Viognier (Vee on Yeh) Wine Dinner

Millbrook Viognier

A recent wine dinner at XO Sunshine Beach was an insight into Viognier. Damien Hutton from the boutique winery Millbrook  which is  situated in the Perth Hills was on hand to give a guided tasting through the dinner. Also on show was the  wineries recently released Riesling plus some wines from the Barking Owl range. Named for the owls who live in the forests that surround the winery these wines are primarily fruit driven and are designed to drink and enjoy in the short to medium term.

We are by now quite used to seeing shiraz Viognier blends where the Viognier adds aromatics and texture to the wine.  As a single white variety it is still a bit misunderstood by the consumer but is gaining  a committed following and is really a wine best suited to food.  Condrieu the Northern Rhone area is where this white variety has made a name for itself.

At its best Viognier is  a rich full bodied, flavoursome wine with slight viscosity and intense ripe stone fruit flavours. The aromatics are  a delightful blend reminiscent of apricots, jasmine, peaches, with a hint of ginger spice.

Damian was able to give us some insights into the variety and its great ability to match with food.

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What to look for in built-in wine coolers?

Make no mistake about it. If you are a big fan of wine, your guest will know that you are such a huge fan when they see your built-in wine cooler. Just one look at your built-in cooler and they would be impressed. In their minds, they would be saying this guy is serious. This guy would go to great lengths to take care of this wine. They probably would also think that you have an amazing taste in wine, and you would only serve the very best.

Well, this and other impressions are what you would like to create in their minds and thankfully, a built-in wine cooler would do that and more. It is easy to think that any built-in wine cooler will do the job. For the most part, this is true. Generally, there are certain basic parameters pretty much even the worst designed and built-in wine cooler would have a tough time screwing up.

With that said, if you really want to get the most value out of this very important investment, you need to look for the right type of wine cooler. There are many different types out there. You need to make sure that you need to pick the type that fits your particular set of circumstances. There are many different subtypes, but they can all basically be reduced to two major types: compressor and thermoelectric.

Thermoelectric Wine Coolers

A built-in wine cooler that is thermoelectric uses refrigeration technology that is very quiet. You have to understand that compressor based built-in wine coolers are pretty much designed like your refrigerator. They use a compressor to cool down the wine. If you have ever stood behind your refrigerator, or you have listened to your refrigerator, you probably know firsthand that they can make quite a noise.

While it is not an unbearable noise that you cannot live with, it is still noise, and this is the big benefit the thermoelectric built-in wine cooler brings to the table. It is very quiet. It is also more energy-efficient than compressor-based wine coolers. Finally, given its design, it does not vibrate or shake like a typical compressor wine cooler.

Compressor Wine Cooler

If you are looking for power and a great cooling ability, you really cannot mess around with thermoelectric wine coolers. They may look awesome; they may look modernistic; however, at the end of the day, they do not have the power that you need, not by a long shot. You need to go big time. You need to whip out the big guns and go with the compressor-based built-in wine cooler. They bring a lot of power to the table, and they produce their own temperature zone.

In other words, unlike a thermoelectric cooler that can be affected by the climate outside, a compressor-based wine cooler has its particular climate zone within its unit. As long as it is properly powered by electricity, it is a standalone unit. In addition, these types of coolers tend to be bigger in capacity. They can store a lot more wine bottles. Their downside, as I have mentioned above, is that they do tend to be loud. Furthermore, they tend to shake a little. There is some vibration there. Finally, you can expect to pay a larger electricity bill every single month for your compressor unit.

Now that You have Selected the Basic Type of Built-in Wine Cooler, how do You Select among the Different Models?

Here are just some fundamental factors that you need to weigh when trying to make the right choice of built-in wine cooler. In many cases, these factors do a good job in filtering out coolers that may look great in theory, but may not be realistic options.


The first thing that you need to pay attention to is the location that you are going to put the cooler in. Would it be safe to put that cooler in that location? Are there going to be issues if you open the door of the cooler? Make no mistake about it. When there are going to be people walking around an area, this might cause all sorts of accidents.

