I talk about decanting and aerating wine every other day at Cellar Door, so I thought I’d try to shed some light for any wine lovers out there pondering which wines might benefit from these (not-so-fancy) processes and why (or why not!).
But before I waffle on, I think it’s important to emphasise the subjectivity that’s inherent in the enjoyment of wine. We’re all individual and will choose to either decant or aerate, or do both or neither, each time we open a bottle. I say: experiment, try these techniques, have a go! The main thing is to get a feel for the results and add another string to your wine-stained bow!
Isn’t decanting and aerating the same thing? I don’t think so, and here’s the difference.
Aerating is purposefully invigorating wine with air to bring about changes in aroma and flavour.
Decanting is separating clear wine from sediment in the bottle. By default, decanting will do some aerating, but is much gentler in doing so.
Not every wine calls for aerating or decanting, but certain wines can really benefit from these processes.
When first opened, many young wines can appear “tight” or “closed” (and perhaps not like you remembered the wine when you tasted it in a cellar door or enjoyed it on a previous occasion).
Aerating invigorates the wine with oxygen, which helps reveal aroma and flavour. Also expect to see the “hard” characters and “bitey” stuff (often tannin and acidity) soften, taking more of a back-seat to flavour and a softer mouthfeel.
So, which wines?
Expect great results with full-bodied, tannic reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, some Shiraz, Nebbiolo and especially Durif to name a few). By contrast, delicate reds (Pinot Noir, Gamay, etc) may be more easily affected by intense aeration so be a little wary with these wines.
Aerating is pretty much everyday practice for us at home with younger reds (and even the occasional white wine), whereas I avoid aerating old or particularly delicate wines as the process can be too aggressive and what little fruit character remains could be lost if these wines are worked too much.
There are many tools for the job: strange-looking funnels that gargle, pouring devices that are wedged into the bottle mouth, long spears that are inserted into the bottle... all designed with the aim of getting air into your wine; some are better than others.
At Cellar Door, we aerate all of our red wines (Syrah, Durif Viognier & Durif) using our favourite Winebreather carafe before pouring for customers. We love this wine gadget because it aerates the wine while attached to the bottle with minimum spill and fuss. You can aerate over and over in one go, then set the wine aside until you’re ready to drink it either in the carafe or back in the bottle.
In the case of older red wines and vintage port styles, many of these throw sediment as they age. This is common and all part of the journey of ageing! Decanting separates clear wine from sediment, which if allowed to remain makes the wine taste more astringent and appear cloudy, not to mention the unpleasant mouthfeel.
Let the wine stand on your bench for at least a good few hours. Ahead of your fancy dinner party or other occasion, carefully open the bottle without jiggling it up, and in one motion, pour into a vessel slowly while monitoring wine clarity using a torch/candle/mobile phone camera-light as it shines through the neck of the wine bottle from below. Pour slowly and carefully to ensure the sediment stays in the bottle and doesn’t end up in your glass – you only get one go at this! When you begin to see a trail of fine sediment, stop pouring! This generally leaves 30-60ml of wine in the bottle along with the sediment. Through decanting you are also beginning to aerate the wine, but very gently.
If you don’t have a decanter at home, a clean vase, stockpot or any other wide or shallow vessel will also do the job for a one-way decant. For a special wine / occasion, you may wish to decant a few hours before enjoying.
Phew! Hope this helps you wine lovers out there.
Followers of Scion have been introduced to a series of ‘project’ wines over the years. The resulting wines form a vital part of winemaker Rowly's passion and learnings.
PRC is a collaboration of three great wine mates of North East Victoria. It stands for wines co-crafted by Pete Graham (Domenica, Beechworth), Rowly Milhinch (Scion, Rutherglen) and Chris Catlow (Sentio, Beechworth). The PRC project was dreamt up to challenge winemaking skills while working together to achieve a focused result.
