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Arlaine's Wine Blog

My interest in Australian wine started out 15 years ago when came to Australia and met my husband Tony.  I was quickly introduced to the vast array of Australian Wines. Tony has been in the liquor industry for most of his life starting out in pubs and hotels from the age of 13. What started out as a genuine liking of Australian wine (coming from South Africa there was plenty of choice) became a genuine passion for the product.

We are passionate about the wines we add to our website and place in our physical store and remain committed to the Australian Wine industry. We source out ranges of wines from a variety of sources and we are particularly interested in Australian boutique wines. 

Boutique Wines

Why Boutique Wines?   We at Tony’s Cellars are totally committed to the Australian Wine Industry and in particular are committed to seeing the smaller wineries Survive and thrive. To this end we are determined to source out the best of Australian Boutique Wines and the best of the Small Wineries that are found scattered throughout this country.

If you have an absolute favourite Australian Boutique Wine that you think we should have on our website, let us know and perhaps we can find them for you.

What is a boutique Winery

A Boutique wine company is one which crushes and bottles 500 ton or less annually under its own label and is owned independently, i.e., not owned by a larger wine company.

As a liquor retailer with a focus on Australian Boutique and small wineries we get the opportunity to try many different Australian wines – as the winemakers pass through our store or through trade tastings (or just socially with friends) – a meal is never complete without a good bottle of something to drink!!

Australian Wine is what we are all about – all different varietals and all different price points. Whether it be a great Australian Shiraz from the Barossa Valley – a Cabernet from Coonawarra or a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from the Margaret River.

Come join me on my journey as I explore a range of wines as they pass through our doors – explore and taste the wines and give you my ratings on and take on these Australian Wine Varietals.

I don’t profess to be an expert with years of training in the craft but I love my wines and prior to working in the industry was an avid drinker of all varietals. Since being in Australia I have developed my palate and learned a lot about the Australian wineries, wine varietals, vintages, seasonal variations – and more importantly learned what I truly like. Being in a retail store has also given me a good insight into what the consumers like (pretty much what I like) so I am happy to recommend some wines for you to try and am confident that you will come back for more!!

I welcome some feedback - tell me about the wines you like the most and why and perhaps I can add them to my store so that other people can enjoy the benefits of these little gems as much as you do.  Share recipes that you have with any of the wines and contribute to this exploration of Boutique Wines



I havent written for a while but much has been happening for Tony's Cellars - we have just a second license approved for another retail store and we are getting very excited about expanding.  This store will become our flagship store and will be located in Coxs Road in North Ryde - we are expanding our range of wines in the store which will have a terrific flow on effect on our website.

We will also be creating a specific corporate section on our website so stay tuned!!!

What we are drinking right now - I am loving the rieslings that are coming out - some off dry rieslings that are great with Asian foods - the slight residual sugar counteracts the spicyness of Thai cuisine or alternatively the flintiness of some of the really well made Rieslings which are a perfect balance to delicious seafood meal.  Try the Bird in Hand Honeysuckle Riesling for the Offdry or the Bird in Hand Riesling for the dryer styles



Twelve signs

Well Known Moppity wines has just introduced a new budget conscious range - with well loved varietals like Chardonnay and classic white in the whites and Cabernet Merlot and Shiraz in the reds.  We are sure you will love these wines.

Come in to our store at 6 Callaghan Street on Friday 4th April to try them.  Priced at 2 for $20 they make a really good weeknight tipple.

Woodstock Wines Now Available

After an absence in our store we have now received some of the new vintages of Woodstock wines  look out for the following varietals...

Woodstock Sem Sauv Blanc

Banana and passionfruit aromas leap from the glass and continue to linger on the palate leaving a dry, crisp aftertaste. drink now or cellar for a few years asthe wine becomes more complex over ime

Serve with Linguine pasta with Gulf king prawns, rocket and chilli.

Woodstock Shiraz Cabernet

Fine tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon provide backbone and structure while fleshy Shiraz enriches the body. Both varieties combine with elegance and savoury length. Tight and youthful when bottled, the wine will evolve over time and reward with more complex flavours.

Woodstock Cabernet Sauvignon

Rich flavours of blackberries, rhubarb and toasty oak open up to a soft, fleshy middle palate to create a balanced, savoury lingering finish. The 2012 vintage of Woodstock Cabernet Sauvignon has bright acid and firm yet elegant tannins wrapped in a smooth, warm richness.  This is a wine that will reward six to ten years of cool cellaring allowing the savoury flavours to add to its complexity and roundness.

