The Event: Wine Australia Presents Regional Heroes.
The Venue: Design Exchange
The Target Audience: wine press, LCBO, sommeliers.
The Availability/Catalogue: the theme this year was to push decently priced
Australian wines from some of the 63 distinct regions. 55 wineries
participated (out of 2,000 possible in Oz). Wine Australia has been
marketing Oz wines in four categories: Regional Heroes, Brand Champions
(mainstream), Generation Next (new wines), and Landmark Australia (expensive
limited productions). We didn't see any of the latter, unless you'd include
Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz 2005 ($80), Katnook Estate Prodigy Shiraz ($69),
O'Leary Walker Reserve Shiraz 2004 ($100), or Parker Coonawarra First Growth
Cabernet Merlot 2004 ($66.95). There were a few wines around $50, a few more
at $40, and then even more under $30. The vast majority was under $20. The
cheapest was probably Runaway Bay Chardonnay and Shiraz, at $11.55 each. The
catalogue was laid out by name of the winery, with table numbers, names of
agents upfront, regions, name of wines, LCBO numbers (unnumbered wines were
either private orders or consignment), and retail prices - although some of
the prices were wrong.
The Quote: "They managed to fix the lighting in the Design Exchange: I can
see everything now. But I can also see that there are not too many people
here at the trade show! Where is everybody?"
The Wines: We began with a seminar, which started a bit late: I left early
to take in the wine show. John Szabo, MS, moderate a panel of visiting
Australian principals who spoke to their wines (all were in twist top). The
stress was on terroir. Skillogalee Riesling 2006 ($22.95, Worldwide Cellar)
was bone dry with some of that Alsatian character, medium finish. Katnook
Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($22.95, Charton Hobbs) was Euro style, elegant
with minerals, very ripe. Redbank Sunday Morning Pinot Gris 2006 ($24.95,
Charton Hobbs) was 14.5% ABV, pear tones dominated, longer finish than most.
Jacob's Creek Reeves Point Chardonnay 2004 ($34.95, Corby Distilleries)
showed toasty wood on both the nose and palate, some butter, slightly bitter
toward the finish, persistent fresh citric finish, a definite food
chardonnay. It was one of a few chardonnays in the show: what's happened to
Oz chards? Bay of Fires Pinot Noir 2006 ($38.95, Churchill Cellars) was
plummy with North American appeal in the nose, too young, solid cherries and
most MVC character. Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 ($35.95,
Mondia Alliance) had little MVC, very shy and closed, 14% ABV. Yering
Station Pinot Noir Reserve 2005 ($43, Trilogy Wines) was rich and elaborate,
earthiness, developing, strong persistence, will continue to age well and
turn into a burgundy style wine. Cumulus Climbing Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
($18.50, Authentic) had 14 months in French and US oak, good berry
complexity, some mintiness, depth and development, firm tannins, needs time,
but good price. Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz 2004 ($42.95, Kylix) was 15% ABV.
It was their first vintage under a twist top. Rich, dense, extractive but
with a soft finish. From the wine show itself, I enjoyed (but I did not
taste all the wines) in the whites -- Boggy Creek Chardonnay 2005 (Merchant
Vintner) was not yet available for sale; the sample tasted well-rounded and
well-priced for an elegant chardonnay from Australia. D'Arenberg The Olive
Grove Chardonnay 2006 (+702845, $16.95) was comparable in its completeness.
Hamelin Bay Chardonnay 2006 (Thompson, $24.95) was elegant, twist top (as
were so many wines today), French wood, lemons, pears, and a Gold Medalist.
Hungerford Hill Dalliance Sparkling 2002 (+39354, $22.85) convinced me
enough to dally for a second sample; it's a pinot noir (2/3) and chardonnay
blend. Hungerford Hill Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2006 (+15479, $22.95) was a
nicely balanced wine, perfect with food. Kangarilla Road Viognier 2006
(+908011, $21.75) was simply smashing in its fruitiness, twist top, 14.5%
ABV. Margan Semillon 2006 (+961516, $17.95) showed that Hunter Valley style,
although it was still a young wine. McPherson Marsanne Viognier 2005 (Kylix,
$18.95) was 87% marsanne; it had that south of France ripeness. Pikes
Viognier 2006 (Authentic, $19.95) was very aromatic. Xanadu Chardonnay 2005
(+27888, $20.95) was another twist top wonder, 14% ABV. Yalumba Eden Valley
Viognier 2005 (+954644, $22.95) was both aromatic and fruity. The Yalumba
Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2006 (+39271, $17.95) remains one of the best deals
at Vintages. For the reds - Alkoomi Blackbutt Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
(Thompson, $49.95) was very silky and oaky, delicious. Barossa Valley Estate
Ebenezer Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (+39537, $39.95) was minty and deep.
Gemtree Uncut Shiraz 2006 (+627844, $26.50) was better value than Gemtree
Obsidian Shiraz 2004 (Vergina, $45.90) which was basket pressed and 36
months in new French oak. Both wines, of course, were no slouches.
Leasingham Bin 56 Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (+39545, $25.95) was very minty
and toothy. Margan Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Small Winemakers Collection,
$20.75) was still tight, but showed a mouthful of fruit later. Parker Terra
Rossa Merlot 2004 (+678581, $36.95) showed very intense but soft fruit.
Parri Estate Pinot Noir 2006 (+17293, $19.95) was a huge wine showing some
dried fruit of raisins. Plantagent Shiraz 2004 (Small Winemakers Collection,
$32) was 14.5% ABV, but exceptionally smooth and fruity. Rymill Cabernet
Sauvignon 2001 (Small Winemakers Collection, $31.95) tasted ripe and
well-aged. Shingleback Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (+662957, $28.95) was a good
solid food wine which I enjoyed. Stella Bella Shiraz 2005 (+48553, $22.95 in
February 2008) was a good Euro style wine from Margaret River. St. Hallet
Old Block Shiraz 2003 (Select Wines, $54.95) was a top of the line goody,
dense in its complexity. St. Mary's Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (Lamprecht,
$22.99) did not have ML, and hence showed some apple complexity. Tatachilla
Foundation 2001 (Select Wines, $39.95) was deeply rich, and well-aged for a
shiraz, verging on being a knockoff of something from France. Tidswell
Jennifer Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Wineworld, $45) was a classic, with mints,
mocha and some anise. McPherson Basilisk Cabernet Balzac 2005 (Grape
Expectations, $16.05) is unique in that it has some grape called balzac (not
in Robinson's book); it is a dark wine with menthol, anise, black fruit and
some French oak.
The Food: cold cuts for bun sandwiches, cheeses, crackers, condiments. But
somebody made the egregious error of putting out too hot salami, which
effectively killed your taste buds for about 15 minutes. Not refreshing at
The Downside: where was Foster's? They were announced, but they were not in
the catalogue, nor were they present. Just wonderin'
The Upside: I am not sure why, but some 11 wines were allowed in under the
rubric "Brand Champions" (mainstream blended wines from larger regions, such
as South Eastern Australia and South Australia). Another seven, while coming
from a more delimited region, were focused as "Generation Next" (newer wine
styles). No wines were labeled "Landmark Australia".
The Contact Person: email@example.com
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 84 - could have been higher if more
trade people had attended.