100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow 2011/2012 – Dates, Reports & Wines

Confirmed Roadshow Merchants, Reports, Dates and Contact Details

28th September 2011 – DONE

Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

The 100 Best Australian Wines roadshow 2011/2012 kicked off with a phenomenal tasting at Tate Britain.  With the impressive backdrop of Pre-Raphaelite paintings adorning the walls, over 150 guests joined Matthew Jukes and the Tate’s wine captain Hamish Anderson to enjoy a fantastic array of Australian wines.   Two hours of serious tasting got under way with Matthew on hand to answer all questions from guests.  Many were surprised by the quality and diversity of the wines on offer, with one lady commenting, ‘I didn’t associate Australia with these types of wines.  I have been amazed at the elegance on display.’

3rd November 2011 – DONE

Vagabond Wines, 18-22 Vanston Place, Fulham Broadway, London SW6 1AX

The Vagabond team put on a terrific show last night in their beautiful shop in Fulham and people were already tasting away an hour before the official kick off time of 7pm!  Every single wine showed beautifully and Colin commented that he was excited to taste the range of wines himself, because he was on the look out for some fabulous new listings.  The punters loved the individual flights of Semillons, Rieslings, Chardonnays, Pinots, Cabernets and Shirazes – each one showed off the diversity and wealth of choice in virtually every corner of Australia.    Clearly the expensive wines were jumped on and adored by the keen tasters, but the lower end of the spectrum was thoroughly vetted, too – many commenting that these were the best value wines that they had ever tasted.

29th November 2011 – DONE

Hermitage Cellars, The Brookfield Hotel, Havant Road, Emsworth, Hants PO10 7HG

Alistair and Becky Gibson put on a magnificent 100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow event at the Brookfield Hotel and I cannot ever remember seeing a queue of people form as quickly as they did that evening, at 6.30pm on the dot, in order to pick up their Dartington tasting glass and get stuck into the wines.  Every level of wine knowledge was in the room, from eager amateurs, to people new to Aussie wines and also some very experienced collectors.  I raffled off a few bottles of rareAustralian wine from my cellar and we raised £320 for local charities, 130 glasses were used which must mean that well over one hundred people showed up and after three hours of civilised sipping we all called it a night.  Alistair reports good orders coming in, in time for Christmas entertaining.  Agents Negociants and also Enotria sent highly educated staff along to help with the pouring and the upshot was some good business, some new listings for Hermitage Cellars and a century more fine Australian wine lovers in the South of England.

2nd February 2012 – DONE

SH Jones, Cellar Shop, 2 Riverside, Tramway Estate, Banbury OX16 5TU

You’ve got to hand it to SH Jones.  They are some of the most clued up chaps in the wine business – thoroughly professional, generous and totally committed to promoting and drinking fine Australian wine.  They also know how to inform and educate and so this year’s 100 Best Roadshow event was a blast.  Some sixty-five people attended and they tasted the room dry.  I showed a large range of wines and everyone made sure that they tasted everything!  They loved the Dartington glasses, too, which has been a stand out feature, and improvement, of this year’s Roadshow so far.  A vocal group, there were questions, loads of enthusiasm and plenty of orders placed, too!  Kieron Galliard, overlord of the SH Jones posse, noted that the evening was, ‘definitely another big success all round’ and that it had ‘given us some food for thought on our Aussie listings, too, which is an added bonus’.  This strikes at the heart of my reason to organise this Roadshow.  It is hopefully an evening like no other which thrills the customers, but which also prods the merchants into branching out and discovering new and exciting wines themsleves to list and spread the word.  I look forward to returning to this incredible shop.  If you have not already come across SH Jones get in touch with them now – they are not only wine wise, but they are also very good lads, too.

