Wine | Matt Hayward's blog Melbourne Australia

New Wine Podcast on RRR radio

Hey Funkstas, more wine news! Over the summer break, the guys from the Eat It crew couldn’t be arsed and gave some other blokes a chance. Their show was called Plonk, and unlike Eat It, they deprecated the restaurants, fine dining and cooking and got to the heart of the matter: good vino! For better or for worse, when Cam and the Eat It boys resumed their awesome Sunday show, the Plonk boys lost their gig. RRR couldn’t find any air time for them. But they did think there was enough merit in doing a podcast – thank god! This is a one hour show and it looks like it will be a monthly podcast. Production quality is a bit naff, but the content is all great stuff. Three panelists talking all aspects of viticulture, tasting, the wine glut, vintages, regions, varietals, food matchings, you name it. The favourite is WWWW, or Wanky Wine Word of the Week! Each week they endeavour to demystify a new listeners wanky vinofile term. If you don’t know RRR, trust me this is cool community radio. So think young, laid back, totally non commercial and funky. Not old men with overalls and beards talking about things they found in their shed. Well worth a listen. Subscribe to the plonk podcast, or listen to the first...

Wine Tip: Hollick 2003 Wrattonbully Shiraz

After my third bottle of this over a few months, this is a dead set bloody winner. It’s not cheap, it’s not expensive (probably about $28 if you can find it), it’s just really, really, really good. I seldom mention wines on the old blog, but this is now my undivided favourite red. Wrattonbully is a region not far from Coonawarra in South Australia. No I can’t think of anyone else with a winery there. In fact this is their first vintage (2003). Unlike a lot of Aussie red wines out there at the moment, it’s not about overripe fruit. Nor is it about alcohol content or ball tearing tannings (a la McLaren Vale Grenache blends and there’s NOTHING wrong with that!). It’s actually the balance of this wine that makes it so good.  The acidity is as close to perfect as i’ve found in any wine. The fruit doesn’t dominate and is just right, and it’s beautifully savory on the palette. Very mellow, not too complex and oh so drinkable. Hollick describe it as elegant, i’m inclined to agree. It’s what a drinkable Aussie red should be. Don’t know about their passion fruit skins on the palette that Hollick describe though. A bit too high falutin for me . . . Food wise, the Wrattonbully would work with anything from a pasta to a good old fashioned rosemary and thyme lamb roast. Or for that matter cheese, more wine and shit talking. That I can certainly vouch for. This one can’t be missed if you’re a Coonawarra red lover. Look for the navy blue wrapping over the cork....

Don’t pull the Grange from under us!

Oh fateful day (well if that isn’t the gayest start to a blog ever). The other day was a a bit of a wine coup d’etat. In one day, I tasted the Penfold’s 1997 Grange and a mid sixties St Henri Shiraz. And it provided a very costly lesson – for some more than others. By talking about this, i’m probably ruining my chances of any other dumb wine luck. But by finding some dusty label-less bottles being in a shop being sold for charity, I came across the mid 60s St Herni shiraz going for a song. Of course the problem was, with a label, it’s pure speculation. Although everyone I spoke to (a Grange specialist on eBay, the Penfold’s customer support line and a posh wine store in town) unanimously agreed on the type and approximate vintage. Not a bad acquisition for a few measly bucks. The verdict was simply based on the markings on the bottle, and lack of a punt at the bottom. Apparently up until the 80s, they used really crappy glue on the labels. So it’s at least that old! How did it taste? For a wine up to 40 years, just pure simple fruit. No tannins, no jaminess or kerosene like viscosity you sometimes get with over aged wines. Only pure, simple, divine and well balanced fruit. A very rare experience indeed. How does this relate to the Grange? Well the store we were at had it on tasting at a highly reasonable $370 a bottle. Well highly reasonable for Grange considering most stores sell it for $450. A couple next to...

Wine region maps now targeting Murray Darling

Australian Wine Region Maps has been around for about 6 weeks now. About 350 wineries in 40 regions have been marked. Thanks to our mate Darby at Vinodiversity.com and a few wine forums, we’re getting there to our initial target of 500 wineries by March. But we need more help! So far finding wineries within regions has been relatively arbitrary. People keep asking ‘why don’t you just download the Yellow Pages or something?’. If only it was that simple. So many wine regions (especially the Coonawarra region) require expert knowledge, because 200 metres is the gap between one cellar door and the next! A few locals have been up to the challenge and been a great help. The phone book won’t tell you which is which. It seldom even gives you street number in the addresses. And if you check out some other sites that use Google Maps, the locations are really approximate (eg the middle of a national highway). We’re making a concerted effort to get locations as exact as possible. Another hurdle is identifying wineries by satellite imagery. In an area such as Sunbury in Victoria, this is a no brainer. Rows of vines stick out pretty clearly in satellite mode, if only because you’re guaranteed only one winery per about 5-10 kilometres. Go to Murray Darling/Mildura and it’s the complete opposite. The Murray region is so fertile that it’s near impossible to identify a winery without local knowledge. Almost every square inch of land is fertile with orchids, vines who knows what else. So there’s a bit of an inbalance between regions. So if you operate a winery, cellar...

Australian Wine Region Maps is finally live

Hurrah! It’s finally live for you to check out http://www.australianwineregions.com/ This site, using Google Maps, provides a map for each key Aussie wine region, and pin points selected wineries on the map. This is a personal project that i’ve been working on for a few months. Some of the features include: – you can ‘click and drag’ the maps around – zoom in and out – get a map, satellite image of a region or both – generate a printer friendly version – submit your favourite winery to the site (no doubt it’s probably not there yet. There’s only about 150 in there at the mo’) – You can create a link directly from your site to any map on ours. So that when you click on it, the region map will load with your winery details showing (see images below). – Is the winery entry just plain wrong? Well request an update. Easy! Google’s map service have only been going in Oz since April last year. So satellite imagery is at best patchy in some areas, excellent in others [especially the Barossa (South Australia) and Denmark (Western Australia) regions]. But it can only get better. So if you’re into wine, operate a winery or tourism board web site, use it to your heart’s content! Here are a few satellite images generated from the...

Is Bright great without Snow? Hell yes!

A few weeks back the snow was pretty bad in Victoria. So we decided to drive up to Bright. A town about 3.5 hours out of Melbourne nestled between the snowfields, the King Valley gourmet region and Glenrowan. The theory was that if the snow picked up, then we wouldn’t waste money going skiing. But if not, at least we were in town and there was plenty to do. As it turned out, we had a few cold days, but the weather was absolutely beatiful – for spring! Fantastic holidaying weather nonetheless. Some highlights were staying at the Buckland Resort. These 4 self contained studio apartments have everything from an espresso machine to 3 choices of pillows, LCD TV you name it! It was pretty expensive (approx $200 a night per 3 nights) but exceptionally good value. In many ways, these apartments are better than mine! It’s only about 5km out of Bright town, with some exceptional views. So I really can’t recommend this place highly enough. Restaurant wise, there are two, two hat highlights. Simones of Bright is brilliant. It’s a converted house so it has great ambience and reflects all the great Italian heritiage of the area. Venison mains (venison is big in these parts!) were quite simply unforgetable and their gnoccino (or just plain gnocci) was without doubt the best i’ll ever taste. Not cheap but reasonable. It’s a feed well worth staying in Bright for. Next we ate at the Villa Gusto resort. Now this is la dolce vita! This place is a completely private Italian villa resort and they go out of their way...