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JOHN ROZENTALS wishes that he’d saved some Topper’s Mountain Gewurztraminer to salute Mike Hayes being named the ASVO’s 2017 Winemaker of the Year.

December 11, 2017 Beverage No Comments Email Email

The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology — the nation’s principal professional body for grapegrowers and winemakers — has named Mike Hayes, from Queensland and tiny Topper’s Mountain in the NSW New England region, as its 2017 Winemaker of the Year.

It was just recognition for one of Australia’s emerging cool-climate areas — and yes, an altitude of nearly 1000 metres makes it cool despite is latitude in the very north of NSW — and of one of the country’s great champions of ‘alternative’ grape varieties.

I’ve reviewed some of Mike’s wines over the years and always look forward to the package from Topper’s arriving in the mail. Among the whites I have reviewed is the Topper’s Mountain Gerwurztraminer, which, interestingly, Mike chose to drink to his win.

Mike Hayes hails from even further north and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern Queensland. He is a director of the Queensland Wine Industry Association and a firm believer in the future of the state’s wine industry, especially in the cooler Granite Belt region high up in the Great Dividing Range.

And what first interested him in championing alternative varieties?

My first experience with alternative varieties began in 1979 when I worked on a small oneacre patch of malbec,he said.

And in 1980, I helped my father plant a small trial patch of gamay vines on the Granite Belt.”

Cheers, Mike, it’s a very meritorious win.



Frontera 2015 Pinot Noir ($13): We probably don’t pay as much attention to South American wines as we should — and to what exceptional value they can offer. This Chilean red is a good example. It has plenty of fresh, bright cherry-like flavours bursting on to the palate and just a touch of sweetness helping them along the way.

Victoire 2008 Gold Vintage Champagne ($100): The gold packaging may be just a bit twee but there’s certainly nothing chintzy about what’s in the bottle — some very classy French fizz indeed. With its outstanding bottle-developed, bready flavours this would make an outstanding centrepiece to the Christmas table.


Topper’s Mountain 2015 Gewurztraminer ($35): A fine, developed dry white which avoids all the hair-oily pitfalls associated with Australian traminers of a previous age. Still showing extraordinary freshness and enticing aromas of lychees and turkish delight. A great aperitif and ideal partner

Written by John Rozentals

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