9th February 2012 – DONE

Great Western Wine, Wells Road, Bath BA2 3AP

On a wintry evening in Bath, the warm welcome at the wondrous ‘library of wine’, that is GWW, was amazing.   The whole team was there to chaperone sixty-five thirsty wine lovers through an incredible array of wines.  Not surprisingly, on such a freezing cold evening, the fizzies and whites served as aperitifs in lining people’s palates up for a stunning range of stately reds.  Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Fiano and Chardonnay – coming from a multitude of regions and showing all facets of flavour, all looked sleek and thrilling.  But the reds stole the show starting with some sultry Pinots and moving through every variety imaginable and ending up with some massive, inky, brooding Shirazes which (bizarrely) I have to admit seemed slimmer and less daunting than usual!  It must have been the weather!  Kate Robinson, GWW’s private client sales guru, reported that, ‘The tasting was a great success!  Matthew – thank you very much for coming down to Bath to meet our customers and enthuse about the best wines of Australia.  There was a great atmosphere in the shop and we had lots of positive comments which resulted in some great orders.’  As I made my way back to London it started to snow and as I looked out of the window of the train I regretted not bringing a bottle of fine Aussie red with me to warm me up!  The next day twitter was alive with praise for the event and most importantly the sensational wines.  My abiding memory was that I reckon there were more converts to top Aussie wine at GWW than at any previous event.  Many were blown away by the detail and complexity of wines that they had previously imagined would be one dimensional, oaky and solid – it’s always nice to change people’s minds forever!

1st March 2012 -DONE

Corks Out, The Park Royal Hotel, Stretton, Warrington

The lovely setting of the Park Royal Hotel was the backdrop to one of the most memorable stops on the Roadshow so far.  Ruth Yates and her superb, well-drilled Corks Out team manned the tables and poured the wines for a hugely enthusiastic audience.  The brilliant Dartington glasses were swirled like never before.  Dave Marsland, local hero, drinks commentator and mixologist set the pace, writing notes on every single wine and photographing the crowd and the bottles, too.  Click here for his excellent report – http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/06032610-drinks-enthusiast-matthew-jukes-top-100-australian-wines-roadshow-park-royal-hotel.  Ruth reported fabulous sales on the night and a host of new listings, too.  This doesn’t surprise me in the least because the tasters were highly knowledgable and also fastidious, not missing a wine and vocalising their thoughts at every step.  This was my first trip to Corks Out country and I was mightily impressed with the honesty and accuracy of the palates in attendance.  I will certainly be back.  The room was packed with MoneyWeek, Daily Mail and even some The Wine List(!) fans and I am certain that the wines not only dispelled a few outdated opinions on Aussie wine styles but they also found a lot of new homes, ready to be poured and adored by their new owners. I have received a number of lovely emails from tasters thanking me and the wineries for broadening their wine horizons and showing off the sheer excellence of fine Australian wine.  I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to return next year.

3rd March 2012 – DONE

House of Menzies, Castle Menzies Farm, Aberfeldy, Perthshire PH15 2JD

Kate McDiarmid always puts on a great show and her stunning wine boutique had a steady stream of wine mad punters flowing through its doors during our five hour marathon tasting.   She also manages to attract trade representatives of many of the wines to come and pour for her customers, so you can imagine that the wine knowledge and experience on display was second to none.  No less than six companies were represented and this shows the level of committment that the wine trade has to Scotland, Australian wine and the fanatical wine lovers that House of Menzies furnishes with terrific wines.  One of the reps quietly noted that he had sold out of one of his wines on the day!  Loads of new listings were secured while Kate and her husband Mike tasted the full range looking for new wines to stock.  As an Aussie specialist store it was no surprise that the keen customers were also Aussie-smart.  I enjoyed some serious banter with well-travelled wine lovers about their exploits Down Under and also their back catalogues of top flight Australian wine in their collections.  I am certain that this stop on the Roadshow added handsomely to the private cellars of many of Perthshire’s most committed oenophiles.  There is no doubt that selling top wine is best done with a glass (from Dartington, my lovely sponsors, of course!) in your hand. We converted a load of people that day to wines that they would never have found if left to their own devices.  In doing so some of Australia’s top estates have found a host of new and hopefully life-long followers.  It was also a day when people traded up to some of the expensive wines, too – all in all it was a very successful and exciting tasting indeed.

