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Holly’s Whirly Wines for Christmas Day

Hollys Xmas wines

Hello! It’s Holly here,I am new to Whirly Wines and shall be updating you on our events and general goings on in the shop. Last night we had a wonderful wine tasting, where the selection of wines were specifically chosen for Christmas Day. Everyone has they own traditions, but these wines are absolutely perfect for different moments throughout the day.

I thought it would be best to share this lovely selection. They are all available at the shop now (22 Ritherdon Road)…

1. Wake up to ‘Veyovis’

Perfect to wake up to on Christmas morning – elegant, light, and exciting! 

“Vevyovis”, Verdigo 2014, Rueda – £10.60


2. Sauvignon with your mid-morning smoked salmon

I adore smoked salmon on Christmas morning. This Sauvignon Blanc is from Coteaux du Giennois in the Loire Valley. It is slightly floral, layered, and perfect with fish.

Emilie Ballard “Les Beaux Jours”, Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – £13.60


3. The perfect Pinot Noir to have with your Turkey

This wonderful Pinot Noir is from the Willamette Valley, which is the home of Pinot in North America. It is beautifully aged, light with hints of strawberries and autumn berries. Perfect with your Christmas dinner, especially if you are cooking turkey.

Bethnel Heights, Willamette Valley, Oregon, “Estate” Pinot Noir, 2008 – £25.00

pinot noir

4. Don’t forget the Christmas Pud!

Sometimes it is hard to match a wine with Christmas pudding, however this one is truly special and works perfectly. Lillypilly in Australia have created a selection of fortified reds over the last 31 years. This one is made with a blend of vintages and would also work wonderfully well with cheeses such as Stilton. You won’t be disappointed!

Lillypilly, “Fiumara 7”, Leeton, New South Wales, Australia – £19.50


Please do pop by our shop to see our wonderful selection of wines for Christmas – 22 Ritherdon Road, London, SW17 8QD – 020 8672 2572



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Whirly Wines shop now open! Thursday Night tastings, Christmas hampers, Craft beer and new wines just in from Margaret River and Riverina in Australia





The fantastic new Whirly Wine shop is now open at 22 Ritherdon Road, London, SW17 8QD.

Every Thursday I shall be hosting a tasting of new wines or wines suitable for the festive season.

This Thursday 3rd December I plan to taste two lovely wines that would be perfect for your Christmas party: carefully made wines from Corbiere in South west France from Fontareche in Domaines de Lamy. Both wines are priced at £7.99 yet offer some really lovely drinking for this price. The white is delicate and so easy to drink, made from 70% Colambard and 30% Vermentino. The red is made from in a similar vain, soft sweet tannins and so, so easy to drink. Made from 35% Mourvedre, 35% Syrah, 15% Grenache and 15% Carignan. Black fruit and Gamay undertones.

I have also put together my Christmas Hamper that includes some lovely Venison Charcuteries and Chorizo, Spiced Cranberry sauce, Black Gold Ale Mustard  from the Cairngorms and Seville Orange Marmalade; mixed in with this some amazing Oloroso Sherry from Don Gonzalo, some Glengoyne Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, Visciole NV ( Cherry and LaCrima  grape pudding wine perfect with Chocolate) as well as some delightful LeMoss Prosecco from Ca di Rajo in Treviso. Oh! I forgot theirs an amazing Dundee cake in there too!  Price: £110.00 ( above is a photo of the hamper and tree!)

Also just in some lovely Harveys beers from Lewes in Sussex. 500ml btls priced at £3.25. Also if you would like a polypin for Christmas I can order them for you. 32 Pints at £2.75 a pint ( £88.00). Great fun if you are having a Christmas party!

New wines have just arrived this week from Willespie in Margaret river: this is the home of Cabernet in Australia, they ” hang their hat ” on this grape and I have a Margaret river red that introduces this  Premium red wine region at £14.20. Its 2010 and its made from Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz. I also have some lovely Margaret river white made from the four White grapes this family vineyard grows: Verdelho, Semillon, Sauvignon and Riesling. Another delight to drink and again priced at £14.20.

