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John Quinn
21 August 2017 | John Quinn

Value vs Cheap

Like many bricks and mortar wine outlets, a lot of on-line wine businesses rely on discounting as their modus operandi . They’ll continually announce ‘don’t pay $22 for this bottle, just pay $9.99’. The reason it’s being sold cheap is because it didn’t sell at the original price or most likely it was never worth that to start. One of Australia’s best known retailers puts new products into their system 25% above the normal retail for the first couple of months so when they put it on special they’ll claim a saving of 40% off their retail price. Discounted on-line wines are often selling non-moving old label stock or distressed stock….in other words dormant stock; it’s dormant for a reason.

At Iconic Winemakers we prefer to talk value for money, not how cheap a wine is. A $40 bottle will often be better value for money than a discounted 10 buck bottle. All our Iconic Winemakers are icons of the industry and the wines they put forward are their signature varieties they and their region do best. Our winemakers aim to deliver beyond expectations, not make to a price point.

Here are a few examples of our wines that deliver beyond expectations.

Andrew Thomas.
Semillon is to the Hunter as what the Hunter is to Semillon and there’s arguably no better custodian than Andrew Thomas (Margan’s makes great ones too). The current vintage of Thommo’s Semillon is the newly released 2017 Braemore. Thommo recently told me;

"I’ve just released my 2017 Braemore Semillon (2016 all sold out), so I’m humbled but proud to say this label has been included in Halliday’s TOP100 wines of the year for the past 5 vintages in a row. To my knowledge, no other single label has achieved this. World class wine at only $33.00/bottle, drink it as a youngster or put it away in the cellar - has to be one of the great bargains of Australian wine."


Troy Kalleske.
Campbell Mattinson said of the Greenock Shiraz;
"If this wine had the word Penfolds on the front label it would be sold at three times the price. If you like Barossa shiraz, Kalleske Greenock Shiraz should sit in the centre of your sights. Another stunner under this label. So smooth, so rich, so grunty, so substantial. It’s a wine of warm, inky depths and long, fruit-drenched tannin. Vanilla cream, blackberry, saturated plums and cloves. A mouth-filling red, done terrifically well”.


Corrina Wright.
Originally from Italy the Fiano grape is a relative newcomer to the Australian terroir. That said McLaren Vale winemakers seem to have taken to it (see also Briony Hoare from Beach Rd) like they have many of the Mediterranean grape varieties that suit warm ripening days and cool nights tempered by sea breezes. Corrina has this news for us;

Oliver’s Taranga 2016 has recently won the best white wine at the 2017 Melbourne International Wine Show. In doing so the Corrina Wright lead winery saw it named the ‘McLaren Vale White Wine Winery of the Year’.


Tash Mooney.
When you do something you love, I gather you love something you do. After a lunch with Tash I got the distinct impression she loved making her Pinot Gris. Huon Hooke, arguably Australia’s most respected wine writer, agreed. Huon rated it South Australia’s No. 1 Pinot Gris. Not bad for a wine that only costs $22 a bottle. Tash told me; 

'This wine is a “Pinot Gris” style rather than a “Pinot Grigio” style and that means the wine has more intensity and character. This comes from riper fruit in the vineyard and a lot of lees work in the winery. A winemakers dream really'.


Larry Cherubino.
A new wine on our site is the 2016 Cherubino Great Southern Riesling; and with Spring seemingly sprung it’s about time to get out the ice bucket and fill up with some Riesling. The results for the James Halliday Wine Companion 2018 are out and this Riesling received an outstanding 96 points. Most people who get 96 usually become a doctor or a lawyer…..thankfully for us Larry chose winemaking. He says of his wines under this his ‘best of’ Cherubino label;

"The sum of our experiences and our best performing parcels of the vineyard come to be expressed in our Cherubino range. It’s the best of what we do, from Margaret River to Pemberton, to the regions of the Great Southern; our top one percent, and with each year, we improve the quality of our best. Handmade, with attention to detail taken at every step of the winemaking journey. They are our signature, the sign of our best work."

