There’s a new wine website that’s welcome news to both the wine savvy and those who aspire to be so. It’s informative, educative and approachable, but certainly not prohibitive considering it features some of Australia’s best credentialed winemakers. It’s www.iconicwinemakers.com.au and its founder, John Quinn, defines an iconic winemaker as one who has learnt their trade building some of our largest corporate wine brands, often lending their talent to famous old world wine regions in France, Italy and Germany, and now make their own wine under their own label. A 30-year career wine expert, John has trodden the long and lonely road from clueless to connoisseur, and he wants to fast track you...
JOHN SAYS: “My favourite white wine is a chardonnay. So what drives me to this iconic variety? Give me five different winemakers from five different regions and I’ll show you five completely different wines. As a white wine that does see regular use of oak I have a simple guideline. If the region is a warmer climate, the grapes will be picked earlier during vintage hence won’t handle too much oak maturation. The cooler the climate, the longer the grape stays on the vine, the fuller the flavour, and the ability to handle more oak contact. Check out Simon Gilbert’s version and enjoy the pear juice characters on the finish… sublime.”
BEST WITH: TO COMPARTMENTALISE CHARDONNAY TO A SPECIFIC FOOD IS TO ASK A VICTORIAN WHEN HE SHOULD WATCH THE AFL…. ANY TIME IS A GOOD TIME... JUST RELAX AND ENJOY.
JOHN SAYS: “Like we talk Terroir in the wine industry we also have it in our food and Australia’s climate and natural resources lend us to producing world class seafood. Our seafood contains the good natural oils so to offset that our instinct is to squeeze a wedge of lemon or lime over our meal. Think of Semillon as your wedge in a bottle, particularly those from the Hunter. As an International show judge once told me, The Hunter should only produce Semillon and Semillon should only come from the Hunter. The Shiraz producers were horrified but anyho. Andrew Margan’s 2014 limited release is a perfect example of this style of wine, lemon, lime full of freshness.”
BEST WITH: EARLY PICKED DURING VINTAGE THEY HAVE WONDERFUL FRESH CITRUS CHARACTERS
JOHN SAYS: “Our ANZAC brothers really drove what has become a white wine phenomenon but don’t discount our local winemakers. The Kiwi style is a little lighter with more mineral characters but in Australia I like to look for styles that have more depth and length. Look for wines from Tumbarumba, Adelaide Hills and Western Australia. I came across a wine from Larry Cherubino which immediately took my interest. Larry’s style is more full bodied than our Kiwi cousins. Larry uses new clones that he says are more about flavour and tannins; and interestingly has used some oak maturation, not normally found in the production of Sauvignon Blanc. It’s not often a winemaker talks tannins in Sauvignon Blanc but his subtle nuances are there to enjoy.”
BEST WITH: BECAUSE OF ITS FULLER FLAVOUR, MATCH IT WITH FULLER FLAVOURED FOOD…TRY A GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST WITH A CREAMY SAUCE. LEAVE THE ASPARAGUS AND GOATS CHEESE TO THE KIWI TYPES.
JOHN SAYS: “When I first started in the industry in the mid 1980’s I think we were confused about how to make Pinot. We had anywhere from Wynns Coonawarra making a Burgundian style to James Halliday making what some called cordial (harsh). Winemakers will tell you it’s not an easy grape to champion. Once the industry realised it wasn’t all things to all regions the style started to take an identity and the best suited regions took ownership. And one of those regions was the Mornington Peninsula. And if you’re thinking Mornington then no better to consult than Rollo Crittenden. Lots of cherry fruit, subtle tannin and a soft acid finish that I think defines Australian Pinot Noir.”
BEST WITH: WHAT FOOD DO I MATCH WITH PINOT? IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK AND QUACKS LIKE A DUCK IT’S PROBABLY A DUCK. WHETHER YOU’RE LUNCHING WITH OFFICE COLLEAGUES IN THE CITY OR DINING WITH THE FAMILY AT YOUR LOCAL CHINESE ORDER THE PINOT WITH THE PEKING DUCK. YOU’LL BE THE STAR OF THE TABLE.
JOHN SAYS: “Don’t know much about the variety? Well, you’re not alone. Think Mediterranean type climate and lifestyle and you probably get the idea. It’s why McLaren Vale winemakers are making the stuff due to their proximity to the beach. But wow, Suzanne Little has now pioneered Sangiovese in the Hunter for 15 years and it’s time to take notice. I tasted this wine recently and was immediately taken by the smoky nose and spicy savoury finish.”
BEST WITH: CLOSING MY EYES I THINK OF A SUNDAY ARVO SHARING A PLOUGHMAN’S LUNCH WITH A GROUP OF FRIENDS. DO IT — YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED.”
