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Latest Wine News

Champagne Grower Night Masterclass

Should we celebrate Bastille Day with some good Champagne?

Yes, this year we decide to open some of the best renowned champagne Grower (Artisan) available in Australia, and when I said that, the selection of producers for this night is one of the best ten artisan houses you could possibly find over there.

They all share the same philosophy and passion. Working hard to express the best expression of their land or terroirs. They are crafting wine with personality, as they believe that Champagne should be seen as wine first rather than just sparkling.

The notion of place and terroir take all this sense when you talk about these producers, 'living soil' principals of viticulture, these handful of producers do not use chemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides or chemical anti-fungal sprays; they work on very low yields (roughly half the regional average) and have a very natural winemaking regime with no fining or filtration and low levels of sulphur.

This is a rare chance to learn more about Champagne, the area, appellation and style.

If you do believe than Champagne should not necessary be open only for celebration or romantic dinner, but more seeing as an incredible match with food and a very complex and such an interesting drink, please join us for an interesting and deep analyse of Champagne.

This tasting will showcase one of the great grower movement in Champagne. This night will be host by Ian Barr, one of the leading Champagne expert in Australia. The world of bubbles hold no secrets from him...

“Pascal Agrapart embodies the best of the artisan tradition in Champagne, and his wines show it.” Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate

“The Champagnes of Vouette et Sorbée are uncompromisingly original, possessing deep, vinous aromas and assertive personalities. These are wines before they are Champagnes, and their intensity of character makes them more suitable to contemplative drinking or to accompanying food than to casual sipping. They are clearly the products of a natural philosophy of viticulture, with all that that implies in the French wine world…” Peter Liem,  

WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney 2000
WHEN: Friday 14 July, 6.20pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: Members $50 / Guest $60

 We’ll be trying:

Laherte Frere Ultra tradition Brut Nature
Bereche Brut Reserve NV
Agrapart Terroirs Grand Cru Blancs de Blanc NV
Agrapart Avizoise Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2010
Ulysse Collin 'Les Rosies' Blanc de Blancs 2010
Larmandier Bernier Longitude Blanc de Blancs
Egly-Ouriet Les Vignes de Vrigny Pinot Meunier
Vouette and Sorbee Fidele Extra Brut 2012 R12
Laherte Frere Rose de Saignee NV

Wines are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. Tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable.

Posted: 07/06/2017
Vintage Offer: Beechworth's Classic Golden Ball Winery

Two weeks ago Beechworth Vignerons held their inaugural trade tasting in Sydney. It highlighted the great wineries of the region, such as Castagna, Giaconda, Sorrenberg, Warner, and newcomers Vignerons Schmölzer and Brown (whose beautiful – and very limited – wines will be hitting our shelves next week).

We love supporting smaller regional wineries, and so for this week’s wine update we looked to our own cellar to see what we could find. And lo! We came across one of the greatest Beechworth wineries: Golden Ball.

Golden Ball winery was first developed in 1996 by Janine and James McLaurin. The area has a long history: The Golden Ball property – among with many others in the Beechworth area – dates back to the discovery of gold in 1852. And prior to European settlement, the area was home to several semi–nomadic Aboriginal clans.

The McLaurin’s pride themselves on producing quality wines hand crafted entirely on their own property. They don’t use insecticides, and their vines are hand pruned with limited watering and irrigation (sourced from the vineyard’s own dam). Since 2010 the vineyard has also been producing their own electricity from a solar grid feed system.

You won’t find them in many liquor stores – most of their wines go to top restaurants. ARIA, Bather’s Pavilion, Quay, Rockpool, Sepia, Tetsuya’s, The Shangri La, and the Hilton have all stocked their wines – and this is only the Sydney list.

Each of their wines spends 18 months in barrel and another 6 months in bottle prior to release. Their barrels are two–thirds old French oak to one–third new.

We’re currently offering four rare back vintages of Golden Ball wines, kept in a temperature controlled cellar.

You can really see the differences between 2003 and 2004. If you prefer your lighter, elegant and savoury style wine we’d recommend the ’03, but if you prefer richer, darker styles then the ’04 is for you.

