A Taste of
The Vinorium

Issue: 86 / Sunday 6 October, 2019

 
 
 

Australia Unearthed: Our first Aussie Portfolio Tasting

 

Last Saturday’s Australia Unearthed tasting was, as the Aussies would say, a ripper of an event. The doors opened promptly at 10:00am to a queue of Vinorium customers which was mightily impressive and certainly surprised our winemakers and those manning our guest tables. 

Given that this was our first private client tasting (of this scale), we were understandably keen for the day to go without a hitch. Logistically, it was a complex task from shipping wines directly from several of our producers (Nick Glaetzer’s Sur Lie Chardonnay was bottled only two weeks prior and was air freighted across at huge expense) to ensuring all six-hundred bottles were prepped and ready for the ensuing stampede.  

For me, the day started on Friday evening as I met our Aussie winemakers for dinner at 67 Pall Mall. As ever, I arrived early as I wanted to get a handle of their wine list, which is presented in tablet form. It’s impressive and covers 37 wine-producing countries, home to some 4,000 bottles, and currently boasts the largest wine list by-the-glass in the world (circa 750 wines). What to serve a group of Aussie winemakers? For the pre-dinner aperitif, I opted for a bottle of 1989 Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling from the Alsace producer, Trimbach, which and despite being thirty-years of age was just unfurling itself. We all commented this would be difficult to appreciate if it were any younger. Superb it was, and received top marks from the entire table. Grouse was served for the main course along with a bottle of 1993 Pommard which came at the recommendation of the sommelier. Upon tasting, we all agreed that it was ‘ok’ but, and as with many Burgundies, disappointing.

The food was delicious and the conversation flowed, which is a dangerous combination and led to a bottle of the 2001 Château Haut Brion being ordered. ’01 represents one of Bordeaux ‘classical’ vintages but I have to confess, I am yet to have a disappointing bottle. It was delectable and showing the feminine complexity which is often missed with current releases. Superb! The entire table opted for the sticky date pudding with Mark (Purple Hands) declaring this better than his wife’s! A final bottle was poured with every honeyed drop savoured (2007 Château Climens). ’07 Sauternes / Barsacs are breath-taking and represent an amazing vintage. Château Climens was a particularly fine example and left our Aussie friends speechless. So, to answer your question; “what does an Aussie specialist and a bunch of Aussie winemakers drink over dinner?” Now you know!

Before I comment on the day’s tasting, allow me to put you out of your misery with regards to our mystery wine. Many speculations centred around Shiraz or Grenache, which is the direction Craig Stansborough headed down however, don’t you think that was a tad obvious? Barossa is correct, however the free case is safe as not one person guessed the grape variety correctly. ‘Saperavi’ would hit the nail on the head, which is produced by one of our new agencies, Massena – 2016 being the vintage… 

The room was full of outstanding wines covering all price ranges and styles. It is always fascinating to understand the main attractions of the day which is easily analysed by the number of empty bottles. We declare that the suite from Dan Standish, Sailor Seeks Horse and Domaine Simha were in much demand. However, and what is most curious (save for the odd customer) post-event orders did not match the demand shown on the day.

We heard wonderful things coming from the Soumah table particularly one of my favourites, the Equilibrio Chardonnay 2017 which I believe will be one of Australia’s ‘top’ Chardonnays in a few years. Jon (showing the wines from Hentley Farm and Deep Woods) also reported a healthy appetite for his wines, and in particular Hentley’s Black Beauty Sparkling Shiraz with the majority of stock consumed on the day. Keith (the owner of Hentley) has reserved 300 bottles for The Vinorium which we will be retailing at £43.95 per bottle. Who would like some? It’s highly likely we will be shipping against firm orders only… In fact, the entire Hentley Farm line-up was seeking your opinion (table 6 of your brochure). Please let the team know if you would like to place an order for these wines.

