What have 'Sir Ian Botham', 'A Dog Strangler', 'A True Blue' and 'The Money Spider' all got in common? 

 They are part of the interestingly named avalanche of wines that were there for the tasting at the Australia Trade Tasting at London's Royal Horticultural Halls.

 While it feels as though wine tasting life might be getting back to normal, this tasting is divided into two time slots (maybe this is now the norm) and I’ve chosen the ten to one-thirty time. 

 I’m feeling a frisson of excitement because I’ve no idea who might be showing their wines, and while it will be nice if some of the usual big names are there, I’m also eager to find wines that are not on everybody’s radar.

 Having been here for a lot of other tastings I must say this actually feels pleasantly laid back. There’s no fenced off area that is usually the privilege of the select few, and people are actually pouring the wines themselves.

 The whole thing feels a lot more relaxed, and the atmosphere is enjoyable with people being decidedly polite, but without any sense of it being forced, and chat comes natural without the feeling of being forced.

 There are wines being promoted by a particular company or vineyard, and there are also a large selection of wines that aren’t represented by anybody. These sit on a lonely table to the side of the hall, like forlorn attendees at a dance who are waiting for a suitor. Having tasted one of two of these I’ve got to say that they won’t be waiting long.

 Before I continue I've made an observation about myself. I don’t know if it’s age or something else, but I don’t seem to be able to taste the way I used to. I remember a few years ago getting through about 150 wines in California. Now it seems to be that if I can get through forty I’m doing well, and forty is what I tried at this event. The ones below are recommended from those that I tried.


'Regional Series' 

Clare Valley Riesling 2021

 On the nose I'm getting pear, cream, red apples and this is quite an enjoyable start to the proceedings.

 The taste only adds to the pleasure as a mixture of petrol, grapefruit, lime and minerals are introduced.

6 out of 7



Macedon Ranges Chardonnay 2020

 Good to see that the move away from those over-oaked Chardonnays of yesteryear continues with this interesting addition.

 On the nose I'm getting lime, lemon, pastry, bread and floral notes.

 A sip reveals zesty apple, peaches and lemon dancing merrily along on a bed of pineapples.

5.5 out of 7


Margaret River Merlot 2018

 And then along came a Merlot. From what they told me this is made in quite a traditional way that has been avoided by a lot of Australian winemakers.

 Lift the glass and you become aware of black cherries, rich plums and cream that comes from an oaky kiss.

 In the mouth this is revealing a lovely mixture of dark and red fruit with good viscosity. Hang on and here comes floral flavours, spice and cherries covered in chocolate.

 I'd have another taste if I was off-duty

6 out of 7

Bass Philip

'Crown Prince Red'

Gippsland Pinot Noir 2018

 Take a few minutes to stare at that unforgettable 'Pinot' colour that always reminds me of a slightly embarrassed schoolboy.

 On the nose this is giving me red fruit (particularly raspberry) creamy vanilla and memories of Burgundy.

 The taste is a marriage of red plums, strawberries, red cherries and a delightful silky texture.

 This is a real wine to be savoured. You can share if you want to, but leave me out of it!

5.5 out of 7

Sidney Wilcox

'Old Vine'

South Australia Zibibbo 2020

 My research tells me that this wonderfully named wine is the Sicilian name for Muscat of Alexandria, and as I approach the glass I don't quite know what to make of it. Here goes...

 The fruit hits you like an avalanche, as peach, mango and banana crave your attention.

 Lime, banana, melon, garden herbs and grapefruits come by to say hello before giving way to mineral and stone as it drift around the inside of your mouth.

 The name might be unusual but that should make it more easier to locate.

6 out of 7


'Peggy's Hill'

Eden Valley Riesling 2021

 When I hoped to see some familiar faces at this tasting it was Henschke I was talking about. There wines never let you down, and the consistency means that they have a multitude of eager followers every time they release a wine.

 This is a wine that grabs you from the start. The green apples mix perfectly with the tropical banana and pineapple as you are aware of beautiful floral notes.

 In the mouth it's zesty lemons and limes up front as grapefruit leads you into a hint of petrol.

6 out of 7


'Keyneton Estate Euphonium'

Eden Valley Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

 Number two in the Henschke wines is one of my favourites. It's got a great name and the wines totally supports the history that emanates from the producer.

 I really think that this is excellent, and such a delightful Shiraz. It's raspberry jam, it's cherry with a hint of cream. There's a dollop of vanilla on the nose along with subtle heat.

 To the taste there's dense, black fruit and lively ripe tannins that don't threaten. Woody spice is there and liquorice doesn't want to be left out. An aptly named symphony in the mouth!

6 out of 7


'Mt Edelstone'

Eden Valley Shiraz 2016

 If 'Hill of Grace' had have been there for the tasting it would have made my day, but settling for this isn't too shabby.

 This is awesome. Before I lift the glass the beautiful red fruit leaps out of the glass.

 It seems to be a toffee apple and cherries with cream. The taste is so balanced as the darker fruits put in an appearance. The pepper and plum are not just there for the ride you know.

 This is my wine of the tasting.

7 out of 7


Bin 407'

South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

 Thankfully Penfolds are in attendance, and I'm hoping that they will live up to their massive reputation. Drinking a wine from them is, like Henschke, tasting history.

 If you don't take your time with this it will be a waste because it's a complex wine that mixes oak, plum, a little liquorice and blackcurrant on the nose and in the mouth.

 It does feel a little youthful and I can't wait to revisit it in a few years, but I'll settle for a wine that gives me  chocolate, vanilla, smoke and a touch of mint.

6 out of 7


'St. Henri'

South Australia Shiraz 2018

 This wine has got breeding in spades, and if it wasn't for the Henschke I would have made this my wine of the tasting.

 It's creamy beneath a marriage of black plums and cherries.  There's chocolate, spice, pepper and liquorice that are not lying dormant. 

 At the backend I'm getting an earthy leather taste that is quite intriguing and this lingers and lingers.

 It's not a cheap wine, but it's a wine that you should acquire and taste.

6 out of 7


 I could have made this selection much bigger, but I feel choices can often get buried beneath the welter of information that is laid out. So, much as it was tempting to include a lot more of the wines I tried, I just wanted to focus on those that really stood out for me.

 As I've explained at the start of this piece, there were just so many wines that a plan (of sorts) was needed. I've explained this elsewhere, partly in desperation than anything else. I tried the familiar, the ones I might not have heard of and those that intrigued. I then tried to mix various colours and hope that a lot of the bases got covered. I've realised that it makes things a little easier for me next time because I can add new names that might be worth a visit. One thing is for certain, I'll keep trying to give you the lowdown on what is happening.