Tag Archives: Australian wine

Tasting Shiraz blind – Penfolds Grange Shiraz Wine Challenge

Ever tasted wine blind? No I don’t mean blind drunk…cmon, it’s all about responsible drinking. I’m talking about tasting wine without knowing where it comes from.

Quite often many people associate the quality of a wine with the price tag. What you really should be doing is letting your taste buds do the talking, not your wallet.

You may recall in a previous post that I was off to a Shiraz wine tasting night. That Shiraz wine tasting night was in fact a Shiraz challenge, which was held at Armadale cellars – a quaint wine cellar nestled in inner Melbourne.

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Armthat adale Cellars

This challenge does what the name suggests, and challenges your taste buds to pick the correct Shiraz wine label you’re tasting. The best bit, a Penfolds Grange was hidden in the mix for you to try and pick!

The challenge was hosted by Phil, the founder and owner of Armadale cellars. Phil’s energy and enthusiastic approach to wine was infectious. He took all of the superior snob out of wine and made it something that everyone could relate to.

Before starting the challenge, Phil stated that it was like a ‘Miss Universe of Shiraz’ – all great, fabulous and unique wines, with one standout winner. Phil set us the challenge to nominate at the end which Shiraz would make our top three ‘Miss Universe of Shiraz’.

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To kick the night off, each of the 20 guests were greeted with a glass of sparkling Shiraz. Phil then put the challenge to us early and requested for us to guess where the sparkling Shiraz hailed from. Knowing that Victoria is strong in the sparkling Shiraz game, I called out ‘The Grampians’ as the region. ‘Correct!’. Phil revealed that the sparkling Shiraz hailed from Best Wines. It was a brilliant sparkling Shiraz, smooth, crisp and not overly sweet. It now tops my fave sparkling Shiraz’s.

Click here to see my top sparkling Shiraz in Australia – ‘Hello Sparkling, hello Shiraz, hello Sparkling Shiraz’

Question – What is the plural word for Shiraz? As Jane from Fabulous Wine Ladies Society puts it, it’s ‘Shirazeses’

Let the challenge begin

In front of me sat 12 wine glasses filled with tastings of Shiraz. Alongside the glasses was a list of the wines in alphabetical order that ranged in price from $60 to $100, right up to $850 – the price of the Penfolds Grange.

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Glass after glass, after glass!

Before we got into the challenge, Phil took us through some key things to look out for when tasting, including the climate where each wine hailed from.

With each different climate, the flavours and aromas of the wine change.

  • Cool climate wines exhibit characteristics of red berry, white pepper and herbal notes
  • Warm climate wines exhibit characteristics of blue fruits like blueberries, ripe red berries, black pepper and herbal notes.
  • Hot climate wines exhibit characteristics of darker berries such as black currents, black fruits, plum, licorice, black pepper and olives.

Alongside these flavours also comes secondary flavours, such as oak characteristics, where younger wines can tend to take on a more oak flavour.

After we had a good understanding what to be on the look out for, the tastings began.

The wines were randomly placed, and were not in any order of price or region. This made the challenge even more interesting and exciting. What we did know, however,  was that the grange was hidden in the last set of the 4 tasting glasses.

I must admit, while I’m not blessed with the finest palette, I am training the taste buds to be more receptive. This involves tasting many different wine varietals that hail from different climates, and regions. By tasting an array of different wines, the taste buds become more attuned to picking up on different flavours of fruits, spices, and other fun flavours like licorice, toffee and mint. Alongside picking up on flavours of a wine, the colour is also another key factor of knowing where a wine hails from; a lighter colour indicates a cool climate region, while a deeper colour indicates a warmer region.

After a lot of analysing wine colour, sniffing aromas, and sipping each wine, you will be pleased to know that out of the first 8 wines, I managed to get 3 right.

Much wine, very hard!

Bring on the Penfolds Grange

When it came to tasting the last 4 glasses, it was known that the grange was sitting amongst them. Going through and taking quick sips, I could instantly taste that glass #3 held the almighty grange.

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Lucky number three in the fourth row!

