New Release – Mixed

Recent Tastings

Picardy in Focus: New Releases June 2024

Barry Weinman: 16th June 2024

Established in 1993, Picardy have been quietly forging a reputation for high quality wines from the Pemberton region for three decades now. And, when judged as a whole, the current releases are, in all likelihood, the best ever released by the Pannell family under the Picardy label.

Swinney – Farvie – 2022 Vintage in Focus

5th May 2024

Right at the start, let me make one thing clear. The 2022 vintage Farvie reds from Swinney are outstanding. And the wines have been highly lauded, with Brendan Jansen MW going so far as to pronounce the 2022 Farvie Mourvèdre the best wine he had tried in the last twelve months.

Reviewing the wines, however, required the most analysis of any wines that I have tasted in recent times and there was a lot to unpack to get to the heart of these wines. This was because the wines presented in a way that is different to most wines reviewed.

New Release Whites: April 2024

7th April 2024

There were a couple of left-of-centre wines that stood out in this tasting.
One was an excellent value ($23 from Dans) Vouvray from Famile Bougrier, a delicious, textured summer drink.

Wines to Watch – February 2024

18th February 2024

I have not seen anything on the Mandoon Estate 2023 Wild Bunch Chenin, but it is a cracking wine and one that is sure to be crazy value given that it is a Swan Valley white wine.

November 2023 New Releases

6th December 2023

The temptation to try the latest releases from the fabled Wendouree winery proved irresistible, so into the tasting they went. These wines never fail to surprise me in just how medium bodied and elegant they are. Relatively low alcohol levels are a feature and reflect the finer style.

Sevenhill Cellars New Releases: Spring 2023

I previously wrote about the changes that are afoot at Sevenhill and the rejuvenation continues with some cracking wines in the current releases.

Interestingly, the highlights for me came from the lighter style wines such as the Riesling and Rosé, rather than from the traditional red wines for which the winery is know for.

One of the highlights was the wonderfully textured Pinot Gris from the Adelaide Hills. Excellent drinking this summer.

Plantagenet Winery: Wyjup Collection: Spring 2023

12th November 2023

I wrote about the changes at Plantagenet at this time last year and I was keen to see how the wines were evolving, as Mike Garland’s influence increased over time.
2022 was the first vintage where Mike was involved at every step of the process, and the riesling and malbec are the first wines to be released from this vintage.

First Impressions – Reds: Spring 2023

Barry Weinman: 25th October 2023

Here is a summary of some of the highlights from a recent trade show that I attended. You can find the whites here.

I have not pointed the wines as it is hard to be completely objective when the winemaker is telling you just how good his wines are :). But I would be more than happy having a glass of any of the wines.

First Impressions – Whites: Spring 2023

Barry Weinman: 25th October 2023

Here is a summary of some of the highlights from a recent trade show that I attended. I have not pointed the wines as it is very hard to be objective when the winemaker is telling you just how good his wines are.

But the fact that they have been reviewed here means that I am very happy to recommend and drink them. Most would score between 93 & 95 points.

Winery in Focus: Picardy Spring 2023

Barry Weinman: 30th September 2023

Over the last two weeks, the Panel looked at a cross-section of the Picardy range against a variety of high-quality comparators.

That the pinots were good would not be a surprise to anyone, but what impressed me the most was the quality of the whites.

Singlefile New Releases – Spring 2023

11th September 2024

Since day one, I have been a huge fan of Singlefile. The combination of high-quality wines, beautiful packaging and sensible pricing has been quite irresistible.

And it seems that I am not the only one who thinks so. Looking at the winery’s website, the majority of the wines are sold out. I can think of no better praise indeed.

Highlights from the tasting panel

10th August 2023

If you put a cross-section of wines in front of a group of wine drinkers, there will invariably be differing views on the relative merits of each wine. And my observation is that the more experienced the drinker/taster/aficionado, then the more divergent the opinions become.

July 2023 New Releases

6th August 2023

Over the course of several tastings, these wines stood out for their quality and relative value. The Hazeldene chardonnay and the Vasse Felix cabernet in particular were standouts.

Recent Release Whites: June 2023

Barry Weinman: 1st July 2023

Here are some of the highlights that came across the tasting bench this month. When it comes to Chardonnay, we are spoiled for choice. And then there is riesling…

A couple of these wines have been reviewed before, but such is the quality, I thought it worth revisiting them.

Xanadu 2023 Premium Releases

Barry Weinman: 22nd June 2023

There is no better way for me to assess the quality of a wine than to taste it in a masked line-up of some of Australia’s best wines of the same variety.

So it was with the new premium release cabernets and chardonnays from Xanadu under the Reserve and Stevens Road labels.

Swinney Farvie 2021 Vintage Review

Barry Weinman: 1st June 2023

If Swinney is not a household name for wine lovers across Australia, it should be, given the quality of the fruit that they produce, and the famous wineries who are queueing to buy fruit each year.

Tim Adams Wines

Barry Weinman: 1st May 2023

Wandering through my local Dan Murphy recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see some excellent value wines in the “cellar release” section.

Fervor Wines: by the Garland Project.

