Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow 2015/16 – FINISHED
Below you will find the Roadshow Reports, the full list of wines on tasting and also the retailer pdf for printing out where you can buy all of the wines.
Here are the event details for the biggest Roadshow to date – order your tickets now. There are twelve dates in all on this Roadshow – I will update this post and the events tab as and when I have more details.
THE DATES FOR YOUR DIARIES
12th October 2015 – Tate Gallery, Millbank, London – DONE
Hamish Anderson, chief wine guru of ‘Planet Tate’ (above left), and his impeccably well-organised brigade knocked the set-up of this 100 Best event, this year, into a veritable cocked hat. I turned up, admittedly a quarter of an hour late, to find that every single bottle was in position and raring to go. What was different about the room this year? It looked more gleamingly prepared. Were more elite paintings hanging on the walls? Millais’ Ophelia and Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott seemed curiously thirsty – not something I thought I would ever see. I felt that Leighton’s Athlete Wrestling with a Python, neither of whom had bought a ticket, seemed at ease, next to the Shiraz table, while the glorious nudes serenely welcomed all-comers to the fizz and lighter whites with an unrelenting siren-call. One expects the Tate wine mob to be organised, informed and communicative and they did not disappoint. Discussion and opinion flowed and questions were few and far between – this is an audience who has intrinsic taste and they clearly know what they like. I am happy that amazement and wonder at the range of wines though was evident – there were a multitude of discreet conversions happening, too, in among the mayhem. This is a list that I have worked very hard to compile and it seems that the more stringent my decisions, the more pleasure the tasters derive from the wines. It was not a Damascene movement rather than a gradual palate glide to a more open and accepting state of affairs. Unnervingly, though, it seemed that no less than 70 of the throng departed the gallery with fifteen or so minutes to spare. Where had they gone, what had I said, had we run out of wine? I came to the swift realisation that they had marshalled downstairs in the Rex Whistler Restaurant to enjoy yet more Tate hedonism, taking advantage of the combination ticket of Hepworth, Jukes and grub – a bargain price if ever I saw one. This twist to the evening is a new one and one which Hamish promises to repeat next year. If I were you, I would book now to avoid disappointment. Having had their fill of stunning 100 Best Wines followed by one of the most perfectly poised menus in London, the masses wandered off into the chilly London night.
The stunning 1840s Gallery at the Tate
22nd October 2015 – Slurp.co.uk, Reading Room at the Law Society, London – DONE
The beautiful Reading Room at the Law Society
The Roadshow’s first outing with slurp.co.uk took place in the august surroundings of the Law Society in Chancery Lane. I wonder if it is odd as an online retailer to meet your customers face to face? I was rather pleased to see some familiar faces in the crowd alongside a raft of palates new to the pleasures of #100Best. One thing was certain – whenever I wanted to hush up the crowd to say a few words the room went silent in a moment – it must have been the atmosphere in this acoustically pin-sharp pantheon. The tasters were daring, inquisitive and thirsty not only for wine but for knowledge, too. On the whole these were experienced wine lovers, endeavouring to broaden their horizons and get to grips with modern Australia. Predictable shocks came from the level of restraint and balance found in every glass. There is still an impression that Aussie Chardonnays are weighty and oaky and Shirazes are sweaty and porty. It is so pleasing to banish these thoughts forever in only a couple of hours of tasting. That the Rieslings, Aromatics, Pinots and Cabernets further drive this message home, too, ensures that this hangover of decades gone by will remain as a distant memory. This years collection of wines is bookended by 3 sparklers and a sweetie and a sticky. This is not always the case – my Roadshow wines elect themselves and not the other way around. It’s worth noting though that this year’s wines are the finest balanced ‘complete Aussie wine list’ of any previous year. A handful of inexpensive beauties rub shoulders with a mass of top end creations and this means that this is also a very indulgent Roadshow. I know this, of course, but the crowd pick up on this, too, within the first few sips and this means that the excitement in the room is fever pitch. I am certain that slurp.co.uk has broadened its database this evening and the staff behind the tables, ably supported by representatives from the wineries, worked their socks off, so lets hope so!
