Monday, 15 December 2008

FRIDGE THE RED FOR A COOL YULE

Wc15Dec08

YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning 15 December 2008

wine with david ellis

IF you're planning on turkey at Christmas and a bottle of red to go with it, pop the bottle – preferably a good Pinot Noir – in the fridge for a while to cool it.

No, we haven't lost the plot: serving red wine at "room temperature" originated in Europe where "room temperature" in generally stone-built structures was considered to be around 52-degree Fahrenheit, or roughly 12C.

So here in the Antipodes where our Christmas days can be twice or even three times as hot as those in Europe, it really does make sense to give that red a bit of fridge treatment to enjoy it as its best – not too long though, around 20 or 30 minutes is ideal to take the "room temperature" heat out of the bottle… and the wine.

Try it with a bottle of Capel Vale 2007 Western Australian Debut Pinot Noir that has classic juicy sweet cherries and wild strawberry flavours, and will go wonderfully with the turkey… and its good buying at $17.95.

If on the other hand you're planning on a seafood spread with family and friends, share it with a good Rosé such as Sam Miranda's 2008 Symphonia Tempranillo Rosata. At just $20 a bottle it's a gift, and all the better when served well chilled with that seafood spread – or with cold meats and salad, or for the purists with roast chicken or even pork and vegies.

And if you've bubbly in mind – and most of us will have – think red again, with a McLaren Vale Tapestry label Sparkling Merlot NV off the ice.

At $22 it's both excellent value and a great starter with nibbles, and will carry through well with a main course roast turkey, ham or again with cold seafoods and other salads – while if you're a traditionalist, Victoria's Blue Pyrenees benchmark 2001 Midnight Cuvee is an outstanding drop for any Festive table, and with seven years in the bottle its one of our more elegant handcrafted bubblies; pay $34.95 and safely say "Happy Christmas!"

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Photo Captions:

[] COOL Christmas turkey idea: fridge this red to take the "room temperature"
off it.

[] SPARKLING red that's ideal with the turkey, ham or even seafoods.

Monday, 8 December 2008

ANGUS – GRAB IT BY THE HORNS

Wc08Dec08

wine with david ellis

IT took just five vintages for Angus the Bull to make its mark as the wine of choice of many a red-blooded Aussie carnivore.

And the release of the sixth vintage is sure to get more doing so, even though 2007 was a horror year for many makers with drought cutting fruit supplies to people like Hamish MacGowan – winemaker and founder of Angus the Bull – by over twenty per cent.

To make up for it Hamish had to go "looking further afield," and ended up drawing on supplies from Victoria's and South Australia's premium Cabernet Sauvignon wine regions as diverse as the Strathbogie Ranges, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Goulburn Valley and Swan Hill.

The result is the 2007 Angus is a gutsy red with intense dark fruit, chocolate and vanillin flavours and gorgeous savoury oak – a wine to take by the horns.

Pay a great-value $19.95 for the 750ml 'the Bull,' or just $12.95 for the 375ml aptly-named half-bottle 'Angus Calf,' and team it with a standing rib roast, Yorkshire Pudd and baked spuds.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Western Australia's Goundrey has released a new Cabernet Tempranillo under its Goundrey-G label, a flavoursome addition to its Shiraz Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon that have been quick to amass an array of trophies and medals since their release just last year.

Winemaker Peter Dillon drew on fruit from the Great Southern region for this 2007 Cabernet Tempranillo that's got nice dark cherry and blackberry fruit flavours, a long and complex finish of savoury and cigar-box characters, smooth tannins, and beautifully integrated nougat and charry oak.

At $21.50 share it friends over a rich home-made steak and kidney pie.

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

[] CUSTOM-made for red-blooded carnivores.

[] JUST the drop with a home-made steak and kidney pie.

Monday, 1 December 2008

'THE PATRON’ JOINS WORLD BENCHMARKS

Wc01Dec08

wine with david ellis

FEW wines are spoken about in the same reverential terms as Grange or Chateau Margaux, so when just one is included in talk when it turns to world benchmarks, that wine must surely be something exceptional.

And Brand's Laira recently-released The Patron 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon really can be called exceptional, as its a drop that no doubt will be compared with the world's greatest for years to come.

Now ear-marked as the company's flagship, it was created from fruit from an equally exceptional low-yielding vineyard planted in Coonawarra in 1971, and named The Patron in honour of the first 'Patron of Coonawarra,' Eric Brand; and as soon as they tasted it, wine critics both here and internationally were lauding it in terms normally reserved for Grange and Chateau Margaux.

Sweet dense blackberry and mulberry flavours, cassis, a hint of vanilla, perfect oak integration and a wonderfully silky finish are highlights of this wine, and its little wonder it has already grabbed a half dozen Trophies and more than that number of Gold Medals.

