Posts Tagged ‘Stewart Noble’

No BS Events – Odd & Rare Varieties Tasting

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Artwork by Rod Clifford

I’m really excited to announce that my favourite wine reviewer Stewart Noble is hosting another one of his very fun and popular events, The Odd and Rare Varieties tasting, on Saturday April 28th.

This event is for people willing to try something new and venture out of the comfort zones of Sauvignon Blancs, Shiraz or Cab Merlot’s and enjoy one of the most diverse collections of alternative wine varieties ever assembled into one event! Enjoy a Tinta Molle or Muller Thurgau while discovering plenty of new great Australian wineries, as well as seeing a few familiar names as well.

Stewart has sourced an amazing location that will allow you to soak up a view with your vino in one hand while being treated to a selection of fine cheese’s from Sydney Cheese mongers, McIntosh & Bowman in the other!

Further information is available on his website here

When: Saturday April 28th, 1pm til 4pm (As this is a tasting event there is no need to attend for the full three hours and people will be coming and going throughout the afternoon)

Where: Luxe Studio’s Rooftop, 279-283 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst

Cost: $39.95 + Handling fee

Tickets available now at Eventopia

I hope to see you all there and please feel free to forward this onto friends and family who may also like to attend. Stewart is a kind and welcoming person and I know I will be in for a treat!

Most memorable wines of 2011, by Wine without BS

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

2011 will forever be etched in my memory as one of the worst and best years of my life, the latter sentiment largely due to a five month stint in the United States where I lived in Los Angeles over their summer and spent part of the US spring time touring California and visiting the East Coast for the first time where I saw Boston, New York and Washington DC.

It meant I had a vast array of US wines that are not available in Australia and for this reason I have separated those wines from the wines available or made in Australia. It is sad to see the lack of US wine labels available in Australia given the fact that they have access to good Australian wines in almost every wine store and some of our cheaper, but not always bad, brands are in their major supermarkets like Ralph’s and Wholefoods. America makes many fantastic wines at all different price points and if you love Cabernet Sauvignon and haven’t had some of Napa Valley’s finest you are really missing out. I was told before I left that Napa had Australia beat when it came to ultra premium Cabernet. I’ll admit prior to my trip I was sceptical but now having had my second trip to Napa I must confess that many of the Cabernet’s on my list below are amongst the best Cabernet’s I’ve ever had. If given the choice, I’d take a $70-$100 bottle of Napa Cabernet over anything of a similar price made in Australia.

However, upon my return in September I was very impressed with the quality of a number of wines I tried from right here in Australia. So, without further adue the below, in no particular order, are my most memorable wines of 2011.

Made or purchased in Australia

Primo Estate ‘Joseph’ 2008 Nebbiolo
Xanadu ‘Reserve’ 2008 Chardonnay
Taltarni 1977 Cabernet Sauvignon
De Bortoli Gulf Station 2008 Pinot Noir
Grove Estate NV MCB (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Barbera)
Thomas Wines ‘The Kiss’ 2007 Shiraz
Oak Works 2008 Tina Molle
Logan Wines 2010 Sauvignon Blanc
Chapel Hill 2011 Il Vescovo White blend
Two Paddocks Picnic 2009 Pinot Noir
Logan Wines 2009 Zinfandel
Logan Wines 2011 ‘Hannah’ Rose
ByJingo 2006 Montepulciano
Henschke 1992 Hill of Grace

American Wines

J.Lohr Monterey 2009 Valdiguie
Phiffer Pavitt ‘Date Night’ 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Kelly Flemming Wines 2009 Sauvignon Blanc & 2007 Cabernet
Wolffer Estate 2006 Fatalis Fatum red blend
Bridlewood Reserve 2007 Syrah
Corison 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon
Red Tail Ridge 2008 Sparkling Teroldego
Opus One 2007 Bordeaux Blend
Seghesio 2009 ‘Home Ranch’ Zinfandel
Smith Madrone Chardonnay (Vintage not noted)
Kenneth Volk Vineyards 2008 Negrette
Rancho Sisquoc 2009 Sylvaner
Andrew Murray Vineyards 2008 Esperance Red blend

The barrel room at Opus One. The centre of each barrel is painted with red wine so that spills as a result of topping-up the barrel do not make the barrels look messy! This is just one example of the kind of attention to detail I saw during my tour of this amazing facility.

Wine Week +’ on Google+ to help Aussies

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Starting today, Google Australia is putting together ‘Wine week +’ on Google+ to help Aussies (and Kiwis!) who love talking about wine to find each other on Google+. Stewart Noble of Wine Without BS helping them put together a program of wine-related activities for the week of December 12 and he hopes you can join in the fun.

“If you’re a winery and you’d like help getting your own page on Google+, you can start here.

I will also be hosting live video ‘hang-outs’ on Google + every day this week. I’ll have topics of interest to all wine lovers throughout the week and ensure I get some special guests involved to make the whole week as fun and as diverse as possible.

All you need to do to join us is get a Google + account and add Wine without BS and Google’s, Courtney Holne to your circles.

More information to come folks so please check back for updates! If you have any topics or questions you’d like discussed during ‘Wine week +’ please let me know” said Noble.

Continue to check back on Stewart’s fantastic site:

Noble Wine Of The Week – Xabregas Wines 2009 Mount Barker Shiraz

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

Keen to show that Mount Barker is capable of producing very high quality cool climate shiraz that would rival the likes of the highly prized and scored examples coming out of areas like Canberra Districts, I was contacted by the Xabregas (pronounced ZAR-BREE-GAS) Vigneron, Paul Hogan, to check  out their new release. This is the second vintage of the Xabregas Mount Barker Shiraz I have tried, yet this time around Xabregas have a new winemaker, Martin Cooper, who said he had a new found appreciation of wine bloggers after comments I made on the winery’s 2007 vintage back in 2010.

The 2009 release is a very deep, rich purple colour that is almost the ‘classic’ colour for young, cool climate shiraz. The aroma was one I had trouble pinning down. The label suggests half the kitchen sink will be in there somewhere but, with a bit of time and more persistence on the nose than I suggest many will bother with, I can report that I picked up on the sweet plum fruit and at times could smell faint white pepper.

It is a lovely, balanced wine to drink with elements of fruit, spice, pepper and oak on the palate with no single element over powering the others. It is a totally different wine in all the ways I’d hoped over the 2007 and goes to show that you can never judge a winery on just one wine.

Xabregas Wines 2009 Mount Barker Shiraz
Price $23 from
RegionMount Barker, WA
Final SipA great wine and from what I hear, just the beginning, as I believe the Xabregas line up will soon include 4 Shiraz wines at different price points. I certainly look forward to trying them all but i’m more than happy with this drop for its price!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Kelly Fleming Wines 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

While Kelly Fleming wines have been available since 2005, the two current releases, the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and 2007 Cabernet are the first ‘Estate’ grown and made wines. The new estate winery is located in Oakville and opened in June 2010. It was such a treat to be given the full tour of this immaculate facility by Kelly Fleming and her daughter, Colleen.

The wine tunnel, or cave, which took over two years of blasting into the hillside of her property, is simply amazing and at the end of one tunnel there is a very well thought out museum (library) section where 16 cases of each vintage can be perfectly stored for ageing and enjoyment in the future. Kelly is clearly very proud of her brand new winery and she has every reason to be as it incredibly tasteful, well planned and very inviting.

For those not familiar with the difference between an estate wine and a non-estate wine, basically estate wine is made with grapes from vines owned, or at least fully controlled by, the winery and is made on site, or at the ‘Estate’. For those interested in some of the finer points on the definition of estate wines I have included a great site below which explains it in more detail.

Click here to read more about Estate Wines

The Kelly Fleming 2009 Estate Sauvignon Blanc has a few unique traits that made it stand out to me given the style I am used to having in Australia, whether it be from Australia or New Zealand. Firstly, it contains 2% Viognier, secondly it is blended from 50% French Oak treated and 50% stainless steel wine. It is also 14.5% alcohol which is pretty high for what would normally be a light, crisp, white wine.

It is light in colour and at times can appear almost clear but does have a pale straw/hay-like hue. I found the aroma to be fairly light, not at all like the the pungent Marlborough wines many would be more familiar with. There are hints of vanilla as a result of the French Oak and some noticeable fruity aromas like pear and some stone fruits.

Light fruit flavours on the palate included peach and pineapple in the after taste. The use of 50% oak is also noticeable in the flavour yet the wine is well balanced and enjoyable to drink.

Kelly Fleming Wines 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Price$30 USD plus taxes from (Currently not available in Australia)
Region Oakville, Napa Valley, California
Final Sip I recommend anyone travelling to Napa Valley check out this beautiful new winery and try both the 09 Sauvignon Blanc and 07 Cabernet. If you needed any more evidence of the quality of the wines then it would be worth noting the restaurants that can boast having Fleming Wines on their list include The Beverly Hills Hotel, Michael Mina and The French Laundry!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Seghesio Family Vineyard 2009 Home Ranch Zinfandel

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

Seghesio Family Vineyards, based in Healdsburg, California, has been a family owned and operated winery for over 100 years. On a recent trip to the region I was fortunate enough to visit the winery and meet with current CEO, Pete Seghesio, which was a great experience. Around 85% of their production is Zinfandel and it was great to hear that Seghesio Zinfandel is available in Australia with approximately 120 cases exported last year.

The 2009 Home Ranch Zinfandel comes from the Seghesio’s Alexander Valley vineyards and 2009 has been said to be an almost ideal vintage for the variety in this region. Alexander Valley is a sub-region of Sonoma County and benefits from having the Russian River flowing through it. Pete Seghesio suggested this wine is a great example of the type of Zinfandel his family have built their reputation on and it is clearly a wine he is very proud of.

