Tasting The Lion Nathan Portfolio: A Mini Tasting of Australia, New Zealand & Oregon

lion-nathan-logoThe Lion Nathan portfolio tasting was “cute,” stated a restaurant buyer I ran into; referring to the twenty or so wines that were available for sampling.  You never know how many wines will be poured at a lot of these trade industry tastings until you get there; which is always part of the excitement.


St. Hallett Winemaker Stuart Blackwell poses with his "two loves in life." Hope his wife or girlfriend isn't reading this. I'm sure he meant to say these are two of his three loves in life.

Being there elicited mixed emotions of nervousness, excitement and nostalgia.  I was nervous because this was the first industry tasting I’ve been to since we closed our shop and I didn’t know how to feel about walking into a a familiar, yet foreign environment.  I was also of course excited because who’s not, when you get to taste a host of wines on the distributors dime.  Of course nostalgia set in because I’ve had countless hours of purple-stained-teeth fun getting to taste and buy wines for the shop during our shop days.

Lion Nathan is an Australian premium alcoholic beverages company with operations in Australia and New Zealand and brands that extend worldwide.  With many of these big wine companies, you don’t know who they are until you find out what brands they own.  In Lion Nathan’s case, Steinlager beer was one of the big brands that rang with me.  Fortunately, it wasn’t one of the alcoholic beverages that was in the lineup that day.

As I mentioned there wasn’t a lot by way of overall selection, but as always at tasting events, I usually find some interesting things as I did here.  The following are my quick tasting notes for the wines, along with some very ballpark estimates of retail prices.  Prices of course will vary according to market, so check with your favorite local retailer or restaurant for availability.


2005 Argyle Brut, Oregon ($28-$30): 35% Chardonnay/65% Pinot Noir.  Very floral nose.  Apples, pear and even some grapefruit on nose and in mouth.  Really nice fruit there without actually any redidual sugar present; confirmed with sales manager on-hand.

2005 Petaluma “Picadilly” Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, Australia ($28-$30): Nice creamy nose.  Creamy mouthfeel with flavors of milk and cotton candy.  I like cotton candy! Pretty.

2005 Petaluma Shiraz, Adelaide Hills, Australia ($30 – $36): Not heavy and juicy like some Aussie shiraz can be, but still packed with juiciness and dark fruit.  Peppery and spicy and tannins that allow for good drinking now, but also allows for some cellar time.  Impressive.


Lion Nathan Sales Manager, Kate Walker pours for an eagerly awaiting gentleman

2007 Restoration Old Vine Red, Portugal ($10-$12): Blend of typical red Portuguese grapes often comprising Port.  Very pleasant and in fact, a lot fruitier than I’m used to with Portuguese red wines.  Confirmed with sales manager on-hand that a little residual sugar was left in the finished wine to help balance everything out.  Good value wine.

2006 St. Hallett “Faith” Shiraz ($14-$16): Boysenberry, blueberry and smoke.  Lively in the mouth.  Not heavy for a prototypical Aussie shiraz, but still packed with flavor.  We liked selling this wine in our shop and so I was very familiar with this one.  Sourced from 50 year old vines.

2005 St. Hallett “Blackwell” Shiraz ($35 – $40): Wow, I like the creaminess and the sweet fruit that resides in this glass.  Nice finish, smooth tannins.  Nice vanilla and spice from the use of American oak.  Aussie shiraz, like California zins, take to American oak treatment really well.


2007 Argyle Pinot Noir, Willamette, Oregon ($26 – $30): A much lighter style of pinot noir than most pinot drinkers may be used to.  As a broad, general statement, if you started drinking pinot noir after you watched the movie “Sideways,” you probably won’t take to this.  A food wine with violets, cherries and roses in the mouth and nose.

2007 Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand ($12 – $14): Prototypical, juicy and zesty NZ sauv blanc.  Grapefruit and gooseberry and an interesting note of green bell pepper on the finish.

2005 Wither Hills Pinot Noir, New Zealand ($26 – $28): Juicy with dark cherries and smooth tannins.  Beautiful nose.  All estate fruit.

2007 Petaluma “Hanlin Hill” Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia ($20 – $25): Dry, mouth watering finish.  Lime, flint and mineral.  Nice medium weight mouth-feel.  Would be in the favorite category, but the aggressively drying finish was a little much for me.

2005 Rolling Cabernet/Merlot Red Blend, Australia ($9 – $12): Nice dark fruit, but a little too much herb for my taste.  Fruit comes from very high altitudes, so that may account for a more restrained style with flavors leaning more towards herb than fruit.

2007 St. Hallett “Poachers Blend”, Australia ($11 – $14): Sauv Blanc/Riesling/Semillon.  Fun blend.  Juicy, lively and rambunctious all at the same time.   Good hot weather wine.


Drip-stained, battle-worn bottles. Always a sign of a good time.

2006 St. Hallett “Gamekeepers Blend”, Australia ($11 – $14): Grenache/Shiraz.  Pretty firm tannins and mouthfeel.  Backyard bbq anyone?  Unoaked wine.

2008 St. Hallett Riesling, Australia ($13 – $16): Catches you by surprise with a citrus blast in the finish.  Reminds me of Starburst fruit chews.  Remember that?  Fun wine.

2004 St. Hallett “Old Block” Shiraz, Australia ($65 – $70): Pretty impressive.  Very elegant and understated wine.  Pretty.  Nice dark fruit and silky, smooth tannins.  Cellar-worthy.

Here’s the Lion Nathan website for more in-depth and background information.  Click here

Other winery websites:

St. Hallett


Wither Hills


Mahalo to Roberto Viernes and Southern Wine & Spirits, Hawaii for allowing me to attend the tasting.


Eager buyers and tasters milling around


2 thoughts on “Tasting The Lion Nathan Portfolio: A Mini Tasting of Australia, New Zealand & Oregon

    • Hello Andrew,
      Thanks for visiting. Always a little ironic isn’t it? I don’t know how many times I’ve met either a consumer or an industry insider who can’t find their homegrown stuff at home, or wines from suppliers based in their in their own marketplace. Oh well, at least you have a ton of small production quality stuff that never leaves your shores down under. Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s