Time Posted: 21/08/2017 at 4:44 PM Permalink to Value vs Cheap Permalink
John Quinn
1 August 2017 | John Quinn

Angry Old Man

Our Iconic Winemakers weren’t happy when the Prime Minister announced new tax measures for the wine industry.

Time Posted: 01/08/2017 at 10:51 AM Permalink to Angry Old Man Permalink Comments for Angry Old Man Comments (15)
John Quinn
1 August 2017 | John Quinn

Clint Eastwood and Nick Haselgrove

When Nick Haselgrove was told by his corporate employers if didn’t toe the corporate line they’d have to let him go and do it his own way he said ‘Go ahead, make my day’.

Time Posted: 01/08/2017 at 10:41 AM Permalink to Clint Eastwood and Nick Haselgrove Permalink
John Quinn
1 August 2017 | John Quinn

Kylie Minogue & Sorby Adams

When Kylie first tasted Sorby Adams Cabernet Shiraz the first thing she said was ‘Can’t get you out of my head’.

Time Posted: 01/08/2017 at 10:31 AM Permalink to Kylie Minogue & Sorby Adams Permalink Comments for Kylie Minogue & Sorby Adams Comments (3)
John Quinn
20 April 2017 | John Quinn

James Halliday’s 5 Red Star Rating

Recently we showcased some of our wines that had scored top 90’s under the James Halliday points system. In each year’s Wine Companion Halliday awards wineries a Star rating. The best get a 5 Star and those that have gone beyond expectations receive a 5 Red Starrating. Here Halliday explains his adjudication process and below we highlight some of Iconic Winemakers 5 Red Star wineries. 

Outstanding winery regularly producing wines of exemplary quality and typicity. Will have at least two wines rated at 95 points or above, and had a five-star rating for the previous two years. 282 wineries, 10%.Where the winery name is itself is printed in red, it is a winery generally acknowledged to have had a long track record of excellence in the context of its region — truly the best of the best. 102 wineries, 3.6.


Geoff Hardy 2014 Hand Crafted Teroldego.
With an Iconic industry name like Hardy you can’t help but think Geoff would assume 5 Red Star billing. Geoff Hardy’s great-great grandfather, the original Thomas Hardy, first planted grapes in South Australia in the early 1850s and was one of the founding fathers of the Australian wine industry. Dan Traucki, industry consultant at Wine Assist, when writing an article on alternative varieties named the Hand Crafted label by Geoff Hardy as a star performer.


Andrew Margan 2014 Limited Release White Label Shiraz.
The 2014 Hunter vintage has many accolades. Some winemakers called it out as an 11 out of 10; some said the best ever; others played it down but certainly said the best since the much heralded 1965 vintage…….but all agree in the top 3 vintages the Hunter has ever produced. A lot of winemakers have sold out/pre sold their ‘14’s but we have some from the Margan vineyard for you.


Larry Cherubino 2016 ‘Great Southern’ Riesling.
Originally we had the Cherubino Sauvignon Blanc but have now changed over to a Great Southern Riesling and the ‘Rivers End’ Cabernet. The Great Southern Riesling is an interesting wine. My notes show citrus on the front palate, a flinty mid palate and characters that deliver more body and length than say a South Australian counterpart, much like his Sauv Blanc. Larry’s a star of the industry.


Andrew Thomas 2016 Braemore Semillon.
Every time I talk to Thommo he tells me stocks are low and our subscribers should get in quick. I called his bluff a couple of times but it was me with egg on my face as I couldn’t get stock. Hunter Semillon is a wonderful wine and this is no different; Halliday thought so when he named it in his Top 100 for an unprecedented 5th time. Andrew only produces Shiraz and Semillon…..they are his passions.


Time Posted: 20/04/2017 at 4:02 PM Permalink to James Halliday’s 5 Red Star Rating Permalink
John Quinn
10 March 2017 | John Quinn

James Halliday’s points system

James Halliday’s points system.

