New Wave Australia

Italian varietals, grown in Australia, are taking the UK market by storm. Enlivening and reinvigorating the Australian offering to a new generation of wine buyers along the way, these niche bottlings are food friendly, earthy, characterful and full of European soul. Add to these impressive facets the fruit richness and playfulness synonymous with Aussie wines and you are on to a winning formula!

So numbered has been the emergence of star cuvées over the past 18 months that you may be under the impression that someone in Australia has simply turned the taps on to this burgeoning trend, but thankfully not so. In fact, the reverse is true. Winemakers have been growing a range of Italian and key European varietals for some time. Looking for something different in their regional offerings or looking to grow varieties for blending purposes, cuttings were sent over for use in nursery programmes followed by extensive periods of quarantine for the vines prior to planting and commercialisation. To this end, most of the key releases which fall under the “new wave” category show relatively young vine age.

Disproving this very myth, Frontier offer the wines of Australia’s “original” Italiaphile, Mark Lloyd of Coriole Estate in South Australia’s McLaren Vale. Far from being a new kid on the block, Mark championed the strengths of European varietals many moons ago, in fact, amongst many others Mark’s Sangiovese vines represent the oldest in the country – planted in 1985. There are also significant plantings of Fiano, Nero d’Avola, Prosecco and Barbera. Beyond Italian varieties, the latest wine out of the Coriole blocks is Picpoul. Driven by his love of the rare Languedoc white grape’s distinctive character, Mark has been patient in developing his own Picpoul crop. Vines imported in 2008 remained in quarantine until 2011, when a pair of approved vines was released to Coriole for propagation. Picpoul vines now cover only half a hectare, and many are not fully grown, but enough grapes were picked in 2015 to enable the first commercial release.

Beyond Coriole, Frontier are proud to offer a range of new wave varietals from across the country; Grüner-Veltliner, Tempranillo, Pinot Grigio, Verdejo and Malbec amongst them. Matching variety to terroir and climate has seen great success, encouraging a more youthful wine-buying public to connect with a nation seen by many to produce just two varieties – Chardonnay and Shiraz.

The dawning of a new day in varietal expression and regional variation is upon us. There are many internationally-lauded releases setting the market alight and with no sense of the trend dissipating. Watch this space for exciting new wines, flavours, textures and tales over the coming months. Move over Pinot Noir… McLaren Vale Nero d’Avola has arrived! ;)

Lunch with Larry McKenna

Escarpment Vineyards in New Zealand’s Martinborough region is home to one of the country’s most iconic and influential winemakers. Larry McKenna is, simply, a living legend. From his involvement with Martinborough Vineyards back in 1986 (becoming the region’s first professional winemaker in the process) to the present day, Larry has set about defining the terroir of this rapidly emerging Pinot Noir hotspot. Realising early on that Pinot Noir could thrive in his corner of the southern hemisphere Larry planted a number of vineyards, including the now famous Kupe vineyard, to highlight just how good Martinborough could be. Various clones, including the notorious gum-boot clone of Romanée-Conti fame were utilised, together with Burgundian-style high density planting in the Kupe site. Having established Escarpment back in 1999, the vineyards are now really hitting their stride.

I was lucky enough to attend a lunch hosted by Larry recently, where he introduced us to the latest instalment of his Insight Series of single vineyard Pinot Noirs, the 2014s. Following on from the hugely-lauded 2013 releases, stylistically each cuvée was very individual in the glass, with the different vineyard expressions surely capable of finding an appreciative audience; from elegant and refined Burgundy-inspired Kiwa to deeply-flavoured and unashamedly New World Pahi. The Te Rehua vineyard is Chambolle-Musigny in New World clothes; full of black cherry and plum flavours. We finished with Larry’s jewel in the crown; Kupe. Bold and intoxicating, there is a core of intensity and tightly-wound, ultra-fine tannins. With a density of cherry fruit with disarmingly approachable structure and freshness, Kupe is a singular wine and a star of New Zealand Pinot Noir. Larry’s 2014s were quite simply astonishing.