The wines:

Shiraz 2003

What a cracker! Cassis, red berries, and that brandied, hot cross bun, Christmas pudding kind of deliciousness. Still showing plenty of fresh primary fruits. On the palate it’s light and elegant, with ripe plums and a light savoury note to keep those fruits in check.

Shiraz 2004

A powerful nose with stewed fruits, blackcurrants, and dry spices (such as cinnamon and star anise). There’s a touch more oak on the palate but it’s well integrated. This wine is superbly well balanced with great length – a rich expression of Shiraz from a great vintage.

‘Gallice’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec 2003

A drier and savoury Bordeaux–style blend with well integrated smooth tannins, tobacco leaf, light berry fruits and fresh plums. We recommend decanting.

‘Gallice’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec 2004

A rich wine with dark berry fruits, plums, cassis, and aniseed. It’s spiced and savoury on the palate with a lot of length. We recommend decanting.


Each bottle is $29.95, or 2 for $50. Members will also receive a 10% discount. For reference, current vintages of these wines retail at $55 or above.


Posted: 07/06/2017
Oak Barrel Wine Fair 2017

The Oak Barrel’s Boutique Wine Fair is back in 2017 and will take place Saturday 22 July!

To be held on site at the CBD store, The Wine Fair is all about discovering new wine, meeting people and perhaps putting a face to the winemakers of your existing favourite wines.

This year we've invited people that make the wines we love to drink. A lot of the exhibitors are organic or biodynamicminimal interventionpreservative free or no sulphite, most of them representing the new wave of Australia.

What's common between the winemakers and representatives is that they all give great care to what they producing or growing. We love supporting them, and so we'll be sharing their passion with you around a good glass (or a few)!

As well as a host of local producers, we've invited some of the country's top importers to showcase their latest vintages.

For this year's event we'll open up the tasting and back rooms of The Oak Barrel’s Sydney CBD wine destination.

Keep an eye on the official website for more info as its announced.

When: Saturday July 22nd
Time: 3pm to 6pm
Where: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St. Sydney CBD
Tickets: $30 for members; $40 for non-members.

Winemaker & Importer confirmed on show

Andrew Burchell from Good Intentions Wine Co. (Mount Gambier, SA)
Xavier (Mornington Peninsula)
Angus from Vinden (Hunter Valley)
Tom and Sally Belford from Bobar (Yarra Valley)
Alex from Hte Other Right (Adelaide)
Troy from Attwood (Geelong)
Owen from Latta Vino (Victoria)
Tom from Swinging Bridge (Orange)
Matt from Blood Moon (Yarra Valley)
Jared from Jilly Wine (New England)

+ much more to be confirmed

The Oak Barrel’s Boutique Wine Fair is open to over 18s only and strict RSA regulations will apply. List of exhibitors may change due to unforeseen circumstances. We ask and expect all our punters to respect our Fair Play Policy (available here) and are sure that everyone will act like grown-up adults and have a thigh-slapping good time as a result. Tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable.

-Paul Hervy 

Posted: 01/06/2017
Greek Night with David Lamb


Join David Lamb of Douglas Lamb Wines & The Oak Barrel team for a fantastic Greek night.

We had so much fun last year with David Lamb, we couldn't resist to do it again this year.

This tasting will introduce Vidiano, look at stylistic differences in Santorini Assyrtiko & Xinomavro from Naoussa & Amyndeon.  Finishing off with contrasting expressions of Agiorgitko. We will compare these wines with some up and coming native varieties. It will surely be one of our best Greek wine tastings to date!

Featuring wines from leading Greek wineries; Argyros, Gaia Wines, Kir Yianni, Thymiopoulos and more.

When: Thurday June 29
Time: 6:30pm to 8:15 pm
Where: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St. Sydney CBD
Tickets: $20 for members$30 for non-members.