Barry Weinman: 10th May 2023

For aficionados of Western Australian wine, Mike Garland needs no introduction. Recently, Mike has taken on the head winemaker project at Plantagenet, and has also branched out with his son, Callum, to release a range of wines under the Fervor Label.

Cherubino in 2023: The Classics Revisited

Barry Weinman: 1st May 2023

The last time I checked, Larry Cherubino was producing almost 70 different wines from fruit sourced across the south-west of Western Australia. Many of these wines are produced from less mainstream varieties (such as Fiano and Tempranillo) or from mainstream varieties made using alternative winemaking techniques.

Singlefile in Focus: April 2023 New Releases

Barry Weinman: 23rd April 2023

A highlight of recent tastings was to compare and contrast cabernets from the Riversdale vineyard in Frankland. The vineyard is under the control of Larry Cherubino and also provides fruit to the likes of Singlefile.

Skigh Wine

Barry Weinman: 19 March 2023

Skigh Winery takes its name from winemaker Skigh McMannus. Having started his career at Howard Park, Skigh worked vintages at wineries in various wine regions across the globe, before establishing his eponymous winery in 2016.

Levantine Hill in Focus: November 202

23rd November 2022

That Levantine Hill is so successful is no accident. Rumour has it that in excess of $100 million has been spent on setting up the vineyards, cellar door and winery and, under the watchful eye of Paul Bridgeman, the wines are living up to expectations and their reputation has been steadily growing on the east coast.

New Release Highlights: November 2022

21st November 2022

There were a number of highlights over the last few weeks, including a pair of very fine 2022 rieslings from the Great Southern.

Credaro in Focus: November 2022

Wine reviews by Barry Weinman: 1st November 2022

A little while back, I wrote briefly about the fascinating story of Credaro:

The next chapter in that story is happening in 2022, with the family celebrating the 100th anniversary of the planting of the first vines on the family property in Carbanup.

Leeuwin Estate in Focus: Spring 2022

Barry Weinman: 13th October 2022

Over the last few years, the Margaret River region has seen more climatic variation than we have become used to. 2017, 2019 and 2021 were all unusually cool, with 2021 in particular also having to deal with untimely rain events. Read more.

Amelia Park Wines: October 2022

Barry Weinman: 8th October 2022

Amelia Park remains one of the more memorable cellar doors in Western Australia. The vista as you walk into the tasting room is nothing short of breathtaking. And when you combine that with superb (and great value) wines and knowledgeable staff, it makes for a fantastic experience. more…

Plantagenet Winery: Wyjup Collection: Spring 2022

Barry Weinman: 26th September 2022

According to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, the only constant in life is change. And this very much holds true in the world of wine. A recent example of this is at Plantagenet.

Plantagenet is a pioneer of the Great Southern region, with Tony Smith planting the first vines on what is now the Wyjup vineyard in 1968. The initial Cabernet and Shiraz vineyards were expanded in 1971 with the addition of Riesling.

Forest Hill: A Block of History

22nd March 2022

When it comes to pioneering vineyards in the Southwest of Western Australia, people automatically think of the stalwarts of the Margaret River region. But plantings in Mt Barker actually precede this Margaret River (by a year or so).

New Releases: November 2021

24th November 2021

The importance of serving wines at the correct temperature was highlighted to me with this tasting. We were lucky enough to taste through a range of Pinots from Lowestoft, the Fogarty Wine Group’s new venture in Tasmania.

Morlet: Winery in Focus

Barry Weinman: 17th November 2021

Like many wine lovers, Nigel Morlet and Phillipa Lamont dreamt of taking their passion for wine to the next level and starting a vineyard.

Grant Burge 2021 Premium Release

8th November 2021

A change of ownership must be a very challenging time for a winery with a history as long as Grant Burge. The Burge family arrived in the Barossa in 1865 and have five generations of winemaking experience.

Singlefile Wines: Style meets Substance

Barry Weinman: 29th October 2021

Singlefile Wines

In my book, Singlefile has been one of the top ten wineries in Western Australia for several years now. Brilliant quality and excellent value have set them apart from most other producers.

Geoff Merrill 2021 Review

20th October 2021

Geoff Merrill Wines are synonymous with McLaren Vale.

The first thing that struck me when reviewing the Geoff Merrill wines was the extra bottle age on the reds. It is great to see quality wines on the market with 6-7 years under their belt.

Juniper Estate Rebranding & Victory Point Chardonnay

5th October 2021

Juniper Estate have commenced a rebranding of their range to allow for better segmentation in the market. The range includes:

  • Crossing is where the entry level wines are found
  • Canvas is for their non-traditional (for Margaret River) varieties
  • Three Fields focuses on traditional Margaret River varietals and will have the greatest commercial availability
  • Higher Planes highlights fruit from the Karridale vineyard
  • Estate showcases the Wilyabrup vineyard
  • Cornerstone is the super-premium range featuring both Wilyabrup and Karridale

Richard Hamilton Rebranded

Barry Weinman: 2nd October 2021

To coincide with their 50th year in McLaren Vale Richard Hamilton has rebranded their range with striking new packaging. The first wines in the new packaging have been released under the estate range, with the other tiers to follow.

