Wirra Wirra buys Ashton Hills

More than a decade after taking their first tentative steps into crafting white wines from the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale stalwart Wirra Wirra has taken a major leap into cool-climate red wine territory with the acquisition of renowned pinot noir producer, Ashton Hills.

Ashton Hills was founded by Stephen George in 1982 and since that time the decorated winemaker has built a reputation as one of Australia’s finest proponents of pinot noir, drawn from his three hectare, dry grown vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley.

Wirra Wirra Managing Director Andrew Kay announced the acquisition today and said the purchase was a logical expansion for the winery, which was founded in McLaren Vale back in 1894.

“We first made white wines from Adelaide Hills fruit back in 2003 when Greg Trottsaw the potential of the cool-climate region, but the red wine opportunity has eluded us until now. The chance to build upon the legacy of Stephen’s work was too good to pass up and for it to happen not only with his blessing, but also his ongoing contribution, is incredibly satisfying for us,” said Kay.

Kay said George had a definite role to play with the brand in the future. “Stephen will continue to reside at his home at the winery and he is keen to mentor our wine-making team in the intricacies of pinot making “Ashton Hills style”, as well as be involved in a hands-on capacity in the vineyard.”

As for Stephen George, he feels very comfortable handing the reins over to Wirra Wirra. “I feel a definite rapport with their people and having seen how respectfully and successfully they have managed their business in the wake of Greg Trott’spassing, I believe the legacy of Ashton Hills is in safe and sensitive hands,” said George. “In fact, I’m looking forward to helping them work through a long list of opportunities that I have compiled over the years, that lack of time and resources have prevented me from undertaking as a “one man band”.”

Kay said Wirra Wirra would continue to make its own Adelaide Hills range of white wines, but did not rule out an expanded offering under the Ashton Hills label. “Wirra Wirrawas named most successful exhibitor at last year’s Adelaide Hills Wine Show, with all our wines performing well and our Lost Watch Riesling scoring a Trophy, so it makes good sense for those to continue,” he said.

“Ashton Hills is obviously the benchmark for pinot noir, but also produces an exceptional rieslingand wonderful sparkling, so we will see where they can take us and what opportunities this presents, however for now it’s business as usual,” Kay said. “We’ve spent the last decade fulfilling Trott’s dreams and visions and I hope we can do the same in the future for Stephen and Ashton Hills.”

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Yet Another Great Vintage from Margaret River?

Margaret River’s 2015 white wine vintage has been completed with many wine producers reporting their earliest ever finish some as early as the first week in March!

Fruit quality is again very good; Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon displays intense varietal characteristics such as crisp natural acidity on the palate accompanied by a citrus to lemon and lime fruit aromas on the nose. Chardonnay also has a great length to its acidity and with quite soft line of phenolics.  Profile flavours cover the spectrum from early Summer peach to nectarine as well as a fine contour of citrus.

Vasse Felix in Margaret River, WA

Vasse Felix in Margaret River, WA

Quality as usual is high across Margaret River, however yields are down across the board – as high as 20% to 25% throughout the region.  Since early March a more autumn weather pattern came into being, with cooler night time temperatures being reported.  This has effectively extended the ripening period for red wine varieties quite nicely giving them more ‘hang time’ to enhance fruit development flavour profiles with softer tannin levels arising as a consequence.

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Riversdale Estate Crater Chardonnay 2011 – Tasting Note

Riversdale Estate in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley, has an emphasis on sustainability and (given previous vintages) consistency. Using water saving measures, encouraging insect loving bird species around the estate, along with many other vineyard management techniques. The previous vintages of this wine both achieved trophies at wine shows.Riversdale Estate Chardonnay

If you are a fan of reved up oak then this is going to rock your socks.  Packed full of fruit – vanilla aromas, citrus zest, and ripe stone fruit leap from the glass.  The palate displays luscious stone fruit, preserved lemon/lemon curd creaminess. Intense, but well balanced wine, which lingers on the palate. Able to stand up to ‘meater’ dishes. But I’d pair it with baked snapper covered in a beurre blanc sauce. Available from Riversdale Estate and Cellarmasters.

RRP $34.99
Alc 13.5%
Sample: Provided by Cellarmasters

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Kangaroo Island FEASTival 2015

Planning for the 2015 Kangaroo Island FEASTival is well underway in South Australia.

Take time out and encounter the natural bounty of earth and sea at our 8-day Kangaroo Island FEASTival. Celebrate the rich history, spirit and character of South Australia’s Kangaroo Island through a degustation of authentic dining events unique to the island.

