How to ruin a good bottle of wine…

… not that you’d ever do that on purpose of course!

But occasionally you may come across a bottle of wine with a “fault”. Let’s take a closer look at what the common faults are and how to identify them.


Oxidation is caused by too much oxygen exposure. It is exactly the same process as when your sliced apple turns brown. Oxidation is the most common wine fault in older wines and is why you shouldn’t keep an open bottle of wine for more than a few days.

Tell-tale signs: Oxidised wines lose their brightness, both in colour and in flavour. Reds turn to a brownish-orange colour, and fresh tastes develop drier, more bitter characteristics. White wines are much more susceptible to oxidation than reds – the higher tannin levels in red wines act as a buffer.

Cork taint

Cork taint or 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (TCA) is a chemical contaminant. It can be introduced into a wine at any stage during production, but most commonly comes from real cork. TCA can also be present in oak barrels, or the processing lines at the winery.

Tell-tale signs: Dank odour and a taste like wet newspaper, mould or smelly dog. YUMMY! The wine will be fruitless and dominated by these unpleasant flavours. It is the second most common wine fault.

Sulphur Compounds

Sulphur is a complicated issue in wine. As we know sulphur dioxide is added to almost all wine to stabilise it. Another sulphur, dihydrogen sulphide (H2S) results from unhealthy fermentation. It’s also not bad for you but can lead to some nasty aromas.

Tell-tale signs: Rotten egg or burnt rubber – you don’t want to smell anything like this when you sniff your wine.

Secondary Fermentation

Secondary fermentation is a good thing if we’re talking about sparkling wine, but if you find them in a young bottle of red that’s a fault. It usually happens when the wine is accidentally bottled with a few grams of residual sugar which then re-ferments. This most frequently occurs in low-intervention winemaking, where very little (or no) sulphur dioxide is used.

Tell-tale signs: Bubbles in your wine or it sounds like you just opened a bottle of soft drink when you unscrew the cap. There can also be a zippiness on your tongue. Not all secondary fermentation is an accident though. Some winemakers will use it to add a little kick to their wines. It also shouldn’t be confused with malolactic fermentation.

Heat Damage

“Cooking” a bottle of wine happens when it is exposed to too much heat… think about that wine you accidentally left in your car on a 40-degree day!

Tell-tale signs: The wine smells jammy: sweet, but not in a good way. The smell is somewhat like a wine reduction sauce, mixed with a nutty, brown, roasted sugar-type aroma. Heat damage can often break the seal of the bottle so it can also be accompanied by oxidisation. Make sure you store your wine in a cool place but more importantly ensure it is stored at a consistent temperature.

UV Light Damage

This is the damage that is caused by exposure to excessive UV radiation. It is also known as lightstrike and most commonly occurs when a wine is stored in the sun or near a window.

Tell-tale signs: It can make the wine taste like wet wool. It is most common in delicate white wines (Sparkling, Sauvignon Blanc, etc)

Microbial and Bacterial growth

Many microbes can live in wine, but if one of these colonies becomes too aggressive, it can cause various “off” aromas. In small amounts, these can add appealing complexity. If the colony becomes too vigorous though, these flavours become faults.

Tell-tale signs: Again, there are many other bacteria involved in winemaking. They all impart certain flavours and produce signature wine faults. Think of them like spices, in the right quantities they can add an appealing complexity; too much though and the wine becomes uninteresting. They can have medicinal (think menthol or cough drops), animal (barnyard, mushroom), or acetic (vinegar) flavours that at high levels, can be pretty awful!

When is a fault not a fault…?

Some wine “faults” aren’t actually faults at all. This is where picking true faults can get tricky, but once we’re finished here, you’ll be an expert!

Volatile Acidity (acetic acid)

This can be one of the most common wine faults, known as vinegar taint, but it is also a tool used by some high-quality winemakers to develop complexity in their flavour profiles.

Cast your mind back to this post, where I explain what Rob means when he talks about those “estery Penfolds-esque characters” in his Shiraz. It all comes down to a delicate balance.

Tartrate Crystals

These are mineral precipitates that form out of unfiltered, high mineral wines. They are little crystals sitting on the bottom of older bottles. They will cause you no harm. Just decant the wine leaving the sediment in the bottle.

