100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow 2014/2015 – Dates, Full Wine List & Reports

Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow 2014/15

#100BestAus

Here are the confirmed dates (so far) for my forthcoming 100 Best Roadshow. Please order your tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment and also spread the word to everyone you know who loves great wine – this is the biggest and best Roadshow ever!

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THE DATES FOR YOUR DIARIES

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9th September 2014 – Tate Britain, London – DONE

Millbank, London SW1P 4RG. To book tickets please call 020 7877 8888

REPORT – Aside from the power cut (see below) which surprised us all fifteen minutes before the doors opened, the inaugural #100BestAus Roadshow event of the season at the stunning Tate Gallery was nothing short of awesome. A record 185 people crowded into this elite wine tasting and as well as tasting forty-five wines they also managed to enjoy a sneak preview of the Turner exhibition, too – talk about sensory decadence! The line-up of wines this year is quite different to last year’s collection with only one fizzy and no sweeties bookending a massive flight of whites and reds. This means that tasters plunge straight into the unrelenting action and many got to the finish line only to go around again picking out their personal highlights. This shows that the Roadshow audience is maturing and learning to taste ‘professionally’. This is very impressive indeed because 45 wines is a massive number for inexperienced wine lovers. Hamish Anderson, wine buyer for the Tate group, and his team did a sterling job manning the tables and fresh for the news that the Tate’s restaurant, Rex, had won the best wine list in the country at the Imbibe awards the day before, we really were in a temple to fine art AND fine wine. This event is always well-attended, but none of us thought that we would sell this many tickets – the room was heaving and the concentration levels, questions and deliberations were at an all time high. If the rest of the Roadshow goes as well as this event we are sure to set a brand new standard for fine Aussie wine tastings in the UK.

Tate-power-cut

The gallery is plunged into darkness with only 15 minutes to go!

 

Thanks goodness they came back on again – the Roadshow in full flow.

 Tate-Gallery-100-Best-Australian-Roadshow-in-full-flow

9th October 2014 – SH Jones, Banbury – DONE

The Town Hall, Bridge Street, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX16 5QB. To book tickets please call 01295 672296

SH Jones #100BestAus

Eager tasters following every wine closely at SH Jones

REPORT – The Town Hall was bursting with tasters long before the official kick off – I have always wondered if SH Jones operates in a different time zone, now I know!  It was great to see some familiar faces in attendance, as well as a raft of new people, too.  I decided that I would interrupt proceedings no less than six times in order to talk about every single featured wine in distinct like-flavoured flights.  This approach worked well and the message, augmented by UK agents working hard behind the tables and also the SH Jones and slurp.co.uk  teams pouring with great accuracy and verve, was clear and direct.  These are great wines and my intention in this year’s Roadshow is to both delight and inform every single person about every single 100 Best wine.  Bec Hardy, from Pertaringa Wines, declared that it was ‘…best consumer show I’ve ever been to. Great to learn some stuff myself there!’ The following day, Richard Jones reported that sales were brisk on the night and that there was more business to follow. He was delighted with the evening and is already hatching plans for an even more spectacular affair next year.  The final word goes to one of the tasters on Twitter after the event – ‘Top night with with what was arguably the best selection of wines in the history of the event.’

 

22nd October 2014 – hangingditch, Manchester – DONE

Manchester House. To book tickets please call 0161 832 8222

hangingditch #100BestAus Roadshow

The awesome venue at Manchester House

Ben and Matthew @hangingditch #100BestAus Roadshow

Ben of the ‘ditch’

REPORT –  When the 100 Best Roadshow rolls into Manchester anything can happen.  And it did.  Ben Stephenson, at hangingditch, is a force of nature.  He is a self-confessed hedonist and when he organises a tasting he does it with unbridled energy.  The location for this event was Manchester House – an incredible twelfth floor bar with a stunning and very exciting restaurant on the second floor (chef Aiden Byrne is a creative chap with rare flair) See www.manchesterhouse.uk.com.  I have never hosted an event in a setting like this.  The nightclub lighting, space-age lamps, bleepy music and ever-attentive staff made this a 100 Best event on the edge!  Sixty or so keen Aussie wine lovers arrived on cue and proceeded to take the wines to bits one molecule at a time.  It was a fascinating evening with a bunch of highly entertaining and openly critical tasters.  The openness and willingness to debate the wines was amazing.  Mancunians don’t pull their punches, but I am thrilled to report that this was another evening of conversions as many defensive palates gradually opened up to embrace new flavours and banish old prejudices.  We also had a professional photographer on board – so thanks to Joby Catto’s skills (www.anti-limited.com) I haven’t had to rely on my shaky iPhone for decent piccies this time.  I can report that the evening was a huge success and I cannot wait to return.

hangingditch #100BestAus Roadshow in full swing

  hangingditch #100BestAus event – atmosphere

 

