Nov 282020
White wines


  • My preference is for dry as most Australians are.
  • A perfect fish wine.
  • I love aged Rieslings evolving to kerosene.
    • Tasmania.
    • Clare / Eden Valley.
    • Geelong / Henty.
    • Far south WA.
    • Alsace, France for all beautifully aromatic whites, dry → very sweet.


  • Only with some oak influence. I like a creamy but mineral Chard.
  • Cooler climates preferred but most places can grow good Chardonnay.
  • White Burgundy.

Pinot Grigio / Gris

  • Cool climates again, wherever Pinot Noir grows well.
  • I prefer the more acidic Italian style Grigio, fresh, lively, almost cutting.
  • Gris style is richer, sometimes with a touch of sweetness and old oak fermentation. This is the French / Alsace style suited to creamy seafood and chicken dishes (traditionally bottled in Riesling bottles).

Sauvignon Blanc

  • Not my favourite Australian white, where it is often overpowering in tropical fruit but lacks structure – too simple.
  • I like the New Zealand grassy, gooseberry style.
  • The French Loire style is different again, with bright fruit and structure.


  • Only old ones from the Hunter Valley.
  • I don’t like Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blends – often cheap and nasty.
Sparkling wines


  • I prefer the classic Champagne blend but always from cold climates.
  • Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir:
    • Blanc de blanc is all Chardonnay, ultrafresh, touch of citrus.
    • Blanc de noir is all Pinot Noir – more meaty, masculine, deep.
    • Rosé has some Pinto Noir skin contact for colour.
  • Vintage means the grapes are from one year. The Champagne houses only produce a vintage Champagne in exceptional years.
  • Big houses tend to make more complex sparklings because they blend more base wines. Small producers make individual wines that vary from year to year.
  • Tasmania vies with Champagne for the best. The UK performs well too.

Prosecco (and other non Champagne varieties)

  • Prosecco (and other non Champagne varieties) make simple wines but non challenging and good value bubbles.
Red wines

Pinot Noir

  • My love for elegance, savoury character and wonderful structure.
  • Must be cool climate:
    • Burgundy.
    • Tasmania.
    • Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Macedon.
    • Adelaide Hills.
    • Far south WA.
    • New Zealand (I prefer Martinborough to Central Otago).
    • Oregon, Canada.

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • The classic French variety, usually blended in Bordeaux but a straight varietal in Australia (sometimes middle palate softened by Merlot).
  • I like the cool climate wine with a touch of herbs/greenness and an austerity that promises longevity:
    • Coonawarra.
    • Margaret River.
    • Yarra Valley in warm years.
    • Bordeaux.
  • Big cassis, brambly flavours in Australia. Taut tannins worthy of ageing.


  • To me best as a blender, too soft except in Pomerol.


  • Australia’s own but the same variety as Syrah in the Rhone.
  • Cool climate style is spicy and peppery, round but big tannins:
    • Heathcote, Yarra Valley, Geelong.
    • Adelaide Hills, Clare.
    • Cote du Rhone.
  • Warmer climates produce big, bold almost jammy Shiraz:
    • McLaren Vale, Barossa.
    • Hunter, Orange, Mudgee.
    • Swan Valley.
  • Blends well with Cabernet for the iconic Australian red.
Fortified wines

Sherry (Apera in Australia)

  • Best from Spain.

Port from Portugal

  • Rutherglen best in Oz.
  • Vintage made from one year’s grapes, bottled early then bottle aged.
  • Traditionally, a bottle should be consumed in one sitting (to avoid oxidation or just the British?).
  • Tawny is aged in the barrel, a blend over many years, brown from oxidation/age.

Muscat and Tokay (Topaque in Oz)

  • Basically fortified grape juice.
  • Rutherglen’s own from super ripe Muscat and Muscadelle grapes.
  • Intensely luscious and aromatic.