Showing posts with label Pfeiffer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pfeiffer. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Nicely Judged Australian Trio. Not Full-on At All.

My Nicely Judged Australian Trio
Not Full-on At All

Top wine writer, Hugh Johnson (he’ll be in Ballymaloe for the Lit-fest) has noted how Australian wine has changed from "full-on" to "nicely-judged". Reckon I’ve got a trio of the latter here. Enjoy!

Chris Pfeiffer in Cork

Pfeiffer Carlyle Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 14.5%, €19.85 Karwig Wine

First, a geography lesson. The Pfeiffer winery is located in the parish of Carlyle in the Rutherford Glen area of Victoria in Australia. I met Chris Pfeiffer in Cork a few years ago and he is very proud of his area and of its wines and named this wine after his parish. You may read about Chris in Cork here.

This purple Cabernet Sauvignon is excellent. The nose is a strikingly rich mix of red fruits and violets. The palate too is rich, concentrated and smooth, hints of sweetness and then a long and slow finalé. Best in the parish? The wine-making neighbours, 40 miles or so away, may have something to say about that! But this is a lovely wine and Very Highly Recommended.

Pfeiffers are well known for their stickies (sweet wines). The Wine Atlas of Australia suggests that Christopher’s Vintage Port is the one of the best. Interestingly, the Pfeiffer website doesn't mention the word Port, diplomatically calling it Christophers VP.
With David Bryson (left) at a Cork tasting

Morambro Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Padthaway (Australia), 14.5%, €23.40 Karwig Wines

The Bryson family established Morambro Creek in 1994 and their signature wine, according to James Halliday, is the Bryson Barrel Select (Shiraz, Cabernet). They also own the Jip Jip Rocks and Mt Monster vineyards, both also in Padthaway.

I met David Bryson (5th generation) in Cork in 2013 and, as it happens, had a taste of this very wine. David said it is selected from a small number of outstanding barrels each vintage. Traditional wine-making and minimal processing feature strongly in the making of “this Cabernet derived from our estate vineyard”.

The nose, typical of the area, is fragrant and more expressive than the Carlyle. It also has a purple colour. On the palate, it is superb, lush and intense, some spice too. The tannins are fine and soft. The power and smoothness is a delicious delight and the finish is persistent. Overall, a great balance. It impressed two years ago and impressed again the other night. Very Highly Recommended, for sure! You'll probably notice that it comes in a rather heavy bottle!

Padthaway, on the Limestone Coast, is the area in which you’ll find the vineyards that David and his brothers, Paul and Andrew, look after. Their parents, Clive and Elizabeth, built the wine business up over the past half century before handing over to their three sons. Since 1851, five generations of the Bryson family have been involved in agriculture in the area.

Katnook Founder's Block Chardonnay 2012 €17.99 (down now to 15.95) Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork

The recent Australia Day tasting in Dublin illustrated once again how the country’s Chardonnay has found redemption in recent years. Once big and brash and off-putting (remember the ABC!), now it is much more subtle and so much the better for it. And Katnook is a splendid example of what you can expect nowadays.

Katnook had quite a selection on the Findlater stand in Dublin but I had already bought my own Chardonnay in Bradley’s, thanks to the advice of their Michael Creedon. A small proportion has been barrel fermented, then matured on its lees for six months and the wine is made “in a fruit forward style for everyday drinking”.

With its subtle oak tones from the barrel fermentation, its good concentration and long finish, this is an elegant solution if you want a well-made well-priced Chardonnay. And even better value now with two euro off. Katnook is, like Deakin Estates, owned by Spanish Cava producer Freixenet.

It has an attractive straw colour with white fruit aromas (peach and nectarine) evident. There is a smooth flow of white fruit onto the palate, a rich mouthfeel, those oak hints too, good acidity, balanced all the way to the the end of the lingering finish. Highly Recommended.

See blog post from the Australia Day Tasting in Dublin here

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pfeiffer’s Parish Wine Travels Well

Pfeiffer’s Parish Wine Travels Well.
So You Don’t Have To!

Pfeiffer Carlyle Chardonnay Marsanne 2011, Rutherglen (Victoria, AUS), 13%, €14.95 (reduced from 19.95) Karwig Wines .

Some two hundred kilometres north-east of Melbourne, you will find Rutherglen and, in the parish of Carlyle, among the “beautiful and tranquil surrounds of Sandy Creek”, you’ll come across the Pfeiffer winery and this gorgeous blend.

