Tuesday, 30 October 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: McWilliam’s 2006 Lillydale Estate Pinot Noir

ONE FOR LUNCH: McWilliam’s 2006 Lillydale Estate Pinot Noir must qualify as the closest you’ll get to a virtually “hand made” wine – beginning from the hand-picking of the fruit in its Yarra Valley vineyard, through to careful de-stemming, and 5-days pigeage (foot treading in vats in the winery.)

This largely Old World treatment has resulted in a wonderfully elegant, regionally expressive wine that bursts in the mouth with cherry flavours and hints of gaminess; well worth $26 to linger with over a rack of lamb.

ORGANIC WINES A FAMILY AFFAIR

WHEN the Statham family talk about their organic Rosnay vineyard near the little village of Canowindra in the central ranges of NSW, they’re talking about more than just eschewing artificial fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides.

To them it’s a whole lifestyle thing that goes back to when Grandfather Statham grew home-vegies organically, his passion being enthusiastically embraced by his son, and in turn his sons as well.

Now the close-knit Statham family not only doesn’t use artificial aids in the vineyard, they’ve grown thousands of native trees in belts amongst their vines, balanced minerals organically, they mulch and compost, and even move large flocks of sheep around small units of land for short periods of time to better distribute manure, build-up organic matter and compact the soil less.

It’s resulted in what was once a farm beset with powdery soil with little organic matter, now a rich organic island producing quality wines with higher levels than normal of micro-nutrients anti-oxidants that can help the body detoxify.

The 2005 Semillon could arguably be dubbed the flagship of the ten year old Rosnay’s whites, a perfect seafood-matcher with outstanding crisp apple, light grassy and lime flavours, and a toasty complexity.

Super buying at $16 to go with pan-fried crab cakes and sautéed asparagus.

Monday, 22 October 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: Logan Wines' 2005 Cabernet Merlot

ONE FOR LUNCH: LOGAN Wines in NSW’s central west has a well-deserved reputation for its rich-flavoured cool climate Pinot Noir, Shiraz and a stand-out Cabernet Merlot, the 2005 of which has just been released – a full-on wine whose dark-chocolate flavours are supported by hints of tobacco and soft tannins. Its one for the roast lamb and baked vegies, and good value at $25 to enjoy now or to tuck away to develop gracefully over the next six or eight years.

PIROMIT’S A DRIVE-AWAY SUCCESS

THERE was a time, thirty-odd years ago, when the folk of Griffith in the NSW Riverina would take themselves to their Hanwood drive-in theatre, and ’tween catching snatches of whatever was on the screen, quaff the wine hits of the day – things like Ben Ean Moselle, Porphry Pearl and Mateus Rose.

Today those classics so many of us cut our wine-drinking teeth on are mainly memories, the drive-in’s long gone, and somewhat fittingly in its place is a winery – a 21st century affair big in size but boutique in winemaking approach.

And to preserve a bit of the site’s history, the one-time drive-in’s ticket booths are the weighbridge station of the winery, called Piromit Wines.

Piromit that was created in 1998 is the runaway success of the efforts of four Griffith entrepreneurs who combined their specialist skills in sales, promotion and marketing, viticulture and farm management, and wine science.

Their state-of-the-art winery handles over a thousand tonnes of grapes annually, producing not just wines for their own label, but under contract for other companies; for Piromit they pick the best premium grapes from select local growers to produce a range that includes a Chardonnay, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Shiraz, Sangiovese and a Cabernet Merlot.

Their 2005 Piromit Shiraz is typically rich and ripe Riverina, with intense dark fruits and berry flavours and a peppery, fragrantly spicy bouquet; its excellent value at $14.99 with barbecued prime rib, followed with tasty hard cheeses.

Monday, 15 October 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: 2006 Starvedog Lane Pinot Grigio

ONE FOR LUNCH: PINOT Grigio – or as the French call it, Pinot Gris – is gaining increasing favour in Australia, particularly with those who enjoy a splash of white with seafood-enhanced pasta dishes.

The 2006 Starvedog Lane Pinot Grigio from the Mediterranean-climate Adelaide Hills is a great example of the variety, with fresh, rich flavours of blood oranges, poached pears and savoury spice, and crunchy acidity.

Nicely priced at $24 to match with – naturally – Italian dishes. Try linguine vongole (clams): simply cook the clams in some white wine, garlic, a little chili and plenty of chopped Italian parsley, then toss into the cooked linguine to which a good splash of olive oil should be stirred before the clams.