Like you, we were keen to sample the new ‘Reserve’ releases from Deep Woods, which continue to impress and seem to be getting better year after year. It’s been a conversation point for some time as the owner, Peter Fogarty is very keen to see an increase in his excellent estate wines, which he proposes to align with his ‘Reserve’ wines (on a 10:1 ratio). I am not a fan of this tactic, as this is used by Châteaux and Bordeaux négociants which I have grown tired of, but I do understand his position with both domestic and international customers not willing to support a larger range. As it stands, we are not accepting orders for the new ‘Reserve’ wines until we have a full handle on the situation. However, and what I will say, priority will be given to supporters of their estate wines over those cherry picking (and I perfectly understand your position too). As a footnote – We may even delist their ‘Reserve’ wines if Mr Fogarty insists on his 10:1 ratio. We do have a few bottles available of the Reserve ’16 Chardonnay & ’15 Cabernet Sauvignon which are not handcuffed to their estate wines.

Craig and Mark representing Purple Hands were kept busy with your questions. Much of their table was ‘seeking your opinion’ which seems rather thin on the ground. We really would appreciate some more feedback for these wines. Did you sample? What did you think? Any favourites? Thoughts on RRPs and a question which Craig & Mark will certainly ask me; “are you going to buy anything we showed Stu?” I require some input from you before I decide…

Shontelle did a sterling job showing the superb wines from Tasmanian producers, Hughes & Hughes. Many agreed their Barrel & Skins Sauvignon Blanc was sensational which I wholeheartedly agree with. Personally, I believe this to be our best New World Sauvignon Blanc. I had a very busy table with the aforementioned and the new releases from Nick Glaetzer, which received a full round of applause. I enjoyed showing Nick’s Sur Lie Chardonnay between the ethereal Sailor Seeks Horse and more robust Domaine Simha Rao from the Coal River Valley.

I was conscious of the fact that several of the wines would not stand-up to the hustle and bustle of a busy tasting room, as I have previously shown both Sailor Seeks Horse wines as part of a much larger Aussie Chardonnay and Pinot Noir tasting. I adore both wines but must confess they were lost amongst the crowd. Some refer to this style of wine as ‘intellectual’ which does sound rather poncy, but I am afraid to declare I agree. They both demand your undivided attention, the correct glassware and temperature which is impossible to provide in a room full of people.

That said, and with the aid of Zalto’s Burgundy glass, I was able to show how brilliant their Pinot Noir is. Their Chardonnay requires a larger glass – ideally Zalto’s Bordeaux glass which we used during our supper…

The Icon Table (poured by Natalie) was well attended with all ten wines showing magnificently. Everyone had their favourites with the ’99 Hill of Grace and the ’04 The Relic served en-magnum being two of the favourites. You should have seen all the winemakers and friends of The Vinorium piling in as soon as the doors closed – quite a sight! I thought the ’06 John’s Blend Shiraz was incredible and very much look forward to seeing how the 2014 develops over the coming decade.

Table 5 consisting of Hoddles Creek and Wild Duck received lots of interest. Many wanted to sample Franco’s 1er Chardonnay & Pinot Noir (the lack of returned, full bottles confirms this). Michelle informed the team that Wild Duck’s Yellow Hammer (Shiraz / Malbec) went down a storm particularly given the fantastic value.

Magda, bravely manned one of the busiest tables and was overwhelmed with excellent comments for JC’s Own, Hutton Vale Farm and Standish. Two Hands seemed to be left behind or perhaps a little out of their depth! Standish wines were hammered with £1,039.20 being consumed throughout the day. Which was the best out of the Standish quartet? Unanimously, the 2017 Schubert Theorem won hands down, followed by the Lamella.

Kay Brothers provided Vinorium customers with the opportunity to sample the unreleased 125th anniversary edition of their iconic 2017 Block 6 Shiraz. They’re super-keen to hear your feedback. Please let us know your thoughts…. In addition, there is a ‘Block 6 Film’ capturing the 2017 Block 6 journey in full (9 minute version). A must watch for anyone who is a supporter of their signature wine!

Did you sample the LOME wines on Table 9? Check your tasting booklet and please let us know.

Table 10 showcased the wines from Clonakilla, Cullen, Grosset and John Duval. We really would appreciate your feedback for all these wines. We pinched a bottle of the Cullen ‘Kevin John’ Chardonnay for supper. Wow, what an incredible wine, but would you pay £72.50 per bottle?

