We love sharing our wines and our favourite parts of our beautiful Kangaroo Island. Our blog shares our team's favourite ways to get the most from your visit when you're exploring Kangaroo Island. And of course we like to share the latest news and wine reviews with you too!
With its huge rise in popularity in recent years, most Australian white wine drinkers have included Sauvignon Blanc in their wine repertoire. There is a lot to learn about this variety which can produce very varied characteristics with a careful winemaking hand.
Here are some facts about one of our favourite varieties you may not know:
Looking for foods that pair beautifully with Sauvignon Blanc? Easy, if a squeeze of lemon would enhance the dish, you'll be onto a winner serving them together.
Originating from the Rhône Valley in France, Viognier is the only permitted grape variety in the Rhône appellations of Condrieu and Château Grillet, located on the west bank of the Rhône.
Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-yay) almost became extinct as recently as the 1980s, when as little as 8 acres remained in France. Thankfully it is now grown more extensively in the Rhone Valley & around the world, including in the USA & Australia.
Yalumba planted the first viognier vines in Australia in 1980. We weren't far behind, including viognier as one of the founding varietals at The Islander Estate Vineyards in 2000, the only viognier grown on Kangaroo Island. We are thrilled that our vines are recovering from the 2020 bushfires.
Viognier is notoriously difficult to grow. It is low yielding, subject to disease & picking must be carefully timed to get the best aromatics & balance of its oily character, so it's a grape grown by viticulturalists with a genuine love for it.
In Australia, viognier is often hidden away in Shiraz, with just a few per cent added to bring fragrance & texture to the red wine. However, we know it is a stunning white wine as a single varietal & can't help but reserve a tiny quantity each year to showcase in our varietal range.
Viognier sits in the middle of the scale between delicate unwooded varieties like pinot gris & sauvignon blanc and the richer, often-oaked varieties like chardonnay.
It is medium to full-bodied, dry & often golden in colour. It can be unoaked but most often oaked to add texture, viscosity, spice & a touch of vanilla.
Viognier is a distinctive wine. It has been described as reminiscent of apricots, rose, honeysuckle, ripe peaches & musk. The best are floral & textural, even voluptuous.
Viognier has a distinctive oily character in the mid-palate, which is 'tell' for the variety along with its unique floral & stone fruit aroma.
Viognier is a food-friendly wine pairing with a wide range of dishes. Its fragrant characteristic pairs well with spicy Thai herb-based dishes or creamy mild Indian curries, hearty Moroccan & African dishes, freshly grilled seafood or barbecued chicken.
As a textural oaked white wine, serving viognier at the right temperature is important to get the best from its flavour & aroma. We recommend lightly chilling viognier rather than serving it fridge-cold to allow its stunning aromas to come to the forward.
Viognier is also an excellent wine to add to your cellar & age for several years.
The Islander Estate Vineyards produced just a single barrel of viognier each year. The grapes are wild fermented in seasoned barrels, cold settled for 24 hours, then the wine is placed in 400 litre seasoned French oak puncheons for ageing, with lees stirring for three months. Malolactic ferment is avoided to preserve freshness and acidity. After ageing, the wine is filtered and hand bottled with only 30 cases produced.
COLOUR: Deep Straw
NOSE: Fresh apricots, honey, orange blossom
PALATE: Creamy, viscous middle palate with a slight nuttiness, apricot & dried fruit.
FINISH: A soft textural mouthfeel does not detract from the freshness in the finish.
Our new 2021 vintage is yet to be reviewed however, Jenni Port's review of our 2019 vintage for the Halliday Wine Companion tells you all you need to know.
