WanderCurtis Wine

Wine tastings, corporate events, reviews and recommendations

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Rockford Basket Press 2000 Barossa Shiraz

It had been 10 years since I last saw Dr Mike Fay.
The last time we met he very generously produced a bottle of Rockford Basket press 2000 Barossa Shiraz from his suitcase, having crossed the globe from Australia.
It was in great condition and was one of the few highlights of my time recovering from spinal surgery. Very much the catalyst to recovery I believe.
A decade later he turned up in Byron Bay a mere 10 hours drive North this time.
With great delight Mike delivered another bottle of Rockford Basket press 2000 Barossa Shiraz. It had been carefully maintained in his self built cellar.
This is one of my all time favourite wines, to get the chance to taste a 20 year old bottle, to share it and catch up with great mates from Junior Doctor jobs at the Wairau hospital was a treat I really never expected.
It didn’t disappoint. Ben, my son’s first reaction was of amazement, ‘what’s this? I’ve never tasted anything like it before’
Mike and I had to keep the bottle closely guarded and rationed it out with great care.
What a nose! Polished saddle leather, tar, lilies, savoury, hint of smoke and still some black fruit, though fading.
On the palate it had the most silky fine tannins a lovely mouthfeel and slipped down too easily.
The perfume developed over the next 15 minutes.. that’s how long the bottle lasted.
Thanks Mike…looking forward to 2030!

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Yalumba Wines of the Barossa Region with Chief Winemaker , Louisa Rose – October 5th

Following Adam’s two week wine tasting tour with Wine Australia in November, we chose some of our favourite wines for this dinner.

Barossa in South Australia is one of Australia’s oldest and greatest wine regions .

We were hosted by Yalumba’s Chief Winemaker Louisa Rose who is  one of Australia’s most experienced and talented winemakers. Her name is synonymous with Viognier in Australia.  In 2014 ‘The Age’ named Lou Australia’s Best Winemaker. Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family-owned winery founded in 1849 and unusually has it’s own cooperage and nursery.

Wines Tasted

Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvée 2011

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier

Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier

Yalumba The Scribbler Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz

Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz

Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz

Yalumba The Octavius Shiraz

Yalumba FSW8B Botrytis Viognier


Salt & pepper squid, chilli sauce
Pan-fried duck breast, baby vegetables , broccoli & wasabi purée
Chocolate mousse

The Viogniers particularly shone through. The Eden Valley Viognier full of fresh ripe apricots with a lovely texture and finish.

The Virgilius was outstanding. Almost Burgundian with depth texture smokiness long finish and beautiful balance.

This will age well for 10 years.Scored 96 points in a recent Decanter review by Matthew Jukes.


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Wine Australia Tour , November 2016, Yarra Valley

Inland Australia is  massive, equivalent to  the size of the United States. This leads to a continental effect. Warm North Westerly winds come  from inland. However a cooling effect comes from the  Southwesterlies from the southern ocean giving  Yarra Valley a cool climate. The geology is ancient, 550 million to 800 million years old, much older than most regions . There’s not many mountain ranges .The impact of  climate change  over the last 20 years has led to a harvest one to two days earlier each year .The length of the  growing season is the  same. This spring has been much wetter than usual. Higher red loam volcanic soils gives low tannin ideal for sparkling wines.

Oakridge Winery David Bicknell – Chief Winemaker and CEO gave us an insightful introduction to the region.

Eight chardonnays from 2015 similarly made, approximately 20% to 30% new oak for 10 months, whole bunch press, wild ferment, low or no Malo, low sulphur, leave on lees most years, bigger barrels. Chardonnay is very successful in the cool climate of this region. Typical flavours of white peach and melon.

De Bortoli AA5  Creamy, vanilla ,smokey, toasty, touch pineapple, less texture on the palate lacking length.

Yering station 2015 Lovely nose, complex, sl butter, toast smoky  nice toasty length.