JOHN SAYS: “Like Chardonnay, I’m in awe of how we produce such diverse styles of Shiraz, dependent on where the grapes and the winemaker have come from. Andrew Thomas from the Hunter only produces Semillon and Shiraz. You have to Admire someone that is that committed he gives 50% of his life to a red grape hanging off a vine. He has made this style in typical Hunter fashion — intentionally lighter bodied, more elegant, subtle earthy characters matured in older oak barrels. ‘Thommo has just released his 2014 DJV Shiraz with many Hunter winemakers are rating a 10 out 10. Some say it’s the best since 1965. Nick Haselgrove on the other hand comes from McLaren Vale, a Mediterranean style climate which lends to the fruit being left on the vine later during vintage. This produces fruit showing sweeter riper juice, bigger mouth feel with a bit of mocha and liquorice. Nick uses mainly new French oak. Both great wines.”
BEST WITH: EAT WITH SLOWCOOKED RED MEATS. SLOW COOKING AND SHIRAZ SHOULD WALK DOWN THE AISLE.
Let’s face it, you’ve taken them to the footy, the cricket and the races so why not engage your clients and build relationships with something different. www.iconicwinemakers.com.au Corporate Tasting program is an event you own and the format allows personal interaction between you and your business partners. We tailor the tasting to suit your and your client’s needs.
Enjoy an evening (or afternoon) tasting wines from some of Australia’s most credentialed winemakers. John Quinn will take you through what defines an Iconic Winemaker, their favourite region and their preferred grape variety. Educational, informative but an easy approach to appreciating wine your clients will remember.
This is a unique opportunity your competitors aren’t doing and something you can’t buy.
Click here to find out more and discuss the opportunities available.
How many of you can honestly say you knew the Hunter was Australia’s oldest wine region.
Last Friday was a lunch that everyone should put on their bucket list, the 2016 Hunter Valley Wine Show luncheon. If you’re lucky enough to score a ticket one year do not decline under any circumstances.
What great news it was to see our 3 Hunter winemakers enjoy success.
Suzanne Little scored a trophy for a wine that came from a vineyard she knows well; ‘The fruit comes from Roxburgh Vineyard which is where all the great Roxburgh Chardonnay’s came from, so it’s nice to keep a connection with my old stomping ground’, said Suzanne after accepting the award.
Andrew Margan picked up a trophy and managed to selfie this number to us upon receipt. With Spring on our doorstep and fresh seafood on the menu Marg’s Semillon is a must in both fridge and cellar.
Andrew Thomas got the Silver Bullet Award for the International Judge. Unfortunately Andrew had to get to the footy and didn’t make afters. Don’t forget Thommo’s ’14 DJV Shiraz is now available.
Father’s Day is now only 11 days away and I’m thinking you haven’t got your much loved Dad a present. Well it’s not too late to buy him a case of wine from Iconic Winemakers, but get in quick to ensure we get it to you in time.
And to show your Dad you love him even more we’ll send you a block of Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate to share as he opens the first bottle.
As Iconic Winemakers are world class in their trade we thought we’d link with the World’s finest chocolate. Winemakers (more likely marketers) love a descriptor. Read a wine’s back label and you’ll see such statements as ‘nuances of fig and stewed apple’; ‘supple pear drop on the back palate’; ‘a hint of smoky oak with a cigar box finish’.
Which brings me to Thomas Schnetzler, Master Chocolatier at Lindt who describes the Excellence Block as;
Expertly crafted from the finest cocoa beans, this full-bodied chocolate is masterfully balanced, boasting deep roasted cocoa flavours, which gives way to subtle fruit undertones.
I reckon Thomas could be a winemaker, or at least a marketer in the wine industry.
Lindt Australia's Steve Loane, left, is backing Iconic Winemakers, a seller of wines from corporate winemakers, and an idea conceived by ex-Penfolds marketing executive John Quinn.
The chief executive of Lindt Australia, Steve Loane, has been with the chocolatier for 19 years and isn't planning on going anywhere, but he's backing a wine start-up based on the joys of escaping corporate restrictions.
Mr Loane has put $50,000 to date into Iconic Winemakers, an online marketer focused on selling premium wines for winemakers who have made their name at a big brand, before going out on their own.
"If you picture the great Max Schubert, who created Grange, leaving Penfolds to start Schubert's Wines - that's an Iconic Winemaker," said John Quinn, a childhood friend of Mr Loane who conceived the business and will run it day to day.
The maker of Grange from 1984 to 1990, Daryl Groom, is among the now-independent winemakers whose product Iconic Winemakers will sell. Others include another Penfolds departee, Troy Kalleske; Hardy's alumni Lany Cherubino; Tyrell's chief winemakers Andrew Thomas and Andrew Margan, and Samantha Connew from Wirra Wirra Vineyards and Tower Estate.
Mr Quinn spent nine years into the early 1990s marketing for Penfolds' then parent, Southcorp Wines, and understands the urge to escape.
"Marketing and winemaking drove the place back then. The Lindemans Bin 65 was the best wine under 10 bucks in the world, a lot of winemaker influence, probably 20 per cent of the parcel saw the inside of an oak barrel," he said.
"But now like at all the big brands, the accountants have stuck their nose in. These big deals get done with the big retailers and suddenly accounts is saying to production 'your cost of goods has to come down $5 a case'. Then the winemaker gets told 'no oak barrels, we'll do oak chips'."
While big corporates were still the best places to learn the overall craft and business of winemaking, Mr Quinn said they were no place for artisans.
