The Demystified Vine

Taking the mystery out of wine exploration!

At the Vancouver International Wine Festival in February 2015, I had the opportunity to try Australia’s own Nugan Estate wines during the trade tasting.

Nugan’s wines are sourced from vineyards situated in New South Wales, King Valley, and McLaren Vale. This estate winery, which has four different labels, is focused on making “premium estate grown wines from the family’s vineyards across Australia“. Matthew Nugan, General Manager, was present at the festival, and called the terroir of his family’s various vineyards sites “vast and diverse”.

The three wines that I was focused during the tasting were the Shiraz 2012, Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz 2012, and the icon wine Matriarch 2006 – a wine very close to Matthew Nugan’s heart.

I asked Matthew to describe Nugan’s wine making philosophy in 3-5 adjectives. His response was, “committed, focused, passionate, innovative, sustainable.”

A Tasting of the Wines

The Shiraz 2012 was pale ruby in colour, and shone with bright red fruit. Raspberry, cherry, and toasty oak profiles were found both on the bouquet and palate. This wine had a good acidity to it and a medium tannin structure. The wine is priced at $25.99. If you’re a fan of simple, straightforward red fruit with a good tannin kick, this is a must-try.


Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz at #VIWF. Photo Copyright Valerie Stride 2015

Moving onto the Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz 2012, $25.99, I was much more intrigued. This wine has only been made for three vintages, and 2011 was missed due to not having the best fruit. The wine itself was bright, with loads of red berries and shaved dark chocolate. It was an inky wine with a hearty acidic backbone. It had a detectable sweetness, likely do to the concentrated sugars of the dried grapes.

Post-tasting, I asked Matthew why he decided to make an appassimento-style (dried grape) Shiraz. Simply put, Matthew said,

“I wanted to make something different. When traveling to visit my customers in 2008 and 2009, I was asking customers what we at Nugan could do that would enable us to stand out from the crowd of Australian wines. Our Danish importer suggested to us to try and make these styles of wines out of Shiraz, so after discussion with our winemaker Daren Owers we did and they were extremely successful.”

Finally, I tasted the Matriarch 2006, which was inspired by Matthew’s mother. It was a pretty wine which was both bright and lively. Solid red fruit characters were present, and it should be noted that there was a deep influence on the palate of luscious raspberry and pepper jam. With clear acidity and gripping, but flexible tannin, this small case production wine was a prize. The Matriarch was aged in French oak for 24 months and then aged in bottle 2 years prior to release.

I had stepped away from the table in order to try the Matriarch. After about 10 minutes of “sitting with it”, I went back to the table. Later, I wrote the following to Matthew in an email.

A Little Chit-Chat

[TDV] I adored your 2006 Matriarch. You had mentioned that this wine was named after your mother. Tell me a bit more about that story.


The tall-standing bottle of Matriarch 2006 at #VIWF2015. Photo Copyright Valerie Stride 2015.

[Matthew Nugan] My mother retired some years ago, and we had been in the process of making an ICON wine for quite some time. The wine was ready for release shortly before Mum’s retirement, so my sister Tiffany and myself decided to call the wine Matriarch in my mother’s honour. She is the Matriarch of our Family, [as] my father died quite young of cancer in the mid 1980’s and mum had to take over the running of the business. This is no small achievement. If you can understand a house wife in a male dominated world, thrust into the centre of a struggling business during the 80’s, there was a recession, interest rates were going crazy, business was extremely tough. Mum managed to conquer all to bring the company through tough times. She had many successes including building one of the largest producers of natural carrot juice in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere. In the mid 1990’s, she was crowned NSW business woman of the year for her efforts and success. She had also increased the company agricultural holdings and built a new clean and green winery and juice factory.

[TDV] Nugan also makes olive oil. Tell me a little bit about that endeavor.

[Matthew] Nugan Farms has about a grove of approx. 800 acres (80,000 trees) of Tuscan Olive varieties located in close proximity to the winery, so the time between harvest and delivery is limited ensuring the quality is excellent. [At] the winery, we make only the highest quality extra virgin olive oil[;] this is used both domestically and internationally in some markets like Japan.

Thank you for taking the time out to talk about Nugan Estate, Matthew!

For more information on Nugan, visit their website at


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