Ra Nui Wines - new vintages in store

Just had a tasting of the new vintage of Ra Nui Wines - excellent quality as usual. Great to have them back in store

2013 Sauvignon Blanc

(little bit of oak fermentation give the great structure and balance) and

2013 Pinot Gris

(Nice and Dry)

2010 Chardonnay -

with a little age on this wine the light oak and gentle malolactic fermentation produce a wonderful elegant Chardonnay

2011 Pinot Noir -

another great pick - Marlborough Pinot Noir full and supple body with soft tannins and acid.

Pear Treer Wines - Marlborough NZ

The vision of three successful young Australians who met at University, each sharing a passion for wine: Ant Moore, Matthew Farrah and Simon Rees.  Friends over the many years since, they have come together, planted vineyards in Marlborough and formed alliances with industry friends in New Zealand.  The Pear Tree Wines aim is to deliver wine styles that are unique, memorable and consistent, with the best value-quality proposition at a variety of price points.

We were introduced to these wines as they came through the door in our shop - we tried both the Pinot Gris and the Sauvignon Blanc - they impressed us

Pear Tree Sauvignon Blanc

A lot more sophisticated than your average Marlborough Sauvignon blanc - the winemaker has obviously taken much care with the winemaking process - on the nose it has characteristics of the regional variety - Passion fruit, pineapple, lemon-lime and citrus but on the palate is complex with full length and lemongrass, cashew nuts and passion fruit.  Great Food wine

Pear Tree Pinot Gris

This lovely wine exhibits aromas of peach, honey and pear. On the palate I get a tinge of honey with nectarine and  lychee. There is just enough acidity to round out and extend the length on the palate.

If you get a chance, try these wines.

Purple Hands Winery – Barossa Valley

Today Mark Slade came in from Purple Hands winery to give us a sample of his latest wines on offer.

Purple hands is a small winery in the Barossa founded by two friends –winemaker Craig Stansborough (Senior winemaker at Grant Burge Wines) and Mark Slade a lover of great wines. The name “Purple hands” comes from starting the year in harvest with hands in lees (sediment of red fermenting grapes that is extremely neon purple) and with hands working the wine from punch downs to pressing and from pressing to filling barrels purple liquid fills every finger print. Once the barrels are full very often winemakers will top them all, and once again getting Purple Hands! The syndrome wine makers can never get rid of.

Purple Hands 2010 Shiraz

My favourite grape varietal is Shiraz (although I am partial to wines of all varietals) and this 2010 Shiraz certainly did not disappoint. It’s a big juicy Barossa Shiraz with plenty of body to keep it going for several years. Initial sweetness on the palate with some smokiness from the oak. There were just enough tannins to give the wine good structure and palate length. Look out for this wine in store very soon


Purple Hands 2012 Pinot Gris

This Adelaide Hills 2012 Pinot Gris shows good varietal characteristics – some pear and citrus on the nose follows through on to the palate. This was a fresh and lively wine with good acidity leading to a nicely balanced wine with a good lengthy palate allowing the flavours to develop.


Purple Hands 2011 Grenache

This Old Vine Grenache comes off 40yo vines. Given the poor vintage in the region in 2011 this wine is an impressive Grenache. It’s soft and fruity – an easy drinking wine which is light and fragrant. An excellent wine for now – fresh berry fruits upfront and finishing with spices and very light tannins.

Purple Hands 2011 Mataro Shiraz Grenache

Varietal Composition Mataro (44%) - Shiraz (29%) - Grenache (27%): The fruit for this blend comes from carefully selected parcels of grapes - Mataro from Penrice Vineyard, Angaston, Shiraz from Stansborough Vineyard, Williamstown, Grenache from Zerk vineyard, Lyndoch- once again , given the extent of rainfall in the region in 2011 – this was a surprisingly good wine. The wine is elegant and well balanced with tannins giving both length and structure. It’s light and fresh – full of red berry flavours. Drink now or within the next 3-4 years.

Buy one of these wines on our website

Visit the winery website

Alan McCorkindale Wines


It seems that this week is the week for wine tasting with all the winemakers visiting Sydney to show their products. Today it was a pleasure for us to welcome Alan McCorkindale into our store. Alan brought in a small selection of his wines to show us and I will review them below.