13th November 2015 – SH Jones, Royal Pump Rooms, Royal Leamington Spa – DONE
The stunning setting – Royal Pump Rooms Leamington Spa
Something very strange happened at the SH Jones 100 Best Roadshow event this year – I completely forgot to take a photo! I arrived half an hour early and then left with only eight minutes to run for my train and in the intervening two hours and fifty-two minutes I didn’t event draw breath while I was pouring wines like Tom Cruise in ‘Cocktail’ for the thirsty masses. Outside on the streets students swarmed the pavements in fancy dress and inside the stunning, sedate surroundings of the Royal Pump Rooms 100 Best fans swarmed the tables laden with epic wines and I can tell you who was having more fun. Spirits were high and the wines flowed non-stop and the audience was typically diverse. One elegant gentleman asked me if all of my events had such a spread of age groups in attendance and I replied, of course, top Aussie wine is loved by all! One group of people had a fervently anti-Chardonnay lady in their ranks so I took this as a challenge and walked her and her cohort through my seven Chardonnays, starting with a lean and mean, barely oaked version and ending up with several fully orchestrated, massively involving wines. She loved them all. I explained that they were all in impeccable balance, like every wine I have championed for nigh on 30 years, and I am certain that she was wholly converted. This happened around the room and I remember people being blown away by Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Shiraz, too. This is so gratifying and it shows that the 100 Best wines, at all price points and across all styles, are loved by tasters everywhere. The mood was electric, brisk business was done and the SH Jones band of brothers did a fantastic job of looking after their customers. Thank you Royal Leamington Spa, thank you SH Jones and thank you to the brilliant 100 Best disciples of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. PS – if anyone took any photos do let me know!
19th November 2015 – The Cheddar Vine, Saffron Walden – DONE
The stunning Cheddarvine façade
I have never been to Saffron Walden before but as I sped down the High Street I was certain this is a jolly smart town – and that means loads of wine drinkers! I piled out of the car on the corner of Cross Street and The Cheddarvine façade lit up the night. This beautiful shop is one of the most incredible cheese and wine emporiums in the country. My photo above shows the ‘before’ shot – the one below shows the ‘mobbed phase’! Sharron Fletcher is the palate behind The Cheddarvine and she knows how to put on an event! The wine was the perfect temperature and Jamie from Neal’s Yard Dairy was on hand to give everyone little tastes of loads of English cheeses. For the record, my favourite discovery was Riseley (made in Berkshire by Anne and Andy Wigmore, of the eponymous cheese fame)! Anyway, Sharron’s customers were primed to arrive on the hour and boy they were prompt. Within minutes the whole shop was shoulder to shoulder with people meticulously working their way through the wines. Sharron’s team had prepared scrumptious canapés, so this was a rare event where people could actually eat in tandem with tasting and it this made for a glorious atmosphere. I met a couple who came to one of my book signings over a decade ago which was wonderful and also a load of Daily Mail and also MoneyWeek readers. As usual, there was a wide spread of wine knowledge but most people were familiar with Aussie wines and yet few had experienced the level of excellence of the 100 Best Roadshow wines! Order forms were getting a very good workout so I trust that France takes a back seat this Christmas and great 100 Best Australian Wines are en vogue. I was particularly impressed with the fact that tasters were not price-biased at this event and the £10-£20 wines were focussed on as much as the really rare bottles. I loved my trip up to Saffron Walden – it once again proves that the UK is stuffed full of amazing indies and that they attract discerning palates. Long live The Cheddarvine – this is an outfit which understands both food and wine at the highest level and is a message which is so often lost on the customer.
Wine Goddess Sharron Fletcher
20th November 2015 – Butlers Wine Cellar, St. Mary’s Church, Brighton – DONE
St. Mary’s Church, 61 St. James’s Street, Kemp Town, Brighton – go and visit!
