Monday, 26 September 2016

2016 Rogue Vineyard ‘Wild in the Wood’ Hunter Valley Field Blend


David Ellis

THERE would be others, we suspect, would lay claim that a wine comprising no less than five varieties, was the result of their carefully hand-selecting fruit off as many vineyards or blocks as there were varieties, and then judiciously blending these to specific proportions of each.

But not John Davis, owner-vigneron of Peppertree Wines in the Hunter Valley and his Head Winemaker, Gwyn Olsen when it comes to their 2016 Rogue Vineyard 'Wild in the Wood' Hunter Valley Field Blend. Because they'll readily tell you that this one's the result of a "misfit" block planted somewhat haphazardly 20 years ago with left-over Semillon, Chardonnay, Verdelho, Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc from other blocks rather than be wasted, and today simply all-in machine harvested.

And that resultant wine turns out in fact to be a really rewarding drop, with lingering individual varietal characteristics and lovely mouth-feel. Pay $30 and enjoy on its own as warmer days approach, or at the table with a range of lunch or dinner-time seafood, chicken or veal dishes.

Or as we did, with pan-fried pork loin chops, apple sauce and potato cakes.


[] A GREAT drop today from a misfit block planted somewhat haphazardly 20 years ago.


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Mudgee Region annual Mudgee Wine & Food Festival

The Mudgee Region will come alive once again to celebrate the 38th annual Mudgee Wine & Food Festival from 9th September – 3rd October, bringing together delectable wine and delicious food from across the region.

The month long culinary festival hosts an array of events across the region’s top restaurants, bars, cafes and cellar doors. In a first for the festival, Mudgee will host a series of events over three nights dedicated to some of Mudgee’s most awarded winemakers. Learn the subtleties and nuances of a Mudgee drop and have the first-hand opportunity to experience how they differ to some of Australia’s most revered wines, as well as the rest of the world.

“It’s exciting to see Mudgee Region’s many producers, growers and businesses come together and take part in the festival, providing visitors to the region with a rare opportunity to meet the makers behind the region’s fine produce and form a real connection with the Mudgee Region,” says Russell Holden, Chair of the Mudgee Region Tourism Board.

Cheese lovers will not be disappointed, with an entire evening dedicated to cheese and wine pairing to help guide foodies through the culinary pleasures of life.

As well as this, cellar doors will be open for extended hours, host one-of-a-kind events and collaborate with local restaurants to bring the worlds of wine and food together, whether that be with a simple tasting platter or a more extensive menu showcasing regional produce or cuisines of the world.

Ted Cox, President of Mudgee Wine & Grape Growers Association, says: "The Mudgee Wine & Food Festival is one of the longest running celebrations in the region and there's no sign of slowing down either! More events are added each year and we're particularly excited about our three Wednesday evenings dedicated to learning about wine - nothing formal, just a great way to learn a little, or a little bit more, about Mudgee wine."

From wine tasting to cheese pairing classes, and long lazy lunches with live music amongst the vines, this year’s event is set to be bigger and brighter than ever, highlighting the Regions country charm and sophisticated food + drink offering.

“Mudgee Wine & Food Festival provides visitors an authentic taste test of the very best of local wineries, food producers and cultural experiences in the region. For an entire month, visitors can skip town with their loved ones and get lost in the flavours of Mudgee Region and we’re really excited to play host,” says Leianne Murphy, Acting CEO Mudgee Region Tourism.

This year features a range of flagship events, including:
  • Flavours of Mudgee – The main street of Mudgee will close to traffic and come alive with an estimate of 8,000 festival-goers savouring the flavours of the region.
  • Go Tasting - Taste wines from the Mudgee Wine Show including those that most impressed the judges during the annual wine maker’s competition.
  • Mudgee vs Australia & Mudgee vs The World – This wine appreciation evening will give visitors a taste test of the best Mudgee wines the region has to offer.
  • Farmer’s Markets - Bring a big basket and as many spare hands as you can to carry home all of the amazing Spring produce on offer.
No matter what delights you when it comes to food and wine, you’re likely to find it in abundance during the festival celebration.

For more information visit or

Monday, 5 September 2016

Domaine Chandon 2015 Chardonnay - Yarra Valley

MATCH this one with a Springtime pear,
walnut and goat's cheese salad.

ONE TO NOTE: DOMAINE CHANDON blended fruit from its coolest Upper Yarra Valley and more moderate Woori Yallock and Yarra Junction vineyards for its now-available 2015 Chardonnay, a lovely wine reflecting the rewarding intensity and flavour concentrations of low-yielding vines.

With naturally vibrant and zesty Chardonnay flavours and fermentation in French oak barrels, this is a drop that is all about fresh lime, ripe melon and nectarine flavours and a zesty acidity, and when poured stone fruit aromas and cinnamon characters.

At $32 Senior Winemaker Dan Buckle suggests that now that Spring has come, this is one that's ideal with a pear, walnut and goat's cheese salad.

for week beginning 05 September  2016 

Aglianico 2014 Calabria Private Bin - NSW Riverina

TO the fore in homeland southern Italy,
and now growing in popularity in Australia.


David Ellis

AN interesting wine and food match to get a rollicking conversation going at that next dinner party is the lesser-known Italian-heritage drop Aglianico that's now being made in increasing quantities in Australia, coupled with a flavoursome pasta dish that in its home-town Naples is called Spaghetti alla Puttanesca.

