Monday, 1 September 2014


David Ellis


THE Adelaide Hills' Chain of Ponds have an unusually-named Amelia's Letter label for their Pinot Grigio, and there's an equally unusual story behind it that's guaranteed to get the conversation going over a bottle or two with family or friends.          


Back in the late 1880s at Chain of Ponds, about 30k's out of Adelaide, blacksmith and wheelwright James Caust decided to visit family in homeland Cornwall after the death of his wife, and on the long sailing trip to Southampton penned a letter to his youngest daughter, Amelia then aged 28. It was a long, touching and humorous account of his journey and his love of she and the family he was re-connecting with, and was written in quaint Cornish.


That 126-year old Letter survives to this day, and Chain of Ponds have dedicated the name Amelia's Letter to their annual Pinot Grigio wines since 2010. Their latest, the 2013 is a lovely drop with a pear and ripe peach intensity coupled with a touch of apple, wonderful minerality and a creamy finish. Great buying at $22 to enjoy with oven-baked salmon or a roasted pork tenderloin, as you recount the delightful tale of James Caust's letter to his daughter Amelia all those 126 years ago.


ONE TO NOTE: BARBERA is the second-most widely grown variety in Italy, but it wasn't until the 1960s it was established here, with the first vines planted at Mudgee in NSW and from there introduced later into the Hunter Valley by Andrew Margan.


Today Andrew's Margan White Label Barbera is a wine you can happily buy-now and drink-now as they do in Barbera's homeland, while at the same time showing its got everything going for it to develop wonderfully well with anything up to ten years, or even more, in the cellar. Beautifully savoury on the palate with a somewhat red currant tartness, good acid and fine-grained tannins, we happily say forget the cellar – and like us, get hold of it now and enjoy it now.


Pay $40 and serve with tomato- and herb-based Italian dishes, or mushroom risotto.


NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.





[] ONE whose 126 year heritage will get the conversation going over dinner with family and friends.

[] WHAT better with Italian tomato- and herb-based dishes, or a mushroom risotto.




Monday, 25 August 2014


David Ellis


WINGARA Wine Group have released a new and somewhat quirkily-named La La Land label, with a 2013 Tempranillo and a 2013 Malbec from its Victorian vineyards the first two to hit the shelves under the novel and certainly eye-catching moniker.


And both live up nicely to the claims of Winemaker Phil Spillman as to their great generosity of flavour, and giving good reason to also look forward to a La La Land white that Phil says he has planned for release later in the year.


The Malbec is a particularly rewarding buy-now/drink-now wine with plump dark-fruit flavours, suggestions of spice and chocolate, and vanilla undertones. Phil suggests it as an ideal match with slow-cooked Argentinian-style barbecued beef short ribs – what else, with Argentina now producing 75% of the world's Malbec, and BBQ beef ribs somewhat of a national dish over there (where they marinate it in red wine, sprinkle with rock salt, slow-cook over a medium fire, and put on the table with the Malbec… certainly a match worth giving a thought to yourself.)


At $16 each, both the La La Land Malbec and Tempranillo are good-value buying.


ONE TO NOTE: HOWARD Vineyard that was established near Nairne in the Adelaide Hills less than ten years ago, is gaining itself an almost cult-following with some exceptional single-vineyard wines that are crafted with food very much in front of mind.


One such is their 2013 Pinot Gris made from fruit from a vineyard at Schoenthal, 450m up in the Hills, and which shows just how well the variety does here – in fact the Adelaide Hills could be said to have the perfect climate for making some of the finest Pinot Gris in Australia, the fruit enjoying a long cold ripening period that ensures flavour intensity and perfect acid development.


Pay $22 at Howard Vineyard's cellar door for this beaut drop, and enjoy chilled with seafoods or a Sunday roast pork. Buy via






[] DO as the Argentinians do – enjoy Malbec with barbecued beef short ribs.

[] GETTING itself an almost-cult following in less than ten years.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Have a Hunter Christmas With Mercure Hunter Valley Resort

Media Release

Celebrate the end of the year festivities in unforgettable style with Mercure Hunter Valley Resort's unique company Christmas packages.