Though difficult to source in volume, such is the demand, Larry’s wines offer great value. Frontier are very honoured to receive a direct allocation of these fabulous wines to offer to our customers so please do drop me an email if you would like to secure a bottle or two!

As a final note, I wanted to mention part of a conversation I had with Larry just after the tasting. He told me that he had hardly slept the previous night; such were his nerves over the looming 2014 vintage launch that we had just attended. It shows the human side of the great man that even after all of these years and after rafts of outstanding reviews and awards, he should still get butterflies over the performance of his beautiful wines.

He needn’t have worried, though I am kind of glad he did. It is this attention to detail which has made him the hero he is, and rendered his wines the expressive heartbeat of Martinborough.

A tasting with Rustenberg

Visiting Rustenberg is always a treat. One of the most beautiful wineries in the Cape and just 10 minutes from the centre of Stellenbosch on the slopes of the Simonsberg mountains, it takes as long to drive up the beautiful 2.5km drive as it does to drive from the town centre to the entrance gate! Rustenberg’s tasting room is a cathedral of calm with visitors enjoying the fantastic range of wines – by contrast the winery is a hive of activity with the vintage in full flow.

The impressive wine range starts off with a refreshing Sauvignon and an unusual Roussanne, followed by the highly-rated and -awarded Chardonnays. The top Chardonnay – Five Soldiers – is named after a group of five stone pines growing in a dominant position in the middle of the vineyards. The reds are gently introduced with a dry Petit Verdot Rosé and a deliciously bright Grenache. The more serious wines follow, culminating with the world class Peter Barlow Cabernet Sauvignon. To round off the tasting, try the new fragrant Red Muscadel which has delicious hints of Turkish delight.

p.s If you are visiting – do take time to visit the lovely gardens and walk the meditative labyrinth.

Kaapzicht’s incredible charity work

The Pebbles Project:

In 1987 Danie Steytler Snr of Kaapzicht Wine Estate took up an opportunity to buy a temporary school building with 12 classrooms. Eight of the classrooms were moved to a new foundation on the Kaapzicht farm with a proper stone structure as small apartments for their workers, and four classrooms were turned into a larger community hall plus a smaller room for a future kindergarten. At the same time the kindergarten which Danie Jnr attended moved into a brand new building and Kaapzicht took the opportunity to inherit all the old furniture, toys and games.

Unfortunately finding a suitable teacher for the little ones proved more complicated, with various mothers from the farm community as well as outside teachers trying their hand with varying success. There were even some periods when the kindergarten wasn’t able to operate.

In 2008, Danie Jnr was approached by Pebbles (a UK charity) who had heard of the attempts to run a farm crèche for the estate workers’ children and he gladly accepted their offer to help! Since then the kindergarten has operated seamlessly under the guidance of Pebbles who educate, advise and monitor the two local ladies who are employed as kindergarten teachers. Currently they look after five babies from 3 months to 3 years, and four children between 4 and 5 years of age. In previous years they have had up to 16 children in the crèche.

On the suggestion of Pebbles, Kaapzicht also started an After School Club (ASC) in 2008, where (currently 31) school-going children can spend the afternoons doing school work under the supervision of two teachers who come from outside the farm. These teachers not only help them to do their work and explain what they might not have understood in school, but also teach them life skills (such as why smoking, drugs and alcohol are bad for kids, healthy eating and sanitary habits, how to prevent pregnancies, entrepreneurial skills etc.), as well as singing, drama, games and sport. This takes place every afternoon between 3 and 6 pm in the community hall.

Last year Pebbles received a sponsorship which supplies all the children in the crèche and ASC with a warm meal and healthy snack, providing the nourishment to enable them to learn better. The community in general supports this project, although there have been some grumbles that the hall is no longer available for parties, due to the many tables, chairs, computers and children’s art work!