Savour it either on its own or with your favourite grilled or roast beef dish, and at $76 a bottle – a fraction of comparable-quality wines – think about investing in a few extra to enjoy as they mature further over the next twelve to fifteen years (and doubtless improve in value at the same time.)
 
ONE FOR LUNCH: TIM Adams is well-justified in talking about his 2008 Clare Valley Pinot Gris as "a serious food wine that is sensational with Asian-inspired dishes, seafood and salads…"

His fifth vintage of this variety, it has just enough sweetness to balance a crisp, fresh acidity and lovely flavours of pear, peach, lychee and passion-fruit; pay $22 and enjoy while it's still young and zesty with Tim's Asian, seafood and salad suggestions.  

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[] CLASSIC drop in every sense of the word

[] SHARE this with summer's seafoods and salads   




Friday, 28 November 2008

EARLY DECISION PROVES A LUCKY PICK

Wc24Nov08

wine with david ellis

RAY Klavins and Stephen Stafford-Brookes are refreshingly frank about how they achieved a great little Penna Lane Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from the horrific 2008 vintage in the Clare Valley.

Their delightfully fresh and lively wine is the product of what was one of the Claire's most challenging vintages in its history, but rather than seeking credit for an exceptional drop from a harvest in which a heatwave played havoc with many makers, Ray and Stephen simply say they got their fruit off at the right time – before the heatwave struck.

And they add: "Whether that was by good luck or good management, who knows?"

The 2008 vintage started well enough with perfect ripening conditions through a nicely cool February, but things rapidly went downhill from that with a March heatwave that saw virtually all fruit across the region ripening at the one time – leaving many winemakers without enough tank space to handle the flood of juice, and so having to abandon perfectly good crops.

By getting their's off when they did Ray and Stephen were able to create an excellent Sauvignon Blanc Semillon with intense tropical fruit flavours and a lively, zesty finish; pay $19 and team it with your favourite seafood dish.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Western Australia's Capel Vale has earned an enviable reputation for Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from its low-yielding Margaret River vineyards, and their new Regional Series 2007 Margaret River Cabernet Merlot is a wonderful addition to these.

Best parcels of fruit went into creating a wine with a rich and fleshy palate, a soft tannin finish and – from a small addition of Petit Verdot – lifted  aromatics. At $22.95 it's almost under-priced to enjoy with prime rib and jacket potatoes served with a good whack of butter or cream.

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://www.vintnews.com.au)

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Photo captions:

[] GOOD luck or good management – who cares? It's a great wine.

[] PERFECT partner with prime rib and jacket potatoes

Monday, 17 November 2008

VALUE BUY FOR BIGGER OCCASIONS

Wc17Nov08

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WHEN the call's for a few bottles for larger-size celebrations and you don't want to too-heavily hammer the wallet, De Bortoli's Windy Peak range is one that can pretty-much always be relied on to provide the goods.

They've around a dozen wines under the Windy Peak label, so there's just about something for every taste from Chardonnay and Shiraz to a Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, a Rosé and Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling.

The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon sourced from Victoria's Yarra and King Valleys is one of the stand-outs of their more-recent releases, with a nice grassy bouquet and gooseberry and grassy varietal characters on the palate from the 85 per cent Sauvignon Blanc, and citrus notes from the Semillon.

One of those buy-now, drink-now wines this one's light-bodied and will go well with a range of foodstuffs, in particular Thai and Vietnamese dishes and most seafoods.

At just $14.99 it's good value if you've need for a few bottles on one occasion.

ONE FOR LUNCH: WITHIN a couple of decades of being planted to grapes in the 1890s, Koonowla in South Australia's Clare Valley was producing 7000 cases of wine a year.

But a disastrous fire and challenging times in 1926 saw it converted to grain and wool production, until Andrew and Booie Michael bought the property in 1991 and restored it to its original purpose of winemaking.

With highly-regarded winemakers David O'Leary and Nick Walker on board, they're producing exceptional wines, including a value-priced The Ringmaster series who's ripe and luscious Ringmaster 2006 Shiraz further profited from 18-months in French and American oak; a steal at $15 to accompany a rack of lamb.

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)
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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

[] WITH a dozen in the range, Windy Peak is $14.99 value buying  

[] TRY this ripe and luscious Shiraz with a rack of lamb

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A door in The Rocks leads to Australias best-kept wine secrets



Walk through the Heritage doors of Wine Odyssey Australia in The Rocks, Sydney and you embark on a true wine adventure – a sensuous exploration of some of Australia’s most highly regarded independent wineries, joined by some of its secret gems.

The launch of Wine Odyssey Australia (Tuesday 11th November) represents a landmark moment for Australian winemakers and consumers alike. The passionate conception of three successful businesswomen, Wine Odyssey Australia was created to provide a new way to go to market for Australia’s independent winemakers and help them to be appropriately rewarded for their world-class product.

