Craggy Range has appointed Ben Tombs as Chief Winemaker. Ben has been Winemaker at Craggy Range for the past two years and brings an impressive array of qualifications and experience to the new role.
Ben has established himself as a rising star in the world of winemaking. He was awarded the inaugural Central Otago Young Winemaker of the Year in 2018, holding the title for three consecutive years and earning New Zealand Young Winemaker of the Year in 2020. His ongoing pursuit to push the boundaries for improving wine quality and the emphasis on custodianship have set him apart in the industry.
Ben's journey in the world of wine has seen him complete numerous vintages across renowned wine regions, including Burgundy, Oregon, Yarra Valley, Hermitage, Hunter Valley, and various locations throughout New Zealand. His extensive experience in diverse winemaking environments has enriched his knowledge and expertise.
- Craig Sims, Craggy Range CEO
The Robert Parker Green Emblem is a prestigious award created to recognize and celebrate the most extraordinary cases of sustainable efforts in the wine industry. It is a symbol of honor and distinction granted to wine producers that have demonstrated outstanding achievements in sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Mezzanine The Fine Wine Specialist would like to congratulate Yangarra Estate Vineyard on recently joining Henschke and Cullen in attaining a Green Emblem.
Following are some extracts from Robert Parker on the wineries that have joined the community of sustainable champions.
Yangarra Estate Vineyard
Yangarra was recently awarded a Green Emblem for achieving inspiring, outstanding levels of sustainability. Yangarra joins the list as the third Australian winery.
The answer to great wine undoubtedly starts in the vineyard but finishes in the winery, and Yangarra Estate Vineyard in McLaren Vale is a testament to what is possible when the ground is restored and nurtured into bottle.
The cyclical, “nothing wasted, nothing lost” philosophy here is, frankly, a thing of beauty.
Cullen has been certified organic since 2003 and certified biodynamic since 2008—one of the first wineries in Australia in each of those categories. The commitment to sustainability goes beyond practices in the vineyard and kitchen gardens. Since 2006, Cullen has been offsetting its carbon emissions largely through local carbon-sequestration projects. In fact, the entire operation is now carbon positive. Forty percent of the winery’s power needs are met through its own solar panels, with the rest purchased from solar and wind sources.
In the New World, for a winery to be able to boast, “Over 150 years of family winemaking,” already says something about that family’s commitment to sustainability. When the same family are stewards to vineyards that were planted in the middle of the 19th century—and have been continuously farmed since then—it means even more. The family’s stated goal is to have a truly sustainable business, minimizing negative impacts on the environment in the short-term and eliminating negative impacts in the long run. But beyond that, the family has become a standard-bearer for the sustainability movement. This award recognizes their achievements.
The team at Mezzanine The Fine Wine Specialist and some customers took a trip to Central Otago, to visit the picturesque region that is home to Nanny Goat Vineyard. Hosted by Winemaker Alan Peters-Oswald and Brand Manager Madison James, the group was introduced to the unique growing region surrounded by snow capped mountains and scenic lakes. The team visited Queensberry and Bendigo, tasting the wines as they walked through the vines from which they were made. Nanny Goat Vineyard makes wines that interpret the beauty and unique place of origin- a sentiment truly felt by all.
Margaret River based winery Credaro has appointed Matt Godfrey as Chief Winemaker. With a wealth of experience and an undeniable passion for winemaking, Matt is set to bring a fresh perspective and expertise to the Credaro team.
Originally from the Barossa Valley, Matt’s pursuit of excellence in winemaking brought him to Margaret River in 2014. He quickly became an integral part of the local winemaking community, dedicating numerous years to different roles at the Devils Lair winery before ascending to the position of Senior Winemaker. Most recently, he has been part of the winemaking team at Xanadu Wines.
Matt's vision for Credaro is "to make stunning wines that showcase the quality of Margaret River. The fruit resource is incredible here, so vibrant and intense, that it is just about caretaking this resource and crafting respectful, beautiful wines."