"The drive for shareholder returns continually de-engineers the product," he said. ''These winemakers don't want some buyer saying 'make me something for $25'. I just want what they're renowned for."
Winter brings a further disadvantage to the salaried winemakers, as they are expected to stay at the winery performing administrative tasks whereas independent Australian winemakers can contract to northern hemisphere wineries, bringing their all-round skills . and learning new ones, Mr Quinn added.
The irony of Mr Quinn's critique of big-corporate production is not lost on his backer Mr Loane, who runs the 500-person Australian arm of a Swiss multinational that sold $2 billion of confectionery in the first half of 20l6.
"Some of what John's talking about is probably causing the 'premiumisation' trend we're seeing in a lot of food and beverage categories," Mr Loane said.
"People are drinking less wine and eating less chocolate, but when they do they want the good stuff. Lindt's whole Excellence range with the 85 per cent and 90 per cent cocoa was a response to that."
As a former coach of Gordon's Shute Shield rugby side, Mr Quinn is combining his network with Mr Loane's to offer tasting nights to corporates.
Bottles sold directly at such events, or through the Iconic Winemakers website, will attract a commission the founders said was within the online wine industry standard range of 20-35 per cent, with higher volume relationships at the lower end of that range.
I was lucky to enjoy a trip down the Rhine River through the Moselle region some years ago. The vineyards planted on the slopes are just amazing. They rise from the river at up to 65 degrees and defy gravity. Workers who tend the vineyards do so in cable cars going vertical and then run along horizontal tracks parallel to the vines. It’s not the most dangerous job in the world but deaths are not uncommon during vintage. The attached photo is not photoshopped, it’s a common site.
As an on-line retailer it’s not often we get the opportunity to get personal with our customers and physically taste our wines. We’ve taken a stand at the Sydney Good Food and Wine Show Fri Aug 5th to Sun 7th. It’s our first major event and we want YOU to join us.
We’ll taste a Semillon that loves seafood; Chardonnays from the full bodied style to a more elegant version; a Sauvignon Blanc with a difference. You’ll also get to taste some alternative red styles such as a Sangiovese, a Zinfandel and a Tempranillo. Then look at some classic Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz wines from our iconic big red regions.
Enjoy a fun day out with friends at the Good Food & Wine Show discovering new ideas, products, tips and hints to inspire your next foodie and wine adventure.
As a friend of ours we’d like you join us and enjoy a 20% discount off tickets booked on line.
Simply go to www.goodfoodshow.com.au
# Click on ‘BUY TICKETS’
# ‘Get tickets’
# ‘Enter Coupon Code’ - ‘EXHIBITS’
See you there.
Is this the vintage of the Century?
When I was a brand manager for Wynns Coonawarra Estate the outstanding 1990 vintage wines were coming up for release. Heralded by all, we marketers dubbed it ‘The Vintage of the Century’. Then winemaker Peter Douglas was horrified at such grandstanding. Funny days. Whilst world renowned, our winemakers are pretty humble people and don’t like head office going off. They prefer what’s in the bottle does the talking. That’s why most of them leave the corporate bullshit and go out on their own.
Which brings us to Andrew ‘Thommo’ Thomas and the release of his 2014 Hunter Valley Shiraz wines. Some have pondered could it be the best Hunter vintage to date; even more are convinced it will prove to be in the top 3; and most have little doubt it’s at least a 9 out of 10 if not a 10 out of 10.
- John Quinn
2014 Hunter Valley Shiraz the best vintage since 1965?
There's been a LOT of chatter about the outstanding quality of 2014 Hunter Valley shiraz. Some say it's the best since the legendary 1965 vintage.
Well I was only just a twinkle in my father’s eye back then, but it's safe to say that 2014 is certainly a 'once or twice in a generation' kind of vintage, and this is definitely the best range of wines I have released in my 30 consecutive years of winemaking in the Hunter.
Warm without being stinking hot.
Dry without being in drought.
Picking decisions totally based on fruit maturity and not distracted by the weather...
The wines are certainly in the fuller end of the medium bodied spectrum, but there's a real 'juiciness' to the fruit and amazing silky/supple tannins giving these wines the structure for excellent early drinking appeal, as well as remarkable longevity. I would love to have seen those 65's on release......
So what about the wine you ask...?
The fruit for my Deja Vu shiraz is again sourced from the sandy loam soils of the Trevena vineyard on Hermitage Road (just over the fence from the Braemore vineyard), A quite intentionally lighter bodied tribute to traditional Hunter River Burgundy (Hunter shiraz for Pinot lovers....) and this 'pretty' red fruited style certainly punches well above its weight.
You have probably noticed some relatively hefty pricing from some Hunter producers taking advantage of unprecedented demand for this outstanding vintage. There are a lot of wines with a $100+/$150+/$200+ per bottle price tag.
I am pleased to report that I have maintained my usual pricing on all my wines.
I certainly don't mind being known as a making some of the finest quality wines in the region, as well as providing arguably the best value for money. Winemaking and vintage variation is all about light and shade, and I want my customers to buy my wines every year, not just cherry pick the outstanding vintages.....