It tasted like a very well-aged and matured wine. Vanillian notes made it smooth on the palate, and didn’t leave an acidic after taste in your mouth. While it was pleasant to drink, it didn’t rock my world. In fact, there were other wines in the tasting that rocked my world. My top three in the ‘Miss Universe of Shiraz’ were:

  1. Paradgim Hill Col’s Block 2013 (Cool climate Shiraz)
  2. Hently Farm The Beast 2014 (Hot climate Shiraz)
  3. Bendigo Pondolowie (Warm-Hot climate Shiraz)

The result

In the end, I ended up getting 7 out of 12 correct! That’s a pass in a teachers book!

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Once the challenge had finished, we were served up delicious lamb pies with a side salad from local baker Phillipas.

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For a hard earned thirst…

For anyone who loves their Shiraz, or is simply wanting to develop their skills and knowledge in wine, this is a fantastic way to do it. It’s challenging and fun, and the Armadale Cellars crew make you feel very welcomed.

Not only do they do Shiraz wine tasting challenges, but they also do a Champagne wine tasting challenge. In this challenge, they hide a glass of Dom Perignon in the mix. Now this is one sparkly wine challenge that I’d love to try!


Until next time winos,




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It’s time to celebrate some fabulous Australian ladies in wine – Olivers Taranga

Right about now, there’s an awards night happening in London to celebrate Australian women in wine http://womeninwineawards.com.au/

While I’m am all the way back here in Melbourne, Australia, I thought I would celebrate Australian women in wine my own way…

Let me introduce you to Olivers Taranga

I love wineries that have great stories behind them, whether it’s about the history or about the people behind the wine label.

Olivers Taranga is one of those wineries embedded with family history. The head winemaker behind Olivers Taranga is Corrina Wright. Corrina is joined by Brioni Oliver – vineyard, cellar door, and wine stock manager. Both Corrina and Brioni are part of the sixth generation at Olivers Taranga.

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tip the bottle Brioni.jpg Top – Corrina Wright, Bottom – Brioni Oliver (Credit http://www.oliverstaranga.com)

Olivers Taranga was the feature winery at the last fabulous ladies wine society event in Melbourne at Lumé restaurant.

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Ladies getting fabulous at Lumé (Credit @fabulousladieswinesociety)

Olivers Taranga features a diverse range of wine varieties; varieties which are not all that common here in Australia just yet, like Vermentino, Fiano and a Rosé that’s made from Spanish grape variety Mencìa (pronounced “Men-thee-a”).

To kick start the evening we were treated to a unique sparkling wine  – A sparkling Fiano called ‘The Hunt for Mrs Oliver’.  I’ve never come across a sparkling Fiano before, as it’s traditionally made as a still white wine. ‘The Hunt for Mrs Oliver’ was fresh out of the barrel. So fresh in fact, that the Fabulous Ladies Wine Society were one of the first in the country to taste this amazing drop. It’s expected to be released later this year.

Fresh, light, bubbly, and acidic, its crisp finish made it a very easy drinking. Some may say too easy!

This sparkling wine is the first sparkling in the Olivers Taranga range. Corrina, being a lover of bubbly wine, had been wanting to introduce one in to the range for some time. She experimented by using the Fiano grape, turning it into a bubble using the Traditional Method. Voila! Success!

What’s the Traditional Method? It’s the Champagne wine making method of bottle fermenting, riddling and disgorging.

‘The Hunt for Mrs Oliver’ was born. The story behind the title and label came from their grandma, Marjorie Hunt. Marjorie was the matriarch of the family.  On the label you’ll see flowers and feathers, which symbolise the flowers and feathers she used to collect. It’s a wine that pays homage to the great lady herself.

Next on the tasting list was the Vermentino, an Italian variety. The Vermentino was light with loads of length, and a crisp finish – The perfect wine that can be paired with seafood.

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The wine lineup! (Credit @fabulousladieswinesociety)

Number three on the wine tasting list was the Fiano, the non-sparkling style. It was great to taste the Fiano without its bubbles, as it took on a different character; textured, nutty, with great acidity.

After we finished the whites, next came the pink! The Rosé.

This Rosé was made from Spanish grapes called Mencìa. I’d never heard of this variety before, so I was super keen to try it. In fact, Olivers Taranga are the first in Australia to be growing Mencìa grapes. After the vines were planted and the grapes were picked, Olivers Taranga decided to test it out by making a Rosé. Turns out it was a success, and it’s now into its 4th vintage!

What’s a vintage? Vintages are used to describe the year grapes are picked in from a vine.

The flavour of the Rosé was refreshing, just like munching into a watermelon on a hot summers day. After tasting the wine, it left me with a warming toffee-like finish in my mouth. Delicious!