Moreover, understand that there are bottles stored in the cooler. You do not want people slipping or slamming against the door and knocking loose these bottles. It is bad enough that the bottles are fragile; the wine is even worse because chances are the wine is expensive. Do yourself a big favor and make sure that you pay close attention to the location of the cooler.

Storage Issues

The reason why you are buying a built-in cooler is, of course, to store your wine. Storage is a big deal. The unit has to have the right capacity. This is where things get a bit hazy. For some people, standard capacity is fine. For other people, they can do with less, while other people would need a tremendous amount of storage.

The problem is that there is no right or wrong answer because you are the only person who knows your particular set of circumstances. Nobody can step into your mind and figure out what you are thinking. Nobody can look at you and with that one look get an accurate impression of what your needs are. That is simply not going to happen.

You have to sit down and ask yourself what is the existing capacity that I need? How many bottles do I normally store currently? Now, do not stop there. You also have to project into the future. How many bottles would you be storing one to two years hereafter? If you get promoted or if you retire or come across some money, how many bottles would you be storing five years henceforth?

This is a big deal because a lot of people continuously make the mistake that their situation will not change. Maybe they will not get laid off; perhaps their business would continue to be successful, so on down the line. As a result, they often overbuy capacity or they underbuy capacity. Be realistic in your projection so you ensure that you buy the right unit.

You have to understand that built-in wine coolers are not cheap. At the very least, they would set you back several hundred dollars. It is your responsibility to yourself to make sure that you guard and maximize the full value of those hundreds of dollars. Make sure that the unit that you buy does a great job now and will continue to do an awesome job for the foreseeable future.


I put pricing last because most people put pricing first. Let me tell you. If pricing is the first and only consideration you have when buying anything, chances are you are selling yourself short. You really are; and in many cases, you worry about the price, and you end up buying something that you had no business buying in the first place. You end up buying something that may not fit your needs. You might end up buying a unit that would simply disappoint you in the future. The saddest part to all of this is that you only have yourself to blame

Do not fixate on price. Instead focus on the value that you are getting. As long as your perception of value is realistic, and you responsibly project your needs sensibly into the future, you can subsequently make the proper value appraisal. If you are unclear about these factors, then it is anybody’s guess what the right price is. I hope you understand how this works.

Do not get so obsessed with price because you may be overly concerned that you are paying too much or paying very little that you end up making the wrong move. Do yourself a big favor and look at pricing as the last factor after you have done a thorough job identifying what your needs are and ensuring that the model you buy has the features which adequately address those needs.

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Fruit Wines

There is a burgeoning cottage industry in Tasmania and Wilmot Hills Vineyard & Orchard where the wines and ciders are grown , created and bottled on site is a great example of this. Due to a glitch with the video (not the operator of course) unable to bring you our chat with John Cole but was really impressed with this particular cottage industry and the innovative way in which John has set up his production area from equipment acquired and adapted over the years to suit their specific needs. Inland from Devonport on the North West Coast Wilmot is known as the Valley of Views which says it all really. Set in a truly beautiful rural setting with views to Black Bluff , John & Ruth Cole produce a range of table wines Pinot Noir, Traminer and a Gamay (the grape variety that the well known Beaujolais is made from). Johns version is a well structured fruit driven wine. There has been a steady increase in popularity of fruit wines in Tassie . An eclectic range of award winning fruit wines which include a raspberry, blackberry, elderberry and a cherry wine which are made by Ruth add another dimension to the winery. The couple are looking forward to adding a sparkling cider to their portfolio. Fruit is grown on site. To top it off spirits are also produced on site so there is Grappa, Kirsch, Schnapps , Apple Brandy and Basilico. Well worth a trip off the beaten track up Gentle Annie Hill to visit and chat with this inspiring couple who are living their dream . John is also a dab hand at creating his own labels.

