Australian Vineyards – Flame Hill Vineyard

By Philip Arlidge

Vineyards. Wineries. Wines. Wine. Australian. Queensland

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Tags: Vineyards. Wineries. Wines. Wine. Australian. Queensland

Flame Hill Vineyard, What’s Happening and More…

Last month we mentioned a couple of Queensland wineries worth visiting down the coast but the other week on one of our Sunday sojourns we found a winery closer to home in Montville. I had read a couple of positive reviews on the The Flame Hill Vineyard so we popped in just to see what it was all about.

The winery is situated on Western Avenue which is the road just before entering Montville from Maleney that goes down to The Baroon Dam. It is about 2.5 km’s on the right and is well worth the visit, it reminded me of many of the smaller family run vineyards in Western Australia where the employees seem more like family.

The views are outstanding, the cellar door is well presented, and the day we were there the restaurant was full. I tried three of the wines, the Wooded Chardonnay, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Shiraz and all were well made wines with the grapes being sourced from their own vineyards in The Granite Belt and Montville. There is a good selection of wines and the menu is set up to satisfy those who want to enjoy A La Carte Dining, Gourmet Plates, Picnics and Cheese and the Sunday Brunch comes highly recommended.

They even offer a Charcuterie Plate on the terrace amongst the vines. The size of The Australian wine industry in 2015 has declined by about 40,000 ha since 2008 and whilst there are still a few new vineyards being planted we are pulling up unwanted ones and in 2014 the industry crushed 1.7 million tonnes of grapes a 7% decrease on 2013 with the breakdown being 48% white wine grapes and 52% red.

Even with the decline of production we have still seen the planting of new grape varieties such as Pinot Gris/Grigio whose production over the four years to 2014 went from 39,000 tonnes to 61,500 tonnes so one could expect that sales of some of our traditional varieties are suffering during this period. Added to this the average price paid per tonne of grapes is $441 which has gone up and down over the last fifteen years but is still a lot less than the peak of $933 per tonne in 2001 and during this period operating costs have risen making for seriously low profits.

There are currently around 2481 wine companies in Australia of which five Accolade Wines, Treasury Wines Estate, Casella Wines, Australian Vintage and Pernod Ricard have a market share of around 50%. If you add to this a few of the larger family companies such as McWilliams and De Bortoli and the top ten companies control 80% of all wines sales in Australia which leaves the other 2471 fighting for what’s left! On the retailing front 77% of the wine sold in Australia is by Woolworths (Dan Murphys, BWS and Woolworths) and Coles (Liquorland, Vintage Cellars and First Choice Estate) but if you are thinking of buying through Cellarmasters or even Langton’s Fine Wine Auctions these companies are also part of the Woolworths Group.

On a lighter note the situation of over supply has at least kept wine prices in real terms at an all-time low and by sifting through the daily adverts in the liquor section you really can get some extraordinary bargains, last week Houghtons Classic White was $5.90, less than half price, and Jacobs Creek Reserve Range under $10 per bottle about half price at Dan Murphys, and I have a feeling this situation will not be going away any time soon.

Take overs still abound, this last twelve months have seen The Accolade Wine Group acquire Grant Burge Wines and Casella acquire Peter Lehman Wines, but mergers have been happening since the year dot which leads one to question whether the same effort goes into the label as when it was an independent winery and indeed do the grapes still come from the original vineyards, even the same districts?

This months tasted wines. Wahu Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $7.00 from Liquorland

If you enjoy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at a budget price then this is probably as good as you will get. Lots of ripe fruit flavours and goes extremely well with shell fish, fish and chips and chicken dishes.

Houghton White Classic $6.00 to $14.00 just about everywhere

This wine has been around for nearly 70 years and still is one of the top selling white wines this is not only ready to drink now but will develop over 10 years or more. The wine was originally 100% Chenin Blanc which grows very well in The Swan valley in Western Australia but nowadays is a blend. It’s a fruity dry unoaked white wine perfect for drinking on its own or enjoy with fish or chicken.

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Just about everywhere $10.00-$18.00

If you can get this wine for around $10 then it is a real bargain. Typical Coonawarra style with blackcurrant aromas and a full bodied palate, enjoy now or cellar happily for 5 years or more. Next month we will look at some of the new varieties appearing on the shelves.

Cheers. Philip Arlidge

“People who like this sort of thing will find this sort of thing they like” Abraham Lincoln Benjamin Disraeli put an interesting point of view in 1845 from one of his characters in his novel ‘Sybil’ “ I rather like bad wine” said Mr. Mountchesney “ one gets so bored with good wine” I’m not too sure about that!

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A highly successful sales and leadership career working in a number of different and very competitive industries. Engaging with decision makers at all levels in business and government. Three decades employed by corporations, SME businesses in senior roles and almost twelve years operating as a freelance contractor has equipped me well for all aspects of business. Whether leading and mentoring sales teams, or in a direct sales role I enjoy the challenge to meet and exceed expectations. Making a real and tangible difference in either a team environment or as an individual is an important personal goal I have consistently achieved throughout my career. In all of my business and personal dealings over the years there is one issue that stands out above all others - communication. Excellent communication skills creates trust, helps with mutually beneficial outcomes and above all cements long lasting positive relationships. I strive everyday to communicate effectively with the people I encounter.