Monday, 11 May 2015

Banjo's Run Merlot - Chateau de Sours Rose Bordeaux



David Ellis


WE happily admit to a fondness for Merlot, an easy-drinking, food-friendly drop that today is the second-most consumed red in the world after Cabernet Sauvignon, with around  260,000ha (640,000 acres) planted to the variety globally.


And while it thrives in warmer regions it can do exceptionally well in cooler climates too, and where because it doesn't ripen too quickly, it develops a beautiful softness along with lovely fruity varietal flavours. One such cool climate label we suggest is worth trying is from the boutique Banjo's Run at tiny Exeter in the NSW Southern Highlands, around half way between Sydney and Canberra and 1.5hours from each.


Their 2013 is medium bodied with nicely recognisable Merlot red berry and blackcurrant fruit flavours, and with its suggestions of spicy tannin makes for a great match with a Italian tomato-based pastas, herbed chicken or osso bucco.


Banjo's Run 2013 Merlot is just $25 a bottle by the 6- or 12-bottle pack: order direct, and check cellar door hours if thinking of visiting the Southern Highlands, with vigneron Bill Hall on, 0408 228 724 or Freight begins from just $10 per pack depending on distance.


ONE TO NOTE: THE late (great) Auberon Waugh, writing for The Spectator Magazine's Wine Club,  once described Chateau de Sours  Rosé as "probably the greatest Rosé in the world" – somewhat high praise indeed.


And be it so or not, this company has been producing exceptional wines (not just Rosés) out of Bordeaux for some 200 years, yet remarkably a 2013 Chateau de Sours Rosé that's just been released here sells for an extraordinarily modest $23.95.


A blend of Merlot and Cabernet, it has a palate akin to strawberries and cream, a wonderfully sparkling freshness, and with 12.5% alcohol it's a ripper drop for that special-occasion dinner to go with grilled lobster… or maybe a more everyday Thai or something similarly spicy.


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



[] NSW Southern Highlands' Banjo's Run Merlot great with so many food options.

[] MATCH this with special-occasion grilled lobster, or maybe Thai or something

   similarly spicy.



 for week beginning 11 May 2015

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Wolf Blass New Look Cellar Door Beckons with Black Label, Blending and Bromley

Press Release

South Australia's Wolf Blass Cellar Door in the Barossa Valley is offering several enticing reasons to drop in for a tasting, following a recent redesign.

Paying homage to Wolf Blass' iconic Black Label Wines, the most iconic red blend in the Wolf Blass stable, the Cellar Door has recently created an impressive Black Label Wall, showcasing the world's only collection of every Black Label vintage since the winery's inception in 1973. The wall is a tribute to the Black Label's unprecedented Jimmy Watson success, Australia's most prestigious and sought after wine award.  Black Label is the only wine in the country to win the coveted trophy a record four times.

For those who fancy themselves as an amateur winemaker, the Cellar Door is offering two educational and interactive wine experiences.  Guests can 'Blend it like Blass' by taking the Black Label's regional components and then using them to blend their own version of the reputable series. The experience is available for $40 per person for a minimum six guests.

If a more rustic tasting experience appeals, guests can taste 'Black from the Barrel'. The Black label comprises many layers of flavour in a complex composition of intense fruit characters, magnificent structure, a rich lustrous texture, long velvety tannins and a lingering palate. Visitors taste the two individual components directly from the barrels, alongside the current vintage Black Label Cabernet Shiraz. This is available for $20 per person.

Adding to the Cellar Door's charm, visitors can marvel over a new installation of a life size artwork, titled 'Wolfie', oil and acrylic on canvas, 2014, by one of Australia's most recognised artists and fellow South Australian, David Bromley. The painting, which hangs proudly on the Black Label Wall, was created as a celebration of Wolfgang Blass' 80th birthday. The artwork, depicting him wearing his trademark bow-tie, was entered in this year's prestigious Archibald Prize.

The state-of-the-art Visitors Centre and Cellar Door is an all-encompassing destination for guests visiting the region, offering interactive behind-the-scenes experiences while showcasing impressive memorabilia and artwork.

