and memory. This wine is drinking beautifully at release and will continue to do so for at least a decade."
Valli Vineyards Bendigo Pinot Noir 2017
Jen Parr "Deep garnet hue with bright fruit aromas of blackberry, cherry, and mulberry with toasted almond, coffee and cedar. Fresh summer berries on the palate with nutmeg, mushroom and earthy loam. A fresh and lively palate with fine tannins that build in the mouth with a long, vibrant finish. Bendigo in a cool season shows incredible energy with a powerful core. Bold and bright, this wine is intricately layered with chiselled beauty and incredible detail. Lively and inviting in its youth, this wine will also go the distance and is well worth cellaring!"
Our clear-out continues into Bordeaux, Rhône, Loire, Roussillon and Provence with our full offer available using this link or the button below. The wines from Domaine de Bila Haut are very special and I am not sure why these great wines never found a regular home with Vinorium customers. There are 31 bottles of the 99-point Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Chaupin 2016 up for grabs too. Jeb Dunnuck is spot-on with his assessment and declares the wine as “incredible stuff, and while I suspect it’s the best vintage to date, it’s going to be great comparing it to bottles of the 2005, 2007, 2010, and 2015 over the coming 15+ years. This beauty offers a thrilling blend of kirsch, blackberries, smoked earth, graphite, and licorice on the nose. It's full-bodied, deep, pure, ultra-fine, and powerful on the palate and flirts with perfection. It’s a tour de force in Grenache that readers need to snatch up!”
The less expensive Domaine de la Janasse Tradition (just 24 bottles left) is available too. From the Loire we offer our remaining bottles from François Cotat who produces age worthy and complex Sancerre. Cotat wines are harvested by hand and very late, as pushing ripeness to the extreme is one element that gives these wines their weighty texture and complexity. While Cotat is not organically certified, his habits are according to organic principles. He does not treat his vines with pesticides; uses only indigenous yeasts for fermentation; and follows the lunar cycle for racking. Robert Parker.com wrote “I shook my head in wonderment as to why so few Sancerre producers made wines such as these…” The answer is simple; Cotat produces the most singular style of Sancerre which is difficult to replicate. Devotees declare them as one-part winemaking to three parts magic… Buy now and put them away for at least 5 years.
New Arrival: Eastern Peake
Selling out fast and its only been in the UK for one week
Eastern Peake Intrinsic Chardonnay 2016
98++ Points - Stuart McCloskey “Unfolding in the glass with wonderful aromas of sweet, buttered pastry, citrus oil, vanilla bean, sesame and saline. The texture is incredible, lavish and coats every facet. The sheer depth for such a young Chardonnay is quite astonishing and will be at its peak in 3-4 years. A characteristic of warm bread with a creamy nuttiness is super-attractive as is the indescribable textural sensation. Satiny smooth certainly describes aspects but the sheer completeness is a tougher task. This is far from blousy – femininity and precision being the optimum characteristics. The acidity is clear and helps balance that textural element. One of the best ‘young’ Aussie Chardonnays I have sampled in a very long time. Almost speechless, therefore I should shut up. Served in Zalto Bordeaux glassware (Do not overchill – circa 11 degrees will be perfect).”
£27.50 per bottle