Monday, 8 December 2014

Logan Vintage Cuvee - Vintage Tasmania Wine Book


David Ellis

YOU'LL want this for your own bookshelf, or as a Christmas
gift for family or friends with whatever interest in wine.
YOU don't have to be a Tasmanian to enjoy a fascinating insight into the State's wine industry in Vintage Tasmania, the Complete Book of Tasmanian Wine – an engrossing 280-page true-to-title work you'll find hard to put down with its wealth of fascinating facts past, present and future.

And if you've a visit to the State in mind, it's a great guide, too, to its Wine Routes. Written by local wine writer and historian, Tony Walker this is a book to enjoy your-self – or to give at Christmas to family or friends with any degree of interest in wine.

Beautifully illustrated, it covers everything from the first wine grape plantings in 1823 to the demise of the fledgling industry, its revival by (remarkably) a Frenchman, Jean Miguet and an Italian, Claudio Alcorso in the 1950s and how, despite this, its first commercial-size vineyards not coming into production for another 20 years in 1974.

Tony points out how historically Tasmania was unknown territory for viticulture, with all Australian research based on warmer climates – and now how, as James Halliday says in the book's introduction, its future has "virtually unlimited potential." Paying tribute to those who did the hard yards by often trial and error, it's also a rewardingly insightful guide to the State's now more-than 50 vineyards.

Well worth every cent at $49.95 (freight free) from 
SAY "Happy Christmas" with this premium drop that's equally
ideal as an aperitif to set the mood, or throughout any Festive meal.

ONE TO NOTE: A WONDERFULLY crispy dry bubbly for Christmas celebrations is Logan Wines' Vintage 'M' Cuvee made from fruit off the north-facing slopes of Mount Canobolas at Orange in NSW's Central Ranges – at 930m above sea-level one of the highest and coolest grape-growing regions in the State, and thus ideal for the growing of fruit that makes for the most marvellous of premium sparkling wine.

Winemaker Peter Logan has created a drop that's equally ideal as an aperitif before a meal, or throughout the entire meal itself, no matter what you've got on the table. Pay $35 for the just-released 2011 and say "Happy Christmas" with family or friends.

We're also on Australian Good Food Guide in main blog.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Shaw Cabernet Merlot 2012 - Tim Adams Clare Valley Pinot Gris

HELPING lead Pinot Gris' growing sales success
in this country, and ideal with a seafood salad.

David Ellis

WHEN the Clare Valley's Tim Adams decided to plant somewhat new and unproven at the time Pinot Gris ten years ago, he reckons he did so simply for the challenge of seeing just how well this variety would go.

His wife Pam, their company's General Manager, had a different view: she suggested (we think tongue in cheek) that Tim was going through a mid-life crisis. But she supported his venture – and persistence – and today Tim Adams Pinot Gris is one of the top-selling premium Pinot Gris in this country, playing a major role in driving the varietal's constant sales growth across Australia.

Tim says those first plantings a decade ago were the result of drinking a great Alsace Pinot Gris with an old mate, and thinking how well the variety may go on some specific Clare Valley sites. He's not looked back, and today uses fruit in his Tim Adams Pinot Gris from his own vineyards and those of contract local growers.

His latest release, 2014 is loaded with hearty fruit characters (think pear, lychee and peach complemented with a subtle citrus zest and fruit sweetness,) and cleansing acidity. Pay $20 and particularly enjoy with seafood salads over our warmer months.

AT a well-priced $16 savour this one
with tomato based pasta dishes.
ONE TO NOTE: SHAW Vineyard in cool-climate Murrumbateman around 25-minutes north of Canberra, is somewhat unique in that while it is at a higher elevation than most vineyards in the region, its sloping profile enjoys optimum sunlight and gives protection from potential frost damage through its good air-drainage…

Now one of the district's more-renowned producers of quality wines, Shaw has just released a 2012 Winemakers Selection Cabernet Merlot that's a real mouth-filler of fresh berry flavours and delightful aromas from the glass of cassis and dark plums.

Fruit came off the family-owned company's low-yielding vines that were picked in the cool of night for optimum fruit quality; pay a well-priced $16 and enjoy with tomato based pasta dishes, or simply a good steak.

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

Monday, 24 November 2014

Hunter Valley’s Andrew Margan - Rosemount Estate’s 2012 Balmoral Syrah


David Ellis

LIKE they used to do it – back to the future
wine to enjoy with summery seafoods.
MANY years ago before wines were identified on labels by their grape varieties, they were named after their place of origin – quite often down to the actual block within a vineyard and which could contain several grape varieties.

In a somewhat back to the future move, the Hunter Valley's Andrew Margan has released a white and a red emulating this old practice, labelling them Field Blend White – Block 8 and Field Blend Red – Block 11.