Here's how the collaboration plays out:
1. Handpicked fruit from the same row of vines is divided among three winemakers.
2. Each parcel is made independently and intuitively in each of our small wineries.
3. A year later we come back together to blend the resulting barrels, creating a finished wine.
The PRC Chardonnay 2016 (Yarra Valley) was the inaugural release, with only 110 dozen produced.
Rated 94 points by Campbell Mattinson (The Wine Front):
"It’s fine and elegant but boasts ample fruit power. It’s chardonnay to the nth degree... Oatmeal, grapefruit and cedarwood flavours shoot through the mouth, a roasted peach character unfolding through the finish. Length of flavour here is fantastic. Overall style, spot on. I looked at this over the course of 24 hours and it just kept on getting better."
Fruit was sourced from one of the country’s most revered plantings of Chardonnay: the Lusatia Park Vineyard in Victoria's Yarra Valley. One parcel of handpicked fruit was divided three ways, with each winemaker setting out to craft a wine shaped around their individual interpretation of the fruit.
A code of silence kicked off production across three wineries, using one second-fill hogshead barrel and five pre-loved barriques. Nine months later, the trio sat down with samples of the resulting six wines to assemble the final wine together. Minor blending tweaks were made with the aim of best expressing the Lusatia Park Vineyard.
The vineyard produces elegant Chardonnay, with the 2016 vintage showing excellent concentration of flavour. From this premium fruit we’ve crafted a focused, modern Chardonnay. With a few years in bottle, it's hitting its straps.
Also rated 94 points by Mike Bennie in Wine Business Magazine.
PRC Chardonnay 2016 is featured in this limited ed. Scion + Friends Box alongside PRC Pinot Noir 2018, our first collaboration red using Gippsland Pinot, plus all your Scion favourites!
If you’re planning a trip to Rutherglen soon, here are some boutique accommodation spots we love!
Opened in late 2019, Basq Stays is a new premium accommodation offering in the heart of Rutherglen. Stylishly appointed 1, 2 and 3 bedroom self-contained villas have been designed for sharing good times with family and friends. Contemporary and luxurious, each spacious villa features an open-plan, light-filled living/dining area, king-sized beds with private ensuites and a fully equipped modern kitchen.
If bed and breakfast accommodation is more your style, then check out Amberesque B&B, hosted by a fun and energetic couple Amber and Shannon! They’ve put their own touches on the historic property and Amber has a passion for cooking, with a repertoire that extends from French to Spanish to Melanesian! Prime location next door to our favourite wine bar, Thousand Pound, too!
LA MAISON ST ARNAUD
A boutique, traditional B&B in the Rutherglen township with two beautiful suites to choose from. Warm and welcoming host Kellie-Anne cooks a delicious gourmet breakfast for guests. With lovely views out to the ranges from the rear of the property, the house is not far from Main Street amenities. As a bonus, this B&B is pet friendly!
This cute-as Air BnB is a well-decorated and fully furnished house 10 minutes walk to the main street of Rutherglen or a nice amble along country laneways to Scion. Beautiful natural light, murray pine floor boards, decked out with indoor plants, fabulous art, nice linen, great mugs, comfy beds, and all the cushions you'll ever need!
This spacious 4-bedroom house is less than 500m from the main street of Rutherglen and just 1km in the other direction to Scion! Accommodating up to 10 guests and featuring a modern kitchen and outdoor BBQ area, it's like a home away from home!
Find out more about Mulberry House.
MOUNT OPHIR ESTATE
A short drive out of town, Mount Ophir Estate was established in 1891 as a winery and farm. Its iconic buildings are being lovingly restored into accommodation and private event spaces by the Brown siblings (All Saints Estate & St Leonards Vineyard).
There are six accommodation options on the estate.
Fancy staying in a luxury French provincial tower and immersing yourself in a unique architectural landmark in Australian winemaking history? Originally built in 1903, the recently renovated Tower is the perfect indulgence for couples visiting Rutherglen.