Alan McCorkindale wines is a small boutique winery in the Waipara Valley in New Zealand. All the wines are hand picked and prunes ensuring that the quality is never compromised.


Alan has had many years experience in winemaking in regions such as Burgundy, Alsace, Hunter Valley and Tasmania and won many awards in his time as winemaker.   The wines we tried today are



Love Seafood 2012

This wine has a terrific quirky label which has won numerous design awards. It was designed by Alan McCorkindale jnr and will certainly act as a talking point! The wine itself was my pick of the day. It is a superb seafood match as indicated by the label but I think I would be happy to drink it on its own as well. It has everything going for it – on the nose you get stone fruit and summer blossoms, the palate is long and lively with crisp acidity and a dry finish. Looking forward to seeing if there is a follow up food match varietal on this one


The blend on this is a fascinating one Viognier, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay sourced from three different regions - Central Otago’s Felton Road, Omihi Road in the Waipara Valley and Marlborough’s Dog Point Road. The marriage of these unlikely varietals gives a wine of great depth and complexity.


McCorkindale Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2011


Absolutely Classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – if you’re a Savvy fan, this one is for you. Full of gooseberry and passionfruit. Intensely fruity with minerality and good acidity. One of the great Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’s


McCorkindale Pinot Gris – Central Otago 2010

This Pinot Gris was a Gold Medal winner at the New Zealand International Wine show. It is a lively delicate wine with aromas of pear and orange blossoms with a very slight hint of toastiness. The palate is crisp and elegant, with obvious minerality and texture, and a very long finish.

Three Miners Wines

 Today we were lucky enough to have Jeff Price from Three Miners come in to see us and bring a couple of his very delicious wines to taste. 

Three Miners Vineyard is a family owned 17 hectare estate in Central Otago run by husband and wife team Jeff Price and Julie Mitchell. The Vineyard is situated on the wine, cycle & tourist trails, near the Kawarau River in the heart of the picturesque Earnscleugh Valley part way between Alexandra and the historic gold mining village of Clyde.

The range from Three Miners Wines is small but each wine is handcrafted to perfection.

The Three Miners Pinot Gris

Although we dont currently have this in store, it will be one to look for - you can email us and we will certainly get it in for you.  This wine is dry and full - lots of upfront fruit but ending long and dry on the palate.  It has only 1% residual sugar and is perfectly well balance and structuree.

Three Miners Pinot Noir - Three Miners Wardens Court Pinot Noir 2010

It's easy to see why Pinot Noir from Central Otago have such a good reputation when you get to taste a wine as good as the Three Miners Pinot Noir 2010 Vintage.   Given a highly recommended at the Sydney International show and 4 Stars from Bob Campbell.  This wine has lots of cherry on the nose which follows through onto the palate.  It is medium bodied with plenty of length and one I would be happy to sip on with a roast Duck.  Drinks really well now but will cellar for many years - if you can wait that long

Brockenchack Wines

Brokenchack wines was founded by Trevor & Marilyn Harch who’s passion for wine drove them to purchasing bottle shops in the mid 2000’s and then in 2007 delve into the wine production side of things and it is here that the Brockenchack journey began.  They acquired some prime grape growing land in Eden Valley (nestled nicely in between Henschke and Yalumba), with a view to retiring down into that gorgeous corner of the world some day. Trevor, along with friend and winemaker, Mr Shawn Kalleske knew they were onto a good thing.  At that stage the property was producing grapes that went into Yalumba’s Octavius wine.

And so it was that Brockenchack was born, from this amazing passion for quality wine and Trevor’s well known love affair with the Barossa. The vineyard is named after Trevor & Marilyn’s four grandchildren, Bronte, Mackenzie, Charli and Jack…they are the life and soul of this special place.

The four pieces of the puzzle in the logo also represent the four grandchildren.

With the first vintage in 2008, our winemaker talked lovingly to the old vines and planted new varieties with tender care and big aspirations and we are seeing fantastic results for this now.  Vineyard Manager John Wilksch has now taken over the daily duties of whispering sweet nothings to our vines, so our winemaker can focus on crafting the perfect drop.

