The Australia Challenge

Between 1997 and 2007 the value of wines exported from Australia grew by a whopping 437 percent. They were on a roll, but then they fell off 18 percent in 2008 and have been down every year since, except only by two percent in 2012 and five percent in 2013.

It is my feeling that they started to rely too much on what one critic called “brightly coloured labels of various shapes, often adorned with pictures of cute marsupials”, but the customer attaches far more importance to the contents, which possibly were neglected a bit at times in the rush to expand. I do believe that this has been turned around now.

Australia is the sixth largest wine producing country and their volume actually increased in 2012 and 2013, and we certainly are not about to give up on them. Our association with Rosemount estate goes back many years and they have quite recently changed their labels, gone back to a traditional bottle and their wines are as good, or even better, than ever.

In 2005 we met one of the owners of the Bird in Hand winery and started to bring in their range. This summer they have been awarded the 2014 World’s Greatest Shiraz overall by Wine State magazine. This winery in Adelaide is on the land of an abandoned gold mine of the same name.

The most awarded Australian winery of them all is Mollydooker, and although we hoped for good acceptance when they arrived earlier this year, we honestly did not anticipate having to place a far larger order within weeks. They strictly allocate their wines and usually run out anyway. Mollydooker refers to a left-handed person in Australia, and owners Sarah and Sparky Marquis are both left-handed.

I remember when Rosemount Estate Shiraz was “the” wine to have, but now there are so many to choose from, Pinot Noir has caught on and competition is heavy. Still, it is rather like comfort food in the glass as it is easy drinking and well balanced, chewy, dark and fruit filled. The winemaker talks of “a delicious aroma of warm, spicy liquorice and brambly berry fruit interwoven with American oak”. This is a good outdoor grill and party wine for $14.90. We stock the 2012 vintage.

Although we are happy with Bird in Hand sales in general, and their 2009 Two in the Bush Shiraz got top honours in Decanter magazine ($19.85), it is their Sparkling Pinot Noir Rose that sets the pace here. I have a selection of wines that I offer folks to taste when they tell me that they do not like a certain type. If they tell me that they do not enjoy bubblies then out comes a taste of Bird in Hand Sparkling Rose of Pinot Noir. I have never known it to fail. Perfumed Pinot Noir with strawberries and cream, crisp with a touch of peach, a hint of acid and a delicious mouth-feel. Who could resist. $25.30.

Humour and good Australian fun are evident when you look at any bottle of Mollydooker wine and you can be assured that the contents will reward you with a wonderfully memorable experience. I am trying to decide whether I should describe their Carnival of Love Shiraz, their Boxer Shiraz, their Maitre D’ Cabernet Sauvignon, their Scooter Merlot or their Two left Feet Cabernet/Merlot/Shiraz blend. Let’s pick the last.

Two Left Feet 2011 placed 38th on the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines in the World in December 2013. Over 15,000 wines were blind tasted to pick these final 100. This is how the magazine described it “Polished, ripe and generous with its blackberry, mocha and sage flavours, brilliantly focused and elegantly balanced, lingering effortlessly on the seamless finish. Complex and inviting, this should develop beautifully with cellaring”. There is no need for me to add anything except to say that I love it! $30.25.

This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St. George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at

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Published Jul 30, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 29, 2014 at 6:45 pm)

The Australia Challenge

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