Wine List 

NV Karanika Brut Speciale
2016 Douloufakis Dafnios Vidiano
2014 Douloufakis ‘Aspros Lagos’ Vidiano
2016 Gaia Thalassits Santorini Assyrtiko
2016 Argyros Estate Santorini Assyrtiko
2014 Thymiopoulos Rose de Xinomavro
2012 Kir Yianni Kali Riza
2013 Kir Yianni Ramnista
2015 Agiorgitiko by Gaia
2015 Gaia 

Wines are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. Tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable.

Posted: 31/05/2017
Patrick Sullivan: Three New Natural Pinots

If you’re interested in the Australian natural wine movement, then you’re probably familiar with the name Patrick Sullivan.

I tried to think of a term other than ‘natural’ (it’s an ill–defined term Sullivan disagrees with) but it is how most people (myself included) came to know his wines. He earned a dedicated following early in his career with his ‘breakfast’ wine: a funky, fresh and aromatic skin contact amber wine made in the days before orange wine bars were de rigueur in Australia.

While Patrick and his wife Megan work on their own winery in the Strzelecki Ranges (they are still very young), Sullivan sources grapes from trusted Victorian based growers producing organic and biodynamic fruit. Sullivan avoids herbicides and synthetic fungicides, relying instead on physically demanding work: closely planted vines, plenty of hand pruning, and environmentally friendly methods to keep mildew away.

Sullivan releases only a small selection of wine with each vintage, and we’re excited to have an allocation of three new Pinots.

The wines:

Amazon – young and fresh

Cloudy, textural, and brilliant. It’s incredibly aromatic: fresh raspberries, sugar plums, and tart red Christmas berries mingled with savoury notes of tomato leaf, pepper berry, and roasted capsicum. The palate has that great sensation of just ripe red summer stone fruits with hints of sea salt and spicy, musky, dusty tannins. Smacks of crunchy fresh acidity.

Absolutely too easy to drink, perfect on its own but it would sing with something deliciously fatty: crispy skin Peking Duck or slow roasted pork, with crackling, of course, and all the trimmings of a long Sunday lunch comes to mind.

The most classically Patrick Sullivan of the three new release Pinots.

Fruit Of The Sky – rich and earthy

A powerful wine. The nose has a distinct aniseed note mingled with fresh blackberries, wild brambly mulberries, and ripe plums. On the palate those fruits are balanced by smooth tobacco leaf and savoury earthiness (think: olives, mushroom, eggplant).

That signature Sullivan acidity is there but in this expression it provides the structure which allows those other elements to come to the fore. The palate is quite complex, and as we sometimes have to sample our wines in haste, we think there’s lots more to get out of this one with time.

We highly recommend decanting or short term cellaring.

Volcano Springs – dark and savoury

If you like your bigger, bolder styles of Pinot then this one’s for you.

The slightly higher alcohol comes across in a great old world port kind of way, which we love. It’s all mixed dark berry fruits: boysenberries, blackberries, blackcurrants – you name it. It’s plush and velvety on the palate with dark plums and those great musky, dusty tannins. There's also a moreish savoury element to it, along with a dash of sea salt and volcanic soil. An almost classical medium-to-full bodied Victorian Pinot.

Perhaps the best thing about this wine is that it’s still quite young and tight at the moment, so we're excited to try it again to see how it evolves.

We recommend decanting or short term cellaring.

Posted: 25/05/2017
New Zealand Wine Night With Two Great Producers

We're proud to be welcoming two great New Zealand wine producers to The Oak Barrel to open some fantastic wines from across the ditch.

Folium and Colombo are both making incredible, interesting wines. Pure and elegant they're using only grapes that they grow. In fact, they are some of the best ambassadors of this new generation of wine maker that wishes to express the fruits grown on their vineyard through their wine. 

This masterclass tasting will be a long way from the mass-market NZ wines we often see on shelves.

Folium's Takaki Okada bought his vineyard in 2010, and he is one of the few winemakers with a dry grown vineyard without any irrigation system.

Baptist Sieber and Carolyn Irwin of Colombo are also representative of the new wave of young wine producers. Producing a very limited quantities of wine, they want to make high quality wine but at accessible price. They are also using only their own grapes, showcasing the difference and an authenticity of the terroirs.

With these two fantastic producers, we are going to learn more about New Zealand wine and also drink some very good wine.