The final table contained the impressive line-up from Margaret River producer, Domaine Naturaliste. Again, and without sounding boring, please drop us an email with some thoughts. Just a few lines would be appreciated.

How many no shows? The only sour note of the day being the non-attendance of 36 customers, which I find incredibly disappointing, particularly as we had close to two-hundred customers on our ‘reserve’ list. Of course, and under normal wine tasting circumstances, one would expect a 10 to 15 percent drop out however, and given the level of communication regarding the importance of informing the team of your intentions not to attend, I find this difficult to comprehend. Nonetheless, lessons have been learnt and I now have a little black book tucked away in my top drawer with 36 names appearing inside!

Hats off to Brett who arrived on-the-dot and all the way from Australia. We are truly honoured. Customers also arrived from France, Croatia and Holland for their 3.5 hour tasting slot. All 36 non-attendees came from the UK and many within an hour or two of the venue. A poor show from the Brits!

We received many requests for another similar event, which and in short, we would say “yes” to, but with fundamental changes. We have started the mental process of planning a much larger tasting towards the latter part of May to early June (2020) as many of our winemakers wish to join us. It’s early days but a thorough plan is essential to ensure that everyone who participates, benefits. We will certainly plan a full day for the press (only) to attend with all winemakers being on hand to explain their wines. I visualise various masterclasses will also be offered to the press which will be led by several of our winemakers. 

Of course, there is a commercial element which we cannot ignore. The costs for our winemakers to attend (flights and hotels) is significant and weighs heavily on our shoulders. They may as well stay for longer if we are able to produce a series of events which are beneficial, to include masterclasses and a series of lunches / dinners for private customers and the press. Perhaps a 3-4-day festival of wine…? Finding the right venue to incorporate a food element would be fun too. We will also advertise our Aussie festival outside of our customer base as it’s a super opportunity to attract lots of new customers and will certainly be the best Aussie tasting to attend in 2020.

At the time of planning this event, we thought it only right to offer complimentary tickets to our entire private customer base on a first-come-first-served basis however, and in hindsight, this was an unwise commercial decision.  Communicating frankly and taking lessons from the build-up to the event itself (combined with our aspirations for Australia Unearthed II), we will need to consider a tiered pricing structure for attendees. That said, we will offer a limited number of invitational complimentary tickets, but these will be based exclusively on the level of support we have received throughout the course of the year. Those customers who found our Profit Share Scheme attractive and more importantly had faith in our investment plan will also receive a series of free passes to various events throughout the course of the week and all future events.

Some may find this a rather elitist approach however, many of our ‘top’ customers missed out on the opportunity to sample a room full of gems, which in turn impacts our back pockets. Of course, we do not expect all customers to place orders, some will do so later in the year, but we must a find balance between those attending (and placing an order) versus those who wish not to. Perhaps a substantial ticket price increase with a staggered refund on orders placed would work.

The most important question we must ask ourselves relates to the overall success. Financially, and for the above reasons, the day ran at a loss which is disappointing but that’s the risk you take. On the flip side, we have no regrets as we had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed meeting with you all. 

We spent the evening resting our tired feet whilst eating some delicious food served by 67 Pall Mall. We polished off the icon wines and moved onto a magnum of heavenly 2005 Château Palmer and the more structured ’05 Château Leoville Barton. More Bordeaux I hear you say!

Cheers,
Stu

 
 
 
 

The Undisputed Wine of the Day

2017 Standish Schubert Theorem

The Schubert Theorem Shiraz originates from an east-facing vineyard on the Roennfeldt Road, Marananga, arguably the most famous address in the Barossa Valley.

99-100 Points - Stuart McCloskey "An extraordinary colour ranging from midnight black to a rim of purple. The nose is intoxicating and utterly beguiling with lavender, violets, vanilla, coal, cold stone, ink, iron ore and graphite. The palate is full-bodied, richly structured, incredibly layered and beautifully defined - The Château Latour of Australia as this befits ‘the iron fist in a velvet glove’ perfectly. It’s quite extraordinary how a wine of such scale and age is so harmonious. The flavour profile and length are unending. The texture silken. The sweet entry finding its way to an iron ore and salty finish is fascinating (my last sip offered coffee notes). It is easy to understand why this was wine of the day (a difficult achievement given the calibre of the room). One of Australia’s immortal wines which has the potential to outlive most of us. Remarkable. Decanted for 2 hours and served using Zalto’s Bordeaux Glassware."

