Showing posts with label Wine Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine Australia. Show all posts

Monday, February 6, 2017

Irish Focus at Australian Day Tasting. Classics and New Wave Impress

Irish Focus at Australian Day Tasting
Classics and New Wave Impress
I was determined to concentrate on the Focus Table, this year featuring a selection of 31 wines by Irish wine personalities who have a keen interest in Australia, including Liam Campbell, Martin Moran, Harriet Tindal, Colm McCan (Ballymaloe) and Gavin Ryan (Black Pig, Kinsale). The figure was supposed to be 24 wines but it did get extended!

Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia Head of Market EMEA, said:  We hope this new section adds an extra dimension to this year’s event. Having looked at the nominations, these wines really do highlight the diversity of Australian wine and reinforce the country’s reputation as a premium wine producer.” 

The promise, and it was kept, was that “great classic wines from the likes of Cullen, Clonakilla and Bindi will be on show, plus new-wave artisans like Jauma, Ochota Barrels and Gentle Folk”.  

So the signs were good as I arrived at the Royal Hibernian Academy and sought out the Focus Table. And I made a sparkling start with the House of Arras ‘EJ Carr Late Disgorged’ Tasmania Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2003. Fresh and vibrant, an amazing sparkling wine.

Then followed a string of young Rieslings, including the Josef Chromy ‘SGR’ Tasmania Riesling 2016 with an ABV of just 7.5% and a delicious Skillogalee Clare Valley 2015 by Dave Palmer, “mineral, dry and crisp” as noted by Gavin Ryan from Kinsale’s Black Pig who selected it.

The Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon 2011  was superb, “intense and complex, but elegant and refreshing” noted Martin Moran. It was all good around here and the standard was maintained by the Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Grüner Veltliner, the grapes picked in the cold of the night to retain flavour and freshness.

Maximum drinkability and enjoyment is the aim of the producers of the Gentle Folk Forest Range Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2015, the first of the reds and the first of Ballymaloe's Colm McCan’s selections for the table. I reckon the producers got it right as did Colm.

There were quite a few Syrah and Shiraz at this point, all very good including the Payton and Jones ‘Major Kong - Planet of the Grapes’, Yarra Valley 2015. My favourite though was the blend: De Bortoli ‘La Boheme Act Four’ Yarra Valley Syrah Gamay, imported by Febvre and a Liam Campbell pick. 

The Colm McCann selection, Jauma ‘Audrey’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015, is produced biologically and intrigued with its “cider-y” notes.

Some excellent Grenache on the table too including Ochota Barrels ‘The Fugazi Vineyard’ McLaren Vale 2015, the Willunga 100 McLaren Vale 2015, and the Cirillo ‘1850 Ancestor Wine’ Barossa Valley 2011. The Cirillo was chosen by Ian Brosnan of Ely and he admitted that, until recently, he had never tasted Grenache of this quality.

And quality too, at a very good price, in Kevin O’Brien’s Kangarilla Road Terzetto, a McLaren Vale blend of Sangiovese, Primitivo and Nebbiolo. It is a favourite of mine, was chosen by Liam Campbell and is available at O’Brien Wines.

Perhaps the best blend of the lot came towards the end: the Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ Margaret River Cabernet Blend 2014, imported by Liberty Wines and nominated by Gavin Ryan who has fond memories of enjoying it at a full moon harvest party in Margaret River.

Time then for a chat at the Liberty Wines stand with Garry Gunnigan and new recruit Marcus Gates and a tasting of their sweet wines before heading into the general wine area.

Here we soon met up with Jonny Callan of Cabroso Wines who import the Kelly’s Patch range to Ireland and we hope to link up in Cork soon and find out more about the company.

Having concentrated on the Focus Table we missed out on many stalls, including McGuigan where they were tasting the impressive Founder’s Series that I enjoyed in Kinsale a few months ago.

