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Ben's Summer Drinks

What does the Winemaker take on Holiday?



Getting ready to head off with my posh car fridge.
Sorry kids, no room for juice boxes.
Heading to the shack in East Gippsland. A day and a half drive from the Barossa. Three kids and a puppy in the car. Girlfriend, two kids and a puppy in the other car. Jeez we better drink well.

I selected a dozen lighter reds and a box of riesling.

You might be interested in what I chose as I know all our wines very well – I made most of them! (with the able assistance of 'Gregory the Helpful German' of course).

Most will be chilled unless we come across a cool night. Even, God forbid, a block of ice and the occasional squeeze of lemon. Horror!

I recommend you experiment with this – especially in summer. All you are doing is adding citric acid. We use it in winemaking all the time.

Some of the wines will go down beautifully on a winter’s night in front of a fire – warm and smooth. On the balcony of the beach shack in 35-degree heat is a different game – I want higher acid for tighter, more refreshing wines.

And there is nothing wrong with watering down your drink a bit – I don’t recommend falling off the jetty. A little math will tell you that adding 5% water to a drink that is 14.5% will result in a drink that is 13.8%. Less falling…

The Riesling is clean and tight - perfect for summer days. Will easily sustain a block of ice and retain flavor.

Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. And a little break, as good as mine promises to be.

Cheers,

Ben

PS. One wine I regret not adding is the PPB Premium Private Bin 87 Barossa Valley Cabernedro 2016 – bugger.

PPS. Mum loves the Bengalee Grenache. Clever lady!

Our Summer Reds Collection


Glug 'Ben's Summer Red' Selection

Contains 1 bottle each of the following wines:-

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Mount Eagle Eden Valley Riesling 2017
So Great - Let Us Say Thanks
Mount Eagle Eden Valley Riesling 2017

Region: Eden Valley, SA

As you would expect the owners of historical properties who also have valuable vineyards are very proud of their reputation. So it Rieslings like this Mount Eagle are so intense with tightly, compacted flavour that explodes as you taste that no matter how long you have been drinking wine, you will stop and pause to say, how lucky we are, to have such pleasure.

The Murray River flows slowly west across the flat plains and then turns abruptly towards the sea as a bit further west the hills and ranges of Adelaidean-Mount Lofty Range rise dramatically barring entry.

Within this range is the first of the great premium regions of South Australia, the Eden Valley, which in turn forms the protective rim around the golden jewel of the Barossa Valley.

The Eden Valley is diverse and complex with vineyards from 300 metres to 600 metres. So expect diversity of flavour plus it’s about tiny pockets of vineyards not a continuous sweep. From one such tiny pocket came this sensational Mount Eagle.

Price: $9.99

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Crayford Barossa Valley Graciano 2015
Always Buy Great Wine when Offered
Crayford Barossa Valley Graciano 2015

Region: Barossa Valley, South Australia

The Barossa Valley is positioned on the top rung with the other great Global wine regions. Some have cool climates, some have moderate climates and a rare few have warm climates like the Barossa Valley, all of which means the tastes will vary a lot, but above all it means that now and again perfection results.

The Barossa climate brings to perfection Shiraz, Mataro and Grenache and it follows that other varieties which make great wines in other warm climate regions across the Globe should also be tested.

It has taken time but now wines from varieties like Negro Amaro, Sangiovese, Graciano and Tempranillo are available. Dozens and likely hundreds more will be worth exploring. As often noted we buy good wine when it is offered regardless of variety or the difficulty of selling though at times our bravery weakens.

Customers of our Crayford wines know they are often adventurous varieties to which I say, surely that is what you want from on-line wine merchants who like to push boundaries. This Crayford is an exceptional wine made to delight.

Price: $9.99

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Trennert McLaren Vale Grenache Rose 2016
Real Rose From Grenache
Trennert McLaren Vale Grenache Rose 2016

Region: McLaren Vale

McLaren Vale is now making a claim as the best region in Australia for Grenache. They may well be right though these claims highlight that several South Australian regions over the last decade have indeed mastered the art of making fabulous and complex reds from Grenache.

The raw material goes back a long way as 100 year old vines exist in McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley though the dry reds always seemed to be made as an after-thought and lacked depth of flavour and complexity.

The best in the 1960s and 1970s were those made into rosés but were marred of course by high sugar content as the market was the drinker who enjoyed sweeter wines. Now with a much firmer vision not only are great dry reds on the market but winemakers like Benjamin Parker are approaching Grenache as the natural variety to make the traditional pale coloured, very dry, rose style of Europe and particularly Southern France. When it's right as this Trennert is they are very great styles.

Price: $10.99

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Langdorf Kaldukee Barossa Valley Mataro 2011
Bringing the Best of Barossa Alive
Langdorf Kaldukee Barossa Valley Mataro 2011

Region: Barossa Valley, SA

We have a bit of the 'build it and they will come' view of wine at Glug. One of the centre pieces of the new Barossa which we and a few other are trying to build is to highlight the two traditional varieties of the Barossa, mataro and grenache. Blends of these two with shiraz have gathered pace and are often called GSM's or variants depending on which variety is dominant. We also want to have available a range of single varietals.