 

21st January 2015 – Oxford University Blind Tasting Society – DONE

Merton College, Oxford. SOLD OUT

OUBTC @ Merton 1 (640x640)

The wonderful venue

REPORT – We doubled the size of the venue at Merton College for this event this year and it was still fit to burst with keen tasters!  This year the OUBTS opened its doors to non-members and so there was a wonderful mix of stellar palates (nice to see George, Ren et al.) and complete novices (one chap had never drunk wine before and left completely converted to the cause).  There was a huge queue outside at 6.45pm and when the doors opened at 7.00pm a studious stampede ensued.  The atmosphere was amazing and we got through an admirable number of bottles.  It was interesting how particular attention was paid to the less expensive wines – student budgets!  It certainly proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that Australia makes the finest ten pound wines in the world.   Before long the room looked like this!

OUBTC @ Merton 3 (640x640)

John Cullen’s stunning ‘constellation pendants’ hang above the tasters

One of the great evenings on the Roadshow, I love the questions at this event and also the blind tasting competition that I hold, challenging the masses to guess a bottle from my own cellar.  This year I opened two bottles of 2000 Tim Adams, Aberfeldy Shiraz, Clare Valley, South Australia and no less than 50 people (half the attendees) had a stab at it.  The winner was a non-member but a very wine savvy lady called Hanne-Lina (I hope my spelling is correct).  She just pipped a few of the Varsity Team with her accuracy.  Oxford is one of the most important wine centres in the UK and we have already hatched an ambitious plan for next year’s event.  Keep your eyes posted on this website for more information.  Swii Yii Lim has promised to hand over her Presidency to another sterling palate and I will ensure that the wines are of stellar quality in order to further educate, enlighten and lubricate the wonderful wine people of the Oxford Colleges and the Blind Tasting Society.

 

5th February 2015 – The Wine Society at One Great George Street, London SOLD OUT – DONE

Not an official stop on the Roadshow, but a smaller, showcase event for one hundred Society members at a very posh venue in London.  This is an occasional event for 100 Best Australian Wines and there is no audience more attentive than The Wine Society Australia fans.  Everyone was presented with twelve beautiful wines and they all took home my booklet with all 100 wines listed with their full write ups.  The evening was a huge success with one kind chap emailing me to say, ‘I much enjoyed your presentation last night at the Wine Soc. I hope you don’t mind me saying but I think you have a great relaxed style, no nonsense and with a dash of mischief.’  Thank you dear Wine Soc.

Wine Society 1 (480x640)

The Wine Society – it’s as traditional a set up as it gets!

 

5th March 2015 – HarperWells of Norwich – DONE

Contact HarperWells on 01603 451098. SOLD OUT

HarperWells

The HarperWells Roadshow event is one I look forward to enormously.  The team working at this progressive and pioneering merchant is one of the most talented in the country.  The passion with which their customers talk about their loyalty to this well-drilled gang is impassioned and impressive, too.  The large hall at the Assembly Rooms seemed to fill up in a trice and it didn’t empty of bodies for three whole hours.  They know their wines here and many of the tasters are more than mere wine amateurs.  As expected (or rather as I hoped) the order of the tasting with its distinct flights of Rieslings, Chardonnays, Pinots, Cabernets, TGARs and Shirazes, with a few curve-ball wines in among them, kept everyone on their toes.  They approached all 47 wines with my plan of attack in mind – one flight at a time being the mantra.  By the end of the evening they were telling me about the wines rather than the other way ’round.   This is why I love this job so much.  It takes a moment for a great Australian wine to make its impression on someone’s palate and once its there it never leaves.  Over 120 HarperWells groupies found this out to their collective pleasure.

 

6th March 2015 – Loki Wine Merchants & Tasting House of Birmingham – DONE

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.  Please contact Loki on tel. 0121 212 9440. SOLD OUT

Loki

The Museum minutes before 230 arrived!

My first ever visit to both Loki and Birmingham left me very impressed indeed.  Phil Innes and his gang operate a staggeringly professional and very influential wine business in town and when he organises an event it seems everyone who lives in Brum and who loves wine turns up.  For this reason the venue was one of the most memorable in all of the years of 100 Best – the Museum & Art Gallery of Birmingham slap bang in the centre of town.  No less that 230 people attended making this the biggest Roadshow event to date and in the stunning surroundings of the exhibits we showed off one of the biggest ranges of wines that most tasters had ever seen.  It was no surprise to me that the evening triumphed in every respect.

Phil Innes

Phil welcomes the crowd

Happy tasters, loads of enlightened palates, masses of orders and a renewed Australian vinous presence has been unleashed in this wonderful city.  I saw Phil a few days after this inspirational event and he wants to make it even more impressive next year.  Goodness knows what will happen but I will be there with more amazing wines in tow.