Hard to go wrong with the Deakin Estate and Katnook Wines that are imported by Findlater (and available in Cork in Bradley's and other outlets). 

Next time I'm up in North Main Street, I'll be looking at some of the Penfolds that Laura introduced me to at the Findlater’s stand. Both the Bin 2 South Australian Shiraz Mataro (that is what the Australians call Mourvedre) 2012 and the Bin 28 South Australian Shiraz 2011 impressed.

With Marcus (Liberty Wines)
Been writing this and wondering how the Australians get to name their wines. Heard a good story from Michael at the Lanchester Wines stand as we sampled the excellent ‘Don’t Tell Gary’, a McPherson Shiraz 2015 from the Strathbogie Ranges. 

This wine is a labour of love - one the accountants didn't know about.  In 2014, winemaker Jo Nash discovered an exceptional parcel of Shiraz from the Grampians which she gently crushed, then tucked away in some ridiculously expensive French oak barrels to age for 12 months.  

All the while, she was urging her fellow employees: “Don’t tell Gary”. No one did tell Gary, her boss. Now the wine speaks for itself - minimal intervention, purity of fruit, Shiraz at its best and Jo has been given free rein to investigate other possibilities in the vineyard!
John (left) and Michael at Lanchester Wines
See also earlier article on great selection of fortified sweet wines at the tasting here.

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, February 3, 2016

Kelly’s Patch Wines Victoria to Magherafelt

Kelly’s Patch Wines
Victoria to Magherafelt
Jonny Callan (left) and Matt Herde in Dublin
From way down in South-Eastern Australia comes the collection of very drinkable Kelly’s Patch wines. I came across them a year or so ago in Karwig’s and came across the team behind them at the recent Australia Day Tasting in the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin where Wine Australia showed over 200 wines to illustrate the diversity of wine in the vast country.

Cabroso Wines were showing the Kelly’s range and here we were delighted to meet up with Jonny Callan and Brian Shaw from the Irish end (they are based in Magherafelt, County Derry) and Matt Herde (see his short tasting videos via the links below) from the Australian end in Victoria. Brian himself was just back after no less than four years spent working and studying in the wine industry in Australia and New Zealand.

All their wines are single varietal. The whites are Kelly's Patch Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay while the reds are Merlot and Shiraz. They also have a pair specially developed for the on licence trade, namely Kelly's Gang Shiraz and Kelly's Gang Sauvignon Blanc which you can watch out for in restaurants.
Took the opportunity to taste most of these in Dublin and they are very pleasant wines indeed, all easy drinking and all well priced at €11.99 for the off licence bottles. The Pinot Grigio is beautiful and fresh. The Sauvignon Blanc is fresh and vibrant with good tropical fruits.

The Merlot surprised me with its plummy spicy fruit, very concentrated with a lovely soft mouthfeel, a very nice drop indeed. The Kelly’s Patch Shiraz is also very good, warm and hearty, fruit-forward and enjoyable as Matt says here in this short video.

We later had the chance to taste two of the wines, including their star, the Kelly’s Last Wish Shiraz, at our leisure and the notes follow.

Kelly’s Patch Chardonnay 2014 (South East Australia), 13.5%, €11.99, available at Karwig Wines and other stockists

The fruit for this comes from Goulburn Valley where Chardonnay is the leading white grape. The aromas are an inviting mix, mainly fruity but with some floral elements. Colour is a bright medium gold with green tints. Importantly, oak use has been careful and applied to only a portion of the wine. Extended lees contact has enhanced the structure. There is indeed a refreshing balance of fruit and lively acidity and a very good finish to boot. Well made, good value and Highly Recommended.

Matt’s video here.

