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translation missing: en.ACellars Newsletter, 23rd September, 2021: ACellars Newsletter, 23rd September, 2021


How does a New Zealander who grew up in South Africa end up starting an iconoclastic estate in the Roussillon?

This isn't exactly an everyday occurrence, but so it goes for Tom Lubbe of Domaine Matassa. In the late 90's, Tom was working at the only estate in South Africa using indigenous yeasts and lower yields. Interested in working with Mediterranean varietals, Tom managed to score a three month internship at the legendary Domaine Gauby in the village of Calce. Gérard Gauby quickly befriended Tom and asked him to come back for three consecutive vintages as cellar helper. During that time, Tom met his wife Nathalie, who just so happens to be Gérard's sister.

The birth of their first child made Tom reconsider moving back to South Africa, opting instead to stay in Calce to start his own estate. Matassa was founded in 2003, with the first vintage entirely produced in the recently married couple's living room. Gérard felt so bad about this that he gave Tom the old Gauby cellar in 2004!

Tom works with many of the traditional Catalan varieties: Carignan, Mourvèdre, Grenache (mostly Lladonner Pelut, the ancient catalan strain of Grenache), Grenache Gris, Muscat d'Alexandrie and Muscat de Petits-Grains. These grapes are often co-planted together, particularly in the parcels of very old vines. In total, 20 hectares are cultivated on schist, marl, black slate and black marl soils. While Tom still farms some of the very low yielding old vines around the village of Calce, he has vastly expanded to different areas where yields are more generous - though still considered low for the region.

The vineyards are worked naturally without any chemical aids. Tom is certified organic by Ecocert. And while he does occasionally use biodynamic techniques to activate and nourish his soils, over the years this has become less of a priority. Instead, an adamant dedication to cover crops has completely transformed his soils and in turn the wines. Tom is convinced that the increased insect life within the soils, particularly worms, has changed the flavors of his wines.

Much has also changed in the cellar over the years. All the wines have now intentionally been de-classified to Vin de France. The alcohol is much lower, rarely more than 12%. The white wines are all macerated on their skins, a choice that goes back to Alexandria 2008, the first Matassa wine of its kind. For the reds, whole-cluster infusions take precedent to maceration and extraction, with white grapes often co-fermented. If oak is used, it is not to bring structure to the wine but rather oxygen. Longer élevages have been abandoned to bottle wines much earlier. The wines are bottled without filtration or fining. Sulphur, which Tom had used judiciously in the past, has not been added to any of the production since the 2015 vintage.

We have incredibly limited amounts of these wines - only a handful of bottles. So don't wait! Find Matassa here.



Single Vineyard Chardonnay Release

It's hard to think of the great wines of Tasmania without mentioning the name Pooley.

Pooley Wines was established in 1985 when the late Denis and Margaret Pooley planted ten rows of Riesling and seven rows of Pinot Noir on their 16-hectare farm at Cooinda Vale, Campania, in the Coal River Valley in southern Tasmania. Over the years the vineyard grew, and plantings of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay were added, along with Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. In fact, the quality of the fruit from this site was of such a high standard that Cooinda Chardonnay was included in Penfold's iconic Yattarna Chardonnay for many years. It was in 2016 that Denis and Margaret's grand-daughter, and current head winemaker, Anna Pooley, decided to keep the fruit aside, and produce a single site expression of this incredible vineyard.

The other feather in the Pooley cap is the Butcher's Hill Vineyard in nearby Richmond, which was acquired by the family in 2003. Planted to Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, it is the site of the beautiful cellar door, and the stately Belmont House, built in 1832.

Pooley Wines is a true family affair, with third generation siblings, Matt and Anna, working as viticulturalist and winemaker, respectively. Their father, John, has been instrumental in the growth of the business too, by acquiring Belmont House and planting the Butcher's Hill Vineyard. They are recognised as Tassie's first three-generation wine family.

Each year the single vineyard releases are eagerly anticipated from Pooley. Explore the Cooinda Vale and Butcher's Hill sites here.


The "Aren't You Gladys We Made A Picnic Pack For You" Pack

Two's company, five's a picnic!

After months of being stuck at home with only our nearest and dearest (self or others) for company, a few of us lucky ones have been afforded a little freedom. But with this social closer-distancing comes problems: decisions!

What to wear to the park after months of wearing the same set of leisure suit lairy and loud track pants in the home office?

Which park has the best water views, but the least other people?

Who will be delegated the sandwiches and who should be entrusted to bring dessert?

To avoid decision fatigue as you venture out to tackle the latest of Sydney's "parking" problems, we've got your back with this pack for the park. The "Aren't You Gladys We Made A Park Pack For You Pack!": a selection of our favourite party-of-five crowd-pleasing easy-drinking picnic wines, with the colours. All, all the colours. Including yellow.

Drink and socialise responsibly. Shop here.