Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend 2010

The food and wine festival season continues … 15th and 16th of May.

The  Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend program looks great and unique by   comparison to the other more frequented festivals such as Sea & Vines  and Barossa Gourmet Weekend.    For accommodation enquiries contact the Clare Valley Visitor Centre on 08 8842 2131.


 Tickets are now on sale for the 2010 Bank SA    “Sea and Vines Festival” – McLaren Vale. 

This is truly a highlight on the annual social calender and a fantastic day out with friends …

This year ticket prices are $20 per person which gets you entry to 4 wineries, a wine glass and a glass of wine at the first winery. 

For bookings go to

Winery sold sultanas as chardonnay

IT HAS taken seven years, but the largest case of wine deception in Australian history has finally reached a conclusion.

Media Watch – Vintage, Constellation end merger talks

AUSTRALIAN Vintage, one of the country’s largest wine companies, has announced the collapse of plans to merge its Australian and British businesses with global wine giant Constellation Brands.

2009 wine favourites … announced

I have short listed my favourite wines that I discovered in 2009 , these wines stood out as highlights from the many cellar doors I was fortunate to visit last year.  It has been noted that the list has a strong McLaren Vale presence, this is mainly due to the fact that most of my wine trips were to this region in 2009. In 2010 I would like to pay some more attantion to the boutique wineries in the Barossa.

Favourite Cellar Doors

Best Cellar Door experience & staff
Wirra Wirra

Favourite Red Wine
2007 Tempranillo (sold out) – Samuels Gorge

Favourite White Wine

Favourite Sparkling Wine

Favourite Sparkling Red
JOSEPH NV Sparkling Red Primo Estate

Favourite food/atmosphere at a winery

Favourite Overall Winery

Note worthy mentions

Mitchells – 2001 McNicol Shiraz
Kilikanoon2006 Oracle Shiraz, 2006 Blocks Road Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 Prodigal Grenache
Coriole -2009 Fiano, 2007 Sangiovese
Hentley Farm2007 “The Beast” Shiraz
Two HandsSophie’s Garden Padthaway Shiraz

Charles Melton2006 Richelieu

To decant or not decant that is the question …

The Experiment  

To taste and compare two different red wines of the same variety but of different quality and compare the taste when the wines are decanted and not decanted (i.e. poured and consumed when the bottle is opened)

The Panel  
Joe Phillis –    Wine appreciator and good friend. A Shiraz guru.
Tanya Denning  –  Wine appreciator and good friend. A Shiraz admirer.
Mary Seely – Wine appreciator and good friend. A Shiraz enthusiast.
Caroline Offord – Blog author and a wine appreciator. A Shiraz admirer.  

The Wines

‘Mouthpiece’ 2002 shiraz (Barossa Valley) $9.95
Mitchell’s ‘McNicol’ 2001 shiraz (Clare Valley) $40  

The Process
Two glasses were presented for each panel member.  The panel (except myself) left the room whilst I poured the wine into two glasses so the panel could taste without bias.

  • Wine glass #1 – Shiraz that had been decanted for 2 hours. 
  • Wine glass #2 – Shiraz that was poured straight from the bottle (opened 2 bottles of the 2002 Mouthpiece).  

 The Results  2002 ‘Mouthpiece  Shiraz 

  • Wine glass #1 – The taste was not too pleasing on everyone’s palates and with a highly tannic flavour  
  • Wine glass #2 – A significant difference from the first glass.  It was like tasting a completely different wine! This wine was pleasant in taste and rated higher than the first glass amongst the panel.

 The Results  2001 Mitchells ‘McNicol ‘ Shiraz 

  • Wine glass #1 – The taste was bold, yet smooth and delightful and the panel were in immediate agreement that this wine was preferable to the 2002 Mouthpiece.  
  • Wine glass #2 – The bottle briefly had contact with oxygen on opening but the cap was immediately replaced after the bottle was poured into the decanter.  In this case this wine tasted a lot better when poured from the decanter.   The taste straight from the bottle was sharp with an instant bite and spice. However, we all agreed the benefit in decanting was the more lingering and smooth flavour. 


We found decanting the first bottle (2002 ‘Mouthpiece’) did not work favourably for that wine.   However bottle number two (2001 ‘McNicol’ Shiraz) improved through decanting (although this wine is magnificent from the bottle also).  

 So why is it I wonder then that we found the first wine was better straight from the bottle? 

 This was perplexing  for the panel and we agreed that perhaps regular quaffing wines do not require decanting, yet the more aged and top end wines (like the popular theory) do develop and enhance the wine’s characteristics.


Traditionally the use of a decanter is to separate the sediment from the wine, in particular aged wines.  These days a decanter is more commonly used to aerate the wine in order to enhance the aromas and wine characteristics to full potential.

 There are many different types of decanters on the market but essentially the main feature should be a wide base channelling into a funnel like top to allow the oxygen to be in contact with the wine (so it can breath), yet also practical to pour.  I have seen several types for sale and a feature of interest on some decanters was a mesh removable filter for the opening which would be of benefit for older wines and if a cork is damaged whilst opening.  We used a basic model glass decanter which served the purpose nicely and it was cleaned prior to the experiment in hot water (no detergent) and air dried

An interesting point on the McNicol Shiraz …

Recently a good friend of mine returned home to Spain for a visit with family and took a bottle of this wine for an uncle as a gift.  This particular relative is a huge lover of red wines and also very loyal to the notion of corks in wine as opposed to screw caps.  The ‘McNicol’ is a screw capped bottle and therefore received a cold reception and great hesitation to taste the wine, Eventually  the uncle caved in and tried the wine and loved it and was genuinely surprised.  So this bottle changed his outlook completely. 

Additional reading on decanted wine

See full size image

The 2010 Norwood food, wine and music festival is on Sunday the 28th of February from 12 noon.  The weather forecast is looking to be a pleasant 31 degrees, a nice change from high temperatures in the past.

Gourmet food – Fine wine – Live music – Fashion parades