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What The Grape? Gouais Blanc
What The Grape? Gouais Blanc
By David Brookes
There are many under appreciated grape varieties out there that deserve our attention. They deserve a glass to be raised in their general direction and a heartfelt nod of thanks bestowed upon them. It just seems like the polite thing to do. Today, we’ll raise a glass to that little grape variety, gouais blanc, for without its flirty exploits in the vineyard, we would be without some of my, and I’m sure your, favourite grapes.
You see, gouais blanc has been given a bit of a hard time. It’s been vilified by major wine critics and was once banned in Europe because it was seen as a low quality variety grape. We on the other hand, seeing we are all-inclusive and in general, all-round ace, supportive human beings, will give this fine grape its dues.
You can consider it the viticultural equivalent of the swinging 60s… you know, the letting down of grapey inhibitions, all “free love” and that sort of thing... I’m not here to judge. All I know is, if it wasn’t for the free-spirit of gouais blanc, the varietal landscape today might look very different, as it was the progenitor of around eighty different grape varieties.
Gouais blanc was widely planted throughout France in the Middle Ages, originally thought to have been transported in from Croatia. And advanced DNA analysis has indicated that ol’ gouais blanc was quite a promiscuous little thing. In those days, it was planted in close proximity to pinot noir and before long, a bit of Barry White on the turntable and one thing led to another and the two grape varieties crossed and the result was, well, you might have heard of it? Chardonnay.
With two such genetically disparate parents, many of the crosses showed a little heterosis over the years and spawned such grape varieties as aligoté, auxerrois, bachet noir, beaunoir, franc noir de la-Haute-Haône, gamay blanc, gloriod, gamay noir, melon de Bourgogne, knipperlé, peurion, roublot, sacy and dameron. Aligoté is lovely and I’m pretty sure gamay is my spirit animal, so I’m pretty happy.
Its dalliances are legendary. A fling with traminer gave us riesling and elbling. Another, this time with chenin blanc gifted us colombard, balzac blanc and meslier saint françois. A tryst with that dubiously named character bastardo resulted in genouillet; yet another with savignin gave us räuschling, petit meslier and aubin and as recently as the 1980s, a late night with gewurztraminer led to a new grape variety called mennas which is grown in one, solitary vineyard in Switzerland.
Quite a busy little grape variety huh? I only know of one winery in Australia that has a commercially released gouais blanc and that is the amazing Chambers Rosewood in Rutherglen. It’s a fairly neutral wine with Spinal Tap levels of acidity and it really needs some food. Fatty stuff, maybe a plate heaving with charcuterie… that sort of thing.
It’s kind of ironic, that a grape variety, once seen as the ugly duckling in French vineyards, could have such beautiful offspring. So next time you have a glass of chardonnay, riesling or gamay, perhaps raise a glass to good old gouais blanc and give thanks to its delightful, well-behaved children. Merci mon ami!
On The Road Part I: The Loire Valley
One thing I love about traveling is those meetings with strangers where you instantly hit it off and are at ease with each other; it’s like you’ve met before, the conversation is warm and effortless… Sympatico. I also navel-gaze far more than I should and think about how often, wines are sometimes like the people that make them. Comfortable in their own skin with a relaxed energy and welcoming sense of grace. I felt that at Domaine Delesvaux.
Wine Down Under: Hobart and Coal River
To read more of Steve’s work, check out Q Wine Reviews!
A Road Trip to the Yarra Valley
Tip number one: start sucking up to that good-looking, smart and funny friend; you’re going to need a designated driver for this road-trip.
Celebrating Women in Wine: Emma Raidis of Raidis Estate
Emma Raidis needs no introduction. Co-owner and winemaker of Raidis Estate for the past 12 years, Emma and her husband Steven are Coonawarra favourites. Growing up in Adelaide, the country’s wine capital, she moved to Coonawarra for love and ended up staying for the region, its people and the wines. And we’re so glad she did.
A Guide To Italian Wine Regions: Piemonte
In the not so distant future, we’ll first take a deep-dive into Barolo, its townships and the differences in the wines that come from them. We’ll perhaps have a chat about the traditionalist vs modernist debate and we’ll cover some producers to look out for. Until then, stay thirsty my friends.
The Homeless Grapes Story
There are over 100,000 people who are homeless in Australia. Many aren’t on the streets, but living in cars with their children, having fled domestic violence. Many are couch-surfing teenagers, being abused by the predators who offer them “safety.” It’s a mental health problem, more than a drugs and alcohol problem, though all and more play a part.