The Aglianico because it's a nice big-bodied red that's right to the fore in the south of Italy where it was introduced from Greece thousands of years ago, and the Spaghetti alla Puttanesca because the name means "Prostitutes Spaghetti," and is made with a more-ish sauce of garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, anchovies, capers and dill, which apparently the girls find easy to whip-together between servicing clients.

Around twenty wineries in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania are now producing Aglianico here, with the biggest maker Calabria Family Wines at Griffith in the NSW Riverina. And their latest release, the 2014 Calabria Private Bin is a wonderfully rich and savoury drop whose delightful fruit profile now rewards even further by coming more forward with a little time in the cellar.

Plus with softer tannins than those in its homeland, at $15 it's a great buy with that spag suggestion, or more-Aussie-thinking minted barbecued lamb chops.

for week beginning 05 September  2016 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Robert Stein Wines turns 40

In 1976, Australia was a very different place.

We were enjoying the halcyon days of tennis with locals winning both the 1976 Men’s and Women’s Australian Open. Hawthorne won the flag, and Caitlyn Jenner was awarded the USA Male Athlete of the Year.

We were settling in to watch Montreal host the Olympics.

On the wine front, Lindemans was peddling Ben Ean Moselle by the truckload, in amongst Cold Duck and Porphyry Pearl. Penfolds released their 25th vintage of Grange (the first ‘to cross the $20 barrier at release’), Orlando released Jacobs Creek and Petaluma was opened in the Adelaide Hills.

In the same year Robert ‘Bob’ Stein, a young Sydney builder come businessman and keen fly fisher was turning his attention to the winegrowing region of Mudgee.

Robert Stein on his 1928 Douglas E.W
Bob took inspiration from his ancestors Johann and Jacob Stein and purchased and planted grapevines on a 75 acre block of land north of the township of Mudgee. Johann and Jacob had migrated from Germany in 1838 with the Macarthurs as ‘vine dressers’ at the new Camden vineyard.

In 1848 the brothers established their own vineyard in Camden on the outskirts of Sydney. Legend has it that the brothers shared a bottle of their Rhine Riesling with Sir Henry Parkes and explorer Ludwig Leichardt; growing wine and sharing it with family and friends was in Bob’s blood.

In 40 years the Australian wine scene has changed markedly. However, the Stein’s block of land in Mudgee has continued to thrive. Upon Bob’s retirement his son Andrew joined the winery to help grow the business.

More recently, grandson Jacob has taken on the winemaking role and set new benchmarks in the region. Their Riesling block is now one of the most revered in the region, with a host of awards. The reds, including their Reserve Shiraz and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon continue to win acclaim.

“We are quite proud of this achievement,” commented Jacob. “In 1976 there were only around 300 wineries in Australia, with only a handful in Mudgee. There aren’t too many wineries in the country that are 40 years old and still family owned. We’ve come a long way, and we’re looking forward to the next 40 years.”

The Stein family will be celebrating 40 years of winemaking with a number of events during the 2016 Mudgee Wine & Food Festival which runs from 9 September through to the 3 October 2016 (further information to follow).

Their cellar door along with Robert Stein's motorcycle museum, located on Pipeclay Lane in Mudgee, is open 7 days a week from 10.00am to 4.30pm.

Further information on Robert Stein Wines can be found at the Mudgee Wine & Food Festival at

Katnook’s 2015 Founder’s Block Shiraz - Coonawarra.

ONE to pair with roast beef and
a lightly peppery sauce.

ONE TO NOTE: IF you're into your roast beef, and the more-so with a peppery sauce that's just spicy enough to give it that little extra oomph, an ideal wine to pair it with it is Katnook's 2015 Founder's Block Shiraz out of Coonawarra.

From a vintage that enjoyed warm summer days and cool nights that were ideal for flavour composition, this is a wine with lovely raspberry and plum fruit flavours, varietal Shiraz pepper and spice overtones and noticeable but not over-powerful oak.

Coonawarra is more well-known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, but makers like Katnook have for some time now been producing equally impressive Shiraz, and which was actually first planted there 120 years ago in 1896.

If you're not so much into peppery sauces as suggested above, other great food matches with this one are grilled lamb chops or barbecued bratwurst sausages.

29 Aug 16

McGuigan’s 2015 Black Label Chardonnay - South Eastern Australia

EXCELLENT value with dinner party starters, and equally
main course fish, chicken, pork or creamy pasta dishes.


David Ellis

IF a bulk-buy looks to be in order as the white for that next dinner party but you don't want to appear to being something of a cheapskate by sacrificing quality for price, satisfy quality and price with McGuigan's 2015 Black Label Chardonnay.

Because here's a great drop that's just $10 a bottle – and as little as $8 by the half- or dozen-bottle lot at some of the major chains – and when you taste it, you'll be wondering why it's not up to nearly double that.

Blended from fruit from across south-eastern Australia, this is a wine that's rich with tropical-fruit and melon flavours, has a touch of oak and an almost creamy palate, and not surprisingly has been the cornerstone white of the highly-popular Black Label range for many years.

Great to kick-off that dinner party with pre-mains finger foods, it's then equally at home with a whole range of main-course fish, chicken, pork or creamy pasta dishes.

for week beginning 29 August 2016


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