I have always been a fan of Henry Butler’s set up – he appears as a stockist in my Mail and MoneyWeek write-ups more than virtually any other indie! However, I have never visited him and so a Roadshow event was the greatest way to break the ice. I had no idea that St. Mary’s Church was going to be such a massive building nor did I ever feel that a church setting could be such an joyous and noisy place to host a somewhat debauched wine tasting! It was Friday night, in Brighton, 150 people were coming (SOLD OUT x 2!) and none of the four cork-sealed bottles was corked – talk about omens! The Rev Andrew Woodward delivered a rousing welcome, followed by Henry whose unique sense of humour set the tone! We dived into the wines and didn’t come up for air for two hours. The elite wine trade reps were in attendance – Brighton must be the most wine-soaked town in the UK, so my heartfelt thanks goes to Domaine Direct, Armit, SWIG, Laytons and Hallowed Ground as well as the Butlers team! This was a glorious event from start to finish. Everyone loved every single wine. I loved converting loads of Chardonnay-haters and revelled in pointing out that Aussie Shiraz is so varied and fascinating. Once again, the Cabernets shone like a beacon and every bottle in between highlighted the diversity and excellence of the country and its fabulous vineyards and winemakers. I do hope that I am invited back – I am pretty sure that we revellers didn’t let ourselves down! Henry is a fantastic Australian wine advocate and he clearly knows his clientele. There was a genuine sense of a happy and thriving community here, too, which I sometimes feel is a side of life which is slipping from our grasp. I can tell you that in Brighton it is alive and kicking. I bought some lovely Christmas cards, too – so watch out for one of the St. Mary’s stained glass windows coming through your letterbox in a few week’s time!
Henry’s turquoise drape stole the show
This was a massive church with a huge congregation
26th January 2016 – M Wine Store, Victoria, London – DONE
The stunning new M Wine Store above the M Restaurant
I rather like this photo because in the top right hand corner, behind the reflection, is Martin Williams – M. He is the mind behind the incredible M Threadneedle Street, M Wine Store and M Victoria Street. You can obviously see the wine shop in this shot, but the spectacular Raw and Grill restaurants are situated below this amazing space and seeing is believing! I conducted my 100 Best Roadshow Event on the mezzanine, where Martin is sitting, with his wine director Zack Charilaou. This was a lovey chance to meet M’s new fans and members (there is a private club room here, too). This amazing place has only been open for a month or so but the buzz is amazing. The guests included food and wine bloggers, seriously experienced tasters and people open to conversion! After two hours of tutored tasting we managed to make it in one collective group to the final Liqueur Muscat and I couldn’t believe everyone’s application and enthusiasm. Martin and Zack are such fans of 100 Best that they are going to feature the 2016/17 wines in their Wine Store and I can think of no better showcase in London than this incredible frontage on Victoria Street. As it was Australia Day and I had been at the official Australia Day Tasting around the corner at the Royal Horticultural Halls I had, by close of play, notched up over 650 ‘tastes’! Imagine my surprise when I popped to the loo and saw these two epic notice boards! Thanks Martin and Zack – you are the consummate hosts and your guests and members are elite food and wine lovers, too.
My name up in lights (above the loo!)
28th January 2016 – The Oxford University Blind Tasting Society, 1855 Wine Bar, Oxford – DONE
The OUBTS is one of the most active and influential wine tasting societies in the UK. I have taken the Roadshow to Oxford for the last three years and the tickets sell out in a moment. This year we took over the famous 1855 wine bar and it was a superb setting for the tasting. As always I pick a tricky bottle to test the audience’s blind tasting skills and this year Saumya won the competition – she was not a member of the Society and she assures me she will be joining soon! The relaxed atmosphere and the wonderful 1855 staff make this a very special event indeed. I am always deluged with questions from keen wine lovers at the OUBTS Roadshow event and it is such a pleasure to talk to so many really young people about great Australian wine. I hope that this event forms a solid cornerstone for their future explorations in the wonderful world of Australian wine. I am certain it will!
Mobbed at 1855
Saumya – winner of the toughest blind tasting in Oxford!
19th February 2016 – Hennings Wine Merchants, Pulborough, West Sussex – DONE
Montage of the famous Hennings Hot Rod’s signage and the wonderful crowd
The Hennings #100BestAus Roadshow event is very special indeed. It has grown incrementally over the last four years and in 2016 the room, decked out in Aussie flags, reached bursting point. The most delightful residents of Pulborough and beyond gathered on a grimly blustery Friday night to fully immerse themselves in the finest of 100 Best wines. They attacked the tables like finely tuned warriors and conversions (my favourite aspect of 100 Best) came thick and fast. One lovely lady was adamant that she didn’t like Australian Chardonnay – it turns out she didn’t like old-fashioned Aussie Chardonnay because of the seven on show only one seemed to her to be a little richer than ideal for her palate. It wasn’t oak that she didn’t like but simply white wines that are out of balance and no one can blame her for this stance. As we poured an impeccable flight of Chardies from a tight Filius all of the way up to a luxurious Art Series her palate grew in confidence and wonder! This happened on every table. The four Rieslings, the three sparklers, the three oddball whites, the four Pinots and then the stunning luge of fuller reds starting with the Cabernets, via TGAR and then to the Shiraz and the Grenache / Mourvèdre blends, this is an epic tasting of 43 stunning wines and there were favourites all over the room. Everyone tasted the sweetie and sticky, too – remarking that each was the finest of their kind they had ever seen. Amazing, rewarding, genuinely up-lifting this was a great evening and Matthew Hemmings reported than the till kept ringing on the night with more orders promised over the weekend, too. So, all in all, mission accomplished. If you are invited to dinner party in West Sussex, hosted by a generous wine lover, there is a very good chance you will drink a 100 Best wine. Lucky you!