The wine has a deep, cherry red like colour with just a faint hint of plum purple. It has a predominately fruity aroma with noticeable berry like smells and the use of oak . Nice and smooth to drink, it has soft red fruit flavours with oak and even a hint of cedar wood may be detected.

Seghesio Family Vineyard 2009 Home Ranch Zinfandel
Price $38 USD at or contact for Seghesio wines in Australia.
RegionAlexander Valley, Sonoma County, California
Final SipOverall this was a good, well balanced wine that I can happily recommend to both Zinfandel lovers, or those not all that familiar with the variety back in Australia.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Blue Poles Vineyard 2009 Teroldego

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

I am always excited when trying new grape varieties and when we are talking about an Italian grape variety for which Australia only has four acres planted we are talking about something incredibly rare. Teroldego, pronounced teh-ROHL-deh-goh, is a cool climate red grape variety that comes primarily from North Eastern Italy.

The wine has a deep, blood red like colour in the glass and yet not a lot was happening on the nose for me. If I sat and sniffed my nostrils off for long enough I bet I could come up with something to say but I’d be wasting some quality drinking time. There is definitely nothing faint about its flavours and Raspberry was one of the first things that came to mind. Other big fruit flavours are noticeable as is the tannin in this wine. Regular readers of my wine reviews may note this is the first time I have ever used the word tannin in a wine review. However, to not at least mention it in relation to this wine would almost seem ‘BS’ as it so prominent when experiencing this wine.

For those of you who see references to tannin in wine reviews and wonder what the hell they are talking about then try this wine. You’ll get a great example of their presence when you feel the inside walls of your cheeks dry out and create an almost puckering of the mouth with a bitter aftertaste as you swallow. I’ve had other Italian red wines, like young Barolo’s, that make the tannin in this Teroldego look pretty tame. However, for a well priced Australian made wine this is a good example of prominent tannin without being over the top or unpleasant.

Overall this is a truly enjoyable, full bodied wine that I have no hesitation in recommending. You’d better be quick though, as only 70 cases of this vintage exist and with just over 2 acres currently planted by Blue Poles Vineyards future vintages are likely to be just as rare!

Blue Poles Vineyard 2009 Teroldego
Price $30 from
Region Margaret River, Western Australia
Final Sip I’d definitely buy this wine to enjoy again now, but I’d love to see what it is like in 8-10 years time and I bet it would even hold up a few years beyond that as well!

Noble Wine Of The Week – J.Lohr Estates 2009 Wildflower Valdiguié

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

Ever since my first trip to the USA last year, where I drank nothing but American wines the entire time, I started to wonder why so few American wines are available in Australia. This isn’t about being unpatriotic, it’s about access to whatever wine I wish. I can go to virtually any large retail outlet and easily pick up a wine from New Zealand, France, Italy, Spain, Germany without having to look all that hard. However, if you want to get a wine made in the United States, and you take away the odd bottle of Oregon Pinot , you’ll have to look pretty carefully, unless you just happen to be lucky enough to live near one of the very few bottle shops that can boast some sort of USA wine selection.

I understand there are multiple reasons for this, not the least of which is the consideration from American wineries about whether Australia is a viable export market. California alone has a a population of just under 37 million, so why bother with a country on the other side of the world with just over 20 million?

Ian Lindsay, from USA Wines Direct, tells me that Australia exported over 25 million cases of Aussie wine to the US last year, yet we only imported  just over15, 000 cases of theirs! America may have a population 14 times larger than ours, but we are importing 1,666 times less wine than we are exporting. As Chris Rock would say, “That ain’t right!”

Thankfully, Ian is doing what he can to introduce American, and more specifically, Californian wines, into the Australia market and his portfolio currently boasts the biggest range of American wines in Australia. One of these wines is the J.Lohr 2009 Valdiguié, from Monterey on the Californian Coast, close to halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco and just a few hours from the far more famous region of Napa Valley.

The Valdiguié grape was commonly referred to in California as ‘Napa Gamay’ and it was believed at one time that it actually was the Gamay grape, only to discover that this was not correct. Sounds a little like the recent fiasco in Australia with our Albariño turning out to be Savagnin!

This wine has a colour of deep purple and cherry red with an enticing aroma of ripe, red berry fruits. On my first sip of this completely new variety for me I thought “Wow… this is delicious!” Juicy fruit flavours and subtle natural sweetness make for an enjoyable wine that, when served slightly chilled, makes a fantastic, easy drinking summer red wine.

J.Lohr Estates 2009 Wildflower Valdiguié
Price –
$19.95 from
Region – Monterey, California, USA
Final Sip –
A thoroughly enjoyable wine that, at $20 makes for the perfect entry level American wine experience.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Thomas Wines 2007 ‘Kiss’ Shiraz

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

On a recent trip to the Hunter Valley I was interested in the fact that many wineries I visited were offering both a Hunter Valley Shiraz and Barossa Valley Shiraz. Two unique regions that do have their noticeable difference. I’ve been to the Barossa a few times before and don’t recall any of their wineries offering me a Hunter Valley Shiraz!

The 2007 Vintage in the Barossa Valley wasn’t a great one so perhaps what the Hunter Valley wineries are doing is capitalising on this point, as I can say from all comparisons I tried at various cellar doors , the Hunter Valley shiraz in 2007 was the better drop.

One of the Hunter Valley’s relatively new star wine makers is Andrew Thomas, whom after working at length with Tyrrell’s, took the plunge and started his own label called Thomas Wines. The thing I like about Thomas Wines is that they only make two varieties, Semillon and Shiraz, which many would argue are the Hunter Valley’s two most successful varieties.

This Shiraz has a deep plum purple colour with an aroma of dark fruits and slight hints of vanilla as a result of the use of new French Oak. It’s wonderfully smooth to drink and the flavours of fruit and oak are very well balanced. I found the alcohol slightly noticeable yet not in any detrimental way and at 14.3% it is actually well within the normal range for Australian Shiraz.

Thomas Wines 2007 Kiss Shiraz
Price – $64 from Nick’s Wine Merchants
Region Hunter Valley, NSW
Final Sip One of the finest Hunter Valley Shiraz’s I’ve come to experience and something I’d definitely buy more of for cellaring.

Adrian Erdedi Celebrates Two Birthdays!

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

One year ago, this website was launched – which also happened to be my own birthday as well.

I’d like to thank every single one of my fabulously loyal readers, contributors with special mention to Brett Willis and Stewart Noble and my wonderful advertisers.

Without all of you, the website would not be the success it is today, and success shows in figures with 138,887 unique visitors in 169 countries.

Thankyou once again – you have all in someway contributed in writing about all of the things I love, and being able to tell you honestly about all of the things I’m passionate about with class and taste.

Please feel free to add and follow me on FACEBOOK or TWITTER, or even email me: for news, information regarding advertising, press releases, product reviews or interviews.

Love Adrian Erdedi xx

Noble Wine of The Week – Grove Estate “Wherehaveyou Bin” MCB

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

This red blend from the NSW Hilltops region is a unique mix of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera from two different vintages.

It has a cherry red colour with a purple hue and big aromas of ripe fruit, savoury and spice-like smells. My actual tasting notes upon trying the wine for the first time read, “Wow, what a beautiful flavour. It has big fruit flavours upfront with subtle sweetness on the finish.”

This really is a great find and it become’s 100 times better when I was informed by the winery that it is currently on special for just $75 a case! That translates to just $6.25 per bottle! I think the winery has gone slightly mad, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t capitalise on this immediately and get yourself a case or two right now!

Grove Estate ‘Wherehaveyou Bin” MCB

Price – A ridiculous $75 a case, limited time special from

Region – Hilltops, NSW

Final Sip – At $75 a case it will be a long while before my ‘final’ sip I can tell you that!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Bunkers Wines 2010 Lefthanders Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

I must confess that blends of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc are not really in my repertoire of wines I would buy for myself if I was out and about in a bottle shop. I have no plausible explanation for this other than neither Sauvignon Blanc nor Semillon are my preferred white varieties and yet I have had very enjoyable, single variety, examples of both!

I guess the point I wish to make is that one of the greatest spoils of writing about wine and being sent wine samples from wineries around the country is that I do get sent wines outside my “norm”, and this in turn introduces me to some really lovely wines that I would have missed out on if I was out shopping for myself.

This Bunkers 2010 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc has a light colour of freshly squeezed lime juice and a rather strong aroma of tropical fruits and sour apple that reminds me more of straight Sauvignon Blanc than a Semillon. For those not in the know, whichever wine variety is mentioned first is the most dominate variety by percentage volume. Where more than two grape varieties are blended you can expect the label to list the varieties in order of descending volume.

I find the Sauvignon Blanc characters take over yet again in the flavour of this wine and there is a noticeable tangy note on the palette. Overall the wine is very easy drinking and enjoyable!

Bunkers Wines 2010 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

Price – $18 from

Region – Margaret River, Western Australia

Final Sip – If you’re already a fan of this popular blend then the 2010 Bunkers example won’t let you down. If you are a straight Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc fan but haven’t yet ventured far past ‘house whites’, which are often this exact blend, then this is as good a wine as any to start with!

Noble Wine Of The Week – DeBortoli 2008 Gulf Station Pinot Noir

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

There really is no point fluffing about here as it took just one sip of this wine for me to know that I had stumbled upon something truly fantastic. It’s everything I like about Pinot, with nothing I don’t – smooth, fruit driven, delicious and seriously good value. Enough said!