Layla 2015 Helen and Joey Estate Less on nose, pineapple, hint toast,closed.

Giant steps 2015 Chardonnay melon,passionfruit, pineapple, background toast lovely texture mouthfeel balance length complexity ++ core citric backbone.

Seville Estate 2015 Flint smoke toast oak lovely texture crisp acid backbone length.

Oakridge 2015 Willow Lake Vineyard Ripe honey dew melon, finish crisp and citric slightly bitter.

Elmswood estate 2015 Some Oak smoke toast nice acid prominent.

Coldsteam Hills 2015 Toasty clean crisp vanilla integrated.

Winemaker thoughts -earlier picking keep sun off vines, good acid,low oak, fresher style, lovely integrated wines, cool climate grapefruit pith, keep compact fruit. This has changed over the years. The feeling is that previously the wines were overmade,  making big flashy wines. The changes have been spurred by multiple issues including market forces such as the proximity to the well informed Melbourne clientele and the need to counter the surge of New Zealand sauvignon. The confidence and increased expertise of local winemakers have helped enable this.


Eight Pinot Noirs 2015 Vintage

What is Yarra Pinot about? Red fruit and elegance, prettiness and food friendly. Soft tannin due to continentality. No fining, some unfiltered with a gentle approach. Whole bunch wild berry ferment helps promote perfume and elegance. Low percentage 10% to 15% new oak.  300L to 500L barrels, levels of toasting more subtle with careful selection of  oak. Low intervention, ‘my children could make this’ Hoddles Creek winemaker. Pinot Noir ranges from light to medium bodied with flavours of plum strawberry and raspberry.


Punt Road 2015 Red fruits long finish perfume and floral wild strawberry warmer part of valley more Malo

Giant steps Sexton Vineyard 2015 Red fruits  perfume spice length good acid core

Elmswood Estate Pinot Noir 2015 Herbal greener note candied cherry finish

De bortoli Riorret Lustatia Park vineyard 2015 More colour richer nose spicy notes strawberry ripe cherry summer pudding.Floral ripe fruit nice sl bitter finish,Cedar pencil shavings more tannin graphitic note

Journey Wines 2015 Sl more toasty smoky savoury earth forest floor good long finish +

Hoddles Creek Estate Pinot 2015 Medicinal mint herbal eucalyptus finish surrounded by forest

Oak ridge Willow Lake 2015 Spicy oak rich nose textured mouth feel long finish

Coldstream Hills Deer Farm 2015 Savoury long richer creamy mouthfeel uses 50% new oak sl smoky toast to finish

The wines showed lovely  freshness and purity with complexity and length and demonstrated what the Yarra Valley  can deliver. The wines were greatly appreciated over an exquisite lunch at Oakridge .


Four Pillars Gin with Cameron Mackenzie Juniper from Macedonia makes up 80% of the botanicals it gives a pine forest character. Coriander is the second most used botanical then  Cardamon from Guatemala, Star Anise  from Vietnam, Cassia a close cousin to cinnamon. Native Australian botanicals include, Lemon myrtle, cinnamon, leaf of Tasmanian pepper berry, green tea, white pepper 170 g in 600 litre, Lavender, Angelica root gives a  dusty old soily note and  acts as a  fixative. The base used is  wheat spirit. Fresh oranges are used  in the head of still,  leading  to infusion and  delicate extraction of citrus oils.



Rare Dry Gin  Mediterranean character

Navy Strength  Gin58.8% more Asia native Australian finger lime dried almost like Thai  basil leaf / Vietnamese mint, lime caviar ginger and turmeric .

Four Pillars Barerender Series Spiced negroni gin more orange and Indonesian pepper to combat Campari bitters . Cubeb Grains of paradise  from Africa

Four pillars Rockpool Pomelos schezuan peppers other,dry elegant

Coloured gins

Bloody Shiraz Gin Version of sloe gin acid ++  from sloes  add sugar,Trials of Yarra Shiraz worked best (Cabernet too herbaceous)  destem soak for 8 weeks 37.8 c No colour no sugar added 95 gl sugar colour stable,Nice sweet touch long delicious.