I reviewed the Shiraz and Cabernet, and both represent excellent drinking for the price, especially given the mature vineyards from which the fruit is sourced.

New Release Reds

23rd September 2021

There were several highlights in this tasting including:

The 2017 Hutton Vale Grenache/Mataro is a bit of a treat. Great fruit quality that has been massaged in the winery. Fragrant, ripe and supple. The wine spent 24 months in oak, of which 20% is new.

Evoi: Pre-Release Tasting – Sept 2021

10th September 2021

I first became acquainted with Evoi wines 18 months ago at the behest of Brendan Jansen MW. He raved about the quality and value on offer. At the end of my visit, I was in full agreement…

New Releases Whites: September 2021

5th September 2021

The latest Castle Rock Rieslings are a fascinating trio of wines. The fruit for the Porongurup and Skywalk is exactly the same, with the free run juice going into the Porongurup and the light pressings going into the Skywalk…

August 2021: New Releases

23th August 2021

In what must surely be the most exciting news in Australian wine this year, Ross Pamment has taken on the role of Senior Winemaker at Sandalford. Given the mature vineyard holdings that Sandalford have, I am very keen to see the results.

Peccavi Estate 2021 Release Highlights

17th August 2021

Peccavi Estate was founded by Jeremy Muller, as the culmination of a global search for an ideal vineyard location.

Muller purchased an established 16-hectare vineyard sitting in the Yallingup sub-region of Margaret River and set about adding new clones of Merlot to further improve the varietal composition.

Vasse Felix New Releases for 2021

15th August 2021

Virginia Wilcox and the team at Vasse Felix could never be accused of resting on their laurels. Vintage after vintage, Vasse Felix has produced superb wines at all price points. Yet each year, they look to make incremental changes to try and elevate each wine just that little bit more.

New Kid on the Block: Nikola Estate

8th August 2021

I was saddened when Houghton closed down their Swan Valley operations and sold off the winery. So much of Western Australia’s winemaking history can be linked to the winery and the people who have worked there.

Pot of Gold: Australian Fortified Wines

1st August 2021

Australian fortified wines are amongst the great bargains in the wine world. The price to quality ratio is right off the scale.

A Year to Remember
Barry Weinman: 27th June 2021

Margaret River has been blessed with a seemingly never-ending run of very good vintages, starting with the 2007 vintage and continuing to this day. I am not aware of any other region globally that has ever been able to achieve this level of consistency!

The Duke Who Would be King

Barry Weinman: 12th June 2021

Porongorup producer Duke’s has developed a reputation in recent years for making some of Australia’s best rieslings. The combination of high quality fruit and sympathetic winemaking by the talented Rob Diletti has proved a winner.

Winter Warmers

3rd June 2021

With the change in the weather, my mind automatically drifts to bigger, richer reds to drink with a hearty winter casserole or a comforting curry.

Simple Chicken Curry (Serves 4 people)

Barry Weinman

Prep time: 15 Minutes
Cooking time: 90 minutes

This really is the easiest of recipes, is healthy and delicious, and takes almost no effort. And the ingredients are straight from the supermarket. The only proviso is that it is best to cook this the day before, to allow the flavours to infuse the meat.

Bargains at any price

Barry Weinman: 28th May 2021

When it comes to reviewing and recommending wine, perspective is everything in my opinion. There are three steps that I take to reduce bias and improve objectivity.

Bargains from the Tasting Bench

Barry Weinman: 11th April 2020

Like many other wineries in Australia, the land on which 3drops vineyards sit started life as a farm in Mt Barker. In the late 1990’s the Bradbury family diversified into olives and wine.

Bigger Reds

Barry Weinman: 16th February 2021

Hutton Vale Farm is a family run winery in the Barossa. The Angus family are pioneering farmers in the region (Is it a coincidence that they are based in Anguston???) who diversified into wine along the way.

New Release Whites

Barry Weinman: 3rd February 2021

Perhaps not the most serious lineup of wines that I tried over the break, but certainly some of the more approachable, food-friendly wines.

The contrast between the racy and lithe Mt Horrock’s Riesling and the rich and viscous Hutton Vale Farm was an interesting one indeed.

BBQ Buddies

Barry Weinman: 24th December 2020

Now that the warm weather is well and truly set in for the summer, my mind turns to that great Australian tradition called the BBQ.

Whilst sausages and overcooked steak still make an appearance, the BBQ is now being treated as a serious culinary experience by many Australians.

Wine Accessories

Barry Weinman: 16th December 2020

Wondering what to get the wine-fanatic in your life for Christmas? But don’t want to break the bank? Well here are a few items that I have rigorously tested though the year and that have become part of my wine life at home.

Wine Glasses Reviewed

Barry Weinman: 16th December 2020

Let’s be clear: glasses make a difference in two important ways.

The shape primarily affects the aromas that you perceive coming out of the wine related to surface area, as well as how the aromas are concentrated at the top. But the shape also plays an important role in where the wine lands on your tongue, which affects flavour perception as well.

Recent Releases: November 2020

Barry Weinman: 16th December 2020

My wine week has involved tastings across a number of styles, including sparkling wines and Shiraz. I will write about some of these in coming weeks, but I wanted to share a couple of refreshing wines for spring, as well as two Australian classics.