With Matt leading the way within the Winemaking team, Credaro Family Estate is excited about the future. Focusing on crafting exceptional wines that truly reflect the essence of Margaret River's terroir while steadily building the Credaro brand with a long-term vision in mind.
- Matt Credaro, Operations Manager
Chris Credaro, Matt Godfrey and Matt Credaro
Born out of the pristine landscape and viticultural diversity of the Adelaide Hills and Langhorne Creek, El Desperado is a range of wines that naturally reflect each vintage and the beguiling land of which they were conceived. Sustainably grown and handcrafted by Tom Keelan, these are wines that are made to be consumed today, wines that push boundaries and defy conventions.
We are excited to present the new look El Desperado labels. This label refresh is something we’ve never seen before. Hear from Tom on the story of his new labels and what they represent.
"With these new labels, I have drawn on a theme which tells a clearer story about myself, (my dog), and the land which I farm and the region where I live.
What makes these labels so unique is that my inspirations for these wines have been interpreted and designed by an AI design program. Artificial intelligence has significantly progressed across different industries, primarily science and technology and it’s starting to influence the creative industries. Creativity and innovative thinking are highly valued attributes in my El Desperado design process. Therefore, it is necessary to emphasise the role of human designer, in bringing a unique perspective and intuition to the AI creative process.
The emergence of these tools equipped me with a new approach to telling the El Desperado story in an unconventional, innovative and imaginative way that will appeal to younger tech-savvy drinkers looking for a distinctive talking point amongst friends, and the more mature drinker seeking an appealing package with a meaningful story.
By utilising both the designer and AI, I think I have created a unique label range, that truly embodies me, my wines and my patch of the world."
- Tom Keelan, Winemaker
Along with the label refresh, El Desperado have added a Tempranillo to the range. The 2021 Tempranillo is a fresher more vibrant style but not lacking structure and concentration. It has a fleshy yet medium bodied palate, making it very drinkable.
The 2023 Pinot Grigio, 2023 Rosé, 2022 Red Blend and 2021 Tempranillo are all available now with the new labels. The other wines in the range will have the updated labels upon vintage roll.
By Hayley O'Heare, Brand Manager - Southern Light Vineyards
Southern Light Vineyards was born out of the desire to craft wines of individuality from some of Victoria’s best cool-climate vineyards. Part of Joval Family Wines, this project is the culmination of our 40 years’ experience in wine and is led by a small team of people with a shared passion for hand-crafted wines made without compromise.
We grow grapes in the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Valley. Each of our sites are unique, but the common thread among them is vineyard diversity. Whether we are referring to vine age, clonal selection, aspect, altitude, or exposure – diversity plays a key role in creating wines of depth and complexity.
We firmly believe that all great wine is crafted from the ground up. Each block of the vineyard is hand-picked and managed gently from vineyard through to press, and blocks are fermented and matured separately until blending.
- Anthony Fikkers, Winemaker
Southern Light Vineyards’ winery is in Healesville, in the Yarra Valley region of Victoria. It sits amongst a historical vineyard site that has been growing vines for over 40 years. The winery itself is built for small batch processing which helps us to produce wine of high quality. All batches are matured separately on site in distinct cool and warm rooms to manage fermentation.
We select barrels from some of the finest French coopers which allow the fruit to really shine; we’re not aiming for a big, woody imprint on the wines. We use new oak to lift the fruit and help carry it to the finish, adding length and line.
Our first release will be the 2021 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Ghostgum Vineyard. Situated atop Main Ridge in Boon Wurrung Country on the Mornington Peninsula, this site is one of the highest elevation vineyards on the Peninsula at approximately 174m above sea level. Here we farm just 5.5 hectares of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on a gentle, east-facing slope.
These wines are made to speak of place, and are reflections of the high-altitude, cool and windy site where the grapes are grown. This is balanced out beautifully with a long growing season with plenty of sunshine which is typical of the Mornington Peninsula’s maritime climate.
With only 500 cases made between both wines in 2021, this truly is a passion project with a no compromise approach.