Currently specialising in Riesling and hand crafted Shiraz, expansion plans are in place to grow and produce a Brockenchack Pinot Gris, a Barossa Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay, along with the production of a light and lovely Sparkling Shiraz, plus a rich and juicy Port.

 Brockenchack Zip Line Shiraz $24.99

 The Zip Line shiraz is Brockenchack’s entry level shiraz created for immediate enjoyment. It is lovely and soft a typical Barossa juicy fruit driven wine I like to drink – smooth and enjoyable all the way! At $22.50 its well worth the price – one to drink now or cellar for a few years yet.

Brockenchack Eden Valley Mackenzie WillianRiesling $16.99

I have been on the hunt for a good value for money Riesling coming out of Clare or Eden Valley and came across this wine from Brockenchack winery. The wine is named after two of the owner’s grandchildren – Mackenzie William Riesling. Slight hint of sweetness but with a crisp acidity and delicate minerality.

A gold medal winner at the Barossa Wine show and at this price it’s a steal!

It’s been a while since I wrote anything here – not because I haven’t been tasting some amazing new Australian Wines but because time has just got away from me.

Almost every day there is a new Boutique Wine to taste – all Australian Wines of course – some great stuff coming out of all regions of the country.

Wine vintages over the past years.

2011 although a difficult year in the Australian Wine industry still has some amazing products coming out. Many wineries in South Australia declassified some of the blocks so the grapes that would normally be used for the super premium wines are used for the premium wines and so on. This means that we still get just as good quality from these wineries. Western Australia had a great vintage overall and the produce coming from that area for that vintage is looking superb.

2012 and 2013 were amazing vintages throughout Australia and we have lots of terrific stuff to look forward to. Some areas were incredibly dry so the concentration of fruit coming from that area was great although the quantity was a little lower than normal.

“Stock your wine cellar Promotion”

We are running an incredible promotion over the coming months – each month we are giving away two bottles of a superb wine – no wines under $55 and in December, we are giving away one bottle of each of the wines offered from now to December plus a bottle of 1997 Penfolds Grange. See full competition details at https://www.tonyscellars.com.au/pages/Stock-Your-Wine-Cellar-for-Free.html

Tyrrells Vat 1 Semillon

This Month we are giving away 2 bottles of TYRRELLS VAT 1 SEMILLON – 2006 Vintage. This incredible wine has won a startling 47 medals – including 8 Trophies , 17 Gold, 11 Silver, 11 Bronze

The grapes were hand picked then lightly crushed before a relatively cool fermentation in stainless steel. After a short period on gross lees, the wine was racked and left to mature in stainless steel for a further five months before bottling.

In colour this wine is incredibly youthful with a vivid green hue. The nose shows rich citrus aromas with a hint of toasty/waxy development just starting to appear. The palate is all class with a seamless structure that is only seen in classic vintages. The tension between the powerful citrus fruit and acid is the key to this wine with a wonderful soft texture in the mid palate connecting the two. Slightly more classic in style and less fruit forward than the 2005, this Vat 1 will happily reward at least another decade in the cellar.

This wine has been rated 96 Points & Outstanding in the 2013 Edition of James Halliday

Rosnay Organic Winery

Rosnay is owned and operated by Richard and Florence Statham and their sons Sam Nick and Oli. Richard studied agriculture at Marcus Oldham agricultural college before working in Western Australia on pioneering irrigation projects.

In 1980 the Stathams moved to Barraba in northern NSW in 1980. The farm was on very rough country, largely wooded and sloping but well suited to producing fine wool. In 1995 they decided to move to a region with good soils, irrigation and a reliable climate for a new venture. In 1996, after searching all over south east Australia for almost a year, Richard and Florence purchased land at Canowindra, between Orange and Cowra in the Central West of NSW

Sam studied horticultural management at Sydney University and a TAFE certificate in Organic Farming. He worked as an organic farm auditor for an organic certifier and has been an active member of the organic industry. He is currently chairman of the Cowra Region Vineyard Association.

Why buy Organic

More anti-oxidants: “Resverotrol, a compound found in red grapes, has been shown to be beneficial to health by lowering cholesterol and preventing cell oxidation, an important process in the prevention of cancer. Researchers have found that grapes sprayed with fungicides commonly used on conventional vineyards had 80% less resverotrol.”
Baxter, G. J. et. al. 2001. Salicylic acid in soups prepared from organically and non-organically grown vegetables. European Journal of Nutrition, 40:289-292.

