Meet the winemaker

Winemakers on festive wines

By Halliday Promotion

13 Dec, 2021

Hear what some of Australia's top winemakers have to say about the wines to enjoy as the festivities ramp up this season.

If you're looking for wine ideas on what to serve this season, we chat to some prominent winemakers from across Australia about how they celebrate the end of the year and the varieties that come to mind when they think of the holidays. Take some inspiration for when you host your next long lunch or end-of-year party straight from the experts.


Dru Reschke – Koonara Wines, SA 

H: What wines will be on your table this Christmas lunch?
S: Our Ambriel’s Gift Cabernet. We have just bottled the 2019, so we’ll be test-driving that, as well as a few 2000s – 21 years young. And we'll enjoy our Golden Orb Sparkling Shiraz icy cold because that’s clearly Christmas cheer in a bottle. Anyone who doesn’t like sparkling red is on the naughty list as far as I am concerned.

H: How is wine best enjoyed over the holiday season? 
S: Two years of weirdness makes you appreciate friends and family, and good wine is an amplifier for memorable moments with great company. Shell out for a half-decent wine, drink with those that are important to you, and tell them you love them – it’s a cheap present. Nothing tastes better than great wine and gratitude.

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Medhurst Simon Steele

Simon Steele – Medhurst, VIC

H: Which wine varietal or style says Christmas to you? 
S: Anything that is great with turkey, which for me will always be chardonnay. The powerful yet refined flavours of Yarra Valley chardonnay from great producers, including Mount Mary, Hoddles Creek, Gembrook Hill, Dominique Portet and, of course, Medhurst will carry you through the festive season's days and nights with effortless enjoyment as they are so well balanced and versatile.

H: What wines will be on your table this Christmas lunch?
S: We love a good mix of varieties and styles over Christmas lunch: Yarra Valley chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, Champagne, grenache from McLaren Vale, Clare Valley rieslings and aged Hunter Valley semillon.

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nobel headshot

Julie Mortlock – De Bortoli Wines, NSW

H: What wine varietal or style says Christmas to you?
J: With so much wonderful food to enjoy, it is not just one style of wine, it is also about enjoying many styles of wine – in moderation, of course. Beginning with some sparkling wine while opening the presents, a glass of white with entree, then a red with the roast, and perhaps alongside some plum pudding, a glass of Black Noble. If enjoying a lighter dessert or a platter of cheeses, then I'd pair with a glass of Noble One.

H: How is wine best enjoyed over the holiday season? 
J: With good friends and family, good food and a laugh – doesn’t matter if it is a sit-down lunch, casual meal or afternoon tipple under the shade of a tree. It is about enjoying the company of those you love, especially those you haven’t seen much of during these COVID-19 times.

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Alex Cassegrain – Cassegrain Wines, NSW

H: How do you approach the winemaking process?
A: The most important aspect is trying to pick the best grapes we can from the various regions. We focus heavily on regionality of those grapes. We want to ensure we really showcase what those regions and grapes have to offer. While we aim to be consistent, we don’t have a ‘recipe'. A lot of what we do is based on what the fruit will allow us to do and we work to those strengths, therefore being adaptable is our main driver.

H: How do you wrap up the year on the vineyard for the holiday season?
A: We wait to the last possible moment to enjoy a work Christmas party with everyone’s family invited to enjoy the celebrations before breaking up for Christmas and New Year’s. The idea is to finish on a high before coming back in January for what is normally about hitting the ground running in time for the next harvest, which typically starts early to mid-January for us.


*This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.