WHEN: Wednesday May 31th
TIME: 6:30pm to 8:15pm
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney CBD
PRICE: $25 for members; $35 for non-members

We’ll be trying:

Folium Vineyard - Marlborough

2015 Sauvignon Blanc
2015 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
2015 Pinot Noir
2013 Reserve Pinot Noir

Colombo Winemakers - Martinborough

2015 Sauvignon Blanc
2015 Chardonnay
2016 Rosé
2015 Pinot Noir

Wines are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. Tickets are transferable and non-refundable.


Posted: 12/05/2017
Natural Italian Wine: An Introductory Masterclass

The term "natural wine" is fast becoming a common term around the country's bottle stores, bars and dinner tables.

But what is it exactly? And does it taste different?

A natural wine doesn’t mean that other wines are un-natural, but let’s say that most 'natural' wines are made with a shared philosophy: minimum intervention. The movement shares the same idea across the globe and we can find natural wines in every country now including, Australia, Georgia, France or Italy.

The last two have a long history in natural wine making. With a focus on the care of their vineyards, they prefer to use less machinery and little additives to maintain the integrity of their wines. Minimising the use of sulphur is big part of this and a main topic of conversation, not just in Italy and France, but around the world.

The goal is to have a symbiosis with your vineyard.

All the wines and producers presented on the evening share this passion.

To explain this in better terms (that is, opening bottles and drinking them) Giorgio De Maria will be hosting a natural wine class to look into the practises of Italy.

An ex-sommelier, Di Maria is an importer of Giorgio Di Maria Fun Wines and Co-Organiser and Creator of Rootstock Sydney (one the biggest natural fairs in Australia).

He will guide you through the complexities of Italian natural wines and bring you all his stories from Italy!

WHEN: Thursday June 8th
TIME: 6:30pm to 8:15pm
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney CBD

Carolina Gatti Bolle Corsare (prosecco)

Mario Maciocca Monocromo #1 Passerina
Cantina Giardino Paski

Feudo d’Ugni L’Usignolo Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo

Farnea Ombra Turbo 2015 1 L
Le Coste Litrozzo Rosso 2015 1 L
Alice Bonaccorsi Etna Rosso 2013

Sorelle Palazzi Vinsanto 2010 375ml

Wines are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. Tickets are transferable and non-refundable.

Posted: 12/05/2017
Manon Wine: A Rising Star From Adelaide

Deep in the Adelaide Hills and located on the top of a mountain at 600 metres above sea level Manon, Monique Millton (of the Millton winery family) and Tim Webber (an ex-cook from Sydney), have been farming here for a few years now.

Not just grapes, they have their own vegetables square, plans for chickens and sheep and a compost in the middle of the vineyard to help bringing life to the vines.

The soil was first utilised by a doctor in the early 1980s, who as a fan of Burgundy and Bordeaux planted mostly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon. Team Manon are carrying on the traditions of the beautiful soil with their farming and winemaking philosophies.

When it comes to their winemaking, they aren’t adding anything to their wine (no added sulphites, no additives of any kind).

They’ve found a good way of life here, making wine that they love to drink and share. Doing all the labour by hand and minimising machinery in the winery, they used their own grapes from their own big backyard. With Tim’s culinary background, this Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir match extremely well with food as well.

Manon Peaches Pinot Gris Savagnin 2016

Very pure and refreshing wine. slighlty pinky in colour, lovely minerality and a hint of berries fruit.

Manon Pino 2016

Make with no SO2 in any stage of the winemaking. This is a dense Pinot with some light fruit and cherry mixed berry. I loved the minerality and the structure of the wine.


Posted: 10/05/2017
Good Intentions Natural Wine Masterclass With The Winemaker/Owner

Flying in direct from Mount Gambier in South Australia, Andrew Burchell – owner and winemaker of Good Intentions wine co – will be joining us Thursday 18 May for a masterclass through his fascinating wines.

Speak to people involved with the natural wine push in Australia at the moment and Burchell is arguably the new guy to watch at the moment. Passionate, creative and innovative, he’s achieved already some amazing things.