The white comprises predominantly Semillon and smaller amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio from a vineyard planted with these mixed varieties 40 years ago, all the fruit from the 2014 vineyard being picked and vinified together in a single batch. The red is predominantly Shiraz with some Mataro and Tempranillo, and underwent the same process.

We loved the white that's wonderfully fruity with forward citrus and tropical characters and crispy dry on the palate. It's also nicely soft, and a great drop at $15 to enjoy at this time of year with a whole host of summery seafood ideas.
A CHRISTMAS gift idea not to be
enjoyed until at least 2020.

ONE TO NOTE: IF you're looking for a stand-out drop as a gift for a wine-loving family member or friend this Christmas, can we suggest Rosemount Estate's 2012 Balmoral Syrah – then watch their reaction when you tell them not to open it until at least 2020, or if they're really patient not for another 15 years beyond this.

Made from tiny quantities of exceptional fruit off a range of Rosemount's best McLaren Vale vineyards, this is a ripper drop already, but will only get better and better over those years in the cellar – we're prepared to suggest anything up to 25.

Black fruit flavours are to the fore with nice tannin and fruit acid. Pay $75 and if your Christmas recipient can't keep their hands off opening it in the immediate future, recommend that they match it with the best beef cut their butcher can offer them.

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


Monday, 17 November 2014

Cherry Tree Hill Merlot - Rymill Coonawarra Sauvignon Blanc


David Ellis

COOL surprise from the NSW Southern Highlands
ideal with barbecued steak and mushrooms.
IF you're one of those re-discovering the joys of Merlot after it seemed to go out of fashion for a time, a stunning drop worth investing in by phone or internet is a 2011 'Halle' Reserve from Cherry Tree Hill in the cool-climate NSW Southern Highlands.

This small maker that began growing grapes in 2000 on the  30-year old family farm at Sutton Forest, is making a big impression on the local scene, and while its wines are currently available only by phone or online you can be sure it'll become a major player when a cellar door currently under construction opens before Christmas.

Gabi Lorentz and his family established Cherry Tree Hill farm after arriving here from Hungary in the 1980s, and today son David manages the vineyards and oversees all aspects of the winery operation – with wines themselves made by highly-respected local contract makers Anton and Mark Balog. The 2011 Halle Reserve Merlot has blueberry fruit-like flavours, and interesting Hungarian oak hints make it a more-ish drop to enjoy with barbecued steak and mushrooms, or bacon wrapped prawns.

Pay $32 a bottle, less 10% for six or 20% for 12, plus $12 freight for any number of bottles; go to or phone David Lorentz on 0414 366 000.

THINK lime-marinated prawns
with this Sauvignon Blanc.
ONE TO NOTE: ITS forty years ago that Peter Rymill and his wife Judy Ritchie founded Rymill Coonawarra in the heartland of this famous wine growing region, a region that in fact Peter's great-grandfather, John Riddoch founded back in 1890 after arriving here from Scotland during the Gold Rush of 1852.

Today Rymill Coonawarra needs no introduction to those who enjoy quality wines, and one that particularly impressed recently was their 2014 Yearling Sauvignon Blanc – not just because of its wonderfully full-on fruit flavours, but because of the price-tag of just $15.95.

Tropical fruits like passionfruit and paw paw dominate, together with grapefruit and lime, an enjoyable flintiness and nice varietal zesty finish. Enjoy it with Chief Winemaker, Sandrine Gimon's suggestion of grilled lime-marinated prawns.

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


Monday, 10 November 2014

Hungerford Hill 2013 Classic Gundagai Shiraz - Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

David Ellis

CLASSIC Shiraz from the Gundagai region
where this varietal does so well.[]
ESTABLISHED back in 1967 as a boutique estate in the Hunter Valley, Hungerford Hill since 2002 has been owned by the Kirby family of the well-known James N Kirby engineering business, who've overseen its growth into a multi-regional wine-making operation now embracing not only the Hunter, but NSW's Tumbarumba, Gundagai, Hilltops and Orange regions.

But grown as it has, its stuck by its boutique estate philosophies, and just recently under its Classic series label released a Gundagai Shiraz, a Hilltops Cabernet and an Orange Merlot from the 2013 vintage.

The 2013 Classic Gundagai Shiraz is an elegant, medium to full-bodied wine that reflects just how well this variety does in the warm temperate Gundagai climate at around 200 to 300m altitude on the NSW side of the border with Victoria.

With typically varietal dark fruit and black pepper notes it's one to pair-up with Asian pork spareribs or Peking Duck, or with barbecued honey/chilli marinated steaks.

MAKE Sunday morning brunch a sparkling
affair with this Spanish drop.
ONE TO NOTE:  IF you enjoy a bubbly anytime because, let's face it, you just like the flavour and the sensation of bubbles, Spain's Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut is one to consider always having a bottle of in fridge or cellar.