10th March 2016 – Philglas and Swiggot, Battersea, London – DONE
You can’t miss the shop on Northcote Road
The Philglas event is wisely split into two time slots in order to maximize the number of people in attendance. The 5-7pm session is sedate and civilised while the 7.15-9.15 is nothing short of a swirling vortex of wines – poured, swigged and loudly debated. The Philglas crew is one of the most highbrow around and with two genuine Aussies at the helm their knowledge and appreciation of all things fine and Australian is acutely observed. This is very much a fine wine shop and it is lovely to see that Philglas customers are just as happy to splash out on top end Aussie wines as they are buying everyday drinking numbers. All aspects of the tasting impressed, with revelations happening left, right and centre. Every wine on this year’s Roadshow earns its place by carrying out its exact flavour-job when asked to perform. The comparative tasting flights of like-varietals serve to highlight regional and vintage differences and they could not be more clearly defined. This aspect of the selection allows people to nail their own preferences perfectly and no one, of course, is the same. This means that unlike other events where you can walk out dumbfounded and without a single tick on your order form, this 100 Best Roadshow has more ticks than misses because the wines are not confusing or inaccurate. It is incredible to see how attuned these wines are to genuine wine enthusiasts’ palates and it seems that the Philglas congregation is absolutely on song. I coached groups of tasters around the room and everyone seemed to like and understand every wine. This is massively encouraging for the wineries crafting these brilliant wines. No one has to convince Philglas of the merits of top flight Aussie wine and every customer who enters this specialist merchant will surely be encouraged to experiment more with the elegance and composure found in the 100 Best Roadshow wines.
11th March 2016 – Loki Wine Merchants, Birmingham – DONE
The magnificent location for the biggest Roadshow event of all time
Phil and Vic at Loki have busily been talking up and selling tickets for this event for a good long while and so when I heard that they had broken their record from last year, expecting 280 people to turn up, I was mightily impressed. It’s a good job that the two huge galleries that we use for this even could accommodate them all. A legion of wine reps from the various UK agents turned up to help pour which was greatly appreciated because there was a veritable tsunami of punters flooding through the doors come 6pm and it was all hands on deck.
it is impossible to capture the scale of this venue on an iPhone!
Interestingly, by keeping each flight of four or five wines on separate tables and spreading the whole event out it is easy for tasters to concentrate on the exact differences between each wine in each flight and then have a breather! With 43 wines to taste this is somewhat essential. It also means that these thirsty Brummies managed to complete the room in good fettle and many went back for a victory lap! The size of the galleries also allows for a lot of conversation and explanation and so with a vast range of wine experience in attendance I could spend more time with those that needed more tuition. This is a three hour gig and so I could also talk to everyone in spite of the record-breaking numbers. Phil and Vic are such wonderful hosts and they are loved by their friendly customers. The mood in the gallery is more like a massive school reunion than an informal wine tastings. People are happy to voice their thoughts with strangers and so the wines and their flavours permeate the atmosphere, heightening the ambiance rather than just titillating their own palates. I have no doubt that my 100 Best Australian Roadshow wines will be making their way into wine collections across Birmingham with 280 new disciples singing their praises.