In future, we’ll also look to release wines grown from our Yarra Valley vineyards, but for now, we’re very excited about the release of Ghostgum. We hope Mezzanine The Fine Wine Specialist and our customers enjoy selling and drinking these wines as much as we did making them.
2021 Ghostgum Chardonnay
Vinous | Angus Hughson | 95 points
"The super stylish 2021 Chardonnay Ghostgum Vineyard offers a delicious mix of power and complexity. Rich nectarine and peach skin layers are beautifully intertwined with savory, nutty tones. Juicy acidity keeps the excellent flavour volume tight. Gunflint nuances emerge on a long, textbook finish."
The Wine Front | Kasia Sobiesiak | 93 points
"A hit of lively aromas, orange peel, tarragon, cumin, melon skin, peach. The perfume turns into the likes of pastis, herbal with a sweet tune, laced with cedar, crushed bark spice, and almond friand for the lees-y notes. Excellent mid-palate weight, filled with stone fruit and a hint of pineapple, concentration is there but the wine is not heavy. Chalky aftertaste follows with a high cleansing acidity but it’s milky soft. Elegant and satisfying flavours are spread evenly. Pretty good debut with Mornington fruit but I guess it’s no incident, just good fruit and skilled winemaking. Touch and go 94pts as GW would say."
2021 Ghostgum Pinot Noir
Vinous | Angus Hughson | 94 points
"The 2021 Pinot Noir Ghostgum Vineyard displays a combination of elegance and power of red cherry, damp earth and star anise aromas with a brooding core of charcuterie. It is a finer, ethereal style, with waves of spicy, red berry fruit flavours and a pinpoint balance between fresh acidity and silky tannins. It shows serious finesse and is delicious now but will hold over the medium term."
The Wine Front | Kasia Sobiesiak | 92 points
"Quiet nose at first, needs a moment to open up. It’s low key, showing mineral tones of wet rocks, sous-bois, savoury and meaty elements, dead flowers. It ventures strongly into the umami zone. Spice and clean plummy fruit on the palate, it has a beautiful detail, sour juice and a hint of liquorice and nougat that develops in the glass. There’s a fair bit of whole bunch in here, but well tucked in, not sticking out. Tannins are supportive and in the background. Finished on a blood orange, herbal amaro lift. Nicely ‘Yarrafied’."
The Credaro story is one of love, tradition, family and innovation. The Credaro family has been farming, living and making wine in the Margaret River region since 1922, when Cesare Credaro planted the first Fragola vines. Born in Northern Italy, Cesare made his way to Fremantle to forge a new life on West Australian soil. He worked hard as a sleeper cutter to save money for a ticket to bring his first love and eventual wife Maria to Australia. They married in Australia and in 1928, welcomed their son Albert and purchased 146 acres of land in Carbanup.
Cesare and Maria Credaro
Albert’s son Robert spent his youth playing cricket on Bussell Highway and helping his father tend to the livestock and produce on their land. Robert and his wife Phyllis still have their hands and heart in the business, but have maintained succession of their humble in nature but mighty empire through four sons Matt, Mike, Chris and Jason. Matt is the face of the brand and works closely with brother Chris to oversee the vineyards and winemaking. Chris’ twin Mike oversees the avocados and pomegranate side of the business, and Jason, who has his own partnership Shelter Brewery, acts as a strategic consultant and sounding board to his brothers. The entire family are intrinsically linked through a blood line of hard work and the common goal of what Matt describes as simply, “Creating a better life for the next generation.” Rob and Phyllis’ daughter Emma and the Credaro in-laws and grandchildren round out the team that is as much a support network of colleagues and specialists as it is a close-knit and loving family.
Robert, Matt, Chris and Mike
Cesare set the foundation for the future. He laid a blueprint of hard work, risk taking, winemaking and family values that created the standard for the way the Credaros farm and live today. They will continue to honour the good fortune to have landed in Margaret River 100 years ago by producing products of high quality and integrity and doing it side-by-side.