The Perfect Match: Chardonnay and Cheese
Chardonnay and cheese. Chardonnay is a natural match for so many styles of cheese, because there are so many faces of chardonnay. From the racy unoaked melon-mouths to the oak-slathered butter bombs, let’s explore. And let’s not be afraid. Chardonnay can be confusing, with so many unfamiliar terms (Whole bunch? Wild ferment? Barrel size, cooper, toast level, new or old… or maybe stainless steel or even concrete egg? Malolactic fermen-WHAT? Sulphur or no sulphur. Fine lees, gross lees, lees stirring). Holy moly. That would be a panoply of things even if ‘panoply’ wasn’t my word of the week. Let’s keep it simple, because it doesn’t have to be that hard.
A Wine Bar Crawl Across Melbourne
Wine bars are Melbourne’s lifeblood. Pumping low-intervention pinot through the not-so-secret laneways of the city’s sprawling neighbourhoods. It’s both delightful and overwhelming.
Drinking outside the box
If you’re a fan of natural wines or just simply want to explore and learn more, get your hands on our latest mixed case here.
Secrets To The Ultimate Winter Warmer: Mulled Wine
This should be fun and not overthought (don’t mull it over too much), so I’m going to keep this simple, so you don’t have to keep looking at your iPad. After all, you’re over eighteen if you’re trying this, so I reckon you’ve got this.
Welcome to Coonawarra: The Homeless Grapes Project
“Anyway, surely we can manage a few hours picking in the rain. Let’s remember why we’re doing this. Two hours of cold is nothing compared with a lifetime of homelessness.”
My 5 Most Memorable Wine Experiences
Ah, what a pleasure it’s been to write this article. It’s like reminiscing over past loves, except that none of these wines threw my furniture on the lawn or broke my heart. Well, except one of them...
Good Hunting – Exploring the Hunter Valley
To read more of Steve’s work, check out Q Wine Reviews!
Celebrating Women in Wine: Alexia Roberts of Penny's Hill
Remember when you were in high school and you had to do work experience? Let’s be honest, nobody actually ends up doing that job, and I had to ask a friend of a friend to actually take me in. Yet Alexia Roberts managed to get work experience at Penfold’s - of all places - and is now a winemaker at Penny’s Hill in McLaren Vale, so it looks like she was on the right track unlike the rest of us. With harvest going on at the moment it wasn’t exactly the most convenient time to catch our winemakers, so we’re stoked they made time for us.
What natural wine means to Lou Chalmer
“The attitude of “f*ck them, who cares?” is systemic in the natural wine movement because it really is about who you are and what you want to make. It’s each person making wine in the way that they believe is right, not trying to make it to industry standards.”
Vino Italiano - An Italian Primer
“I was saying this afternoon that I don’t want to be that wanker who bangs on about how much he loves Barolo now. But I am, I am that guy. And I’m OK with it, I f*cking love the stuff. Especially when paired with lamb cutlets, chocolate birthday cake and the finest of company on a Sunday afternoon.”
Magnificent Mendoza Malbec - A Primer
Mendoza is arguably the most exciting wine region in the world right now, with established names starting to bring the area’s latent viticultural prowess to prominence, while rewarding early adopter consumers with the type of value that only occurs as when demand hasn’t yet hit production yields, while quality is evident. The moral of the story is: jump on and ride the wave before it comes to shore.
Which wine dog are you?
It’s Year of the Dog, and we sell wine. Hmmm... then it’s probably time you find out which dog matches your favourite wine, and is therefore you in a nutshell. You’re welcome in advance.
What’s so good about aged wine, anyway?
So what is so good about old wine? What do we expect from it, and why do we think it’s necessarily better than young wine?
The Mofo Guide To Storing Wines
Why cellar wines? Because often they’re sold before they’re peaking. Cellaring a wine gives you the chance to drink it at its best. You deserve that chance, so read on!
Tannins | Wine Buzzwords
Novelty bonus fact: Apparently wine tannins resist oxidation in the body and are thus very good for your health. Therefore, wine = health.
Orange Wine | Wine Buzzwords
If you’re a fan of Orange wine or just simply want to learn more about this fun and exciting variety, get your hands on our latest mixed case here.
Sonoma County: Your new favourite wine region
With the US in our sights next year, we’re chucking on our figurative backpacks and heading off to Sonoma County.