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Those watermelon summer feels

Now it was time to move on to the reds! Here’s where the party is at! There is nothing better than sitting down with a glass of red, cosied up in front of a fire during Winter.

The Grenache was the first up on the red wine tasting list.

The Grenache, for Olivers Taranga, is more of a traditional variety. It’s one they feel works well with their philosophy of trying new things, but also sticking to well known structured wines like the Grenache. It had a slight oaky and pepperyiness to it, and was described as an easy pizza drinking wine. Hello! Any wine that’s teamed with pizza has my tick of approval.


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Wine – Tick!, Pizza – Tick! Happy Days

Next up there were two more traditional style of wines – the Shiraz variety. It was asked what would be the plural of Shiraz – which Jane, the Fabulous Ladies Wine Society host, aptly stated that it was ‘Shirazeses’. Try say that one!

A fun fact about Olivers Taranga: Their Shiraz grape also goes into making Penfolds Grange – a high quality red wine

To start off the Shiraz tastings we had the 2015 Olivers Taranga Shiraz, which was one of their newly released wines. Alongside the new released Shiraz was an older release; the 2013 Olivers Taranga HJ Reserve Shiraz. This wine took on a dark choc, rum and raisin flavour which was velvety and smooth – wow, sounds like I’ve just described a block of Cadbury rum and raisin. Yum!

And for the finalè, to cap off the night, we finished off with a 20 year old sticky fortified wine called The Banished.

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So much stickiness! The Banished

Again, a great story as to how this one came about – second generation brothers to the winery used to live the good life of drinking, smoking and gambling rather than working on the vineyard. As a result they were banished. Ruth Oliver, married to Archibald Oliver, took over the winery and was head winemaker. You go girl!

So there you have it, some fabulous ladies in wine, making great bottles for the rest of us all to enjoy. To all the ladies in wine out there, Cheers!


Until next time winos,


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On the Sixteenth day of Christmas my wine rack gave to me a Medhurst Rosé

Yes Tis the season for a Rosé. I’ve now featured a couple of Rosé’s in the advent wine calendar, even a frosé!

It’s on the top of my list as THE Summer wine. It’s a great alternative than just the usual white you may lean towards. It’s even a great wine to take with you when you go sailing! So fancy!

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Look! I’m on a boat!

This Rosé hails from Medhurst Wines in the Yarra Valley in Victoria. It was even crowned best Rosé at the Yarra Valley Wine Show in 2016!

It’s so deserving of the accolade.

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What a winner!

The wine is made from a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and is a beautiful light pink colour. Wondering how Rosé gets its pink colour? see my blog post here!

Melbourne, you are such a tease with your good weather. You make me want to drink Rosé.
It’s crisp and refreshing flavours of strawberry and tarty fruits, like raspberries and citrus, make me feel like I’m eating a dessert, but without the sweetness.

“Deliciously elusive fresh fruits including strawberry and raspberry are supported by white blossom of jasmine and citrus. The 2016 Medhurst Rosé shows bright personality of the Shiraz bringing freshness and liveliness to the wine, and the copper-hue from the Cabernet brings the fine drying finish and amazing persistence of flavour, cleansing the palate ready for another mouthful.” http://www.medhurstwines.com.au

It’s great to have on its own, or with white meat, or even with a cheeky cheese.

Until next time winos



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On the eighth day of Christmas my wine rack gave to me a Tahbilk Grand Tawny

To settle you in to Thursday evening, and prepare you for Friyay, a cheeky Tawny after dinner is a great choice!

I’ve featured this wine on my blog before – ‘hop yourself to nagambie over the Easter long weekend for some great wine’ It’s so good that it deserves a place in the advent wine calendar – It’s the Tahbilk Grand Tawny.
From one of Australia’s oldest wineries, founded in 1860, this port delivers all the deliciousness and stickiness that you look for in a port.


The historic buildings at Tahbilk Winery

Pour yourself a glass of this, and it will feel like you’re sipping on Christmas cake. What better wine to get you excited and geared up for the day the man in the big red suit arrives!

The other beauty is that it comes in a 750ml bottle, which means it will keep providing you with little glasses of joy for a while. Generally, when you do open one a bottle of port, consumption should happen in 3 months for it to be at its optimum level, which is plenty of time to savor and enjoy it.