Lillypiilly ( great name!) make lovely pudding wines ( stickies as the Aussies call them) and this is what they are famous for. They are based in Leeton on the Sturt highway that loops across NSW and South Australia from Adelaide to Sydney. I have new Shiraz 2012 prices at £12.20,  a caramel wine yet with some lovely juicy notes  and not at all overpowering,; some delightful Sauvignon Blanc 2014 priced at £12.20 and at last Tramillon is back! This demi sec wine is a real wonder wine and I have done so well with it over the years. Its a blend of Gewurtztraminer and Semillon and is pretty good with Thai curries as well as Foie gras. The new Noble Harvest 2012, a botrytised wine made from four tropical grapes is also here in this parcel of wines and priced at £18.95. I also have older vintages of this wine and its a wonder with a steamed ginger pudding or something tropical if you plan to have a desert like this over Christmas then please come in and have a chat about it. Lastly, the Fiumara 7 is here, a blend of the best cuvees of fortified wines that date back to 1982 when the winery opened and grapes included are Shiraz, Cabernet and Chambourcin to name but three. A fab wine with Christmas pudding and very special indeed. £19.50

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow night when we can talk wines, beer, food and hampers and maybe even Christmas since its not too early to talk about this now.

Thanks for reading this!


Mr Whirly

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Estate Pinot Noir 2008

Stefano Lubiana has grown a reputation for making some of the best Pinot Noir in the Southern Hemisphere and this wine continues that trend.

Mr Whirly says:

“ Clean, perfectly balanced and so young still. This wine has so long to go still which is sign of superb quality grapes and hard work in the vineyard. Silky smooth to drink. Will rival a great deal of Burgundies from top producers at 2-3 times the price.”

Alc vol: 14%

Here are some reviews of the wine from various press articles in Australian publications over the last year since its release in October 2010

The Stonier International Pinot Noir Tasting,

6 September 2010,

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

2008 Stefano Lubiana Pinot Noir

This wine was singled out for particular praise by some of the panellists and table captains. Nick Bulleid MW linked it in style to the Felton Road, as did I, but with a qualification on my part: it had the weight of the Felton Road, but more light and shade. My notes were “strong colour; complex black fruits and warm spices; rich and textured; firm finish”. Rating: 96 points

James Halliday, October 30, 2010

Winemakers tasting notes, Stefano Lubiana, March 2010

Every winemaker dreams of creating a truly great pinot noir.

The reality is that Burgundy’s noble red grape is a tightrope walker. It needs cool, sunlit slopes and well-drained soils to be encouraged onto the wire. The wine’s journey across the palate is a fine balancing act that can come to a crashing end when fruit, tannin and acidity are not lithe and perfectly proportioned.

I love the supple mouthfeel and fine, silky, abundant tannins of good Burgundy.

In recent years, all my pinot noir growing and winemaking efforts have been directed towards achieving that perfect balance between natural fruit sweetness and fine, ripe tannin.

This release of estate-grown, single vineyard wine provides a footprint of my journey along the long road to pinot noir perfection.

Vintage 2008 came at the end of an excellent, almost balmy ripening period in southern Tasmania. Our vineyard’s mean, dry soils and brilliant sunny aspect provided us with some great raw materials for pinot noir winemaking. The cooling effects of the river and our mild night-time temperatures helped lay the foundations for plenty of life-giving natural acidity in our finished wines.

I’m pleased with what I find in the glass. The warmth of the vintage is clearly reflected in the richness of its deep colour. The nose holds the promise of ripe dark berry fruit with subtle nuances that hint of flower gardens, dark Belgian chocolate, and savoury bouquet garni.

The palate does not disappoint. It’s rich and tannic in structure, with roughly 35 percent new French oak adding some firm restraint to the wine’s fruit-driven opulence. A component derived from 15 percent whole bunch fermentation adds depth. With ageing, the wine’s high levels of natural fruit tannin will evolve to add a gentle layer of sweet, round complexity to the flavour profile.

Our 2008 Estate Pinot Noir is ideally suited to beef, Tasmanian venison, and the welcome company of family and friends around a table. It should enter its best drinking period after 5-8 years in a cool cellar.

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Chardonnay 2008

Mr Whirly says:

“ I am totally excited by this new addition since I have needed some top end Chardonnay from down under for a while now. This promises to be right up there with some of the best in the world. This wine is still very restrained but its beginning to express itself now that its been in the UK for eight months. Expect it to go on and on.”

Alc vol: 14.5%

Winemakers Tasting notes, Stefano Lubiana, March 2010

“ In the late 1980s, Monique and I travelled almost 10,000km in search of the ideal place to grow grapes and make wine. Western Australia, South Australia, southern Victoria, you name it and we considered its suitability for producing the best possible fruit from each of the classic wine varieties of northern Europe.

