The Oak Barrel: Wine, whisky, spirits, craft beer and cider

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  • Astro Bunny Pet Nat 2017

    Astro Bunny Pet Nat 2017

    The grapes for the 2017 Astro Bunny were hand picked on the morning of Saturday 4th March 2017 by myself and a team of twenty Korean students working as seasonal pickers. 

    We picked 2.5 tonnes of Nero d’Avola (most of which went into Heavy Pétting), 2 tonnes of Vermentino and 1 tonne of Zibibbo (aka Muscat of Alexandria aka Gordo)  

    The fruit came from Ricca Terra Farms, Riverland, South Australia.  


    The twelve picking bins of fruit were taken straight off the vineyard and put in a cold room overnight that is located on the vineyard, then driven down to the Barossa Valley the next morning. 

    The wine was made in Marco Cirillo’s winery in the Barossa Valley. 

    Astro Bunny is 50% Vermentino, 25% Nero d’Avola, 25% Zibibbo 

    Zero added sulphur, no other additions, no adjustments, just made from grapes. 

    Fermented in a stainless steel tank with temperature control over a four week period.  

    The wine was put down a specialised sparkling bottling line at the Lodestone winery at Mt Torrens in the Adelaide Hills on 06.04.17. 


    The wine went to bottle with around 12 g/lt residual sugar. 

    The wine has fermented only partially dry in the bottle over the winter resulting in a pressure of around 1 to 1.5 bar, with approximately 5 g/lt of residual sugar remaining. 

    This may or may not ferment fully dry over the summer, we don't know for sure. 

    The wines vital statistics are 

    11% ABV 

    sugar  approx 5.0 g/lt  

    free S02   5.00 mg/lt  

    pH   3.65

    titratable acidity 6.1 g/lt 

    175 dozen made 

    - Tim Wildman

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  • Four Pillars Sherry Cask Gin

    Four Pillars Sherry Cask Gin

    A brand new barrel aged gin from Yarra Valley’s Four Pillars.

    One of Australia’s most iconic craft gin producers, Four Pillars introduce a sherry cask-aged gin.

    A new release, but not a new idea, this has been drawn from a 42-cask strong solera system of Spanish sherry and Australian apera casks. A little dash of Amontillado sherry has been added just prior to bottling, to highlight the sweetness.

    The solera barrels were filled over a year ago, and this initial gin was drawn from the bottom row of barrels.

    The result is a rich gin, with layers of dried fruits and nuttiness. Great neat or on ice.

    Offered at the house strength 43.8%, it is available in very limited quantities.

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  • Mukai Shuzo Natsu No Omoide Sake

    Mukai Shuzo Natsu No Omoide Sake

    A very unique and fascinating 14-year-old sake from the Mukai Shizo brewery which, under the stewardship of female toji Kuniko Mukai, are pioneering interesting sakes.

    This Natsu no Omoide has been made with a very rare strain of yeast, dubbed the ‘100 year old’. It was propagated by Kuniko from a strain stored at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, where she studied fermentation and brewing.

    After aging for 14 years this has notes of wood shavings and dried apricot, with umami on the palate alongside sweet and sour fruits and vanillas. The finish showcases more wood, a hint of bitterness and caramels.

    A sake really unlike any other, the importer has dubbed this a ‘Jura-sake’ as it is reminiscent of the oxidative wines of the famous French region.

    The rice type is Gohyakumangoku, polished to 70%.

    Best served at room temperature.

    The Mukai Shuzo brewery has been producing sake since 1754 and the current toji (master brewer) is Kuniko Mukai. She became of one of the first women toji when she took over the family owned-and-operated brewery and has been pioneering interesting sakes like the ine mankai.

    Kuniko Mukai has also experimented with an ancient red rice strain with the Ine Mankai

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  • VHS Chapter 1 Life 2017

    VHS Chapter 1 Life 2017

    Chapter 1: Life
    Slankamena Bela sourced from a block (Barmera) about 5 kilometres from where my mum was born and spent the first few years of her life. (Literally in a caravan on the side of the road in Berri, Riverland, SA). My grandparents migrated to Australia in the mid 50's, from Greece, and grew Mandarins in the Sunraysia district of Victoria for almost half a century.

    My decision to use Slanka Bela was essentially the fact that it's almost unheard of and a very unknown varietal in this country. Much the same as Australia was a completely foreign idea to my Yia yia and Pappou prior to them landing here on a ship. Slanka is also a very drought tolerant and all round resilient variety much in the same way that mandarins grow in warmer parts of the country.

    The old man salt bush is an ode to the salt bush that lined the banks of the Murray where my grandparents farm was located. It too is an incredibly hardy and resilient plant and is a representation of the tumultuous life that my grand parents and mum lived. Humble but wholesome. The pineapple sage was a perfect choice for an infusion botanical as it bolsters the primary fruit as well as adding an interesting savoury sage component. Sage is used almost religiously in Greek Cooking. The wine is an incredible food match.

    The wine as a whole represents my mum and her family and in so doing represents, in many ways, the start of my life.


    Variety: Slankamanka Bela Pet Nat
    Origin: Serbia. The Balkan States
    Vineyard: Ricca Terra, Barmera


    -100% whole bunch, partially handcrushed.
    - After 48 hours stems were removed from ferment and dried for 2 weeks before being reintroduced into ferment.
    - 2 months skin-contact
    - Free run juice then gravity drained through a sieve containing Old Man Salt Bush, Nori, Pineapple Sage, and Passionfruit Marigold.
    - Seasoned AP John American Oak smoked with dehydrated Pineapple Sage, Passion fruit Marigold and Applewood using Polyscience Smoking Gun
    - Full MLF with battonage once a week on full solids.
    - 3 month barrel maturation before racking to stainless.
    - Dehydrated Salt bush, Passion fruit Marigold and Pineapple Sage vaporised and bubbled through finished wine, at 4 degrees, before bottling.
    - 2 month bottle maturation before release.

    There are a many more steps in the process but this is just a brief summary of vinification methods.

    - Samuel Smith, Winemaker

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