Koonowla Wines in the Clare Valley.
Seville Kitcgersen.

Clean Start for Koonowla

Let's be honest – a Clare Valley riesling, shiraz or cabernet rarely misses the mark. The latest releases from the region's 1890s-established Koonowla winery and vineyard, which has been under the custodianship of Nick George (of Georges Wines) since 2019, are worth seeking out for an insight into this historic part of South Australia. Revered SA winemaker Con Moshos is overseeing production, too. Check out the punchy, food-friendly primitivo as well.

Taylors Wines are raising money for

Bollinger B13

Bollinger’s limited edition B13 Blanc de Noirs (A$250) was released in October, representing what was a unique and slightly challenging year in Champagne – but one which Bollinger admits being able to navigate efficiently, thanks to their increased focus on sustainable vineyard managed and minimal inputs. In classic Bollinger style, it is a deep and rich, yet pure and fresh expression crafted entirely from pinot noir – almost 100% of it Grand Cru – from across five different Crus. It spent seven years on lees (disgorged early 2021) and saw six grams dosage per litre. Bollinger B13 is available in limited quantities from fine wine retailers around Australia.
Daughter in Law's Jessi Singh and Sacha Imrie.

Vindens Take on Somerset

The Hunter Valley’s Angus and Hannah Vinden of Vinden Wines recently became new custodians of Pokolbin’s revered Somerset Vineyard. First planted to vines in the late 1800s, the vineyard has provided fruit for some of the region’s greatest wines over the course of its significant history. Second-generation winemaker Angus has worked with the site, and previous owner and grape-grower Glen Howard, since 2014. Howard passed away in 2020 and Angus aims to continue his legacy of growing and nurturing exceptional fruit. He’ll combine that goal with his continued move to sustainability and climate-appropriate grape varieties. “We have 20 hectares currently under vine, and I can’t wait to produce some more incredible wines in honour of Glen, and his family’s hard work,” says Angus.

Warner's Distillery's Tom and Tina Warner.

Warner’s Honeybee Gin

We spoke to Northampton, UK-based Warner’s Gin co-founder Tom Warner on the upcoming Australian release of their renowned Honeybee Gin.
How did the idea for Honeybee Gin come to fruition? 
Initially, we wanted to recreate the sweet, fragrant notes of honeysuckle in a gin and looked at using local beekeeper’s honey in the recipe. I’d always wanted to keep bees at the farm because over 90% of our farm-grown botanicals are pollinated the little guys. That’s why we created our own apiary in 2017, currently home to over a million bees – and it meant we could whack a dollop of honey from our farm into every bottle of Honeybee gin when we released it later that year. 
Was there a long period of trial and error before you hit the 'sweet' spot? 
Absolutely! Our Honeybee gin contains 28 botanicals, more than any other gin we’ve ever created. It took months of recipe development and tasting, actually quite a lot of tasting, before we got the perfect balance of floral, citrus and spice notes perfectly blended together with our honey.
Your background is in farming, and Warner’s maintains a real focus on sustainable farming and production (including, obviously, beekeeping) – are you able to tell us about how these elements go hand-in-hand with your products? 
We are farm-grown people who turn farm-grown ingredients into farm-grown gins. Because everything we do is completely reliant on the generosity of Mother Nature, it’s absolutely in our interest to look after the land and everything that sustains it. That’s why we grow acres of real, fresh botanicals to go into our gins. We will never use artificial or synthetic flavours, although that would be simpler and quicker. Everything we do is real because, well, real tastes better.
Warner’s Honeybee Gin (A$80) is available in Australia from October 25, 2021.
Taylors Wines are raising money for the endangered White's seahorse.

Sparkling Orange

Orange’s Colmar Estate has come a long way since it was first established in 2013. One of the region’s boutique producers, its 6ha vineyard sits at 980m altitude, rendering it a perfect spot for crafting premium riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir. The cooler 2017 vintage was perfect for these varieties – and also for the pristine sparkling wines that encapsulate Bill and Jane Shrapnel‘s philosophy of ‘vintage only’ fizz. The three 2017 disgorgements include the recently released 2017 Brut Rosé (94% chardonnay, 6% pinot noir; A$48), the inaugural 2017 Vintage Brut (80% pinot noir, 20% chardonnay; A$48), as well as the third disgorgement of the 2015 Chardonnay Pinot Noir (A$60).  

In other news, the Shrapnels recently brought on the talents of regional favourite Will Rikard-Bell. “We’re very excited to work with Will,” says Bill. “Not only is he a great winemaker, he also has a uniqueness in his winemaking that really brings out the special qualities of our site and the region.”

For more info, visit colmarestate.com.au
Twenty-six year veteran Teresa Heuzenroeder is now at Tintara.

