Former Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate chief winemaker Sandro Mosele has joined Mornington Peninsula-based wine importer Euan McKay in a part-time sales role. Mosele left his 11-year winemaking role suddenly in July. For someone who has achieved amazing things with the wines at those properties, his departure was a shock.
It would be difficult to find a more worthy recipient for the Viticulturalists of the Year award. The Chalmers family has contributed an enormous amount to warm-climate viticulture, to the cause of alternative grape varieties, to the diversity of Australian wine and to their fellow grapegrowers. The fact that this is truly a family business with no fewer than five family members now involved, gives it extra resonance.
Tom Carson is a cool-climate winemaker whose great love is pinot noir. Chardonnay runs a close second. He’s taken Mornington Peninsula vineyard Yabby Lake to a new level with both these Burgundy grape varieties. Earlier, he put Yarra Valley winery Yering Station on the map, with outstanding wines from several grape varieties. As part of the Yering gig, he made the Yarrabank sparkling wines. He worked vintages in Champagne and Burgundy to learn more about those styles. At first glance, you might think having to make a Heathcote shiraz – one of his tasks with the Yabby Lake group – might be something of a chore. (Both Yabby Lake and Heathcote Estate are owned by Melbourne business couple Robert and Mem Kirby, of Village Roadshow.) Heathcote can be damned hot, and searingly dry, and has produced some very big and sometimes inelegant wines over the years.
Virginia Willcock, chief winemaker at Margaret River winery Vasse Felix (tasting notes), has won the 2012 Winemaker of the Year Award, organized by Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine. A six-person panel including myself selects the Winemaker of the Year from a short-list of eight. The other seven
I regularly run into drinkers who lament the passing of rich, full-bodied chardonnays. They rightly observe that there’s been a sea-change in Australian chardonnay, from the big, buttery, often rather oaky styles of the 1980s and ‘90s to the lower-alcohol, finer, less-oaky and more ageworthy wines of today. Who could forget the ‘Dolly Parton’ wines such as the Tucker Seabrook Trophy-winning Renmano Chairman’s Selection Chardonnay in the early 1990s, an almost undrinkable wine in my view. The pendulum has swung way back to more delicate, and generally much better wines. They’re often made by winemakers avoiding the enriching malolactic fermentation, but the biggest change has been fruit sourcing. Today’s best chardonnays come from much cooler vineyards. But perhaps the pendulum has swung too far.
After a recent tasting of new-release samples of non-mainstream red varietals, I was shocked to find two wines I didn’t particularly like ended up giving the most pleasure with dinner. The wines were both produced by Italian consultant winemaker Alberto Antonini from Australian-grown grapes. Both were deliberately made in a non-fruity, savoury style which is polar opposite to most conventional Australian red wines. But, as Antonini himself says, they’re designed to be served with a meal, not drunk on their own.