The Luna Wine Store has opened in Byron Bay.
Byron Bay’s Luna Wine Store is a collaboration of like-minded friends.
Byron Bay’s Luna Wine Store is a collaboration of like-minded friends.

Byron’s New Opening

When three passionate wine names come together, you can expect something pretty special. The Luna Wine Store in Byron Bay is the project of Lo-Fi Wines directors James Audas and Tom Sheer, who have teamed up with award-winning sommelier Russ Berry.

The trio launched the Luna Wine Store in March, offering a range of small-producer wines from around the globe. Russ is behind the wine list, which features around 300 natural and low-intervention wines, along with a range of classics. The wine selection has a strong focus on sustainability, coming from brands with sustainable farming methods and organic and biodynamic practices.

“The Byron community has a great connection with the food they eat and this can now extend to drinking wine consciously too, and with a firm understanding of where their wine comes from,” says Berry.

While Covid-19 was a bump in the road for their opening, the store is operating with strict distancing and hygienic practices.

Find out more at lunawinestore.com

Hill of Dreams

Hill of Dreams is the ‘project block’ at New England’s Topper’s Mountain in northern NSW, planted to sauvignon blanc, verdejo, riesling and grüner veltliner. The area didn’t fare too badly in 2020 but in 2019, Topper’s lost more than 70% of their crop to bushfire – just five hours before harvest was due to kick off. The 2019 Hill of Dreams (A$40) represents the entirety of their 2019 harvest, because – fortuitously – that part of the vineyard ripens earlier and was picked a week before the fire. It’s a textural skin-contact white made from 100% sauvignon blanc; just 516 bottles were produced.

toppers.com.au

Like A Semillon

Hunter Valley semillon aficionados will be familiar with Andrew Thomas’ renowned Braemore Semillon, a single vineyard wine that year in, year out offers one of the region’s most unique and outstanding expressions of the style. In 2019 Thomas invited celebrated Tasmanian winemaker Joe Holyman to ‘come up and have some fun’ with a small parcel of Braemore. The result is the 2019 Thomas Wines Like a Version Braemore Semillon (A$35), the name inspired by Triple J’s ‘Like a Version’ segment where artists are invited to perform a cover version of a well-known song, in their own style.

“The brief was simple,” says Thomas. “Make a completely different style of wine to mine, with the same grapes. Those who know Joe will appreciate his sense of mischief and no-nonsense approach to winemaking.” The label artwork was designed by Sydney artist Sindy Sinn – a good point of difference between this and the standard 2019 Braemore Semillon.

Both wines are available via thomaswines.com.au

Fraud Fighter

Across the 2020 vintage, 15 Clare Valley wineries completed the VinoTrust trial, believed to be the world’s largest ever wine provenance blockchain trial. Developed by winemaker Jeffrey Grosset and grape-grower David Travers, VinoTrust is a technology suite designed to address the issue of counterfeit wines by allowing wineries to prove authenticity of their wine through accurate grape-to-bottle tracking and information management.

The technology combines blockchain, ‘internet of things’, cloud, mobile, automation and geolocation. While addressing counterfeit wines is the technology’s main purpose, it also allows wineries to more accurately manage their information, making it easier to comply with programs such as Wine Australia’s Label Integrity Program. The VinoTrust team is in the process of developing a commercial version of the technology, which is set for release later this year.

“Wine labels copied, wine bottles refilled, grape variety and wine region misrepresented – wines that are not what the label states – this is happening globally. It is fraud,” says Grosset. “For winemakers who want to assure consumers that the authenticity of their wine can be traced from point-of-sale right back to the vineyard, VinoTrust will be a gamechanger.”

Visit vinotrust.com.au for more information
The Homage Restaurant has a firey approach.
Jeffrey Grosset with the VinoTrust technology.
Seppeltsfield has added a six-star hotel and day spa.
Seppeltsfield has added a six-star hotel and day spa.

Six Stars for the Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley is set to welcome a new addition to the region, with the announcement of the six-star hotel and day spa OSCAR Seppeltsfield. Scheduled for completion in 2022, the 12-storey building will feature around 70 rooms, including penthouse and suites; an exclusive day spa and pool; a world-class restaurant and a sky bar boasting panoramic views of the Valley.

The luxury hotel will be built among the old bush vines of Seppeltsfield’s Great Terraced Vineyard. It will also be a short walking distance to the winery’s tourism village, which hosts the cellar door, Fino Restaurant and Centennial Cellar. Seppeltsfield owner and executive chairman Warren Randall believes the complex will be a great boost for both the local and national wine industry.

“Oscar will complete the grand vision of our plan for Seppeltsfield to become the most desirable epicurean destination for tourists worldwide,” says Randall. “We wanted to create a national icon for South Australia – a Sydney Opera House for the Barossa.”

Visit seppeltsfield.com.au

New Look for Hardys

Next time you’re on the hunt for a bottle of Hardys expect a new look, with the brand announcing new labels and packing across the portfolio. The update aims to create a united and premium feel across the range, as well as express the family heritage and long history behind the brand.

The rebrand also comes with the news of the campaign Certainty, which is set to launch this July. Like the rebrand, Certainty is focused on touting Hardy’s rich history and position in the Australian wine industry. The campaign will see various activations and will also include a money-back guarantee, which will be rolled out across October and November.

Find out more at hardyswines.com
Luxury, heart and atmosphere at The Gidley.