DeBortoli 2008 Gulf Station Pinot Noir
Price $15 from Dan Murphy’s and other major retailers
Region Yarra Valley, Victoria
Final Sip If you like Pinot and only had $15 to spend buy this! If you had $30 to spend, buy two bottles!

Wine Without BS Makes Homemade Sparkling Red Wine!

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

By Stewart Noble from for

Say what? How can I make my own sparkling wine at home, I hear you say. We’ll thanks to a little inspiration from world famous Chef, Heston Blumenthal, and an episode of Heston’s Feasts, where he used the 1980’s as a theme – the well known kitchen gadget, the Soda Stream, was used to sparkle up some cheap white wine that Londoners struggled to pick out when tasted blind against a true Champagne.

Preferring sparkling reds over whites personally, and seeing new Soda Stream machines in my local supermarket, the idea of making my own sparkling red wine was born.

What you will need

A Soda steam machine ($69 from the soft drink section of Woolworths)

1 x 750Ml bottle of chilled, full bodied red wine. Or indeed any wine you wish to try as a sparkling wine.


50 – 100Ml of fortified red wine such as ruby port

(Vary the amount of the fortified wine to your preference for sweetness. The more you add the sweeter the wine will be)

(Left: Hungerford Hill 08 Cabernet Sauvignon. Right: Peter Lehmann 1999 ‘The King’ AD2020)

How to make the magic happen!

Pour the entire bottle of red wine into the Soda Stream bottle

Add the chosen dosage of Fortified wine

Tip! Screw on the bottle cap and gently mix the two wines together prior to attaching to the Soda Stream Machine

Screw the Soda Stream bottle into the machine

Push the button at the top of the machine three times to properly carbonate the wine , pausing in-between each press so that the liquid does not overflow.

Tip! Wait a minute or so before unscrewing the bottle from the machine and do this slowly to avoid the wine spilling out the top.

Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Further Tips and Hints

1. A naturally sweeter red wine will work best and, in some cases, may require little to no addition of the fortified wine. My favourite combination to date was a Barossa Shiraz/Grenache with 70Ml of the Fortified wine. I am also highly confident that the MDV Wines 08 Grenache would work an absolute treat and not require any addition of fortified wine at all. (

2. Do not make the same mistake I did when buying the port and fail to see the word “Tawny”. Tawny port simply won’t give you a well integrated flavour. Trust me… I tried it!

3. Maximum results are achieved when the liquid reaches the fill line on the bottle, which unfortunately  a 750ML of red wine plus the 100Ml of fortified wine does not . The  current machines come with 1L bottles but I believe the older Soda Stream machines were around 750ML bottles so you wouldn’t have this problem. With a smaller bottle you would even have to reduce the amount of wine and adjust the dosage of fortified wine so as not to over sweeten the wine.

Using the new 1 Litre bottles there are a few ways you could get around this problem:

a) Use more than one bottle of red wine to top up the liquid to the fill line (this may require slight adjustment of the amount of fortified wine as well)
b) Simply add fortified wine until the fill line is reached. This will result in a fairly sweet wine but some people may actually prefer this.
c) Put something, approximately 100ML or so, in volume into the Soda Stream bottle to begin with that will not change or taint the taste of the wine in anyway way and will ensure that the 850ML in the bottle will reach the fill line. Examples I thought of were: glass marbles; Ice blocks still in their plastic wrapping; Mars bar  still in its wrapping; or probably the most ideal, Whiskey stones (
see here)

Why this isn’t as silly as some may suggest

  • While I am not suggesting this will ever be as good as a true, naturally fermented sparkling red, when carbonated properly and consumed straight away you may be surprised how close it comes. I know one winemaker who blind taste tested it was!
  • It’s 42 degrees (celsius) outside as I am typing this, so should I prefer a red wine over a white wine later on as don’t have any proper sparkling red available, it’s a viable option for a cool, refreshing beverage if you have the equipment and wine required.
  • You can experiment with different wines that are not usually made into sparkling wines e.g Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Barbera… the list is almost endless as you do this with absolutely any wine that you choose, including white wines, Rosé or even desert wines!
  • It’s fun and that’s what wine should be. Sure, a few winemakers and others may think it is sacrilege that their finely crafted wines are being ‘ruined’ by being carbonated when they were made as still wines, but if you are enjoying them this way, then do it. It’s your wine!

The main thing is that you’re enjoying wine and having fun… and that’s No BS!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Ashbrook 2010 Verdelho

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

Growing up there was always Verdelho in the fridge as my parents have always loved it. Only as I have started to immerse myself in the wine industry have I come to see that it is a rather niche variety that, like many odd things out, has it’s cult following while the mainstream stick with their Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. A while back I asked my local Dan Murphy’s fine wine manager about Verdelho. He did not hesitate in recommending a bottle by Margaret River producer, Ashbrook. He even went as far as suggesting this was as close to the best Australian example of the variety that he knew!

With fairly classic white wine colour often referred to as ‘pale straw’ thearoma of this wine is rather strong and dominated by tropical fruits, including passionfruit. A noticeably fruit flavour carries on from the aroma but in no way can this wine be considered sweet. Overall I found this to be a very pleasant and easy drinking wine.

Ashbrook 2010 Verdelho

Price – $20 from

Region – Margaret River, Western Australia

Final Sip – This wine definitely seems to be an excellent example of the variety and I dare say, even a total novice would notice its differences over the more common varieties. Whether your a Verdelho fan, or haven’t tried one yet and would like to try a good example the Ashbrook 2010 is as good as any I’ve had.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Saint and Sinner 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

The ‘Calling Card’ range, released in 2010, by Saint & Sinner Wines is a cheeky but fun and fresh approach to wine marketing. Drawing inspiration from the calling cards of prostitutes, (if you have ever walked the Las Vegas strip you’ll know exactly what I am talking about) the wine’s labels depict each wine as a working girl and includes both her best features and her number on the bottle… handy!

From the current releases my favourite within the range is the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which uses fruit sourced from Wrattonbully, which is located north of the better known region for Cabernet Sauvignon in Australia, Coonawarra. I was going to suggest that to learn more about this wine  that you all should join in the fun and sms the word ‘Cabernet’ to 0428 256 918, but, for the benefit of our overseas readers I have included the reply that is sent when one does below.

“There’s something you need to know right at the start: I’m a stayer. I’ll plant a seed in your palate when you walk into my secret garden. I’ll wrap myself around you, fill your senses with my intensity and show you my fruits. Lets indulge ourselves in a rack of lamb, then savour runny brie. Or take me to a special dinner and show me off but keep me close – your friends will want to have me too.

Take your time, treat me well and I’ll grow on you over the years – getting better with each encounter we mature together. I’m perfect now, but there’s no need to rush – the night is young.

Need more of me? Come see my site and meet my Saint & Sinner sisters. I don’t mind if you chose one of them for a little variety. You’ll be back for more of me. You could even take two or three of us for a little S&S action if you’re up to it!

Text FLIRT or your email to 0458263398 to taste more of me and my friends.”

I am sure most of us agree that this is a fun and fresh way to make a product appeal to a younger generation of wine drinkers, however, I better get back to talking about the wine. Dressed in a deep crimson red colour, she smells of red and dark fruits with a faint hint of vanilla. Far from all show and no -go this wine also has appealing fruit flavours that makes coming back for more all part of extending the pleasure!

OK, I’ll admit I got a bit carried away there and will accept any criticism that I’ve just flirted with commercial suicide. This brand is all about a bit of fun and that is what I was trying to convey.

Saint & Sinner 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Price$26 from
Region Wrattonbully, South Australia
Final Sip Initially, I was worried that the marketing/packaging was hiding a sub-standard wine, but in the case of the 08 Cabernet Sauvignon that is simply not the case. It’s good to know that a wine knowingly marketed to a younger audience is giving them all a taste for good Australia wine.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Primo Estate 2008 ‘Joseph’ Nebbiolio

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

Nebbiolo is far from a common variety in Australia and is an Italian red grape variety from the Piedmont region in north west Italy. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Nebbiollo shares some of the traits of Pinot Noir. Both varieties are difficult to grow and are lighter in colour and body when compared with the bulk of Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Light cherry red in colour this wine has a really unique and pleasant aroma that includes savoury, floral and faint fruit elements. Those faint fruit elements in the aroma actually become more noticeable in this wine’s flavour profile but it is still well balanced with savoury and spicy elements. Silky smooth with enjoyable and unique aromas and flavours I found this wine rather delicious and definitely something I would have again.

Primo Estate 2008 ‘Joseph’ Nebbiolio

Price – $75 from

Region – McLaren Vale, South Australia

Final Sip – Being the most expensive drop in the Primo Estate lineup I can understand many may hesitate if they are not already fans of the variety. By no means can I suggest I’m an expert, having had no more than just over half-a-dozen examples myself both from Italy and Australia. However, I can easily say that this is the most enjoyable Nebbiolo I’ve had to date and all the other examples I’ve had suggested to me by other wine critics are more expensive than this one. Pair this wine with dishes that heavily feature mushrooms and I am told you’ll be rather pleased!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Tertini Wines 2005 & 2008 Riesling

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

Joining in on an organised day trip to the NSW Southern Highland Wine region in 2010 resulted in a truly great find in Tertini Wines. Standing in the wineries barrel room with their sales manager, Robert Kay, myself, a few friends and some strangers also on our tour sampled our way through their entire range. I don’t really have a bad thing to say about any of their wines but both the 2005 and 2008 Riesling’s stood above them all. In fact, they stood above all the wines I tried that day from a total of four wineries.

I honestly couldn’t split the two vintages as they are both fantastic and offer different experiences, due to their age difference. I’ve met many people who are divided on preferences to aged and young Rieslings and while I’d have to say in most instances I’d prefer a younger vintage myself, this 2005 seems to be an almost perfect balance of aged and young characteristics.

