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!
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 a fire & some fish caught fresh from the beach & cooked in a pan with a little wine”,
Image courtesy of Lauren Garret on Instagram
Favourite Sunset Spot? Flagstall Hill Lookout, Reeves Point
“Just a few minutes from Kingscote, Flagstaff Hill is a stunning elevated spot for an evening walk to watch the sunset over 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? The hill overlooking Stokes Bay
“Most people visit Stokes Bay in the height of summer to swim at the secret beach. We love to visit it in the cooler months, when it’s almost deserted & the sunset views are ours alone”
Favourite Sunset Wine? Varietal Range Sangiovese
What else for an Italian? Taking its inspiration from a Tuscan Chianti Classico blend, the perfect pair to sunset picnic of antipasto, pizza or a great pasta dish.
Image courtesy of Carla Horton 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, 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 keyboard, I can be there with a glass of wine, my partner, daughter & dog in just a couple of minutus, 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? “When I worked in the Tasting Room I sold more Old Rowley Shiraz/Grenache than any other wine because I absolutely love it. 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
Being recognising in one category of Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine's annual Australia's Best Cellar Door Awards is compliment enough, but we're positively blushing at the recognition in the 20201 awards.
Kangaroo Island has a great range of Cellar Doors, each offering a different experience, a different approach & a range of cool-climate wines to explore. Everything that helps promote our island wine region is a positive and of course we don't mind when we share in the recognition.
Jump over to GT Wine Magazine to read their fantastic write up on our region & our other great winemakers to visit. Thanks so much for showcasing Kangaroo Island wine. Read Here
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 in France until the mid 1970's.
Luckily then, that a French agronomist Michel Aimé Pouget had introduced the variety South America in the mid-1800's, 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 south-west 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 Austalia, 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 increase 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, 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 The Islander Estate’s Malbec
The Independence Malbec from our Flagship range has just been rated as one of the best in the country by James Halliday with a 96pt rating in the 2020 Wine Companion. Pop this one away and try not to think about it for a few years – it will pay off.
Our Estate Range Majestic Plough Malbec has a huge following. While it's sold out for now due to the impact on our Malbec vines in the 2020 bushfires, jump onto our mailing list to be the first to get your hands on our 2021 vintage Majestic Plough.
Vintage 2021 is the first page in our new chapter
This time a year ago we were still coming to terms with the impact of January's fires. Jacques Lurton was here taking steps to protect our precious wine stocks. Yale Norris focussed on the endless task of fire recovery which would take many more months and included the very difficult move of cutting down a good proportion of our vineyard to aid its regrowth. The path ahead was long & unclear. There have been innumerable challenges to overcome since.
In a huge contrast, earlier this month we returned to the business of making wine with the first pick of Vintage 2021. We did so with the help of an amazing group of customers, friends and supporters who volunteered to help us hand-pick Sauvignon Blanc and Tempranillo from Michael Lane's vineyard at American River. It was a truly uplifting way to get back to business.
Since then, our General Manager Yale Norris has been working tirelessly to ensure we can offer our customers the complement of our wine ranges from vintage 2021.
We’ve sourced some amazing fruit from Kangaroo Island growers and a little further away in McLaren Vale where we needed to.
In our cooler maritime climate on Kangaroo Island, many of the red grapes are still ripening, but we have some fantastic Sauv Blanc, Semillon, Rose, Tempranillo and Malbec all fermenting &/or ageing.
This is a vintage unlike any other in the history of The Islander Estate Vineyards and one we will never forget. But for us is a step that means we have left recovery behind and are rebuilding our business each and every day.
We look forward to introducing you to our Vintage 2021 wines.
Oysters and Champagne are a classic match: the clean, palate-cleansing sparkle, acidity and minerality of the Champagne counterbalances the subtle brininess and creaminess of the oyster. They both contain unami flavour that make a match made in heaven.
A classic blend originating in Jacques' native Bordeaux, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc's hints of citrus and tropical fruit, texture that's soft and round from the barrel aging and acidity drawing out a long finish complements the sweetness of prawns and barbequed flavours.
The flavours of salmon can vary from extremely delicate to rich and lingering. Whether it's baked, grilled or a stunning salad, our dry Provence style Rose is the perfect compliment.
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 The White Chardonnay. Slightly toasty with flavours of peach, nectarine, melon and toasted nuts, with fruit sweetness is offset by steely, refreshing acidity and a long finish.
The richness and texture of roast lamb needs the the deep, intense colour rich fruit flavour and firm tannin structure of Cabernet. Our varietal range Cab Sauv is a perfect match for your Easter roast.
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.
Ready to try a wine match that's a little more unconventional? Take a risk on Cabernet Franc's mouth drying fruit cherries, raspberries, stewed plums and classic herbaciousness as a contrast to Hot Cross Bun's spices richness and dried fruit flavours.
We chose to locate The Islander Estate Tasting Room in Cygnet River to join the growing and ever changing community of artisan producers with values similar ours - to showcase the true potential of Kangaroo Island. And we've never looked back.