A Day In Marlborough
Spending a few days visiting wineries in Marlborough was, as far as ‘work goes’, one of the better weeks I’ve had on the job. I tagged along on a buying trip, which translates to meeting a lot of winemakers, which translates to talking a lot about wine, tasting a lot of wine and exploring vineyards. Dream job? Pretty much.
Blind Drunking: JD vs John, Marlborough
The scene was Marlborough, a morning at Grove Mill estate to be precise. The boys were surrounded by lush purple hills and the scattered remains of empty sauvignon blanc tasting glasses. Between them sat one mystery bottle of wine. The battle was on.
A Savvy B Journey Through Marlborough
There is no wine more divisive than sauvignon blanc amongst the team here at Vinomofo. We love to hate it at Mofo HQ, and our CEOs proudly wear t-shirts with ‘Death Before Sauvignon Blanc’ printed on them.
60 Seconds with Pip Goodwin
Pip Goodwin is the CEO of Palliser Estate, a legendary Kiwi vino outfit working out of beautiful Martinborough. Besides being a bona fide lady boss, she’s also got a tonne of winemaking experience under her belt dating all the way back to a trip to Burgundy. So watch out, mofos, we’ve got the real deal here.
Marlborough is synonymous with sauvignon blanc. As a brand, it has been one of the great success stories of the modern wine world and there’s no sign of it slowing down. It accounts for 86% of New Zealand’s wine exports and really, they just can’t get enough of it.
Would You Like To Taste The Wine Sir?
“Would you like to taste the wine?” A seemingly innocuous question that strikes fear into the hearts of so many. Those seven words can tear down even the most robust foundations of self-confidence. You’re on the spot. All eyes turn expectantly to you, and you’re thinking… “Well I dunno, what am I supposed to say?”
The Mofo Guide To Ordering Wine
There should be no more stress in choosing a wine than there is in choosing your meal. That being said, there’s nothing more horrific than having to choose between the pork belly and the salmon, and even then at least you know what you’re talking about.
Three Deadly Wine Cocktails To Get You Howling On Halloween
A scary twist on a Spanish classic, serve this classic summer punch in a pumpkin to keep you chilled – even in the depths of hell.
White With One: When is sweet not sweet and dry still wet?
“That wine is bone dry.”
Finding Singapore’s best chilli crab, and wine match, in a public housing estate
“Seriously, help me. I’ve got crab in my hair and I can’t focus my camera.”
Long Wine-dy Road: Camp Cookouts with Chef Dave
As a whole, our camp skills are pretty ace but they do fall short in the kitchen. We’re simple creatures, and rice and tuna can satiate us for days on end in the bush, but not even the most delicate, fruity wine will get our taste buds revved up after the third bowl of rice for the day. It’s this cuisine cluelessness that forced us to take our good mate Chef Dave Powell away on our latest trip out bush. It even inspired us to create our own collection of wines that we reckon go with camping life: The Long Wine-dy Road. Click here to check ’em out.
Just chill: stop overthinking the perfect wine serving temperature
Stop overthinking the perfect wine temperature and forget the numbers. Enjoying your wine at its optimum temperature doesn’t have to be a science experiment. Once you have these simple habits under your belt, you won’t even have to think about temperature any more, you’ll just be enjoying your wine that much more.
What's The Point?
Ever wondered what those shiny medals and points assigned to wines mean? Probably not. It’s pretty self-explanatory, right? The more points the better the wine. And yes, points are allocated to wines based on qualitative measures, but for the consumer one important question remains – so what?
48 hours in Beechworth
After a truly boutique wine experience? Head to Beechworth. Here you’ll find some of the most humble and hardworking wine folk willing to show you first hand the heartache and joy involved in making small batches of incredible vino. It ain’t glamorous and you’ll have to book appointments to arrange tastings, but it’s worth it because this region is as real as it gets when it comes to soul-stirring wine.
Happy International Grenache Day
Happy Grenache Day! I bet you didn’t know that was a thing. Yep, apparently there’s a day for everything. There’s even a movement to get Fairy Bread Day up and running here in Australia. That’s a stretch, but we’re all for celebrating wine so Grenache Day is fine by us. So, on its special day you’re invited to grab a glass and raise a toast as we share with you a few things we love about grenache. It’s a bit like a 21st – complete with awkward speeches – but with better wine.
Fresh Kiwi Vino (other than pinot)
There’s no doubt that New Zealand is killing the pinot game. Spicy, fruity and undeniably delectable, ask any pinot fan about Kiwi juice and they’ll start raving. In fact, the pinot is so damn good it’s almost doing a disservice to the wine industry, because it’s way too easy to forget that New Zealand churns out some remarkable red wines other than pinot. But we’re gonna find ‘em.
