The Biggest Public Tasting of Riesling

Nearly five hundred Rieslings from seven countries, International judges / presenters, academic presentations, Master classes, recognition of the best Rieslings and the biggest public Riesling tasting in the Southern Hemisphere will all happen at the Hyatt Hotel and Albert Hall in Canberra on 11 to 17 October 2015.

The 16th Canberra International Riesling Challenge will again promote, award and recognise excellence in one of the oldest grape varieties and one of the first vines planted in Australia. The CIRC is not just a wine show:

  • Judging: Rieslings from France, Germany, USA, Czech Republic, New Zealand, and South Africa will join Australian wines in three days of judging to find the best in each region, country and the best of Show. Judges from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the USA will smell, taste, and ponder the merits of each wine before declaring the winners.
  • Seminar on Riesling Excellence: 16 October at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra, hosted by Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga / National Wine and Grape Industry Centre. Leading Riesling academics will present findings on how to make the best wines with topics including What’s hiding in your Clare Riesling?; Carbohydrate/ Nitrogen/ post-harvest management – with a focus on Riesling results; Ripening levels / flavours in Riesling; Concept of Terroir.
  • Master Class of Rieslings from the World: 16 October at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra. This year the spotlight is on Rieslings from the Clare Valley with a presentation and tasting of Clare Valley Rieslings by Neil Pike and Kerri Thompson; and Rieslings from the USA with Jim Trezise from the NY Wine and Grape Foundation guiding participants through Rieslings from six different areas highlighting terroir, regions, styles, consumption and future of the variety.
  • Awards Presentation: 16 October at the Hyatt Hotel where the best of the best will be recognised. Winning wines will be available for tasting.
  • The biggest public tasting of Riesling in the Southern Hemisphere: 17 October at the Albert Hall, Canberra. Come and taste the 484 wines entered in this year’s Challenge.

For more information contact

Be Sociable, Share!

Best’s Great Western 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon: Wine Review

150 years in any business should be celebrated. 150 years in business when you are at the mercy of mother nature and still producing excellent wines should be sung from the rooftops. Next year Best’s Great Western will be celebrating this great milestone.

Founded in Victoria’s Great Western wine region in 1866 by Henry Best. In 1920 Best’s Great Western was purchased by the Thomson family, and is still run by the family after 5 generations. Bests Cabernet

The 2014 Best’s Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon shows great concentration and vibrancy, without showing any over extraction.  On the nose its bright, and intense. Ripe dark berry fruit, floral violets and some warm sweet spice add to complexity.

On the palate, concentration is consistent with the aromas.  Packed full of fresh ripe dark berries. Displaying density without being too unctuous or cloying. Warm spices, like cinnamon and clove, envelop the mouth. Acidity keeps everything fresh and in balance. Supportive tannins and fresh acidity mean it could cope with roast spring lamb studded with garlic and rosemary. A smart wine, offering great value. I hope the next 150 years continue making impressive products.

Alcohol: 14.0%
RRP: $25
Region: Great Western, Victoria
Source: Provided by producer

Be Sociable, Share!

New Events For Margaret River Gourmet Escape

Thanks to overwhelming ticket sales, a selection of tasty new events have been added to this year’s Margaret River Gourmet Escape making it the largest and most diverse program in the Festival’s history.

Gourmet Escape - Feast in The Forest (image supplied)

Gourmet Escape – Feast in The Forest (image supplied)

Plenty of new events have been added to the festival calendar with highlights including Joost Bakker and chef Matt Stone (Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley) who will reunite for a waste-free dinner, bringing Melbourne’s sustainable Brothl back to life for one night only; pop up restaurant, Fervor will debut for a truly unique and unforgettable dinner in the Boranup Forest; and a long lunch amongst the wine barrels at Devil’s Lair prepared by Lamont’s with matched wines. For those looking for a luxurious long lunch, No. 23 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, Vladimir Mukhin (White Rabbit, Moscow) and George Cooper from Food by the Chef have been given exclusive access to one of the South West’s most prestigious private gardens, Margaret River’s Secret Garden, and will create an amazing lunch for guests.

New faces to the festival include Jo Barrett (Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley) and Heath Townsend (Wise Vineyard Restaurant) who will join Chris Salans (Mozaic, Bali) and Matt Stone (Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley) at the Wise Wine Restaurant for a collaborative Farm, Forage, Graze long lunch celebrating local foraged ingredients matched to wines from the Wise vineyard.

Packed with events, wine tastings, masterclasses, Q&As, cooking demonstrations in the Miele Chef’s Theatre and conversations with international and renowned culinary legends, the buzzing Gourmet Village located in the grounds of Leeuwin Estate will be the center of the action, taking over the region throughout Margaret River Gourmet Escape.