Kelly’s Last Wish Shiraz 2014, Central Victoria, 14.5%, €19.99 Stockists

Central Victoria is Shiraz country and the Last Wish, with its abundant succulent flavour and character is an excellent example. The fragrance of plums and the lift of spice are found in the attractive aromas and a palate full of concentrated fruit follows, oak too but really well integrated. With its tremendous fruit and spice, this is a complete wine, one that the winery say will keep for seven years. Not full on but nicely judged, as Hugh Johnson might say. Highly Recommended.
Ned Kelly's "mark" on left hand pic.
Just in case you haven't guessed it, Kelly's Patch is named after Ned Kelly,  an Australian bushranger of Irish descent. He was born in the British colony of Victoria as the third of eight children to an Irish convict from County Tipperary and an Australian mother with Irish parentage.

Kelly is one of Australia's greatest folk heroes, according to a government website. “He has been memorialised by painters, writers, musicians and filmmakers alike. More books, songs and websites have been written about Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang than any other group of Australian historical figures.” Read more here.

Briefly, he was born in 1855 and hanged in 1880. His last wish was to be buried in consecrated ground but that didn't take place until 2013 when he was reinterred in Greta Cemetery in Victoria.

South-Eastern Australia is a Geographical Indication (GI) covering the entire southeastern third of Australia. This area's western boundary stretches 1250 miles (2000 km) across the Australian continent, from the Pacific coast of Queensland to the Southern Ocean coast in South Australia. This vast viticultural "super zone" effectively encompasses every significant Australian wine region outside Western Australia.

Australia Day Tasting in Dublin 27.01.16
Part One (whites)
Part Two (reds)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Dublin's Australian Day Tasting. The Red Wines. Shiraz Stars

Dublin's Australian Day Tasting
Part 2. The Red Wines. Shiraz Stars.
Shiraz. Wine Australia photo from 2016 vintage.
To see Part 1 (on the white wines, mainly), please click here

The diversity of Australian wines wasn't perhaps the most demanding of themes for the recent Australia Day Tasting in Dublin! There are some great choices already in Ireland and more coming our way, at all price levels. Australia has over sixty wine regions, so somewhere there is a terroir suitable for virtually every single grape variety and indeed almost all grape varieties are grown there; resulting wines can be single varietal or a blend.

We are moving on now to our second tour of the room in the Royal Hibernian Academy, the red route. All that after a chat with fellow wine scribe Richard Magnier who was enjoying the concentrated excellence available at the Focus Table for Chardonnay and Shiraz. Check Part 1 (the whites) here.

But before we get on to the well known Shiraz, I’d like to draw your attention to some less well known ones from Australia.  Wine Australia: “Winemakers and principals have been visiting the market throughout the year to promote the diversity of flavours and styles, regions and terroirs together with the food friendly, vibrant, evolving styles and emerging varieties.”

Food friendly and vibrant can easily be applied to the Merlot from Kelly’s Patch and shown by Jonny Callan of Cabroso Wines. McGuigan’s too have a Merlot in their Black Label series as have Yellow Tail while Wolf Blass has a Malbec. Penfolds have a Mataro (Mourvedre to you and me).

And if you like your Chianti it's entirely possible you'll like the De Bortoli Bella Riva Sangiovese 2013, from the King Valley in Victoria. Not too many Pinot Noirs on show but I did enjoy the De Bortoli Windy Peak 2013 from the Yarra Valley, superb flavour and balance here, even it's their third label. 

Missed out on tasting one from Tasmania, an ideal area for the grape, but there was Tasmanian fruit (along with fruit from Victoria) in the excellent Hardy’s PRB Pinot Noir 2014.

No shortage of red wine blends in the tasting.  And one of the best was the Yalumba The Scribbler Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz (2012) from the Barossa, so well balanced, very quaffable indeed. All we were short was Jane Ferrari! Didn't quite get the same grá, at first sip, for the Peter Lehmann Clancy's Red (Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) - might need a second go!

And then, at the Findlaters table, there was 19 Crimes, named after the 19 listed crimes that made you a criminal in these parts and gave you a one way ticket to Australia. The “wine celebrates the rules they broke and the culture they built”. 