 

11th March 2015 – Cambridge Wine Merchants, Cambridge – DONE

Bridge Street Wine Bar, 32 Bridge Street, Cambridge CB2 1UJ.  To book tickets please call 01223568989 SOLD OUT

Cambridge Wine's wall of wine

A massive wall of wine!

Another first for the 100 Best Roadshow.  Hal Wilson and I have been talking about a gig for years so I don’t know why it took so long to find a date, but we made it and the results were devastating.  From his sensational shop in the centre of Cambridge overlooking the River Cam, this shop was packed to the rafters for a few hours with novices and acknowledged experts alike.

Cambridge Wine

Crammed with keen tasters

One welcome addition to the amateur tasters was a small posse of College wine buyers who went about their business with impressive dedication.  Rumour has it that lucky Dons will be drinking epic quality Aussie wines for many years to come after their handsome orders!  This branch of the Cambridge Wine empire reminded me of my formative years in the wine business.  It is rare to see wines shops as beautiful as this, packed with bottles from floor to ceiling.  Hal went one step further than any Roadshow host to date by making his very own bread for us to nibble on between sips. Without any word of a lie this was one of the tastiest sourdoughs I have ever sampled – great taste is clearly running through this operation.  The crowd loved the wine and I will be back with bells on!

Hal's bread

 

13th March 2015 – Hennings Wine Merchants – DONE

The Wine Cellars, Station Approach, Pulborough, West Sussex, RH20 1AQ. To book tickets please call 01798 872485. SOLD OUT

It’s Friday night in Pulborough, apparently Comic Relief is on TV, and yet I have never seen so many people crammed into the Hennings Cellars.

Hennings 2015

The Aussie bunting flaps away on the ceiling while barrels are swathed in Union Jacks – this is a party and the 48 wines on show provided the finest drinks that this crowd could ever have imagined.  There were loads of new faces at this year’s event which was great and the enthusiasm with which they devoured the wines was to be admired.  We moved on to second bottles in no time at all and when chucking out time came there were still no less than 60 people still going strong.  This was an incredible evening and order forms were dropped onto the Hennings order table like confetti.  This family owned and run business is a driving force in the region and the support from their customers is clear to see.  That 50% of the staff are called Matthew (I think there were five of us in the room) also makes things an awful lot easier on the night!

 

20th March 2015 – The Secret Cellar, Tunbridge Wells – DONE

43-45 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1JT

18.00 – 21.30.  To book tickets please call 01892 537981. SOLD OUT

The Secret Cellar 2015

Brilliant Roadshow artwork by the team at The Secret Cellar

The Secret Cellar chaps put on a brilliant show.  Their HQ in the centre of Tunbridge Wells was the perfect venue for a very successful event and it was lovely to see people from previous 100 Best events and also newcomers, too.  One of the things about tasting in a wine shop is the display of wines on offer which forms the glorious backdrop to an event.  I am like a bloke in a wine shop (I have just about moved on from my kid in a sweet shop times) when confronted with these temptations and before anyone rocked up I had already picked out a few beauties to lug back to my own cellar!  I am certain that the Roadshow attendees did exactly the same after this terrific event because they absolutely loved the wines on show.  I have never seen nor heard such compliments on the bottles – this pleases me greatly, of course.  I tutored large groups of people around the entire 48 wines pouring each and every bottle as I went.  It was great to see three trade representatives giving up their Friday nights to support The Secret Cellar, too, because this makes all of the difference.  In the end, Mike and his team showed why they are the preeminent merchant in the region with delightful regular customers and perfect wine service.  Thank you to all who came along and also to the cheeky chappies at The Secret Cellar.  I will return with another great selection to entrance Tunbridge Wells wine lovers very soon.

 

16th April 2015 – The Bon Vivant’s Companion, Edinburgh – DONE

51 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AB

The event will be held between 6.00-8.00pm.  It is strictly by invitation only.  To register your interest please call Elise on 0131 225 6055

The Bon Vivant's Companion

It’s got to be said that Elise, Fraser and Anouska (plus all of the other BV staff) are all superstars.  I love my annual pilgrimage to Edinburgh and nothing is too much trouble when setting up this two-pronged event.  During the day I host a Sommelier/Restaurateur Showcase and in the evening the consumer Roadshow takes over.  This venue, under the wine shop, is outstanding – cosy, just the right temperature and undoubtedly atmospheric.  The afternoon kicked off with virtually every single superstar wine buyer/sommelier in town coming along to taste the crème de la crème of Australia’s wines.  Six hours of debate and discussion – all with a glass of great wine in hand – this is what great wine is all about.  I am delighted to report that the feedback was amazing and that discoveries were made by one and all.  The evening event is more of a scrum, but no less obsessed about wine and quality, and within no time at all (about half an hour after closing time to be precise) all Companioneers departed into the Edinburgh dusk feeling satiated, a little more informed and a lot more obsessed with Australian wine.  I will be back next year – promising to make this is a two day festival!

