THE BRIBIE WINELANDER – Wine talk

With Philip Arlidge

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Wines. Sparkling. White. Red. Shiraz. Queensland. Australian

Tags: Wine. Red. White.

To say it is an understatement that we live in the lucky country when it comes to wine was emphasised when I recently received a wine book from my golfing chum Greg Paul who thought it may be of interest as it went back to the late 1980’s and it certainly threw up a few interesting facts. The book which showcased wines in 1988 costing between $3 and $20 shows Rosemount Shiraz and Chardonnay selling for around $9.20 on a dozen purchase and this week at Liquorland Sylvan Beach they cost $8 on special at half price, Houghton Classic White(White Burgundy) $10 in 1988 is now around $8, Windham Bin 555 and 777 was $7.20 and it is still possible to pick these up for around the same price.

Obviously many wines have gone up, for instance, Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Dry Red and Bin 28 were $8.75 and now they are around $30 but with costs going up probably 5 fold since the 1980’s it shows that it is still possible to find bargains if you are prepared to look around and in most cases the quality is still there. A couple of editions ago I mentioned the Northern Territory had intentions of putting a minimum floor price on wine, well it was passed this week in parliament and will come into force on October 1st this year. They are the first Australian jurisdiction to do so and effectively it puts an end to inexpensive wine regardless how responsible you are as a drinker, the cheapest bottle of wine will be about $10 and a four-litre cask will go to around $40.

Beer and spirits are unaffected, but this isn’t a tax so if anyone is prepared to buy these products the retailer will get the extra profit, however you can rest assured that it will be only a matter of time before this spreads around Australia and eventually The Federal Government will introduce it as a tax! I was going to present wines from either The Napa Valley in California or from France at the last Beefsteak and Burgundy evening when a day out to The Fortitude Valley changed all of that. We had lunch at Harvey’s and on the wine list was listed a Cabernet Merlot from Dutshke, one of my old agencies in The Barossa.

The wine was a new label simply named “Uncle” and sums up owner/winemaker Wayne’s outlook on life in the naming of his wines and he only makes red wines and fortified wines. For the last five vintages, a straight Merlot has been produced from grapes grown on the block 80 vineyard planted by his uncle Ken (Semmler) who planted the vines on The St. Jakobi Vineyard in 1980 and it is simply called “The Block 80” Merlot.

Houghton Wines. Wine. White. Red.

Normally blended with Cabernet it can, in the right winemakers’ hands, produce a full-bodied style in its own right and this is a good example of just that. The “GHR Neighbours” Shiraz which is named after the Gods Hill Road that leads to The St. Jakobi School and Church which is where his vineyard is situated and his neighbour’s vineyard where he sourced his grapes. The Cabernet is named “Sami” after his daughter Samantha who when at the age of just 6 weeks he introduced her to winemaking with his wife Brenda by dipping her feet into a bucket of Cabernet Sauvignon and then making footprints on a sheet of paper and sending it to her grandparents in America.

For the dinner at The Surf Club we had The Lanson Black Label Champagne on arrival, The Alan Scott Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and The Dutschke Block 80 Merlot with the mushroom soup, The Dutshke ‘Uncle’ Blend and The Dutschke St. Jakobi Shiraz with a dish of pulled slow cooked lamb and finished with a sticky date pudding with The Dutschke Tokay and a great night was had by all.

In 1977 The Queen visited Australia as part of her Silver Jubilee and escorting her to The Kaiser Stuhl Chateau for lunch was Oscar Semmler the grandfather of Wayne and to celebrate the occasion Wayne has named his reserve label “The Oscar” Shiraz. When I sold the wine each bottle was wrapped in a copy of the front page of the local newspaper of the day but I think this exercise would have been very time consuming even though it added interest to the product.

When conditions are right and when doing a sampling of all the barrels of Shiraz, if one barrel stands out as exceptional Wayne will release 400 bottles of this wine with a limit of just two per customer, the wine, of course, is called “Single Barrel Shiraz” and since 2010 only two vintages have been released. In the fortified he calls his port “The Old Codger” and on a visit to Reno in Nevada a couple of years ago we came across this wine on a liquor store shelf, but Wayne also makes a Tokay, a Muscat and Bourbon Barrel Tawny, a 22 year old Tawny, and a Sundried Shiraz.

If you really are interested in drinking some of the finest wines made in The Barossa a few of the labels are sold in Dan Murphy’s and if you are visiting the Fortitude Valley The Cru Liquor store sells all the range including the fortified wines which are quite stunning. Talking of The Silver Jubilee brings back memories of my period with Kaiser Stuhl before the takeover by Penfolds. The Kaiser Stuhl label was the result of a joint venture by many of the smaller vineyards in The Barossa Valley and they formed a co-operative to survive. They built a Chateau as the face of the winery which still stands today but now carries the Penfold sign.

wine tips and tricks

In their day Kaiser Stuhl dominated the wine cask market, Summer Wine was the largest selling sparkling wine, and the Black Forest Moselle and The Gold Medal Rose were also very popular. Many of the individual vineyards had Germanic roots and were represented by the “Ribbon” range which consisted of a Green Ribbon Riesling, a Gold Ribbon Spatlese, a Purple Ribbon Auslese and a Black and Red Ribbon Shiraz. The Red Ribbon Shiraz won many awards including The Stodart Trophy awarded here at The Royal Brisbane Wine Show. The Kaiser Stuhl Silver Jubilee Port and The Kaiser Stuhl Gold Label “Champagne” were served at the lunch attended by The Queen on her visit to The Barossa in 1977.

As with many takeovers, The Kaiser Stuhl label disappeared in the mid-1990’s as it didn’t fit into the portfolio of the huge range which now falls under the Treasury Wine portfolio. Cheers, Philip Arlidge arlidge@bigpond.com.au

FROM TWO GUYS WHO SHOULD KNOW: “Wine is the most healthful and hygienic of beverages.” Alexander Fleming “Penicillin cures but a wine makes people happy.” Louis Pasteur

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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.