***  24 hours only  ***

was £64.95 per bottle

now £57.95 per bottle

 
 
 

The Most Talked About Wines of the Day

The entire room was buzzing with much excitement and we continue to receive great feedback. Many customers highlighted the great atmosphere, as well as the impressive quality of wines presented on the day. Although we continue to gather valuable comments on many Vinorium exclusive wines and the guest wines, there are a few names which kept on coming up during conversations with spectacular consistency. Creating much stir in the room, the following wines are some of the most talked about wines of the day.

 

1.

Soumah Equilibrio Chardonnay 2017

full price - £35.95 per bottle

For One Week Only

£32.35 per bottle

 

2.

Purple Hands Single Vineyard Grenache 2018

full price - £28.95 per bottle

For One Week Only

£26.05 per bottle

 

3.

Valli Vineyards Waitaki Pinot Noir 2017

full price - £42.50 per bottle

For One Week Only

£38.25 per bottle

 

4.

JC's Own Greenock Shiraz 2017

full price - £36.50 per bottle

For One Week Only

£32.85 per bottle

 
 

5. 

 

 Hentley Farm Black Beauty Sparkling Shiraz NV

 

Available to pre-order

***  Delivery: End January 2020  ***

 

full price - £43.95 per bottle

£39.55 per bottle

 
 

6.

Domaine Simha RAMA Pinot Noir 2017

full price - £44.50 per bottle

For One Week Only

£40.05 per bottle

 

7.

Domaine Simha RAO Chardonnay 2017

full price - £44.50 per bottle

For One Week Only

£40.05 per bottle

 

8.

 Glaetzer-Dixon Reveur Pinot Noir 2016

 

Available to pre-order

***  Delivery: November 2019  ***

 

full price - £37.95 per bottle

For One Week Only

£34.15 per bottle

 

9.

 Hoddles Creek Syberia Chardonnay 2017

full price - £35.95 per bottle

For One Week Only

£32.35 per bottle

 

10.

 Mewstone Hughes & Hughes 'Barrel & Skins'
Sauvignon Blanc 2018

full price - £22.95 per bottle

For One Week Only

£20.65 per bottle

 
 

125 years in the making

 

It's hard to believe that wine has been made from the Block 6 vineyard for 125 years, since the early days of Frederick and Herbert Kay at Amery Vineyards. Since that time, Kay Brothers has undergone plenty of change and progress, but still stay committed to the amazing vineyards the young brothers planted all those years ago. Kay Brothers are old fashioned wine lovers, fond of doing things by hand, and nurturing the vineyards that allow them to make wines such as they do. So when they reached such an impressive milestone, they could not wait to share it with loyal friends and family, at home and around Australia. This is why they have launched the 125th Anniversary Edition of Block 6 Shiraz.

 

Amery Vineyard Block 6 Shiraz 2017

BLOCK 6 Shiraz embodies the pioneering spirit and determination shown by the founding Kay Family, a legacy continued by the 3rd and 4th generation members to this day. The 34th vintage of this single vineyard wine coincides with the 125th Anniversary of the gnarled old vines planted by Frederick and Herbert Kay in 1892.

Winemaker "The 2017 vintage provided a very healthy crop, seemingly wanting to tell us how enduring these vines are and how unique the Amery vineyard is. The Block 6 vineyard faces east, and rows run north south with significant undulation. Vines are spur and cane pruned with the canes wrapped onto the top wire of the low-lying trellis. The present 3.5 acres comprises a corner of red loam, some heavy clay in the middle of the block, and gravelly, alluvial soils on the lower side. The underlying  South Maslin Sands” geology is extremely complex containing layers of glauconite, limestone, sandstone and siltstone.

Block 6 was hand-picked from the 125 year old vines on the 21st and 30th of March 2017, producing a healthy and clean crop of 11.37 tonnes. The grapes were crushed, de-stemmed and plunged twice daily, while spending 11 days on skins in our traditional open fermenters. The wine was then basket pressed and matured for 20 months in 40 % new French and American oak puncheons.
Bottled in February 2019".

