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Monthly Report - September 2012


New releases abound…


It is an exciting time for us here at the Blue Poles hacienda.  This month we have gone around Australia promoting our current and soon to be released wines, and with a fair bit of activity all about to start we are preparing for an even busier month next month.  With the vineyard now pruned and mulched and looking a picture with new shoots firing up everywhere – it was time to hit the mean streets of Bris-Vegas, Sydney and Melbourne (with this missive being compiled in leafy Surrey Hills, Melbourne – lovely place).


Dinners were held, tastings were run, bottle shops were visited and numerous bars and restaurants were frequented.  With many listening to the gospel of Blue Poles and becoming part of the team – great stuff and so exciting when such well-regarded bars as Wine Library and Love Tilly Devine in Sydney, and restaurants such as Il Centro in Brisbane take up our wines and put them on by the glass.  A summary of one of the dinners held is here - good fun had by all and I am sure most left feeling that the wines are drinking very well.


Some bridge somewhere...


But with this run around, it had a purpose of putting our new wines in front of everyone and checking how they would be received, and from all reports we have been given two big thumbs up.  So for those on the mailing list expect a little note in the inbox soon, and for everyone else (sign up!!), you will see the wines up for general release in 2 weeks on this very website.  The wines that will be released soon are as below:


2010 Viognier


A 100% barrel fermented Viognier that we have given the extra year of age so as to ensure all the components meld into a seamless wine.  The wine on the nose comes across as complex with stone fruits and tangelo citrus overlying some broader oak flavors framing the fruits.  On the palate it rolls through generating lots of character and flavor in the mid-palate.  A delicious spring and summer drink, and one that is neither too acidic or too rich and fat; but rather trim and taut and demanding picnic foods or seafood feasts. 


2011 Shiraz


A wine that we have an inquisitive relationship with as it keeps on throwing us new perspectives every time we make a vintage.  A sensational wine to swirl and smell, ahhh those fresh raspberries are sitting amongst the cloves and dusted with all spice in a lovely French oak bowl – you can’t help but want to drink it.  A medium weight palate with a cleansing lifted fruity freshness that makes it just the perfect mid-week wine.  This is not a wine to be locked away, simply crack it and drink it with friends over the next 2-3 years.


2011 Teroldego


Who couldn’t like this wine??  How we came about this variety is a story in itself, but the outcome was beyond anything we could have hoped for.  Such a sweet rich nose you have the feeling you have a glass of pastilles until you note that hint of fresh sage, or was it thyme?  Drinking it provides the satisfaction of the aroma's promise, big and rich and full of flavor to all corners, it just simply satisfies.  The tannins are there, the fruit is in spades, and the length is Italianate – magnifico!

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2010 Viognier, 2011 Teroldego & 2011 Shiraz

With this set of new additions we will also alter our tasting packs and provide a few more options such that you can look over the various wines at your leisure.  I am very very pleased to be able to offer such a delicious set of wines in conjunction with our Merlot and Allouran – they represent a lot of work and a lot of ambition, but most of all they represent us and our hopes for the future.  Like building blocks they build on past wines, and provide the window to future vintages – grab some and enjoy the ride with us!


True Value…


There are two decisions that are very difficult to make when you own a wine label.  And surprisingly they are not selecting varieties or defining your style – if you know what you want to do and are a wine lover then these are quite straight forward.  The two problematic decisions are “naming” your wine, and “pricing” your wine – it is much more difficult than you think.  Just try it – remembering that you will have to ride the ocean of fashion and walk the desert of sales based on the back of what you decide at the start of your little venture.

I will not go into the naming of wineries (I still remember when Olsens down the road were called “Triplicity” and it simply did not work.  So they bought in a consultant and the it after yourself....brilliant!), but I will discuss pricing as there are changes afoot on what is acceptable and not acceptable nowadays and it makes for an interesting topic.

2012 could become one of those years in which people will look back at and either exclaim “what were they thinking?” or “this was the start of it all” as during 2012 we have seen some very courageous strategies being applied to the pricing of wines in Australia and not just the usual suspects.