Apple Brandy
Red Absinthe

Have you tried any fruit wines?

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Fine Wine Festival

For wine lovers this is an exciting event held annually in Brisbane. Held at the Mecure Hotel. Showcasing around 100 wine labels with around 600 wines from wine regions around Australia from boutique to internationally recognised labels there will be plenty of styles and varieties to sample. With some imported wines on offer the festival features lots of fine wines and food. This a great opportunity to talk to winemakers and ask questions while you are tasting their wines and sampling varieties that you may have been unsure about or hesitant to buy a bottle of. This event runs from 27th to 29th of October 2017, so if you are in the area worth checking out. A panel of judges award Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in various classes. Food and wine matching classes are on offer and will cover a broad range from -Italian Wine Varietals in Australia to French styles in Australia, regional comparisons, and just about anything you want to know about wine. It will all be on offer and having attended in other years it really is a great opportunity to learn, ask questions and generally get involved. The Brisbane Festival attracts a lot of attention.

If you attend do you agree with the wine panels awards?

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Wine and Dine

Wicks Estate is an up and coming state of the art winery from the Adelaide Hills. The first release was in 2005 and with Tim Knappstein at the helm wine making, this winery has gone from strength to strength . Good food and wine with good company is always an enjoyable experience and the Wicks Wine Dinner at the local yacht and rowing club certainly fit the bill. A glass of the new release sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir on arrival set the tone for what was to be a very pleasant evening. Wicks Estate Winery is family owned and operated, moving on from their Orchard and Nursery operations to the wine industry in 1999.

Tim Wicks was on hand to chat about the families dedication to producing quality cool climate wines, giving insights into each variety as the evening unfolded.

Chef excelled himself presenting five courses with flavours and textures each complemented by the wines matched.

First up was :-

Fresh figs wrapped in prosciutto with fried haloumi and lemon vincotte matched with Wicks Sauvignon Blanc

Wicks Sauvignon Blanc
Wicks Sauvignon Blanc

Seared Hervey Bay scallops with cauliflower and blue cheese puree, crisp pancetta and black caviar – Wicks Chardonnay

Wicks Chardonnay
Wicks Chardonnay

Tartlet of roast rabbit with a salad of watercress, apple and walnut with sweet aged balsamic reduction – Wicks Riesling

Wicks Riesling
Wicks Riesling

Spiced Quail served on char grilled zucchini, red grapes, agresto and verjuice a great match with Wicks Cabernet Sauvignon

Wicks Cabernet Sauvignon
Wicks Cabernet Sauvignon

Venison fillet with roast parsnip, caramelised baby beetroot and blueberry jus – Wicks shiraz

Wicks shiraz

Finally assorted cheeses with quince paste and lavosh – Wicks Eminence Shiraz Cabernet.

Wicks Eminence Shiraz Cabernet

A delightful presentation of interesting combinations of flavours and well considered wine matches all came together for a memorable dining experience.

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Classic Clare Valley Riesling

The beautiful Clare Valley in South Australia is home to some of our best Riesling and Pikes Riesling with its distinctive fish label is a stand out. Drink it now and if you have the will power cellar a couple of bottles to enjoy in a few years when it has developed aged characteristics. Having just completed their 26th vintage, this family owned winery is set to produce more of its flagship Classic Clare Riesling. This is the variety for which Pikes has become known but they also produce other whites and some classy well balanced red wines.

Clever wine making is also responsible for “The White Mullet” which is made from Riesling, Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon. Might seem like a hard concept to grasp but is certainly not hard to drink and is a clean fresh quaffer to drink now and enjoy on its own or a good match for many foods.

Peter Bentley has the enviable task of travelling around Australia and the world to promote and establish markets for Pikes Winery and was able to give us a review of the wines and more 🙂

Look out for Pike`s Oakbank beer a traditional handcrafted Pilsner style. Available in limited amounts this beer shows faint citrus and fruity notes, is clean, malty and well worth a try.

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