DELIVERING BEYOND EXPECTATION

ROSEMOUNT’s Show Reserve is an interesting range of wines sitting between their Diamond and Flagship Labels, and giving consumers good-value fresh, bright and vibrant wines around the $20 a bottle mark.

They’ve a half dozen wines in the range from vintages in NSW, South Australia and Western Australia between 2004 and 2007, with one of the real crack-a-jacks their Show Reserve Western Australia Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2007.

This is an aromatic wine that delivers beyond expectation: there are plenty of lychee and passionfruit aromas, and the palate has generous notes of orange blossom, kaffir lime, red grapefruit and honeydew melon, reflecting the fruit from which the wine was sourced from across a variety of WA vineyards.

For those who like a touch of oak there could be some disappointment in this wine having no oak, but the intense fruit flavours certainly make up for any perceived shortcomings in this regard.

Excellent buying at a recommended $20.99; enjoy with asparagus quiche, green salad and a crusty baguette straight out of the oven.

Monday, 8 October 2007

WINE’S HERITAGE A BLAST FROM THE PAST

IT’S worth taking a drive to the NSW Southern Highlands tourist township of Berrima to taste the wines of small family winery, Blue Metal Vineyard – and at the same time try the local produce on tasting and sale in their café-cum-shop.

Blue Metal was planted in 1999 and covers just 10ha of rich red soils and free-draining clay loams over basalt rock, a heritage from aeons past of neighbouring one-time volcanoes Mt Gibraltar, Mt Jellore and Mt Misery.

And remarkably small as this vineyard is, innovative winemaker Nick Spencer has been able to produce an amazing range of lip-smacking wines from it, including four whites, eight reds, a non-vintage Rose and a fortified.

One that’s certainly destined for recognition on the local and international scene is the super-premium Blue Metal Ignis Merlot, a medium-bodied wine with great intensity of flavour, more-ish chocolaty notes, and wonderful dark berry and plum fruit aromas.

At $45 at the cellar door, serve with braised lamb ravioli and wild mushrooms.

Blue Metal Vineyard is just over an hour’s drive south of Sydney in the NSW Southern Highlands; as well as the Cellar Door that’s open Thursdays to Mondays, their café offers local cheese platters and Devonshire Teas and you can buy Highland cheeses, chutneys, jams, sauces, breads and olive oil.

Phone (02) 4877 1877 or check them out at www.bluemetalvineyard.com

WINE OF THE WEEK: McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Philip Shiraz

ONE FOR LUNCH: IT’S over forty years since wine buffs experienced their first encounter with McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Philip Shiraz, and in all those years they’ve certainly lost none of their enthusiasm for this great wine. Sourced from several Hunter Valley vineyards, it rewards with wonderfully sweet and soft red current fruit flavours, and classic Hunter earthy complexity.

This is a “juicy” wine that’s enticingly priced at $18; try it with venison cutlets.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

WINE OF THE WEEK: 2005 Tulloch Moor Shiraz

ONE FOR LUNCH: CLARE Valley winemaker, Kirrihill has decided on a change in making- and marketing-direction: rather than drawing on fruit from a range of South Australian regions, in future it will concentrate on single vineyard wines solely from the cool-climate Clare and the Adelaide Hills.

Former UK wine marketer, Matt McCulloch has been brought in to spearhead the new policy, that includes giving prominence to the names of vineyards from which individual-label wines are drawn, and their association with environmentally sound growing practices.

Amongst first releases under the new criteria is a 2005 Tulloch Moor Shiraz from the Tullymore Vineyard, one of the highest in the Clare Valley: this wine bursts with classic Shiraz spicy-fruit characters, nice tannin and good acid. Pay $19.95 and serve it up with a home-made game pie.

HUNTER’S LITTLE TASTE OF ITALY

THE Hunter Valley’s Little Wine Company has released a wonderfully drinkable Sangiovese under its 2005 Olivine label… a flavoursome yet light and food-friendly “Little Taste of Italy” made from the same red grape variety as the classic Chiantis of Italy’s Tuscany region.

Suzanne Little who oversees red wine production at the family winery says Sangiovese is particularly suited to the terroir of the Hunter Valley, with the 2005 the company’s fifth year of production of this variety – and she believes, the best so far.

The wine is full-flavoured with sweet cherry and leather tones and smoky chocolate and mushroom characters; its well priced at $19 a bottle from most independent retailers – if you can’t find it, give the winery a call on (02) 6579 1111 to find a local outlet.

Being a wine of Tuscan origin – it’s been made there for over 700 years – this one’s ideal with tomato-based pasta dishes or most pizzas.

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