One of the highlights of the Australia Day Tastings in London, Edinburgh and Dublin every year is meeting the people that craft our premium Australian wines. This year we’re excited to welcome a diverse group of winemakers who represent the depth and breadth of what makes Australian wine so exciting. From Australia’s great winemaking dynasties to emerging winemakers pushing boundaries, from cool climate pioneers to passionate vignerons searching high and low for exceptional terroir this is Australian wine today. Read on to learn more about the winemakers who’ll be pouring their delicious wines at the Australia Day Tastings.
The Cool - Australia’s cool climate winemakers
While we may have made our name on big Shiraz and oaky Chardonnay in the 80s and 90s, the times have well and truly changed. Australia's cool climate wines have been taking the world by storm in recent years. The Cool combine Australia’s climatic diversity with winemaking brilliance and our pioneering spirit to produce extraordinary wines that are resonating with wine lovers around the world.
From humble beginnings in 1997, founder and owner Andrew Nugent has grown Bird in Hand into one of Australia’s finest cool climate producers. The site of an 1800s gold mine and former dairy farm is now a stunning cellar door and winery, surrounded by 80 acres of fertile land perfectly suited to growing varieties that thrive in the cooler climes of the Adelaide Hills. From classics like Chardonnay, Shiraz and Pinot Noir to alternative varieties like Nero d’Avola, Montepulciano, and Arneis, Bird in Hand are clear leaders in Australia’s cool evolution.
One great reason to come and see them: The coolest of the cool, there’s something for every taste. Looking for classic? Alternative? Elegant? Boundary-pushing? You’ve come to the right place.
The wines of the Mornington Peninsula have taken the UK wine trade by storm over the past couple of years. As Matthew Jukes put it, ‘Mornington Peninsula is in the highest global echelon of Pinot Noir regions…’ and Ten Minutes By Tractor’s wines rank with the best this acclaimed region can produce. Winemaker Sandro Mosele, two-time finalist for the Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine Winemaker of the Year Award, is one of the region’s finest. He’s spent many years exploring the nuances of the region’s unique soils and climates, gaining a reputation for wines of exceptional quality and complexity. Sandro and Ten Minutes By Tractor founder, Martin Spedding, will be at the Australia Day Tasting in London and will be happy to share their insights on the region and their wonderfully authentic wines.
One great reason to come and see them: World-class wines that offer a fresh iteration of Pinot Noir excellence.
Wrattonbully: Not the first wine region that pops into your head when you start thinking of fine Australian wine. Merlot: Not the first grape variety that you think of when pondering Australia’s great grape varieties. Colleen Miller is here to shatter your preconceptions with some of Australia’s finest examples of cool climate deliciousness. Terra Rossa soils combine with four new-to -Australia clones of Merlot to produce a wine of exceptional elegance and purity.
One great reason to come and see them: Do not miss the chance to taste the wines that led James Halliday to name MÉRITE one of his Top 10 Best New Wineries in 2017.
Tasmania has become one of the most talked about cool climate wine regions in Australia. Its ability to produce everything from magnificent sparkling wines to sublimely elegant Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay, has led the world to beat a path to its cellar doors. Founder Josef fled Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1950, arriving in Australia penniless before becoming a massively successful food and wine entrepreneur who has been at the heart of Tasmanian wines’ meteoric rise. Josef Chromy Wines is one of Tasmania’s leading second-generation wineries with Chief Winemaker Jeremy Dineen being key to their continued rise to prominence. Born and raised in Tasmania, Jeremy has an innate understanding of place that he expresses through Josef Chromy’s brilliant cool climate wines.
One great reason to come and see them: Unique Chardonnays that have an elegance, depth and complexity that is uniquely Tasmanian.
Tasmania: Where Cool Comes Naturally
While Petaluma will always be linked with founding father, Australian wine legend and Wine Australia board member Brian Croser, the quality of the wines have long been the responsibility of Andrew Hardy. With a famous surname like Hardy you could say that Andrew was always destined for a life in wine but no one could have predicted his rise to the top of Australian winemaking. Experience around the world has led to a winemaking style with a meticulous focus on quality from vineyard to bottle, creating wines delighting wine lovers and inspiring vignerons in Australia and around the world.
One great reason to come and see them: Cool climate pioneers that are making wines that are tasting better than ever.
The Alternatives – The new breed challenging perceptions
A new breed of grape growers and winemakers has set about sourcing varieties better suited to their regions than Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. From King Valley to the Riverland varieties like Nero d’Avola, Vermentino, Graciano and Fiano are now ready to change the way people think about Australian wines.