The Pickers Cottage
Built for the original workers on the estate, this large cottage can sleep twenty people comfortably. The house has six bedrooms and six ensuites, as well as a large living area and new kitchen.
The original estate homestead enjoys views across the stunning Rutherglen plains and features a fully equipped country 'entertainers' kitchen, large lounge and dining room. The house accommodates up to ten people in five bedrooms.
The Winemakers Cottage
An intimate and cosy cottage with a loft bedroom and views looking out onto the orchard.
A four-bedroom townhouse with stylish interiors situated on the southern side of the estate.
We love our bush camping, but this new glamping experience on site at Cofield Wines sounds like a beautiful way to experience a working vineyard in a picturesque rural setting. Choose from two bell tents fully furnished with king size beds. The experience is a partnership with The Pickled Sisters Café, so you can expect delicious breakfast hampers and optional dinner hampers/platters as part of your stay.
Photo credit: @departmentofwandering
Find out more about Grapevine Glamping.
MOODEMERE LAKE HOUSE
Situated on Lake Moodemere Estate, a working vineyard and farm, this self-contained guest house has uninterrupted, private views of Lake Moodemere. Abundant bird species and native wildlife are regular visitors to the property, and the sunsets are incredible! Provisions for a cooked and continental breakfast with estate-grown and made preserves are included. Super lovely owners Belinda & Michael Chambers also rear their own lambs, so make sure to leave space to enjoy the lamb lunch special at their lakeside restaurant!
THE WICKED VILLA
Part of the Wicked Virgin Olives property, The Wicked Villa offers quirky self-contained couple's accommodation in a repurposed 100-year-old Still House. With sweeping views down across the olive grove, the upstairs balcony offers stunning sunsets. A cheese platter and a fridge of breakfast goodies await your arrival.
Located a short drive from Rutherglen in Corowa, this luxury boutique hotel and day spa is housed within the historic art deco environs of the former Rural Bank of NSW. There are three luxurious suites featuring designer furniture and art pieces, super attentive service in a relaxed and refined atmosphere PLUS a luxurious Asian-inspired day spa. Guests have a spa credit included in their tariff but non-guests can also book treatments.
You can browse more Rutherglen accommodation on region's destination website: www.explorerutherglen.com
Our signature semi-sweet fortified Durif - After Dark - belongs with all kinds of dark chocolate desserts. Around 70% cacao is ideal to contrast with the wine's sweetness.
Need some inspiration? We've compiled a list of flavours & ingredients we've found pair well with this wine style.
AFTER DARK GOES WITH...
Red / dark fruits
raspberries, red currants & other red berries
smoked or spiced nuts
RECIPE: THE BEST BROWNIE OF ALL TIME
We've always been a little underwhelmed by brownies... they promise so much but are often a touch too dry, a touch too sweet, a touch too fudgy... that is, until our friend Naomi delivered a freshly baked brownie slab on the arrival of our baby girl. Rich, textural and satisfying all in one chocolatey mouthful.
This recipe is by Poh, who shared the same sentiment until she tried her friend Priyant's brownies. As had our friend Naomi, until she tried Poh's. As had we, until we tried Naomi's. So we're passing this goodie down the line to you!
If matching with our After Dark, you could definitely have a play with some warm spices in your brownie mix. The controlled tannins in the wine can handle a bit of chilli!
Or keep things super simple and grab a block of good quality dark chocolate, and serve with a game of cards with old friends!
COMING IN WINTER 2020... ESPRESSO MUSCATINI!
We've been busy handcrafting a luscious barrel-aged Muscat especially to mix an Espresso Muscatini, our spin on the Espresso Martini.
To be the first to hear about the Muscat, sign up to our Scion enews.
RECIPES FOR SINGLE VINTAGE MUSCAT
As a light and fresh style of Muscat, we serve Scion's Muscat Nouveau chilled.