What brought us to Tasmania’s Derwent Valley – and the north facing slopes of what has since become our bio-dynamically managed Granton Vineyard – was something we discovered that was right under our noses.

What struck us most were the aromas of the herbs and flowers we found growing across this island State. When it came time for us to stop and feast on many of the fruits and vegetables we encountered in these cool southern latitudes, we were once again amazed. We found an intensity and a vibrancy of flavour we’d never experienced before.

Twenty years later, people continue to make the same observations about the wines we have produced from this property.

The latest release of our estate-grown Chardonnay clearly demonstrates that this is not just any ordinary Australian or New World Chardonnay.

Yes, it has been barrel-fermented and left on its lees to mature in oak like many of its industry peers, but there is a vibrancy and an intensity in its fruit characters that still continue to shine through the wine.

Like the red wines produced from 2008, this Estate Chardonnay also provides ample proof that the wine gods were really smiling down upon us during that warm, dry vintage.

In the glass, it is a pale gold colour, with plenty of green flashes that indicate that this is still a wine in its youth. Now 15 months in the bottle, it is similarly alive and vibrant in aroma, with the citrus notes that are typical for our style of Tasmanian Chardonnay already coming to the fore. And the palate? That is building beautifully, but already brimming with flavour, thanks to our commitment to artisan winemaking techniques such as lees-stirring. It’s what we love to see in the glass – a just reward for patient care and effort.

Enjoy this wine now with a range of fine Tasmanian foods. It will look even better in another 2-3 years. Salute!”

Press articles:

James Halliday, 2012 Australian wine Companion

“Bred to stay, still very youthful and composed, grapefruit, apple and stone fruit held

in a tight embrace of acidity;oak has been relegated to the sidelines. Screw cap sealed.”

14% alc. Rating 95. To 2022.”

“A bigger, more powerful, complex and less fruit-driven style than the two previous wines with ripe stone fruit and fig flavours beautifully meshed with richer honey, nuts and toasty caramel notes, the palate deep, elegantly balanced and wonderfully together with good fresh acidity promising even better things down the track.”

Graeme Phillips

The Sunday Tasmanian

March 20th 2011

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Riesling 2010

Mr Whirly says

“ A beautiful wine, as always clean and fresh and wonderfully well made. It needs more time in the bottle I think so will look to sell this wine in 2013 when its expressing itself better.”

Alc vol: 12.0%

Winemaker’s tasting notes, Stefano Lubiana, March 2010

“ People often ask us, “What brought you to Tasmania, Steve and Monique?”

“Couldn’t you have stayed in South Australia and made your wines?”

Well, maybe we could. The fact is that when you’re on a long journey in search of perfection you just can’t afford to get side-tracked or make any sort of compromises along the way.

Finding the right place to produce super premium wine grapes isn’t just a matter of relying on measures of degree growing days to get you over the line. Cool climate viticulture is about higher latitude, not higher altitude. You’ve got to have seasonality in your climate. We experience a genuine spring, summer, autumn and winter every year in southern Tasmania. Seasons are important triggers that determine what takes place in a vine as it shoots and develops throughout the year.

We’re always looking to ripen our wine grapes in autumn. But achieving 13 Baume or 23 Brix isn’t what sends our pickers into the vineyard. Ultimately, we’re aiming for good clear varietal aromas and flavours. And unlike many places on the mainland nowadays, we don’t have to hang out for higher and higher grape sugars to create exactly the right kind of characters that we’re looking for in our wines.

Our 2010 Riesling is a living example of the benefits of latitude over altitude. It has wonderful varietal aromas and flavours, and yet it weighs in with a neat 12.0% alcohol in the bottle – 12.0% and bone dry, that is.

In the glass, there is plenty of appealing lemony/citrus aroma to telegraph its identity. Delve a little further into the wine and you soon find the spring fragrances of apple blossom with subtle hints of talcum powder. And the palate? That’s as fresh and inviting as you’d expect from a young, cool climate riesling. Think lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Just give it a little time in the glass if you pour it straight from the fridge. This is a wine with latitude. Its brisk natural acidity is like an early morning walk in Tasmania – crisp and bracing at first, and then sheer delight.

Lock the wine in the cellar for a decade if you like your rieslings aged and toasty. Savour it now with some fresh natural oysters, or a couple of pan-fried flathead and a few chips. Bewdiful!.”

December 2010.

