Tuesday, 25 September 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: See Saw 2007 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

ONE FOR LUNCH: SEE-SAW has done something unusual with its 2007 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc: the Semillon component comes from the Hunter Valley and the Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand – individually iconic regions for these two varieties. The resultant wine made by Andrew Margan and Hamish MacGowan is one of those wonderfully food-friendly drops that explodes in the mouth with fresh savoury and citrus flavours; another great buy at $19.95 and a good partner with Asian-style seafood dishes, a shellfish platter, or Spanish paella.

WINE OF THE WEEK: Tamblyn Cabernet, Shiraz, Malbec and Merlot

ONE FOR LUNCH: ANOTHER South Australian maker, Bremerton in cool climate Langhorne Creek, has come up with one of its best-ever Tamblyn label reds, a carefully crafted blend by Winemaker Rebecca Willson of Cabernet, Shiraz, Malbec and Merlot that’s she’s brought together in a soft, mouth-filling wine loaded with dark-fruit flavours and soft tannins. Rebecca and younger sister Lucy, who is company Marketing Manager, suggest cellaring this one for the next three years, but we’d recommend paying the $18 asking price and getting into it now with a good mixed cheese platter.

KATNOOK GOES “INFORMAL”

COONAWARRA’s Katnook Estate label has long been recognised as one of the region’s super-premiums, covering wines of enormous intensity and flavour, and usually available in only limited quantities that are much sought-after by aficionados – particularly the label’s reds.

But in 2005 it introduced a Katnook Founder’s Block, a label that Senior Winemaker, Wayne Stehbens calls “an introduction to the Katnook Estate label… and for Katnook Estate’s devotees, their informal drinking wines.”

Don’t think, however, that these are deliberately dumbed-down wines: Wayne and his team have maintained all of Katnook’s full-on flavour and elegance with the six varietals under the label – a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Sparkling Shiraz – that are on the shelf at a good-value $19.99 each.

And although Coonawarra’s reputation lays with its reds, the Katnook Founder’s Block 2005 Chardonnay is one that will appeal to white wine lovers: its silky smooth texture is supported by generous peach, melon and grapefruit flavours, and there’s lively acidity.

A good everyday drinking wine to match it with pasta served with a pesto of blended basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

VOLCANO WINE’S ERUPTION OF FLAVOUR

ANGULLONG Station and Vineyard at Orange in the NSW Central West has garnered itself something of an outstanding reputation for fruit it’s provided on contract since the turn of the century to many of the top names in the district’s winemaking industry.

Following its successes in that field, in 2003 it decided to launch its own A Wines label, and has now followed this with a Fossil Hill range that reflects the adventurous spirit of its owners, the Crossing family: they’ve opted for non-traditional Pinot Gris, Viognier, Sangiovese and Barbera from vines that have taken to the unique 450-million year old soils of Angullong like the proverbial duck to water.

The Crossing family – directors Bill and Hatty and their sons, James who is Vineyard Manager, and Ben Director of Sales and Marketing – bought Angullong Station on the lower slopes of the ancient Mt Canobolas volcano in 1950, adding the vineyard in 1998.

And interestingly they use several local winemakers who are overseen by well-known Orange regional guru, Jon Reynolds to make these wines, outstanding of which among their Fossil Hill range is the 2006 Pinot Gris.

This is a variety that’s gaining strong following amongst real wine buffs looking for that something a little different, the Fossil Hill Pinot Gris a wine with an eruption of rich pear and pineapple flavours, crisp acidity, and nice pear and citrus aromas.

Great value at $19.95 for those who enjoy Mediterranean-style seafood dishes from its homelands in France and Italy (where it’s known locally there as Pinot Grigio.)

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: Deakin Estate 2005 Shiraz

ONE FOR LUNCH: PIE-eaters rejoice: Deakin Estate’s released a 2005 Shiraz that’s a superb red for next time you put a gourmet beef pie on the table – and better still, it costs just $10. Fruit from the company’s vineyard at Red Cliffs in North West Victoria gives this wine a rich palate of dark berry fruits and fine tannins, with lovely spicy fruitcake, raisin, plum and chocolate aromas.

PUT A PARTY IN YOUR MOUTH

A bit of tweaking of acid levels in the just-released 2007 Jim Barry Watervale Riesling has rewarded the company – and consumers – with a superb wine that’s got considerably fresher and more pronounced fruit flavours on the palate than many of its predecessors.

Jim Barry Wines has been a leader with this variety in Watervale, Australia’s home of Riesling, for thirty years, and while many may wonder why they considered it necessary to in fact make any adjustments at all, Managing Director, Peter Barry considers it all part of progress.

“We wanted to encourage sophisticated, younger wine drinkers to grab a bottle of our Riesling to try it, so we brightened up packaging and at the same time made the 2007 with a pH of 2.92 compared with the norm of 3.1 to 3.2.

“It doesn’t sound much, but is enough to give the wine that little extra acidity that in turn’s made it much fresher, and the fruit flavours more pronounced.

“With plenty of lime, pink grapefruit and mandarin up front, and suggestions of rose petals, cardamom, star anise and lychee behind these,” Peter says. “We’ve had it described as ‘like having a party in your mouth.’”

Always great with seafood, this Riesling’s excellent buying at $14.95 so treat yourself to a platter of oysters with lots of lemon and a coriander garnish to start, followed-up with grilled white-fleshed fish topped with a dab of butter, a little chili, lots more lemon and again a hearty garnish of torn-up coriander.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: 2006 Chalkers Crossing Hilltops Semillon

ONE FOR LUNCH: Another relative newcomer with a French connection is Chalkers Crossing at Young in the Hilltops region of the NSW Southern Highlands: the first wines came out of this winery in 2000 under the hand of Paris-born and Bordeaux-trained, Celine Rousseau. Her 2006 Chalkers Crossing Hilltops Semillon has nice citrus and apricot flavours, while the delightful balance of fruit and acid make it ideal to share with rich-flavoured sardines, whitebait or salmon Gravalax. A top-value drop at $18.

WORTH HOCKING THE FARM FOR

IT’S a brave man who decides to hock the successful 90-year old family farm and put the money into buying 70ha of virgin land to grow grapes and dream of hopefully launching his own premium quality wine label.

But Murray Burton, a West Australian south coast farmer did just that in 1996, and after mortgaging the family beef and dairy property, started his new wine venture on the Frankland River, 360km south of Perth.

He’s not looked back: not only did his Frankland River Vineyard thrive in the temperate Mediterranean climate, a couple of years later he bought another 155ha nearby that he named Ferngrove and there built his dreamed-of winery.

Murray brought in highly-respected Kim Horton as Senior Winemaker and saw his 2000 harvest turn into his first Frankland River wine: he’s now released four new reds from the 2005 and 2006 vintages under the Ferngrove Symbols label, the must-buy amongst them for red devotees the 2006 Shiraz Viognier.

Murray and Kim were inspired by the wines of the Rhone Valley to create this 93% Shiraz and 7% Viognier blend, that combines loads of ripe mulberry and raspberry flavours from the Shiraz component, with the Viognier’s aromaticity.

Outstanding value at $14.99; and with its soft, juicy fruit characters, how better to enjoy than with a wood-fired gourmet pizza.

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