Many winemakers take great delight in getting their wines highly pointed by respected industry figure James Halliday. It’s a telling reward for their hard work and skill for them and their team. Likewise, the eyes light up of Sales and Marketing departments as their job just became a little easier. If you’re lucky enough to get a 95 or 96, Halliday rates your wine as Outstanding, anything above is Exceptional. If you get below 80 Mr Halliday says ‘not recommended’. Below are some thoughts from James on the points system and then we look at some of our Iconic Winemakers and their highly pointed wines.

A number of notable wine writers (most notable of all Hugh Johnson of the UK) refuse to allot points as a matter of principle, arguing an intelligent reader will be able to read between the lines, as it were, and have the same opportunity to assess the style/quality without recourse to the ‘dumbing down’ impact of points.

The problem is that, whether it be 100 points, 20 points, 5 stars or whatever, it is the first piece of information readers eyes are attracted to, the words thereafter read in the context of the points. As a somewhat futile exercise in trying to change that process, I do place the points in the Wine Companion after the tasting note.

It seems to me that what is important about scores is that the writer is consistent in his or her application of points, and that there is a meaningful spread of the top and bottom ranges.

Thus, for better or worse, the 20-point scale is effectively a 9-point scale, ranging between 10 and 19.

The 100-point scale is effectively a 20-point scale, ranging between 80 and a highly-improbable 100. It seems to me to be unimportant whether reviewers are ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ in allotting their points as long as they maintain a spread and are consistent. Thus Tim White is joined by Andrew Jefford of the UK in being a ‘hard’ taskmaster, deliberately restricting, it would seem, the top scale to 90 or less. What they miss is the reverse side of the coin: 80 points from either Jefford or White will be seen as a generous mark denoting a good wine. The same score from myself or other writers happily awarding points well into the 90s is the mark of a very ordinary, although not outright faulty, wine.

Again on a purely personal basis, 97 points is normally my highest score for a table wine, with less than 5 out of 9000 wines tasted in any 12-month period receiving 98 points. No table wine receives 99 or 100, the exceptions being Seppeltsfield’s 100 Year Old Para (supreme unto itself, and falling outside all of the normal indicia) and, with a rush of blood to my head on one occasion to ‘98 Krug.


Andrew Margan’s Limited Release 2015 White Label Semillon.
95 Points.

‘The Hunter should only make Semillon and Semillon should only come from the Hunter’ said an International judge at the Royal Sydney Wine Show some years ago. Whilst the Hunter produces many good other varieties we get the gist of what he was saying. It was the ultimate compliment to a well-made Hunter Semillon and certainly Margs has this covered.


Andrew Thomas’ 2016 Braemore Semillon.
96 Points.
Thommo’s a rare breed in that he only produces wines from Semillon and Shiraz but it’s a strategy that pays dividends and the ’16 Braemore Semillon was recognised by Halliday when he named it in his top 100 wines for 2016.


Nick Haselgrove’s Old Faithful 2012 Top of the Hill Shiraz.
95 Points.

When Nick bottled this he would have been looking forward to seeing how the combination of big ripe fruit from a benchmark vintage, obvious natural tannins and the characteristics of new oak would bring this wine to fruition. Well he’s happy and Halliday agrees.


Dean Hewitson’s 2014 Miss Harry Rhone Blend.
96 Points.
Another of Iconic Winemakers to make Halliday’s 2016 Top 100 so why don’t we just let James tell us his thoughts. “A blend of grenache, shiraz, mourvèdre, carignan and cinsault, this is flush with gloriously juicy red, blue and purple fruits, the components picked with unerring accuracy. Hewitson weaves some of the magic of the Rhône Valley’s iconic Chateau Rayas, the ultimate compliment."



Starting from this month all people who purchase wine from Iconic Winemakers have the chance to win 1 of 2 mixed 6 packs every month. We want you to share your thoughts of the wine you’ve just purchased  and for your time and effort you’ll have the chance to win. Here’s how it works;

1.Order your wine through Iconic Winemakers.

2.After opening a bottle write in 25 words or less your own tasting note or a food match and why you chose this dish.

3.We’ll adjudicate the best or most creative each month and giveaway 2 mixed 6 packs to the recipients.

4.The wines you receive won’t be what you’ve ordered as we want you to try wine from other winemakers for future purchase.

