Wednesday, March 30, 2011


It was surely one of the most important and glorious marriages that between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc in the late 17th century, when in the quaint village of Bordeaux they gave birth to one of the most important grape varieties in the world, Cabernet Sauvignon. Its bold and sturdy character make it an ideal survivor of cool damp conditions, thereby finding it easy to plant its roots in various wine regions in the world.

Throughout the years Cabernet Sauvignon made good friends with a number of grape varieties which developed great blends both in Bordeaux and in other wine regions like Coonawarra. Being a late ripener with high levels of tannins, friends like Merlot, Malbec, Shiraz, Cabernet franc and others help by adding soft, round fruit to the denser character of Cabernet Sauvignon. For many this grape variety reaches is highest expression on the top left bank of Bordeaux in sub-regions of Pauillac, Saint Julien and Saint-Estèphe giving top First growths with exceedingly high prices. Yet what about the other wine regions tucked away in the faraway land of Australia?

Around three quarters of Australia’s Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in South Australia and yes to my luck Coonawarra has been and still is one of the best hosts for this grape variety. A few years back discussing old world versus new world wines a friend of mine remarked, there are so many great wines in Italy and France, surely enough for a lifetime so why bother about new world wines after all? Well, I hope my friend gets more than one lifetime because the wines from Coonawarra and other regions in Australia merit a few years of indulgence and appreciation.

There was no better way to appreciate this great variety other than to attend the Coonawarra Cabernet Masterclass last November which was conducted by James Halliday and taste the iconic Mildara Peppermint Pattie 1963 vintage. Nicknamed Peppermint Pattie due to its strong minty characters, this was Mildara’s first 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra aged for 2 years in French and American oak and sold at $1.85 a bottle. With its red brick and brown tinge this wine stood out from the rest of the Coonwarra crowd; an aroma profile still generous with cedary black fruits and still some hints of peppermint, medium weight on the palate having a good balance with subdued tannins yet present acidity. A remarkable character for a 47 year old still charming everyone in the room.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A 6 month journey.. to be continued

Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls.. I present (Drum roll) my 6 month research on regional development in South Australia. I decided to upload only my thesis presentation which is a summary of my work. It was really an interesting 6 month journey during which I met inspiring winemakers and wine marketeers all adding value to the rich, cultural wine heritage in South Australia.

This research really helped me understand the philosophy behind South Australian wine marketing and to appreciate further new world wines. There is some great talent within the regions of Barossa, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra and I am pretty happy I managed to absorb so much knowledge and great wines throughout these 6 months.

It is also with great pleasure to announce that my research will be presented at the 6th AWBR international conference hosted by Bordeaux Management School, in Bordeaux.

A round of applause... :)

View more presentations from baxisa81.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Golden Goodness

The early days of the wine industry in Australia focused on the production of fortified wines. In those days 80% of the total production of Australian wines was fortified, whereas today this is the exact opposite, with Rutherglen keeping most of the fortified production alive. 170 miles north-east of Melbourne, the Rutherglen wine region owes its glory both to the gold rush and grape rush periods.

The visit to Campbell’s winery captured the beauty and unique heritage behind the styles of wines produced in this region. Fourth generation winemaker Colin Campbell is the current custodian at Campbell’s winery and gave us great insight into the alluring production methods of Rutherglen Muscat and Topaque (formerly known as Tokay).

The magic behind these wine-styles mainly relies on the commitment of generations of family winemakers who kept old stocks alive and who cautiously blended small portions of these stocks to make the final golden goodness. The whole process is rather long with great attention to detail especially when selecting the solera system which best suits the new wine stock. The tin sheds, synonymous with Australian culture, also play an important part in the ageing of these wines. Not as architecturally beautiful as the tuffeau cut cellars of Vouvray but equally as important to complete the distinctive characteristics of these wines as they get very hot in the sizzling summer days helping the maturation process of the wine.

Rutherglen Muscat and Topaque do not only vary in grape variety (with Muscat using Muscat à petit grains rouge ,locally known as Brown Muscat and Topaque using Muscadelle) but also stylistically. In their younger years Muscats have more floral, caramel and honey nuances which develop wonderfully into nutmeg, chocolate and Christmas cake notes. Topaque are more savoury in style with black tea, coffee and rancio characteristics more present.