Monday, 30 April 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay

WYNNS have been making their Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay since 1981, and there’d be few if any vintages have ever disappointed. The now-released 2006 is another ripper under this label, a Chardonnay that’s creamy and soft and yet still crisp, with luscious peach and nectarine flavours dominating and spicy yet subtle oak. While it’ll cellar well for another five years, at $15.99 it’s value-for-money to enjoy now with a seafood main course, or with cheese and fruit as a follow-up.

A LABEL CLIMBING TO SUCCESS

INNOVATIVE Philip Shaw needs no introduction to those with a leaning towards premium-end wines, but he’s really gone outside the square with a 2005 Shiraz created for Climbing Wines at Orange – one of Australia’s highest and coolest wine regions located in the Central West of NSW.

In this wine he’s crafted a drop that’s classically European in style in its elegance and defined bright varietal fruit flavours, yet at the same time true-blue Aussie in its intensity and fullness.

Philip Shaw has had long connections with the unique Orange climate and topography, and as Climbing Wines’ Director of Winemaking made his first wines for the label in 2004; his 2005 Shiraz that’s just been released came from a growing season characterised by warm, dry conditions that gave low yields (just 6 tonnes per hectare) and a resultant intensity of flavour.

“We sourced our fruit from two prime blocks of the vineyard above 600m, one with limestone soil and the other with stony, red soil,” Philip says. “This combination allowed us to create a wine that’s characteristically Shiraz, although more raspberry than blackberry and more plum than mulberry, and at the one time both powerful yet elegant.”

It’s well priced at $19.99 for such a stand-out drop: ask your butcher to make up some pork, leek and bacon sausages, add a good dollop of mash and enjoy with this wine.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: Lillypilly Gypsy Rose

SERVE this Lillypilly Gypsy Rose chilled with Indian butter chicken. You’ll have no regrets.The Riverina’s Robert Fiumara created a hit 22 years ago with his Lillypilly Red Velvet, a lighter-style, slightly sweet soft red – its still a hit, but for those who prefer less sweetness, he’s crafted Gypsy Rose that’s generously flavoured, dry and more-ish. Pay $14.95 and serve chilled with Indian butter chicken.

TIM’S PATHWAY TO RED HEAVEN

THOSE who remember Tim Adams’ ripper 1996 and 1998 Clare Valley Cabernets, will find themselves in Red Heaven with his 2004 Cabernet that’s just hit the shelves.

This is a block-buster that even Tim, who is not renowned for giving “best ever” gongs to his wines, says he’s confident is he and his team’s “best yet.”

But why? “Most importantly 2004 was one of the best vintages the Clare’s ever seen for Cabernet, we’re now harvesting from more mature vines, we’re learning all the time how to get the highest quality fruit from those vines and how best to handle it in the winery, and we can afford better oak,” he says.

Tim drew the 89 per cent cabernet sauvignon and the 11 per cent malbec in this blend from four Clare vineyards, which he says performed exceptionally well in the warm, dry 2004 conditions. “I think the Valley’s Cabernets did better than most because our dryland vineyards tolerated those warm, dry conditions better than vines accustomed to irrigation.”

The Tim Adams 2004 Cabernet is beautifully full-bodied with a soft yet impressive mid-palate from the malbec component. Fresh blackcurrant and rhubarb flavours dominate on the palate, and 24-months in French oak has given it a nice spiciness and balance – and its certainly great value at $26.

Enjoy with a southern France favourite in the cooler months – Daube de Boeuf a La Provencal, a slow-cooked stew of beef, bacon, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, red wine, brandy, garlic and beef stock.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: Chalkers Crossing 2006 Sauvignon Blanc

WINEMAKER Celine Rousseau at Chalkers Crossing in the Hilltops Region of NSW has spun her magic again with the label’s 2006 Sauvignon Blanc. This smooth-textured wine from fruit from the cool-climate Tumbarumba area has intense citrus and tropical fruit flavours, and reflects very much the European way of making Sauvignon Blanc; restaurateurs who were amongst the first to recognise its potential on its recent release, snapped up 70 per cent of supplies as soon as it hit the market. Pay $18 and don’t go past sharing it with a mixed seafood platter.

SPECIAL BUBBLY FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS

IF you’ve a special occasion coming up, a really special occasion that calls for a really special bubbly to go with it, give yourself and friends a treat with a bottle of Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1998.