8th March 2012 DONE

Wimbledon Wine Cellars, Imperial Wharf, London SW6

You can always rely on Andrew Pavli (WWC owner) and Imperial Wharf managers Jon and Simon to put on a good show. The shop itself is one of the most beautiful wine emporia in the country.  The gleaming shelves are packed with outstanding wines.  Wooden boxes groan with mouth-watering, rare bottles.  The magnum selection alone is incredible.  With stunning salamis and cheeses to snack on during the two hour masterclass, we were thoroughly spolit and the only thing that I wish had happened (which will next time!) on the night was for someone to take to the Steinway and knock out some appropriate tunes.  As it was the tasters were as diligent as they were curious.  Some had extensive Aussie wine knowledge, other none, but all were there to be wowed and so I endeavoured to pour every wine for every person tailoring the information flow to fit their very own requirements.   I think that I very nearly managed to complete this challenge with a few souls raiding the ‘bar’ at the end to revisit their own favourites.  I am so delighted with the way in which this band of wines has entranced all of the palates that it has encountered.  Because of the variety of wines on show there are always bottles which hit the target, whether it be price, flavour, region, drinkability, style, blend and so on…  Wimbledon Wine’s customers lapped up the selection and they critiqued as they went.   It is clear that fine Australian wine has so much to offer even the most fervent of Eurocentric wine lovers.  ‘Conversions’ happened with virtually every wine.   WWC has secured some new listings for its shelves.  The customers on the night filled up their wine racks and we all retired late into the night, fully satiated and jolly happy.

15th March 2012 – DONE

Theatre of Wine, 75 Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9TS – event to be held at the Tufnell Park shop (124 Junction Road, N19).

Jason and Sam hosted a beautiful evening at the stunning ToW shop in Tufnell Park.  This beacon of vinous excellence in north London took me, time warp-wise, straight back to my first ever job in the wine trade, twenty-five years ago, at the Barnes Wine Shop.  The library-style shelves of bottles were stacked with some of the finest and most esoteric wines imaginable.  Every bottle has its own luggage tag with a superb, hand-written note on it telling you about the wonders of the liquid inside.  Not only is there an eclectic selection of fine wine here, but there is also a brilliant range of beers, half bottles, sherries, sakes and everything you could need to keep even the most challenging of booze lovers thoroughly satiated.  Twenty-five punters rocked up on time and I tutored a two hour sesh followed by an adventurous free-pour.  The lads provided incredible canapé-sized nibbles from a deli nearby called Truffles (33 York Rise, NW5) which were a massive hit – seriously good pâté, ham and cheese!  The setting, atmosphere, which was enlivened by customers continuing to pop in and buy fabulous, off-the-wall wines throughout the evening and deliciousness of the Australian wines was enchanting.  There was even a delightful Aussie lady who came up from Greenwich (knowing Daniel at the shop there), whose wine knowledge was certainly impressive, who was bursting with pride and even got a little misty-eyed at the quality and prowess of her country’s wines on show.  A smattering of novices (I hope) caught the wine bug this evening, too, which was lovely and some seasoned experts also had their wine horizons expanded by a few clicks.

16th March 2012 – DONE

The Secret Cellar, 43-45 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1JT – held at the Hotel du Vin

This event will live long in my memory.  Tunbridge Wells is a beautiful place and just walking up the hill from the station to the Hotel du Vin was enough to bring my apéritif fervour to exploding point.  There is no more apt place to hold a 100 Best Roadshow event than in a Hotel du Vin and the oddly named Speyside Glenlivet Room, inspired by the mirror room at the Palace of Versailles (an even odder design for a room of this name), was the most splendid setting one could imagine.  The tables groaned with wines and, once again, the wine trade reps turned out in force.  Their help was invaluable and so every wine was poured by a thoroughly clued up Aussie wine disciple.  Secret Cellar heroes – Mike, Dan, Mark, Adam et al. worked like Trojans herding the impeccably well-turned out Tunbridge Wells glitterati into the room.  From that moment onwards 120 people moshed, swirled and tasted the best Aussie wines imaginable.  It was controlled mayhem with much hilarity and equal amounts of frighteningly accurate discourse.  Yvonne May (boss of Wine Australia UK and Europe) came along to add her heavyweight credentials to proceedings and  I rolled back down the hill to the station, late into the night, knowing that Australia had signed up another mighty collection of committed wine fans.  Many thanks to The Secret Cellar for a stunning evening.