There are still limited tickets available to other exciting events including An Audience With Marco Pierre White presented by Miele at Voyager Estate, Battle of the Breweries at The Common at Margaret’s Beach Resort, Brunch with the Best at Voyager Estate and An International Cabernet Celebration at Cape Mentelle with international chef, David Thompson.

The line-up of new events will go on sale Tuesday 15th September at 2pm AWST. To see the full program, visit For more information on holidaying in Western Australia, visit

Be Sociable, Share!

Gemtree 2013 Bloodstone Shiraz: Wine Review

Gemtree Wines, situated in South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region, was created back in 1998 by the Buttery Family.  But their journey along the organic and biodynamic path was really only undertaken from 2007.

Gemtree Bloodstone Shiraz

Their properties cover a broad range of McLaren Vale’s already complex subregions. So what better way to show off the fruit from these regions than through minimal intervention and organic principles.

A visit to Gemtree’s cellar door (which has great views across McLaren Vale region) helps explain not only the different soil types across the region, but also the philosophy behind organics and especially biodynamics.

The Gemtree 2013 Bloodstone Shiraz, is typical of a McLaren Vale’s ripe and generous Shiraz. On the nose there is vibrant dark fruit, and a background of sweet spice. The palate, while fuller in style, definitely not over the top. Its a noticeably warm 15%.  Dark blue fruits, ripe plum and degree of adhesive grippiness. A finish of rare charred meat, (a little metallic) made me think the wines name had influenced my sensory skills.  In all a good value McLaren Vale Shiraz.

Alcohol: 15.0%
RRP: $16
Region: McLaren Vale
Source: Provided by producer

For those into the finer points of biodynamics, this wine was tasted on a leaf day (7 Sept 2015).  Which I now know is not ideal for wine tasting. It was also tasted the following day – a fruit day.  Which is recommended for tasting.

Be Sociable, Share!

dArenberg 2011 Dead Arm Shiraz: Wine Review

I’m not going to mention the 2011 vintage in South Australia. [I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.] The 2011 d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz is an interesting beast. It presents a few of the typical McLaren Vale Shiraz characters, such as dark berries and black olive. But also hints at more development than expected from a new release. darenberg Dead arm shiraz

On the nose there’s aromas of ripe dark fruit, black olive, bay leaf, and pink peppercorn. With definite points for complexity and interest.

On the palate the Dead Arm Shiraz has more developed flavours, but maintains its liveliness with higher acid. The acid actually somewhat ungainly in the lineup. Chalky adhesive tannins dominate the dark berries, olive brine, and gamey flavours.

An interesting beast indeed, and consistent with the vintage conditions.

Alcohol: 14.3%
RRP: $65
Region: McLaren Vale
Source: Provided by producer

Be Sociable, Share!

Rockstar Chef To Headline Margaret River Gourmet Escape

Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2015 is set to be bigger than ever before, with the announcement of international headline chef, the ‘Godfather of modern cooking’, Marco Pierre White. Marco will take part in the three-day culinary extravaganza, with a full program of events hosted by over 40 of the world’s leading food and wine personalities and showcasing the best of WA and the Margaret River Wine region. Tickets go on sale at midday on Tuesday 28th July (AWST). The 2015 Margaret River gourmet Escape will be held 20 –22 November 2015.

Marco-Pierre White

Marco-Pierre White (supplied)

Marco has built an empire of London restaurants and was the youngest chef to win three Michelin stars and this year celebrates the 25th anniversary of his cookbook, White Heat, “the coolest cookbook ever written”. Known for his fiery nature, the famed British chef, author and restaurateur will engage with Margaret River Gourmet Escape’s audience and showcase quintessential produce and wine from the South West.

One of the most anticipated events across the three-day Margaret River Gourmet Escape will see Marco host a Q&A over dinner at the exquisite Vasse Felix winery with his alumni Jock Zonfrillo, Richard Turner and Patrick Spencer.  These great chefs will re- create signature dishes that the then young chefs had to produce under Michelin starred pressure from the kitchens of Marco Pierre White’s eponymous restaurants.

Margaret River Gourmet Escape

Margaret River Gourmet Escape (supplied)

From all corners of the world, an incredible and unique coming together of global talent, six of whom are from the *S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best list will join Marco on the Margaret River stage to inspire and excite guests through a mutual respect of biodiversity and sustainability making their trip to a region rich in these practices.

To see the full program of events, visit
Tickets available through Ticketek from 28th July (AWST)

Be Sociable, Share!