Category Archives: Victoria

Feb 02 2015

Cofield Durif 2007: A Wine that’s aged brilliantly

Posted on February 02, 2015 | By

Some good friends of ours have an Australian Day tradition of hosting a long wine lunch. This year 12 guests were asked to bring one of their favourite bottles. Each wine is served blind, and the owner of the wine is invited to ask a series of questions to see if anyone can identify it correctly. (It’s great fun and often the answers are all over the place!)

Most of the guests thought the magnum of Cofield Durif 2007 was an Australian cool climate shiraz, which probably came from Victoria or the Canberra District. But its strong peppery bouquet and full fruit flavours delivered in a medium body enlivened by clean yet silky tannins were in fact the hallmarks of a beautifully aged, eight year old durif from Victoria’s Rutherglen.

Durif holds a special place in the hearts of Rutherglen winemakers. It was successfully introduced to the region by viticulturalist Francois de Casella in 1908, who was looking for a suitable variety to revitalise the district’s vineyards after a devastating phylloxera outbreak.

Durif was originally cultivated in the South of France by botanist Francois Durif in the 1880s. It never really took hold in France, but today it’s also popular in the US where it’s called petite sirah.


Cofield WineryThe Rutherglen terroir has proven ideal for growing durif, which needs a relatively long and dry growing season to ripen properly. It is also a variety best suited to small scale production, as it demands a high level of vineyard attention to bring out its best.

Family owned producers like Cofield, Stanton & Killeen and Campbells all make fine table wines from durif, and the variety is a key component in the region’s acclaimed vintage and tawny style fortified wines.

Because of its massive colour and concentration, young durif wine is … Read the rest

Jun 06 2012

Mount Mary Quintet: The Quintessential Cabernet Blend

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By

When I was reading Jay McInerney’s article on Paso Robles blends, I couldn’t help thinking about Australia’s most renowned blended wine, the Mount Mary Vineyard Quintet Cabernets. Justin Smith of Saxum, one of Paso Robles’ most respected winemakers, told McInerney that “Blends are a great tool for winemakers to be able to bring complexity and balance to their wines, especially when working within a single site.” (Discovering the Beautiful Blends of Paso Robles by Jay McInerney, The Wall Street Journal, 15 June 2012)

Mount Mary has been putting Smith’s approach into practice for over 40 years. Back in the early 70s, Mount Mary’s founder, the late Dr John Middleton, decided that he wanted to make an elegant, low alcohol Bordeaux blend. He settled on a gentle, north facing slope in the heart of the Yarra Valley and planted it to cabernet sauvignon (46%), merlot (26%), cabernet franc (18%), malbec (5%) and petit verdot (5%). These varieties became the basis for his celebrated Mount Mary Quintet Cabernets.

Elegant, structure and complexity are the adjectives most used to describe the Quintet’s style. Middleton preferred the taut, tight and lean flavours of great old red Bordeaux, and modeled the Quintet on the classical proportioned wines he revered. When it was first released in 1979 the Quintet proved a revelation to consumers, more used to a richer style of Australian cabernet. Available only to buyers who gained a spot on the coveted mailing list, it quickly attained a cult-like status.

Today the Mount Mary vineyard is regarded as an exceptional site, and the crops are carefully managed to insure that the integrity of Middleton’s original style is maintained. (Apparently Middleton was very hands-on up until his death in 2006 at age 82.) Each variety, for example, is picked only after … Read the rest

May 05 2012

Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz: Still the Benchmark for Cool Climate Shiraz

Posted on May 05, 2012 | By

Today Mount Langi Ghiran, Seppelt Wines and Best’s Wines released a “Greats of the Grampians” Trio Pack.  The pack  includes a bottle of Best’s Bin O Great Western Shiraz 2010 (rrp $75), a bottle of the Mount Langi Ghiraz Langi Shiraz 2009 (rrp $95) and a bottle of the Seppelt St Peters Shiraz 2008 (rrp $75). It is available online for $199 from Best’s Wines.

Showcasing the distinctive character of cool climate shiraz from Victoria’s Grampians region, the pack honours the late Trevor Mast – the winemaker responsible for creating the benchmark Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz, and, as Tyson Stelzer of the Wine Spectator observed, “a visionary decades before “cool-climate” became a buzzword in Australian wine.” (Before acquiring Mount Langi Ghiran in 1987, Mast worked for both Seppelt and Best’s) (Trevor Mast, Australian Wine Pioneer, Dies at 63 Winemaker at Mount Langi Ghiran showed how outstanding cool-climate Aussie Shiraz could be by Tyson Stelzer, Wine Spectator, 14 March 2012)

Mast’s defining vintage was the Mount Langi Ghiraz Langi Shiraz 1989. With its spicy, pepper infused and floral characters, crisp texture and fine boned tannins, the wine quickly attracted international attention. In 1996, with only eight vintages behind it, the 1994 Mount Langin Ghiran Langi Shiraz graced the front cover of the Wine Spectator, sharing the stage with the iconic Penfolds Grange and Henschke’s Mount Eldestone Shiraz! ( Innovative and infectious ‘whiz-kid’ of wine industry by Ineke Mast and Gordon Gebbie, The Age, 16 April 2012)

Apparently Mast went out on a limb with his 1989 vintage. In a very wet season, he kept his nerve and left the grapes on the vine during the rain. After the vineyard dried out, he was able to pick perfectly ripened shiraz, producing an exceptional wine in what was generally … Read the rest