Tertini 2005 ‘Reserve’ Riesling- A light lemon colour with a pleasant, but also light, aroma of citrus fruit that also shows off the effects that age has on Riesling. A lovely drinking wine that still has vibrant citrus notes with just the perfect amount of subtlety to it that time has blessed it with. Think lemonade as opposed to lemon juice.

Tertini 2008 Riesling (Pre-release) – A more transparent, lighter colour than the 2005, but still a basic lemon/lime colour. The aroma has the fresher citrus notes one would expect but I also picked up a slight hint of honey. As for the flavour the stronger lime, citrus notes leave behind a definite sweet taste. This wine is by no means semi-sweet or off-dry but a sweetness exists and yet the finish leaves behind an incredibly faint savoury note.

Tertini Wines 2005 & 2008 Riesling

Price – $27 for 2005 and $25 for 2008 upon release from

Region – Southern Highlands, NSW

Final Sip – If you are a fan of Riesling and haven’t had a chance to try these two vintages from Tertini I am confident you will be very pleased once you do. Great value for money given their quality and the long list of awards and trophies Tertini have won for their Riesling comes as no surprise. I did say above that I couldn’t split my preference to these two wines but I must confess that having enjoyed several glasses of each vintage, side by side, with and without food, I found myself really wishing I had another bottle of the 2005 in the fridge!

The 2010 Most Memorable wines for Wine Without BS

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

The 2010 Most Memorable Wines by Stewart Noble for

2010 was the first full calendar year of Wine without BS and it was a year that brought so much more than I ever imagined when I started tweeting my one liners on the wines I was drinking in early 2009. I’ve met many amazing people, hosted No BS Wine events in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and the Gold Coast and now have people suggesting international events! I also had my first ever trip to the USA and have inlcuded some details of my favourites from that trip.

2011 certainly has many exciting things in store but as I look back over the past year, when it comes to the subject matter of it all, wine, these are the drops I remember the most favourably.

In no particular order they are…

Clonakilla 2001 Shiraz Viognier – We all know the recent vintages are cleaning up with an almost perfect record for scores of 97 recently, best wine of the year, etc However, the chance to try one of the earlier vintages, at Rockpool Bar & Grill this year really shows how bottle age transforms this wine rom great to spectacular! This is one of the best red wines I’ve had to date.

Capital Wines 2009 ‘The Whip’ Riesling – There is nothing I don’t like about this wine; the price; the ‘drinkabilitiy’ of it, with or without food; it’s just an all round winner for me.

Louis Roederer 2002 Cristal – It has long had the ‘bling’ factor and, while I am not a big Champagne drinker, when I was lucky enough to try the famous drop this year I have to confess to it being one of the best Champagne’s I’ve had to date. Read my full review here.

Margan Family Wines 2006 Barbera – Probably the first bottle of Barbera I actually bought and I couldn’t have been happier. Such an enjoyable wine that, with Osso Bucco, was pretty close to food and wine matching heaven! Read my full review here.

Blue Poles 2008 Reserve Merlot– I don’t drink a lot of straight Merlot, but this particular drop has helped me to see the light and to realise that perhaps you actually can make friends with Merlot, despite the suggestion otherwise from a close friend of mine. Read my full review here.

Mount Majura 2008 Chardonnay – For $21 a bottle I’m hard pressed to find a more enjoyable Chardonnay for the money. Australian Chardonnay has come a long way and if you don’t believe me, try this!

MDV Wines 2008 Grenache – A bit of a star at my Winter Reds dinner in Adelaide in June, this drop is just lovely to drink. I was also rather impressed when its maker, Michael Datta, brought out a bottle chilled on a hot summer day and proved that even heavier reds can be enjoyed cold. Read my full review here.

Bosworth Wines 2008 ‘Battle of Bosworth” Cabernet Sauvignon – From start to finish this wine continued to impress me. I must get some more as it would have to be very close to being the best young Cabernet I drank in 2010.

Patina Wines 2009 Pinot Gris – Patina was a real find for me last year, as I get up to Orange semi regularly to visit a good friend of mine and even he hadn’t been out to Patina as yet. There is not much to dislike about Patina from the moment you arrive at the beautiful home that is temporarily doubling as the cellar door, to the winemaker, Gerald and his wife, who are such lovely hosts. Of course the wine is what I am here to talk about and while the vast majority of the range is impressive it was the Patina Pinot Gris that stood out the most to me on two separate visits. I’m happy to also throw in their Sticky Tea Riesling as being one of the more memorable and enjoyable desert wines I had in 2010 as well.

Hungerford Hill 2008 Tumbarumba Chardonnay – Another great Chardonnay for around $25. Everything with this wine is very well balanced and a rather attractive aroma is backed up with an equally enjoyable flavour. Read my full review here.

Best’s Wines 1996 & 1997 Thomson Family Shiraz – I would struggle to pick between these back to back vintages, although my memory does remember a slight preference to the 1996. These wines were brought along to a Best’s Wines dinner in winter last year and would go incredibly close to knocking off the Clonakilla 2001 Shiraz Viognier as not only the best red wines I tried in 2010, but simply the best I have ever had to date!

Golding Wines 2008 Block 2 Chardonnay –  The third sub $30 Chardonnay on the list and at the time I tasted it I called it close to the best wine I’ve had from Adelaide Hills, full-stop. That statement still holds. This wine really did make a instant impression that I won’t soon forget. Read my full review here.

Prentice 2009 Pinot Ramato – A style of Pinot Gris I’d never heard of before, part Pinot Gris, part Rosé, this wine was one of the more interesting wines I had last year. It became memorable when I took the winemakers suggestion of pairing it with Sushi and that has now become another, almost perfect, food and wine pairing. Read my full review here.

Corison 2002 Caberbet Sauvignon – A glowing recommendation from a Napa Valley sommelier for Corison Cabernet’s didn’t disappoint one bit. The 2002 was taken with me to a Napa Valley grill house called Rutherford Grill where I had easily the best steak I’ve ever had and, accompanied by a local Cabernet of this quality, this is a meal I won’t soon forget!

Opus One 2005 – Opus One have what is easily one of the most stunning and amazing cellar door facilities I have ever seen. Should be no suprise though as this label is the combination of two of wines megastars, Robert Modavi from the USA and the 1st growth French chateau, Mouton Rothschild. Opus One only make one wine that is a Bordeaux style red blend. On my visit in 2010 they had the 2005 and 2006 vintages available for tasting and the 2005 was pure class!

Swanson Vineyards 2009 Chardonnay – Swanson Vineyards was a highlight of my Napa Valley experience. The setting, the people, the chocolate! It’s just such a fantastic place and while I still have a bottle of their 2003 Cabernet to open at a later date, their Chardonnay was good enough to also bring home and was thoroughly enjoyed!

Sbragia ‘Gino’s Vineyard’ 2006 Zinfandel – Available by the glass at the gorgeous Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, I really enjoyed this wine. It was much more fruity than many of the Zinfandels I tried while in the United States and I’d love the opportunity to try more of their wines in the future.

Charles Melton 2010 Rosé of Virginia – I was first introduced to this wine by the owner of Claret House, Todd Rumble, in Brisbane after my first ever interstate ‘No BS’ wine event in Brisbane. The night was a massive success, I made many new friends and Todd was awesome. Anyway, back to the wine, which is almost as awesome. Great colour and the use of Cabernet grapes easily evident provides what I will say has to be close to the Barossa’s best Rosé. Read my full review here.

Moppity Vineyard ‘Lock & Key’ 2009 Shiraz – I was close to disbelief when I was a few sips into this wine to read it retails for $15! Honestly, one of the best sub $20 red wines I’ve ever had. Seriously good value. Read my full review here.

One Planet Wine 2008 McLaren Vale Shiraz – This wine proves more than most not judge a book by it’s cover. This wine comes in Tetra Pak and as such frightens away many consumers when standing next to bottled wine on the shelves. Thing is, it’s a bloody good drop for $14.95 and shouldn’t at all be thought of as an up-market cask wine. Plus the weight and size savings also makes this perfect for recreation. Read my full review here.

Xanadu 2009 Reserve Chardonnay – Certainly not in the sub $30 bracket like most other Chardonnays on this list but the Xanadu Reserve is a seriously classy drop. For all those people who talk about how Australian Chardonnay is all oak, butter, etc then get yourself a bottle of this and tell me this style isn’t going to be part of the reason Australian Chardonnay is seen in an entirely new and exciting way.

Greenhough 2009 Pinot Blanc – This wine was a clear winner with both myself and other attendee’s of my NZ Wine dinner back in September. I even had emails after the event asking where it can be purchased, so it was a huge shame to find out that Greenhough currently has no Australian distributor. I hope that gets rectified soon as this was one great drop.

Pfeiffer Wines Rare Rutherglen Muscat – After a Margaret River winery owner told me the last wine he’d want before he died was a high end Rutherglen Muscat I instantly had to try one. After my first few sips of the Pfeiffer Wines Rare Rutherglen Muscat, of which only 13 cases or thereabouts are made per year, I could see what the fuss is all about!

Morandé – Edición Limitada 2007 Pinot Noir – I was first given a taste of this wine at the Sydney Good Food and Wine Show. I doubt that I will soon forget that experience as this wine is not for the faint hearted. The aroma is interesting to say the least and while it is far from something you’d want to drink everyday, it was definitely memorable and was a must for my Pinot Fest wine dinner later that year. Read my full review here.

Primo Estate 2010 d’Elena Pinot Grigio – Not just the best Australian Pinot Grigio I’ve had to date but one of the better white wines I’ve had! Read my full review here.