Prodigal Son Returns

Well known for his involvement in some of Adelaide’s top bars including Maybe Mae and Shōbōsho, second-generation Hunter Valley winemaker Ollie Margan recently made tracks back to his home turf to herald the next iteration of his family’s legacy. Ollie is focusing on the five varieties on which his parents, Andrew and Lisa, built Margan’s reputation – shiraz, semillon, barbera, albariño and chardonnay. Ollie’s goal with Margan’s Breaking Ground label is to create bright, modern wines that express both texture and the unique dolerite soils of the Broke-Fordwich region that his parents have championed for more than two decades.

Visit margan.com.au
Taylors Wines are raising money for the endangered White's seahorse.

A Milestone for Winemaking Brothers

It’s a special year for winemaking siblings Mal and Bruce Redman of the Coonawarra’s Redman Wines. The brothers are celebrating their 40th consecutive vintage together.

“We are privileged to be in a business with four generations and more than 110 years of history,” says Bruce. “Mal and I are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and equally excited to witness the passion of the next generation of Redmans.”

Mal and Bruce have taken over the winemaking tradition from their father, Owen, and grandfather Bill, who founded the winery in 1954. The brothers introduced the winery’s now-flagship wine The Redman in 2008, and it has since been a prized bottle in many cellars. The family tradition is also continuing, with the fourth-generation Mike and Dan Redman buying into the business last year.

Find out more at redman.com.au
Seville Kitchen Head Chef Soren Thogersen.

Deep Dive into Submerged Wines

Ben Ranken at Wilimee Wines (wilimeewines.com.au) in the Macedon Ranges invited me to a unique horizontal tasting. His 2015 Estate Pinot Noir – his first vintage at Wilimee maturing as normal, in air – versus the identical 2015 Estate Pinot Noir but that has lain under cork for five years submerged underwater in a five metre high tank. The submerged offering is noticeably different, nuanced it’s true, but fresher, more lively than the ‘control’. Ben believes this could be the only commercially available pinot noir in the world that has been aged underwater. No matter to Ben – he has a string of pinot vintages from 2016 onwards submerged, waiting dutifully for their day of honourable discharge.

Ben is not alone is his submerged experiments. Glenn Eberbach, winemaker at Trifon Estate (trifonestatewines.com.au), has released an underwater wine treasure of his own. It’s a sparkling, in the tradition of the 1907 Heidsieck & Co. Under his private label Ocean Aged, Glenn has released two vintages to date, the 2012 and 2013. The 2015 vintage is due for release soon and has been submerged in crates for about 2 years at an undisclosed location on a reef in about 5 metres of water. The ocean provides an idyllic ageing environment: constant cool temperature and pressure, as well as the clincher in Glenn’s eyes, “gentle constant stirring of the lees in suspension”. The wine has a natural minerality, a lick of saline, conjuring notions of the ocean and currents.

PhoeniKamsteeg is the manager at Tamburlaine’s new celdoor.

Umeshu in Japan

Gourmet Traveller WINE Promotion

The Ume flower is a symbol of spring and represents the start of a new year in Japan. Its fruit is one of the country’s most popular and widely used – harvested early when the fruit is still small and green for umeshu making. A perfect balance between ume extract and alcohol is achieved by ageing the whole fruit, with the stone still inside.

Preparing umeshu is a popular tradition for women in Japanese households. I remember sitting with my grandma when she used to make it. She would use a distilled 'white' spirit and rock sugar as a base, then infuse it with whole stone fruits like ume and kumquat. The umeshu would be kept in a glass pot under the sink until it matured and was ready to drink. I remember the beautiful, sweet aroma of it.

Making umeshu is a straightforward process. The harvested ume is first washed and then combined with a base alcohol (such as a white spirit, shochu, or Japanese sake) and sugar to extract the ume flavour. The process takes between 10 and 12 months, depending on the temperature and style of umeshu you are after. Once the liqueur is a lovely golden colour, it should be ready.

Umeshu is often served before the meal to stimulate your appetite. You can also enjoy it as a dessert drink, either straight or with ice. Alternatively, you can make your own cocktail by adding crushed ice and gin – or create an umeshu mojito with lime and mint.

Top Pick: Houraisen Kanjuku Umeshu is produced by infusing very ripe (kanjuku) ume fruit into shochu. The base shochu used by Houraisen is distilled at their brewery using their own homegrown rice to ensure the highest quality. This umeshu has a perfumed character on the nose with hints of rose petal, marzipan and apricot. It has a rich texture with cleansing acidity and great length.

Yukino Ochiai, Deja vu Sake

Houraisen Kanjuku Umeshu is available at: Le Pont Wine Store Sydney & Melbourne ( lepontwinestore.com) and McCoppin’s Food and Wine ( melbournemccoppins.com.au).

Houghton's Latest Icon Releases

It's time to make some space in the cellar and on the festive wine list for the latest releases from Western Australia's Houghton Wines. Celebrating their 185th anniversary in 2021, the Houghton team led by winemaker Courtney Treacher are releasing the 2019 vintage of their Icon Wines: Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon; Gladstones Cabernet Sauvignon; and C.W. Ferguson Cabernet Malbec. The wines take their name from iconic figures in the Houghton story, and are only released in exceptional vintages.