Alternatively, a few kilometers south of Cork, at the southern edge of Carrigaline, you’ll find Joe Karwig’s Wine-shop and inside, just across from the front door, you’ll see this Chardonnay Marsanne on the Australian shelf. But, hurry, there is a fiver off at present.

Marsanne is not all that well known and, according to the latest edition of the World Atlas of Wine, is a regional (rather than international) grape. But is it widely grown, not least here in the state of Victoria. Father and daughter winemaking team, Chris (below) and Jen Pfeiffer, oversee the blend.

Extended lees contact helps build a creamy texture. I have been drinking the various editions of the blend over the years and have always been impressed. This current one is no exception. It is crisp and fresh with stone fruit aromas and flavours, lightly creamy on the palate and with a clean and refreshing finish.

Just the job for the New Year celebrations!

  • Rutherford is probably best known for its stickies, the local name for sweet dessert wines. Chris Pfeiffer was in Cork three years back promoting them. See what he had to say here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chardonnay Marsanne, star of the Pfeiffer Parish

 Chardonnay Marsanne, star of the Pfeiffer Parish
Pfeiffer, Carlyle Chardonnay Marsanne, 2008 Australia, 13.5%, €14.55 Karwig Wines 

Carlyle is the name of the parish where Australia’s Pfeiffer Wines  are based and Chris Pfeiffer is so proud of this Chardonnay Marsanne wine that he named it after the parish.

This is about as local as you can get and these little things are important. I remember New Zealand wine-maker Tim Finn, one of the wine pioneers there, speaking in Star Anise before Christmas and mentioning one of his little blocks and its peculiar suitability for producing excellent wine from a certain grape. But Tim was in no doubt what would happen to that little parcel if a major wine company took over. It would just be dug up and the most profitable vine planted.

And that would inevitably lead to less and less choice for the consumer. The survival of the family farmer, be it in dairy, meat or wine, will ensure choice in the long term. It is important and a point underlined by Darina Allen in last week’s Ear to the Ground when she pleaded strongly for the survival of the small butcher.

 Chris is one of these passionate family wine-makers and, fortunately, they do exist and quite a few of them find a market here and indeed visit regularly as you can see here.

Chris (left) showed this wine a few months back at an Australian Stickie evening in the Hayfield. I was impressed with it then and perhaps more so now after a longer “study session”.

Colour is pale yellow with hints of green and the nose is aromatic. On the palate, you sense immediately something fresh and rare. Lets you know it’s there, a lively little number, yet the unusual grape duo produce quite a smooth creamy combination, a very nicely balanced wine, with a dry persistent finish.

When Chris and his wife Robyn (who also attended at the Hayfield) took over the winery in the mid 80s, they were delighted to receive important practical help from their neighbours, even if the nearest of the new friends lived about 40 miles away!

Chris was representing those same Rutherglen neighbours and fellow winemakers at the Hayfield and was every bit as eloquent in promoting their wines as in pushing his own, perhaps even more so. He is obviously proud of his area. No surprise then that he named this one after the parish. It is a lovely wine from what must be a lovely place.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Stickie wicket

Yet another lovely wine evening in Cork, thanks mainly to a superb contribution by Australian Chris Pfeiffer. The renowned and deservedly much honoured Rutherglen winemaker was on his favourite subject: Australian stickies (fortified and dessert wines), and the Vine Wine Cellar in the Hayfield Manor was an excellent venue for the tasting, delivered with an abundance of intimate knowledge and no little humour.

Chris, as is his wont, was representing his neighbours’ as well as his own wines, and started us off with a NV Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato. This inviting 5.5% ABV carbonated effort “is taking the country (Australia) by storm” and certainly went down well at our table. Distributed by Liberty Wines, it is widely available here.

Then came the 2010 Brown Brothers Orange Muscat and Flora, weighing in at 11.5% or so, and also widely available. The Brown family are neighbours of Chris: “Forty five miles away but that’s neighbours in Australia. It is easy drinking, full of flavour and freshness and simple to enjoy.”

Now for the first of the true stickies: a 2009 Pete Lehmann Botrytis Semillon (Barossa Valley). This was the “..more classic, European style..complex..more persistent..with a delicious lusciousness on the middle palate..” Available from O’Donovan’s, Molloys and independent Off Licences.

