Monday, October 4, 2010

Wine Arrives On My Doorstep!

Do you see that?! A beautiful thing has begun to happen. Wine has started to arrive on my doorstep. Literally.
Let me back up a bit. I started writing for Wine and Food Travel back in June. A few months ago, my editor was in town & we met up over a glass of wine. One of the things we talked about was the perks of writing about wine, food & travel. She encouraged me to review wines, hotels, bed & breakfasts and restaurants, and in doing so, to contact them and ask if they would like to "sponsor" my stay or send a "sample" to review. My wheels began to turn.... Really? Am I really a real writer, and people will give me hook ups so that I will write about their product? Is this really how this works?

I didn't do much about it and then posted my next article on Chai Masala. Immediately after the article was up, I was contacted by a company who makes instant chai. They wanted to send me a sample to review. Sweet! Of course I will, said I.

And then I decided to go for it. As you probably know, I have become enraptured with Australian wines. It seems that every wine that knocks my socks off turns out to be Australian. However, now that I have a couple of favorites, I haven't branched out much, AND there is a lot about the history and the wine making regions of Australia that I know very little about. So one night I put together an email and sent it out to wineries from seven of the major wine producing regions letting them know that I am planning an exhaustive review on Australian wines to be posted on Wine & Food Travel as well as Swigs and Grinds. I also mentioned that if they would like to send a "sample" for tasting & review that I would be happy to include them in my story. And guess what? That beautiful image of the box above was my first shipment, sent from the wonderful people at Tyrrell's Wines, the winner of the 2010 James Halliday Winery of the Year. And since they were the first to get their wines to me, they are the first to be reviewed.  

I was not familiar with their wines at all, so I was very grateful for their offer to send their Rufus Stone Heathcote 2008 Shiraz as well as two bottles of their white wines. I don't normally drink whites, so I was actually excited to include them in my review because I feel very objective about them. Their Vat 1 Hunter Semillon is actually listed in "1001 Wines You Must Drink Before You Die", I received the 2003 vintage. Ben, my connection at Tyrrell's also decided to send the Vat 47 Hunter Chardonnay, since it's his favorite and it is consistently one of Australia's top 5 chardonnays. The white wines happen to be from the Hunter Valley region, and the Shiraz is from the Victoria region of Australia.  

So as you know, I'm not into all those fancy wine words. I like red wines that are big, bold, thick and almost chewable. A lot of the wines I like are described as "jammy". The Heathcote Shiraz was the first to be sampled and it was great. Since I must use wine words here, I would attach bold, spicy - almost peppery, floral and smooth to this wine. All very good attributes in my book. This wine retails for around $17. 

The two whites I decided to compare head to head so that I would have some base of comparison since I'm not a huge white fan. The Hunter Chardonnay surprised me with it's smoothness and the length that the flavors stay on the tongue. It really was a lovely, clean, fruity wine. The 2007 Hunter Chardonnay sells for around $40. 

The Hunter Sémillon was something that I had never heard of. Sémillon is a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet white wines, popular in France and Australia. Hunter Valley Semillon is never matured in oak, but is vat or bottle aged. This may be what contributes to it being a crisp, dry wine with some green apple frutiness. I actually really liked it. This 2003 Semillon is also about $40. 

During our tasting of the two whites we came up with this metaphor: The Chardonnay is more watercolor, while the Sémillon is more line drawing. Meaning, the flavors of the Chardonnay are more blended, while the Sémillon was very straight and defined.  

I definitely recommend Tyrrell's Wines. Please check out their website and order a bottle of their wines or find a local distributor that carries their products. 

Also, to read the introduction to my Australian Wine Fairy Tale, check out the story at 


  1. As per your report, I'm going out to get some of this fabulous sounding wine tomorrow! I'm more of a red person too, but summer still lingering, I shall try a white for a change. Especially with your review. All your recipes I have tried are great, so I'll trust your wine review to be as good as your food.
    Thanks Ms. Swigs,
    A Loyal Fan

  2. Thanks Loyal Fan! Let me know how you like them!

  3. can I imagine that my chai recipe was the start of something great? :)

    It's actually your excellent writing, adventurous spirit and gorgeous food photography that paid off, so cheers and congrats!