A Wolf at the Door

13th November 2020

I was asked why I continue to review wines from the bigger, more popular wineries. It was suggested that reviewing some of the funky newer producers and styles would be more interesting.

My answer? I review the wines that offer great drinking (or cellaring potential) at their given price point regardless of the producer.

Mandoon Estate: Fortune Favours the Brave

30th October 2020

Ryan Sudano must surely be one of the most fortunate winemakers in Australia. After all, how many winemakers get to design and build their dream winery from scratch as their first task upon joining a venture?

All that Glitters is not Gold

16th October 2020

Decanter Magazine recently announced the results of their World Wine Awards. Fraser Gallop was awarded Best in Show for their 2018 Parterre Chardonnay (from almost 1,000 Chardonnays!).

Substance versus Style

30th September 2020

In the wine industry, like in fashion, styles change over time. What is considered fashionable is often dictated by wine show judges and the major newspaper wine writers.

Leeuwin Estate: Not Just a One Trick Pony

Barry Weinman: 30th September 2020

Year after year, Leeuwin Estate’s Art Series Chardonnay garners a huge amount of praise and attention, and rightly so. After all, this has a long history of being one of the greatest white wines made in Australia, with an enviable 38 vintage history.

Penfolds Collection: 2020 Release

Published in the Western Suburbs Weekly: 31st  July 2020

Penfolds is a brand that needs no introductions. From the humble Koonunga Hill through to Grange, generations of Australians have built their cellars around these iconic wines.

Cherubino: June 2020

Published in the Western Suburbs Weekly: June 2020

Larry Cherubino first came to attention in the late 1990s as senior winemaker at Houghton. Larry oversaw an expansion of the range, and was responsible for making some brilliant (and great value) wines from across the state. The 1998 Moondah Brook Cabernet is still brilliant drinking for example.

A different environment.

First published in the Western Suburbs Weekly in November 2019

Given the rapid increase in the number of high-quality wines from Margaret River, Great Southern and Swan Valley, it has never been a better time to “shop local” for all our wine drinking needs. And we need only look to our east coast neighbours to fill in the gaps.

First Taste: Duval-Leroy & Giovanni Rosso

Barry Weinman: 27th March 2018

Depending on who you believe, there are somewhere between 6000 and 15,000 unique grape varieties grown globally. Of course, only a proportion of these are used for wine production, and even less are in common production.

New Kids on the block

Barry Weinman: 21st February 2020

The new year has given me the opportunity to try wines from a number of wineries that are new to WA or have had limited distribution in the past. The most exciting aspect of the tastings were the opportunity to try several different grape varieties, or wines made in styles that are different to what we are used to here in the west.

Vasse Felix – Alternatives Range

6th February 2020

Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the heart and soul of Margaret River wines and producers are typically trying to make ever finer wines in a style that we know and love.

Amelia Park in Review

29th January 2020

If I had to choose one word to describe Amelia Park, it would be polished. From the impressive cellar door, to the superb restaurant and refined and elegant wines, every detail has been executed with great skill and attention to detail.


28th November 2019

Credaro may not be a household name here in Perth, but the Credaro family is well known in the Margaret River region. In 1922, the family emigrated from Italy and established a farm in Carbanup, in the northern part of the region and have been there ever since.

Stellar Sittella

Brendan Jansen MW: 7th October 2019

There is no shortage of passion in the wine industry. But rarely is the confluence of factors of passion, technical know-how, economic backing and singularity of focus found together.

Sittella wines is, I believe, an example of such an establishment. Founded in 1993, with the winery built in 1998, what began as a hobby has become a sophisticated operation.

New Release – April 2019

Barry Weinman: 17th April 2019

Personally, I would rather drink a white wine rather than a Rosé in general, but every now and then, a wine comes along to challenge my perceptions. The Red Knot Rosé is one of those wines. The label says “Crisp and Dry”, and this wine fits that description perfectly.

New Release Whites: March 2019

Barry Weinman: 24th March 2019

This week saw the panel try a couple of really smart wines from Singlefile under the Run Free label. Both the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are very worthy wines at around $25 per bottle.

Winery in Focus: Evans & Tate

Barry Weinman: 4th February 2019

Evans & Tate has had a chequered history. Established by the Evans and Tate families in 1974, the original Redbrook vineyard was planted in 1975. In 1983 the partnership broke up, with the Tate family taking control of the winery.

Winery in Review: Woodlands

Barry Weinman: 19th January 2019

Established in 1973 by David and Heather Watson, Woodlands is one of the earliest vineyards in the Margaret River region. The original Woodlands vineyard has a total of 10 hectares under vine, many of which are now approaching 40 years of age.

Affordable Tempranillo

28th September 2018

Over the last few years, wines from Aldi have received a few good reviews in the media, especially overseas. Now that they are well established in Western Australia, I took the opportunity to taste their range of Tempranillos from Spain which, remarkably, included a pair of Reservas for under $10 a bottle.

Shottesbrooke – Winery in Focus – August 2018

Barry Weinman: 25th August 2018

Shottesbrooke hails from McLaren Vale and got underway with the establishment of the cellar door in 1994. Given the location, it is no surprise that there is a focus on Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet, complemented by aromatic white wines from the Adelaide Hills.