5. When you receive your wine just go to , scroll your mouse over ‘Wines’ and click on ‘WIN FREE WINE’ and enter.


John Quinn
20 December 2016 | John Quinn

The Gift Card from Iconic Winemakers

You haven’t got Dad, the boss or your BFF a present yet. He’s got everything; she’s so hard to buy for; it’s the same every year. It’s now less than a week away but don’t panic, I’d lay London to a brick they all enjoy good wine. Why not give them a Gift Card from Iconic Winemakers.

John Quinn
12 December 2016 | John Quinn

University uncorks major winery expansion in South Australia

PLANS for a major expansion of the largest teaching winery in Australia have been released for the first time.

The University of Adelaide wants to more than double the size of its Hickinbotham Roseworthy Wine Science Laboratory at the Waite campus in the southern suburbs of the South Australian capital.

The existing winery has been the centrepiece of a wine hub that has about 150 researchers from the university and co-located partners in wine and grape science – about 70per cent of Australia’s total research capability – since it was built in 1996. About half of the students in the winemaking courses there are typically from outside of Australia.

Professor of Oenology and Director of the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production Vladimir Jiranek said the training and research winery was arguably the best facility of its kind in the world when it opened two decades ago.

“At that time it was servicing 20 students and a six-tonne vintage,” he said.

“Now we have close to 100 students using the winery each year and a vintage of about 120 tonnes. The demands on our winery are intense and the opportunities to develop new approaches and technologies around all aspects of winemaking require an expanded and more sophisticated facility.

“The University of Adelaide is helping the industry meet future challenges and we need to build a winery to match.”

The plans, roughly priced at between $22 to $28 million, include more than doubling the existing floor space and adding a second level. The new winery would include expanded chemistry labs, separate teaching and research areas and a small distillery and brewery.

Prof Jiranek said the university would look for partners such as the co-located Australian Wine Research Institute.

“This is something that we probably needed five years ago but the reality is that it is quite an expensive undertaking,” he said.

“If it was built in five years I’d be very happy.”

Prof Jiranek said once the plans had been finalised, detailed drawings would be developed and a fundraising committee formed to raise capital from within the university and externally.

“We’ve worked with an engineer who has been involved in building quite a few wineries and winery extensions in industry so we’ve gone with them to make sure that what we have in mind is achievable,” he said.

“The university won’t be able to fund the whole thing so we’ll be looking for some partners and to the industry for support.

“This is an important facility where the future industry practitioners are trained so in the interests of industry ensuring they get the best graduates then it would be great if they were able to support the facility.”

AWRI Managing Director Dan Johnson supported the winery revamp, which would also benefit the 120 staff at his Waite Campus-based organisation.

He said an expanded facility would cater for the student demand, create separate spaces to allow teaching and research to be done simultaneously and allow the infrastructure to reflect the quality of the training and research that is done

The University of Adelaide also recently launched a new wine label for some of the 400 different wines from sparkling whites through to fortified wines and liqueurs it makes.

Professor Jiranek said the wine produced at the Waite campus was of a high quality and had been a well-kept secret even within the university community.

He said the wine would likely be served at university functions and given as gifts.

“So we are very keen for our colleagues across the other campuses of the university to know that this is here and we have the ability to make great wines,” Prof Jiranek said.

“Why should we be spending money on buying wines from outside when we can showcase these?

“The label we had used in the past served us very well but it was time to modernise and celebrate the fact that this is a highly successful program, we intend on being here for the long run and we’ve got big plans for the future.”

South Australia is consistently responsible for almost 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production

There are 18 wine regions in South Australia, including the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Limestone Coast and Riverland.

Time Posted: 12/12/2016 at 8:49 AM Permalink to University uncorks major winery expansion in South Australia Permalink Comments for University uncorks major winery expansion in South Australia Comments (1)
John Quinn
9 December 2016 | John Quinn

Chair made of corks

That’s where all the corks have gone.

Time Posted: 09/12/2016 at 8:44 AM Permalink to Chair made of corks Permalink Comments for Chair made of corks Comments (11)