And this intense flavoursome wine is quite a blend with Shiraz (57.1%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19.3%), Grenache (10%) and Merlot (6.4%) included. The Australians can blend a wine as good as any and can also tell the tales. Read about one of the “criminals” here, a Irish poet called John O’Reilly.

But tales and marketing can only bring you so far. The quality must be there and it is rarely lacking in Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Let's start with the Cab Sauv and a lovely easy drinking one, again from the Findlater table, the Gentleman’s Collection 2014 from South Australia. For fifteen euro, this one ticks most of the boxes.

At Table 14 (Whelehan Wines), I asked for the Parker Coonawarra Estate Terra Rossa Cabernet 2013 (29.95). CL is a major Cabernet fan and thought she had struck gold. And it is a beauty - great balance structure and fruit.
Coonawarra Terra Rossa soil

But it would soon be eclipsed(!) by the Parker Coonawarra Estate First Growth 2010 (€85.00). This is produced only in seasons of exceptional fruit quality. It's made from predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon from their Abbey vineyard and some vintages, including this one, contain a small portion of Merlot and/or Petit Verdot. It is perfection. Best Cab Sauv I tasted for the afternoon!

Australia can boast much richer stocks of ancient Shiraz/Syrah vines than France. It was one of the country’s original varieties and many vines there are now well over 100 years old. While Shiraz (42,000 hectares) may well be Australia's signature variety (think Penfolds Grange), the style is ever-changing, from “classic full-bodied” to “delicate interpretations”.

“While Barossa may be the jewel in Australia's Shiraz crown”, quite a few other, often cooler, areas are also making their mark. Let's see what I got to taste in Dublin and, remember again, I didn't taste every example.

Kelly’s Patch, the vineyard with the Irish connection (not the only one!), had no less than three, headed by the award winning Kelly’s Last Wish 2014 (€19.99), from Central Victoria, really well-made, with fragrant aromas and a palate full of concentrated fruit and spice. The name comes from a story concerning the outlaw Ned Kelly's final wish, another tale on a bottle.

Peter Lehmann is famous for reds and, from a whole stable of Shiraz, my pick was the Futures 2011 (30.00), from the Barossa. Fruit and spice galore and an ABV of 14.5%. Most Australian Shiraz will be up around that, some even above.

D'Arenberg’s Dead Arm is their best known Shiraz but, with diversity in mind, I sampled the mid-range The Footbolt 2012  (€22.00) from the McLaren Vale. Another superb example with typical fruit and spice.

Hard to go wrong with Shiraz in this room. They just kept getting better. And Findlaters had quite a gem in the Wynns Coonawarra Estate Michael 2012, succulent, well integrated, well made with great length. The Shiraz Star of the Show?
The O'Brien family: Helen, Charlie and Kevin at home in McLaren Vale

That’s what I was thinking until I came to taste the Kangarilla Road The Devil’s Whiskers 2013 from the McLaren Vale. After that, I reckon the Best in Show title will have to be shared with Kevin and Helen O’Brien’s magnificent wine. Kevin was there himself: “It is consistent, ages beautifully. I tasted the 05/06 recently and it is beautiful vibrant, lovely.” This 2013 seems to be heading in the same delicious direction.

We have been missing the brilliant Kangarilla Road wines these past few years in Ireland. Kevin, like quite a few other Australian winemakers, came to the Dublin show searching for a distributor. Kangarilla, with so many superb wines in the range and popular in the UK, would be a fantastic addition to any portfolio here.

To learn a little more on Shiraz, check out this podcast.