Howard Park Scotsdale and Leston 2016

Barry Weinman: 4th August 2018

I have written previously about just how good Cabernet can be from the Great Southern. Wines like the Jack Mann and Cherubino speak volumes about the potential. Another fine producer of Great Southern Cabernet is Howard Park, with their flagship wine (The Abercrombie) having a significant proportion of fruit from the region.

New Release Tasting – June 2018

Barry Weinman: 16 th June 2018

This week’s panel tastings combined brackets of traditional varieties, as well as a selection of alternative varieties that generated a lot of discussion among the panel.

The wines reviewed are all about value, and include a smartly packaged GSM from Angove, as well as a couple of interesting reds from Patritti that are not only great drinking, they are well packaged and very affordable.

Imported Wines: Italy and Spain

Barry Weinman: 13th May 2018

For those of us who have grown up in Australia, we are used to clean, bright wines where the fruit is allowed to sparkle. When reviewing a line-up of imported wines, the challenge is that the wines can be made in a number of ways.

New Release Tasting: April 2018

7th April 2018

What did impress were a number of Western Australian wines. If you are after a bargain, then the 2017 Shepard’s Hut Pinot fits the bill perfectly. A delicious, vibrant, food-friendly wine that can be picked up for around $20.

Winery in Focus: Petaluma

Barry Weinman: 11th March 2018

Petaluma was established by Brian Croser in 1976. In time, the winery was purchased by the  parent company of Hardy’s, and in 2004 Andrew Hardy took over winemaking duties, and has been in charge ever since.

Brookland Valley Estate – New Release – February 2018

February 2018

Brookland Valley Estate is part of the vast Accolade wine group, which includes labels such as Houghton, Arras and Hardy’s in Australia. Whilst many of the winemaking facilities are shared across the group, individual winemakers assume responsibilities for various brands. In the case of Brookland Valley, Courtney Treacher has responsibility for winemaking at the group’s Nannup winery.

Bay of Fires – Current Release – February 2018

14th February 2018

Bay of Fires is a Tasmanian winery located on the Pipers River in the Tamar Valley. The winery produces a range of cool-climate still and sparkling wines under the Eddystone Point and Bay of Fires labels.

Seppeltsfield – New Release – February 2018

11th February 2018

After 167 years of producing fortified wines under the Seppeltsfield label, the winery has launched a new range of table wines. The initial release is made up of a Riesling, Grenache and Shiraz, all in brilliant new packaging.

Shiraz – New Release – January 2018

Barry Weinman: 28th January 2018

Two pairs of wines stood out in this tasting, for both the quality of the wines, but also the contrasting styles between the wines.

Jericho’s Adelaide Hills Syrah is pretty and fragrant, whilst the sister wine from McLaren Vale is firm and dense.

Similarly, the Shottesbrooke GSM is deliciously juice and succulent, whilst the Shiraz is firm, structured and assertive.

New Release – January 2018

19th January 2018

Pared down from over 50 wines tasted this week, here are my pick of the new release wines. They all offer superb drinking now, however the Cape Mentelle in particular is very age-worthy.

Singlefile New Release

19th January 2018

With the Christmas break behind us, the panel has got back to work , tasting over 50 wines this week to find you the best wines for January.

The highlight of the tasting was provided by the wines from Singlefile.

New Release – Mixed – November 2017

12th November 2017: Barry Weinman

I have been a big fan of Singlefile for a number of years, but in this tasting, it was the Riesling under the Run Free label (their second label) that really excited the panel. This is such good drinking as to make it near irresistible.

Swan Valley Wine Show 2017

19th September 2017

The Swan Valley Wine Show proved an excellent opportunity to review some of the wines that the Swan Valley does well; Shiraz, Verdelho and fortified wines. The judges singled out the alternative reds as being a particularly strong class, so I added these to the tasting sheet.

June New Releases

Barry Weinman: 24th July 2017

Due to technical challenges, I was unable to publish any of the reviews from June. So here is a summary of some of the great wines that came in front of the panel.

New Release – July 2017

13th July 2017

The panel looked at a variety of styles this week as well as wines at varying price-points. The team at Angove continue to impress, this time with their Organic range. Angove have arguably the largest holdings of organic vineyards in Australia.

April 2017 New Release – Mixed

17th April 2017

I am really taken by the trend of adding some worked characters to the SSB/SBS blends from Western Australia. A small percentage of barrel fermented fruit is often all it takes to add real depth and texture to these wines. Add in a touch of lees aging and the result can be a complex, serious wine.

Wines of Portugal

15th March 2017

Port, the fortified wine of Portugal, needs no introduction. It is considered one of the world’s great wine styles.

Portugal’s table wines on the other hand are relatively unknown in Australia. I can only ever remember trying one red wine.

Current and New Release – Summer 2017

28 February 2017

Every now and then, a wine surprises you for being far better than expected. This was the case with the Thomas Block Chardonnay from Paxton. McLaren vale is famous for its rich, ripe Shiraz, but here is a taut, structural Chardonnay that is really very good.

