Author Archives | Edward Ragg

Australian Fortified Wines

Seminar 12: ‘Fortified’ presented by Colin Campbell and Stephen Chambers

If you had to name the most underappreciated category of Australian wine in existence today, it would have to be the country’s beautiful fortified wines. Sadly, this is both the case internationally and also domestically in Australia, apart from among the dedicated bunch of followers who have already had their eyes opened to the wonders, for example, of Victoria’s Rutherglen Muscats and Muscadelles (Rutherglen being the most famous region of production). Continue Reading

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Chardonnay Blind Tasting Presented by Steve Webber

Seminar 11: ‘Chardonnay’ Blind-Tasting presented by Steve Webber

If Pinot Noir has undergone a quality and stylistic revolution in Australia in the last decade, the faces of Australian Chardonnay have never been more exciting or diverse. Of course, the category ‘Australian Chardonnay’ has much more meaning at entry-level, not least for South-Eastern Australian blends, than for mid-range or premium wines. However, with overplanting in some of Australia’s cooler spots (e.g. Adelaide Hills), even generic Australian Chardonnay from the likes of Jacob’s Creek or Yellow Tail may have a small proportion of higher quality fruit than hitherto.

Steve Webber of De Bortoli has done much, both with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, not to mention numerous other varieties, in creating elegant, restrained wines; unashamedly Australian in terms of being site-specific, but a far-cry from the staple image of ‘Australian Chardonnay’ as burly, laden with tropical fruit, lashings of oak and all-too-heady alcohol. Continue Reading

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Single Vineyards and Sacred Sites versus Blending

Seminar 10: ‘Single Vineyards and Sacred Sites versus Blending’ presented by Brian Walsh

Brian Walsh, Director of Winemaking at Yalumba, one of Australia’s most dynamic wine producers, has no doubt pondered Australia’s fine wine image both from the perspective of single-vineyard wines and sumptuous blends chosen from multiple sites.

For many wine lovers, Australia is a blender par excellence. The designation South-Eastern Australia frees up wineries to source fruit from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in assembling highly consumable blends at competitive prices. In the arena of fine wine, too, Grange and the upper levels of Penfolds are blends, although not exclusively. Penfolds, Lindemans and Yalumba, along with companies like Angove’s and Brown Brothers, have probably done most to signal Australia’s expertise in blending especially, from entry-level to premium examples. Continue Reading

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Pinot Noir Blind Tasting Presented by Tom Carson

Australia Landmark Tutorial: Seminar 9: ‘Pinot Noir’ Blind Tasting presented by Tom Carson

It is no exaggeration to say that Pinot Noir has undergone a quality revolution in Australia in the last ten to fifteen years. This notoriously fickle grape, hard to cultivate and equally demanding to vinify, had previously not made much of a mark in Australia, apart from in the cases of a number of quality-minded producers mainly hailing from Victoria. Continue Reading

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Landmark Australia: ‘Riesling’ presented by Jeffrey Grosset

Seminar 8: ‘Riesling’ presented by Jeffrey Grosset

Along with the Semillon session, this was one of the more inspiring of the Landmark seminars devoted to whites. Although Chardonnay is a far more important grape variety for Australia in terms of plantings and wines produced – and although the myriad Chardonnay styles now on offer informed Steve Webber’s lively session devoted to that varietal later in the week – Riesling has its own special signature in Australia, one for which Jeffrey Grosset is justifiably renowned.

Grosset, like his wines, speaks with quiet intensity. He is passionate, if self-effacing, in his knowledge of Riesling especially; although lovers of wines from the Grosset stable will know his flair with the likes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Adelaide Hills as well as the fabled red Clare Valley blend called ‘Gaia’. Continue Reading

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An Historic Perspective

Landmark Tutorial, Seminar 7: ‘An Historic Perspective’ presented by Andrew Caillard MW and James Halliday

The ‘Historic Perspective’ tasting is the centrepiece of the Landmark Tutorial, the most anticipated session given the outstanding quality and often rarity of the wines on show.

However, it is worth noting that this seminar was deliberately entitled ‘An Historic Perspective’, which implies that a number of others paths could have been trod in showing the development of Australian fine wine since the Second World War, a point to which specialist auctioneer Andrew Caillard MW, who oversees the influential Langton’s Classification, alluded in his presentation; flanked, for this session, by the experienced palates of James Halliday and Dr Tony Jordan. Continue Reading

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