To see Part 1 (on the white wines, mainly), please click here
Post also on the wines of Kelly's Patch here

  • Over 200 wines. Phew. To be honest, I didn’t set out to taste every one. And, even if I had managed the feat, that still wouldn't have given the complete picture of the diversity found in Australian wine today. Many more wines were available in the London tasting for example and some Irish favourites, such as Cullen Wines from the Margaret River, Tim Adams from the Clare Valley, the Palmers of Skillogalee, gentleman Chris Pfeiffer of Rutherglen, the Brysons of Morambro Creek in Padthaway, were among those not present in Dublin for one reason or another.
The Royal Hibernian Academy

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Australia’s Wine Diversity On Show in a Dublin Gallery

Australia’s Wine Diversity
On Show in a Dublin Gallery
(Part 1)

Diversity was the theme for last week’s Australia Day Wine Tasting in the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, a theme that was well illustrated indeed with over 200 wines to be tasted.*

Everything from a high quality Tasmanian sparkling wine, Jansz Premium Cuvee NV, to a d’Arenberg Rare Tawny (had that lined up for my very last sip but, stupidly, forgot about it - next time!). And so much good stuff in between, including a special Focus Table for Shiraz and Chardonnay for which the country is justly famous. Diversity is rampant, according to Hugh Johnson. "And we can choose: the full-on or the nicely judged."

Wine Australia is happy that Ireland “maintains its love of Australian wines, with bottled imports up 26%. Higher price point segments are pushing the overall value up, helped by the advantages of the exchange rate.”

There was no shortage though of lower priced "nicely judged" wines at the show, some very well known ones like the Casella Yellowtail  (lovely Chardonnay), the less well-known Kelly's Patch selection (most of them easy drinking and easy on the pocket at €11.99, plus a couple especially developed for restaurant lists), Deakin Estate’s list includes an award winning Sauvignon Blanc (Victoria) along with an impressive Artisan’s Blend (Semillon and Sauvignon blanc).

At the top end of the price scale you had memorable marvels such as Parker Coonawarra Estate First Growth and the gorgeous Tyrrell’s Winemaker's Vat 1 Hunter Semillon 2010 (from the Tindall stand). Each is the Signature Wine of the respective vineyards, according to James Halliday in his Wine Atlas.
With Richard Magnier (@motleycru) in the RHA

The Hunter Valley is well known for Semillon, a grape that I rather like and one that you rarely see on its own in Europe.  But this 2010 by Tyrrell’s is a gem, no oak, great fruit and terrific acidity.

No shortage of Riesling here and the first to impress was the super Hardy’s HRB 2014 with its great balance of fruit and acidity. Clare Valley produces some terrific Rieslings and we got a whiff of petrol as we sampled Jim Barry’s The Lodge Dry Hill 2014, an excellent wine. And that was matched, maybe even shaded, by Peter Lehmann Wigan Eden Valley 2006, superb flavours and aromas and more of the petrol, again his signature wine according to Halliday.

The Wirra Wirra Lost Watch, at the Tindal’s stand, was one of the driest of the Rieslings and it too had petrol in the aromas; great fruit too with some style, top quality and an all round excellent wine. All the Riesling though would need food methinks.

Table 3 (C&C Gleeson) had an offering from Tasmania and our second sip from the island was the Eddystone Point Gris 2013, a lovely almost creamy wine. On then to Cassidy Wines and our first taste of a Margaret River wine.

Chardonnay “is a headline act for Australia” but having moved away from the “bold full-bodied Chardonnays of the late 20th century, today’s wines are excitingly varied” and Australia now offers “more restrained and balanced examples of this versatile variety.” Don’t think there’s any great news here as this trend has been there with some time but no harm in having it confirmed with some style in Dublin.

The Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2014 (24.99), inviting fruity and matching acidity, really well balanced, is one to note. Vasse Felix, by the way, was founded in 1967 and is the first winery to be built in the Margaret River.

And the Chardonnay just got better at Febvre who had a smashing De Bortoli Estate Growth 2013 from the Yarra Valley. So well made, rounded. Close your eyes and you could be sipping in Burgundy. Their 2013 Windy Peak (also from the Yarra) was lively and very drinkable.

