Salena Estate ‘Twisted Sticks’ Organic Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz

What a great name to put front and centre on a wine bottle!  Twisted Sticks.  I love it!  Seriously, the name got me in straight away and, when you think about it, that’s what a label and name are supposed to do to us punters.  Twisted Sticks.  There, I said it again!  The picture on the labels just add to the attraction too. This doesn’t take away from the fact both wines come from one of the largest organic producers in this great Southern Land of ours.  Now, I have heard people say, “Huh, organic just means they can add a few extra bucks to the price.”  Not with the Salena crew.  These two, for instance, come in at a measly $24 a bottle.  Yep, and for me, that represents incredible value.  I thoroughly enjoyed both of them and I have no doubt, when you try them, you will too.

2019 Twisted Sticks Cabernet Sauvignon

A lovely deep colour in the glass upon pouring it, then out came some pretty intense, youthful, fruity aromas of plums and blackberries.  Flavour aplenty on the palate.  Dark fruits make a big appearance with blackberries the main player along with dark and spicy cherries having a little say too.  Towards the finish there’s a sprinkle of herbs and the tannins chime in, albeit slightly drying, but I feel the rich fruit is well equipped to handle this.  A good indicator was on day 2 of tasting it.  The tannins had eased up nicely and formed part of a good, smooth, fruit forward finish. 

2019 Twisted Sticks Shiraz

This is also a lovely colour.  It has a youthful purple colour around the rim but it’s quite a deep colour at the centre of the glass.  It smells fresh and fruity on the nose (as expected for a young wine) where it’s like a cacophony of dark and red berries are fighting for attention, and it makes for a good introduction.  Generous flavours of black fruits and plums on the palate, a sprinkling of herbs and subtle spices complement the fruit perfectly as it finishes beautifully smooth if just a tad dry.  Yum factor is high!

Region: Riverland, SA     Price:  $24     Source:  Sample thanks kindly to and

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2019 Pig in the House Organic Shiraz

What a ripper wine!  Gee I enjoyed this.  I’ll tell you what, if you served this up to friends who enjoy a good red and didn’t tell them the price, I reckon the majority would pick it being more expensive than it is.  Seriously, this has heaps of flavour, freshness and punch for a medium-bodied wine.  And it goes about it in a manner that is without pretentiousness too.  There is no way some big bad wolf is going to blow this pig house down that’s for sure.

A youthful, pretty red/purple colour in the glass, this wine has a lovely rich nose of a fresh juicy berry compote with a hint of pepper and spice.  It’s all primary fruit on the palate, no doubt about that.  Dark fruits, plums and ripe cherry freshness are all front and centre supported by subtle herbs and spices.  Yes, it’s rich but a vibrant rich instead of a heavy rich (if you know what I mean) and it’s mouth filling and smooth on a pretty good, persistent finish to boot.  This is great value!

Pig in the House Website

Region: Cowra, NSW Price: $25 Source: Sample courtesy of Windowrie Wines and Define Wine

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Rare Ozzies. A Hundred Rare Australian Wine Varieties. Author: Darby Higgs (Vinodiversity)

I used to read a lot. I still read quite a bit but not as much as I used to or should. I’ve read pretty thick books that involved plenty of pages, almost into the four digits. From what I can remember, this one, consisting of just over 100 pages, took me longer to read than any other book I have read for a number of reason but let me explain the two main ones.

Firstly, the subject. This was always going to attract my attention. It’s about wine grapes! I have been introduced to a number of ‘alternative’ varieties grown and bottled in Australia and, if I see a variety I’ve not seen before, I buy it. This book is only going to feed that curiosity and has provided a legitimate excuse to open my wallet.

Secondly, I couldn’t help myself but research a number of the varieties in the book even more so, which included where I could get the wines mentioned. I didn’t realise just how many vineyards grow these varieties and how many producers are more than happy to bottle them. Have you heard of Arinto, Fernao Pires or Prieto Picudo? As a result of reading this book, I now have bottles of these varieties on the way.

I really appreciate being sent this book by the author Darby Higgs. It is truly a fascinating read for any wine geek (like me).

Rare Ozzies book By Darby Higgs
Posted in Other Reds, Other Whites | 2 Comments

Hastwell & Lightfoot ‘Fat and Skinny’ Pinot Grigio & Rosé

How good is it that summer is only a 27 days away. I don’t know about you but I tend to start scanning bottle shop shelves, checking out Instagram and looking at wine websites for summer wines that people are trying and/or buying. Yes, I realise people tastes are different but I can generally get a good idea if a wine is going to be what I like and am looking for. According to my wife, I have a pretty good ‘hit’ rate compared to a very low ‘miss’ rate. I’ve no doubt Pinot Grigio/Gris and Rosé will be very popular.