Our Muscat is also great mixed in cocktails. Here are some recipes you might like to try at home with our Muscat Nouveau (or Rose Muscat from previous vintages would also do the trick).
SCION MUSCAT SPRITZ
The beauty of this cocktail is its simplicity, which means the varietal flavours of the Muscat still shine through. The lime's acidity cuts through the natural sweetness. Refreshing!
90ml Scion Muscat Nouveau per serve
Play with a ratio of 90ml Prosecco to 60ml Muscat Nouveau to 30ml soda water. The rose water flavours linger beautifully in the background!
MUSCAT & STRAWBERRY FIZZ
With some beautiful strawberry farms on our doorstep in North East Victoria, we were inspired by the classic combination of rose water and strawberry for this cocktail. It's easiest to make this cocktail as a batch - this recipe makes about 6 cocktails.
1 x 500ml bottle of Scion Muscat Nouveau
2 tsp caster sugar
Monster Kitchen & Bar at Canberra's Hotel Hotel kindly supplied this recipe, which their bartender created for a Rutherglen Muscat Mixology event at their venue. If you don't have any apricot liqueur hanging around in your cupboard, we suggest just adding an extra splash of Muscat Nouveau.
30ml Scion Muscat Nouveau
20ml apricot liqueur (Monster recommends Vedrenne brand)
15ml freshly pressed lemon juice
prosecco for topping up
basil sprig for garnish
From coffee to cocktails, we've done a round-up of our favourite spots to eat and drink in and around Rutherglen this summer.
Opening later this month on the corner of the Main Street roundabout is Rutherglen Provedore, a vibrant food hub for local fresh produce, wine and kitchen pantry essentials sourced from North East Victoria! Expect a focused cafe/deli/cake menu and coffee using Mansfield Coffee Merchant beans, with plans down the track for local wines by the glass and a weekly twilight produce market!
Image: Rutherglen Provedore
Did you know we welcome Reverse BYO at Scion’s Cellar Door? We’ve got the wine sorted, you BYO the picnic! With the opening of the Rutherglen Provedore, it’ll be a cinch to collect a picnic of local produce to enjoy overlooking our patch of countryside and working winery. We have real plates and cutlery on hand at Cellar Door for maximum enjoyment and minimum waste.
BREAKFAST / BRUNCH
Did you know this Rutherglen foodie institution offers brunch from 9am on weekends (and 10am weekdays, except Tuesday)? The welcome is always warm and chef Stewart’s cooking is local, seasonal and flavour-packed. Grab a sunny spot on the deck to enjoy dishes such as Butt’s Smoked Trout with scrambled eggs or Blue Ox Berries on toasted brioche with mascarpone. Glass of Cofield bubbles with breakfast, anyone?
Image: Pickled Sisters
Perch up at the bar in the front window or nab a seat in the courtyard to watch the passing parade over your morning eggs, perhaps with salmon, dill crème fraiche and caper salsa, or with the classic millennial smashed avocado!
A great one for early-birds (breakfast from 7am) and worth the short drive over the river from Rutherglen to Corowa for good coffee and a menu with little twists on breakfast favourites. Plus this buzzy local haunt has just had a swish little makeover by the creative folk behind Regional Design Service.
Image: Doc Yarrum
You probably know Tuileries as one of Rutherglen’s top dinner venues, but they also offer breakfast from their café, 8am – 10am weekends (and 7am – 9.30am weekdays). Grab a spot in their sun-drenched courtyard for a Chorizo, jalapeno and cheddar omelette or House-made bircher muesli with marinated strawberries.
Terrace has been awarded a chef’s hat in The Good Food Guide for the sixth year running - and with good reason. Chef Simon, restaurant manager Bec and their team weave their magic with so you can sit back and enjoy contemporary dishes including estate-grown pork and lamb in the relaxed terrace setting overlooking the grounds of All Saints Estate.