The Rise of Rosé: A Hashtag Journey
It’s official: the pink drink has blown up worldwide. First it was the French, then the Spanish, and now the whole world is tickled pink over a refreshing glass of rosé. To give you an inkling as to popularity of this lil’ drinkling, these days the French actually consume more rosé than white wine. But what led to this meteoric rise in popularity?
VIDEO: Vinomofo Meets Penfolds
Chief mofos Justin and Andre were jostling in the boardroom last week when the phone rang. It was the big dogs from Penfolds: “We’d like you to taste our new vintage icon wines before they’re released”. Cue fist pumps and heart palpitations. Bags packed, the lads headed to the hallowed halls of Penfolds (Magill Estate, South Australia) to taste a line up of some of the world’s most distinguished vino.
Biodynamic | Wine Buzzwords
Welcome to the next leg of our journey to make sense of vino vocabulary. Today, we’ll be tackling a term that’s shrouded in mystery and a fair bit of scepticism: biodynamic wine. Among the preferred poison of wipsters (aka wine hipsters), biodynamic vino is made using a philosophy that’s free of chemicals and tuned into the cosmic forces of the universe. But the question is, does it really make a difference to the juice in your glass? Well mofo, let’s look into a crystal ball and see.
Recipe of the Month : Fluffy Carrot Cupcakes with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Introducing our latest recipe of the month, a sweet and decadent delight for those who enjoy the naughtier side of life. Simply add friends and a few bottles of Sartori Prosecco to party like a modern-day Marie Antoinette. Let them eat (cup)cake!
Why Small Champagne Growers are Worth Their Weight in Gold.
“Small, terroir-focused wines created by families are not performing well in Australia because everyone is buying big brands,” says Tyson.
Terroir | Wine Buzzwords
Take care of how you wield this word because it’s got a high wine w**ker score.
Top 5 Wine Bars in Sydney
I’m off to Sydney in a few months and it dawned on me that I’m a total tourist when it comes to where to eat and drink. Things have moved on since I was backpacking and bar hopping between the best happy-hour deals 10 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a wild night, but these days I prefer to remember the night before and the people I spent it with. So I hit up some seasoned Sydney sippers at the ‘Fo, to get the low down on where to go.
Recipe of the month: Dark chocolate bourbon mousse
Today, the world will unite in celebrating one of history’s greatest traditions, World Chocolate Day. In honour of this blessed event, we’ve upped the game on this month’s recipe to bring you a delight of true indulgence: Dark Chocolate Bourbon Mousse.
VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Tim Preston
We dropped by Mills Reef in Tauranga (NZ) on a pretty bloody cold August day. We were, admittedly, quite hungover from the night before and collectively unenthused at the prospect of a day spent drinking more alcohol. That was until we tasted Tim Preston’s first class pinot noir.
DOC and DOCg | Wine Buzzwords
Welcome to the next leg of our mission to make sense of confusing wine words. In the last edition, we explored ‘terroir’ and it ties in neatly with what we’re looking at here. Why? Because if terroir encapsulates the reasons behind the unique tastes of different wines, then DOC and DOCg are the letters used in Italy to help protect those distinctive flavours.
Top 5 Wine Bars in Melbourne
“I’m a sucker for shellfish, so anywhere with an oyster happy hour is my idea of heaven! It’s my fave place to sit on the street and people-watch while sipping on the sea and a chilled glass of riesling. But the real reason I come here is the welcome I always receive from the charismatic proprietor Jay Bessell. His enthusiasm is infectious and his Italian-inspired wine list is as stylish as his sassy cravats. I love everything about the place, from the elegant contemporary European decor, underground cellar-come-private dining room and extensive list of wines by the glass, to the cheese board, stunning pastas and smiling wait staff. This place just feels so good and it’s home to some of my best food and wine memories. For me, this restaurant really comes into its own in winter because you can shut the door on the cold and be transported to a place as warm as the Tuscan sun.”
Fortified wine | Wine Buzzwords
Welcome to the next leg of our journey to make sense of wine words. In this edition, we’ll be travelling back to a time when fortified wines ruled the world, and finding out what they are and why they’re still worthy of celebration today.
VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Penny Jones
On our recent expedition down south with the legends at Lonely Planet, we dropped by for a chat with Tassie wine expert, rowboat champion and head winemaker legend, Penny Jones.