Herbal Aromas 

Herbal aromas are typical parts of certain varietally-specific flavour profiles that can smell of grass, eucalyptus, or asparagus. To new or unfamiliar wine drinkers, these aromas can seem similar to sulphur or microbial wine faults.


Heads up…

In a few weeks, I’ll be interviewing Rob for a special post in honour of his 50 vintages!! Do you have any questions you would like me to ask him on your behalf? Send them through in the comments below.


Paella and TempranilloAfter the success of our latest Harvest Day last weekend I thought it was about time we took a closer look at our lesser-known variety.

The hungry masses queued up to taste the delicious pairing of Francisco’s Paella with our Tempranillo (see last week’s post to find out why they go together so well).

What is Tempranillo and how do I pronounce it?

Tempranillo is the dominant variety found in a wine region of northern Spain called Rioja. Given its Spanish origins, where a double “l” is pronounced as a “y” sound, the correct pronunciation is Tem-pra-nee-yo (but we’ll forgive you if you order a tem-pra-nill-o!). The name comes from the Spanish word, temprana, which means early, referring to the fact that it’s an early-ripening red variety.

In the vineyard

The vines are particularly suited to relatively high altitudes, but it also can tolerate a much warmer climate. Tempranillo vines can grow quite vigorously. Therefore, the vineyard manager needs to carefully manage the crop to avoid over-cropping and excessive vegetative growth.

tempranillo leafThe highly serrated nature of its leaves makes it one of the most recognisable varieties in the vineyard. It is one of the few varieties where the leaves turn bright red in autumn. It’s one of the most beautiful sights!

Tempranillo in Australia

Tempranillo has only been planted here since around 1994 with two of the first producers being Brown Brothers in North East Victoria and Yalumba in the Barossa. Since then, Tempranillo has been planted in many regions across the country, all with relative success. It was first planted in the Adelaide Hills around 12 years ago.

Interesting facts

Tempranillo is…

  • OLD. The general theory is that Tempranillo was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) by the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago.
  • one of the top varieties blended into port wine from Portugal.
  • is the fourth-most planted variety in the world.
  • is considered one of the nine red noble grapes.

The noble grapes are 18 varieties of red and white wine grapes that define the complete range of wine flavours. They are most recognizable for the top-quality wine they produce and are said to retain their character no matter where they are planted.

The 9 red noble grapes from lightest to darkest are:

Pinot Noir, Grenache, Merlot, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec.

What does it taste like?

Tempranillo grapes produce dark wines with aromatic fruity characters. The tannins are soft and sweet and become very smooth in the barrel. They are typically medium bodied with a weight similar to Cabernet Sauvignon or Sangiovese.

Tempranillo is characterised by flavours of blackberry, black cherry, raspberry, vanilla and clove.

But more importantly…

What does Rob’s tempranillo taste like?

We are currently pouring our 2014 vintage tempranillo at the cellar bar, but with only a handful of boxes left the switch to 2015 is imminent!

Here’s what Rob had to say about the 2014…

Now that the weather is cooling down, it’s a great time to get stuck into a Tempranillo or two.  We’ve been tasting a few Spanish Riojas (which are predominantly produced from tempranillo) and they make an interesting comparison with ours.  There is a definite similarity of style between our Adelaide Hills wine and the Spanish.  They both have great complexity of aroma and flavour, and they both have a very soft tannin structure that creates a silky feel to the palate.  They are not really big, rich wines, but are more elegant without sacrificing flavour and “warmth”.

I might say that the Tempranillo has changed just a bit from when we first released it in September, 2016.  It’s continued to mature and develop more complexity, and it is definitely softening all the time.  It suggests to me that it still has some softening and maturing ahead of it, and I think it will be at its absolute best in another couple of years, so definitely a wine to have in the cellar.

It’s worth tucking a bottle or two, or maybe a box, away for the future. I’m certainly going to!

You heard it… if you haven’t already got some of this tucked away, now is the time! Get in quick before it’s all gone.

Email us your order today –

So how does the 2015 compare? This is what Rob had to say…

Colour:  Both are deep in colour, with the 15 being a little denser and slightly more youthful than the 14.  The 14 is starting to get a few aged tints about it, and that will keep happening slowly…

Nose:  They both started out with prominent blackberry notes and the 15 still is, to me, really nice young fruit, whereas the 14 has moved further along, showing some lovely savoury refined characters, and not so much fruit.  The 14 is seeming quite European to me and really benefiting from all the racking and returning when in barrel.  The 15 will go down similar lines with the fruit merging in with the secondary aromas as time goes on.