Four pillars barrel aged Gin  French oak barrels

Four pillars Christmas Gin in old rutherglen barrels distilled Christmas puddings,Aromatics flavor balance weight texture


Dinner at Gembrook Hill

This is the last winery in Yarra, 3 km from border with Gippsland owned by the  Marks family. Andrew Marks makes Gembrook Hill with  Timo Mayer. He also has his  own label The Wanderer, and started The  Melbourne Gin Company.

We were surrounded by some of Australia’s most talented winemakers – Luke Lambert, Gary Mills from Jamsheed and  Timo Mayer and were lucky enough to try a wide range of their excellent wines accompanied by slow cooked lamb falling off the bone.


Shiraz and Cabernet focus at Yering station

Cool climate, selection of wines to show diversity, some cofermented with viognier others with Marsanne.Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Yarra Cabernet ranges from full to medium-bodied with silky tannins and aromatic,floral and herbal characters.

Seven Shiraz’s from Yarra Valley

Innocent Bystander 2015 Savoury pepper spice black fruits,low crop not much length, drying finish grippy tannins.

Punt Road 2015 Tim Shand , Lighter esters fruity red, and black fruits pepper lighter tannins chalky nice length good acidic core tension freshness tension Pinot technique whole bunch

Giant Steps 2015 Richer riper complex nose dense core ripe blackberries dark plums spice pepper savoury lovely ripe grippy tannins savoury finish sl salty +

Paynes Rise 2014 Smoke rubber pepper savoury meaty chalky tannins good acid balance

Yering station Old Beenak road 2014 Sl smoke toast spicy peppery core good long length black fruits length +

Yering station Shiraz viognier Reserve 2014 Alcohol spice closed chalky sl green tannins

Yarra yering 2014 more old school, complex nose of turmeric  spice vanilla pepper black fruits touch oak savoury meaty salty long finish + + violets

Seven Cabernet Sauvignons from  Yarra Valley

Looking for ripeness picking has to be late to avoid greeness and tomato leaf. The feeling is  that an edge of leafiness is best , site sensitive, different from Margaret River and Coonawarra dry red if picked too late.

Punt Road 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Chalky drying tannins, closed hint cassis

Tokara Estate 2015 Oak spice delicate tobacco cedar full richer coffee tannins chalky ++

Warramunda 2014 Cassis mint menthol  tannins, blackcurrant finish

Yeringberg 2014 Cedar mint drying chalky tannins

Yarra yering 2014 60 % cabernet Complex liquorice spice oak cassis tobacco ++ softer but still lots tannins sillier long length

De Bortoli Estate 2014 Cassis spice mint herbaceous not vegetal

Yering station 2014 18 months barrel mint menthol cedar cassis Length ++ Power elegance Length lovely +


img_1675-copyWe finished the day with fine dining in Fitzroy, Melbourne with a selection of wines from the tour.

Best Western  Pinot Meunier 1999 was  remarkable, so much fruit for a wine of this age and great balance and length.

Huge thanks to Wine Australia and our tour leader Mark Davidson  for their generosity and organisation of this memorable journey through some of Australia’s fines wine regions.

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Wine Australia Tour November 2016 – Adelaide Hills

The Adelaide Hills is one of the largest geographical wine regions in Australia, and amongst the most diverse in terms of climate, soil and topography. Overall the climate is cool best suited to early ripening varieties. Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted white variety and tends towards ripe tropical flavours with hints of herbaceousness with crisp acidity. chardonnay produces complex medium bodied wines of which a significant amount is used in sparkling wine production. Adelaide Hills id the leading region in South Australia for high quality Pinot Noir typically medium bodies with ripe cherry and strawberry fruit with soft tannins .
 Regional Classics Tasting at Pike and Joyce                                                               Sparkling wine