Burgeoning wine lovers will discover a richer dimension in their wine experience - through a Wine Bar, Aroma Room and Tasting Theatre. Wine Odyssey Australia aims to introduce them to the rarely tasted treasures of Australian wine and the distinctive winemakers behind them, broadening wine awareness, expanding wine vocabulary, and ultimately deepening appreciation of and desire for premium Australian wine.

In the Wine Journey Room, you’ll unearth fifty exceptional Australian wines you’re unlikely to find outside of the cellar door - and can choose to experience them by serving yourself via a state of the art Enomatic pouring system to a tasting glass, half-glass or glass. Wine Journey cards (e.g. take a Chardonnay Journey, a Margaret River Journey) help you navigate your way around the wines.

The first list of fifty, which will be refreshed during the seasons, will include top names like Grange, Domaine A, Mount Mary, Bass Phillip and Moss Wood, interspersed with some of Australia’s best kept secrets such as Lamonts, Mayfield and Panorama.

Then there’s the Wine List of 200 premium Australian wines by the bottle. The wines have been expertly chosen by Sommelier Donna Freemen, who over the last ten years has worked with some of Sydney’s best restaurants (Pier, Aqua Dining, Prime, Flying Fish) including being a One Glass winner in this years Gourmet Traveller Wine List of the Year for her work at The Boathouse.

Since taste is inextricably linked to smell, upstairs in the unique Aroma Room you’ll experience fifty wine aromas that can help you give voice to the extraordinary flavours you’re experiencing. Then in a dimmed Tasting Theatre, you’re taken on a sensory journey through six of Australia’s very finest niche wineries – tasting their exquisite wines as, on screen, the great characters who made those wines share their passion, their stories and their secrets. The first six Wine Odyssey film partners are Lamont’s WA, Witchmount VIC, Pooles Rock NSW, Mayfield NSW, Brian Barry Wines SA and Panorama Vineyards TAS.

Rounding out the epicurean adventure, you can enjoy Wine Odyssey’s Food & Wine Flights – complementary combinations of small plate seasonal food and wine specially selected by the Wine Odyssey Chef Mark Beattie (formerly of the Royal Mirage, Dubai and The Green House, London). All food is selected to follow the principles of freshness and sustainability; 100% Australian and where possible using free range, GMO free, organic or biodynamic products. The restaurant will also provide for those with diet-related health conditions - gluten/wheat-free, dairy-free, and low sulphite wine choices.

The journey needn’t end there. Continue your explorations by selecting from more than 500 premium Australian wines in the Wine Store and on the Wine Odyssey Australia website.

Wine Odyssey Australia offers a revelatory voyage of discovery for wine lovers and when Wine Odyssey Australia reaches Toronto, New York and London, it will help share the extraordinary treasures of Australia’s most innovative winemakers with the wine lovers of the world.

www.wineodyssey.com.au

Monday, 10 November 2008

HOW GOOD SANS THE WOOD

Wc10Nov08

wine with david ellis

A recently-released unwooded Chardonnay from Western Australia's Capel Vale shows both how good wines from that State's cool-climate south-west can be, and just how well some unwooded-styles can stand on their own.

Capel Vale has been quietly building a deserved-reputation for fresh and lively wines from its cool climate areas – Geographe, Margaret River, Pemberton and Great Southern – and sourced fruit for its 2008 Debut series Unwooded Chardonnay from select vineyards across these.

Previous unwooded Chardonnays from Capel Vale proved amazingly popular with buyers (who a few years ago would have shied-off such a style,) and this new release should be embraced just as enthusiastically: it's lifted spicy pear aromas are balanced by a lively palate of citrus and stone-fruit characters, coupled with nice texture and depth typical of cool climate WA Chardonnay.

While at $17.95 a bottle this is a wine that can be enjoyed chilled on its own, savour it best with light dishes such as a Chicken Caesar Salad, or with barbecued Barramundi fillets with tossed salad and oven-baked garlic bread.

ONE FOR LUNCH: PETER Logan did something rather unusual with his Logan Wine's Weemala Pinot Gris 2008: he double-harvested on his NSW's Central Ranges vineyard, picking part of the fruit in its early stage of ripeness, and the other when the fruit was riper, and then blended the two.

The result is an extraordinarily enjoyable wine that's fallen between the fresh style of classic Italian Pinot Grigio and the more textured and riper French Pinot Gris – a lovely aromatic drop with aromas of pears, mandarins and melons, and spicy quince and lemon characters in the mouth.

And as Peter gave it no oak treatment, it shows off with it's purely fruit flavours and aromas; good buying at $17 and a nice partner on the table with seafoods or creamy pastas.

