Tasting the Exotic d’Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2015 McLaren Vale White…

One of my favourite Rhone variety whites is the Chapoutier Chante Alouette Hermitage Blanc made from pure Marsanne. This is unusual because with the exception of Condrieu, based on single varietal Viognier, Rhone whites are normally blends creating finished wines that are almost always greater than the sum of their parts. 


Another fine wine in this mould is the Roussanne 2015 from Southern Australia, where the d’Arenberg winery, established in 1912, has been tending vineyards for four generations. Chester Osborn oversees the wine making where Roussanne grapes were gently basket pressed and fermented in stainless steel, finishing at 13.4 Abv. 

The quaint name originates in the vineyards where the harvesting of the first vintage of 2000 was cancelled due to swarms of money spiders that were found in the fruiting bunches. Consequently, they were spared and thus the 2001 represents the maiden vintage instead.


Tasting Note: Now this is an exotic, aromatic beast. The nose unfurls in layers of perfume and fruit. Rich crunchy yellow peaches, stem ginger, toasted almonds, tangerine citrus pastille fruits, green honeydew melon and seductive honey suckle fragrance. The palate is rich, unctuous, fleshy and voluptuous but with a very contrary, nervy vein of acidity. It thoroughly tantalises the senses. The concentration is profound but is so beautifully balanced with pithy marzipan spice, caramelised green figs, and a long sweet – sour finish. A wine with real presence and interest at a great price. 

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tasting Profound Dry Australian Riesling at its Very Best ~ Clos Clare Riesling 2015, Watervale, 12.5 Abv.

Who can remember the late 1990s or early 2000s when Riesling meant fruity QbA classifications like Kabinett, Spatlese etc from Germany and sales were perpetually waning as the market cemented its love affair with dry (fruity) Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc?


I remember visiting Weingut Donnhoff in the Nahe in 2002 and tasting all the fruity wines as well as one or two trocken (dry) styles. When I asked Helmut why he did not export the dry styles to the UK, he replied that only Germany wanted them and the UK only drank the fruity styles. I then proceeded to place the first large order of dry wines Donnhoff had ever exported to the UK. 


More importantly, what allowed this to transpire, was the sudden interest and demand among new, educated consumers, inspired by dry Australian Riesling styles from Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley and Margaret River primarily. Germany stood up, took note, and have never looked back. Anecdotally, I’d say dry styles and dry Grosses Gewachs out sell the fruity styles in the premium categories. So Germany owe Australia a free lunch.


Few dry Aussie Rieslings typify this revolution in quality more than Tom and Sam Barry’s Clos Clare Winery in Watervale. Adjoining the famous Pewsey Vale “Florita” vineyard, these 45 year old dry grown vines were harvested on the 17th of February in 2015, chilled for 24 hours, and then whole bunch pressed before fermentation. Having recently tasted a vertical back to 2000, I can honestly say that dry Aussie Riesling doesn’t get any better. 


Tasting Note: This young Riesling has the pristine clarity of a crisp Spring morning. Pale straw and lime yellow. The nose is ultra cool and pure with subtle notes of lime cordial, crunchy white peaches, fresh lemon grass, limestone minerality and dusty mandarine citrus. So pure and seductive. The palate is every bit as vibrant, laden with lime peel, lemon Bon Bon boiled sweets, wet chalk, green apple peel and subtle mixed dried Thyme herbs and lime pastille length. Crystalline and mineral, this fresh zippy Riesling sucks you into its tractor beam and does not release you until the bottle is finished. A classic, fresh, bone dry Clare Valley version that shows dry Aussie Riesling at its very best. Keep or drink over 10 years. 

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Old dogs don’t need new tricks…

I can’t claim to drink massive amounts of Australian wine. Why would I when there is so much exciting, well priced South African kit on the market in the UK.

But when I do drink an Aussie bottle, 9 out of 10 times it will be a cooler climate expression from Victoria, Adelaide Hills, or WA (Western Australia). Today was a Margaret River kind of day!

David Hohnen is an old dog of the Aussie wine trade and practically invented winemaking in Margaret River and half of New Zealand with the creation of the Cape Mentelle brand in Oz and Cloudy Bay in New Zealand. Today his focus is firmly on his McHenry Hohnen estate wines.


Never one for frivolous chatter or too much smiling, David is a lovely, deep, mysterious kind of character who makes tantalisingly fresh wines with a real purity and a sense of place. His top end estate wines ooze class and Margaret River typicity. 

David’s Tiger Country 2010 is a fantastic blend of Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Graciano and shows beautiful aromas of black forest fruits, dark chocolate liqueurs and spicy berries. The palate is restrained and multi-layered with a real mineral presence of crushed gravel and graphite and finishes in a harmonic medley of black fruits, chalky tannins and fine balancing acidity.  (Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

I always love catching up with David in London as invariably the banter eventually drifts in multiple, exotic directions. Today was no different… working in New Zealand, the Isabel Estate, gun auctions, and hunting in the creeks of Margaret River. Classic!