Wolf Blass is located at 97 Sturt Highway, one hour north of Adelaide. Opening hours are 10am – 4.30pm daily.  For more information visit

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Hunter Valley Wine Festival to be part of 2015 Hunter Valley Food & Wine Month - Accommodation package released

Hunter Valley Wine Festival to be part of 2015 Hunter Valley Food & Wine Month

The Hunter Valley Wine Festival will move from its previous October date to Saturday, 20 June, to become a major new addition to Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month.
The Festival will be staged at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, with more exhibitors, more food stalls, more entertainment, and more fun, but without any increase in ticket prices.
The pre-purchase $20 entry ticket provides five tasting vouchers that can be used to taste wines from some 40 vineyards. There will also be beer and cider tastings at Lovedale Brewery, food outlets, and entertainment throughout the day for adults and kits like.
"The Festival will be an important addition to the Hunter Valley Food & Wine Month," said Festival Manager Jenny Farrell.
"Since re-establishing the Festival after a 30 year hiatus, it has been held in October, but on both occasions it coincided with a severe heat wave and we thought that with the Hunter's very mild winter climate, it would be more comfortable and attractive for wine lovers to appreciate the Valley's superb wines as part of Food & Wine Month.
"It has been fantastic to have the support of the major producers – many of whom had been at the previous Hunter Valley Festivals back in the early 1980s – as well as many boutique wineries. The new-style Festival is a friendly, high-quality event which now boasts a very attractive venue that makes it ideal for all wine and food lovers, from the aficionado to those who just want an entertaining Saturday with family and friends.
"We provide a one-stop shop for people to discover some 40 Hunter Valley wineries in the one location."
Ms Farrell said that the Festival would be a family friendly event, with a miniature train, carousel, lemonade stall and other activities aimed at keeping children occupied, while the adults enjoyed the tastings and entertainment.
The Hunter Valley Wine Festival is a Schwartz Family Company community initiative, with the local Rural Fire Service benefiting from funds raised during the Festival.
For tickets and further Festival information visit
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley Resort is located two hours' drive from Sydney and is the perfect place to stay when discovering the Hunter region with easy access to wineries and attractions.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley offers deluxe king or twin rooms, spa suites, and two and three bedroom self-contained villas. Leisure facilities include the Tea Tree Spa, an 18 hole golf course, 25 metre outdoor heated pool, fitness centre and the free on-site Water Dragons Club for children.
Special "Stay and Play" packages are available at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley from $279.00 per night including accommodation, breakfast and Festival tickets. Reservations on 138 388, or book online at .

Monday, 4 May 2015

Richland Sauvignon Blanc - Katnook Founders Block Cabernet Sauvignon



David Ellis


SAUVIGNON Blanc is today one of the world's most-widely planted white wine grape varieties, with over 121,000ha (300,000 acres) estimated to be under cultivation around the globe.


Originating in the Bordeaux region of France, it still flourishes there as well as now-other parts of that country, plus Italy, Spain, Romania and Moldova, and further afield Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Chile and South Africa.


A rewarding local example is Calabria Family Wines' Richland Sauvignon Blanc from the NSW Riverina, the 2014 a lovely fruity and full-bodied drop in which maker Bill Calabria has coaxed to the forefront its wonderful varietal tropical fruit flavours of passionfruit, lime and mango.


At just $12 it's a great white on warmer days to simply enjoy on its own, makes a perfect match with seafood platters that include prawns, crabs and lobsters, or as Bill Calabria himself enjoys, with Asian stir fries featuring lemon grass, coriander, tomato, onions and a touch of garlic.


ONE TO NOTE:  KATNOOK in South Australia's Coonawarra launched their Founder's Block range in 2005, and in the decade since it's become their biggest selling wine – a just-released 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon a further great example of just why.


For here's a medium-bodied wine that's got wonderfully classic Cabernet Sauvignon mint and blackcurrant to the fore, and with accompanying fine tannins… and interestingly came from a vintage that got off to an early start after good Winter rainfalls in 2012 led into a warm and dry Spring, with these conditions continuing right through the growing season into that early vintage in 2013.