Findlaters too had a terrific Chardonnay and the Katnook Estate Founder’s Block, from South Australia Limestone Coast, is also well priced. Really excellent and aren't I glad I bought a bottle of it in Bradley’s just a few days ahead of the tasting. Looking forward to that even more now!

And the good Chardonnays kept coming. The Wolf Blass Gold Label 2013 (Adelaide Hills) is just superb. And we finished on another high, impressed hugely by the 2011 Wirra Wirra 12th Man (also Adelaide Hills) and imported by Tindal.

Part Two, featuring the red wines, is here. Plus post on the wines of Kelly's Patch.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wine Ace Maurice is Highest Achiever in Europe

Maurice, on stage and on screen!
Wine Ace Maurice is Highest Achiever in Europe
Relaxing in the Guildhall (l to r): Tony Ambrosini,
David Bird MW and Maurice.
Those of us who have been watching the rise of wine importers Wine Alliance in recent years know that founder and director Maurice O’Mahony knows his wines.

 And that was confirmed when the Corkman successfully came through his examination for the WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits. Maurice emerged as the highest achieving student in Europe and he was awarded the body’s prestigious Wine Australia Scholarship in a grand ceremony in London’s Guildhall this week.

The WSET is the only wine and spirit education organisation approved by the UK government as a national awarding body of vocational qualifications. 

WSET Awards also co-ordinate the annual selection of outstanding candidates to be presented with industry sponsored Scholarships. And some 600 were in the attendance as Maurice received his diploma from WSET President Jancis Robinson and his scholarship from Yvonne May of Wine Australia.

“It is a very prestigious award and I am very proud. The ninety minute ceremony was fantastic. Jancis was charming and the location was stunning,” said a delighted Maurice.

The scholarship is a two week trip to Australia, beginning in Sydney. While details for Maurice’s tour are yet to be finalised he will visit most if not all of the country's wine regions. It will be quite an experience as iconic wineries will be visited, the key personalities behind the vineyards will be on hand to talk with Maurice and he’ll get to taste their very best wines.

But is has been a tough road to get this far, to the top of the European tree, studying hard while also building his company. Minimum of 600 hours study is required and Maurice reckons he well exceeded that in the two years leading up to the Diploma exam.

They started off with a Commercial Unit and that was followed by a Viticulture and Vinification Unit. Unit 3 was on the Still Wines of the World and then followed units on Fortified, Sparkling and Spirits, all involving theory and blind tastings.

He reckons Unit 3 was the toughest. In one particular day, he had to blind taste 12 wines and then do a three hour exam on wine theory! “Five hours in all,” he recalls. “That was a killer!” But the Glanmire resident came through that and all hurdles with flying colours and deserves all the congratulations coming his way.

Guildhall, built between 1411 and 1440
You may read Maurice’s own take on the Guildhall event here and below we reprint a few questions and his answers for scholarship sponsors Wine Australia.

1.       What does this scholarship mean to you?
Winning the Wine Australia Scholarship is a dream come true. I can clearly remember one of our lecturers speaking of it in our first class a couple of years ago. The prize seemed so far away and out of reach. When I was notified that I'd won I was thrilled and when I walked on stage with Yvonne May to be presented with my prize by Jancis Robinson MW in the Guildhall at the WSET Awards Ceremony, it was a surreal moment.

2.       What do you love about Australian wine?
There’s lots to love about Australian wine and I have been a fan for many years. Australia was one of the first countries that got me interested in wine. I love the variety of Australian wines and the way that there are wines of every style, grape variety and price level. Everything is covered from entry level well made value wines to iconic wines that compete with the world’s best.

3.       What are you most excited about your visit to Australia?
I have never been to Australia so that alone will be a thrill. I am a wine obsessive so the opportunity to visit some of the world famous wine regions that I have read about and studied for many years is incredibly exciting. I always find that when I visit vineyards, it enhances my relationship with the wines and the winery.