Congratulations Credaro on an incredible milestone. We raise a glass to you to celebrate your family and its rich and significant history in Margaret River.
The first Whistler wine was made 25 years ago, however the Pfeiffer family’s journey in the Barossa began long before. Grape growing has been a part of the Pfeiffer family for four generations.
Founder Martin Pfeiffer grew up wandering through the vines with his father in Loxton and was the Head Vineyard Manager at Penfolds. Martin and Sally Pfeiffer purchased Whistler’s Heysen Estate property in 1982. The land was first used for crop and sheep farming and across the span of 15 years, the family hand planted 3,000 trees, designating the future vineyard blocks. The first vines planted on the land were Shiraz cuttings from the famous Penfolds Grange vineyard (Kalimna 3C clone) in 1994, followed by Semillon a few years later. In 1997, Whistler Wines bottled their first Shiraz. After only a few short years, Whistler Wines started to make their mark in the wine world, being widely recognised for their Shiraz and Semillon wines.
Heysen Estate 1982
Martin Pfeiffer and Whistler's first Shiraz in 1997
As the next gen began to get more involved, Whistler started to place a bigger focus on sustainability and today, Whistler’s 15 hectares of vineyards operates completely under organic and biodynamic practices. Whistler produces both lighter, drink-now wines as well as the traditional styles.
Today, Whistler remains fully family owned and at the helm are Sam and Kelsey Pfeiffer. Sam and Kelsey, along with winemaker Michael J Corbett, are passionate about producing sustainable, handcrafted Barossa wines. The recently reimagined Crafted Range showcases the evolution of the brand and also highlights the core of the Whistler philosophy; hand crafted, small batch, minimal intervention wines from vineyards using organic and biodynamic practices.
Congratulations to Whistler on 25 years of great wines. Cheers to at least 25 more 🥂
Sam and Kelsey Pfeiffer
Celebrations at Whistler Wines in February 2023
By Mark Faber, National Account Manager- E-commerce and Alternative Channels
Day by day, week by week, more of our lives become intertwined with the internet. We use it to book our holidays, buy our groceries, watch movies, chat with our friends, hold work meetings, use it to recommend a new restaurant, and now our kids use AI do their homework on ChatGPT. And that shift is happening faster than anyone anticipated.
“Covid-19 has accelerated a customer shift to digital channels, with customers not only spending more online but also using websites as a virtual sales assistant to inform purchasing decision”
-Distilled, Issue 8, December 2022.
Mezzanine The Fine Wine Specialist rode the covid wave and did well in e-commerce during those strange few years. Across our top 10 e-commerce retailers, we increased supply to these customers by an average of 71% from 2020 to 2022. Whilst the e-commerce channel has slowed post the lockdown-driven success, supply of wines to e-commerce retailers remains strong, up 45% on pre-covid numbers. This growth aligns with our own investment in supporting the data, content and supply needs of these customers.
I saw the other side of continued lockdowns as the Head Wine Buyer of United Cellars, Australia’s largest independent wine e-retailer. We had to adapt fast to the unprecedented occurrences of the last few years, and it forced an evolution of that whole channel. I have recently joined the Mezzanine The Fine Wine Specialist team and bring many learnings about this channel. Data is the new currency used in e-commerce. Websites learn about customer habits and taste preferences like a Sommelier or Wine Consultant would. E-commerce can demystify this oft-complex topic and expose people to new styles of wine they may have never heard of. E-commerce can tell relevant, tailored stories about wines and the people behind them with rich content, all of it aimed at the right end consumer, helping to build brands and boost sales.
However, e-commerce is not a silver bullet by any means. Highly publicised hacks and data breaches have shone a light on the importance of security and data management. For us, there are still significant benefits though- it is a way to connect with millions of customers instantly, and the convenience is undeniable; everything you need at the touch of a button, delivered to your door.