The grapes for this Kaldukee were sourced from a number of growers in the traditional part of the Barossa, and by this I mean along the floor of the Barossa, as distinct from the surrounding hills. Like all of our single varietal bottlings of mataro the quantity is small as we select the best and also because not a lot is grown.

Price: $9.99

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Bengalee Barossa Valley Grenache 2014
Western Ridge Warmth
Bengalee Barossa Valley Grenache 2014

Region: Barossa Valley

The first Bengalee was a Shiraz 2008 and the first Grenache was the 2010 making this release the fourth Grenache. All wine regions over a certain size show enough landscape variability such that it makes sense to talk of sub-regions. In this case the vineyard source was up around Greenock along the western ridges where its higher and being from the northern Barossa Valley also a bit warmer.

This region also takes the brunt of the westerly weather so it is often wetter in winter. These landscape changes are not sharp so drawing boundaries is silly but there is enough variation in the Greenock sub region to move the flavours away from the norm. Grenache was planted likely from the start in the 1840s though as often mentioned being able to buy 100% Barossa Valley Grenache is quite recent.

At Glug we are big supporters of the variety, indeed we see drawing your attention to Barossa Grenache as a duty but alas the beauty of the flavours are not widely embraced. Very simply this spells out bargain as the Barossa has a finite size and the flavours cannot be duplicated elsewhere.

Price: $11.99

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Goat Square Barossa Valley Mataro 2014
Outstanding New Release
Goat Square Barossa Valley Mataro 2014

Region: Barossa Valley, SA

The winemaker has mentioned how this Mataro has been developing over the few years and I also have followed its progress and as excitement built it was recently rated good enough for the Goat Square range. The last was the 2010 and nothing since had made the grade.

If you like Barossa Shiraz you will like this wine. When we make our Barossa reds we let the climate create the flavour and the warmth of the vintage is by far the main component of the flavour.

Only after a few glasses will you see the variety unfold and with Mataro you will detect a complex, roasted meat like character on the back palate.

I think at this stage it gets better again and it slowly evolves and moves away from Shiraz, not far, but enough for an experienced drinker to become excited by the difference. Yes we are pretty proud of this wine and will last for ages in a good cellar.

Price: $9.99

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Crayford Barossa Valley Mataro 2014
In The Sunlight At Last
Crayford Barossa Valley Mataro 2014

Region: Barossa Valley, SA

You will not find a genuine, handmade red from the Barossa Valley in old retail of this quality for under $20-that’s my promise. The four great red varieties of the Barossa are Shiraz, Mataro, Cabernet and Grenache with Cabernet being the most recent with large plantings dating from the 1970s.

The other three I refer to as the heritage varieties as these were planted back in the 1840s and 1850s. They struck gold in the Barossa as they flourished in this rare climate. Mataro is seen as a ‘workhorse’ and gave a back palate strength to many early Barossa Shiraz and is still widely used for this purpose. The time has arrived for it to stand alone and many artisans are now working to capture its complexity.

We are champions of the variety and for a modest price this Crayford will deliver power and complexity. Expand your range of favourites to embrace Mataro is my suggestion but not of course an example grown in a cool climate.

Price: $9.99

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Crayford Barossa Valley Grenache 2015
World Class for Three Pence Halfpenny
Crayford Barossa Valley Grenache 2015

Region: Barossa Valley, SA

High quality for a modest price sums up our view of drinking well.

I know the wines of the Barossa Valley very well and Grenache of comparable quality to this Crayford sold by small producers and artisans would start at $25. Large companies of course seldom release a Grenache varietal as they deal in large volumes.

Those who enjoy this variety are specialist or enthusiasts about wine as its not a main stream variety. Interest will grow as Grenache is a natural for our warm regions and world class wines are being made every vintage as it is perfect for the Australian climate.

While it may be hard to get your head around what is happening let me affirm that chasing names and point scores will not provide satisfaction. Buying authentic country wines of Australia, which show superior features is the way forward for your drinking.

A steal at this price and 10/10 on my value for money scale.

Price: $9.99

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Goat Square Barossa Valley Grenache 2015
Great Wine And Worth The Trouble It Caused
Goat Square Barossa Valley Grenache 2015

Region: Barossa Valley, SA

From the moment the grapes arrive this wine was different to all the other batches. As soon as it fermented the colour and aroma began showing intrguiging differences so it was isolated and kept for special attention. If you have wondered about extending your drinking range then this is the wine to buy.

It's Barossa first then Grenache and shows outstanding perfumed fruitiness and I just have the feeling those who have advanced palates are likely to find this more interesting than Shiraz.

McLaren Vale winemakers are working hard on defining Grenache from that region and are making outstanding wines and I think it would be good for consumer interst to match the best of McLaren Vale against the best of the Barossa. If so then this would be our entrant.