For a convivial outdoor experience, a 'Pool-side Paella & Pinatas Party Package' is available. Set at the magnificent Mediterranean Pool, embrace festivities in a true Spanish celebratory style.

For a more elegant party experience, a 'Working Winery Dinner Package' is available. This exclusive dining experience is set amongst vintage wine barrels at the international award-winning McGuigan Barrel Room, which is a working winery.

Both are suitable for parties from 15 up to 160 people.

Packages can be customised with menus from $55 per person and a special accommodation rate from $169 per twin share room. All accommodation includes entry to the Christmas Lights Spectacular at Hunter Valley Gardens, which is right where Mercure Hunter Valley Resort is located. Terms & conditions apply.

Menus are created by Executive Chef Jean Marc Pollet, combining the best local produce from the Hunter Valley with seasonal flavour.

Mercure Hunter Valley Resort is located only 35 minutes from Newcastle, 45 minutes from the Central Coast and under 2 hours from Sydney. It is within walking distance to all the unique offerings of the Hunter Valley Gardens.

There are 72 beautifully appointed guestrooms that open out to a private balcony or courtyard, taking in the wonderful Hunter Valley views and magnificent gardens surrounding the property.

Bookings available now. To book and for more information, contact the events team by calling 02-4998 2000 or email

For more information on the Resort, visit

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Your Invitation to Outstanding on the Pier - 2014 NSW Wine Awards Tasting

We’re Back on the Pier- #OOTPier14

Outstanding on the Pier 2014 #OOTPier14We had such a great time last year, we’re back again with our favourite NSW foodies, with what promises to be another outstanding event!

Taste and critique with some of the State’s finest winemakers, the
 #topwines of NSW as judged at the 2014 NSW Wine Awards.

From north, south and west, an #outstanding line up of wines on tasting; the best of our regions.

Vote for the “People's Choice” Award of 2014 for a chance to win 
a #topwines package, whilst enjoying the best of NSW Wine & produce in a unique landmark Sydney location.

When: Thursday 30th October 2014, 5.00 -9.00pm

Where: Pier 2/3, 13A Hickson Road, Walsh Bay

Entry: $45 Early Bird + Booking Fee [Available until 5th October]

Entry Price: Includes a Riedel tasting glass [RRP $20], NSW Regional produce and tastings with the best of the NSW Wine Industry of 2014.

Don't miss out on this #outstanding event
Purchase your tickets here

Monday, 18 August 2014


SAVE $7 a bottle on the winery's
own price with this one.

Wc18 Aug 14

David Ellis

AN interesting company called Travelling Vineyards Australia has teamed up with the prestigious Australian Good Food Guide to provide that organisation's substantial following with premium drops from some 500 Australian wineries at prices that can be substantially below those wineries' very own.

One such of their offerings that we recently tasted was a more-ish 2009 Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz from Signature Wines, whose forward berry and blackcurrant flavours, and beautiful richness, virtually shouted an ideal match with spicy foods.

Normally selling at $336 for a 12-bottle case, through AGFG its presently on discount at $295 – but hop onto and you'll also find a bonus $50 Gift Coupon that brings it down to an even lower $245… and with free delivery Australia-wide as well. That's an overall saving of $7 a bottle on the winery's own price.

That website also links directly to an extensive range of other reds and whites available at discounted prices through the Australian Good Food Guide.

A GREAT thought on Father's Day for wine
aficionado and enthusiastic novice alike.
ONE TO NOTE: IF you've a Dad with a more than passing interest in wine, a thought for Father's Day (September 7) is the 2015 edition of Australian Wine Vintages that goes on sale on September 1.

Author Rob Geddes, one of just a handful of Australian Masters of Wine, tasted his way through an extraordinary 8,000 wines for this 32nd edition of the pocket-size guide that's packed with incisive tasting notes, vintage reports and indicative prices for over 6,000 wines from 317 of Australia's best makers... and Rob's judgment on what he considered the Top 100 of all those thousands that he tasted.

There's advice as well on cellar doors worth visiting, and an App that's available also includes interactive maps and tips on where to eat and stay in Australia's wine regions. Priced at $34.95 it's a must-have for aficionado and enthusiastic novice alike; available at bookstores or

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.