Sustainable Rogue

Back in 2018, GTWine joined aperitivo guru Mark Ward on his quest to shift the base of his Regal Rogue vermouths from conventional to organic wine. The wait is now over, with the brand receiving a revamp in both ingredients and packaging; the wine, produced by NSW’s See Saw wines, is 100% organic – as are 80% of the aromatics – and 98% of the packaging is recycled.

“The vision was always about creating an everyday drinking style of vermouth,” says Ward, “This is the best quality we can deliver across all elements of the brand – with a nod to the environment in the long-term.”

The range (A$40) is comprised of Lively White (unwooded chardonnay); Daring Dry (sauvignon blanc); Bold Red (shiraz and chardonnay) and Wild Rosé (cabernet rosé).

Visit regalrogue.com for more info.

Huntington Estate

Like most of the Mudgee region, stalwart producer Huntington Estate experienced a devastating loss in the 2020 vintage, with 100% of their white grapes written off to smoke taint. All is not lost, however; the newly released 2018 and 2019 chardonnays and semillons are some of the most vibrant in recent years, showing great promise for the cellar.

We particularly love the 2019 Semillon Chardonnay (A$25) with its chalky acidity and pebbly, mineral-like tone, as well as the 2019 Special Reserve Chardonnay (A$35) – a great take on a classic.

Visit huntingtonestate.com.au for more info.

Top Spot

Having the phrase ‘world’s best’ on one of your products is something most only dream of. But the dream came true for Saleyards Distillery, with their Capricorn Spiced Rum (A$60) winning World’s Best Spiced Rum at the 2020 Rum Awards. The Rockhampton distillery was
the only category winner from Australia at the 2020 award.

“Some of the other category winners are really well known and respected ... with hundreds of years of production and knowledge under their belts,” says head distiller Warren Brewer. “For a new regional distillery to match them is incredible testament to our product.”

To see the full Saleyards Distillery range, visit saleyardsdistillery.com

Limeburners

Great Southern Distilling Company’s Limeburners Heavy Peat (A$1,200) was awarded Best International Craft Whisky in the World by the American Distilling Institute in April. It’s the second time they’ve won the award – the first was in 2017, for the Limeburners Darkest Winter (A$334) – an incredible effort for a small craft distillery.

Visit distillery.com.au for more info.

Impression Gin

Impression Gin (A$75) is the latest kid on the block in the gin neighbourhood. Developed by Signature Wines duo Cherida Forde and Dan Khouzam, Impression Gin was born from a desire to create a drink for the health-conscious and features a range of botanicals rich in antioxidants, including mangosteen, Kakadu plum and dandelion resulting in a tipple with a light, approachable feel.

Available for purchase at impressiongin.com.au

Australia's Best Cellar Doors – Vintec Readers’ Choice Award

In the April/May issue of Gourmet Traveller WINE, to support of our Cellar Door Awards, Vintec invited readers to nominate their favourite cellar doors. We’ve tallied up the results and the places that not only had excellent wine and service, but also made you feel part of the family, earned the most praise. The six entrants with the best pitches each receive a 35-bottle Vintec wine cabinet containing $300 worth of wine.

NSW: Tyrrell’s, Hunter Valley
Apart from offering some of the greatest expressions of semillon in the world, the team at Tyrrell's make you feel like family. One of the great places to talk about and enjoy wine. Kane Lowbridge

QLD: City Winery, Brisbane
How can you not love a cellar door in the middle of the city, it’s just like the gift that keeps giving! Trent Pridmore

SA: David Franz, Barossa Valley
The wine, staff, views, the food and the beats. All of this makes David Franz the must-do cellar door in the Barossa. Robyn Chambers

VIC: Foxeys Hangout, Mornington Peninsula
Making your own sparkling wine or doing a traditional tasting – this place has it. You almost feel like you’re sharing their back yard on the grassy hill. Mark Battye

WA: Vasse Felix, Margaret River
The wines are unbelievable but there is something about the warmth, welcome and comfort of Vasse Felix that always feels like coming home. Holly McComish

TAS: Frogmore Creek, Southern Tasmania
Beautiful, rural setting and the log chalet has the most scenic views of the valley. Knowledgeable staff and delicious pinot noir. Nothing to wine about! Amy Metcalf
Look forward to Levantine Hill's new cellar door in 2021.
Look forward to Levantine Hill's new cellar door in 2021.

Levantine Hill

The Yarra Valley’s Levantine Hill Estate will welcome guests to a new brand home in 2021, with the announcement of their new cellar door and winery. The three-storey complex will also host an events space and an underground barrel store. Managing director Samantha Jreissati hopes the new building will not only put the spotlight on the region for its wine, but also architecture.

Visit levantinehill.com.au
The Riedel Max range.
The Riedel Max range.

New Heights

Riedel has announced two new releases: the Riedel High Performance and Riedel Max glasses. The High Performance range features eye-catching stem colours of black crystal, red, clear and gold, while the Riedel Max glasses present a graceful feel with their elongated stems. The range comes in a cabernet, riesling and Champagne glass, all sitting at the same height to offer a unified appearance.

Visit riedel.com

Virtual Vineyards

In our February/March edition we invited subscribers to tell us why they wanted to win our 2020 NZ Winemaker of the Year collection of wines.

Winner Emilee Nicolai from Annerley, Queensland, wrote: “Amidst the cabin fever of Covid-19, I’ve created virtual vineyards, wine countries afar right within my 2m living room radius - a wanderlust compromise, shrine of hope.”

Visit our subscriptions page for this issue's prize.