Otto Dal Zotto was born in Valdobbiadene in north eastern Italy – home to the famed Prosecco. He migrated to the King Valley in 1967, and like many others, grew tobacco until the industry declined. He then made the move to wine, planting Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It wasn’t long before he was planting Italian varieties as well – Barbera, Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio and Arneis. Today Christian Dal Zotto is custodian to this proud legacy, taking the family tradition of innovation to the world with an exceptional range of wines that are a vital part of the story of Australia today.
One great reason to come and see them: The Dal Zotto family blend old and new traditions to turn out unique and exciting wines from King Valley, one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions.
King Valley Kaleidoscope
If you were searching for the living embodiment of the history, evolution and revolution of Australian wine you’d be hard pressed to find a better candidate than Theo Engela from Chaffey Bros. Wine Co. Custodians to five generations of winemaking heritage, Theo and brother-in-law winemaker Daniel Chaffey Hartwig explore exceptional sites that grow classic and alternative grape varieties. From microsite exploration of Eden Valley Riesling and Gewürztraminer to old vine Barossa Grenache blended with Tempranillo and Graciano, this is New Australia writ large.
One great reason to come and see them: See the Barossa and Eden Valleys in a new, vibrant and boundary-pushing light.
Chris Pfeiffer is an Australian wine pioneer across a myriad of wine styles. From his beloved home in Rutherglen he crafts one of Australia’s most interesting and diverse wine portfolios. From award winning Rieslings to fresh and vibrant Gamay to innovative fortified wine styles and alternative varieties like Tempranillo and Gewürztraminer Chris has forged an enviable reputation for wines from one of Australia’s classic regions. Today he shares winemaking duties with daughter Jen, ensuring this wonderful wine legacy will continue for many years to come.
One great reason to come and see them: Diversity. We challenge you to find another producer that excels at this many different varieties and wine styles.
The Minimalists – Hand crafted from vine to bottle
These are vignerons who practice maximum human effort in the vineyard. They spend their time, their effort and their energy here so they don’t have use chemicals to deal with viticultural challenges. They do the hard yards caring for the vines, doing all they can to ensure they produce fruit of amazing quality, something that is the basis of all great wines.
Minimal intervention wines are so hot right now. Toby Porter and the folks at d’Arenberg must have a wry smile when they hear all the hullabaloo around the world. Doing things with a light touch from the vineyard to the winery ain’t no fad at d’Arenberg, it’s just how things are done. Every single owned and leased vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic. Every batch of grapes is gently crushed and basket pressed. Sure, it’s labour intensive but the results speak for themselves. Everything old is new again? If the results are as deliciously drinkable as this then we can only hope so!
One great reason to come and see them: Vanguards of Australia’s sustainable wine movement with over 70 wines and 30 different varieties you’re sure to find something that delights the tastebuds.
Two lifelong friends with a love of nature, a love of their home region – the Yarra Valley – and a love of great wine that has personality: what’s not to love? Well, in the case of (Behn) Payten and (Troy) Jones, not much really. These innovative winemakers are all about creating wines that have character, that reflect the terroir from which they hail and which are perfect in an imperfect way. Low-intervention winemaking, a willingness to experiment – Yarra Sangiovese anyone? – and a desire to create something wonderful. Yes, we’ll drink to that.
One great reason to come and see them: Aside from the raw brilliance of their wines, these guys represent a fresh face of Australian winemaking that’s as refreshing, honest and enjoyable as their wines.
The Terroir Hunters – Searching for exceptional sites from across our regions
This is a group of Australian winemakers who’ll stop at nothing to find the best locations in order to craft world-class wines, working with grape growers and viticulturists to ensure these sites produce the best possible fruit. Once the fruit is in the winery they experiment to eke out every last drop of site and varietal expression.
Damian North began his wine journey as one of Australia's top sommeliers, serving at some of Australia's greatest restaurants like Tetsuya's. But serving wine wasn't enough to sate his passion. Winemaking studies were followed by an apprenticeship at the renowned TarraWarra Estate before Damian launched Journey Wines. Today he scours the Yarra Valley and Heathcote for exceptional vineyards for his careful crafted range of traditional and alternative varieties.
One great reason to come and see them: Taste why Damian's Heathcote Fiano has drawn rave reviews, inspiring other Australian winemakers to take notice of the variety and it's potential in Australia.
From the unlikely location of a shed in suburban Melbourne Rory Lane crafts vibrant and fresh wines from carefully selected sites. From Riverland Grenache to Henty Pinot Noir to King Valley Riesling Rory embodies the true spirit of the terroir hunter. Searching high and low to find the right varieties grown in the right places produces exceptional results that are helping to redefine Australian wine.
One great reason to come and see them: Looking to taste something new and exciting? Come right this way. Rory is shining a bright light on Australian regions and varieties that deserve the spotlight.
