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Welcome to all friends of Winepros

In our second newsletter of 2008 we bring you some news from the Australian wine scene, some expert tasting notes, our wine book review of the month, and some chocolatey ideas for Easter. And more news of fabulous wine and food events in March.

We'd also love to hear from you. Tell us what flavours and tastes you want more of, anything you may want less of and everything in between.

We invite you to fill in Winepros Archive community survey; everyone who completes the survey can enter to win one of our famous Mornington Peninsula gourmet wine and food hampers; the next draw is 1st April. Or you can e-mail us with your suggestions. Thanks in advance, and to those who completed our survey in February.

The 'new' Australia

Eyre Peninsula, South AustraliaWe bring you an exciting perspective on the 'new' Australian wine industry, that of the eminent wine writer Jancis Robinson, who is based in London. Jancis has posted some 250 tasting notes from a recent tasting of Australian wines in London on her website (see below on how you can access these in full) and her enthusiasm for 'new' Australian wines can't be ignored:

'Australian wine is evolving rapidly, in response not just to the vicissitudes of nature but to the caprices and changing fashions of a global market.'

Statements like this strongly reflect the growing number of discerning drinkers, and of adaptable Australian winemakers, who are responding to drought conditions and heeding the demands of a savvier, more insightful public.

Around the globe, wine drinkers are seeking more complexity in flavour and are increasingly enjoying regional nuances and specialties; Winepros Archive and will bring you more and more information about these trends in the strengthening and developing Australian wine industry.

With the many wine reviews and tasting notes in our Winepros Archive and growth of the budding wine and food-lovers' community, we can help interpret the increasing complexity and variety of Australian wines - past, present and future.

Jancis Advert

A tipple from Jancis Robinson's recent tasting notes:

Pinot Noir Wine tastingThe team at is crazy about pinot noir (some of us even grow it). For March, we have selected some 2005 Australian Pinot Noirs recently tasted by Jancis Robinson and her assistant Julia Harding (referred to as JH below), who is also a Master of Wine (and assistant editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine).

These wines were tasted at the recent Australia Day tasting at the Emirates Arsenal Stadium in London. If you have already signed up to via our subscribers-only special offer - for more information click on the banner above - you can hear how Paul Henry (the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation's general manager market development in the UK) views the current situation.

Jancis uses the 20 point wine scoring scale, also used by the Australian wine show societies in awarding their medals (gold medal = 18.5+). Her tasting notes, reproduced here with her exclusive permission, make some tempting reading:

    Giant Steps: Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005, Yarra Valley, Victoria
    It has lovely fresh, crunchy fruit on the nose from the Giant Steps owners' premium vineyard, Sexton, which is cooler than Tarraford (see below). Made with a light touch; very delicate. Points: 16.5+, alcohol 12.8%. Drink 2008-11

    Giant Steps: Tarraford Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005, Yarra Valley, Victoria
    Notes of coffee and very sweet fruit, less pure flavours than the Sexton vineyard; the fruit seems slightly stewed here. Points: 16 Drink 2008-11

    Read more about Giant Steps here...

    Henschke: Giles Pinot Noir 2005, Lenswood, South Australia
    Quite dark and rich for a Pinot Noir some comforting sweet, gentle bottle age, aromatics and a slight syrupiness; slight hole towards the end of the palate. Points: 16, alcohol 14%. Drink 2007-08

    Discover more about the famous Henshcke winery

    Kooyong: Ferrous Pinot Noir 2005, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
    Rounder and fruitier than most Kooyong Pinot noir, it is brisk, tingly, full of energy and complete on the palate. Could broach at the end of 2008; very different from other Kooyong Pinot Noirs. Points: 17.5, Drink 2008-13

    Kooyong: Haven Pinot Noir 2005, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
    Round and smoky with more than a hint of mushrooms (i.e. very Burgundian!). Very dry and even slightly austere on the palate - taut - could do with just a tad more juiciness, although it is certainly pure. Points: 17 Drink 2011-14

    For more on Kooyong Vineyard and Winery click here...

    Merricks Creek: Pinot Noir 2005, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
    Attractively sweet red fruit; dry, intense and spiced. Smooth, rich and finely wrought with just a very slight bitterness on the finish. (JH) Points: 16.5, alcohol 14%. Drink 2008-10

    Read more about Merricks Creek and our notes on the unctuously rich Merricks Creek Close Planted Pinot Noir 2005 and some other outstanding pinot from Victoria's Mornington Peninsula in our November Winepros Archive newsletter

    Pirie: South Pinot Noir 2006, Tasmania
    Pale and bright. Sweet red fruits and some spicy oak, especially on the finish, where there is a slight but attractive tannic firmness. Correct. Fresh. (JH) Points: 16.5, alcohol 13.5%. Drink 2008-10

    Pirie is Andrew Pirie's own estate and label

    Sticks: Pinot Noir 2005, Yarra Valley, Victoria
    There are subdued aromas of soft red fruit with a pleasant medicinal edge, then more aromatic on the palate. Aged in a mix of new/used French oak, spicy oak is still clearly in evidence. Smooth, long and good value. (JH) Points: 16.5+, alcohol 13.8%. Drink 2009-11

    Curious why it's called Sticks? Find out here...

    Tarrawarra: Tin Cows Pinot Noir 2005, Yarra Valley, Victoria
    Rather pale garnet. It's delicately sweet and spicy on the nose with lots of pure red fruit but without any overripe or jammy notes. Quite an upright wine with firm acidity and clean-cut tannins that have now softened to a fresh, spicy finish. Points: 16.5, alcohol 13%. Drink 2008-10 (JH)

    Tarrawarra Estate now houses one of Australia's largest private art collections

Consult Jancis's 250 recent Australian wine reviews when you become a member of But before you do, check out our exclusive Jancis Robinson subscription offer: all our subscribers are eligible for an A$50 discount (30%* off her normal membership price) when you subscribe to her website.