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

[] LIGHTEN up: an unwooded Chardonnay for the Chicken Caesar Salad

[] DOUBLE dipping – unusual treatment for tasty NSW Pinot Gris

Monday, 3 November 2008

TINTILLA ROSATA – THERE’S A JOVIAL DROP

Wc03Nov08

YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN FOR W/B 3 NOVEMBER 2008


wine with david ellis

WHILE sales of Rosé wines both here and internationally are on the up
– one leading British liquor chain now has over 40 Rosé labels on its
shelves – they've a long way to go before threatening more traditional
reds and whites.

But with summer around the corner they're always a good drop to toss
down well chilled on a hot day, and no matter what time of the year
are simply ideal with spicy Indian and similar cuisines.

The Hunter Valley's Tintilla Estate has just released its Sangiovese
Rosata di Jupiter 2008, a Rosé-style whose Italian-origin Sangiovese
component makes it nicely fresh with Cranberry-like berry fruit
flavours; soft tannins balance the residual sugar to round out the
enjoyment of this pretty, pink-coloured wine.

At $20 it's good-value and food-friendly with a slightly
lower-than-normal 11.5% alcohol level; team it up with anti-pasta and
pasta dishes, or with those spicier Indian selections.

Italian tradition, by the way, has it that drinking Sangiovese conveys
friendly feelings from Jupiter – the God of Sky and Thunder, King of
the Gods and also known as Jove…hence the word jovial.

If difficulty finding this wine phone (02) 6574 7093 or visit
www.tintilla.com.au

ONE FOR LUNCH: BACK in the early 1980s David and Christine Fyffe
pioneered the production of sparkling wine in Victoria's Yarra Valley,
where in 1970 they'd taken a calculated risk and planted a small,
experimental vineyard at Yarra Junction.

They've had no reason to look back and their Yarra Burn label
sparkling wines are hailed both here and internationally for their
excellence and price-value; a new-release Premium Cuvee Brut has nice
lifted citrus and stone-fruit characters, and at just $19.95 is just
the drop for that next special celebration.


(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

[] A ROSÉ by any name – Tintilla's Rosata di Jupiter

[] SPARKLING performance, Yarra Burn Premium Cuvee Brut

Monday, 27 October 2008

NOTABLE WINE FROM A FORGETTABLE VINTAGE

Wc27Oct08

YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning October 27 2008

wine with david ellis

The Hunter Valley's Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard has included an inaugural Semillon and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc in a half-dozen just-released wines from the 2008 vintage, wines not only notable for their excellence but for the fact they came from one of the region's most-forgettable harvests in a century.

"The vintage was almost entirely washed out," says winemaker, Jeff Byrne. "We had the coolest and wettest growing season in a hundred years, we suffered fruit fly, fruit rot and we got very high disease pressures as we were unable to spray because the soil was saturated.

"We made no reds at all from the vintage because things were just so disastrous for our red fruit, but I'm exceptionally pleased with the way our whites and Rosé turned out," Jeff said.

The 2008 Museum Reserve Semillon is an excellent wine at $35 with great depth of flavour, but the '08 Audrey Wilkinson Verdelho is our choice when it comes to value for price.

This one's full of rich passionfruit and tropical fruit characters and has a lovely soft citrus finish… at $19.99 put it on the outdoor table on a sunny day with crumbed fish and chips or a cold seafood salad.

ONE FOR LUNCH:  PETER Logan has finally got the Moscato he's been twice thwarted in making at his Orange, NSW Central Ranges winery.

On the first occasion in 2006 fruit for his inaugural Moscato, a sweet and delicate sparkling wine, was trashed by hail just the day before harvest. Then last year as he was about to send his wine off for bottling, a cellar-hand mistakenly pumped "a heap" of Cabernet Sauvignon into the Moscato tank.

"But the 2008's been worth the wait, with its delicious pear and peach flavours and nice hint of spicy ginger," he says.  We agree: pay $20 and celebrate!  

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

[] GREAT drop from one of the Hunter's more forgettable vintages.

[] REASON to finally celebrate.


Monday, 20 October 2008

SYMPHONIA ALBERINO – PLAY IT AGAIN SAM


Wc20Oct08

YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN FOR W/B 20 OCTOBER 2008
wine with david ellis

THERE's every chance you've never heard of Alberino, but if King Valley, Victoria winemaker Sam Miranda has his way it won't be long before it's on popular wine lists across Australia.

Likened by many who know it to New Zealand-style Sauvignon Blanc, Alberino hails from the cool Rias Baixas region of north-western Spain and is late-ripening with high natural acidity, intense aromas and complex flavours.

Always looking beyond the horizon, Sam Miranda planted an experimental sixty vines of Alberino on his Symphonia vineyard in the early 2000s, and following their success increased this to 1.25ha in 2006.