Press articles

2010 Stefano Lubiana Riesling

“A similar pale gold colour as its Derwent Estate neighbour, but more intense lime essence on the nose and a fuller, more textured and complex palate with some mineral and herbal savouriness underpinning the fruit and running through to a firm, fresh, clean finish.

With oysters at their best and scallops in season, now is the time to crack one of these dry Rieslings.”

Graeme Phillips

The Sunday Tasmanian

August 7th 2011

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Merlot 2008

Mr Whirly says:

“ I tasted this wine just after its arrival on the 23rd October 2011, together with old friend Bob Parkinson ( another ex-Bibendum chef) at his lovely restaurant “ Made by Bob“ in Cirencester. We agreed it was quite sublime. Sometimes Merlots are a little unready, harsh and too often drunk far too young. This is so ready to go now. Damson and black cherry with a hint of a No5 Cohiba. Wonderfully balanced and so approachable for its age. So yes this wine is ready to drink now and will also be great in 8 years time.”

Alc Vol: 14%

Winemakers tasting notes, Stefano Lubiana, March 2010

“ My dad Mario can’t understand why some winemakers and consumers like to single out certain varieties and wine styles as being worthy of special attention and popular acclaim. It’s as if they would like them to be put up on pedestals and exhibited as works of art.

Our family believes the art in winemaking is all about making a product that delivers food-friendly wines with satisfying aromas and flavours.

I love the challenge that growing and making good Merlot provides in a cool maritime climate like Tasmania’s. The variety has a huge potential here. With time, we should be able to create wines that can be clearly identified with the dry, savoury, ripe tannin styles of northern Europe.

The key to success is to produce fruit in the vineyard that shows a fine balance between the briary berry sweetness of the New World and the drier, more aromatic crushed leaf characters of the Old World.

Vintage 2008 in Tasmania was characterised by big yields in almost all of the State’s wine growing regions. At Granton, we enjoyed an unusually low natural fruit set in our Merlot. The vines did not require the heavy crop thinning that became standard practice elsewhere during the warm summer of 2008.

I love the way the variety responds to the grey gravelly soils of our lower vineyard blocks overlooking the Derwent River. When I see our Merlot there with its full green canopy, I’m reminded of many of the sites I saw along Bordeaux’s Gironde in 1986.

The 2008 Merlot looks set to follow in the footsteps of the very successful 2001 and 2003 vintages. It should prove to be one of the best we have produced from our small, hand-tended vineyard. There may not be a 2009.

The wine opens with a deep crimson colour and offers up aromas of dark berries, crushed leaf, and cedar/cigarbox. I can see plenty of new French oak in this wine, but it has been built for the long haul. The tannins are firm and grainy, something which characterises many of the red wines of the hot and dry 2008 vintage. The finish here is equally dry, with undertones of Swiss brown mushrooms.

Our 2008 Stefano Lubiana Merlot is an attractive food wine with a rich, savoury fruit intensity that reflects the season’s low yield. Share it at the table with family, friends, and rare portions of Tasmanian grain-fed beef. More complex cedary notes will come to the fore in another 5 years.”

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Tasmania and Stefano Lubiana

Possibly the nest winemaker in Tasmania and Australia? That’s a matter of opinion but he’s certainly up there!

I have some great wines and vintages from this winemaker.

Please click on the links on the right, below to see the new Estate Pinot Noir 2008, Merlot 2008, Chardonnay 2008 and also Riesling 2010.

I also have some lovely wines on this page, older vintages of the 2005 Pinot that is now very rare and also some lovely old NV Brut which is drinking really well. Pictures of these two wines are on this page.

Ok, here’s a wee introduction to Steve’s very special business.

Stefano Lubiana Wines is rated 5 red stars in the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2011.

In May 2010, Decanter’s Andrew Jefford named Steve Lubiana as one of Australia’s ten bravest winemakers: ‘their wines accurately, uncompromisingly and sometimes beautifully reflect their origins. They are like nothing else on earth.”

I did not manage a trip across the Tasman sea to this very separate part of Australia in 2000 so I had to wait until February 2006 before I flew into the little airport at Launceston on the River Tamar in the north of the island. Tasmania is Australia’s smallest producing wine state with 700 hectares of land vines. The smaller vineyard, if you like

“ Boutique” winery, thrives on this island, and the essence and faith on quality therefore thrives. Its therefore great Whirly country where the majority of vineyards fit into the Whirly wine philosophy of small is beautiful, small is good.