Danie Jnr has told us, ‘I remember in the past some children telling me that their little brothers and sisters were tearing up their school books or scribbling in their work, another one told me they do not have a suitable table in their house on which she could do her school work, and during the 71 years that our Steytler family has been farming here only about 10 children managed to finish 12 years of school – all the many others dropped out of school when they were between 14 and 16 years old. Some told me they needed to leave the public school because their parents could not afford the school fees or they wanted to go to work and bring money home. And it is very common for young teenage girls to get pregnant, thus ending their school attendance.

We believe that having the privilege of being land owners comes with the responsibility towards the people who live and work on our land, and that the key to solving all South Africa’s problems (such as poverty, crime, high birth rates, HIV/Aids, overpopulation, lack of water and resources etc.) lies in educating the population.

Hence, in 2002 we started to pay all the public school fees for all the children of all our employees to counter the financial aspect to why our kids were leaving school. But this hardly made a tangible difference and only now, some years since the start of the ASC, do we see a very slow shift in thinking, increasing motivation to complete the twelve school years, an improved learning atmosphere and a few more learners passing the public school end exam.

But this progress is indeed very slow, we will have to have a lot of patience, compassion and endurance. The older farm community is largely uneducated and illiterate and for children to achieve a higher education than their parents might be seen as a threat by the elders, a breaking away from the community; the child who leaves the farm for a tertiary education has to deal with loss of belonging and support and so I personally suspect that it will still take another generation before we will actually see a real shift in the education of our farm community.

In the meantime we have to go on as best as we can… and can afford. The building is made out of wood and hard board and although we have insulated the ceilings, the rooms are extremely hot in summer and cold in winter. I have a special savings account where I collect donations for the school project and I am saving towards two air conditioners, one for the crèche and one for the ASC, which would make studying a lot more pleasant for the children.’

Some further projects:

The Olwethu clinic:

Pebbles also runs the Olwethu clinic on Villiera – Kaapzicht pay R2800 per month so that their workers can go to the clinic to receive first rate medical aid free of charge. The clinic also offers transport, medication, dentistry, birth control etc. The workers also have the opportunity to send family members that don’t work for Kaapzicht at a minimal fee of R60 per visit.

Soccer field:

The estate has built a soccer field on the farm for their workers to be able to play sports on weekends. The Kaapzicht team has won a few trophies over the past years in the Stellenbosch farmers’ league!

The food project:

Kaapzicht have set aside two hectares of land as a vegetable project for their workers. They plant and grow different crops each season which are then shared between the workers for free. They have just planted mielies (sweetcorn) and watermelons which will be ready for Christmas – everyone’s favourite. Other crops grown are potatoes, gem squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, carrots and spinach.

Mini Bus/taxi:

The estate has bought a minibus as a form of transport for their workers to get to town. Most of them either cycle or walk to town 5 km away but now they can be driven for free every Saturday and after work each day. It also transports the soccer team if they are playing an away game.

Farm shop:

Danie Snr started a farm shop 20 years ago so that Kaapzicht workers could receive food on the farm without having to go to town each day. It sells the basics (bread, milk, meat, eggs etc.) at cost price and food can be bought on a book system so that it is always available to them.

January sale!

We thought it was only right to start the New Year with some discounts. So for the month of January, we hope you will take advantage of the following offers:


2015 Sauvignon Blanc, River Retreat, Trentham Estate: was £8.99, now £6.99
2014 Moscato, River Retreat, Trentham Estate: was £8.99, now £6.99
2016 Pinot Grigio, River Retreat, Trentham Estate: was £8.99, now £6.99
2014 The Bard Chardonnay, Hollick: was £12.60, now £9.99
2015 The Nectar Botrytis Riesling, Hollick: was £14.95, now £9.99
2013 Bond Road Chardonnay, Hollick: was £16.35, now £12.99

