Monday, 13 June 2016

Pipers Brook 2015 Pinot Gris

ONE TO NOTE:  PIPERS BROOK Vineyard on Tasmania's north-east coast sits right in the heartland of Australia's coolest and southern-most wine region, an area whose often teeth-chattering morning's and cool maritime climate prove ideal for making the island State's great Pinot Gris wines.

A now-available 2015 is a great example of Pinot Gris from such cool climate regions, with lovely rich and savoury suggestions of pears and honey, tropical fruits and a sweet ginger and cinnamon spiciness. There's subtle oak too that adds complexity and palate weight, and will help promote the wine's ageing potential.

Pay $34 and enjoy with a whole array of Asian and Mediterranean dishes, grilled seafoods or oven-roasted turkey; for availability check out

[] FROM Tasmania's cool maritime climate, a Pinot Gris to go with so many tempting dining ideas.

Katnook Estate Founder’s Block 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon - Coonawarra


David Ellis

AWAY back in 1896 when John Riddoch and William Salter made Katnook Estate's first wines in a woolshed on their property in Coonawarra, their Shiraz was looked upon somewhat more propitiously than their inaugural Cabernet Sauvignon.

Today, however, it's the other way around with the company's Founder's Block Cabernet Sauvignon now its biggest seller, and with Shiraz playing a somewhat lesser role. Which to us is all a bit mystifying as their Shiraz is a cracker drop from fruit grown on some of the best of Coonawarra's fabled terra rossa soils, plus even more encouragingly it sells for just $20 a bottle.

And their just-released Katnook Founder's Block Shiraz 2015 is another pearler example, being  all about generous raspberry and plum fruit flavours, varietal pepper and spice overtones, and noticeable but not overwhelming oak.

With that $20 price tag it's great buying for this time of year with a hearty slow-cooked lamb shank casserole… and can perhaps still be summed-up as we recently saw it written about in an historic 120 year old copy of the Border Watch newspaper from 1890, as "most desired and saleable to meet the most fastidious palate."


[] EVEN 120 years ago they reckoned this was one to "meet the most fastidious palate."

Monday, 6 June 2016

France’s most expensive Champagne - Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne

Tsar drop-kicks wine's historic punt


IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, David Ellis says one of France's most expensive Champagnes was created not for some wealthy French plutocrat, but for a Russian Tsar.

And it's still bottled to this day in a bottle designed at his behest, and a methuselah of the stuff – the equivalent of 8 normal bottles – that was made in 1990 has just sold at auction in London for the equivalent of AU$8,350.

The colourful history of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne goes back to 1876 when Tsar Alexander II ordered winemakers at the French company to make a bubbly to his exact taste requirements, and then insisted it be bottled in clear glass rather than the traditional green of Champagne bottles – so he could see that it contained no discolouring poison.

And he designed the bottle with a flat bottom rather than with the usual 'punt,' the large indentation in the base of Champagne bottles, so no-one could hide something equally lethal like explosives down there in the 'punt.'

The reasons behind all this were Alexander's paranoia about assassination.

And today Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne has become one of the world's most expensive bubblies – the AU$8,350 paid at Bonham's Auctions in London attesting to that.

And as for Alexander… as he feared, he did indeed fall victim to assassination, but it was by bomb not by poisoning, in March of 1881.



[] THIS methuselah (equivalent to eight normal bottles) of 1990 French Louis Roderer Cristal Champagne sold recently at auction in London for the equivalent of AU$8,350.



Andrew Margan 2015 Verdelho - Hunter Valley


ONE TO NOTE: THE HUNTER Valley's Andrew Margan used fruit off some of the oldest Verdelho vines in Australia in his excellent-value 2015 Verdelho that's a steal at just $20 a bottle.


Some of these vines were planted over 100 years ago and by blending their fruit with that of later plantings, Andrew has produced a drop that rewards wonderfully with subtle citrus and mouth-watering tropical fruit flavours, and a crisp and spicy finish.


A buy-now-drink-now drop to enjoy young and fresh, it's fruitiness makes for a  marvellous match with spicy Thai and Malaysian dishes.


[] MARVELLOUS match with spicy Thai and Malaysian dishes.