This is one of the largest-selling sparkling wines in the world and officially a Cava – a wine made to the traditional Methode Champenoise. A blend of Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo white grapes it was fermented for 10 to 12 days, racked and clarified, and then bottled for secondary fermentation in the bottle.

With flavours of green and citrus fruits and nice Mediterranean aromas in the glass, this is a bubbly with loads of sparkle and more-ish-ness about it. Well priced too at $16 to just drink and enjoy on its own, or to share with friends over a late-morning Sunday brunch of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, or Quiche Lorraine.

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


Monday, 3 November 2014

Toolangi Chardonnay - Rosemount Estate’s MV Collection 2012 Shiraz

David Ellis

PREMIUM drop to enjoy with simple roast chicken,
grilled lobster or barbecued veal chops.   
THE Yarra Valley has garnered an enviable reputation over the past couple of decades for Chardonnays out of makers like Toolangi who planted their first vines there back in December 1995.

And as the latest release from this small family-owned operation, their 2012 is a veritable explosion in the glass of what Chardonnay is all about, with predominantly citrusy grapefruit flavours to the fore and quite extraordinary length (how long the flavour lasts in the back of the throat after swallowing.)

Owners Garry and Julie Hounsell went in hard with the secateurs for this wine, pruning back heavily to maximise fruit flavour and quality as Yarra Valley vines, with the climate they enjoy, can be quite prolific producers. And interestingly, after harvesting the fruit was processed at two separate wineries, Yering Station and Oakridge, and the resultant blend put together at Yering Station.

This 2012 Toolangi Chardonnay is nicely priced for a premium drop at $25, and with its full-on varietal flavours makes for an ideal partner with everything on the table from simple roast chicken, to grilled lobster if you're maybe celebrating, or for a  more casual outdoor barbecue of veal chops and mushrooms.

THIS one's a perfect match with a
Sunday beef roast or barbecued herbed lamb chops.
ONE TO NOTE: IF that Toolangi Chardonnay was all about flavour in a white wine, Rosemount Estate's MV Collection 2012 Shiraz is all about flavour in a red wine.

One of four wines released mid-year under the MV (McLaren Vale) Collection label, this one is again a glass whopper that's all flavour, flavour and more flavour – with savoury blackberry to the fore and nice back-up cherry fruit, supple tannins and a long finish, justifying Rosemount's Chief Winemaker Matt Koch's summation that McLaren Vale is one of the company's "most dynamic wine regions."

Pay $25 and match this one nicely with a Sunday beef roast or barbecued herbed lamb chops.

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

Monday, 27 October 2014

2012 de Mestre Wines Shiraz - Matua Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc

David Ellis

BEST wine from the smallest vineyard
you've never heard of
SYDNEY lawyer-cum-weekend winemaker, Paul de Mestre likes to sum up the fruit of his hobby as "the best wine from the smallest vineyard you've never heard of…"

And while we think he's pretty much right, don't go rushing out trying to find a bottle. He makes just 800 a year, and these can be bought only from his little 16ha vineyard on Sofala Road at Ilford in the Mudgee Region of the NSW Central Ranges, or online. And even then that's if he's got any…

While not officially organic, Paul takes a minimalist approach to his winemaking, trusting nature, as he says, at every turn. The result is delightful cool climate varietals that can vary considerably from vintage to vintage, but which always deliver big on texture and flavour, be they his Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon or Viognier.

His currently available 2012 de Mestre Wines Shiraz at $30 is a corker, coming from a perfect vintage – and by adding a touch of Viognier he's achieved a wine that's nicely fragrant and has forward flavours of plum and black pepper that make it an ideal accompaniment with slow-roasted Greek lamb (how we enjoyed it.) Go to to organise a bottle or six, or to arrange a vineyard visit.

 LABEL helps you choose off the shelf
the style of Sauvignon Blanc
that best suits your palate.
ONE TO NOTE: NEW ZEALAND's Matua that can claim to being the country's first producer of Sauvignon Blanc 40 years ago, has now come up with an interesting concept with the release of three labels that give buyers some extra help in choosing off the shelf the style of Sauvignon Blanc that best suits their palate.

The label of their Matua Smooth describes it as "soft and elegant," and being from the warmer Hawkes Bay region more luscious, juicy and food friendly; a Matua Crisp as "fresh and tropical" with vibrant Marlborough tropical fruit and citrus fruit flavours and fresh, crisp acidity; and a Marlborough Matua Lighter as "cool and fragrant" with tropical passionfruit and gooseberry flavours and 25 per cent less alcohol/calories.

Each of these 2014 vintage wines is priced at $22 through BWS.

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


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