Bon Vivant's Companion Artwork

The Companion’s evocative artwork pointing to their acknowledged expertise in the field of cocktails as well as wine!

 

8th May 2015 – Philglas & Swiggot, Battersea, London – DONE

21 Northcote Road, Battersea, London SW11 1NG

The event will be held between 5.00-9.15pm.  To register your interest please call 020 7924 4494

Philglas 2015

Image courtesy of Lenka – Philglas & Swiggot masterclass in session!

Justin and Damian, the proud, new owners of the famous South West London wine merchant Philgas & Swiggot hosted their first ever customer event and I am proud to say, as a local, that it was my very own 100 Best Roadshow finale.  The very last date on my tour, this was a chance to show the fine palates of Battersea and Clapham 47 elite Aussie wines and they clearly liked what they tasted.  The shop was transformed into a gorgeous tasting venue with trestle tables and benches and the doors opened at 5pm to take advantage of the locals on their way home from a very eventful week.  Four and a quarter hours later, with very little wine left to speak of, the superb restaurants of Northcote Road no doubt received an influx of highly-excited, new-anointed, Aussie wine experts.  The highly skilled staff at P&S were rewarded with a till which rang off the hook and, hopefully, an even more acute understanding of Aussie wines.  While Justin & Damian are true green and gold Aussies, the rest of the brigade came from all corners of the vinous globe, each with their own speciality knowledge.  This corner of South West London has been poorly served for elite wine merchants for decades, but now that P&S has undergone a phoenix-like transformation we can all look forward to buying wines that match the calibre of food to be found on this amazing ‘food-haven-market-street’.

 

THE AMAZING LIST OF 48 WINES THAT WE WILL TASTE ON THE 100 BEST ROADSHOW 2014/15

NV Jansz, Premium Cuvée, Tasmania

2007 Mount Pleasant, Cellar Aged Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley, New South Wales

2013 Devil’s Corner, Riesling, Tasmania

2013 Howard Park, Great Southern Riesling, Western Australia

2013 Pewsey Vale, Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia

2013 Skillogalee, Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia

2013 Wakefield, St Andrews Single Vineyard Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia

2013 First Drop Wines, Vivo Arneis, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

2013 Berton Vineyards, Metal Label The Vermentino, South-Eastern Australia

2013 Riposte by Tim Knappstein, The Stiletto Pinot Gris, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

2013 McWilliam’s, Appellation Series Tumbarumba Chardonnay, New South Wales

2012 Brown Brothers, Limited Release Single Vineyard Banksdale Chardonnay, King Valley, Victoria

2012 Yabby Lake, Single Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

2012 Giant Steps, Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Victoria

2012 Eileen Hardy, Chardonnay, Tasmania/Yarra Valley Victoria

2012 Vasse Felix, Heytesbury Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia

2010 Robert Oatley, The Pennant Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia

2010 Leeuwin Estate, Art Series Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia

2013 Devil’s Corner, Pinot Noir, Tasmania

2012 Paringa Estate, Peninsula Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

2012 Eileen Hardy, Pinot Noir, Tasmania

2012 Route du Van, Dolcetto / Shiraz, Victoria

2012 Yalumba, Y Series Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia

2012 McWilliam’s, Hanwood Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia

2012 Wirra Wirra, Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz / Merlot, McLaren Vale, South Australia

2012 Pertaringa, Understudy Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, South Australia

2012 Brand’s Laira, The Laira Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia

2012 Leconfield, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia

2012 Moss Wood, Amy’s, Margaret River, Western Australia

2009 Leeuwin Estate, Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia

2011 Moss Wood, Cabernet, Margaret River, Western Australia

2010 Wakefield, The Visionary Exceptional Parcel Release Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley, South Australia

2013 Brookford, Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon, South-Eastern Australia

2013 Wakefield, Promised Land Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia

2012 Penfolds, Koonunga Hill Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia

2010 Yalumba, FDR1A Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz, Eden Valley, South Australia

2012 Glaetzer, Anaperenna Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley, South Australia

2011 Penfolds, Bin 389 Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz, South Australia

2009 Wolf Blass, Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz, South Australia

2013 De Bortoli, Windy Peak Shiraz, Heathcote, Victoria

2012 Fowles Wine, Are You Game? Shiraz, Victoria

2013 McWilliam’s, Appellation Series Canberra Syrah, Canberra District

2012 Paringa Estate, Peninsula Shiraz, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

2012 Mitolo, Jester Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia

2012 Fox Gordon, Eight Uncles Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia

2012 Shaw & Smith, Shiraz, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

2012 Robert Oatley, Finisterre Great Southern Syrah, Western Australia

2010 Jim Barry, The McRae Wood Shiraz, Clare Valley, South Australia