This wine is made only from those vintages where all the conditions are met for its unique style, including exceptional weather and the availability of 100 per cent Grands Crus Chardonnay grapes from the most renowned vineyards of the Cote de Blancs. The ’98 vintage met all these and other criteria, and has been rated alongside some of the greatest Champagne harvests ever.

Taittinger, one of the last remaining family-owned Champagne houses, used only the first pressing to create the 1998, and matured five per cent of wines used in the blend in new oak barrels; the final blend spent a minimum four years in the cellar before release.

The 1998 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs has an exceptionally fine and persistent bead that forms a delicate mousse, and light floral, almond and vanilla aromas with a hint of spice and lemon.

On the palate it has alluring fresh citrus and lemon zest flavours, a pleasant acidity and a luscious, creamy finish. A truly outstanding special occasion Champagne where the $240 price-tag is not a concern.

Monday, 9 April 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: Evans & Tate’s 2006 Margaret River Chardonnay

Evans & Tate have released a stunning Margaret River 2006 Chardonnay that’s both fine and delicate but with wonderfully full white peach, melon and citrus flavours. At $20.99 it’s once again one of those Evans & Tate wines you’d be happy to pay above this for such outstanding quality; enjoy it with char-grilled salmon, baked cherry tomatoes and green beans.

PENFOLDS BIN REDS DO IT AGAIN

FEW wines are awaited with as much anticipation by aficionados of good reds as Penfolds annual release of its Bins Range.

First launched by legendary Max Schubert in 1960 (Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz) and named after the particular bin or rack in the cellar where they were stored, these wines consistently win acclaim for their distinctiveness of style and individuality.

The latest Bin reds released to the market just last month are amongst some of the best-ever, most coming from the stellar 2004 vintages in the Barossa Valley and Coonawarra that gave Penfolds Chief Winemaker, Peter Gago exceptional fruit for wines that are both enjoyable in the short term and for cellaring, in some cases showing potential for 20-years under good conditions.

And interestingly this year’s releases include for the first time concurrent vintages of Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz – the 2004 and 2005 – that buffs will no doubt find interesting to compare the differences a year can make.

While the Bins range has traditionally concentrated on reds with six in this year’s releases, also included for the second year are the 2006 Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay and 2007 Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling.

(Others are Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz (2204 and 2005,) Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2005 Bin 138 Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre; prices range from $27 to $45.)

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: De Bortoli’s 2005 Yarra Valley Chardonnay

DE BORTOLI who started making wines in the Riverina way back in 1928 have achieved wonders since taking over the Yarra Valley’s Chateau Yarrinya in 1987. A recently-released 2005 Chardonnay made from fruit from the family’s exceptional and largely organic vineyards at Dixons Creek in the north of the Valley, is a medium bodied wine with more-ish fig fruit and nutty flavours; pay $27.99 and enjoy with fish or light pasta dishes.

ROSÉ – A GROWING SALES SUCCESS

ROSÉ-style wines continue to grab growing attention from those of us who enjoy lighter reds that can be served chilled, particularly shared with equally lighter seafood and Mediterranean dishes: since 2005 Rosé sales in Australia have grown by over 100% – with certainly no signs of the trend slowing.

A just-released 2006 Beelgara Estate Range Shiraz Rosé from the NSW Riverina should further aid this popularity, as not only has it plenty to offer in the way of flavour and drinkability, the $7.99 price tag is extra encouragement for those who’ve not given much thought to Rosés in the past.

Beelgara’s new Chief Winemaker, Rodney Hooper said his team had aimed at creating a fruit-driven wine with what he called “loads of character” with this Rosé. Rodney, who has worked in California, France, Germany and here at wineries including Charles Sturt University Winery at Wagga Wagga and Leasingham in the Clare Valley, is full of praise for the Riverina region.

“It is uniquely fertile and capable of producing real crowd-pleaser wines, and for this 2006 Shiraz Rosé the top growers who supply us provided excellent fruit showing great varietal definition.”

The 2006 Beelgara Estate Range Shiraz Rosé is loaded with lingering ripe-fruit flavours, and has plenty of characteristic strawberry and cherry aromas; sealed under screw cap for easy opening, its ideal to take along to a picnic and enjoy chilled with a cold seafood platter.

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