Special Features

Ceretto Wines - The land is the soul of our wines

by Louise Boutin

I was fortunate enough to taste the following wines at an event hosted by Ceretto’s Ontario wine agent, Noble Estates Wine & Spirits at the vibrant Shore Club restaurant in the Westin Hotel, Ottawa alongside Head Winemaker Allessandro Ceretto and his assistant, David Fletcher.

‘The land is the soul of our wines’, is still the motto guiding winemaking at Ceretto’s as it has for the past half century. Given their prestigious location in the heart of Langhe-Roero region, a UNESCO world heritage site since 2014, showcasing this unique feature is now a proud tradition. Combined with the visionary approach of the previous generation who in the early 1960’s first introduced the concept of ‘cru’ in this region, it’s now these third-generation artisans perpetuating family traditions along with a contemporary twist reflected in the wines via their organic/biodynamic approach to agriculture, and their winery appearance showcased in the distinctive architecture of their winery sites.

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Xanadu, Yering Station

by Vic Harradine

Xanadu winery

Xanadu winery is in Margaret River, Western Australia and owned by the Rathbone family along with Mount Langi Ghiran (reviewed in the previous winecurrent newsletter and still available on the www.winecurrent.com site) and Yering Station in the Yarra Valley, Victoria. Xanadu has a bagful of medals and trophies for their wine both in Australia and internationally. We don’t see their wines often, we see few Margaret River wines in general, probably due to the high demand for their wines in Australia and all over the world plus the limited production of their mostly family-owned wineries.

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Mount Langi Ghiran

by Vic Harradine

On the way back to Canada we stopped in Melbourne, Victoria and couldn’t pass up visiting a couple of top-tier, family-owned wineries. Whenever you meet a truly switched-on team of successful people, the first suspect for whom may be responsible for bringing this about is always the person at the top. In the case of both Yering Station (reviewed in next issue of winecurrent) and Mount Langi Ghiran, that would be Darren Rathbone. 

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Paxton, Sidewood

by Vic Harradine

Paxton – Wines With Life

 Paxton Cellar Door

Winecurrent first made contact with family-owned and managed Paxton in 2007 on a visit to what was then a winery which had recently opened their cellar door in McLaren Vale and just beginning their now successful journey toward becoming a full-blown biodynamic-certified entity. As I remember it, David Paxton had just returned from a conference, watching and listening to an impassioned orange grower share his experiences with biodynamics. The grower was a man of the earth, immersed in hard toil with weathered hands and features to prove it. His simple message was, ‘I can’t really explain this, but I’ve tried it and it works.’ On this recent visit, a decade later, winecurrent was greeted by an informed, impassioned Paxton team that are now as convinced as the orange grower that biodynamics go a long way to explaining their success in making fine wine. Here’s Paxton’s brief explanation of the process and reasoning behind biodynamics.

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The Etna DOC

by Susan Desjardins

The resort town of Taormina was our base for visiting the Etna DOC wineries. Situated high on a precipice overlooking the Mediterranean, the town is historic, dramatic and beautiful, a magnet for both European and Italian tourists. It was bustling with activity, as significant municipal works were underway to prepare for the G7 summit scheduled for the end of May.

The visit to the wineries with full operations in the Etna DOC was a revelation. Like the volcano, it is as if a slumbering giant is slowly waking. As indicated by our hosts, the number of wineries has burgeoned over the last 10-15 years, as wineries in Sicily, but also from the mainland, see an opportunity to develop premium wines from indigenous grapes barely known beyond the island but wrapped in the mystery that is Etna. 

There is work to be done pertaining to the legislated boundaries of the Etna DOC - it has not changed in the last 45 years. While producers recognize that some of the best wines are created from vines at high elevation, the current boundaries of the DOC do not extend to those levels. Hence some of the best wines from the highest vineyards are produced under the DOC Sicilia or IGT Siciliane designations, even though the grapes are harvested on Etna. However, some progress is being made; as an example, a requirement was recently put in place that required wines labeled Etna DOC to be bottled within the DOC.

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Mondo del Vino – The Sicilian Connection

by Susan Desjardins

Sicily via Vin Italy

It's an easy train ride from Venice to Verona, through verdant Italian hills and historic towns. And so, we sped along, arriving at the Verona train station mid-morning, to a thrumming, single-minded crowd headed toward the shuttle to Verona Fiera, the massive centre at which this 51st edition of Vin Italy was being held.

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d’Arenberg, Hewitson and Rockford Cellars

by Vic Harradine


d’Arenberg wines and the maroon, diagonal stripe on their wine labels are familiar to most wine lovers. What might not be familiar is the multi-million dollar, five-story, glass structure taking shape at the winery—the d’Arenberg cube. Housing a 50-seat restaurant—opening late 2017—and two South African-born chefs who have worked at Michelin-starred restaurants serving royalty and an international A-list of Who’s Who. They have agreed to handle the kitchen at this amazing facility. The cube will house aspects of wine making and wine tasting with the majority interactive, enjoyable, learning experiences.

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Chapel Hill Winery, Coriole Vineyards and Wits End

by Vic Harradine

Chapel Hill Winery

The Chapel Hill Winery tasting room is located in just that, a (former) chapel on a hill—once known as the Seaview Methodist chapel and schoolhouse. A stunning feature in this old ironstone building is that which Chapel Hill’s logo is based, a stained-glass window constructed in Scotland in the 1700s. The chapel was officially opened in 1865 and remained until a ceremony officially closed it in 1965, 100 years later. Boarded up and deteriorating, it and surrounding land were purchased from the Uniting church by Adelaide professor, Tom Nelson. Tom planted vines in 1972 and began the monumental task of meticulously restoring the building, creating a winery, a tasting room and offices. The burgeoning winery—the present 2017 vintage is its 43rd consecutive—is still family owned, now by the Swiss-based Schmidheiny family, having purchased it in 2000.

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Henschke, Glaetzer Wines and Heartland Wines

by Vic Harradine

Henschke winery

The stone church built in 1860 sits opposite the Hill of Grace vineyard also planted at that time—although it’s not on a hill, the land is somewhat flat. The stone cellar building at the present Henschke winery was also built in the 1860s. Present owner/winemaker and 5th generation, Stephen Henschke’s forefathers were there at that time as well, planting vines and making wine on site—Johann Christian Henschke planted a small vineyard at Keyneton in 1862. Stephen and viticulturist wife, Prue, continue the incredible success story of this family-owned, family-run, world-renowned winery. They are known not only for their fabulous wine, but for their focus on sustainability and innovative techniques, especially in the vineyard—they have a unique nursery program preserving the genetic heritage of their oldest vines. Their philosophy is, ‘Exceptional wines from outstanding vineyards’. They are proud to be one of the select—only 12—family-owned wineries to form Australia’s First Families of Wine representing over 1200 years of winemaking experience and excellence.

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Parker Coonawarra Estate, Hesketh Wine, Vickery Wines and Wakefield Wines

by Vic Harradine

Parker Coonawarra Estate

Parker Coonawarra Estate wines owe their heritage to John and Faye Parker who in 1985, after considerable research, purchased land from the Abbey family, planting pre-phylloxera, Bordeaux-clone Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the now famous, limestone-based, terra rossa soil of the Coonawarra GI. They experienced immediate success. Their 1988 ‘First Growth’ won the ‘Penfold Highland Trophy’ and was judged the 6th best Bordeaux-style in the 1991 International Wine challenge in London. Parker continues to gain accolades as the ‘First Growth’ is now included in the prestigious, ‘Langton’s Classification of Australian Fine Wines’.

Parker Coonawarra Estate

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