Behind the Lens: A trip through Tamar Valley
I love the old cliche that the journey is half the adventure, or half the fun, because in my line of work – it couldn’t be truer. I’m a photographer, have been for a decade now, and some of my most treasured moments on the road are those that often go unseen. The shots that don’t make the glossy pages. Or in the internet world, the header image.
Vintage - Does It Really Matter?
In short, yes it does. The weather, consistent or volatile, cool or hot, shapes everything that happens in the vineyard, which gives the winemaker the grapes to play with.
Destination: Tamar Valley
Sitting on the boot of our rental car, passing around a bottle of pinot and some sandy cheese, we knew we were in a pretty fortunate position. Waves rolled onto shore in front of us and the sun set over the headland to our left. There was only one problem, a little hiccup in our itinerary – we were bogged. Beached as, bro. Up to our axles in soft sand on a deserted beach somewhere on the North Tassie coast.
5 Amazing Facts on International Sauvignon Blanc Day!
On 24th April the world will unite in celebrating possibly the most ubiquitous white wine in the universe - sauvignon blanc. While Sancerre is its spiritual home, New Zealand is the source of the savvy that’s taken the world by storm. There’s something about its distinctive ‘slap you in the face style’ that wine lovers can’t get enough of and wine nerds love to hate.
Hip Hop and Wine: A History
Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly if your rap level is expert, the hip hop scene actually has a well-rhymed history for pairing sneakers with syrah and bling with barrels. Forget those five fingers of Hennessy, what they love is getting around a good glass of vino. Thug life, wine life, same same.
48 hours in Waiheke Island (NZ)
Incredibly beautiful, insanely accessible and with a microclimate to rule them all, it’s no wonder Waiheke Island is one of New Zealand’s most favouritest wine regions. We jump the ditch to spend 48 hours driving a ute and drinking vino (not at the same time and always with a designated driver, obvs) around the best of the idyll’s best.
What your favourite wine says about you
In an image driven world first impressions count, right? It’s why we agonise over an outfit that says “ideal candidate” at a job interview or cultivate a look we hope will turn heads (in a good way). What we look like and buy into says a lot about us; in my case the current ensemble of Melbourne crafted jeans and Jack Wills jumper screams mainstream preppy with a penchant for hipster denim. And it’s the same deal with wine.
Best BYO restaurants in Sydney
“This place is vying for pole position as my all time fave BYO in Sydney. Not only are their pizzas the most authentic this side of Naples, but they don’t charge corkage - bellissimo! I just love the vibe in here, it’s always rammed with families, afterworkers and tight-arses on first dates. I must of eaten here 50 times or more because those crispy, thin bases, and super-fresh, genuine Italian flavours are hard to pass by. Pack a prosecco, a good sangiovese and let the good times roll.”
VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Andrew Santarossa
Andrew Santarossa is a killer winemaker with a killer laugh. It lies somewhere between a guffaw and a chuckle. It’s infectious. Even more so when he’s in the middle of telling you about the first time he got drunk, and how it was on some serious Penfolds juice (classic wino in the making...).
48 hours on the Mornington Peninsula
When it comes to weekends of pure indulgence, there are few destinations more appealing than the Mornington Peninsula. I fell in love with the place a couple of years ago, tempted by its natural beauty and seduced by its wines. It’s a love affair that continues to deepen as return visits reveal layers of charm. From wild and secluded surf beaches to soothing hot springs, DIY beach picnics to day-long degustations, the region is irresistible.
VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Dan Sims
Dan Sims is an Aussie sommelier legend. With a few profanities thrown in. King of Revel (formerly known as Bottle Shop Concepts), his wine ethos is simple - don’t overthink it. A mantra we particularly enjoy here at the ‘Fo. We also enjoy hitting the town, and the juice, at his first-class wine events - Game of Rhones and Pinot Palooza. Sound familiar? They will if you’re a vino hound.
VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Steve Webber and Leanne De Bortoli
Steve and Leanne are the parents everyone wishes they had (which is super lucky for our customer service guru, Kate, considering they actually are her folks). A powerhouse winemaking duo from the Yarra Valley, these legends openly admit to getting a little tipsy on spumante in their younger years, drinking red wine in 44 degree China heat and believing that all wine is better with food and good friends.
48 hours in the King Valley
When it comes to Italian varietals, I’m like a moth to a flame and the King Valley is my favourite region to burn two days. Just 3.5 hours from Melbourne, I’m poppin’ prosecco, learning how to cook like nonna and sippin’ sangiovese over a perfect sunset before camping under a billion stars.