Monday, 11 August 2014


SNAP UP this one when visiting Mistletoe's
Hunter Valley cellar door
– it's perfect with seafoods.

Wc11 Aug 14

David Ellis

WE were reminded the other day of how the Hunter Valley's Mistletoe Wines was somewhat scorned by some fellow Hunter makers, and not the odd cellar door visitor too, when back in the late 1990s the company launched a series of Semillons that had varying degrees of sweetness – much like Germany does its Rieslings.

These ranged from an almost extremely-dry The Reserve Semillon to an off-dry Home Vineyard and a Silvereye Semillon that was close-to Mosel-like sweet. And while critics had a field day then, it's a different matter today: many other Hunter makers now also make sweeter-style Semillons, including some of those original critics, and customers today heap praise on Mistletoe's at its Cellar Door.

Owners, Ken and Gwen Sloan and their Winemaker, Nick Paterson say this has achieved one of their original goals: to have those who initially lean towards sweeter wines try these sweeter Hunter Semillons, and as their palates mature, progress to Mistletoe's (and the Hunter's generally) drier-style Semillons.

We recently tried all three Mistletoes and loved the off-dry 2013 Home Vineyard Semillon from a vintage many consider one of the best in 20 years for Hunter whites. It's a wine with wonderful lemony grapefruit flavours and a perfect harmony between sweetness and crisp acidity, to us a perfect drop at $22 with all manner of seafoods. Available cellar-door and select restaurants; see

HOMER'S favourite drop is now available
here in six-packs and cartons.
ONE TO NOTE: FOR twenty-odd years we've remained true in this column to our favourite tipple, wine – be it red or white, still or bubbly, chilled or room temperature.

But we mentioned enjoying the occasional "cleansing ale" the other day to a beer-loving mate who also happens to be a long-time fan of TV show, The Simpsons – and to our surprise he offered us bozo Homer's favourite drop, a Duff Beer which we didn't even know existed. USA-made, it now sells here through BWS and Dan Murphy's at $17 for a 355ml cans 6-pack. Lager in style with a hint of fruit on the palate, it'll doubtless have fans sharing one with Homer… what'll they think of next?

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.

Monday, 4 August 2014


WcO4 Aug 14


David Ellis


CHIEF Winemaker, Matt Koch and his team have done a fantastic job with their recently-released Rosemount MV Collection of top drops from McLaren Vale, a region that's been an essential part of the company since the 1980s – and the more-so since it acquired the 100-year-old Ryecroft winery and vineyards there in 1991.


They've four wines under the MV label, a Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2012 vintage and a Chardonnay and GSM from the 2013 – and it was the GSM that really grabbed our attention: here is a wine that absolutely bursts in the mouth with raspberry and strawberry flavours foremost, followed by some spice and nice earthiness to round out to a lovely soft finish.


Matt Koch readily talks-up McLaren Vale as one of the company's most dynamic regions, producing fruit of regular consistency and quality. And that certainly was the case for this 2013 GSM (Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre,) which came from a particularly hot vintage, but was shielded to a nice degree by a strong leaf canopy resulting from heavy winter rains and a mild spring preceding a hot summer.


A wonderful drop for winter-time red meat or game dishes, and with a good jug on the side of a pepper- or mushroom-heavy gravy. Well recommended at $25.


ONE TO NOTE: USUALLY thought of as a great slurper on hot summer's days, Rosé in our book is equally one that we like to take along any time of year to share at the table with warm to hot curries at our favourite Indian eateries.


And one we found a ripper just recently was a 2011 Cherry Tree Hill label blended from Cabernet, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc fruit off that company's vineyard at Sutton Forest in the NSW Southern Highland, its flavours a perfect foil when served chilled with our spread of curry choices.  Priced at $18 plus $12 freight (for any number from 1 to 48;) for full range, prices and "Club Discounts" of  up to 30% check out   A Cellar Door is planned for opening in Spring.


NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.





[] WONDERFUL drop with winter-time read meat or game dishes.

[] CURRY favour with this one: an ideal wine served chilled with Indian curries.




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