Samuel’s Gorge  2009 Tempranillo – I have to thank David Bowley from Vinteloper for recommending Samuel’s Gorge to me this year. Most people seem to rave about their Grenache, which is very good, but for me the Tempranillo is even better and just a simply delicious wine!

Penfolds Grange 1984 – After buying this wine at a fairly bizarre garage sale/auction for not far off half of the retail value I had concerns over how it had been kept and what condition it would be in. I saved it for the night before a close friends wedding and we shared it together and boy was I surprised. I had read that 1984 is considered one of Grange’s more average vintages but I’ve enjoyed two other vintages before this and this was by far my favourite. I think this goes to show how the time, place and people we share our wine with can really enhance the memory of that experience. We opened a 2001 Moss Wood Cabernet afterwards which, while not comparable, became almost a disappointment… I should have had those two wines the other way around!

Tertini Wines 2005 Riesling – Last year I  did a small tour of  wineries in the NSW Southern Highlands region. Tertini Wines was the first I visited and ended up being the highlight. While they makea good Pinot Noir, it was their 2005 Riesling that really stood out as being a truly great wine. Their 2008 Riesling also has to be given an honourable mention.

Logan Wines 2010 ‘Hannah’ Rosé – This wine was sent to me as part of the hugely successful ‘Rose Revolution’ that was sponsored by De Bortoli. Many of the drier style Rose wines that became a part of this event where great, but it is the Logan 2010 that was the crowd favourite at my place. Full points also for a lovely looking label.

Bleasdale NV Sparkling Shiraz – This was ranked No 1 in the Top 100 wines in a recent issue of Wine Business Magazine so when I saw it in my local  Dan Murphy’s for less than $20 I had to grab it. It’s no secret that I adore sparkling shiraz and this wine is up there with the best I’ve had, for less than $20! The flavours are big, while the price is the opposite! Seriously great value and I’ve just reminded myself I need to go and buy more.

If I ever realise that I have left out a particular wine I will update the list. As for those wondering if I can pick out a favourite or two amongst those above, part of me thinks that defeats the purpose, and a large reason why I don’t score wines. Memorable doesn’t mean every wine above will appeal to all, nor does it mean I think the wine is the best I’ve had. Memorable means exactly that, I will remember these wines, and for various reasons, which are mainly related to my enjoyment of them, while some are there because they offered something different and/or unique in the experience. To appreciate a truly great wine you have to have tried many more for it to be compared against… and in 2011 I look forward to trying many more wines and comparing them to the greats that appear on this list.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Mitchell Harris Sauvignon Blanc Fumé

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

If I had planned ahead and realised that this week would be my last review for the year I may have chosen differently, however, I would certainly not wish to take away anything from this great wine, from Victorian producer, Mitchell Harris. Sauvingnon Blanc is still, to my knowledge, the largest selling white wine in Australia and the bulk of sales are of examples from New Zealand. It is a pleasure then to announce that this wine is right amongst the best Sauvignon Blancs I’ve experienced this year and beyond. Fumé, for those unfamiliar with the term, means this Sauvignon Blanc has spent some time in oak barrels, six months to be exact for this particular vintage.

This wine has a light colour and has aromas of tropical fruits and citrus. It has a lovely flavour and despite its oak treatment the regular wine drinker, myself included, won’t notice this in the flavour. It has hints of lime on the palate but citrus is far from dominant. Very drinkable with or without food.

Mitchell Harris – 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Fumé
Price – $22 from
Region – Pyrenees, VIC
Final Sip – An overall great white wine that is most definitely an example of a Sauvignon Blanc I’d take over the vast majority of the typical, non Fumé, styles. Patriotism aside, I’d buy this wine over other Australian Sauvignon Blancs as well as the hugely popular ones from across the Tasman.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Zema Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

While the longer days and warmer weather has many wine lovers reaching for the fridge for their plonk over summer there are still plenty of die hard red wine lovers that don’t buy into the concept that hearty reds are the domain of the colder months. You certainly don’t have to be a die hard red drinker, though, to enjoy the new release Cabernet Sauvignon from well known Coonawarra producer, Zema Estate. Some great reviews of other wineries releases of Coonawarra Cabernet from 2008 certainly suggest 2008 was a better year than 2007 and Zema Estate themselves also suggest their example is an improvement over the past vintage.

In the glass the wine has a nice crimson red colour and an aroma of dark fruits and spice. Noticeably soft on the palate for a young wine the flavour carries over many of the subtleties of the aroma showing more dark fruits and spice. I  really enjoy this wine now and would love to try it in another five years time.

Zema Estate – 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Price – $25 from most good retailers and available shortly at
Region – Coonawarra, South Australia
Final Sip – At this price it won’t be the type of wine everyone will use alongside a great Aussie BBQ this summer but if you did you certainly won’t be disappointed. For those sticking with their chilled wines for now, don’t despair, the 2008 vintage will still be the current release by the time winter 2011 rolls around!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Primo Estate Pinot Grigio

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

Still very much on the trail of great wines for summer I recently commented that Pinot Gris is considered an ‘In fashion’ wine this summer. What I forgot to mention is that Pinot Grigio is exactly the same grape variety and hence has to be just as fashionable with Gris being the French term and Grigio the Italian name. No surprises then that Primo Estate founders, the Grilli family, migrated from Italy and their wines often incorporate Italian wine making techniques learnt and passed down by founder, Primo Grilli, to his son and now head winemaker/owner, Joseph.

Named after Joseph’s daughter, whose birth in 1998 coincided with the planting of the vineyard used for growing Pinot Grigio, this wine has a classic pale straw like colour and an intriguing aroma. On the palate the wine sits somewhere between savoury and fruity and just so full of flavour it is one of the few Pinot Grigio’s I find tasty enough on its own, while always remaining a style made to enjoy with food.

Primo Estate – 2010 Joseph Pinot Grigio d’Elena

Price – $28 from

Region – McLaren Vale (plus a small portion of fruit from Adelaide Hills), South Australia

Final Sip – I adore this wine and so does pretty much everyone I’ve introduced it to. Easily one of the better Pinot Grigio’s I’ve had to date and even more impressively earns a spot on my all time favourite white wines list!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Golding Wines Block 2 Chardonnay

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Despite the fact that many people turn their noses up at Chardonnay I personally believe it is one of most enjoyable and satisfying white wines available. Perhaps it was just fortunate that I was too young to experience what I am told was a flood of big, oaky and buttery versions of Chardonnay in past decades, that seem to have spoilt it for many. Current Australian Chardonnays are very different and while a few can still get a little carried away with the oak treatment sometimes, for the most part they are very refined and enjoyable.

An example I had a little while ago from Adelaide Hills producer, Golding Wines, is right up there with the best I’ve tried lately. It has an appealing lemony gold colour and nice aroma of subtle oak with slight hints of honey and fruit. Totally lovely to drink with all elements perfectly in balance!

Golding Wines – 2008 Block 2 Chardonnay

Price – $25 from

Region – Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Final Sip – Truly one of the better wines I’ve had from the Adelaide Hills region, period! For $25 it is also great value.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Amadio Wines – Rosso Festiva

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

I love sparkling red wines and I think that sparkling red wine could be slotted in amongst pizza and sex in the saying that suggests even when they are bad, they’re still good! Most of the sparkling red wines commercially available in Australia are made from shiraz, with a few other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir also made into sparkling red wines.

Always on the lookout for something different I was pleasantly surprised when South Australia winery, Amadio Wines, said that their latest sparkling red wine, Rosso Festiva, is 100% Sangiovese. Danniel Amadio from Amadio wines informed me that by using the naturally sweeter, Italian grape variety, meant that no added sugar was required in the wine making process. The vast majority of sparkling wines require what is known as ‘dosage’, which is the addition of a mixture of mainly sugar and wine and often is just a liquered version of one of the wine varieties used in the final blend.

Rosso Festiva has a colour that is lighter than many sparkling reds, similar to Pinot in a way, but leans more towards a dark strawberry red. A very pleasant aroma is dominated by jammy fruit smells and while the flavour does showcase the sweet and fruity character of Sangiovese the finish is completely dry.

Amadio Wines – Rosso Festiva NV
Price – $18 from Also available at selected stockists.
Region – Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Final Sip – At under $20 this is the perfect drop to enjoy with your summer BBQ and Christmas Turkey and I can definitely see the Rosso Festiva being a regular at my place this summer.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Moppity Vineyards Shiraz’s

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

I recently had the privilege of receiving samples of  many of the great wines currently available from Moppity Vineyards in the NSW Hilltops. The samples included all three of their consumer release Shiraz’s, the 2009 Lock & Key and Estate Shiraz as well as the 2008 Reserve. While the 2009 Estate Shiraz is a lovely wine it is the entry level and flagship Shiraz that really dominated my experience of Moppity Vineyards wines.

To start with the entry level 2009 Lock & Key shiraz I won’t muck about. When I first started drinking it I was thinking “Wow, this is really nice”, then when I noticed the recommended retail price was $14.99 I thought “Holy S%#T!, that’s bloody awesome value for money”, and Jason Brown from Moppity tells me some retailers are selling it for a few bucks less than this again! I can honestly say this would go close to the best value red wine I’ve come across in at least a year or so. The 2009 vintage for the Hilltops region has been one of their best on record and I can see why when wine at this price is already drinking as well as this 09 Lock & Key Shiraz.