It all started off when a winery owned by a wine media personality in the southern Fleurieu in South Australia declared a $1,000 a bottle wine and was simply presenting it into the Chinese market (which included Singapore I believe).  Now this did not make the mainstream media to any major level as there were very few samples of this wine in Australia, and you could see there was an intention for this – why place yourself up for comparison?  Your pitch market was in the northern hemisphere and all that you will get in your home town is a jolly good thrashing.

The next big thing was the release of the $168,000 glass ampoules stored within some crystal and wooden box that looked like something you needed to inject into an alien to awaken it from its slumber.  This was a Penfolds special – China, China, China was again the market place for such a thing and even the price was full of the number 8 just in case you forgot the target audience.  The best part about the spiel was the blathering on about heritage in the press release – yes I am absolutely positive the early settlers of Barossa, mostly Lutheran Germans, were right into glass sealed ampoules in their hand crafted crystal boxes...

Well with these major milestones hitting the news amongst the winemaking fraternity, a $100 release of a wine called “Thousand Candles” out of the Yarra Valley should not have caused a blip on the radar, but it has and in a much bigger way.  You see the first two examples of ambitious pricing was targeted – bulls-eye China – this Yarra release was more generic and was aimed internally and externally.  Also this wine was a first release from a rather run down vineyard that is being refurbished and it was from a vintage that the Yarra would describe as “challenging” and the rest of us would describe as “bloody tough”.  Next was the fact that the winery has produced only one wine – not two or three leading up to a reserve wine at the big bucks level, but one.  Singular.  Alone.  Solo.  No mates.  OK, ok you think well it must be a blooming cracker – well this is when it gets interesting – according to those who have tried this blend of Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc (yes you have read that right, Sauvignon Blanc), there certainly has not been universal praise and many could be seen as grasping for a way to present this wine in a good light (“complex”, “thinking man’s wine”, “confronting” etc etc).  I have heard there have been some positive reviews but the latest tasting note on the wine was by Campbell Mattinson on WineFront where he gave the wine 88 points and his final comment?  .....“Gorgeous Packaging”.

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A Thousand Candles

Most wineries just cannot go down this path, us included, as the budget for such an approach can run into the millions.  99% of all wineries build a brand, and build wine quality – but the 1000 Candles approach?  Is this the future?  It is certainly bold and it would be fabulous if it works for them but I have not tasted the wine, and may have to rely on some generous friends to bring one along to a dinner, and at that point I could therefore make my own call.  But you never know...the best thing about it may in fact be the “Gorgeous Packaging”.


Stormy, stormy nights...


Well what a wild and woolly month, weather has come in from all points of the compass bringing with it rain, wind and what felt like sleet on occasions.  The extra rain was welcome and this has topped up the groundwater after such a dry winter – it also has held back the budburst on some of the later varieties which is good from a viticultural perspective as it puts the finish of vintage through to the cooler end of March start of April.


The numbers for the month and last year’s figures are provided below:


September 2012:     

Avg Maximum Temp          18.1°C

Daily Max recorded            23.9°C


Avg Minimum Temp           8.7°C               

Daily Min recorded             2.9°C


Rainfall:                               154.5mm

The maximum temperature range is similar to last year, but the minimum is a bit higher due to the cloudy nights. Rainfall this year was more than last year, and this is as discussed a good thing, but the year is still dry.

September 2011:      

Avg Maximum Temp          17.8°C

Daily Max recorded            21.5°C

Avg Minimum Temp             8.5°C

Daily Min recorded               2.8°C


Rainfall:                              110.1mm


Vine cleaning …


A month of tidying up and preparing for the setting of the fruit – many kilometres of walking are on the cards, but the weather is generally so lovely in Margaret River during October it is genuinely a privilege to be working outside.  No month appears to be complete without me travelling somewhere, and I am back into Asia late in the month.  And in family news, April our travelling daughter will return from 3 months in Europe on the 2 October – I am sure she is looking forward to her bed and giving Jackson a pat or two.

As always if you have any queries about what’s been written or about wine in general, do not hesitate to contact us either by email or and we’ll do our very best to answer any question.





Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

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