Launceston has Cornish heritage quite clearly: the Tamar crosses the main road down to Cornwall just west of Plymouth and like the Cornish river, this river is wide and full of stature and very important to the agricultural make up of the land in this part of Tasmania. The climate also changes due to the river here, it’s significantly warmer on the west side of the Tamar. When I arrived there was damp, wet fog in the middle of summer around Dalrymple vineyard and the windy, woody roads and yet across the river the sun was out. The varietals grown on each side of the river therefore vary greatly.

One of my favourite wines I tasted on Tasmania was from Dalrymple where they made some sublime cool climate Chardonnay. The vines here were first planted in 1987 and I tasted the 2002 Chardonnay when I was there, with oak, which was a rich wine of yellow peaches yet with a lovely grapefruit finish. They made very little of this wine since this area of the island is very open to the elements and it gets pretty windy here: in December 2001 the wind thrashed through the vineyard and destroyed 70% of the crop.

I drove across to the other side of the river and yes the temperature did indeed rise by 5-10 degree’s. These little micro climates in Australia are amazingly interesting. On the other side I found some lovely little garage wines, one called rather beautifully, “Humbug Reach”, which literally was a garage wine when I was there. But the wines here were incredibly impressive: I tasted their 2005 Riesling, very limey and zesty, their Velo’05 Riesling was softer and a little peachier in its makeup.

The road to Hobart and the Derwent valley

The drive from Launceston to Hobart takes 3 hours, that’s the entire length of the island from north to south, less than the drive from Margaret River to Manjimup, or from London to Liverpool on a good journey, to paint a picture of a more accessible image of distance, that is if you’ve been to Liverpool. If you have not then please do go. I have a lovely client there on Hope street called “ 60 Hope street”, cut in between the two landmark cathedrals that differ so much in age and architecture and the city has really come of age in the last decade. Anyway, back to Tasmania. The drive takes you down through rough, rugged sheep country, pretty dry and barren and about half way across, is Ross, famous for being the centre of the wool industry, a former garrison town that looked after over 12,000 female convicts in the 1850’s, and being almost half way between the two main cities of the Apple Island (called because it used to be a major apple producer in the world) was also an important coaching station in days gone by. It’s a wonderfully preserved little town that literally transports you back 150 years.

Stefano Lubiana, Granton, Hobart

Located high above the Derwent river, a river that flows 187 km from its source 1545 metres up at Lake St Clair in the national park down to New Norfolk, a point 34 kilometres beyond Hobart, the vineyards of Stefano Lubiana lie, planted over 20 years ago. I arrived here on January 31st 2006 after a 3 hour journey from Launceston via a lovely little vineyard called Jinglers Creek, to taste, what I think at the time was, the most exciting and delightfully full in quality and stature range of wines that I have had the pleasure of whirling. It was like that moment in Quince, San Francisco when I first drank a great Oregon Pinot with a lovely large, very large Burgundy wine glass: I GOT VERY, VERY EXCITED. Every wine I tasted was simply amazing:

( extracts from my Papyrus, globetrotter journal written that day, that Simon Hatcher and staff brought me when I was leaving Bibendum Restaurant in October 1999 to go travelling to Australia and India. It has a heading on the leather bound cover which reads “ Further adventures of Simon Charles Newson” which is rather endearing)

NV Brut: Tarte Tatin and toasty..a winner…yes!!!

Pinot Grigio 2005: Gooseberry intensity, and melon. 5 ticks

Riesling 2005: Provence Lavender, subtle grapefruit and citrus fruit. 5 ticks

Primavera Chardonnay 2004: delicious, honeydew melon, wonderful soft quality. 5 ticks

Chardonnay 2002: sold out. Too soft and oaked for me. 3 ticks

Chardonnay 2003 reserve: yes! 5 ticks

Pinot Noir Primavera 2005: means Spring, first grapes picked and released in Spring following. Sold out

Pinot Noir 2005: the best season in Tasmania, wonderful quality. ( I wasn’t too sure about this wine when I tasted it since it was less than a year in bottle but I am sure it will go on to be a great wine)

Pinot Noir estate 2004: fantastic depth, low alcohol

Merlot 2004: blackberry, cassis, right bank quality!! 5 ticks

Gravelly, limey soil. Micro appellations. 90% estate grown grapes

Extract from JAMES HALLIDAY Australian Wine Companion 2008

After searching Australia, fifth-generation winemaker Steve Lubiana selected Tasmania for his cool-climate vineyard back in the early 1990s. His family’s winemaking origins stem back to Trieste in Northern Italy. Steve discovered a parcel of land overlooking the spectacular tidal estuary of the Derwent River at Granton, a mere 20 kilometres north of Hobart. The vineyard was first planted with the Burgundy varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir during the spring of 1991. From those humble beginnings, it has expanded to 18 hectares of closely spaced vines, which now also comprise of Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Nebbiolo.