Fruit was hand-harvested this year and made into a fresh and zesty wine with fragrant peach and apricot aromas and a dry and lingering creamy lemon tart finish – a wine that's great value at the asking $20.

Sam sees an exciting future for Alberino as a delightful food-match alternative to mainstream white varietals; team it up with a Spanish paella from its homeland – an easy cook-up of rice, prawns, calamari, mussels and chunks of flathead or snapper.

ONE FOR LUNCH: ROBERT Black has put to good use his experience both in France and on his Bunnamagoo Estate on NSW's Central Tablelands to produce small quantities of outstanding quality Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, that have now been joined by a very more-ish Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from the 2008 vintage.

Making just 14,000 cases a year all-up allows Robert to concentrate on each individual wine, and this latest certainly doesn't disappoint: pay $21.95 and enjoy the grassiness of the Sauvignon Blanc and the lovely tropical fruit flavours of the Semillon with buttered grilled asparagus topped with parmesan.

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:


[] SPANISH heritage: Alberino a welcome alternative white


[] MORE-ish – and just the drop with buttered grilled asparagus topped with parmesan  

 

Monday, 13 October 2008

NOVEL FUND-RAISER: DRINKING FOR CHARITY


Wc13Oct08

YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN FOR W/B 13 OCTOBER 2008



wine with david ellis

A SYDNEY couple has launched an on-line wine-buying service whose profits will go to charity and not-for-profit organisations.

Damian and Terri Percy were respected ballroom dancers with over 45 national and international titles between them, but their lives took a totally new direction after the birth of their second son Callum 18 months ago: Callum was born with Down Syndrome.

"We've experienced first-hand the immense difficulties faced by charity and not-for-profit organisations to raise enough funds to simply stay afloat," Damian Percy said. "So we decided to launch The Charity Wine Shop, with its initial beneficiary Down Syndrome NSW and ten others."

Fine wine buyers have a choice of wines from six wineries that have so far teamed-up to supply to The Charity Wine Shop: buyers simply log onto www.charitywineshop.com.au to place their order and nominate the charity or non-profit organisation of their choice from an-already near-dozen on the site.

Wines are delivered free, have a money-back guarantee, and at least $20 a case goes to the nominated charity; wineries, charities or non-profit groups that would like to join-up can contact the Charity Wine Shop on 1300 854 707.

ONE FOR LUNCH: IF you're having fun building up that wine cellar, make a note to invest in a couple of Penna Lane's new-release 2006 Shiraz while its still just $25 – this is a ripper wine with a good ten years cellaring potential and will certainly only get more pricey in the years ahead (if not sold out first.)

Winemakers Ray Klavins and Stephen Stafford-Brooks used 100 per cent fruit from the Clare Valley to craft a wine that's loaded with spice, cherry and dark chocolate flavours, soft tannins and cedary oak complexities. If you can't resist the temptation to try it now, do so with full-flavoured beef or kangaroo dishes or a good cheese platter.


(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com )

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[] DANCING to a new tune, the Percy family – Callum is with dad Damian.


[] ONE for the cellar, or enjoy now with hearty beef, kangaroo or cheeses.


Monday, 6 October 2008

TAKE TO BEST OF NSW’S BEST

Wc6Oct08

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WHETHER you've a palate you reckon could rival the best of show judges, or you're just a social slurper who enjoys a red or white or three any time, the place for you on October 22 will be Sydney's Wharf 8 where you'll have the chance to drink your way through the best from NSW's best wineries.

Called NSW Wine @ Wharf 8, it will be an opportunity to not only taste this year's NSW Wine Awards' Top 40 wines, but others from fifty-plus wineries in the State's fourteen wine regions that put up a good showing in the Awards.

"It's a chance to experience the State's best wines – including the NSW Wine of the Year and the Wine Awards' trophy winners – discover something about the State's fourteen wine regions, and to meet the people who make the wines," said Chair of NSW Wine Strategy, Tiffany Nugan.

"It'll be both educational and fun. For just $35, visitors get a souvenir wine glass and will be able to taste as many wines as they wish – coupled with gourmet cheeses to match all styles and varieties from table wines to bubblies, fortifieds and dessert wines," Ms Nugan said.

NSW Wine @ Wharf 8 will be staged from 5.30pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday October 22 at Wharf 8 that's at 53-59 Hickson Road, next to King Street Wharf on Sydney's Darling Harbour; for bookings or more information phone (02) 6964 4762 or visit www.nswwine.com.au

ONE FOR LUNCH: WHEN McLaren Vale's Dowie Doole winemaker, Brian Light launched his new Second Nature label, for his inaugural white he headed for the hills – the Adelaide Hills that is, which he reckons produces the best Sauvignon Blanc fruit in Australia.

