Perhaps some of our older members may have noted the Newsletter having a more philosophical patina in recent years. As some may argue, quite rightly, this could be put down to the normal ageing process. But there is a case that such a worldview is encouraged, indeed almost a xio ma tic, by the very nature of the industry itself. In 1987, a government vineyard and wine consultant, offered the free advice to the two likely lads (then) who were about to embark on their journey into wine, “Do it for the Lifestyle, not the Money; the Return on Investment is abysmal.” Now, that is philosophical, and if one assesses it 30 years later, good advice.

Certainly, the vicissitudes of the grape growing and wine production is likely to steer the ageing vignerons towards a more philosophical demeanor. How else to make sense of the great pendulum swings. The current 2017 vintage was bookended by a record spring rainfall in September (250mm) and a record April rainfall (160mm), with little in between. A difficult growing season. As a result, we are still to assess the 2017 vintage fully; it is now up to time and oak to wield their magic.

The 2015 vintage was for some inexplicable reason our lowest production since 1999 (when two late severe October frosts destroyed the Vintage). The total Blackjack Shiraz production for that year was just 71 dozen-some of our older friends may still have a bottle or two in their cellars? Interestingly, it seems the inexplicable low yields in 2015 also occurred in other vineyard regions in South Eastern Australia.


On an important but lighter note, if you have visited the Blackjack cellar door, you may remember being enthusiastically greeted by Bella the resident white Labrador. Well, after all these years of being unable to answer her pleading question, “Dad, Why aren’t I in the Wine Dogs Book,” Bella has finally been included in the next Edition.(

It has been a stay at home year on the export front. We have focused on consolidating our good relationships with our importers in China, mainly, and to a lesser degree Canada.


For the past 25 years, Peel Estate Wines in West Australia has been conducting a Great Shiraz Tasting of a selection of Shiraz from the main growing regions of Australia and Europe. This event showcases 20 six-year-old wines, with the Australian benchmarks Grange and Hill of Grace always on the list. This is a very select event, and we were thrilled to be included in the final 20 for the second year in a row with the 2010 vintage. The last 20 are selected from earlier tastings of 40+ iconic Shiraz wines.

Jeremy Oliver of the Australia Wine Annual gave both the 2014 Shiraz and Block 6 Shiraz a 93 rating. Campbell Mattinson, from The Wine Front was kind to all our Estate Wines with scores ranging from 92 to 93+.

The vigneron’s concise weather notes for the 2015 vintage indicate virtually no rain from Christmas and no extended periods of very hot weather during January or February. And good weather throughout the Vintage period, which began in the middle of March and was all in the fermentation vat by the end of March. Certainly a contrast to this year, where we were still picking into the second week of May.

It probably goes without saying; we are very pleased with the resultant 2015 wines, particularly the overall balance and depth of flavour.

Of course, the link between winemaking and the philosophical “good life” alluded to at the beginning is not new.

The ancient Greeks (and they knew everything about the “good life”), extolled the civilizing virtue of Wine,” Wine, said the Greeks, is a Civilized drink.”

In a similar vein, this philosophical sentiment was endorsed two thousand years later by the great Scottish Enlightenment philosopher Adam Smith, who in his seminal work, “An Inquiry into Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations” posited the observation. “If we consult experience, he said, the cheapness of wine seems to be a cause, not of drunkenness, but of sobriety. The inhabitants of the wine countries are in general the soberest people in Europe: witness the Spaniards, the Italians, and the inhabitants of the southern provinces of France. People are seldom guilty of excessin what istheir [cheap] daily fare. Not only did wine countries have less habitual drunkenness but if drunken types moved into wine countries, where light alcohol common wines were cheap, they weretransformed intomore soberfolk.”

This little historical gem is not proffered in support of cheap wine - life is too short NOT to drink Blackjack - but, as an incentive to perhaps reassess the number of AFD’s? You may become less easy to live with!


Again, as for the past three years, at the historic and rather beautiful Royal Society of Victoria Building. We look forward to catching up with many of you.

  • Thursday 27 July 2017 from 4 pm to 7pm.
  • The Royal Society of Victoria, 9 Victoria St (cnr Exhibition St and Victoria St) Melbourne 3000, in the Burke and Wills Room.

See enclosed INVITATION for time and date and bring it along to go into a draw to win a mixed dozen of the 2015 Blackjack Vintage.

And congratulation to Penny Clarke from Bulleen, who won last year’s mixed Blackjack dozen.

The new releases will be on tasting at cellar door from SATURDAY, July 22nd and we invite you to come and try thenewvintage.Weareopenweekendsfrom11amto5 pm. We look forward to meeting you. If you purchase directly from the cellar door, please let us know so we can keep our mail order records up to date, and so you get your mail order discount. We again extend to our valued mail order customers the opportunity to have your order delivered freight free. We use Australia Post to deliver wine. If not home they will leave a note for collection at your local Post Office, or you can have it sent to a PO Box. Australia Post will not leave wine unless there are specific instructions to do so.