2013 Cabernet, River Retreat, Trentham Estate: was £8.99, now £6.99
2012 Cabernet/Merlot, River Retreat, Trentham Estate: was £8.99, now £6.99
2013 Merlot, River Retreat, Trentham Estate: was £8.99, now £6.99
2013 The Bard Cabernet Sauvignon, Hollick: was £13.80, now £9.99
2012 Stock Route Shiraz Cabernet, Hollick: was £14.95, now £10.95
2015 El Desperado Red, The Pawn Wine Co.: was £14.99, now £10.99
2012 Tannery Block Cabernet Merlot, Hollick: was £16.45, now £12.99
2013 Wrattonbully Shiraz, Hollick: was £16.35, now £12.99
2013 Pinot Noir, Hollick: was £16.95, now £12.99
2013 Coonawarra Cabernet, Hollick: was £20.45, now £14.95
2014 Sparkling Merlot, Hollick: was £20.99, now £14.95
2012 Wilgha Shiraz, Hollick: was £29.75, now £21.00
2010 Ravenswood Cabernet, Hollick: was £36.15, now £25.00


2012 Premo Pinot Noir, Waipara Springs: was £16.49, now £12.50


2017 Jam Jar Sweet White, Indaba: was £8.95, now £6.45
2015 White Blend, The Curator: was £9.20, now £6.95
2015 Chardonnay, Topiary: was £20.55, now £14.95

2013 Red Blend, The Curator: was £9.20, now £6.95
2014 Shiraz, Topiary: was £16.99, now £13.95


2014 Sierra Cruz Malbec, O. Fournier: was £9.90, now £6.99

Introducing a new face to Frontier Fine Wines!

Welcome to Christine Niarchos, who has recently joined the Frontier Fine Wines team. Originally hailing from South Africa, a keen traveller and lover of all things wine, Christine has lived in the UK for over 20 years, yet is still passionate about her homeland and the amazing wines the southern hemisphere has to offer. After twelve years working in recruitment for the Financial Services sector, Christine took the career-changing decision to move into the wine industry and spent three years working at Decanter Magazine as Awards Manager on the Decanter World Wine Awards competition. She holds her WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines & Spirits with Distinction and is currently studying towards her WSET Diploma.

Christine is looking forward to supporting to all our Frontier Fine Wines customers in the future, with your decision making and ordering of the exceptional New World wines Frontier Fine Wines has to offer.

International Chardonnay Day – 24th May 2018

To celebrate “International Chardonnay Day 2018” and this famous grape variety we are offering a 10% discount on all Chardonnay orders until Bank Holiday Monday 28th May 2018.

Enter discount code 2018CHARD10 at checkout.

Possibly the most famous grape variety in the world and one which has the ability to morph according to the climate it’s grown in or the winemaking philosophy and techniques used.  Chardonnay is a grape variety that originated in Burgundy, France, and is now grown in most wine regions throughout the world, with many New World Chardonnay’s considered the best Chardonnay to drink outside of Burgundy.

Frontier Fine Wines has a portfolio of award winning New World Chardonnays to suit all palates and style preferences.

Celebrate Drink Chenin Day

To celebrate Day we are offering a 10% discount on all our delicious Chenin Blanc wines until Sunday 17th June 2018! Use the discount code FFWChenin10 at checkout to receive 10% off your purchases and enjoy a delicious glass of chilled Chenin Blanc.

International Pinot Noir Day – 18th August 2018

Happy Pinot Noir Day

Today is International Pinot Noir Day, and to join in the celebrations around the world, we are offering a 10% discount on our fantastic range of Pinot Noir wines.

Enter discount code 2018PN10 at checkout
(offer valid until Sunday 19th August)

Frontier Fine Wines has a portfolio of award winning Pinot Noir from Chile, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to suit all palates and style preferences.

Our range includes Pinot Noirs from some of the most admired New World Pinot Noir Pioneers including Escarpment, Bouchard Finlayson, Paul Cluver and Catherine Marshall.

Pinot Noir is one of the world’s most popular grape varieties, with its wonderfully heady perfumes, and thrillingly pure, sweet, red berry flavours of raspberry, loganberry, mulberry, cherry and strawberry.

Its the grape that stars in some of the world’s most expensive and rare red wines when grown in its home territory of Burgundy, however is making a home for itself in the New World, with some fantastic (and amazing value for money) wines now being produced.