Despite its growth, Stefano Lubiana Wines remains a family-owned and operated business, passionately focused on producing small quantities of hand crafted, cool climate, Tasmanian wines. Although Stefano Lubiana Wines produces Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot, it is Steve’s sparkling for which the label is perhaps best known.

Stefano Lubiana’s sparkling wines have claimed both national and international praise. He produces three styles- a perfectly handled and balanced Non Vintage (NV) style and a more complex Vintage Brut which spends longer time on lees. Steve has also just released ‘Prestige:’ a 1995 vintage with more than a decade on lees. Prestige is a refined style with aromatic and textural complexity. Power, class and freshness combine on a perfectly sublime palate with purity and balance. All three wines have been written up in James Halliday’s 2008 Australian Wine Companion- the NV scoring 92 points, the 1999 Vintage Brut 94 points and the Prestige features in Halliday’s ‘Best of the Best by Variety’ with 95 points.

Steve Lubiana is also well known for pushing the boundaries of winemaking techniques in Tasmania and is always exploring innovative methods to extract maximum aroma, flavour and palate dimensions in his wines. He regularly experiments with yeasts (wild and/or inoculated) and uses whole bunch fermentation where appropriate.

His business boasts a modern, state-of-the-art winery facility, capable of processing up to 300 tons during vintage. The winery features a temperature-controlled barrel hall to prevent temperature fluctuations through varied season conditions. It also permits regulation of temperatures during fermentation thus allowing better management of the process and advancement in overall quality. Steve also plays an active role in the Tasmanian wine industry as a Board Director of Wine Industry Tasmania and Chairman of the WIT marketing committee.

NV Brut

“ From the Apple Isle comes this delicious traditional Champenoise with a light gold colour and a fine bead. Its bouquet has aromas of cream, nuts, honey and toast- its finish is dry and clean. It also has a vigorous mousse, which is wine speak for lots of bubbles.”

Naren Young, Jet Star In flight magazine, April-May 2006

For accolades on NV refer to:

For product info/tasting notes on NV refer to:

Mr Whirly says

“Possibly the best Southern hemisphere sparkling in the UK? Delicate, small bubbles give this wine away as something special. The wine oozes class with dried mango, pineapple, apricots and a nutty and delicately creamy finish. I am not sure how old this wine is but it’s probably about 5 -6 years old by now. This is a wine to be enjoyed with food.”

2005 Pinot Noir


“ Some time ago I reviewed Stefano Lubiana’s Primavera Pinot Noir. As the name suggests a fresh and youthful expression of the variety. This is a more sophisticated drop, showing the depth of a superior vintage with ripe varietal definition, layered soft tannin structure and complexity. It’s a wine that intrigues and holds your interest from first sip until last and ought to develop with 5-6 years bottle age.”

Chris Shanahan, The Sunday Canberra Times, 9th September 2006

“ Tasmania is still finding its feet as a winemaking state but Stefano Lubiana is already well established. The 2005 Pinot is full of velvety soft tannins and forest berry fruits. There’s more than a little Gamey complexity and it continued to improve, a sign of its quality and cellaring potential. One of the best Aussie Pinot’s I’ve tried……”

Fergus McGhie, The Canberra Times, 14th March 2007

Mr Whirly says

“This wine is possibly as balanced a wine as one could hope to taste. You can almost feel it perfectly balancing itself on each side of your mouth. Earthy berry fruit with a hint of dark chocolate. Tasmanian Pinot at its best made by this extraordinary winemaker ”

Merlot 2008

Riesling 2010

Chardonnay 2008

Estate Pinot Noir 2008

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Cobaw Ridge, Macedon Ranges

 Cobaw Ridge, Macedon Ranges – “ Benchmark Chardonnay and Shiraz/ Viognier, rated 96/100 by James Halliday in his book, Best of the Best of Australia wine 2006. The 1999 vintage of these two wines were the launching pad for Whirly wine in 2003 when I first started importing wines from Australia, yes with just two wines!! These wines were amazing though. I still remember clients faces as they tasted it and their profile formed a smile of wonder and delight. So I have much to thank Alan and Nelly Cooper for in helping me launch Whirly wine and build it up from two wines to what it is today ( 66 at last count.)