Palate:  Both are medium to full bodied and both have a nice mouth-filling texture. The 15 appears a little softer than the 14 and is already rounder and a touch richer in flavour.  The 14 has a bit of an edge in complexity on the palate and is definitely showing more maturity.  I love the way it’s developing.  The 15 is quite generous in flavour, maybe has more obvious “warmth”, and has great length, possibly because it’s McLaren Vale whereas the 14 is Adelaide Hills.  They’ll both develop really well in the cellar for a number of years…they both have a nice supporting tannin structure that’s necessary for bottle ageing.

Do you enjoy a glass of Somerled (or dare I say it… someone else’s) Tempranillo? Tell us what you think in the comments.

What’s for dinner tonight?

Hands up if you have been asked by Lucy as she is pouring you a glass of something at the bar, “what’s for dinner tonight” (usually to decide if she should invite herself over or not!)?

If there is one thing the Moody family enjoys almost as much as good wine, it’s good food. So, you can understand how important it is for them to get the pairing of the two spot on.

From the fiercely debated recipe which Heather and Lucy match to our Jockey Club wines every two months to Heather’s favourite food/wine combination of Chicken, Chips and Chardonnay – it’s serious business.

(…between you and me though, I’m not entirely convinced by the family’s favourite MacDonald’s hamburger/Pinot combination!)

But other than the old red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat rule…

What are the basics of pairing food with wine?

Regional Pairing

Regional matches provide a template for us to understand more about what’s going on structurally with wine & food pairings. They’re not always perfect, but they’re often a great place to start.

Think Sangiovese (Italy’s most commonly planted grape) with a tomato-based pasta or (as per the picture above) Sauvignon Blanc and goat’s cheese.


As a rule, the wine should be more acidic than the food. Otherwise, it will taste flat. A good example to help visualise this is a glass of oaked chardonnay with a vinaigrette salad. Considering the acid balance is one of the most important considerations in choosing a wine.

High acid wine will also add a range of interesting flavours to a fat heavy dish. There is nothing like a glass of sparkling to cut the fat… like some delicious triple cream brie perhaps?


The wine should be sweeter than the food it is paired with. Sweet loves salty. Think salted caramel (yum!). And when I say sweet, I don’t necessarily just mean sweet dessert wines (although Tawny Port and pretzels are amazing!), just think about the fruit sweetness of the wine you are choosing with your savoury meal.


And by bitter, I mean tannins. Tannic wines (like a nice big red) should be balanced with fat. Here, you need to imagine a nice big juicy steak and a glass of Somerled Shiraz, or Tempranillo and anything cheesy (pizza is my personal favourite!).

Bitter, however, does not go well with more bitter. Now, prepare yourselves. I am about to say something somewhat controversial… this is the primary reason why red wine does not normally pair well with chocolate. I know! I’m probably going to get shot down for that statement, but you can’t argue with science (actually, feel free to in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that one).

Other important tips

  • The wines should have the same flavour intensity of the food – this is why red wine normally pairs well with red meat and white wines pairs well with light-flavoured meats like fish and chicken.
  • It’s always best to match your wine to the sauce, not the meat
  • More often than not, white, sparkling and rose wines will create contrasting pairings. That is flavours with few shared compounds like coconut and lime.
  • More often than not, red wines will create congruent pairings. These being pairings with many shared compounds like beef and mushroom.


Let’s look at a real-life example…

Sunday is our next Harvest Lunch at Somerled Cellar Bar. Back by popular demand is Francisco’s delicious Paella paired with a glass of Somerled Tempranillo

During my research for this post, I came across this amazing Food and Wine pairing method poster and decided to give it a try.

The idea is to find the “shared pairing” amongst all the flavours in your meal. I looked up cured meat (for the chorizo), smoked for the preparation, alliums for the vegetable (ie. onion), exotic aromatic spices and rice and came up with… medium red wine! Or a Tempranillo… perfect!

If you’d like to try it for yourself, join us on Sunday from 12.30pm. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.