New Release – Mixed

2nd February 2017

This tasting showcased excellent value wines at various price points. From the ridiculously cheap Angove, the smartly priced Polguern Estate, to the (relatively) good value imports from Salomon, these are wines that you can afford to drink whenever the mood takes you.

Young Gun of Wine – Perth – December 2016

25th January 2016

I do not attend many wine tasting “events”; the ones where hundreds of punters turn up to try as many wines as possible in a short period of time, with the aim of getting value for their ticket by drinking as much wine as possible in the allocated time.

I made an exception last month…

New Release: November 2016

21st November 2016

This tasting provided several highlights. Brilliant value from the likes of Shingleback and Angoves, along with serious wines from Karawatta and Shottesbrooke.

Giant Steps no longer an Innocent Bystander

14th September 2015

The first vintage at Giant Steps was made by Steve Flamsteed back in 2003, and he has been making the wines ever since. The Innocent Bystander label was established as a second brand to give the winery critical volume, given the limited production of the top wines.

September New Release – Part One

3rd September 2016

A couple of wines really impressed in our recent tastings.

The 2015 Petaluma Chardonnay is a delicious wine that is a little more generous than some of the wines presently coming out of Victoria and is all the better for it

Howard Park – New Release Reds

28th August 2016

Howard Park is in the enviable position of having access to excellent vineyards across both Margaret River and the Great Southern. I have written previously about the fact that, despite the fame of Margaret River, the wineries’ top wine (Abercrombie) is primarily made from fruit sourced from the Abercrombie vineyard in Mt Barker (situated in the Great Southern).

New Release

21st August 2016

Angove is one of the largest landholders in McLaren Vale, with over 400 acres of vineyards. Surprisingly, over 30% of the vineyards are certified organic, with the rest of the vineyards in the process of being converted.

Penfolds Tawny (Port).

7th August 2016

The red wines of Penfolds need no introduction. Many people will be less familiar with their fortified wines, which is a pity.

Australian Fortified Part 3: Other Styles

7th August 2016

The Talijancich Pedro is nothing short of spectacular. Expensive, but beautifully packaged. One sip is almost enough.

Australian Fortified Wines Part Two: Tawny (Port) and Other Fortified Wines

3rd August 2016

In Portugal, there are dozens of grape varieties permitted in the production of Port….

Muscat and Tokay

24th July 2016

Whilst Australia has a very long association with fortified wine production, popularity has waned over a number of decades, as table wine consumption increased. This has been a mixed blessing for consumers.

Juniper Estate and Higher Planes

11th July 2016

Wrights was one of the earliest wineries established in the Margaret River region. In 1998 the winery was sold and the new owners renamed the winery Juniper Estate. Given this, Juniper Estate has some of the oldest vines in the region.

Castagna Wines

5th July 2016

The original vineyards at Castagna were planted by Julian Castagna in 1997 and are now certified Biodynamic. Winemaking is handled by Julian who has a strong desire to let the fruit and the region speak for itself. That said, if there is one similarity to all the wines, it is the textural way the wines express on the palate. There are plenty of winemaker’s influences, yet the elegant fruit is allowed to shine.

New Release – May 2016

21th May 2016

Everyone loves a bargain; a wine that punches above its weight. A wine that drinks like a more expensive example. The good news for the bargain hunters is that Angove has hit the jackpot with its Long Row Cabernet.

April New Release

6th April 2016

Those that know me know that I am not the biggest fan of Rosé. In general, I would rather drink a Riesling or a perhaps a refreshing Italian Moscato…


1st March 2016

David and Cheryl Clarke bought and planted the first parcel of land for what is now Thorne-Clarke wines in 1987. Cheryl’s family (The Thorn’s) has grown grapes in the Barossa since the 1870s and, thanks to a vineyard owned by Cheryl’s dad (Ron Thorn), the winery has access to some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world.

New Burgundy Imports

23 December 2015

Fluctuations in the Australian dollar have impacted on the price of some imported wines over the last few years. Whilst the big houses’ prices have stayed relatively stable, I have noticed fairly big shifts in the price of some wines, particularly from Burgundy. For a period, there was a flood of great value wines, but as the dollar has fallen, prices have risen accordingly.

Geographe Wine Show – 2015

29th November 2015

The Geographe wine region covers an area of Western Australia south of Mandurah, down to Busselton, at the edge of the Margaret River region. It includes Harvey, Ferguson Valley, Donnybrook, Capel & Busselton.

New Release

10th November 2015

There were a number of highlights across this week’s New Release tastings. From the precise and delicate Howard Park Riesling to the sheer power and intensity of the Pernot Belicard Puligny, there is something here for everyone. Having said that, none of the wines are exactly cheap.


4th November 2015

Cloudburst may be the most famous winery you have never heard of. They might not be well known, but they are making some of the most expensive wines to come out of Margaret River.

New Release Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

28th August 2015

This week, the panel looked through a number of interesting wines, spanning several tastings. Of the 50 wines tasted, the ones reviewed here stood out for a number of reasons.