The 2017 Block 6 is a powerful, concentrated Shiraz, exhibiting elegance and finesse whilst encompassing superior complexity and structure. With proven longevity, time and cellaring will only reward the patient drinker.

 

Colour: Deep ruby.

Nose: Perfumed notes of pot pourri, dark cherries, charcuterie and a hint of cedar.

Palate: Layers of concentrated dark fruit, cacao and black olive, followed by slowly building, fine-grained, chalky tannins of immense length. Rich and concentrated with power and finesse.

 
 
 

Amery Vineyard Block 6 Shiraz 2016

96 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) 

"Bay leaf, violets and peppery spice mark the nose of the 2016 Shiraz Block 6, produced from vines planted in 1892. It's full-bodied, creamy and supple, then it turns rich and velvety on the long finish. The texture this year really sets it apart, while the flavors of boysenberry and blackberry are wonderfully accented by hints of cracked pepper."

£41.50 per bottle

 
 

Griffon's Key Grenache 2017

95 Points - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front) 

"Dried roses, ripe raspberry, something like black jelly beans, some sweet spices. Medium to full-bodied, plush and mouth-filling, but gentle too, with insistent silky tannin nudging it along, soft acidity, a savoury cast to a long finish with a cushion of royal purple velour tannin easing it out. Delightful. Texture is a highlight here."

£25.95 per bottle

 
 

Amery Vineyard Cuthbert Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

95 Points - Joe Czerwinski (RobertParker.com) 

"Prettier and more aromatic than the very good 2015, the 2016 Cuthbert Cabernet Sauvignon hints at violets and mint on the nose and adds hints of cherries to the cassis fruit. Medium to full-bodied, it's supple, almost silky on the palate, with a finish that's simultaneously mouthwatering and firmly tannic. It should drink well for at least a decade."

£23.95 per bottle

 
 

Amery Vineyard Hillside Shiraz 2016

95 Points - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front) 

"Dense, meaty, plenty of toasty umami oak, blackberry, liquorice, dried herbs. Full-bodied, well packed and full of flavour, porcini mushroom, black fruits, something a bit ferrous, tightly knit dark chocolate tannin, bold finish where dark berries mix with all kinds of meaty/earthy flavours. Impressive. Muscular. Won’t leave you wondering. I don’t usually say this, but if you’re going in early, a good healthy spell in a decanter will do it wonders."

£23.25 per bottle

 
 

Kay Brothers Amery Vineyard Basket Pressed Shiraz 2017

93 Points - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front) 

"In 2017, McLaren Vale Shiraz is a little different to your usual bear. Quite spicy, almost Rhoney, you might say. Plenty of spice over blackberry and dark chocolate, a pleasant wet forest floor thing happening too, along with some mint. Full-bodied, silty rich tannin, black olive and some meaty umami flavours, in among the warmth and dark fruit, a kind of coolness too, and a finish that runs on with calcium carbonate tannin. Has interest and character. Drinks well now too."

£15.95 per bottle

 

View our mature collection of
Kay Brothers wines

 

HQ Customer Reserves

(Not to be confused with client reserves held at LCB)

We have reached full capacity, which regrettably translates to our inability to offer long-term storage until the current stock position is reduced substantially. We are keen to stress that delayed shipments (up to eight weeks) will not be affected.

Until today, we have offered free storage which and given the size of the space required, combined with our insurance premium, has been generous. To balance the ongoing costs and administration, we will be levying a charge of £9.00 ex VAT per case of 12x75cl. This will be invoiced six-months in advance and not pro-rata. Cases of 6x75cl or large formats will be charged accordingly. Of course, you have the option to remove your reserves should you wish to avoid these charges. Please contact the team who will assist.

Notice to remove your wine
from HQ customer reserves

With each passing day, The Vinorium is becoming a busier environment to work in. As such, we require a minimum of 24 hours to pick your wines from reserves and prepare these for onward delivery.

Important note

All requests must be received in writing as this saves the need to spend hours querying historical picking requests. We are sorry, but we cannot accept telephone requests.