More vitamins and minerals: “Organic crops contained significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus and significantly less nitrates than conventional crops. Quoted from the abstract of: “Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains”, Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, Volume 7, Number 2, 2001, pp. 161–173, by Mary Ann Liebert

“Truer”, and better wines:

Lower sulfur levels: organic and preservative free wines are not one and the same thing. Whilst grown naturally, in most countries, organic wine is permitted to have about half the normal amount if sulfur added in order to protect the wine.

In line with adding less and less sulfur, in 2012 Rosnay for the first time produced a Preservative Free red wine, made without any added sulfur. It is made by French winemaker Chris Derrez, with minimal handling, careful oxygen exclusion, just a touch of oak for softness and early bottling.

Freedom Red – Preservative Free

The 2013 Freedom Red is was made from 75% Shiraz and 25% Mourvedre. It is smooth and easy drinking, and can be enjoyed either at room temperature or slightly chilled. The wine is not made for ageing.

Freedom White - Preservative Free

In 2013, for the first time, Rosnay produced a white table wine without any sulfur dioxide to preserve it.
It is made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Semillon, in the same philosophy as the “Blanc”: a balance of the chardonnay fruit weight and the Semillon acidity and minerality.
The Freedom White has restained fruit character, with a slight creaminess from 100% malolactic fermentation. Its nice acidity is balanced with a touch of residual sweetness. Serve chilled.  The wine is not made for ageing.  - Buy instore now


Moppity wines

Moppity Vineyards is a true rising Star of the Hilltops Area. It rocketed to fame in 2009 when the 08 Eden Road Hilltops Shiraz made from Moppity Grapes won the Jimmy Watson Trophy. Since 2009 it has won more than 240 Trophies and medals in the Lock & Key and Moppity Ranges.

The Entry level Lock and Key wines delivers exceptional value for money and in the 2011 edition of Peter Forrestal's book, “Quaff 2011” the Lock & Key range has been awarded "Best New Brand of the Year". Forrestal writes that the wines are, "outstanding... A range this good, at this price, is indeed rare." 

The range of red wines includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Merlot and the white varietals include a Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Try the multi award winning Lock & Key Riesling - a fresh, dry, fragrant Riesling packed  with ripe lime, lemon zest and exotic stonefruit flavours. The palate is long and racy with a clean, zippy finish, making it an excellent food wine.  Enjoy it with fresh seafood or white meats.

The lock and key wines are available from $13.99 each and the Moppity range from $19.99 at Callaghan Street Cellars in Ryde East or online from www.tonyscellars.com.au

Value Wines at $10

If you are looking for good value wines around that magical $10 mark, go no further than the Watershed Winery’s “The Farm” range.

Situated in Margaret River, this winery is well known for its Restaurant and 4 different tiers of wines. The Farm is an approachable range with quirky labels depicting the famous VW “Kombi” van, so popular with the local surfing set in the ’60s and ’70s.

As the back label says “The Farm surf break, is located in Bunker Bay, adjacent to Cape Naturaliste, 45 minutes north of the Margaret River townsite. Bunker Bay is protected from the strong southern winds, which so often destroy all good surf along the coast south of Cape Naturaliste during summer.” The label also displays a very prominant map of Western Australia, with a black cross signifying this beach break.

The Farm Wines are available in 3 renowned Western Australian blends.

2010 Classic Red blend exhibits aromas of dark plums, herbs and chocolate with notes of liquorice. This medium body wine shows rounded, velvety textures and a soft smooth finish. It’s an easy to drink red that will complement a hearty steak from the barbecue. 

The blend of Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most well known regional varietals and The Farm Semillon Sauvignon Blanc does not disappoint. The fresh, crisp acidity makes this the perfect summer wine.  The Semillon brings depth, some herbaceous notes and mineral deliciousness balancing out the tropical flavours of the Sauvignon Blanc. These two grape varietals paired together are more than just the sum of their parts. Try this SSB with a grilled prawn salad for a match made in heaven.

Classic Dry White – as the name suggests, this is the classic blend of Margaret River whites. On the nose, tropical fruit, citrus and peach aromas abound. Designed to be an easy drinking, fruity style of wine, with a soft and creamy finish. Pair this classic West Aussie blend with white meats, buttery or creamy pasta dishes or cheese.