This post comes to you with a lot of help from our friends at If you’re enjoying this blog, you should definitely check them out too.

What is Rob’s favourite variety?

Somerled Chardonnay

In his top three anyway…

I’m hearing a lot of “shiraz” being muttered around the room. If that was your guess, then ok, technically you’d be right… but wrong in the context of this post! Let me rephrase the question slightly… what is Rob’s favourite WHITE variety?

As a matter of fact, Rob considers Chardonnay to be one of the all-time classic varieties. For him, no other variety carries flavour and texture quite as well as Chardonnay. And he loves to work with these two elements through the use of oak and malolactic fermentation.

Last week saw a pre-release of our first ever Reserve Chardonnay to our Jockey Club members. Given it’s also Heather’s favourite variety, we launched it on Mother’s Day served with her favourite accompaniment – chicken, chips and coleslaw! And I must say… it went down a treat! According to our tasters, it was “rich and lush, but still elegant” and most importantly, “yummy”.

How does Rob do it?

How does he get that balance just right between the complex richness and elegance?

Back in Rob’s early winemaking days at Penfolds, Chardonnay was usually picked quite late when the fruit was very ripe. They also experimented heavily with oak in those days. What resulted was a rich, oaky wine. When people talk about not liking Chardonnay (and it’s a very common complaint), these old-style Chardonnays are usually all they know of the variety.

What Rob prefers to do now is to pick the fruit nice and early and not go too heavy on the oak. This produces a complex and rich wine with butterscotch and caramel notes, but with a lovely fresh acid running through it form the early picked fruit. Divine! And yes, we have converted some of those Chardonnay-haters!

The Reserve Chardonnay does have more oak – Rob left it in some newer barrels for longer than he normally does. It’s certainly a bigger, richer wine that our regular Chardonnay, but with that lovely early picked fruit it still retains that lovely elegance.

Give us a call, send us an email or pop in to get your bottle of this sensational wine ($75 for club members; $90 if you’re not a Jockey Club member) – I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

What about unoaked chardonnay?

Rob doesn’t have an issue with unwooded Chardonnay – he’s just never tasted one he likes!

Want to challenge Rob? If you know of a good unwooded chardonnay, let us know in the comments below and we’ll track it down for Rob to try. We’ll get back to you with his thoughts!

What else can you tell me about Chardonnay?

Chardonnay first came to Australia in the 1920s. It is planted in virtually every region and makes a wide variety of wine styles from light-bodied, crisp and unoaked through to full-bodied, complex barrel matured versions.

It can be grown successfully in climates ranging from cool to warm. Cool climate versions tend to be lighter in body with higher acidity and more subtle flavours. Warm climate versions tend to be more full-bodied with richer, riper fruit and bolder flavours.

For example…

Adelaide Hills

  • The undulating and sometimes very steep aspects combined with average altitudes over 400 metres means that Adelaide Hills is the coolest region in South Australia
  • This region is ideally suited to the production of complex Chardonnay
  • The wines are typically textured with peach and citrus flavours

Margaret River

  • Margaret River has established itself as one of Australia’s premier Chardonnay producing regions
  • The warm climate is tempered by the effects of the Indian and Southern Oceans
  • The style is typically concentrated, rich and complex with typical lime-like acidity

Mornington Peninsula

  • The cooling effects of the ocean are felt throughout the Mornington Peninsula
  • The cool climate is ideal for the production of pure-fruited, restrained Chardonnay
  • Creates medium-weight wines with delicate flavours of melon, white peach and citrus

Yarra Valley

  • The Yarra Valley has a diverse array of microclimates and vineyard aspects which impacts Chardonnay’s style
  • Elevated vineyards sites allow for a restrained and subtle style
  • Diverse characteristics but typically medium-bodied, textured wines with signature flavours of white peach

(reference: Wine Australia)

Where does your second favourite Chardonnay come from? (because of course your favourite is ours!)

Does Heather drink anything other than Chardonnay?

Rarely! Although, I have seen sparkling in her glass on a special occasion! In true Heather style though, you will always hear her saying “I’ll just have a half” when placing her order at the bar. I will neither confirm nor deny if she returns for another “half” (or two)!