"Our 2008 Second Nature Sauvignon Blanc shares Marlborough (New Zealand's) intensive, distinctive aromatics, but our's probably shows stronger bursts of tropical fruit flavours – and its mouth-filling and not thin on the palate." Pay $19 and enjoy with Coffin Bay oysters or grilled sand whiting.

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)
 

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

[] BOTTLER! Bountiful expectations at NSW Wine @ Wharf 8 on October 22.

[] THE best of our Sauvignon Blanc – its Second Nature to Brian Light.

 

Friday, 3 October 2008

A HEATWAVE WINE – THAT’S COOL

 
wine with david ellis
 
MAKERS in South Australia's cool-climate regions will long remember the vintage of 2008 – right in the middle of harvest they were slammed by a heatwave that was not only freakish for the 35-degree temperatures that came with it, but the fact it lasted an extraordinary fifteen consecutive days.
 
Growers drew on every resource they could to get fruit off vines and into overflowing wineries as tonne upon tonne of grapes literally ripened before their eyes, throwing up challenges of enormous proportions in all directions.
 
Kirrihill Wines' senior winemaker, Donna Stephens recalls it as one of the toughest and most exhausting of her career, but is delighted with the resultant Companions Range wines that came out of such adversities.
 
Particularly outstanding is the 2008 Companions Chardonnay Viognier, a real stunner for what is normally a cool-climate wine, with a typically Clare Valley buttery and pineapple Chardonnay component and spicy peach and apricot from the Adelaide Hills' Viognier input.
 
And interestingly Donna gave it no oak maturation, thus preserving those full-on varietal characteristics. Great value at just $14.95 – and as it came from the heat, how better to enjoy than outdoors with a summery Caesar Salad?
 
ONE FOR LUNCH: WHEN a West Australian bandit named "Moondyne Joe" Johns decided to relieve a thirst by breaking into Houghton's Swan Valley winery in 1869, it's unlikely he would have expected to find himself honoured by the company on one of its labels 139 years later.
 
Moondyne Joe was on the run from prison and unfortunately for him a group of thirsty police officers investigating a local drowning turned up and found him in the winery cellar as he was helping himself to a quiet litre or three.
 
Houghton's The Bandit range includes a fruit-laden Sauvignon Blanc Pinot Gris 2008 ($19.95) that's excellent with white-fleshed fish and a garlic sauce.
 
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PHOTO CAPTIONS:
 
. COOL result from freakish 15-day heatwave
 
. WINE thief steals centre stage
 
 

BOTTLING UP JACK’S GETTING OF WISDOM

 
wine with david ellis
 
 
JACK Mann – legendary winemaker at Houghton's in Western Australia for an amazing fifty-something vintages from 1922 – was not just an extraordinary winemaker, he was an extraordinary person in the way he freely shared the wisdom of his years with anyone who wanted to listen, be they young or old.
 
And equally extraordinarily, he acquired his renowned outlook on life almost entirely within the confines of his beloved Swan Valley, only ever venturing out of his home State once, and that was a short trip to South Australia.
 
Now, as yet a further honour to his remarkable contribution to the industry, Houghton's have renamed their famous Regional Range –  that showcases the strengths and characteristics of individual regions in WA's premium wine growing areas – the Wisdom Range.
 
Among these six is a 2004 Wisdom Frankland River Shiraz that has sweet red berry and black pepper dominance both on the nose and the palate, and is further enhanced with savoury tones and fine grained tannins in the mouth. 
 
At $32 this is a drop made to share with herb-crusted rare roast beef, or an after-dinner platter of hard cheeses. And as Jack was always willing to create a quote to share with listeners, the label comes with one of his classic thoughts: "I think 1932 was the turning point, when after accumulating a reasonable amount of knowledge, I realised that I knew nothing worthwhile."
 
ONE FOR LUNCH:  DE BORTOLI's who were amongst those that pioneered the NSW Riverina's emergence from a cheap bulk-winemaking region to one that now relishes world-wide recognition, has released a mouth-watering new Sacred Hill label Semillon Sauvignon Blanc in time for summer celebrations.
 
This 2008 "buy now, drink now" wine bounces with wonderful varietal fruit flavours, and at just $7.49 is value buying to go with seafoods and salads.
 
(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)
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PHOTO CAPTIONS
 
. LIKE the legendary Jack Mann, give proper thought as to how to enjoy this one – try it with herb-crusted rare roast beef
 
.  BUY now and enjoy now: a summer drop for seafoods and salads
 
 

LIGHTEN UP – WITH A LOWER ALCOHOL WHITE

 
wine with david ellis
 
WITH warmer days not too far off, for many of us our thoughts will soon be turning to alfresco dining and a glass or two of lower alcohol whites to enjoy with summery seafoods and salads in the middle of the day.
 