The Classics – The original and still some of our very best
Put simply, the Australian wine industry would not be where it is today had it not been for Australia's classic wine styles. These are the wines that put us on the map both here and around the world. Whilst avant-garde and boundary pushing Australian wine styles are exciting and have a potentially thrilling future, there will always be room on the shelf, in the cellar and on wine lists for Australian wine classics.
Six generations of the Clarke family have lived and worked under the Barossa sun, first settling in the region in the 1870s. After growing grapes for many years for others, in 2001 the family made their first wines under the Thorn-Clarke label. With access to exceptional vineyard resources, including some of the world’s oldest Shiraz vines, it didn’t take long for Thorn-Clarke to be recognised as modern Australian wine classics.
One great reason to come and see them: Taste exceptional Barossa wines that combine a respect for the region’s traditions with a freshness and vitality that is winning Thorn-Clarke fans across the world.
Scott McWilliam is a true custodian of Australian wine history, the latest in a long line of Australian wine innovators. While he grew up in one of Australia’s most famous wine families he was never pushed into the industry. Like the vines that have sustained his forebears over many, many years he grew his own passion and appreciation for both winemaking and family business. Today he is a sixth generation winemaker for McWilliam's Wines, a role he cherishes alongside spending time as an Ambassador for the family around the world. Like many in Australia’s next generation of custodians Scott admires and protects the family traditions while always looking to innovate, producing the best possible wines from the wonderful resources of one of Australia’s most renowned wine families.
One great reason to come and see them: No resting on laurels here, one of Australia’s most famous wine families continues to innovate, producing an exceptional range of wines across all price points.
Scott McWilliam - A legendary legacy continues
One of the great names in the Margaret River, Franklin Tate Estates’ history dates backs to the region’s earliest days and they have been integral in forging its reputation for excellence. At the 2018 Australia Day Tastings you’ll have the chance to sample their classically styled Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon-Semillon with owner-winemaker, Franklin Tate - himself a great name of Western Australian wine.
One great reason to come and see them: For the opportunity to taste some of Australia’s finest wines from Australian fine wine’s home region.
The Barossa and Australian wine are synonymous, just as the Barossa and St Hallett are. The Lindner family have been crafting exceptional wines since 1944 and today this legacy is continued by winemaker Toby Barlow. With a degree in Philosophy it's no surprise that Toby brings a thoughtful and inquisitive approach to his winemaking. He respects the traditions of the region and the winery but also loves to innovate, surprising and delighting wine drinkers with every bottle.
One reason to come and see them: For the exquisite combination of tradition and innovation. This is a traditional Barossa winery that is not afraid to push the boundaries!
From their home base in Central Victoria Gary Williams and the team at McPherson Wine Co produce a wonderfully diverse range of Australian wines using sustainable farming methods. Many of these come from the vineyard in the cool climate of the Goulburn Valley on traditional red brick soils renowned for crafting classic Australian wines.
One reason to come and see them: You don't become a classic without a reason, these are Australian wines that punch way above their weight!
The New – Introducing for the very first time…
In response to market demand and renewed interest in the quality and diversity of the wines being produced in Australia, let us introduce to you two exciting wineries that are new to the UK market and are seeking distribution. One taste and we’re sure you’ll be saying, “Where the heck have you been all my life!”
Andrew Watson is, quite simply, Margaret River royalty. Andrew's parents, David and Heather Watson, planted the Woodlands vineyard in 1973. As one of the first five vineyards in the region it helped Margaret River grow and develop into one of the world's great wine regions. Andrew and his brother Stuart taking the reins in recent years and the wines from Woodlands have never been better. These are balanced wines of true elegance and finesse.
One reason to come and see them: Margaret River royalty. These are wines that helped build the region into one of Australia's pre-emenint fine wine producers.
While not Australia's most instantly recognisable, the Blackwood Valley region is a true hidden gem with almost limitless potential for producing exceptional wines. Trevor Dickinson and the team at Dickinson Estate have been working tirelessly since planting the vines on an old sheep and cattle farm in 1994. The fruits of their labour are there to taste in the glass. From rich and earthy Shiraz to complex and savoury Chardonnay these wines are guaranteed to surprise and delight.
One reason to come and see them: Discover the Blackwood Valley region in Western Australia and taste why it's one to watch now and into the future.
Other principals attending in London:
- Cameron Murphy - Cape Mentelle
- Mary Dickinson - Dickinson Estate
- Han Tao Lau, Jack Howe and Jeannie Howe - Elmswood Estate
- Mark O'Callaghan - Ferngrove
- Edward Tomlinson - Lenton Brae
- Thomas Maxwell - Monkey Business
- Robyn Pfeiffer - Pfeiffer Wines
- David Bird - Route du Van
- Hendra Widjaja - Stuart Wine Co
- Martin Spedding - Ten Minutes by Tractor