2019 Pinot Grigio

Quite fruity aromatically with pear and delicate citrusy notes. This doesn’t sound much but it is quite deceiving at this point. There’s a good amount of flavour that greets you on the first taste.  It’s gris/grigio for sure thanks to a good amount of pear flesh while a sprinkle of spice adds more interest as it finishes moderately long.  This is pretty good!

2019 Rosé

It’s all about strawberries.  On the nose and on the palate.  Delve a little deeper and up comes some floral like aromas as well.  Flavours wise you will come across red fruits (as well as those strawberry characters), there’s a little texture and spicyness but then a touch of harsh acidity arrives on a dry, slightly (surprisingly) tannic finish.  It’s an okay rosé but food will be its friend and saviour.

Region: Mclaren Vale, SA Price: $22 Source: Samples courtesy of Hastwell and Lightfoot and Define Wine

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2020 Selena Estate ‘You, Me and Pinot Gri…gio’

If you’re like me, and you just have to visit a bottle shop for one reason or another, you have to have a bit of scour of the shelves and see what’s there. I call it research. Someone very close to me, let’s call her my wife, disagrees. Anyway, depending on the bottle shop, there is always the usual suspects of course but sometimes, and more regularly these days, a label grabs my attention for any number of reasons. The label on this bottle would certainly grab my attention and not because it is attention grabbing. It just seems passively bright and friendly and I can’t help but be drawn to it. The contents did the same thing to me…and my wife. 😊

Aromatically, it doesn’t seem to want to offer up much but that didn’t bother me because I was more drawn to the lovely light coppery colour. In some ways, the palate was not what I expected. Yes there is some pear influence adding to soft red fruit characters as well yet it has texture, it has a nice touch of palate weight and it has a slight bit of acid on the finish which all adds up to a very enjoyable, refreshing wine. Good one!

Region: Riverland Price: $20 Source: Sample generously provided by Salena Estate and Tash Stoodley of

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2017 Black Wines Mudgee Riesling

There are over 2,300 wine producers in Australia (according to 2019-20 data). Now, as much as I would like to, I doubt I will ever get to try a wine from every single one of them, and one of the reasons is, I’m unlikely to know a vast majority of them.  That is why it is always great to be introduced to a small producer clearly making some very nice wines.  I’ve been swapping wines for some time now, happy to introduce small, lesser known Tassie producers to those on the big island, whether they be a winemaker, vineyard owner, wine blogger or even a wine enthusiast.  Thanks to the latter, I was sent this Riesling (one of my favourite varieties) to try.

Quite subdued aromas to begin with but a bit of air and swirl and those typical Riesling aromas came out.  The palate proved to be very interesting indeed.  Everything about it at this point was delicate.  There was plenty of the lemon and lime flavours you’d expect yet so nicely delicate.  The refreshing and fine line of acidity that came with those flavours is so delightfully delicate.  The long, dry and mouth-watering finish also had a particular delicacy and refinement about it.  This was a wine that was never going to be an in-your-face type of Riesling, and I mean that in a good way.  It seems to go about its business without the fuss and bother yet in a very satisfying manner.  This Black is the new White on my Riesling list.

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $35     Source: Wine Swap (Cheers Simon)

Black Wines Riesling 2017 White Wine Mudgee New South Wales Australia
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2019 Yelland & Papps Second Take Vermentino

I like the word ‘Vermentino’.  When I say it, I feel I don’t have to put any emphasis on any of the characters.  They seem to speak for themselves.  When the word adorns a bottle of wine, I have a whole new ‘like’ for the word because it means the fermented grape juice inside is Vermentino.  Speak to friends of mine and they will tell you of my enthusiasm for this variety.  If I find one you can just about bet London to a brick I will buy it to try it.  I have the Yelland & Papps team to thank for the introduction to the variety way back when, and I will be forever grateful.

Yes, it’s a little cloudy but nothing to be concerned about.  Take in the aromas and that cloudiness will be a thing of the past.  Aromatically it has citrusy notes, hints of apricot and funk ‘n’ spunk.  Oh yeah!  There’s a freshness on the palate as stone fruit characters come to the fore along with a cashew/almond/hazelnut-iness.  Loved the soft textural feel on the palate with just a hint of spiceyness providing a nice dimension and some acidity chiming in.  This is a balanced beauty.  My memory is not that great but I am comfortable in saying this vintage would have to be up there with one of their best.  But they are always ‘the best’ so, not much more needs to be said really.