15th April 2016 – WoodWinters, Edinburgh – DONE
BEFORE & AFTER
As you can see from the photos above, the event in Edinburgh this year was insane. Gordon and Doug hired the Dissection Room at Summerhall, the former Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, and set up the wines. It looked like a Rocky Horror gig and guess who spent most of the time on the stage?! The tickets sold out and the room was packed the moment the doors opened. The pre-publicity had done its job and so this was the biggest event I have ever hosted in the ‘Burgh. There were masses of keen Aussie wine fans in attendance, and this is not surprising because Edinburgh is a very cosmopolitan wine City, so I found myself talking to people who were very clued up. Even the novices worked hard, adding to their knowledge with each and every wine. It was very impressive. Doug was so taken with the success of the evening that he has promised to double the size of it next year! Perfect timing because that is my intent, too!
23rd April 2016 – SWIG, Chiddingfold, Surrey – DONE
The SWIG event was a hybrid-style 100 Best Roadshow, endeavouring to reach out to a brand new audience at the same time as raising money for two local charities. Elizabeth Cook, my long-serving 100 Best helper, hired the Chiddingfold Village Hall for a rare Saturday evening shindig and filled it over 100 wine-crazy locals. As always, the wines worked their magic and SWIG was on hand to pick up the orders. I would like to help all of the pourers who gave up their time to help and also the raffle prize donations. I am thrilled to announce that we raised £1500 for the Shooting Star Chase, a childrens’ hospice in Guildford and GUTS, a bowel cancer research charity based out of the Royal Surrey Hospital.
Weird lighting (my phone) – but here is a shot of the room filling up nicely!
100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow 2015/16 Wine List – in tasting order
2011 Taltarni, Blanc de Blancs, Pyrenees, Victoria
NV Jansz, Premium Cuvée, Tasmania
2011 Taltarni, Brut Taché, Pyrenees, Victoria
2014 Pewsey Vale, Eden Valley Riesling, South Australia
2014 Laissez Faire by Cherubino, Riesling, Porongurup, Western Australia
2014 Jim Barry, The Lodge Hill Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia
2008 Leasingham, Classic Clare Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia
2014 Tahbilk, Marsanne, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria
2014 Fox Gordon, Princess Fiano, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
2014 Yalumba, Eden Valley Viognier, South Australia
2014 Vasse Felix, Filius Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia
2012 Coldstream Hills, Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Victoria
2014 De Bortoli, Yarra Valley Estate Grown Chardonnay, Victoria
2014 Robert Oatley, Signature Series Margaret River Chardonnay, Western Australia
2014 Howard Park, Miamup Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia
2013 Yabby Lake, Single Vineyard Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
2013 Cherubino, Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia
2012 Leeuwin Estate, Art Series Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia
2012 Robert Oatley, Finisterre Pinot Noir, Great Southern, Western Australia
2012 Tamar Ridge, Kayena Pinot Noir, Tasmania
2013 Shaw + Smith, Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
2013 Yabby Lake, Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
2013 Mitolo, Jester Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, South Australia
2013 Teusner, The Gentleman Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley, South Australia
2012 Wynns Coonawarra Estate, Black Label, Coonawarra, South Australia
2010 Leeuwin Estate, Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia
2012 Moss Wood, Cabernet Sauvignon, Wilyabrup, Margaret River, Western Australia
2012 Wakefield, The Visionary Exceptional Parcel Release Cabernet, Clare Valley, South Australia
2012 Yalumba, The Scribbler Cabernet/Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia
2012 Penfolds, Bin 389 Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz, South Australia
2014 Deakin Estate, Artisan’s Blend, Shiraz / Viognier, Victoria
2013 Innocent Bystander, Syrah, Yarra Valley, Victoria
2012 d’Arenberg, d’Arry’s Original, McLaren Vale, South Australia
2013 Yalumba, Patchwork Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia
2013 Pertaringa, Undercover Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
2012 Penfolds, Bin 2 Shiraz /Mourvèdre, South Australia
2012 Reynella, Basket Press Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
2010 Eileen Hardy, Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
2012 First Drop, Fat of the Land Greenock Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia
2012 Wakefield, The Pioneer Exceptional Parcel Release Shiraz, Clare Valley, South Australia
2012 Torbreck, RunRig, Barossa Valley, South Australia
2014 Yalumba, FSW8B Botrytis Viognier, Wrattonbully, South Australia
NV De Bortoli, Show Liqueur Muscat 8 year old, Riverina, New South Wales
The retailer pdf – a very ungainly document, to piece together like a jigsaw, but one worth opening and saving! Click on the blue words below and it should open up! It’s only 4 pages of A4.