Burchell previously worked for Bress Winery and created his own label few years ago in Mount Gambier, his hometown. He always had the intention (gettit?) to return to where he grew up and prove that Mount Gambier has potential to be a respected name in the wine industry.

All his vineyards are relatively close to one of the few dormant volcanos in Australia (although the most recent eruption date was nearly 6000 years ago!). Burchell believes the proximity explains the high fertility of the soil, a great piece of land to grow vines.

Mount Gambier is one of the coolest wine climates after Tasmania, with warm days and cool night. It could be the new hot spot for Pinot Noir planted on volcanic soil.
Andrew is very attached to his vines and farms everything by organic principals. This new release 2016 vintage is made with no additions of sulphur throughout the entire winemaking process.

Join us for an intimate chat, dissection and tasting of these vibrant labels.

WHEN: Thursday May 18th
TIME: 6:30pm to 8:15pm
WHERE: The Oak Barrel, 152 Elizabeth St, Sydney CBD
PRICE: $20 for members; $30 for non-members

What we’ll be opening to taste:

Relatively White, Semillon Sauvignon 
Pretty in Pink, Pinot Noir Rose
Noir Dee Doot Dah, Pinot Noir
Relatively Red, Syrah Sauvignon Semillon
Gris Diddly Dee, Pinot Gris
Frankie, Cabernet Franc
Ridiculously Red, Petit Verdot Semillon
Ohh La la Noir, Pinot Noir Pinot Gris
The Artful Dodger, Riesling 2015
The Artful Dodger, Riesling (barrel aged) 2015
Frankie Turns 2, Cabernet Franc (1 year in barrel)

 Wines are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. Tickets are transferable and non-refundable.

Posted: 04/05/2017
Lucy Margaux 2017 Release

It's here! Another anwsome release Lucy Margaux from winemaker Anton Van Klopper, who is arguably one of Australia's best known and respected natural winemakers. Certainly a pioneer of the style - his wines are always highly sought after.

The wines are made using natural principles with no added anything except a small amount of sulphur at bottling. Anton’s wines are always interesting and quite often brilliant with an assortment of blends and styles released each year. The wines are fresh and sublime at all levels with his single vineyard Pinot Noirs of particularly high quality.

Anton Von Klopper of Lucy Margaux / Domaine Lucci is one of the most creative wine makers in the Australian wine industry. Having started out in restaurants as a sommelier he eventually found his way into the world of wine. Having completed his Oenology degree at the university of Adelaide he then spent several years working vintages around the world.

In 2002 Anton and his family purchased a property in the Adelaide Hills. Here he farms in biodynamic as well as taking small parcels from neighbouring vineyards. His wines have very quickly reached cult status and established Anton as one of the leaders of the Natural Wine Movement in Australia.

This year's outturn has now arrived in store and is available for purchase online.  

Wine available now in store and online: click here to see all the range 

Lucy Margaux Wildman Blanc 2016 / $29.95 per bottle ($24.25 in any 6 for members)

Lucy Margaux Gris Blush 2016 / $22.95 per bottle ($17.95 in any 6 for members)

Lucy Margaux Gris Gris 2016 / $29.95 per bottle ($24.25 in any 6 for members)

Lucy Margaux Vino Rosso 2016 / $22.95 per bottle ($17.95 in any 6 for members)

Lucy Margaux Little Creek Pinot Noir 2016 / $44.95 per bottle ($35.95 in any 6 for members)

Lucy Margaux Monomeith Pinot Noir 2016 / $44.95 per bottle ($35.95 in any 6 for members)

Lucy Margaux Catastrophe 2016 / $26.95 per bottle ($21.55 in any 6 for members)

Lucy Margaux Estate Pinot Noir 2016 / $49.95 per bottle ($40.45 in any 6 for members)

Lucy Margaux Merlot 2016 / $29.95 per bottle ($24.25 in any 6 for members)

Lucy Margaux 'Village Of Tiers' Pinot Noir 2016 / $29.95 per bottle ($24.25 in any 6 for members)


Posted: 12/04/2017