While the 2008 Reserve Shiraz see’s a 400% increase in price, the key thing to remember is that it’s entry level counterpart is bordering ridiculously good value and that the difference in the 2009 and 2008 vintages will also play a part in skewing any direct comparison. They are totally different wines made for a totally difference market. All cool climate Shiraz lovers will appreciate them both but the real fanatics of the variety, like myself, will love the elegance of the 2008 Reserve shiraz. It is by far the most European like in style than anything else I have had out of the region and unlike the Lock & Key contains 3% Viognier. It is far more savoury and spice in both its aroma and flavour profile than the Lock & Key and after an hour in the decanter it was getting seriously smooth.

Moppity Vineyards – 2009 Lock & Key Shiraz and 2008 Reserve Shiraz
Price – $15 for Lock & Key, $60 for the Reserve from
Region – Hilltops NSW
Final Sip – The fact that I couldn’t split these two wines in deciding which to write about is hopefully a great compliment for Moppity Vineyards. Both are different in many ways and with one catering for everyday and the other perfect for a special occasion or for further cellaring my recommendation is buy both!

Noble Wine Of The Week – The Money Spider Roussanne

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

On a recent visit to McLaren Vale I dropped by the d’Arenberg cellar door and tasted my way through their extensive range of wines. I was instantly won over with just a few sips of this French grape varietal that is far from being a commonly made single varietal in Australia. Even in its country of origin, France, it is more commonly seen in blended wines than as a single varietal wine.

The story behind the name ‘The Money Spider’ comes from the discovery of this actual species of spider being found all over the grapes from the 2000 vintage. This led to that vintage being scrapped but the spiders soon moved on and the wine has been named after their fleeting visit to the vineyard a decade ago.

This wine has a lovely light golden colour and a rather unique aroma that includes pleasant hints of honey and fruit, but bang in the middle is this rather funky smell that I hope doesn’t put people off. Once tasted I am sure many consumers will get over the aroma as it is just such a lovely wine to drink. It has flavours of honey and citrus fruit which balance nicely.

d’Arenberg – 2008 The Money Spider Roussanne
Price – $20 rrp available from selected retailers
Region – McLaren Vale, South Australia
Final sip – I thoroughly enjoyed this unique wine and found it a refreshing change from the commercially popular white wines. d’Arenberg themselves have actually sold out of the 2008 vintage and the 2009 vintage only recently became available. The 2009 vintage is pretty similar, yet d’Arenberg say the 09 is ‘better than the 08’, then again, they would say that wouldn’t they! I’ll just say that If you see either vintages on the shelves of your favourite retailer I strongly recommend you pick one up and give it a try!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Molly Morgan 2010 Semillon

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Semillon from the Hunter Valley region in NSW is a quintessential Australian wine so it was no surprise to see it account for 100% of the wines I received recently to take part in a nationwide Semillon tasting. Wine journalists, bloggers and enthusiasts with a healthy following on Twitter were sent no less than eight Semillons from varied producers in the region and asked to taste and post their thoughts on each wine during a two and a half hour window on the social media website.

One of the better of those wines was the Molly Morgan 2010 Semillon. It is almost perfectly clear in the glass and has a light aroma of citrus fruit. Very pleasant to drink, this wine has the classic, crisp citrus flavours that are a hallmark flavour within young Semillon, but in this case they did not come across as over powering or overly sharp as other examples I’ve had.

Molly Morgan – 2010 Semillon
Price – $25 from
Region – Hunter Valley, NSW
Final Sip – Molly Morgan seem to have a knack for making really easy drinking white wines and their 2010 Semillon is no exception. The perfect accompaniment for fresh seafood dishes’, it’s ready and waiting for you this summer!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Capel Vale Shiraz

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Wines from Australia’s cool climate regions are all the rage at the moment and Shiraz is certainly appearing to be a bit of a superstar variety for producers in these areas. Taking things one step further, WA producer, Capel Vale, spent over 30 years researching and trialing different varieties in specific sites amongst three of Western Australia’s coolest regions. The end result is the release of their Regional Series from which optimal results have said to have been achieved after growing each variety on the site that brought out its maximum potential.

Mount Barker, a sub-region within the Great Southern wine region, was selected for Shiraz as it was found to produce a more elegant and classic style of Shiraz more in-line with European examples. In the glass it has a colour of cherry and ruby red followed by a nice aroma of fruit, oak and just a hint of spice/pepper. It drinks really well and has flavours of fruit, oak and some savoury aspects that are all well balanced. After a glass or two I found my palate was layered with the flavour of fresh cherries.

Capel Vale – 2008 Regional Series Mount Barker Shiraz
Price – $24.95 from and will also be found in many major retailers.
Region – Mount Barker, Western Australia
Final Sip – This is the second time I’ve had the pleasure of trying the Capel Vale Regional Series Shiraz and the quality has been consistently high, however it does have plenty of competition at this price point and even slightly below. If you are not a fan of the more popular, fruit driven styles out of regions like the Barossa Valley, or you are looking to try different styles of the variety, then I highly recommend you give this wine a try!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Eden Road Wines

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Anyone keeping track of my reviews over the past few months may notice that this week’s wine is the third to come from the Canberra District region. I can also tell you there are more on the way as the Canberra District wineries are cleaning up at wine competitions throughout Australia at the moment and even at the recent Tri-Nations competition where we competed against South Africa and New Zealand wines. While it is the red wines from the region getting most of the attention one white wine, recently voted amongst the best white wines in the region is the Eden Road Wines RHE. Inspired by the classic white wines from the Rhone Valley in France, this particular vintage of RHE is made from 100%, Single Vineyard, Viognier.

In the glass this wine is almost crystal clear with just a very faint hint of colour showing through. The aroma is rather light but shows hints of citrus and floral like notes. On the palate it has a strong citrus flavour and the first few sips create a tingling sensation on the end of your tongue that fades after half a glass or more. There is also a pleasant after taste of tropical fruit flavours that linger around and create a nice finish.

Eden Road Wines – 2009 ‘The Long Road’ RHE
Price – $21 from Also available at selected retailers where the price may vary.
Region – Canberra District
Final Sip – A pleasant drinking wine that will be even better with an appropriate food pairing. The winery suggests spicy Asian dishes and especially duck as a way to bring out its best.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Charles Melton – 2010 Rosé of Virginia

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Summer is fast approaching and during the warmer days most of us will steer away from the hearty reds that go so perfectly well with the winter chill and look for something more refreshing. Rosé is said to be one of the wine styles that will be ‘in vogue’ this summer and if this prediction comes true then in my opinion the Charles Melton, 2010, Rosé will rise to the top.

All great fashion includes great use of colour and the Rosé of Virginia honestly has one of the best colour’s in the business. Quiet dark for a Rosé it has a stunning, ruby raspberry, colour that shows flashes of purple when you swirl the wine in your glass. The aroma doesn’t show off quite as much as the colour does and at chilled temperatures most wines true aroma’s won’t shine through anyway. To drink the wine is rather full-bodied and while hints of strawberries and candied cherries may suggest this wine is sweet, nothing could be further from the truth. Savoury notes more commonly found in traditional red wines, like the capsicum flavours from the Cabernet, balance the total experience out perfectly. The predominant grape variety is Grenache at 46%, but to keep things interesting there is also Cabernet, Shiraz, Pinot Meunier and Mataro.

This is certainly a red wine drinkers Rosé to a large extent but a wine I know will get attention from all sorts of wine drinkers willing to experiment outside Sauvignon Blanc this summer.

Charles Melton – 2010 Rosé of Virginia
Price: $20 from and selected retailers
Region: Barossa Valley, South Australia
Recommended? Most definitely and it has taken over as my current favourite Rosé wine.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Morandé 2007 Pinot Noir

Monday, September 27th, 2010

I am rather excited about introducing this wine to people. If I was to compile a list of the more fascinating wines of the world I have tried over the past few years this Chilean Pinot Noir is right up on that list. While Chile may not be a wine producing country that instantly comes to mind when looking at Pinot Noir, the Casablanca Valley is one of Chile’s coolest wine regions, making it far more suitable to a variety like Pinot Noir that requires a cooler temperature to thrive.

Using organically grown grapes, this particular vintage was limited to just 33 barrels making it somewhat rare and far from the type of wine you’ll find on the shelf of your larger retailers. I first experienced this wine at the 2010 Good Food and Wine Show in Sydney, which coincidentally led me to another weird and wonderful international wine just the year before.

We start off with the pretty standard Pinot Noir colour of cherry and ruby red, however this is about the only part of this wine many would suggest is ‘typical’ of the variety. A strong nose with multiple aromas of things like jammy fruit, flowers and spices instantly have you knowing this wine is a little different. On the palate there is a range of unique flavours, many of which I am happy to admit I find difficult to tie down to anything really specific. I also find myself realising where the commonly used, but largely unhelpful descriptor, of ‘complex’ possibly becomes acceptable. There are definitely some hints of things like vegetables and meaty-like flavours and there is a rather subtle saltiness that is in no way unpleasant.

An important thing to point out is that saying a wine is ‘interesting’ or ‘unique’ doesn’t necessarily mean it is good or enjoyable. To set the record straight this is a good wine and the few people I shared it with all gave positive feedback. However, it is not the style of wine that I expect many people will have again and again, yet at the same time the experience will be savoured by most.

Morandé Edición Limitada – 2007 Pinot Noir
Price: $30 from
Region: Casablanca Valley, Chile
Recommended? Absolutely, this is a perfect example of the truly eclectic wines from around the world and for those wanting to try new things and expand their wine experiences the Morandé Edición Limitada Pinot Noir at just $30 could not come more highly recommended!