The 2019 Jack Mann Cabernet ($174.99) is sourced from Houghton's Frankland River vineyards in the Great Southern, and is the brand's flagship wine named after founder Jack Mann. Nicknamed as the 'Baby Jack Mann' the 2019 C.W. Ferguson Cabernet Malbec ($77.99) is also from Frankland River, and is more of a drink-now style perfect for those upcoming, special festive celebrations with loved ones. The 2019 Gladstones Cabernet ($99.99) is from the Batley Vineyard in Margaret River, and is a stunning expression of the region with notes of cassis, plum and thyme.

The Houghton Icon Wines will be available from October 21st, visit
Seville Kitchen Head Chef Soren Thogersen.

Champagne Carbon

Luxury Champagne brand Champagne Carbon recently announced an exclusive distribution partnership with Australia’s Emperor Champagne. Best-known for its association with Formula 1 and Bugatti, Carbon – founded by Alexandre Méa, a fifth-generation member of the famed Méa-Devavry family – is noted for its innovation, including custom-made bottles crafted from carbon fibre, as well as the exceptional contents within.

From A$459; visit emperorchampagne.com.au
Phoenix Kamsteeg is the manager at Tamburlaine’s new cellar door.

High Country Collaboration

Two of Victoria’s High Country stars have joined forces to craft the limited release Muscat Gin by Still & Stem (A$85). The teams at Rutherglen’s Scion Wines and Yackandandah’s Backwoods Distilling Co met over an auction for a second-hand barrel, sparking the inspiration for this project. Combining Scion’s Rutherglen brown muscat grapes and Backwood’s High Country Gin, the tipple boasts notes of the land, using native botanicals like strawberry gum, wattle seed and peppermint gum.

Visit scionwine.com.au and backwoodsdistilling.com.au 
Bistrot’s team (from left): Michael Clift, Daniel Pepperell and
Andy Tyson.

Clean Christmas

Fancy a break from the booze in the lead-up to December 25th? The team behind Melbourne’s Brunswick Aces have assembled Australia’s first non-alc beer advent calendar, featuring 25 days’ worth of deliciously refreshing surprises from home and abroad, as well as exclusive brews never before tasted. The Non-Alcoholic Beer Advent Calendar (A$99, plus shipping) is available for pre-order from brunswickaces.com. Shipping takes place in November.
Charlotte Hardy, of Charlotte Dalton Wines.

A Pét-Nat Project for the Riverina

The Riverina’s Yarran Wines have added an exciting new wine to their portfolio, with the release of their 2021 A Few Words Pétillant Naturel (A$25). Winemaker Sam Brewer has crafted a really fun, vibrant wine here from parcels of local Riverina montepulciano. Expect plenty of strawberry notes and that signature pét-nat spritz. Tips from the Yarran team? “Open slow, before lunch and super chilled.”

Visit yarranwines.com.au
City Winery is at it again with their new venue Eagle Street Pier.

Perfect Coffee Table Book

Australia is home to some of the most picturesque wine estates in the world. For those of us who can’t appreciate them in person at the moment, architect Alison Weavers has compiled 40 of Australia’s most breathtaking cellar doors with her new book Through the Cellar Door. Weavers takes a deep dive into some of the most recognisable cellar doors in the country, taking the reader through the process from inspiration to finished product. Some of the wineries featured include the d’Arenberg Cube, Brokenwood, Dowie Doole, Amelia Park, Shaw + Smith and more. So if you need a new book for pride of place on the coffee table, look no further.

Through the Cellar Door by Alison Weavers, Images Publishing, A$73.75

No Granit Here

In the June/July issue we incorrectly stated that Sirromet’s new Granit range of wines were sourced from the Granite Belt – a fair assumption given the name, and the location of Queensland's Sirromet winery. As it turns out, the wines are made from Riverland, SA, fruit, despite there being no indication on the labels, nor Sirromet’s website. We apologise for the error.

Chandon Correction

In our last issue, prices for two Chandon sparkling wines in Top New Releases were incorrect. They should have read A$42 for the Chandon Ancestrale Rosé and A$39 for the Chandon Vintage Blanc de Blancs. Gourmet Traveller WINE apologises for the error.

Subscriptions Prize: Barossa Bunch

In the June/July issue of Gourmet Traveller WINE, we asked new subscribers to tell us why they would like to win a stellar collection of wines from the Barossa valued at A$893. Our winner is Madeleine Horrigan of Kew in Victoria who wrote:

“To hold a Bacchanalian-level tasting for my closest friends pitting these Barossa wines against counterparts from the Old World (Also, to impress my mother-in-law).”

How could we refuse?

See here for this edition's subscription prize.
Morgan and Jayden Ong.