"Archetypal viognier with the scent of honey-drizzled peaches and pears, orange blossom and fruit peel. Intoxicating stuff. Golden and creamy style with a slightly nutty demeanour that lasts to the finish, the apricot stone and dried fruit savouriness complete the textbook example. A wine of many parts and with many years ahead." 95/100 points
Favourite Sunset Spot? West Bay Beach, Flinders Chase National Park
“I love watching the sun sink behind the horizon into the southern ocean at West Bay. Sitting on the beach with a glass of wine, feeling like you’re at the end of the earth. Such a secluded spot but still totally accessible to anyone willing to make the drive.”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Wally White Semillon
“Our white wine for red wine drinkers. With enough creaminess & texture to go with some rich Australian salmon caught fresh from the beach & cooked in a pan with a little wine over a beach fire”
Image courtesy of Lauren Garret on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? Flagstaff Hill Lookout, Reeves Point. “Just a few minutes from my home in Kingscote, Flagstaff Hill is a stunning elevated spot for an evening after-work walk to watch the sunset over the Bay of Shoals. With elevated views for almost 360 degrees, there’s no better place to let go of the day.”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Varietal Range Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. “A limited release wine, this is my new favourite for when you want something a little more textural & sophisticated in the white wine spectrum. I’ve visited Jacques in Bordeaux & this reminds me so much of the Bordeaux Blanc blends that I tried there.”
Image courtesy of Ross Evans Photography on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? Pennington Bay. “Most people visit Pennington Bay in the height of summer to swim & surf. It is absolutely stunning in the cooler months just after a storm when it’s almost deserted & the sunset views are ours alone, it totally refreshes the mind & spirit.”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Boxing Bay Shiraz/Cab Sauv. "I love that this is a European take on a classic Aussie blend. A glass watching the sunset is perfect to ward the chill off & the rest goes down perfectly by the fire when we get home".
Image courtesy of Grant Coutts on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? One Kangaroo Island, Brown Beach
“There is no more luxurious experience on Kangaroo Island than sitting in a warm outdoor bubble bath on a crisp evening, in total privacy, overlooking Brown Beach & the sunset to the west. Unforgettable”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Petiyante
What else is there to drink in an outdoor bath at sunset than a delicious glass of Methode Champenoise sparkling?
Image courtesy of One Kangaroo Island on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? Cygnet River
“In the late afternoon just as dusk descends, the light through the trees surrounding the Cygnet River is something else. And it only happens during the cooler months. It makes you look up from your computer at our Tasting Room, step outside & take a deep breath.”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Tracey’s been drinking Bark Hut Road, Shiraz/Cabernet Franc, our signature blend for 15 years ago. It brings together our French & Australian heritage in a bottle & it suits just about any cool evening dish.
Image courtesy of Cath Williams on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? Baudin Beach
“My home, Baudin Beach. We live in a cottage snuggled behind a sand dune. Just near our house is a path along the cliffs with a special chatting seat in honour of a much loved local. After a long day on the social media tools, I can be there with a glass of wine, my partner, daughter & dog in just a couple of minutes. We all take a deep breath & let go of the day. Then back home out of the evening chill & into the warm cosiness of the fire.”
Favourite Sunset Wine? “Old Rowley Shiraz/Grenache I am a grenache fan & absolutely love Old Rowley. Elegant but robust, complex but drinkable. Simply one of my go-to blends & I’m yet to find one I love more than the one we make at The Islander Estate Vineyards.”
Image courtesy of Cath Williams on Instagram
Malbec originated in Jacques' native Bordeaux (and also Cahors) where it primarily played a bit part in classic Bordeaux blends, never really getting the chance to shine in the spotlight in France. In the late-19th century, phylloxera nearly destroyed the Malbec wine business. The vines eventually recovered, before being later hit by the deadly frosts in the mid-1950s. The variety struggled to return to France until the mid-1970's.
Luckily then, a French agronomist Michel Aimé Pouget had introduced the variety to South America in the mid-1800s, where the variety found its day in the sun in the hot high-altitude Argentinian climate around Mendoza. Malbec finally found its place centre stage as a single varietal, becoming the shining star of Argentinian wine.
In modern-day wine, Malbec has travelled all over the world, but Argentina still produces 75% of the world's Malbec & Cahors in France’s southwest the second-largest producer.
It found its way to Australia in 1860 where is grows particularly well in South Australia, production is still selective, Malbec represents less than 0.5% of Aussie grape and wine production. In Australia Malbec’s beginnings were as a blending grape, these days a small but growing number of producers are taking inspiration from South America and showing Malbec’s potential as a single varietal.