2011 Abel’s Tempest Tasmania Chardonnay Pinot Noir



David Ellis


IT'S a safe bet that the last thing Dutch seafaring explorer and merchant trader Abel Tasman would have thought as he swept down the west coast of Tasmania in his little exploration vessel Heemskerk in 1642, was that one day a wine would be made on that seemingly inhospitable land and be named after he and his ship…


Nor that in fact the foul winds that frustrated him in his quest to put foot ashore here, would become so integral to Tasmania's climate that its vineyards would thrive here to produce many of Australia's premier cool climate wines.


One name that pays homage to Tasman is Heemskerk Wines 25km north-east of Hobart, one of the most southerly cool-climate grape-producers in Australia.  And their just-recently released 2011 Abel's Tempest Tasmania Chardonnay Pinot Noir is a drop you'll find is up there with the very best of Aussie bubblies, and an ideal drop when the call is for a rewarding celebratory sparkler.


Interestingly this one came from a vintage that began with poor fruit set due to severe spring frosts, some cold spells in January, and then a rewarding Indian Summer of glorious autumn days that resulted in the best of fruit for making sparkling wine. Pay $32 for this great drop for special, or any-time, celebrations.



[] A REWARDING cool climate sparkler when celebratory bubbles are called for.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Sidewood’s 2013 Mappinga Shiraz

Media Release

Sidewood's 2013 Mappinga Shiraz has further cemented its place as one of the world's finest wines with The International Wine Challenge (IWC) in London this week awarding it two Trophies for Best Regional Shiraz, Adelaide Hills and Best Regional Shiraz, South Australia

The IWC is generally accepted as the world's finest and most meticulously judged wine competition.  Every entry is blind tested assessed for its faithfulness to style, region and vintage. A rigorous judging process sees each medal-winning wine being tasted on three separate occasions by at least 10 different judges.

These two new trophies add to the global recognition received for the 2013 Mappinga Shiraz (of which less than 1000 dozen was produced). It has also been awarded arguably the world's greatest accolade, The 2015 Decanter International Trophy for "Best Rhone Varietal over £15.00". Gold medals were received from the Royal Hobart Wine Show, The San Francisco International Wine Show, and the San Diego Wine Makers Challenge.  It was also afforded 97 points by James Halliday.

Sidewood owner Owen Inglis said "this is a great result for Sidewood.  We're a relatively young and small winery with an ever strengthening reputation for being one of the world's top producers of super premium Shiraz.  To be officially recognised by both the IWC and Decanter the two largest and most influential shows in the world is sensational for both Sidewood and the Adelaide Hills.

"Our greatest issue with our Shiraz has been our inability to meet demand, and to this end, we've recently purchased a further 25 hectares of land and doubled the production capability at our winery."

Sidewood entered two wines in to the IWC competition, in addition to the Mappinga Shiraz, their entry for the Sidewood 2015 Sauvignon Blanc was awarded a silver medal - the highest medal provided to any Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc.  This wine is has also been widely recognised with Gold Medals being received from The Royal Melbourne Wine Competition, Mundus Vini in Germany and Catavinum in Spain.  It has a 95 point score from James Halliday

A 2014 Mappinga Shiraz was not produced, the 2015 vintage is due for release in mid 2017.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Riversdale 2015 Roaring 40s Pinot Noir - Tasmania

ROARING success from
Tasmania's Roaring 40s,
and ideal with – what else? –
Tassie poached salmon
or a beef bourguignon.

ONE TO NOTE: A VARIETY that's played a key role in the development of Tasmania's modern-day wine industry is Pinot Noir, and just released from Riversdale Estate in the island State's south is a most delightful 2015 Roaring 40s Pinot Noir – so named after the howling westerly winds that play such a significant role in the make-up of Tasmania's climatic conditions.

Riversdale's owners Ian and Wendy Roberts planted their Pinot Noir a quarter of a century ago, and have their wine made for them by contract makers Frogmore Creek Wines just a couple of k's down the road from their vineyard. The 2015 Roaring 40s Pinot Noir is all about rich, smooth chocolaty/black cherry fruit flavours, and equally rewarding with (what else from Tasmania?) poached salmon, or a beef bourguignon.

Great value at $26 online at  or cellar door.


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