Sitting within easy reach for visitors, close to Kingscote and the south-coast touring route, the Cygnet River trail is compact making a great half or full day discovery, including two distinct styles of wine, award-winning spirits and liqueurs and delicious food – all hand-crafted with a shared philosophy, and authentically Kangaroo Island.
Kangaroo Island Spirits
A visit to the Kangaroo Island Spirits cellar door is a must for any visitor to the Island (KIS to the locals).
Having won more than 130 awards including Best Gin in Australia, and most recently an array of high accolades from competitions in London and California.
KIS embrace native ingredients and use traditional processes to make spirits in their purest form, that have so much more to them. Their rustic cellar door offers tastings, sales and delicious seasonal cocktails to enjoy in the botanical Gin Garden. For the true romantics, indulge in one of their tailored experiences where you can learn to beauty of our native landscape.
This summer the About Thyme van will be serving up delicious food paired to their cocktail menu – winning! Discover KIS & book your experience: kispirits.com.au
We were so excited when Spring Road Wines joined us in the Cygnet River neighbourhood. Kangaroo Island has a truly diverse range of wine styles, with something for everyone, so add a stop at Springs Road Wines to taste and enjoy the view at the newest cellar door in Cygnet River.
In 2016 McLaren Vale locals Joch Bosworth and Louise Hemsley-Smith bought the Springs Road vineyard (planted between 1994 and 2000), recognising that the property was an amazing site capable of producing beautiful wines.
Have a tasting then relax on the deck with a wine a delicious Second Valley Cheese platter made by one of their own team. Discover Springs Road Wines now: springsroad.com.au
Take a break on the trail and enjoy a delicious meal at Café Scrumptious located inside the picturesque Frogs N Roses garden centre. Their handmade pizzas are phenomenal and make room for their homemade cheesecake. They're fully licensed so you don’t even need to stop drinking!
Open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Discover more: facebook.com/CafeScrumptiouski
Of course, no Cygnet River trail visit is complete without a visit to our own Tasting Room. Experience the fruits of Jacques 20-year vision to showcase the true potential of Kangaroo Island wine.
Drop in to our intimate cellar door for a guided tasting, treat yourself to a Flagship tasting experience or relax on the deck with a regional cheese & charcuterie platter.
If you have a little more time, there is so much more to see and do all within 10 minutes of Cygnet River:
Hand-built beers in a fantastic ‘brewery door’ on the way to Emu Bay. Stop in for one of their famous beer paddles to try a range of brews or pick your favourite to enjoy overlooking the field. It’s one of our favourite watering holes. Check them out: kangarooislandbrewery.com.au
Closer to Emu Bay, the Lavender farm is one of our favourites for breakfast or lunch and a great spot to pick up gifts for friends and family back home. We highly recommend their amazing scones and lavender jelly for afternoon tea - perfect refuel for after a swim. Explore more: emubaylavenderfarm.com
Kangaroo Island is spoilt for choice when it comes to beach, but they don’t come much longer, whiter & more beautiful than Emu Bay beach. A huge favourite with locals over summer for its stunning sands and safe swimming waters.
The Mini De Lights van at the Emu Bay boat ramp serves up cocktails, wine & delicious snacks in season - a truly unique Kangaroo Island experience. Check their facebook page for opening days & times: facebook.com/minidelightscatering
Spain and Portugal are home to Tempranillo, the fourth-most planted variety in the world. It’s a very old variety thought to have been introduced to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) by the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago – that’s 1100BC!
Tempranillo draws its name from the Spanish word temprano, which means early. It’s usually one of the earliest ripening red varieties. By avoiding the hottest ripening period the wine is balanced and lower in sugars and therefore alcohol.
Tempranillo is one of our team’s favourite drops for Spring, when you might want to stick with reds but move to lighter style. We love it for its medium body, easy drinking style and great food matching potential.
We’ll be drinking it with:
As you’d expect with its Spanish origins, Tempranillo is a great picnic wine paired with tapas dishes like cured meats, grilled vegetables, and sheep’s cheese. It’s also delicious with grilled meats when it’s time to break out the BBQ. Or try a bottle of Tempranillo with your next Mexican feast.
Italy’s most planted wine variety and the pride of the Tuscan regional wine Chianti, Sangiovese is a sensitive soul, changing its character to reflect it’s growing conditions, it’s a variety that truly expresses regionality.
“In so many ways, The Islander produces wines that are more European than Australian. Note the degree of savouriness in its wines & the use of fruit as a conduit for complexity & not necessarily an end in itself. Sangiovese is such a wine. Fragrant with black cherries, capers, anise, bitter chocolate. It runs smooth across the palate, supple oak playing its part & imparting sweet mocha. Cherry pip, chalky tanning still melding” Halliday Wine Companion 2021
With its Italian origins, Sangiovese is our go-to variety for antipasto platters & pizza nights. Not too heavy, just enough savouriness & tannins to pair with those Italian flavours and it even lends itself to some light chilling as the evenings heat up. It’s also a perfect pair for vegetarian dishes, especially tomato, red peppers and grilled vegetables.
The White is our “House Style” wine created by Jacques Lurton to complement our Estate Range of premium wines. Leave behind all your perceptions of heavily oaked chardonnay, this is a modern Australian style with just a little nutty creaminess but fresh and clean on the finish.