Regional Easter

Milton Laycock from Mornington Peninsula ChocolatesAll around Australia, as indeed around the world, chocolates are being lovingly handmade to celebrate Easter. We have found some of the best specialized chocolate makers Australia offers. Taking a trek down the east coast may lead you to Mayfield Chocolates in Queensland who specialise in native Australian flavours like Kakadu plum jelly and lemon myrtle as well as more traditional fillings like lush strawberry and sweet caramel.

The Hunter Valley Chocolate Company is a small company in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales focusing on using local ingredients in their delicate handmade treats and truffles. For a completely seductive take on the Easter egg and all its forms in Victoria, try Mornington Peninsula Chocolates. An unassuming shop in Merricks where artisan chocolate magicians Milton and Isilda Laycock create delicately sweet and complex chocolates; their Easter eggs are individual works of art, their chocolates intricate, clever and utterly delicious. And yes, they can post chocolates to you. (A full article about MP Chocolates - which we think are the best in Australia - will be on the website shortly.)

Mornington Peninsula Chocolates product rangeHaigh's in Adelaide, South Australia is Australia's oldest chocolate manufacturer. Established in 1915, Haigh's is now in its fourth generation. The family-owned company has grown from the original Beehive Corner shop, but you can still visit and see heritage displays, and taste.... chocolates. Haigh's is also the home of the original chocolate Easter Bilby, Australia's marsupial answer to the Easter Bunny, and your purchase of Easter Bilbies supports Haigh's bilby conservation program.

What wine to drink with chocolate is always a vexed question. This is not so much due to the cocoa - which is derived from a tropical fruit of quite complex flavours - but is determined by the sugar percentage. For sweeter chocolates, 'stickies' are often favoured, as is the perennial (and inexpensive) Brown Brothers Orange Muscat and Flora from Victoria, or one of the number of increasingly popular white (or pink) muscats now appearing around Australia (made from muscat de petits grains). For a more sophisticated touch, try an 'ice wine' such as Andrew Hood's Iced Riesling from Tasmania.

But this year I'm going for full bodied reds, especially with dark, low sugar chocolates, such as a cabernet sauvignon paired with the savoury flavours of Cocoa Farm's Mango Lime and Chilli (recently spotted for sale in a local pharmacy as a health food - and perhaps it is). Milton Laycock of Mornington Peninsula Chocolates has produced a 'wine and chocolate experience' range exclusively for Elgee Park Wines. These include a Tanzanian blend of Criollo and Forastero known as Origine Tanzanie, which has a lingering mouthfeel and ideally matches the very mellow Elgee Park Family Reserve Cabernet Merlot. Happy Easter indeed!

We welcome news of your chocolate and wine combinations.

Australian Plonky, by Ian Hickinbotham Winepros and Visit Vineyards Subscribers' Monthly Competition

We are keeping your heads in the books this month with our March competition.

  • First prize is a copy of the magnificent Oxford Companion to Wine edited by Jancis Robinson - click here to find out why all wine lovers should have this book. We have one last copy to give away to a very fortunate subscriber indeed.

  • Second prize is one of 3 copies of Ian Hickinbotham's autobiography Australian Plonky. Ian Hickinbotham is one of Australia's most innovative wine-makers and he played a key role in the development of the Australian wine industry. Read our review of Australian Plonky (and discover the origin of the title) here.

  • Third prize one of 3 fragrant spice medleys from Aromatics Spices on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, courtesy of the blender, Angela Pnini.

  • What's on in March?

    So much is going on around Australia in the wine and food events scene this month that we can only bring you a small sample here. Following our pinot theme, the main event which took our fancy was the Peninsula Piers and Pinots @ Flinders Foreshore held in magnificent weather on Sunday 9th March at Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.

    Many Mornington Peninsula vignerons showcased their pinots with matched food by The Long Table. Wineries included Tucks Ridge, Box Stallion, Lindenderry, Red Hill Estate, Morning Sun Estate, Montalto, Elgee Park, The Cups Estate, Stonier Wines, The Duke Vineyard, Willow Creek Vineyard, Baillieu Vineyard, Winbirra, Nazaaray, T'Gallant, Rahona Valley, Rigel Wines and Whinstone.

    If you missed that, make sure it's in your diary for next year, and this coming Easter you can choose from Easter at Falls' Creek in NE Victoria, Easter at the Hunter Valley Gardens in NSW, Easter Sunday at Whistler Wines in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, the Peppermint Bay Easter Egg Hunt in Tasmania, or the perennial favourite the Sydney Royal Easter Show - one of the great calendar events in Sydney which celebrates Australia - from country to city and from agricultural to entertainment. At the boutique end of regional shows is the 80th Annual Red Hill Show, to be held on Easter Saturday (March 22nd) at Red Hill in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula.

    We'll bring you some of the medal winners in our next edition. Until then, health and happiness,

    Hilary McNevin,
    Winepros and newsletter.

    PS Don't forget this is your last chance to be the happy subscriber who wins the Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd Edition) enter our March competition now. We also invite you to complete our survey by 31st March, for a chance to win a Mornington Peninsula Gourmet Food and Wine Hamper* We regret that the hamper can be delivered to Australian residents only. (Should the lucky winner reside overseas, the prize will be a wine book * See our Terms and Conditions).

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    The header image is of Scotchman's Hill, Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia.
    © Tourism Victoria 2007.
    Pinot noir grapes, © Mark Smith.
    Stemless pinot glass image © Mornington Peninsula Tourism 2007.
    Mornington Peninsula Chocolates products on display mpGourmet 2007.

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