Since we began Glug we have been big supporters of the heritage varieties like Grenache and I see far better value in a wine like the Goat than comparable wines from the Rhone Valley that are often $60 to $100 a bottle.

There is no reason at all for such a price discrepancy and just shows how diligent searching will locate value.

Price: $9.99

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Village Belle Barossa Valley Bonvedro 2016
Vibrant, Sappy and Complex
Village Belle Barossa Valley Bonvedro 2016

Region: Barossa Valley

When we imagined the new business Glug back 2003 we wanted to support old established varieties which had not gained favour like Mataro and Grenache plus have a range of lesser known or new varieties. The Village Belle range allows the winemaker to fulfil both of these aims though to date has concentrated on making wines from new and rare varieties or in the case of Bonvedro a surprise discovery.

We now know that Bonvedro has been growing in the Barossa Valley for a very long time having been miss-identified as Carignan. Doubts had been expressed by a visiting expert in the 1970s and recent genetic testing has shown that some Carignan is actually the Portuguese and Spanish variety Bonvedro.

Over the last few years we have been working with Grenache to achieve a complex, sappy, fresh red style to appeal at lunch and in the afternoon. This Bonvedro follows this search and we think is best consumed when young, lively and vibrant but it is Barossa so you will get ample complex flavours.

Price: $9.99

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Village Belle Barossa Valley Mourvedre 2014
New Village Belle
Village Belle Barossa Valley Mourvedre 2014

Region: Barossa Valley

The wine maker Benjamin Parker invented the Village Belle series of wine to focus on new and non-traditional varieties and alternative ways to present our old Barossa, heritage, vine stock.

The wines have the structure to keep and likely would surprise on the upside if cellared but they were created to emphasise aroma and freshness with the view that youthful tastes offer a pleasurable alternative.

With this Mourvedre the fruit is upfront and soft, has the same striking deep colour of the variety, but shows a plumpness that is not held in check with tough tannins.

Using a term like luncheon red tends to pigeon hole a wine but helps in understanding the direction taken. I strongly endorse the result and fulfils the thoughts we had when we began Glug which was to present interesting wines to a small group of consumers searching for an alternative wine merchant.

Price: $9.99

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Postcards 'Busy Farmer' Langhorne Creek Barbera 2013
Absolutely Nails this Variety in the Australian Context
Postcards 'Busy Farmer' Langhorne Creek Barbera 2013

Region: Langhorne Creek, SA

Of the four Postcards that winemaker Nicholas Bourke has created for Glug, I find the McLaren Vale Shiraz the easiest to recommend as it is a known quantity. However, this 'Busy Farmer' Barbera is the most profound and technically perfect.

Barbera has its home in Italy and I have enjoyed the many versions for decades. Barbera was planted in Mudgee in the 1980s but it was hard work getting customers interested. Italian wines are currently very popular in restaurants and if our sommeliers can think outside their fetish for all things Italian they will find some profound examples in Australia.

Purchasing a wine such as this does remove you from the mainstream, and thankfully many Glug customers love that position, but remember this wine is Australian first and Langhorne Creek second so you will not be rushing to the spittoon after the first taste. Indeed you will be like most advanced tasters. When wines are masked, only the best identify the variety and next to none will be correct with the district of origin, so please have no fear, this is a very enjoyable wine. If you drink it next to another red then the 'I see' moment will happen.

I might also add that Langhorne Creek is a very important district and the reds being produced are still unrecognised for their quality. This will change over time.

Glug sees part of its role as bringing new wines to your attention and we are delighted with this creation by Nic Bourke.

My tasting note from 10/12/2013 reads: "Bright crimson colour right to the edge, appealing ripe berry aroma but dusty and complex and says to me 'this is Italian', with a touch of the feral oddity of this variety, big full mouthful with length and grip but not aggressive, a hall mark feature of a Bourke wine, builds on the palate but lively and complete".

Price: $11.99

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Rara Avis Barossa Valley Mataro Grenache 2013
The Rare and Best Of Barossa
Rara Avis Barossa Valley Mataro Grenache 2013

Region: Barossa Valley

This is the fourth release of the Rara Avis the others being 2002, 2008 and the 2012. An associate still has stock of the 2008 and I can relate that it is a masterpiece of great beauty. The name plays homage to all things that are rare, beautiful and perhaps extinct.

One of my favourite stories is about the Stephens Island Wren : "At a recent meeting of the Ornithologists’ Club in London, the Hon. W Rothschild, the well-known collector, described this veritable, rara avis, specimens of which he had obtained from Mr Henry Travers of Wellington, who, we understand, got them from the lighthouse keeper at Stephens Island, who in his turn is reported to have been indebted to his cat for this remarkable ornithological 'find'.

As to how many specimens Mr Travers, the lighthouse keeper and the cat managed to secure between them we have no information, but there is very good reason to believe that the bird is no longer to be found on this island, as it is not known to exist anywhere else, it has apparently become quite extinct. This is probably a record performance in the way of extermination. The English scientific world will hear almost simultaneously of its discovery and its disappearance," The Christchurch Press 1895.

Price: $9.99

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