17th April 2012 – DONE

Noel Young, 56 High Street, Trumpington, Cambridge, CB2 9LS – held at Anstey Hall

Noel and his brother Daniel hosted a wonderful 100 Best event in the genteel surroundings of Anstey Hall.  The full range of 43 wines were on show and seventy-five highly trained tasters showed up champing at the bit.  I might have been mistaken but some even were weilding clipboards such is the dedication to note-taking at this excellent event.   Bolstered by a fine selection of cheeses our intrepid guests worked their way methodically through all of the wines and unlike a few events this year there was no jostling or jockeying for position.  This well-drilled cohort is presumably used to going through their paces at Noel’s many and varied tasting events and the questions levied were accordingly highbrow and informed.  It is always a pleasure to talk to true Aussie wine fans and they are there, in abundance, in Cambridge.  There were no Damascene conversions on the night, but there were plenty of horizon broadening wines which will, no doubt, keep Noel’s customers satiated and delighted for the next twelve months.

30th May 2012 – DONE

Quintessentially Wine at Tuke Common Room, Regent’s College, Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, London NW1

Regent’s College in the middle of Regent’s Park was the idyllic setting for the final event of the 2011/12 100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow.  A full room of tasters attacked the wines with customary gusto and in spite their largely euro-phile palates a massive amount of enjoyment and surprise was delivered via the wines.  Nine months on from the very first event at the Tate a lot of  the wines had mellowed and many of the more youthful reds seemed more genial than ever.  The mini-flights of Semillon, Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet blends and the Shiraz and Grenache blends were done in blocks like mini-masterclasses and I could tell that a lot of the guests were really shocked at the control and balance shown by the wines.  I am delighted to report that sales on the night were healthy, too!


List of Incredible Wines for Tasting

  • NV Jansz, Tasmania
  • NV Pirie Estate, Brut Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, Tasmania
  • 2005 McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant, Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW
  • 2010 Vasse Felix, Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Margaret River, WA
  • 2011 Shaw & Smith, Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, SA
  • 2010 Hart & Hunter, Oakey Creek Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW
  • 2010 Tower Estate, Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW
  • 2003 Tyrrell’s, Winemaker’s Selection Vat 1 Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW
  • 2010 Yalumba, Y Series Viognier, SA
  • 2010 Fox Gordon, Princess Fiano, Adelaide Hills, SA
  • 2010 Knappstein, Handpicked Riesling, Clare Valley, SA
  • 2010 Pewsey Vale, Riesling, Eden Valley, SA
  • 2005 Peter Lehmann, Reserve Wigan Riesling, Eden Valley, SA
  • 2010 Skillogalee, Riesling, Clare Valley, SA
  • 2010 Chapel Hill, Unwooded Chardonnay, McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills, SA
  • 2010 Innocent Bystander, Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Vic
  • 2009 Stonier Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, Vic
  • 2008 Giant Steps Tarraford Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Vic
  • 2008 Leeuwin Estate, Prelude Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA
  • 2010 Ocean Eight, Verve Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, Vic
  • 2009 Shaw & Smith, M3 Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, SA
  • 2011 Turkey Flat, Rosé, Barossa Valley, SA
  • 2010 Riposte by Tim Knappstein, The Dagger Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, SA
  • 2010 Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir, Tamar Ridge, Tasmania
  • 2010 De Bortoli, Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Vic
  • 2008 Paringa Estate, Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Vic
  • 2009 Moss Wood, Amy’s Blend, Margaret River, WA
  • 2008 Petaluma, Coonawarra, SA
  • 2009 Willunga 100, Cabernet / Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA
  • 2008 Wakefield, Promised Land Shiraz / Cabernet, SA
  • 2009 Penfolds, Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shiraz / Cabernet, SA
  • 2009 Heartland, Dolcetto/Lagrein, SA
  • 2006 Jim Barry, PB Shiraz /Cabernet, Clare Valley, SA
  • 2005 Jacob’s Creek, Johann Shiraz/ Cabernet Sauvignon, SA
  • 2007 Tahbilk Shiraz, Nagambie Lakes, Vic
  • 2009 Mitolo, Jester Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA
  • 2009 Turkey Flat, Butcher’s Block Red, Barossa Valley, SA
  • 2008 St Hallett, Blackwell Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA
  • 2009 Torbreck, Cuvée Juveniles, Barossa Valley, SA
  • 2009 Glaetzer, Bishop Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA
  • 2007 Paringa Estate, Peninsula Shiraz, Mornington Peninsula, Vic
  • 2006 Peter Lehmann, Stonewell Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA
  • 2006 Jim Barry, The Armagh Shiraz, Clare Valley, SA
  • 2009 Brown Brothers, Orange Muscat & Flora, Vic
  • NV Campbells, Classic Topaque, Rutherglen, Vic