Region: Barossa Valley, SA     Price: $45     Source: Sample thanks heaps to Yelland & Papps

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2019 Yelland & Papps Second Take Grenache

It’s easy to get carried away with a quality wine that captures your senses when you open it, pour it, take in the aromas and, of course, taste it.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  I consider myself pretty lucky because, for fear of sounding like I am bragging (sorry), it’s a regular occurrence for me.  When the Yelland & Papps wines turn up at my home, that quality is a given.

When it comes to these wines, it’s a bit like trying to decide which child is your favourite.  They all have their little idiosyncrasies, personalities and attractive characteristics, but you like them all equally.  If I had to pick, this one always seems to get more of my attention than the others and not just once or twice but every time, every year.

I don’t know if it is possible to be able to smell aromas of ‘fresh’ and ‘juicy’ but that’s what I got when I dived my beak into the glass.  Raspberries and blueberries and a sprinkling of herbs greet your nasal senses.  The ‘fresh’ and ‘juicy’ aromas are almost tangible on the taste buds where cherry and blueberry characters shine along with a nice dash of spice.  Things just keep rolling along beautifully thanks to silky smooth tannins and the terrific fruit combining for a pretty impressive finish.

It’s lovely, light/medium bodied and fruity, yet seems to move up a notch the longer it sat in the glass.  It just kept drawing me back again and again and again.  Great stuff!!

Region: Barossa Valley, SA     Price: $45     Source: Sample thanks heaps to Yelland & Papps

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2016 Gartelmann Wines Diedrich Shiraz

Many years ago now my wife and I designed and built our first ‘together’ home.  By built, I mean we hired sub-contractor tradies to build it for us.  Anyway, we knew exactly what it was going to look like when it was finished but, during the construction phase, it was quite an interesting experience.  Over an extended period of time, bits and pieces would turn up on-site and, individually, they didn’t look like anything special.  But, as those bits and pieces were brought together by the skilled tradesman, we ended up with a place we called home.

I found this wine to be similar.  The first day I tried it, it was like bits and pieces of the character of the wine were ‘on-site’ but yet to come together as planned by the skilled winemaker.  The second day however, things had taken shape and those ‘bits and pieces’ had formed into a thing of elegance, richness, beauty and completeness.

Quite aromatic thanks to dark and red fruits, a touch white pepper and spice with the oak just poking through.  Heaps of fruit driven flavour when tasting it.  Mainly dark berries and cherries but there’s a nice coating of plums in there too.  It’s delicately spicy on an elegant, medium to full bodied palate as it finishes off nicely thanks to smooth tannins and a good dash of oak.  Gee it’s a good wine!  Just be patient…please.

Gartelmann Wines Website

Region: Orange, NSW     Price: $50     Source: Sample thanks to Gartelmann Wines and Define Wine


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2016 Angullong Orange Region Cabernet Sauvignon

Recently I had a conversation with a young bloke who knew I was into wine.  He told me Cabernet was his go-to wine.  Two things surprised me about the comment.  Firstly, a young bloke talking about wine instead of beer, bourbon or whisky.  Secondly, saying his go-to wine is Cabernet (I would’ve expected Shiraz).  I had to delve deeper.  As it turned out, his father was a staunch Cabernet drinker and he regularly shared a wine with his dad from a well known Cabernet region. How good is that?! I asked if he’d thought of trying one from a different region and he was genuinely interested in hearing my suggestions, one of which was Orange.

Definite Cabernet Sauvignon greeting on the nose with lovely black fruits, a sweetish red berry influence in there too and a sprinkle of herbs and spice.  There’s a lot to like on the similarly appointed palate.  The usual suspects of blackberries and blackcurrants arrive with gusto, yet dried Italian herbs and some chocolate characters don’t miss out on some of the limelight.  Interestingly, I found it to be quite savoury, yet there was a sweet fruit touch to it as well in a balanced way I must add.  Yes, there’s oak, yes there’s (slightly drying) tannins, but it all comes together in an elegant, smooth, medium bodied wine.

My opinion only of course but, I think it is drinking very well now at 4 years of age.  It may have some time up its sleeve but at $22 a bottle, why wait?!

Angullong Wines Website

Region: Orange, NSW     Price: $22     Source: Sample courtesy of Angullong wines and Define Wine

Angullong_Cabernet 2016

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