Kangaroo Island Ligurian Honey

KI Ligurian Honey (image supplied)

This year’s Kangaroo Island FEASTival has a fantastic line up of over 20 events and staged over 7 days to give visitors more options and flexibility to see our island. Our sell-out SALife Table Surfing events have tripled, and this year we are very lucky to have Stephanie Alexander as our host chef for 2015.

Jump on board, and join a new wave of private dining adventures exclusive to FEASTival where visitors get a rare opportunity to join local island producers, farmers or home cooks in their own homes or farm for a home-cooked meal.
Book early as events book out fast due to small numbers. Heres but a selection of what is available.

Join Jolley’s Boathouse founder Belinda Hannaford for a journey through the culinary and cultural influences that inspired her life and career. From 1800 fare to the present day, this creative, high energy luncheon represents the places, food, and people that came to play.

Join the dynamic mother/daughter trio of Lindy, Cherikee and Natalie for a culinary adventure derived straight from their thriving garden at Frogs & Roses Garden Centre. Featuring heirloom herbs and vegetables and a considered selection of Kangaroo Island produce, this event allows guests to share a meal with a family whose food philosophy represents the KI way of life.

Sample the best produce Kangaroo Island has to offer, including sensational South Rock Lamb, in Kate and Andy’s rammed earth family home, situated on the oldest working farm in South Australia. Enjoy the isolation of being on a cliff top overlooking pristine, secluded, bare beaches, spectacular coastline and vibrant bushland.

Step back in time and immerse yourself in a bygone era. A Settlers Supper will take guests on an intimate memorable dining experience at one of the oldest buildings in Penneshaw – Seaview Lodge KI, a Seafarers boarding house built in 1860. Enjoy delicious canapés in the stunning court yard of Seaview lodge before entering the amazing period homestead for a rustic dining experience, featuring a menu reminiscent of its history.

For more details on Kangaroo Island FEASTival see here.


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A Century in a Barrel

Seppeltsfield will release one of Australia’s most historically significant wines on Friday 20th February, with the 1915 Para 100 Year Old Vintage Tawny being officially unveiled. The 1915 vintage and 37th release of the Tawny (previously known as Australian Port), will mark the centenary observance of ANZAC – a wine remarkably crafted in the year Australian and New Zealand forces first landed at Gallipoli. Less than 550 (375ml size) bottles will be released globally.

Seppeltsfield remains the only winery in the world to release a 100 year old wine every year – each vintage released having spent a century maturing in oak barrels in the Barossa Valley cellars. In a year that over 165,000 Australians were enlisted for service in World War I, the 1915 vintage is a testament to the willingness of the Seppelt family to maintain an unbroken lineage of the wine, even during one of world’s most testing historical eras.

Fino at Seppeltsfield

Seppeltsfield Vintage Tawny (image supplied)

Seppeltsfield itself has linkages to military service. Managing Director, Warren Randall, is the son and grandson of First and Second World War servicemen, recently becoming the president of the second 43rd A.I.F Battalion Club.

“It is incredibly humbling to be the only estate globally to release a wine this year that’s birth coincides with when our ANZAC national spirit was first being forged”, said Mr Randall. “To think that the liquid in the bottle was created at a time when many young Australians were displaying character, courage and mateship in the face of conflict is deeply emotional for me”, he added. Mr Randall, who marches each year in honour of his father and grandfather, will travel to Gallipoli in April to be part of the ANZAC centenary program.

The 1915 Para 100 Year Old Vintage Tawny will be available in two size formats – 100ml ($500) and 375ml ($1500) – both of which are presented in Jarrah timber gift boxes and are individually numbered and authenticated for collection purposes.

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Princess Tops Up Australian Wines

In line with its new destination offerings and the changing guest palettes, Princess Cruises has refreshed its onboard cellars with a range of new Australian wines on its local ships. Princess Cruises

From Coal River in Tasmania to Margaret River in Western Australia, the wine list on the cruise line’s three local ships – Sun Princess, Dawn Princess and Sea Princess – is being decanted and refilled with 30 new drops, all but three from Australian vineyards. Australian wines, including the line’s first verdelho from Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley as well as a top shelf d’Arenberg Cabernet Sauvignon from McLaren Vale, now represent 75 per cent of the local wine list.

dArenberg Coppermine Road

dArenberg Coppermine Road

Princess Cruises Vice President Australia & New Zealand Stuart Allison said the cruise line regularly updated its wine lists to fit in with new trends and guest demand, ensuring there was a wine to suit every taste, occasion and budget.

“Australians have a refined palette when it comes to wine so our onboard offering needs to be up to date with trends on shore. As part of this latest wine revitalisation, we’ve introduced more local drops and more sought-after varietals such as Verdelho, Chardonnay and Semillon,” Mr Allison said.


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