So, where to next? E-commerce is a vibrant and exciting landscape, where literally anything is possible, and will clearly continue to play an increasingly important role in our everyday lives. We jumped in head-first when covid hit, which opened up a number of opportunities as well as risks, so now we must learn from this and think more long-term about how we grow with the right partners. Exciting times lay ahead for Joval in e-commerce as it continues to play a significant role in the transformation of the wine industry in the years to come. We continue to stay at the forefront of technology with several digital upgrades already in place or inbound soon, helping us to become the best and most respected fine wine distribution company in the e-commerce landscape.
Want to learn more about how Joval Wines are developing our capabilities to better service your e-commerce business?
Reach out to
Mark Faber, National Account Manager – E-commerce and Alternative Channels
0432 212 341
2021 vintage marks the 50th year of plantings for cabernet sauvignon at the Cullen Wilyabrup vineyard. Serendipity allows it also to be Diana Madeline’s 100th year, beginning on 11th February 2023. It’s incredible to imagine the times of planting in 1971, with no real knowledge of how things would turn out, just faith and great vision to feed the early pioneers of what is now the iconic Margaret River region.
Born February 11, 1923, Diana Madeline was a trailblazer, studying physiotherapy when tertiary education was out of reach for most women; lobbying to protect Tasmania’s Lake Pedder and the Margaret River Coastline. Growing up surrounded by Tasmania’s wild beauty, Diana’s commitment to environmental sustainability came long before winemaking. Diana was the beating heart of Cullen Wines, working hands-on for many decades. She planted the vineyard, made the wine, and was even the first woman to win a Wine Trophy at Perth Royal Wine Awards for her Sauvignon Blanc.
Diana Madeline 1940s
Diana Madeline and Kevin Cullen
Kevin and Diana travelled extensively throughout the world’s most renowned wine regions to discover and learn how to make exceptional Chardonnay and Cabernet. Their dedication to producing world class wines cemented the reputation of Cullen and the Margaret River region on the world wine map.
With Vanya’s natural progression to winemaking, she kept Diana’s dream alive by steering Cullen’s towards organics. After Diana’s passing in 2003, Vanya introduced the idea of bio-dynamics—achieving certification in both. Cullen Wines, a family-owned business, is now globally respected, carbon-positive, and producing world-class biodynamic wine—this is Diana’s enduring legacy.
A note from Vanya Cullen
Diana Madeline Cullen was gentle, generous and deeply compassionate – a forward thinker loved by all who met her. In February 2023, we will celebrate what would have been Diana's 100th birthday, raising a glass of her beloved Cabernet Sauvignon—Family Blend' Diana Madeline' in her memory.
Diana studied Physiotherapy when university education was out of reach for most women, even travelling to Paris to further her training. She lobbied to protect Tasmania's Lake Pedder and the Margaret River coastline and was the first woman in Busselton to wear trousers! She had the amazing ability to give her undivided attention to whomever she was with—making you feel like the most important person in the world.
Diana had six children and gave us a wonderful outdoors, nature-based childhood, always at the beach or working on the farm. She instilled in us the belief that we could achieve anything.
She helped plant Cullen's first rows of Cabernet and Riesling in 1971, later taking on the winemaking responsibilities and initiating the move towards organic and biodynamic practices. Cullen Wines, a family-owned business, is now globally respected, carbon-positive, and producing world-class biodynamic wine—this is Diana's enduring legacy.
As we toast her memory, I'd love to share Diana and Kevin's vision—to make great wine sustainably.
Thank you for taking part in the Cullen journey.
Diana Madeline and Vanya Cullen
The recently released 2021 vintage of Cullen’s Diana Madeline is a testament to the vision and legacy of this pioneer of Margaret River, and the continued devotion to world class wine by Vanya Cullen and the dedicated teams at Cullen Wines.
This wine is the culmination of over 50 years of dedication effort and respect
for the land. The quest for better quality wine made using sustainable methods. The region is going from strength to strength on a national and international stage.
"A wine worthy of the occasion; complex but cohesive.” 97/100 Windsor Dobbin.
“This will surely be one of the top wines of the year, even at this early stage.” 98/100 Ken Gargett.
“Impressive off the bat.” 96+/100 Paul Edwards
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