Place your order on one of our New World Pinot Noir gems today.

Groote Post’s The Old Man’s Blend Wines ideal for Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday 16th June 2019, the perfect day for Dad to enjoy The Old Man’s Blend wines from Groote Post: Serious Wines at Seriously Good Prices!

The Old Man’s Blend range came into being in 2001 at the behest of Groote Post’s ‘Old Man’, Peter Pentz, who asked the family to blend him a red wine to enjoy as his winter evening tipple. The enormous popularity of The Old Man’s Blend Red established a Groote Post tradition, with The Old Man’s Blend White subsequently added to the range.

Groote Post’s The Old Man’s Blend White 2017
This wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon. The varietals are vinified separately, then blended in different ratios until the blend meets The Old Man’s approval. Displaying gorgeous tropical fruit notes, a fresh lively acidity livens the palate and lovely guava and green apple flavours linger on the finish.

Groote Post’s The Old Man’s Blend Red 2017
This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Cabernet Franc. During the winemaking and wood maturation, the cultivars are kept apart, and The Old Man takes part in rigorous tasting sessions to decide on the final blend. This is a down-to-earth, ripe-fruit-driven blend. Cherry, mulberry and cedar wood are prominent on the nose with soft tannins on the palate giving a smooth finish.

Groote Post’s The Old Man’s Blend wines, seriously good wines at seriously good prices.

Why the higher alcohol levels?

Talk often turns to an apparent increase in alcohol by volume, in modern wine. More specifically, talk often arrives with a negative tone as “more mature” individuals hark back to the good old days, where the alcoholic volume of most wines rarely seemed to exceed 12.5%… Indeed, 12.5% alcohol seemed almost as consistent as the 75cl bottle within which the various liquids were contained!  Why are alcohols seemingly so much greater these days?

What changed, where, when and why?!

Rolf Binder The Barrot Family, Julien far left Mollydooker Label close up

Initially I think it is fair to say that Mother Nature has a few things to answer for. As global warming has seemingly fast-tracked in recent years, sending shockwaves through the marginal wine growing regions of the world, the ability to attain phenolic as well as physical ripeness is greatly improved. In short, when you attain full ripeness, potential alcohol increases. The decision to harvest is in the hands of the winemaker – part of their intuition, their ethos and ultimately, their potential genius. In years gone by, making wine could become very much a painting by numbers exercise, regardless of each vintage’s individual characteristic or limitation. Nowadays the modern viticulture and vinification techniques on hand aid and assist growers to enhance their offering naturally, which allows for greater sun exposure and ripeness in the vineyard, which therefore increases potential alcohol. Perhaps higher alcohol is more of a 21st Century phenomenon?

Another phenomenon of the modern wine market place is that of the “critic”. Step forward Mr Parker, a man famous for his attraction to rich, densely-flavoured wine styles. Chasing the critic scores helps to increase a wine’s desirability in the market place and make the growers more money – it seems logical that if your wine appeals to a certain palate, you will be rewarded in points. So why not turn up the dials during production? Stories are rife of “special Parker bottles”, presented to the man himself by unscrupulous wine producers during en primeur tastings. Seemingly a particular barrel had been manipulated to present the château in the best light possible, to ensure a high score. Raisening of grapes on the vine, particularly in St-Emilion, has also hit the news. Bordeaux’s take on Amarone? Seemingly so….

Beyond production, selection of varietal as well as trends towards the New World have altered perception of potential alcohols. Grenache is a variety which has high potential alcohol, as is Mourvèdre. These varieties are finding a place in more and more blends around the world. As far as regions go, I don’t believe that there is a wine-loving individual alive who doesn’t associate higher than average alcohol with… say… Barossa Shiraz. One of Australia’s leading regions for the cultivation of the country’s most famous red grape variety, it is synonymous with bold, richly-fruited, concentrated styles with a higher than usual alcohol content. Recently I read an interview with Julian Barrot of Domaine Barroche in Châteauneuf du Pape. As a region it too has had its critics when it comes to alcohol content. Julian’s reaction was a simple one;

“For us, the alcohol level is not a concern. What is very important is to pick up the grapes when they’re perfectly ripe, and in this case, if you pick up healthy grapes with the right ripeness, you will be able to make a balanced wine and you will not feel the alcohol, even if it’s more than 15 degrees…. Sometimes we will even harvest a plot twice, if one part is ready and the other part is not ready. In this case, you’re able to have very balanced wines, and you don’t feel the alcohol level. People who taste our wines will not feel the alcohol level.”