Leeuwin Estate – Art Series White Wines

August 23rd 2015

Leeuwin Estate is rightly famous for their Art Series Chardonnay. This is a wine of great quality that has set the benchmark for Australian Chardonnays for many years. As a result, it is easy to pay only scant attention to the rest of the wines in their portfolio. That would, however, be a mistake…

Ferngrove – Orchid Range – 2012 Reds

12th August 2015

In my article last year on Ferngrove, I commented that the quality of the wines continued to be very good under the new Chinese owners:

Negotiants Imported Wine Tasting – June 2015

Chateau Musar, New Zealand Pinot Noir, French Wines

5th July 2015

Here are my first impressions on a range of excellent wines imported by Negotiants. Part of the Yalumba group, Negotiants has the most extensive range of high quality wines in Australia, so products should be widely available (though they may need to be ordered in).

The two highlights for the tasting were the bracket of Pinot Noirs, and tasting though several wines from Chateau Musar with Ralph Hochar, the grandson of founder Gaston Hochar.

Flowstone Wines– New Release – July 2015

9th July 2015

Stuart Pym at Flowstone wines has a stated aim of releasing his wines with a degree of bottle age to improve the drinkability and accessibility of the wines on release. He also has an aim of limiting production to only 1200 cases per year. This has presented him with the enviable challenge of trying to allocate stock, but still retain enough to supply restaurants who want to maintain a consistent wine list.

Hickingbotham – Clarendon Vineyard

10th June 2015

The Clarendon vineyard in McLaren Vale has contributed to some of Australia’s great wines, including the likes of Grange, as well as supplying Clarendon Hills winery. Planted in 1971, the plantings focus on Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Yangarra Estate

4th June 2015

Whilst the vineyards at Yangarra were originally planted in 1946, it was the purchase of the property by the Jackson family (Jackson Family Wines in the USA) that set the winery on its current trajectory.

Bargain Winter Reds – May 2015

18th May 2015

As the cold weather approaches, my thoughts turn to hearty casseroles, fragrant curries and spaghetti in all its forms. There is nothing better to wash down a delicious midweek meal than a good bottle of red that will not break the bank.

Caledonia Australis

10th May 2015

The South Gippsland Wine Company is the parent company for Caledonia Australis and Mount Macleod wines.

New meets Old

6th May 2015

Sittella, situated in the Swan Valley on the outskirts of Perth, is owned and run by the Berns family. The winery was built in 1997, with the cellar door and restaurant opening the following year.

Plantagenet Wines

7th April 2015

Serving wine in optimal condition does not happen by accident. At home, we are able to control factors such as the temperature of the wine and also the amount of air exposure that the wine receives prior to drinking (either via decanting or leaving the bottle open).

New Release – March 2015

21st March 2015

Forester Estate – February 2015

Reviewed: 16th February 2015

Forester is owned by the McKay family and was established in 2002 following the sale of the family’s previous winery – Abbey Vale. It is situated in the northern part of the Margaret River region of Western Australia.

Higher Plane – February 2015

Reviewed: 10th February 2015

Higher Plane was established in 1996 by Cathie and Craig Smith, with a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The vineyard is close planted (4000 vines per hectare).

New Release – December 2014

Reviewed: 20th December 2014

This was my first opportunity to try the wines of Tolpuddle. The Tolpuddle vineyard in Tasmania has been supplying fruit to some of Australia’s best chardonnays and pinots for a number of years. A recent change in ownership however (Shaw & Smith) has seen some wine made under their own label.

A P Birks – Wendourie – 2011 and 2012 Vintage Review

27th November 2014

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to taste some of the world’s great wines. Interestingly though, the opportunity to try all of the red wines from Wendouree from two consecutive vintages proved to be one of the most memorable events that I have ever attended.

Watershed Winery – November 2014

Reviewed: 5th November 2014.

Watershed has an interesting background. With the first vineyards planted in 2001, a key part of the strategy was the sale of small vineyard parcels to investors. Over time, the structure has changed to a shareholder model. I was surprised to hear that the total vineyard holdings now exceed 175 hectares (almost 60% white grapes).

Voyager Estate – October 2014

Reviewed: 19th October 2014

Although I have been visiting the Margaret River region for more years than I care to admit, up until now, I had not actually eaten at Voyager Estate. This proved to be the perfect excuse to have lunch with the family, as well as taste my way through much of the current range.

Flowstone Wines – October 2014

8th October 2014

Stuart Pym may not be a household name, but he has made wine (and beer) that many of us have enjoyed over the years. After a stint at Matilda Bay Brewery making beer, Stuart returned to Margaret River to pursue winemaking as a career.

Value Pinot Noir?

20th August 2014

The term Value Pinot Noir has historically been somewhat of an oxymoron. Notoriously difficult to produce and very site specific, Pinot Noir has typically been expensive.

Australian Terroir

26th July 2014

The Oxford Dictionary defines terroir as:

  • The complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.
  • The characteristic taste and flavour imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced.

What these definitions fail to capture is the people involved in the production of the wine. It is my view that terroir is the effects of the natural environment, combined with the collective memories of the people involved in making the wine.

Greek Wines in Australia

Reviewed:10th July 2014

I am somewhat surprised and a little perplexed that we do not drink more wines from Greece. According to Jancis Robinson, Greece is the home of modern winemaking in Europe, with cultivation of vines and wine production dating back to 2000BC.