“This impressive fortified has had extended ageing in seasoned oak barrels and shows classic tawny colour. The nose exhibits distinguished aromas of walnut and prune with a complex mix of dried fruits. The palate is deeply flavoured and concentrated with characteristic caramel, toffee, walnut and fruitcake flavours, whilst the finish is long and lingers well into an evening of quiet contemplation!” www.tahbilk.com.au

Until next time winos


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On the third day of Christmas my wine rack gave to me a Jansz Brut Vintage

Day 3 in the Christmas wine advent calendar.

A Saturday night is one of those nights where a nice sparkling wine is in order, and a great drink to take to a Christmas party. 

This sparkling wine is one for the ladies to get those heels on for, and for the gents to throw on that shirt.

A Jansz Tasmania 2010 Vintage Cuvee


There’s a few varieties in the Jansz range, including a Premium Cuvee, a Premium Rose, Vintage Cuvee, a Vintage Rose plus a few more.

The Vintage Cuvee is a good ‘middle of the range’ sparkling from the Jansz range. It’s silky, smooth and creamy, with a freshness to it that will make you want to pop another bottle!

Using the classic method of making sparkling wine (dare I say it, Champagne style), the conditions that this wine is grown in,is similar to that of the Champagne region.

Hope you enjoy!

“Very pale gold with a delicate bead. Aromas of lemon curd and white flowers with underlying hints of freshly baked brioche and clotted cream. Elegant, layered and powerful with creme brûlée notes and candied citrus peel.” http://www.jansz.com.au

Until next time wino’s



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The bottle off – Screw cap wine vs. Corked wine

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Credit: Ralph Unden


To screw or not to screw

Mind out of the gutter please. I’m talking about screw caps vs. the good old traditional cork. If you go to your nearest bottle shop, or your wine cellar, for those of you that have one, you will notice almost 99% of wine bottles are now bottled with a screw cap rather than a cork. Screw caps are nothing new. In fact, screw caps have actually been around for over 40 years, with the branded name ‘Stelvin caps’ being commercially produced back in the 1970’s. A French creation, the screw cap among Australian wine makers has rapidly gained popularity in since the 2000’s.


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Credit: Robert Hodge



So are screw caps really better than corks? To shed some light on this matter, I decided to make a pros and cons list of the screw cap.

The pros

Screw caps really do keep your wine in better condition

A secure seal means that no air can enter the bottle, resulting in the wine being able to retain its flavour and characteristics when first bottled. The humble cork, on the other hand, can change in shape over time, allowing air to enter the bottle and spoil your wine. Eww. Have you ever tasted a spoiled wine? While it won’t make you sick, it will give you a nasty look on your face when drinking it, similar to if you drank a bottle of vinegar.


You can keep your wine for longer

The secure seal means you can store that bottle of goodness for much longer than a cork would. Not only that, but you can also reseal the bottle once opened for drinking later on; that’s if you can resist the temptation of pouring yourself another glass – Go on, you deserve it. You’ve had a long day.


Screw capped wine bottles can be kept standing up, rather than lying down in a wine rack

While I do love the look and old school charm of a wine rack, the convenience of being able to store my wine standing up suits me down to a tee. I have a lot of floor space I can fill.


No odours can enter a screw capped wine

I don’t recall anyone saying ‘I love it when my wine tastes like fridge’.


You can easily open them

Quick and easy access, with a simple twist of a screw cap means you can throw out those bottle openers, and free up your cutlery draw.


They’re recyclable

Always a bonus when the environment is involved.


The cons

The demise of the Champagne cork

While I understand the ease of opening a screw capped wine, I really do hope that the champagne bottle retains its cork. The sound of that cork when popping a bottle screams ‘celebration’ to me. I don’t think a screw cap would ever be able to replace that. It would be just like opening up a bottle of soft drink.


No bottle openers in the cutlery draw

Probably shouldn’t have been so hasty when throwing them out earlier.


BYO Restaurants charging you a corkage fee with a screw capped bottle

Really? You want me to pay you for unscrewing my bottle? If you really must charge me, rather than charging a corkage fee, please charge me a ‘screwage’ fee, and I will be happy.


Credit: Jeff Kubina

Credit: Jeff Kubina


So there we go. The more screwed capped bottles in my life, the better my wine will be. I’ll pop the champagne cork for that.



Until next time wino’s,



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