Established and owned by Alan and Nelly Cooper in 1985 when the first vines were planted. The soil is Granitic and sandy on warmer northern slopes on the cusp of the great divide, 610 metres above sea level. Positioned in a natural amphitheatre backing onto the Cobaw State forest in the pristine heart of the Macedon Ranges. The wines produced are of an individual character and style. All wines are 100% Estate grown and bottled. Hand picked, pruned and tended. Wines made with passion and crafted with care.

I am indebted to Alan Cooper who gave me the opportunity to import his wines and launch “ Whirly wine” in February 2004. Their 1999 Chardonnay and Shiraz is now finished but his 2003 vintage of Shiraz-Viognier is still available here in the UK. Halliday raved about these wines giving the 2003 Shiraz-Viognier 96/100 in the 2006 edition of his book, the same rating as Grange. Alan Cooper has been the pioneer of La Grein in Australia, which I hope to obtain small parcels of as well as some Pinot Noir for 2007.

For awards and terroir please see

Shiraz Viognier 2003

“ To say that Shiraz loves heat is an understatement. If this is global warming bring it on. Full, but not fat, rich, opulent and dark coloured, filled with spice and minerals. Plush ripe tannins and brooding power but still in balance with our great natural acidity. This is the eighth Shiraz-Viognier we have made and we keep thinking “ we are onto something here!” After such a tough year for the vines to throw up a wine like this it must have something to do with wine age. Maybe it’s the shout of the last teenage year. Blended as fruit with 4% Viognier then co-fermented.”  Cellar 5-8 years.

Alan Cooper, winemaker and co-owner

Rated 96/100 James Halliday, “ Australian wine companion 2006”

In the category, “ Best of the best of Australia wine 2006”

“ Best of the best by variety Shiraz”

“ vivid purple-red; gloriously scented example: vibrant black cherry, raspberry and spice: lively and long; oak eaten by fruit”

Remington Norman, MW London, Author of Rhone renaissance and great domains of Burgundy

“ Deep, firm, opaque youthful colour. Fine, complex, spicy nose-youthful but very promising. Ripe, tight, elegant flavours- long, complex and finely wrought. Little obvious new wood. Well balanced and not over extracted. Mouthwatering flavours and considerable potential. Lovely quality.”

Alc 13.5% vol

Mr Whirly says:

“A wine that continues to amaze, bewilder and excite people. Quite simply, as quirky and Whirly a wine as one should hope to come across. Fresh blackberries, Damson, toffee fruit, tobacco, lemon piff, wild hedgerow fruit, wild black cherries with discreet essences of wild herbs and flowers and medicinal notes. These are a few comments I have gathered together about this wine. It’s not for the unadventurous but it’s definitely for the passionate wine lover. Cool climate Shiraz. Not Australian Shiraz in any way and certainly more European and in particular Cote Rotie in style, from that wonderful appellation in Northern Rhone. Thanks Alan!”

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Passing Clouds, Bendigo

I visited this vineyard in 2000 and also a few years ago with Alan Cooper, as touched upon already on the Cobaw Ridge page. When I arrived here, one afternoon in February 2006 the Shiraz vines were literally hanging in the heat. They were so flacid and past help that to me there was no chance they would survive the remaining summer months. But as Graeme Leith, the wonderful, crystal eyed winemaker tells me, Shiraz vines love heat and no water. These vines are un-irrigated, hence the name “Passing Clouds”, which promotes the fact that the vineyard simply relies on the passing clouds for its water, and they love the lack of water: their roots  delve down deep into the soil and ensure that if there is any moisture down there the vine will somehow grab it.

These people, like Alan Cooper further south, know how to make wine. They are also fabulous people since they are wine lovers, full of passion, organic and wholesome, setting up their vineyards with their own hands, sweat and toil and blood three decades ago and now seeing their hard work pay dividends.. They did it themselves, they lived their dream and for that reason alone, and there are many others too, I admire them wholeheartedly.

Passing Clouds, Bendigo

This is red wine country and in particular Shiraz which accounts for 65% of the red wine crush total.