Back in the Barossa briefly, and following Julian Barrot’s lead above, Rolf Binder is a grower who retains femininity in his Shiraz which is largely unequalled in Barossa. He is a genius with a deft touch who produces wines of controlled opulence, full of depth, character and which are finely balanced on a vinous knife-edge. They have heady alcohol content, sure, but they have freshness, tannin, vigour and life. They hold the expansiveness of the finest côte-rôtie with a weightlessness on the palate that compares with the very greatest wines on earth. At 14.5% alcohol, Rolf’s 2002 Hanisch Shiraz was utterly beguiling and absorbing. One of the single greatest new world reds I have ever tasted, and 100% in balance. With lower alcohol in the glass, perhaps it would only have been a shadow of itself? It would no longer remain complete and therefore project merely a dilution of the wine’s greatness?

Perhaps modern wine drinkers who wish to push their palates and test the boundaries of their senses, look for extremes of fruit expression and density as a reward for their endeavours. An expression which is fairly muted within the wine trade is “talk dry, drink sweet”. The rise of Amarone in the UK, as well as Argentinean Malbec show that the UK consumer looks for boldly-flavoured, alcoholic wines with richness often more akin to a melted bar of Dairy Milk. They seem up for the fight that a blockbuster red seems to offer. Mollydooker in Australia’s McLaren Vale produce stunningly concentrated reds which, with alcohols often in excess of 16% alcohol, manage to retain impressive balance in the glass. These are late harvest wines which have been managed in the vineyard as much as they have in the cellar. They are fruit forward, immediate and explosive in their fruit concentration. No other McLaren Vale grower can match, or tries to copy, the lead of Mollydooker, however, their brand is in huge demand around the world. By delaying their harvest date as much as they possibly can, Mollydooker can craft these black, brooding berries into unique wine. Yes they spark controversy wherever they are opened, but why not? Perhaps modern palates cry out for the sweetness, body and texture afforded by higher alcohol.

For those wine lovers who dream of alcohol back at the 12.5% level, then there are always options out there. Often, by picking your region carefully you can enhance your chances of success. Elgin in the cool climbs of South Africa’s Western Cape cultivates aromatic white varieties such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It also produces fantastic Pinot Noir and delicate Merlot. Zingy freshness and purity of fruit expression are the trademarks of growers such as Catherine Marshall and Paul Cluver Wines. Minerality, tension, verve and… lower alcohol are all there. Truly modern expressions for the modern wine drinker.

Ultimately, the wonder of wine is that no two bottles are ever the same. High alcohol doesn’t automatically mean a lack of balance, as much as lower alcohol doesn’t necessarily correspond to high quality.

Introducing a new face to Frontier Fine Wines!

Welcome to Christine Niarchos, who has recently joined the Frontier Fine Wines team. Originally hailing from South Africa, a keen traveller and lover of all things wine, Christine has lived in the UK for over 20 years, yet is still passionate about her homeland and the amazing wines the southern hemisphere has to offer. After twelve years working in recruitment for the Financial Services sector, Christine took the career-changing decision to move into the wine industry and spent three years working at Decanter Magazine as Awards Manager on the Decanter World Wine Awards competition. She holds her WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines & Spirits with Distinction and is currently studying towards her WSET Diploma.

Christine is looking forward to supporting to all our Frontier Fine Wines customers in the future, with your decision making and ordering of the exceptional New World wines Frontier Fine Wines has to offer.