NOTE: This wine will be included in my next ‘No BS’ wine event, Pinot Fest, to be held in Sydney on October 20th at Fix St James wine bar and restaurant, located at 111 Elizabeth street, Sydney. A total of ten Pinot Noir based wines will be included and tickets are $95 a head and includes a four course meal and nine of the wines. A glass of Grand Cru Burgundy is being offered as an optional extra for $40 and will served in the beautiful Riedel ‘Grand Cru’ glass. This event is strictly limited to 30 places and anyone in Sydney on that date interested in attending should email me at

Noble Wine Of The Week – Golding Wines – 2010 ‘La Francesa’ Savagnin

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble from for

I laughed when I read an article the other day that suggested Savagnin should be called “The wine formerly known as Albariño”. For those of you not yet familiar with the story, in 2008, Australia become infamous in the wine world when it was discovered that all the vines we had planted throughout the country which we had thought to be the well known Spanish grape variety, Albariño, was indeed a French grape variety known as Savagnin.

From 2009 and onwards all wines from these vines had to be correctly labelled as Savagnin and with 2010 we see the second, correctly labelled, vintage of this wine starting to hit the market. Golding wines, based in the Adelaide Hills, is one of the Australian producers making Savagnin, and their 2010 release would make either the French or the Spanish proud. Even the name ‘La Francesa’ shows some humour from Golding Wines in this regard as it is a Spanish term meaning “The French Lady”.

Light in colour with the standard, pale straw-like tone, this wine has a lovely aroma of citrus fruit. The flavour includes a full range of tropical fruits with the citrus first picked up on the nose also evident on the palate. A more bizarre find for me when tasting this wine was when I exhaled through my nose onto the wine in the glass and found that the aroma that came back was completely different and included a definite note of cloves, which are actually referred to in the official tasting notes on this wine provided by the winery. I know that sounds like BS but give it a go yourself and feel free to leave your comments on whether or not you think I have totally lost the plot, or even worse… am talking BS!

A key point to note is that like many European style wines, Savagnin, is certainly a wine better accompanied with food than savoured on its own. Golding Wines suggest that the perfect paring would be  a traditional Paella with fresh seafood. I certainly won’t argue against that suggestion as it sounds pretty darn good to me and on that note I feel like heading off to the shops to get the necessary ingredients!

Golding Wines – 2010 ‘La Francesa’ Savagnin
Price: $25 from
Region: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Recommended? Yes, if you are a fan of light, crisp white wines and haven’t had a Savagnin as yet then the Golding wines 2010 “La Francesa” is a great wine to start with. For those who have already tried and enjoyed the variety this example will not disappoint.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Best’s Wines – 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Monday, September 13th, 2010

I was fortunate enough to have been sent the new range of Best’s Great Western release which includes their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Great Western region in Victoria. I actually cannot recall having had a Cabernet Sauvignon from Victoria so I was keen to see how it would fare up against those regions better known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, such as Coonawarra, South Australia, and Margaret River in Western Australia. Best’s are already producing some of the premier Shiraz in Australia, such as their ‘Thomson Family’ Shiraz. It quickly became apparent while drinking this wine that Best’s Cabernet Sauvignon may, one day, also be regarded as one of the best Cabernet’s in the country.

The Best’s Great Western 2009 Cabernet has a deep cherry red colour with a hint of purple. The aroma is pleasant and interesting in that it is neither fruity or savoury to me. The official tasting notes that came with my sample pack say it should smell like a cigar box but I am fresh out of cigar boxes at my place and would have little idea of what that would smell like for a proper comparison. The flavour is full of berry fruit, subtle oak and a hint of spice.

An easy drinking Cabernet that was enjoyable from start to finish!

Best’s Great Western – 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Price – $25 from and selected retailers
Region – Great Western – Victoria
Recommended? Absolutely and while it is a lovely wine now it will be fascinating to enjoy in 5+ years alongside its Coonawarra and Margaret River comparables.

Noble Wine Of The Week – One Planet Wine

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble for

One Planet wine was launched in May 2010 with the aim of providing its customers with a ‘Green Alternative’ to the traditional wine packaging i.e glass bottles. After two years of research they found that Tetra Pak gave them the best results. One Planet then co-brands their wine with individual wine makers and the current release wines are the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Sarah Fletcher (Wine maker of Alta Vineyards in the Adelaide Hills) and the 2008 McLaren Vale Shiraz from Tim Burvill (Founder and wine maker of RockBare and Mojo).

One Planet’s media release states that throughout the entire winemaking process greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 80% and that a saving of approx 6-9 kilos per dozen dramatically reduces freight related carbon emissions!

So this wine is good for the environment… but is it good wine? The short answer is yes and my comments on each wine is below

2010 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc – A vast improvement over the 2009 release, this Sauvignon Blanc has all the basics covered. Almost completely clear in the glass, it has passionfruit coming through in its aroma that follows through to a flavour of both passionfruit and lime/citrus.

2008 McLaren Value Shiraz – For anyone not convinced that Tetra packaging can house a top drop you need to try this Shiraz. For $15 this is really great value and would get a place on my top drops for $15 or under any day! Lovely colour and aromas with a delicious flavour of rich fruit and chocolate.

Consumer sentiment is still the key issue for large scale acceptance of wines packaged in this way. One consumer I spoke to said “I almost brought a pack the other day… but something stopped me. I thought of what ‘traditional’ box wine tastes like’. The main point I hope to convey is that these wines are quality wines in alternative packaging, not cask wine dressed up a little. Purists hardly need to be concerned as I cannot envisage the day that your sommelier will be bringing to your table that $50+ bottle of wine you ordered in Tetra Pak.

In fact direct to consumer sales are not even One Planet’s target market as such with the size and weight benefits of the packaging having far greater impact to specialised markets like boating, sporting and outdoor events, airlines, rail companies and even cruise ships and ferries. You may have already enjoyed a Tetra Pak wine and were not even aware of it!

One Planet Wine – 2010 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc and 2008 McLaren Vale Shiraz
Price – $14.95 each and available at 1st Choice liquor stores.
Region – Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Recommended – I’d be almost irresponsible not to recommend a wine that tastes great and is good for the planet. I am no greenie, to be honest, and all I was concerned about was the quality of the wine. Now that I know that these great value wines taste in no way inferior to their glass bottled equivalents I’d gladly welcome drinking them again and am grateful to have been shown the light as for recreation activities where bottled wine is a nuisance to bring along I have just found the perfect solution!

For more information check out the One Planet Wine website at

Noble WIne Of The Week – Blue Poles Vineyard

Monday, August 30th, 2010

A good friend of mine has a saying that “you don’t make friends with Merlot”. Over time I have found a fair share of people who would agree with that statement, at least to the extent of the bulk of Aussie, 100% Merlot wines. There is, however, always an exception or two to the rule and the Blue Poles 2008 Reserve Merlot is one of those exceptions.

This wine has a lovely deep cherry red  colour but only a very fruit faint aroma that is hiding a rather big fruit flavour. I really enjoyed every last drop of this wine and can say without a doubt it is one of the most enjoyable Merlots I’ve had to date. I can definitely see this wine making friends with both closet Merlot fans as well as its sceptics.

Blue Poles Vineyard – 2008 Reserve Merlot
Price – $35 from
Region –Margaret River, WA
Recommended – Highly. This is a really lovely wine to drink now and I’ll be adding a few bottles to my cellar to experience what I predict will be Merlot greatness in 5-10 years!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Elyse Zinfandel

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Review by Stewart Noble for

One week back from a trip to the United States that included two days in the country’s most famous wine region, Napa Valley, and I knew before I left that a Californian Zinfandel had to be my first review upon my return. You’ll have to do a bit of searching to find Australian Zinfandel’s, yet in California, Red Zinfandel sits just below Cabernet Sauvignon as the area’s staple red wine accounting for around 10% of all vines planted in the state.

I got a number of recommendations for good Zinfandel producers in the area from a great Sommelier at one of Napa’s  best restaurants, La Toque, so I had every confidence that the wines I was going to be trying during my visit would be high quality. First stop on my trip was a small producer called Elyse that started in 1986 with the first wine ever produced being a red Zinfandel from the Morisoli Vineyard. Now considered the labels signature wine I purchased a bottle and brought it back to Australia to share my thoughts on this classic Californian variety.

The wine has a lovely colour of both plum purple and cherry red with a nice aroma of spicy red fruit and just a hint of oak characters. Immediately smooth and enjoyable to drink the flavour follows the aroma with ripe fruit and tiny amounts of spice and oak. All of these components seem perfectly in balance and the finish is pleasant and actually a tiny bit savoury.

Elyse – 2007 ‘Morisoli Vineyard’ Zinfandel
Price – $37 USD from Elyse Tasting room/Cellar Door
Region – Napa Valley, USA
Recommended? Definitely, if you can get it! Unfortunately Elyse is not available in Australia but for any of our US readers or anyone travelling to Napa in the future I hope you can make time to stop and see the great guys at Elyse and experience what a high quality Zinfandel, made in the region that its famous for, is all about.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Vinteloper Shiraz

Monday, August 16th, 2010

The Vinteloper 2008 Shiraz and accompanying 2009 Sauvignon Blanc are the first commercial releases by winemaker, David Bowley, who setup his own label, Vinteloper, in 2008. Currently made in very small quantities the 08 Shiraz has a beautiful crimson red colour with a purple tinge. Hints of fruit and oak in the aroma are lifted out of the glass by a slight alcohol warmth.

This is a lovely, full flavour McLaren Vale Shiraz which is right up my alley. The 14.0% alcohol content was a surprise as I would of guessed 14.5% or higher. After a few sips it builds a lovely jamminess (yes I am inventing that word!) in the mouth  that I know is not to everyone’s liking, but I love it and this wine is by no means over the top in anyway.