Image: Terrace Restaurant
As above, Pickled Sisters is a Rutherglen institution! Dine in (bookings highly recommended), or pre-order a generous and flavour-packed picnic hamper to enjoy at Scion!
Image: Pickled Sisters
Lake Moodemere Estate
The Chambers family has recently expanded their cellar door café, with a new summer menu featuring lip-smacking estate-grown lamb, native botanicals and fresh ingredients. All dished up in a majestic lakeside location.
If you’re staying at Yarrawonga/Mulwala over summer, lucky for you! A 40-minute drive west from Rutherglen along the Murray Valley Highway, Blacksmith make the best pizza dough going around, with a less-ingredients-is-more approach to toppings (the namesake Blacksmith pizza is our fave). The fit-out is beautiful, with a Miami-meets-Mulwala vibe going on, and there’s a tidy list of regional wines (all available by the glass) to wash down that third round of pizza we know you’re going to want to order!
Self-described as “French country kitchen” in style, Jones Winery’s restaurant was among the handful of venues in North East Victoria to feature in this year’s national Good Food Guide. Head Chef Briony Bradford’s approach to cooking is traditional French technique with a modern twist, nose-to-tail, seasonal, local and from scratch.
Ripe restaurant overlooks the 100-year-old Calliope Vineyard at Buller Wines. Chef Gavin Swalwell heads up the kitchen with a contemporary Australian menu including inventive dishes such as Milawa Duck, Stanley blackberries, charred pear, Scion honeycomb and sweet potato.
Open on weekends, St Leonards’ café offers a focused menu designed by Terrace Restaurant chef Simon Arkless. Expect simple dishes done well, such as Pasta, goats cheese, preserved lemon and spring vegetables, or Charcoal grilled steaks with Café de Paris butter and French fries. We love the relaxed vineyard setting down by the Murray River.
Surely you've all frequented this Rutherglen institution? Parker Pies has a sunny courtyard out the back and the tables on the footpath out the front make for for good people watching over your golden pie crust! Our picks are the Chunky Steak, Venison and the Chicken, ham and mustard.
James & Co
Open until 6pm, James & Co.’s cellar door on the Main Street is one of our favourite spots to swing by for an afternoon vino (sparkling rosé, did you call my name again?) and a nibble of cheese. Do a full wine tasting of their range specialising in Sangiovese, or grab a glass and “cheese-your-own-adventure” from their well-stocked fridge.
We love when Friday and Saturday nights roll around, when our favourite wine bar opens its doors! Thousand Pound brings city slick to the country in a relaxed, modern setting. You can sometimes smell the charcoal grill from the street, which makes it hard to go past the selection of steaks though everything on the menu (designed by Terrace restaurant’s Simon Arkless) is top notch. Also great simply for a glass of local wine and some bar snacks if you’re just popping in at cocktail hour!
Image: Thousand Pound
Thousand Pound - see above!
Taste at Rutherglen
If you miss Ripe restaurant by day, never fear – chef Gavin is back behind the pans for dinner at Taste restaurant in Rutherglen’s main street. We often share a few entrees from the a la carte menu to enjoy lots of different flavours, but there’s now a Prix Fixe option too. Either way, Gav’s contemporary menu has bags of flavour!
Open 7 nights a week, Tuileries is another of Rutherglen’s dining institutions. The Rutherglen Vignerons gather here once a month for lots of wine chat as they open, share and taste masked wines from their cellars over a three-course meal. A lasting food and wine tradition!
AND if you need a break from all this eating and drinking... check out the region's top Luxury Day Spa experience, right on our doorstep! Be sure to book ahead.
Rowly's new-release Scion Durif 2015 took out the trophies for Best Australian Durif + Best Dry Red from Rutherglen fruit at the Rutherglen Wine Show 2018!
A fresh and modern style of Durif, this vintage offers good fruit intensity and elegant structure supported by fine tannin.
"The '15 season was clearly a watershed for Scion and its Durif" ~ 2019 Halliday Wine Companion