Priced at $20, with those minty and blackcurrant flavours it's a great one to enjoy with roast lamb, or even something with a suggestion of spiciness to it.




[] FRUITY and full-bodied, here's a great match with cold seafood platters, or Asian

   stir fries if you prefer something hot.

[] WHAT better than the minty and blackcurrant flavours of this one with a roast 

   lamb dinner?



Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Fox Gordon By George Cabernet Tempranillo 2012 - McGuigan The Shortlist Botrytis Semillon 2012


David Ellis

BACK in the 1990s Sam and Rachel Atkins (nee Fox,) David Cumming, Jane Gordon and Natasha Mooney had a dream, and that was to make, market and sell premium wines from the Barossa Valley and Adelaide hills that would one day sit amongst the great brands of the world as measured by value and enjoyment .

Having learned their trade through working with some of Australia's largest wine companies, today they're well on the road to achieving that dream: their boutique Fox Gordon label that they launched in 2000 recognises the founding women in the company through the surnames of Rachel and Jane, together with a logo of stylised images of Rachel and Natasha (who is company winemaker.)

And while already well on their road, they say they do not mind how much time it takes to fulfil their goals and dreams, nor the commitment, investment, belief and passion necessary to go with it.

A rewarding drop reflecting these attributes and which they've just-recently released, is a Fox Gordon By George Cabernet Tempranillo 2012, a quite unusual blend that delivers rich blueberry and rhubarb fruit flavours together with sweet and juicy tannins.

And it's nicely priced at $22.95 to enjoy with a red duck curry, or spicy paella.

ONE TO NOTE: MID-YEAR'S not that far off, which means time to start thinking hearty pudds, and to go with them good "sticky" Botrytis Semillon dessert wines.

The Hunter Valley's Neil McGuigan has created a particularly rewarding such "sticky" in his McGuigan The Shortlist Botrytis Semillon 2012, because in it he's crafted a drop that will go equally well with one of those warming Winter-time pudds  – or with anything from fruit salad and ice-cream to cheese-cake, apple pie and custard, anything in the way of slices… even cheese platters.

Hunter Valley and Riverina fruit for this luscious dessert-matcher was left on the vine late enough to become infected with Botrytis Cinerea, the so-called "Noble Rot" that concentrates flavour, sugar and acidity to give the wine its distinctive character.

At $20 a 375ml half-bottle, you'll find it delightfully rewarding with those dessert ideas.

 for week beginning 20 April 2015



[] UNUSUAL and fulfilling blend to go with red duck curry or spicy paella.

[] TIME to start thinking Winter time pudds and "sticky" dessert wines like this one.


Monday, 20 April 2015

Shaw Isabella Riesling - AIX Rosé



David Ellis


FOR those of us with a passion for Rosé it was great news to learn that a drop from one of the largest and most prestigious wineries in France's Provence region is now available on shelves here.


Maison Saint AIX that was founded in the early 1900s on a one-time truffle farm has long been hailed as producing amongst the most popular Rosés in France, a not-bad accolade in a country where Rosé consumption easily outstrips that of white wine.


A blend of organically grown Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, the 2013 that's just been released here is a slightly dry wine with vibrant apple and citrus to the fore and secondary rich spicy notes. There's also a nice crisp acidity, and as Rosé buffs we liked the creamy finish that puts this one up there with the best for enjoyment with a range of foods, or simply on its own as an aperitif.


Priced at $29.95 we'd suggest matching the 2013 AIX Rosé with a shellfish lunch or dinner, or take it on a picnic with cold chicken or turkey and salads – or even simply with easy multi-grain sandwiches or crispy rolls with these as fillings on that picnic.


ONE TO NOTE: THE Canberra District's Shaw Vineyard Estate has been producing some cracker wines for a decade now, and a newly-released 2014 Isabella Riesling lives up well to the company's reputation despite coming from a vintage that suffered some minor frosts in the growing period, and was then subjected to extreme summer heat in the lead-up to harvest.