Jacques Lurton’s relationship with Malbec began in his native France where the variety originated, the love affair really took off when he spent extensive time in South America establishing vineyards in partnership with his brother Francois in Argentina & Chile, experiencing Malbec as the powerhouse of the wine industry there.
As a flying winemaker, he had also spent time in Australia, seeing how well the variety transferred from the hot high-latitude climate of Argentina to South Australia’s moderate Mediterranean climate. When Jacques set up his own Australian business, The Islander Estate Vineyards on Kangaroo Island he had it planted to use as a blending wine with flagship varieties.
Those plans changed from almost the first vintage when the quality of his Malbec on Kangaroo Island impressed Jacques so much, he saw it deserved to shine on its own. The Majestic Plough was born as the region’s only single variety Malbec.
The quality continued to increase from vintage to vintage. Jacques was determined to show the true potential of Malbec on Kangaroo Island, so in 2015 The Islander Estate's flagship wine range was joined by The Independence Malbec – rated as one of the country’s best single variety Malbecs (96 points James Halliday's 2021 Wine Companion).
The Islander Estate Vineyards is the only winery commercially producing Malbec on Kangaroo Island.
Often considered as an alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, Malbec is a powerhouse wine in its own accord, the most structured and tannic wine we produce on Kangaroo Island.
Malbec is a thick-skinned, purple grape variety with an inky red hue. On Kangaroo Island the vines are low yielding and always the first red variety to be picked at vintage.
In the glass, it has an intense deep red colour, magenta-tinged at the rim. On the nose, you’ll find savoury aromas of leather, tobacco, blackberry, dried herbs and spices with plenty of toasty oak.
In the mouth expect big, juicy and plush flavours of dark fruit with a robust structure and moderately firm tannins with natural acidity and a longer finish than you expect from overseas examples.
Malbec loves a lean protein like a good quality steak barbecued over coals (even better with a herb or chimichurri sauce on the side), roast lamb with robust stuffing, a roast game like duck or pheasant.
It also loves hard or blue cheeses and sits beautifully alongside charcuterie.
Malbec has great cellaring potential 15+ years if you have the patience!
Get up close to The Islander Estate’s Vineyards' Malbec
The Independence Malbec from our Flagship range has just been rated as one of the best in the country, with both the 2015 & yet to be released 2016 vintages receiving 96/100 point ratings by The Australian Wine Companion team. Pop this one away and try not to think about it for a few years – it will pay off.
Our Sauvignon Blanc is pale straw in colour, on the nose there's passionfruit, lime zest, citrus & sea spray. On the palate, it's delicate & aromatic with a light herbalness, ripe citrus & tropical fruits. Rounded off with just enough acidity to finish elegant, and crisp to complement the sweetness of prawns and barbequed flavours.
For lots of Australians, Good Friday night is fish and chips on the beach. Fried fish dishes love the natural acidity of .white wines like Pinot Gris. Fesh and flavourful with zesty acidity and beautiful texture. On the nose, it's floral and discreet with hints of lychee and rose petal. On the palate, it’s fresh with flavours in the pear-zone and a touch of texture. On the finish, it's all classic Pinot Gris zippy acidity
In a contemporary Australian style, made to demonstrate Chardonnay's elegant varietal character. The White has slightly toasty with flavours of peach, nectarine, melon and toasted nuts. The fruit sweetness is offset by steely, refreshing acidity and a long finish. It has just the right amount of texture to match a moist roast chicken.
Our signature white, Wally White is 100% Semillon. Rich and textural from barrel fermentation with mouth-filling notes of lemon curd and vanilla custard creaminess, bound together by mouth-watering natural acidity. This is one of our most phenomenal wine and food pairings, making the perfect foil to the richness of roast pork.