In truth, Heather will drink Chardonnay and only one other Somerled wine in preference over anything else. There is another variety she favours, but until the winemaker bends under the pressure of Heather’s regular requests to make another, there are only two Somerled wines you will regularly find in her glass. Can you guess what that second Somerled wine is? What about the variety she has been pestering Rob to make another of? We have a bottle of Heather’s favourite up for grabs for anyone who can guess both of these wines correctly!


Our Sparkling is the best!

Rob accepts the trophy for Best Sparkling in Show 2017 for Somerled Sparkling Pinot Noir
Rob accepts the trophy for Best Sparkling in Show 2017

…but, don’t just take our word for it – our customers think so… oh, and the judging committee of the Adelaide Hills Wine show agree as well! They awarded our 2014 Méthode Traditionelle Pinot Noir the trophy for the best Sparkling in Show of 2017.

We’re currently pouring our way through the very last batch of 2014 at the cellar bar, but don’t panic… Rob is working on more as we speak! It’s the first fruit of vintage to come off the vine and head into the winery, but there are also other vintages in the pipeline. Let’s have a look at where they’re all at. First though, let’s get a few definitions out of the way…

Méthode Traditionelle: one of the ways to produce sparkling which creates the bubbles in the wine through a secondary fermentation in the bottle. Before it becomes Sparkling, the wine is filtered into the bottle… the same bottle that is presented for sale. A second round of yeast is added, along with sugar to start the second fermentation. The bottle is then crown sealed to trap the carbon dioxide (ie. your bubbles) produced. This is the process used for the production of Champagne.

Lees: deposits of dead or residual yeasts from the secondary fermentation

Disgorge: Removing the sediment after secondary fermentation

2015: This vintage is sitting on yeast lees, with the first batch to be disgorged very soon. This is the next batch heading for your glass once the 2014 has sold out, which will only be a few months away – it is being consumed enthusiastically since the win!

2016:  Also on lees, developing those lovely flavours we all love in Rob’s sparkling. It will stay this way until we’ve sold out of the 2015 vintage which is at least another 12 months away. It’s also important to note that Rob disgorges in batches (depends  on volume, but between 2-4 batches). This means that some of the bottles from each vintage will spend longer on lees than others, allowing more time to develop those flavours.

2017: This one has only recently been bottled and is currently going through secondary fermentation in the bottle to create those tiny delicate bubbles we all love so much. Each individual bottle has quite a lot of yeast in it and the fermentation process creates over 5 bars of pressure (that’s a lot!). It will stay this way for a least a couple of years. The next time you enjoy a glass of our Sparkling, make sure you appreciate those bubbles… it’s taken a lot of work to get them there!

2018: Rob visited the vineyard yesterday and has the following to report…

Vines looking good even after the heat of the past week. They look fresh and the leaves are glossy. The nighttime temperatures have been really low since the two or three very hot days over the weekend, which helps. The vines on the block we pick the grapes for the sparkling are “dry grown” and get no irrigation at all (unless they absolutely need it – the grower has a bore).

“Dry grown” grapes are usually smaller, denser and more flavoursome. The practice requires rootstock that will seek the moisture deep in the soil (not just on the surface). Vines must be spaced sufficiently to get all the moisture they can (to decrease competition for water). And the correct soil mix is crucial to prevent moisture from escaping. Grapevines are pretty hardy, but this method requires a lot of intense hands-on work.

Berries are modest in size and are still hard as nails. Almost no sign of veraison (other than what is pictured here), so it looks like it will be another week or so away. The grapes won’t be ripe enough to pick for Sparkling until around 3 weeks after that, so in early March (a little later than average) we will be plucking this bunch from the vine! Literally… the grapes for our Sparkling are hand picked, which means Rob can be fussy about exactly what goes into the press. There is no sign of disease but he has noticed some shrivelled berries (perhaps just physical damage) which can be avoided during the hand-picking process.

Want more?

We have so many more fascinating things to tell you about Sparkling. Keep tuning in for the answers to these questions and many more…

  • What’s all the kerfuffle about using the word Champagne?
  • What is involved in making Sparkling using the traditional method and what other methods can be used?
  • How do you make a Sparkling white wine out of a red grape variety?

What would you like to know? Post your questions below and we’ll answer them in future posts.

Missed last weeks post on what else is happening in the winery? Catch up here.