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Wine Australia Tour November 2016 Clare Valley (II)


Wendouree Cellars is one of the cult legends of Australian wine.Tony Brady has been winemaker since 1974 and together with his wife Lita are custodians  of this historical wine gem. The first vines were  planted in 1893. Wendouree has 28-acres of vines, all dry grown, yielding around 50 tonnes per vintage. The grapes are handpicked and made with minimal intervention in open top fermenters. The 100-year-old stone winery is virtually unchanged from the day it was built. They switched to screw cap in 2009, having waited for 10 yrs for guala cap. Only a limited amount of quality wine is produced per year, for an exclusive mailing list of customers.

Wines we were luck enough to try –

Shiraz Mataro 2014 80% 20%  1893 vines 1919/20 vines.Tannin smooth well integrated  blueberry and blackberry fruit liquorice herb and spice texture lovely long meaty complex finish 13.3%

Shiraz Malbec 2014 1919/1920 vines.Lots generous  blue fruit.Great length after blueberry concentration.Black cherry great backbone  chalky tannins depth and concentration roses violets 13.6%

Shiraz 2014 1893 vines 13.7 % blue fruit and black pepper spice chalky tannins.Pepper finish delicious tannins full need time !

Malbec 2014 from 1898 plantings blueberry and blackberry  less tannins  Greek Corintiake currents may be present

Cabernet Malbec 2014 graphite pencil shavings cedar perfumed big tannins mouth coating acidic lurking needs a long time hint cassis but not much group thought ferrugenous ( iron like quality maybe from soils).Meaty bloody quality ? Hint chocolate

Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Cassis rich intense concentrated fruit tannins  a baby needs 20+yrs so concentrrated rich intense not complex yet. would love to try his old stuff fruit covered tannins chalky long long

Everyone agreed wow factor

Muscat of Alexandria 2014 1940 east vineyard planting slightly fortified to 17%.Grapes luscious delicious no one spitting ! Ripe apricot perfume floral length amazing  just awesome .so balanced and long orange blossom +++

A truly memorable experience with everyone hankering after a bottle !





Dave and Diana Palmer were generous hosts for the evening at their boutique family-owned and operated winery located in the heart of the picturesque Clare Valley. Seated outside on the verandah and under the shade of an old olive tree, overlooking the cottage garden and the vines we were treated to some real gems and delicious local cuisine.

Skillogalee shiraz 2012 spicy rich intense fantastic length and balance

Skillogalee Gewurtztraminer beautiful restrained Gewürztraminer with lovely florality

Skillogalee Riesling clean crisp lovely long finish

Wood vale  2014 Shiraz black intense blue and black fruits pepper spice long.

Mcnichol 2004 shiraz  fragrant complex with dark fruits .Made by the lovely Hilary Mitchell who’s magical smile lasts long in the memory.


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Wine Australia Tour November 2016 – Clare Valley (I)

Riesling has become synonymous with Clare Valley. The typical style is restrained and austere when young, with lime and mineral notes. They can evolve for decades and most benefit from over 5 years of ageing. Clare Shiraz is full flavoured with ripe blackberry and spice characteristics. There is a large diurnal shift with drops in temperature from 40C  in the day to 1C at night common during the ripening months. This allows for acid retention and vibrant fruit quality. We were lucky enough to visit some of the iconic wine producers – Jim Barry Wines, Grosset, and Wendouree .

Jim Barry Wines

An evening with Peter Barry and family at his lovely colonial home was one of the highlights of not just this wine trip but all previous tours. In his Garden the much anticipated Assyrtiko was unveiled, The glorious end product of his vision following  a  family holiday to Santorini  in 2006.Ten years on, following a lengthy process of importation and quarantine of the cuttings, we were lucky enough to be amongst the first to try it . Crisp,fresh and acidic and fittingly served with fresh anchovies. It was clear to  see Peter is a visionary in the wine industry.He then served the delicious Florita Riesling, lovely floral nose and fresh lime zest.