Chateau Tanunda have come up with just such a drop, a ripper of a crisp dry white that's just 10.5% alcohol – nearly a third under the normal – that almost explodes with spritzy lemon and lime flavours coupled with a lively touch of grapefruit and watermelon.
 
This 2007 Grand Barossa Classic Crisp Dry White wine is best served well chilled and lives up nicely to its "crisp" labelling; at $18 it's just the drop to share outdoors with a seafood platter and salad, or simply fish and chips.
 
ANOTHER FOR LUNCH: MILDARA have been making wine since the late 1800s, and have been producing true-to-variety wines from the Coonawarra region since the 1950s.
 
Amongst their latest from this renowned area is a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz from the rewarding 2005 vintage that gave winemakers fruit with exceptionally ripe-fruit flavours and generous tannins; this wine has rich dark berry fruit flavours with a sweet cinnamon spiciness and light vanillin on the palate.
 
Pay $28.99 and team it with a mixed grill accompanied by boiled tiny potatoes tossed in melted butter and sprinkled with Tuscan herbs.
 
WINE OF THE WEEK: IF there's a party on the horizon and you're going to need a few bottles of bubbles, give serious thought to De Bortoli's new Emeri Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc that at just $13.99 is loaded with soft tropical fruit flavours and a creaminess that will go with all manner of party-room finger food. And if for some reason you're looking for just a couple of celebratory glasses on your own, it also comes in a handy 200ml miniature at just $5.49.
 
(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)
 
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PHOTO CAPTIONS:
 
CLASSIC: This crisp dry white is nearly a third lighter in alcohol and ideal with midday seafood salads or fish 'n chips.
 
THINK about a mixed grill with Tuscan-herbed tiny potatoes to partner this exceptional Coonawarra red.
 
 

Monday, 15 September 2008

HEAR, HEAR FOR A TRIO OF OPTIMISTES


Wc15Sep08

wine with david ellis

AFTER growing some of the best fruit in NSW's Mudgee district and seeing local winemakers scooping up the medals with the wines that came from it, Steven and Sharlene Dadd took the plunge several years ago and decided to go into the winemaking business themselves.

They got great support for the venture they dubbed Optimiste Wines from Arrowfield's acclaimed winemaker Barry Kooij, and have now been joined by exciting young maker, Michael Slater.

The Dadd's have just released their first wines, a 2005 Optimiste Cabernet Sauvignon, and an Optimiste Petit Verdot and a Marquis from the excellent 2006 vintage – the Marquis a beautifully smooth, flavoursome blend with signature blackberry flavours from the 50% Cabernet, nice ripe plum fruit from the 30% Merlot component and lifted aromas from the balance of Petit Verdot.

The Dadd's dedicated their Marquis to young son, Marcus whose inspiring struggle with deafness, they say, captures the spirit of hope and passion of the Optimiste label.

Pay $24, and enjoy this one with lamb cutlets and a lentil salad.

ONE FOR LUNCH: EVANS & TATE drew fruit from across the whole of the Margaret River region for their 2007 Margaret River Classic White, a wine that year after year showcases the crisp zestiness of the Region's Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Tropical fruit notes from the Sauvignon Blanc component and herbal gooseberry and nectarine from the Semillon make this an ideal wine for al fresco dining, one that's got "chuck another shrimp on the barbie" written all over it… so pay $18.99, gather some mates and do just that.

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)

                                                    ………………………….

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

. NEW Mudgee label inspired by a spirit of hope and passion

. CHUCK another shrimp on the barbie with this Classic White


Monday, 1 September 2008

HISTORY’S IN THE BOTTLE

Wc1Sep08

wine with david ellis

TRIVIA buffs may find there's a buck to be made in the history of McWilliam's iconic Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon, the 2003 of which is now released.

Firstly Mount Pleasant has – probably uniquely in the world – had only three Chief Winemakers since being established by the legendary Maurice O'Shea 87-years ago in 1921, and secondly it's Elizabeth Semillon that debuted in 1967 was so-named by the McWilliam family after Queen Elizabeth II who was enjoying great popularity in Australia at the time.

Thirdly the wine for nearly fifteen years was incorrectly labelled "Hunter Riesling" until this was corrected by current Chief Winemaker, Phil Ryan in 1982…and finally its sister wine, Mount Pleasant Philip Shiraz that is also still one of the company's icons today, was named after Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip.

Ryan, who has been at the helm since 1978, took over from Brian Walsh who had been given the baton by Maurice O'Shea in 1956, which helps explain the consistency of style of this exceptional Hunter Valley wine.

Phil Ryan crafted the 2003 from fruit handpicked for its primary lemon and citrus fruit characters that come through generously on the palate, and there are also hints of typically aged-Hunter Semillon toast and lanolin characters.