The richness and texture of roast lamb needs the deep, intense colour rich fruit flavour and firm tannin structure of Cab Sauv and Shiraz. Boxing Bay is classic Aussie blend, but like all the wines from our Estate range, our takes its inspiration firmly from Europe. Power and structure abound in the Cab Sauv, the Shiraz adds softness and elegance. A European approach in winemaking brings these two together with elegance and restraint.
Our Cotes du Rhone style Shiraz/Grenache blend undergoes whole bunch carbonic maceration to develop a deliciously ripe palate with dark cherry, black fruits, spicy mocha, gernache violets and confection. The fruit character and balanced tannins match beautifully with bitter dark chocolate.
When you're firing up the BBQ, you want a wine that goes with everything from sausages to vegetables. The Red 2021 is all elegant cool-climate Shiraz. On the nose there's notes of pepper, eucalyptus, toasted vanilla. On the palate it's seriously tasty with flavours in the mulberry and red fruit spectrum, a hint of charry oak and slightly gamey notes working beautifully with the fleshy fruit. It has a generous round mouthfeel leading to a lingering finish.
Ready to try a wine match that's a little more unconventional? Bark Hut Road is an elegant Bordeaux-style blend of Shiraz & Cabernet Franc. Offering firm tannins, natural acidity, beautiful blackberry and sarsaparilla notes at the darker end of the fruit spectrum with Oak notes – vanilla and coconut. It's a phenomenal match to soft and goat's cheese, charcuterie and grilled vegetables.
As part of Wine Australia’s US Market Entry Program, a range of our wines were recently reviewed by the Wine Enthusiast’s rating panel. Wines from around the world are tasted by the Wine Enthusiast’s expert tasting panel at their New York Office.
The tasting gives us the opportunity to test how our wines are received by USA wine experts, alongside some of the best from Australia & Europe.
We were really pleased to receive solid results. Our Estate wines were placed in the Highly recommended category, with one of scoring 93 points, a score awarded to less than 1% of all Australian wines tasted by the panel. Our everyday drinking varietal wines also scored in the good value, well-recommended category, exactly where we would place them. Check out the reviews & order a selection for your wine cellar.
Wine Enthusiast Rating Scale
|Classic 98–100||The pinnacle of quality|
|Superb 94–97||A great achievement|
|Excellent 90-93||Highly recommended|
|Very Good 87 - 89||Often good value, well recommended|
|Good 83 - 86||Suitable for everyday consumption; often good value|
|Acceptable 80-82||Can be employed in casual situations|
Dark purple at the core, this supremely ripe wine’s nose bursts in aromas of cassis, oodles of menthol, Black Mission fig and Morello cherry. All at once sweet in fruit and savory in spice, this is a vibrant and slightly baroque wine in aromas and flavors. In structure, it is well-proportioned and seamless, leaving the taster to revel in the complex flavor dimensions. Creamy tannins are juxtaposed by roaring, refreshing acidity. The spicy finish recalls memories of walking through Istanbul’s Spice Market. Buckle up, this is quite a flavor ride. Drink now–2026.
This is an energetic, engaging wine with tremendous aromatic appeal and racy palate lift. The nose shows distinctly different aromas with black peppercorn popping up first, followed by a refreshing herbal lift. The palate gorges on popping-ripe blackberry and blueberry fruits. The tannins are strapping but well-placed and the acidity is marked and vibrant. The medium-plus body is nicely weighty with solid extraction but no heaviness. Lovely now, this should evolve nicely in the coming years. Drink now–2025.
Sultry on the nose, with graphite and game dominating the blackberry undertones, the palate follows in the same vein. This is definitely one to decant. The palate opens up with time in the glass. Black plums, Dr. Pepper soda and dried wildflowers create a whirlwind of flavor with a solid caramel tone on the medium finish. That finish is also just a touch warm, but if the wine is served at cellar temperature, it will be fine with a hearty meal. The midpalate is a bit cherubesque, but it is nicely framed by sassy acidity and sculpted tannins. Drink now–2024.