Taste of Tasmania- June 2014

Reviewed:  18th June 2014

It is easy to get a little myopic living and tasting in Western Australia. WA is capable of producing exquisite wines in a wide variety of styles. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Shiraz all excel.

Ferngrove – June 2014

Reviewed: 12th June 2014

Ferngrove, whilst not an early pioneer of the region, has played an important role in the development of the Great Southern, and the Frankland sub-district in particular. This has been on two fronts. Firstly, they established a reputation for quality wines, but perhaps more importantly, served as contract winemakers for others in the district

Madeira – June 2014

Reviewed: 31st May 2014

Madeira refers to an archipelago of islands (Madeira islands), the island of Madeira and the wine called Madeira. Whilst both dry wines and fortified wines are produced on the islands, it is the fortified, sweet wines that the region is famous for.

Aromatic Whites – Current Release – May 2014

Reviewed: May 18th 2014

There was an eclectic collection of wines at this tasting which presented some significant challenges. Not knowing the variety, or even the style avoided any preconceptions, but it also meant that there were some style clashes. A bone-dry riesling is always going to be difficult to taste after an SSB that has a degree of residual sugar.

Vasse Felix

Reviewed: 14th May 2014

Situated in the Willyabrup sub-region of Margaret River, Vasse Felix can lay claim to being the oldest producer of wines in this prestigious region. Established in 1967 by Dr Tom Cullity, the first release was the 1972 vintage.

New Release Reds – May 2014

Reviewed: 8th May 2014

There was an eclectic selection of pinot and shiraz here from a variety of countries.

The reviewed wines stood out for their balance, providing short term drinking pleasure, but also being capable of rewarding cellaring.

Great Southern – New Release Wines – April 2014

Reviewed: 29th April 2014

The Great Southern region of Western Australia comprises a number of subregions, including Mt Barker, Denmark and Frankland River. The region is rightly famous for its rieslings, but also produces exceptional wines from a number of other varieties. Some of the state’s most prominent producers make their top cabernet based wines from the region including Houghton (Jack Mann) and Howard Park (Abercrombie).

A Taste of South Africa

Reviewed: 11th March 2014

Like many Australian’s my exposure to South African wines is very limited.  Whilst South Africa has a long history of producing fine wine, very limited amounts have made it to Australia.  This has often been at the cheaper end of the market.

New Release Whites

Reviewed: March 1, 2014

An excellent range of aromatic white wines, all of which offer the ability to be cellared for at least a few years or, in the case of the Cherubino and Singlefile, long term cellaring.

New Release Reds

Reviewed: 26th January 2014

The most interesting part of this tasting was the different expressions of merlot.  Two stand-out wines were the Bird in Hand Merlot and the Cumulus Merlot.  The Bird in Hand had all of the ripe, plump fruit that we have come to expect in a Australian wine.  Delicious, but with enough structure to handle time in the bottle.

S.C. Pannell – Current Release

Reviewed:  28th September 2013

When Bill Pannell first established Moss Wood in the early 1970’s I am sure that not even he could predict the impact his family would have on the Australian wine industry.  After entrenching Moss Wood’s reputation, Bill went on to establish Picardy winery in Pemberton where he and his son Dan are producing world class wines.

Scorpo – Current Release

Reviewed:  22nd September 2013

Situated in the Mornington Peninsula, Scorpo wines has quietly established a reputation for producing some of the region’s finest, though understated, wines from pinot noir, chardonnay and shiraz.  Winemaking is headed up by Sandro Mosele, whom, along with the Scorpo family, endeavours to produce wines that speak of the region, with as little intervention as possible in the winery.

Teusner – New Release

Reviewed: 22nd September 2013

I caught up briefly with winemaker Kim Teusner (pictured right) and viticulturalist Michael Page (left) to look through their range of wines to coincide with the release of the 2012 reds.

Bannockburn – Current Release Pinot and Chardonnay

Reviewed: 3rd August 2013

Michael Glover, the winemaker at Bannockburn is a (self-proclaimed) very lucky man!  According to Michael, the quality of the fruit that comes from the Bannockburn vineyards is so exceptional, that it makes him look good.

St Mary’s Winery – 2012 Vintage

Reviewed: 30th July 2013

There has been a lot of talk of late about the respective quality of the last few vintages in South Australia.  Despite the predictions of dire effects on the wines from the lesser years, I have seen a number of excellent wines from 2011, whilst the 2008 Grange (considered to be an atypically hot year) was recently awarded 100 points by Wine Spectator.

Master of Wine – Warm Up Tasting

Reviewed: 1st July 2013

I had the opportunity to attend a Master of Wine (MW) exam practice tasting recently.  Brendan Jansen, who is an occasional contributor to these pages, recently sat his second part tasting exams and wanted to do a quick palate check before flying out.  Brendan put together a smart tasting to help him focus his thinking.

Imported Wine – New Release

Wholesaler tasting

Several wholesalers recently banded together to put on a trade tasting of some of their imported wines. Whilst my focus of the tasting was the Rhone Valley, I took the opportunity to look at a number of different wines.