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.
 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.