Our 2019 Chardonnay is a classic example of the variety when grown in South Australia: fresh, fruity, and delicious with beautiful notes of nectarine and white peach underscored by refreshing acidity. This is Chardonnay for Pinot Gris drinkers with the fruit doing all the talking in a wine made for simple enjoyment and all occasions. An ideal choice for that midweek “Hump Day” tipple, or the first bottle with friends on a weekend afternoon.
We love it paired with a roast or BBQ chicken, If you’re heading alfresco it will pair beautifully with a charcuterie platter or a soft cheese like a ripe brie and nuts would be hard to beat too.
The SoFar SoGood range is all about preservative-free wines produced with minimal processing. The result is not your average Sav Blanc, our cellar door guests love it for its fresh take on the variety. A little more texture, fresh citrus & tropical fruits notes and classic crisp acidity on the finish without being overwhelming
A popular wine with those who are looking for a something different to the usual Sav Blanc.
Our no added preservative Sauvignon Blanc is complex, medium bodied and easy drinking. The nose is intense and typical of the variety with herbaciousness, tropical fruit, citrus and grapefruit. This wine flows in the mouth with fresh, crisp acidity and a long finish.
A delicious match for fresh herbaceous Asian salads, prawn & oyster dishes, BBQ spring vegetables & soft goats’ cheese. Classic pairings like oysters, abalone, and fish but we especially love it with spicy Asian dishes with some herbaciousness and spice, think Bao buns or Vietnamese coleslaw.
James Halliday is an unmatched authority in Australia on every aspect of the wine industry, a respected wine critic and vigneron with a career that spans almost 50 years. The annual Halliday Wine Companion is a guide to where to visit, what to taste, buy and cellar for Australian wine lovers.
We're proud to submit our wines each year for tasting and rating, it gives us a great feel for how our wines sit amongst the best in the country.
In the 2021 Haliday Wine Companion we were excited to receive the highest possible Red 5-star winery rating and a range of new wines rated Gold and Silver from our premium Estate and everyday drinking Varietal ranges.
See the Halliday Wine Companion team's tasting notes and ratings below.
(Not yet released)
Semillon on Kangaroo Island clearly has a future. Wally White responds to the terroir with generosity, offering up an intriguing complexity that attacks all the senses. Eye-catching medium-deep yellow in hue. Aromas of honeysuckle, beeswax and baked pear. Waves of flavour ride the mouth, concentrated, intense with abiding texture and acidity. As a 2yo it comes across as developed, but the acidity ensures a long life.
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(Not yet released)
A brilliant purple sheen is an enticing introduction to this smart, young shiraz grenache. Softness is the key here together with a discreet, still emerging personality. It has a way to go. Pepper, spice, blackberries and red earth aromas. Deliciously ripe palate with dark cherry, black fruits and grenache violets and confection. Tannins are firm. Bottle age is a must.
Current Vintage 2018 Old Rowely: 95 GOLD
(Not yet released)
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.
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In so many ways, The Islander produces wines that are more European than Australian. Note the degree of savouriness in its wines, and the use of fruit as a conduit for complexity and not necessarily an end in itself. Sangiovese is such a wine. Fragrant with black cherries, capers, anise, bitter chocolate. It runs smooth across the palate, supple oak playing its part and imparting sweet mocha. Cherry pip, chalky tannins still melding.
From a winery founded by a Frenchman comes a wine made by an American and featuring a Spanish grape from an up-and-coming Aussie wine region, is it any wonder there is so much happening in this unusually savoury and complex tempranillo? Layer upon layer of black fruits, spice, vanilla oak with chocolate mocha overtones, saline brightness and sturdy tannin lines all adds up to an exciting wine. The charcuterie, smoked meat savouriness on the back palate adds a special touch.
(Not yet released)
Kangaroo Island's maritime climate is a dominating presence in the wines produced at The Islander. That, and the role of the native bush lands of old-growth eucalyptus and mallee. Both are evident here. Sea spray, red currant, raspberry and spice with an earthy savouriness, reveal a sense of place. A tad reductive on the palate, but it blows away with some swishing to reveal a savoury-infused palate, charcuterie and game with a rising pepper imprint. A complex lovely just starting out.
Current Vintage: 2017 Bark Hut Rd
Jacques Lurton's relationship with James Halliday goes back to his first experiences in Australia as a young winemaker learning new world winemaking techniques in the freedom of the Aussie wine industry.
In this month's Wine Companion magazine, James reflects on the journey that led Jacques to select Kangaroo Island as the location for his only Australian wine business, with a vision to showcase the true potential that the region offers. And how our vision remains just as strong after the devastating fires of 2020.
Three of James Halliday's favourite Islander Estate Vineyards wines have received scores of 95 points in his Wine Companion magazine feature. All fantastic cool weather wines to feature in your wine cellar at this time of year.
2018 Wally White
Waves of flavour ride the mouth, concentrated, intense with abiding texture and acidity. As a 2yo it comes across as developed, but the acidity ensures a long life. Drink to 2027."
2019 Old Rowley
2019 The Sangiovese