Chris Pfeiffer

“Grant Burge is passionate about fortified wines” said Chris as he introduced the 10 Year Old Tawny (Barossa Valley). “The brandy spirit here plays an important additional role by adding flavour. Australian wines tend to be sweeter than the Douro.” This beauty, available from O’Donovan’s, Cellars, and Sweeney’s of Glasnevin, went down well.

I preferred the Tawny as did quite a few but the next wine, available through and at Curious Wines, also had many advocates including John McDonnell of Wine Australia Ireland who was helping Chris on the night. This was the 2006 Woodstock Vintage Shiraz from the McLaren Vale, “plum pudding and mince in a glass”.

Chris had lots of anecdotes about the wine industry and  let us know at this point that the table wines “pay” for the fortified wines which are regarded as “an accountant’s nightmare, because they tie up so much capital”. Fortunately, thanks to people like Chris, the accountants don't always have their way. “Fortified wines are undervalued...they deliver great punch for your pound!”

The next three wines were all by Chris, all from Rutherglen. The first was the Pfeiffer Topaque (previously called Tokay). “This is 100% Moscatel. No Botrytis here but it is well ripened and the last grape we pick (in June). There is plenty of accumulated sugar but we don't lose the fruit.” And this luscious flavour-full wine was well liked at our table.

Like the Topaque, the Pfeiffer Muscat spends five years in wood. The grapes have been harvested at high sugar levels and then the different parcels are blended to produce a youthful fresh wine. Sweet yes, Christmas pudding was mentioned, but not cloying.

Then we had the most fantastic bonus: Pfeiffer Grand Muscat. This expensive wine is not available in Ireland so I made the most of our taster, taking it tiny sip by tiny sip. It is twenty years old and has spent most of that time in barrel. “It is a very special occasion wine (like old Cognac). It is very complex and you don't need much.”

Ballymaloe's Colm McCan and yours truly

Yes indeed. And, believe it or not, Pfeiffer also do a Rare Muscat, four years older than the Grand. Like to get a  sip or two of that sometime.

And so this lovely stickie tasting came to an end but we weren't quite finished yet as Chris also had some of his bread and butter table wines to show us. Indeed, we had started on entry with a very attractive 2008 Pfeiffer Carlyle Chardonnay Marsanne. Up to 45% is Marsanne and 6 months contact with the lees also helps round it off. As the evening closed, we had some very tasty nibbles from the Hayfield and sampled two excellent easy drinking reds: the 2008 Carlyle Shiraz and the 2008 Carlyle Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Rutherglen wines, table, fortified and dessert, are available at and distributed by Karwig Wines. Worth a  call before Christmas!

Friday, November 4, 2011


 Wine Australia’s Stickie (Sweet Wine) Tastings

Tuesday 6th December: Hayfield Manor Hotel, Cork
Wednesday 7th December: Ely Bar and Brassiere, IFSC, Custom House Quay, D1

With a hell of a lot of acidity expected in next month's budget,  Wine Australia's Johnny McDonnell (right in pic) reckons he has just the thing to balance it up!

"A touch of sweetness is in order to, as Mary P would say, make the medicine go down.

So we are hosting two delicious sweet wine tastings in December, on the 6th in Cork and Dublin on the 7th.

Affectionately known as “Stickies” Down-under, the story of the Australian wine world is steeped in fortified and dessert wine making. Often tricky to sell, the one time that they do find favour is around Christmas.

So perfect timing for you to join us and try a range of these wines from Australia.

Joining us to lead the presentation duties is Chris Pfeiffer (left in pic above), owner and wine maker of Pfeiffer Wines in the Rutherglen. A regular visitor to Ireland with a huge passion for these wine styles, Chris is the ideal person to take us on this sweet journey.

So whether you have a sweet tooth, are looking for a different present for the wine lover in your life or on occasion you’d just prefer to pour (instead of make) your dessert, this is the tasting for you."

The cost is €20 per person, which includes the tasting and tasty nibbles afterwards.  Only 30 places at each event so please book your passage early.
For the Cork tasting, book direct with Wine Australia on or 065 7077 264.
For the Dublin event, direct with ely Bar and Brasserie on and on 01 676 8986.
Each tasting begins at 7pm.
If you require any further information please contact John at Wine Australia on or 065 7077 264.