Vinteloper – 2008 Shiraz
Price $38 from
Region Mclaren Vale, SA
Recommended Definitely, provided big, fruit driven shiraz is your thing as much as mine!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Sangiovese

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Sangiovese is an Italian grape variety mainly grown in wine regions in and around Tuscany, such as Chianti. Plenty of Australian producers grow the variety and make great examples of this classic Italian wine, yet the Canberra District has only recently started to experiment with the variety and so far showing great potential.

The Capital Wines 2009 release is their first foray into the variety and right off the bat I can tell you they have done a stellar job. The wine has a lovely, light, strawberry, colour with an aroma of red berries and a hint of spice.

Effortless to drink the fresh red berry notes give a hint of sweetness, and the touch of spice combines to make this a truly enjoyable drink that you will struggle to keep to just a glass or two!

Captial Wines – 2009 ‘The Foreigh Minister” Sangiovese
Price – $25 from
Region – Canberra District – ACT
Recommend? Si! And while most Italian style wines are made to be accompanied with food I still found this just as enjoyable on its own.

Noble Wine Of The Week – 2006 Barbera

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

On a recent drive up to the Hunter Valley I stopped by the Small Winemakers Centre, which is a joint cellar door facility for all the smaller producers in the region who cannot compete with the tourist hungry giants like Tempus Two, McGuigans, Hope Estate and others who have set up some very impressive cellar door facilities along the main tourist strip on Broke Road. If you turn left onto MacDonald Road just after you pass Tempus Two and Hope Estate you will find the Small Winemakers Centre directly opposite the Brokenwood cellar door entrance.

I have tried a number of wines that had come highly recommended from others, including wines from Andrew Thomas, The Little Wine Company and others. I brought home some wonderful wines such as the Andrew Thomas 2009 Braemore Semillon and others. However, the most recent bottle I have tried from that trip last year was the Margan Family 2006 Barbera. I don’t actually recall having had a pure Barbera before and certainly I have never purchased a bottle, but I was sold on the story the lady at the centre told me of a well travelled tourist whose favourite grape variety of them all is Barbera. Apparently he had tried many Barbera’s grown all around the world and he allegedly confessed to thinking the Margan Family Wine Makers version was close to, if not the best he had ever tried. True or not, I was sold!

Arriving in Australia in the 1960’s, Barbera is far from the most popularly grown Italian grape varietal  in Australian vineyards but many are finding that it does particularly well in our warm climate regions like the Hunter Valley in NSW. In contrast, Barbera is actually now the third most planted grape variety in Italy behind Sangiovese and Montepulciano.

Barbera’s popularity could easily grow in Australia if more people tried versions like the Margan. Cherry red in colour with a purple tinge, it also has a beautifully attractive aroma and is just as attractive to drink. This wine has a really great balance of sweetness, fruit, savoury and oak flavours. Pair it with a good Osso Buco and you’re in for a real treat!

Margan Family Wine Growers – 2006 Barbera
Price – $29 from the
Region – Hunter Valley, NSW
Recommended – Absolutely! Having never had a Barbera before I was genuinely excited to have found something new (to myself) that was so enjoyable!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Mount Majura 2008 Chardonnay

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble for

I was fortunate enough earlier this year to have a small corporate group I was with taken on a personal tour of the Canberra Districts wine region by a local winery owner. Out of all the wineries known as being within the “Canberra” Districts only around three wineries are actually within the ACT, one of which is Mount Majura. This was the first stop for our tour that day and the moment I tasted the 2008 Chardonnay I knew I had found a gem!

Local winemakers say the 2008 Vintage for white varieties in the region was a standout and this wine proves their point rather well. The wine is pure and clean to look at in the glass and the aroma is only faint, with hints of fruit, oak and the minerality that comes with today’s “cold climate” style of Chardonnay.

Such a lovely wine to drink I could have kept pouring glass after glass. In fact I think that is exactly what I did! Australia makes many great Chardonnays but when you put into perspective that this drop costs just $21 it really comes up trumps for great value!

Mount Majura – 2008 Chardonnay
Price – $21 from Check their website for retail stockists near you (price may vary)
Region – Canberra Districts, ACT
Recommended? Highly! At $21 this is as good a Chardonnay as I’ve had for the price anywhere and one which thoroughly deserves the gold medal it was awarded at the 2009 Winewise Small Vigneron’s Awards.

Noble Wine Of The Week – Louis Roederer 2002 Cristal

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble for

A good friend of mine and successful entrepreneur has a bit of a reputation with those close to him for random acts of spending. In the past this has included boats, cars, motorbikes and more. A recent example was when we were returning from the fish markets with a great collection of seafood to take back to my place and enjoy on the BBQ with friends.

We stopped by the local Vintage Cellars and my friend posed the question “What wine goes best with Seafood?”. I replied that a good Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon are the classic pairings but added that Champagne can also accompany seafood well. As I headed to the back of the bottleshop to find a suitable white wine I turned my back only to find that my friend has the store manager opening the locked cabinet of fine, expensive wines. He had a grin on his face and just said “Thought I’d get some cristal”, even asking the store manager if he had more than one bottle!

I had to laugh and cannot even remember what wine I ended up choosing as at that stage it didn’t matter and I was looking forward to trying one of the most famous Champagne brands in the world.

To be honest I have had Cristal once before when I was randomly handed a glass of it to join in a strangers toast to his son at a night club in Sardinia in 2008, but I can barely remember it, (it was a big night)! With the bottleshop only having a single bottle in stock we ended up at a Dan Murphy’s straight afterwards where my friend purchased a second bottle, one to drink tonight and one to add to the collection! If you can then why not!

The Cristal brand has enjoyed wide spread praise from many high profile rap and RnB stars such as Jay Z who, along with others, feature the brand in his song lyrics and music videos. This helped a brand once only known to Champagne and wine connoisseurs of the world achieve instant icon status with a younger, but still wealthy market.

Unfortunately the attention didn’t appear all that welcomed by the Chief of Louis Roederer, Frédéric Rouzaud, who in 2006 was posed a question relating to his thoughts on whether Jay Z’s association with Cristal could possibly harm the brand. He replied “that’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

Jay Z thought the comment was racist and immediately boycotted the brand and now endorses another Champagne, known as Armand de Brignac, through his clubs and bars in the United States .

But enough fluffing about and onto my humble opinion of the drink itself. I won’t muck about, this is one of the best Champagne’s I have ever had and I am not a huge drinker of Champagne or sparkling white wines in general.

I have also been fortunate enough to try a drop that would be considered a fair comparison in the 1996 Krug Champagne, one of the few wines ever to be given a perfect score of 100 from Australia’s most successful wine writer, James Halliday. I’d have to tip the 02 Cristal as being my personal preference out of the two and it is worth noting that Louis Roederer noted the 2002 Vintage had “exceptional” conditions for making high quality champagne.

This Champagne is a soft golden, pale straw like colour with light, small bubbles. Very smooth to drink for a Brut style and was very easy drinking. It was a dream with the fresh seafood we cooked that night and all of those that tried it will not forget this beautiful wine, nor will my friend that paid for it!

Louis Roederer – 2002 Cristal
Price – It does vary and at Vintage cellars it was over $400 but the best price I’ve found is $299 at
Region – Champagne, France
Recommended? Anyone with the opportunity to try any elite wine such as this would be silly not to take it up.

Noble Wine Of The Week – 2008 Eden Valley Grenache

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble for

If you’re in the market for a delicious red wine and willing to step outside the famed Australian comfort  zones of Barossa and Hunter Valley Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra and Margaret River then I’d like to make a suggestion. Try the MDV Wines 2008 Eden Valley Grenache.

This wine has a sexy aroma and colour that  is the teaser to a beautifully flavoured wine that has hints of sugar and spice and all things nice! It really is just lovely to drink and the winemaker, Michael Datta, took the time this past summer to show me the  wine’s unique diversity , which means it can be enjoyed slightly chilled as well as  at  room temperature  usually  recommended for red wines.

It may not be the grape variety you are used to and it is made in a region that is better known for its white grape varieties. However, wines like this are the reason why stepping outside one’s comfort zone every once in a while can really pay off!

MDV – 2008 Eden Valley Grenache
Price – $40 a bottle. MDV founder and winemaker, Michael Datta, has offered to take orders of any quantity and ship them to directly to you anywhere in Australia if you mention this article! (shipping costs may apply) Email him on
Region – Eden Valley, South Australia
Recommended? Definitely. The hint of sweetness within this wine is quite alluring and means it will pair well with spicy food. I took a bottle along with me to a family dinner at a Turkish restaurant in Sydney a few months ago and even the non red wine drinkers in my family really enjoyed it!

Noble Wine Of The Week – Patina Wines – Old Tawny Liquer

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Reviewed by Stewart Noble for

Patina wines owner and winemaker, Gerald Naef, has a strong belief that wines made from red grape varieties need age to truly show their best and no doubt most red wine enthusiasts would agree. Patina Wines current release red wines are at least five years old but when it comes to their Old Tawny Liqueur we are now talking about three times that age as this lovely desert wine is from 15 year old Tokay/Muscadelle grapes purchased from a deceased estate not far from Patina’s own vineyards in Orange, NSW.

It has a beautiful tawny like colour that reminds me of golden syrup and dark toffee. The aroma has hints of dried fruits and maple syrup yet its flavour is dominated by a wonderfully nutty taste that lingers and leaves an enjoyable after taste on your palette.

Patina Wines – Old Tawny Liquer (350Ml)

Price – $55 and available only from Patina Wines directly. Purchase by clicking this link:

Region – Orange, NSW

Recommended? Absolutely. In winter such a wine makes a great night cap but for the ultimate experience I suggest you pair it with a warm sticky date pudding! You’ll soon start to realise why buying a single bottle is a big mistake!