We moved inside for dinner. I could barely hide my excitement at the array of wines chosen. Two vintages of the majestic The Benbournie Cabernet Sauvignon . Mcrae wood Shiraz 1994 ,1998 . The Armagh 2002 and 2010, and many more. When he brought out  a range of silly hats from a Morrocan Fez to a Mexican Sombrero, Peter and his lucky guests hit full song . The evening’s finale lay in The Jim Barry cellars sampling a rare old home matured Rutherglen and his own ‘Sauternes’ 1981.

We left in fine fettle . This night will long go down in the memory.


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Jeffrey Grosset is internationally recognised as one of the most influential winemakers in the world. He hosted a Riesling Masterclass ( 9am 11 th November) We started with a review of the geology in the Clare Valley. The region’s soils are 500 to 800 million yrs old it’s phylloxera freeand vines are  on their own rootstock .Clare has up to 110 yrs of unbroken winemaking history. Grosset is situated in the south of Clare , which is 25 km in length  . We tasted  six 2016 Rieslings in pairs from different sites to demonstrate the expressiveness of different terroirs , followed by six older Rieslings to demonstrate the marked changes in ageing .


Grosset Polish Hill 2016 Lime zest/blossom clean crisp piercing acidity linear hint white flower,closed

Pokes Merle Riesling 2016 Lime clean acid pear apple lemon grapefruit closed generally

Crabtree Watervale Riesling 2016 Red loam limestone watervale region,boot polish musty nose reduced,Crisp fresh lime on palate

Jim Barry Florita Riesling 2016 More floral Jasmine white blossom.Lime juice long finish open fresh

Celtic farm Riesling 2016 Floral white yellow blossom open nose honeysuckle stone fruit peach warmer site mandarin more open wine more lush complex mineralty salty

Naked run Riesling 2016 Pear apple hint mandarin lime and salty finish

Aged Riesling flight

2014 Hill River Clare Estate Riesling Petrol beeswax fuller richer palate length depth lime more developed than expected for 2 yrs

2013 Leo Buring Leonay Riesling Petrolic reduction TDN

2010 Kilikanoon Morts Reserve Riesling  dry acid crisp lime length petrol

2009 Paulette aged release Riesling Petrol honey longer complex sl toasty marzipan beeswax **

2005 Mount Horrocks Riesling Tropical fruits honey beeswax marzipan.Long finish nutty toast

2004 Mitchell’s Watervale Riesling Beeswax honey nuts toast,petrol long

The wines were generally bone dry (less than 4gl or nil).Value wines not expensive given beautiful development over few years.Production is low.


We then drove to  the Gaia vineyard through Montero slate country. Jeffrey specifically chose this isolated east facing slope  20 years ago for his Cabernet Sauvignon.We sampled the lovely Gaia 2013- Herbaceous, black currant leaf,casssis capsicum good acid backbone and length


Lunch  at Paulett vineyard , Polish Hill River with alternative varietals tasting followed


Pauletts Helmsford semillon2015 by Polish Hill Lemon citrus fresh clean

47/74 hand crafted Malbec Cabernet 2010 Cassis black plum mint liquorice concentrated fine chalky tannins good acidity length

Artwine Fiano Wicked Stepmother 2016  fresh lovely texture oily mouth coating

Matriarch and Rogue 2016 Vermentino hint peach pear good crisp acidity

Mount Horrocks Nero d’Avola 2014 Low tannin not great depth concentration black fruits light  only planted 2007 young

Artwine Montepulciano Leave Your Hat On 2015 dark wine  packed full of dark cherry fruit dark plums spice good backbone med tannin length

Matara kilkanoon 2013 Good intensity black fruit med tannin good balance acidity sl savoury


The day was still young.  The iconic Wendouree and an evening dinner at Skillagolee was yet to come ….