Located higher than most of its neighbouring vineyards at Murrumbateman 25 minutes north of Canberra, the company has earned a deserved reputation for fresh, crisp and balanced Rieslings, with their 2014 Shaw Vineyard Estate Isabella a lovely Germanic style whose apricot, apple, pear, sweet honey-like and citrus flavours make it great to enjoy with – and tame-down – the heat of Thai and Mexican dishes.


At $30 it's good buying.


for week beginning 20 April 2015


[] TAKE this one on a picnic with cold chicken, turkey and salads, or simply sandwiches and crispy bread rolls with these as fillings.

[] ENJOY with Thai and Mexican dishes whose heat will be tamed by the lovely fruit flavours.


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Orange Wine Region comes to Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel

Sydneysiders and visiting travelers will have the rare opportunity to experience Australia's iconic Orange Food & Wine region this May, when Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel and Brand Orange brings the country to the coast.

Following 2014's hugely successful month of events, the aptly named 'We Heart Orange' kicks off on May 1 and promises an array of palate pleasing and mouth watering produce and fine wines to satisfy even the finickiest of foodies.

Friday 1st May will introduce a curated menu of selected Orange Wines accompanying the hotels existing and extensive menu of beverages. Visitors to the hotel can experience dynamic flavours and variations from wineries including Logan Wines, Phillip Shaw, Ross Hill Wines, Heifer Station, Hedberg Hill, Cargo Road Wines, Rowlee Wines, Gilbert by Simon Gilbert, Colmar Estate and Bantry Grove, Angullong, Faisan Estate, Orange Mountain wines, Patina Wines, Roaring Fork Wine Co, Small Acres Cyder, Tamburlaine Wines, Highland Heritage, Brangayne and Boree Lane Wines.

For those looking to finesse their wine tasting know-how, master classes will be held on Thursday 14th and Thursday 28th May 2015 from 6.30pm on the hotel's top deck.

Saving participants the 260 kilometer trip to Orange from Sydney, senses will drift away while remaining seated and enjoying picturesque views across Sydney Harbour. A limited number of tickets can be purchased from the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel website for $40 per person.

Orange Wine Master Classes, each Thursday in May
The pinnacle of the celebrations will occur over Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th May when the inaugural Taste Orange Food and Wine Festival returns to Robertson Park; dressed with the charm of the delightful Orange region. Adventurous gastronomes and families will discover some of Australia's finest grapes, special food offerings from country gourmet producers and Watsons Bay locals. Pre-package tickets for the festival are available online, $30 per person which offers10 coupons at $3 each and a tasting free glass.

A special accommodation package has been created from $209, which includes one night stay in Watsons King Room, a welcome bottle of Orange Wine on arrival and a complimentary wine class on Thursday 14th or 28th May.

We Heart Orange will conclude in grand style on Friday May 29th 2015 when hatted restaurant, Racine Restaurant pops-up as Racine by the Bay for one night only. Over two sittings held in the hotel's hamptons-esque Sunset Room, guests who purchase tickets are set to enjoy a bespoke menu of Orange's finest designed by award winning and acclaimed Executive Chef, Shaun Arantz.

For more information on the program of events visit

About Brand Orange:

Food and Wine has been the story for the Orange Region for many years and is entwined with many other industries. Brand Orange Ltd has been at the marketing helm of this region since 2007 and continually strives to grow the desire to visit, live and invest in the Orange Region of NSW, Australia.

Located in the Central Ranges of NSW about 3 ½ hours from Sydney, Orange has four distinct seasons and is located at the foot of an old extinct volcano, Mt Canobolas, which makes for a fertile environment suitable for growing a large range of produce. The surrounding region is well known for an abundance of high quality produce and in more recent times a burgeoning wine industry. The region is now home to over 40 cellar doors. In addition, Orange has become well known for its events such Orange F.O.O.D Festival and Orange Wine Festival.

The region is rich in local history, a flourishing cultural scene, fruitful landscapes, historical buildings, art and culture and some of the best food, restaurants and wine in Australia.
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