Tahbilk is one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious wineries. While his family have been making wine there for decades, Alistair Purbrick is the first officially credentialed winemaker to work at Tahbilk. He graduated Roseworthy from College (the mecca for Aussie winemakers) at age 24, and he took over as head winemaker at Tahbilk. As he renovated and the winery and cellars, Alistair worked closely with his grandfather to ensure that he kept the style of red wine that had earned Tahbilk its name.
Alistair’s grandfather, Eric Purbrick, was something of an innovator. Under his management, Tahbilk switched from producing fortified wine, which was the mainstay of the Australian wine industry at the time, to producing table wine. What’s more, Eric introduced varietal labelling which, although standard procedure today, was a bold move in 1930s Australia.
Like his grandfather, Alistair is an innovator. He renewed and improved the winery and vineyards at Tahbilk. This allowed him to modernise the production of premium quality, varietally expressive red wines. He also made dramatic changes to how white wines were made at Tahbilk, on making balanced wines with clean aromas and complex flavours.
Tahblik Nagambie Lakes Viognier
Even before Alistair’s arrival, Tahbilk white wines had a serious claim to fame. Their Marsanne was served at a luncheon for the leaders of the Commonwealth following the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It was a light and fresh white wine, and it became one of the Queen’s favourite wines. She instructed the cellarers at Buckingham Palace to buy Tahbilk Marsanne. As a result, there were several royal visits to Tahbilk throughout the 60s and 70s.
Like their Marsanne, Tahblik Nagambie Lakes Viognier is fit for a Queen, with a deep, rich nose of apricot, melon and green bell pepper. The mouthfeel is as rich and creamy as you might expect from a varietal Viognier and the apricot, melon and green bell pepper flavours reappear on the palate. This wine is certainly not shy or retiring. The flavours are robust and forthcoming enough to stand up to smoked fish, or strongly flavoured oily fish like mackerel. Try it with something like smoked mackerel paté on toasted whole wheat soda bread.
Tahblik Nagambie Lakes Cabernet Sauvignon
As far as I’m aware, there are no monarchs that call the Tahblik Nagambie Lakes Cabernet Sauvignon their favourite wine. However, I can confirm that enjoying a few glasses with a hearty meal ( will leave one feeling pretty regal.
This Cabernet Sauvignon has everything you would hope for from a Tahbilk Estate release red. On the nose, there are assertive aromas of sweet, black fruit along with pungent herbaceous notes of mint and eucalyptus. Sweet dark fruit flavours are accompanied by fine grained tannins. Among the fruit, blackcurrant and blueberry dominate joined by hints of menthol. Finally, there’s a slight touch of oak noticeable on the long stylish finish. Roast rib of beef or chargrilled steak would be obvious choices, but an Ottolenghi-style aubergine salad with pomegranate and herbs could also work well here.
Both of these wines are full of full-on flavours. Personified they would embody that rare blend of confidence without arrogance. They’re exceptionally well made, so they have every reason to be confident. Stop by our Arnotts or Mullingar shops from Monday the 18th of September and have a taste of what one of Australia’s historic wineries has to offer.