This is a snappy, youthful and delightfully intricate white. It shows classic Sauvignon Blanc aromatic markers of ripe yellow citrus and fresh green beans while offering a solidly ripe core balanced by roaring acidity. Hints of sweet and savory spice grace the pretty fruit on the medium finish, which is flecked with crushed slate. Lovely now, this should hold nicely in the bottle for a couple more years. Drink now–2024
This wine is rambunctious and inviting on the nose. Generous in floral perfume, it also reveals honeydew melon, green gauge plum and toasty baking spice. Nicely rounded on the midweight palate, the buttery undertones are a bit domineering for the reserved, lighter fruit flavors that finish with moderate length. Still, the pleasant mix of tropical fruit and sweet spice influence is an attractive profile that will appease a wide sphere of consumers. Drink now–2024.
This wine’s vivid aromas are a dance party for the nose. Sassy red and black cherries and plums pop out of the glass along with a spray of black peppercorns and an undercurrent of hard-stemmed herbs. The attack is a burst of perfectly ripened fruits with acidic verve and streamlined tannins. Nicely extracted but not unctuous, and neither cloying nor heavy, this shimmies across the palate with incredibly energetic, youthful fruit. Given the fairly fast finish, this crowd-pleaser is perfect for casual settings. Drink now–2024
Spring may be when the vineyard bursts from dormancy back to life, but Summer is when things begin to get exciting, giving us a glimpse towards the potential of the next vintage.
Summer is the season that can make or break vintage. The climate on Kangaroo Island in early summer can still be variable. Optimum conditions for a good vintage are warm, dry days with mild winds. Excessive rain, wine or humidity can all spell disaster.
As flowering begins to end, the fertilised flowers start to develop a seed and grape berry to protect the seed. This stage is critical as it determines the potential crop yield.
Now is the time we begin to get a good idea of bunch development and quality on the vine with an insight into how vintage may shape up if the weather remains at optimum conditions.
At this stage of the growing season when we pray for warm sunny days, moderate frost-free nights, gentle breezes and little or no rain.
During January, the tiny bunches of grapes go through a rapid period of growth. Once they reach around half their final size, they enter the stage of véraison, usually around 40 – 50 days after fruit set. However, the grapes remain hard, have very little sugar & are high in organic acids.
Throughout véraison the berries begin to ripen, turning from green and begin to turn purple, red and golden. This tipping point is when the vine begins to turn its energy away from vine growth concentrating on developing sweetness in the grapes.If necessary, leaf thinning is undertaken to allow the grapes more access to light & increase airflow to minimise disease risk.
After véraison the grapes swell & fill with water. During this ripening period, sugar levels rise & acid levels drop. Colour pigments, flavour compounds & tannins develop. Watering stops to induce mild water stress, inhibit shoot growth & encourage concentrated character in the ripening grapes.
A close eye is kept on the vineyard & when flocks of marauding birds arrive, nets are installed across the vineyard to protect the crop. Once nets are on, vintage is only a matter of weeks away.
Many regions begin vintage in February, however in the cooler conditions on Kangaroo Island, wine vintage traditionally begins a few weeks after other South Australian regions, often in March.
A lot has happened in the world since January 2020. But for many on Kangaroo Island, recovery is still very real & will be for a long time to come.
Today, we take a look back at how far we've come with some images from immediately after the fire & today. It's only with the benefit of hindsight that we can see what an incredible journey it has been. What Mother Nature takes away, she gives back.
Huge credit to Yale Norris who has lived this disaster every single day, who believed we could recover & put in the immense work to help it happen. And to Jacques Lurton who is so committed to his business here.
Our vineyard is recovering in stages, full production is still a year or two away but come March we will be picking fruit - a major milestone.
Our gratitude to our many customers who have kept us in business & recovering with their support. You each have a hand in our recovery.
If you have a moment this week, jump online & purchase from a small business impacted by fire in your area. The world may have moved on, but they are still dealing with the impact & your support means the world.
Bring on Vintage 2022!
Aerial view of our Estate immediately after January 2020 fires & today.
Cabernet Franc vines January 2020 & January 2022
Bush vine Grenache January 2020 & January 2022 at The Islander Estate vineyards
Regrowth of the remnant native bush which overs almost 30 percent of our estate