Winemaker Graeme Leith, has a superb reputation in Victoria for producing wonderful wines. They started planting their vines in 1974 at Kingover, 60 kms northwest of Bendigo. Sheltered by the hills of Ironbark Forest, the valley offers an ideal growing climate for premium red wine. Low rainfall and no irrigation combined with well-drained deep soil, produce small intensely flavoured berries with a richly coloured juice. Passing Clouds is a small, hands on operation using traditional winemaking techniques.

Mr Whirly says:

Graeme’s Blend 2004

This is Graeme Leith’s variation on one of the first and therefore classic blends of two grapes that Australian winemakers like to dabble in: Shiraz predominates and Cabernet follows very quickly behind. I introduced this wine with the 2002 vintage a few years ago in 2006 and it went down a storm. everyone loving that honest, up front taste of fruit that was mature and not overpowering in anyway but voluptuous and rounded in the mouth with a velvet finish in the mouth. Lovely Autumn berry fruits, no tannins, perfectly rounded, this wine epitomises what a Cabernet Shiraz Blend should taste like from Australia. Now almost five years in the bottle this wine is drinking with perfection and after the long wait after the 2002 Vintage sold out a few years ago I expect this wine to also sell though pretty quickly.

” Low yielding, 30 year old dry land vines produce fruit of great intensity. Hand pruned, hand picked and fermented in open vats before maturing in new and one year old oak barrels for 12 months to maximise flavour and complexity.”

Graeme Leith, winemaker


New vintage arrives 2014

Alc: 14.0 %  vol

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TRAVEL PHOTOS FROM 2003-2007 267

The Macedon ranges

Victoria is the smallest yet by far the most exciting and diverse wine state of Australia. The wine regions are numerous and dotted all over the state, very rarely are you not within sixty miles of some vines. I was lucky enough to spend about six weeks in total here in 2000, staying with winemakers and friends I met along the way. I loved the higher regions of the Pyrenees and the Grampians, vineyards like Summerfield and Redbank  (Sally’s Paddock is a particularly good wine) spring to mind as being a little bit special. Mix these in with the more hilly Yarra and Macedon, and the warmer regions of Beechworth, Bendigo, Ballarat and the western Victoria zone where Bee Thomson and her father John make some stunning wines at Crawford river near Condah in the middle of nowhere, and you have a really diverse landscape of wine country. I shall always remember visiting this lovely homestead and meeting the Thomson family. Another wonderful man was Norman Latta at Eastern Peake,  a top Pinot maker at Coghills creek near Ballarat. They were very friendly and warm, like most people I have had the joy of meeting through wine in this great country. In one day I remarked on the diversity of this wine region in my journal:

15th April 2000

“ Up early, can’t sleep in car too long since it gets too hot. Breakfast by road of bacon sandwiches and teas (herbal, easier to make, no milk). At 8.55am at Chateau Leamon, then Blackjack, beautiful valley, leaves turning golden on the vines. Reds a speciality. Wonderful dogs too, one black Labrador and one small doggy. Fed black one some crackers for breakfast. Great shiraz here. When I left black dog looked at me forlornly. Very sad. Coffee at Gonella’s café in Keyneton, Great café. Virgin hills tasting room here, famous wines. Their trio wine was slightly disappointing. Cabernet sauvignon. Then onto Cobaw Ridge and Granite Hills. Welsh countryside like the Brecon Beacons here, winemaker at Granites Hills is called Llew so that makes sense. Across country to Seymour then quickly up to Chateau Tahbilk, great cellars, diversity of country and wines amazing in one day. Victoria is rare for this quality. Mitchelton contrasts so well with Tahbilk. Modern architecture here compared to the old cellars.”

TRAVEL PHOTOS FROM 2003-2007 269

The Macedon ranges and in this case, in particular the ridge around Cobaw just east of Kyneton, high up on the cups of the great divide at over 600 metres, has a micro climate all of its own. I love this country: its rugged, dry farmland reminds me of Mid Wales with all the sheep dotted on the landscape intermingled with boulders of granite rock, except it’s a little brown rather than green here most of the year, of course.  In February 2006, when I was last here, in the middle of the summer, the weather completely unique; wind and rain rolled around the ridge for a couple of days and when Alan and I drove to Passing clouds vineyard near Bendigo, about 100 miles north, the temperature went up from about 20 degrees to 35 degrees! So no, Australia is not one big bowl of heat as some think. This is the coolest wine region on the Australian mainland.

Passing Clouds, Bendigo

Cobaw Ridge, Macedon Ranges