This is a serious wine for those who are equally serious about matching good Semillon with good seafood, yet remarkably its just $17.99 a bottle. Team it up with Terikyaki infused scallops on limed Vermicelli noodles.

ONE FOR LUNCH: KATNOOK Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is another classic that's been around a long time (since 1980,) and the 2005 reflects everything that's great about Coonawarra; several vineyards contributed to this wine that has beautifully concentrated fruit flavours and fine tannins. Pay $40 and share it with friends over a slab of high-cocoa, bitter-sweet dark chocolate.

(Need a drink? We're archived on htt://www.vintnews.com)
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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

A WINE of longevity: Mount Pleasant has had just three Chief Winemakers in its 87-year history.

BITTER-sweet: this wine is one for the choco-holics.

Monday, 25 August 2008

GOLD BOOK UNEARTHS REAL GEMS

Wc25Aug08

wine with david ellis

WE've long considered one of the most valuable assets in the cellar to be Australian Wine Vintages – truly "the Gold Book" for the true wine enthusiast.

And the latest edition reflects the first change in authorship in the book's 29 year history, with Master of Wine, Robert Geddes joining original creator, Robin Bradley for the 2009 edition – Robin's last before he retires in 2010.

Australian Wine Vintages provides buffs and collectors with a unique, easy to understand data base about the quality, value and "use-by" potential of the best wines from Australia's top 350 producers – with Robert this year undertaking an enormous 18,000 data searches to create a realistic snapshot of current values and prices through retail outlets and at auction.

Since first appearing in 1979, the "Gold Book" has sold over 900,000 copies and provided enormous assistance both to the trade and sophisticated wine drinkers and collectors: one Sydney man has built-up a $100,000 cellar based purely on the book's recommendations, and two others have used it to amass over 650 bottles each including rare vintages dating back to 1976.

The 2009 edition of this must-have book for true wine aficionados is priced at $34.99 and will be on sale in time for Father's Day… if you can take the hint.

ONE FOR LUNCH: IF ever a wine has "special event" written over it, it's Lindemans 2005 Coonawarra Pyrus – a classic Bordeaux style blend with a backbone of 81 per cent old vine Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and a touch of Malbec.

This is a wine whose rich and supple palate has intense sweet berry fruit flavours, pluminess from the Merlot component, and spicy and earthy notes from the small 2% Malbec contribution.

Pay $54.99 for that special-occasion and share with a hearty Beef Wellington.

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

. A MUST-have for those who take their wine seriously.


Monday, 18 August 2008

GRAZING TO GRAPES BRINGS SWIFT REWARDS


wine with david ellis

BACK in 1996 when Jim and Ruth Swift turned 12ha of their historic farming and grazing property at Orange in NSW's Central West over to wine grapes,  the Orange Viticultural Region as we now know it had not even been defined.

How quickly and how much things have changed, with Orange now a serious contender amongst Australia's cool climate wine makers, and with the Swift's Printhie label up there amongst the very best from this exciting new region.

Sons Ed and Dave Swift returned to the Printhie property in the early 2000s from "city jobs" in engineering and graphic designer respectively, and with winemaker Drew Tuckwell, who previously worked in the Hunter, north-east Victoria, McLaren Vale and for a while in Tuscany, have been instrumental in the "new look" Printhie wines.

Latest release is their reserve range Swift Family Heritage label that was launched this month with a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz and a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon… elegant, beautifully flavoured wines that with only 300 6-bottle packs made of each are sure to be snapped up at better restaurants.

The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz is a stand-out, full of savoury, cranberry and plum flavours from the hand selected fruit, and with elegant ripe tannins; order it at better restaurants with prime rib or other beef dishes, or buy through the cellar door at $32 a bottle ($190 by the 6-bottle pack with free delivery in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. Phone 02 6366 8422.)

ONE FOR LUNCH: SEMILLON Sauvignon Blanc and seafood go hand-in-hand, and aficionados of this combination should look at Capel Vale's 2008  Regional Series Pemberton Semillon Sauvignon Blanc derived from fruit drawn from vineyards in three of Western Australia's coolest wine regions.

Intense aromas ranging through straw, melon, stone fruit and citrus complement the herbaceous palate, and there's no oak; pay $22.95 to kick off with oysters as a starter for a seafood spread.

(NEED A DRINK? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

GET it while you can: just 1800 bottles are available of this stand-out red

SEAFOOD's worthy companion – they go hand-in-hand

Sunday, 17 August 2008

WHEN EVERY PROBLEM’S AN OPPORTUNITY…

Wc11Aug08

YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for 11 August 08

wine with david ellis

IF, as they say, every problem is an opportunity, Peter and Elizabeth Pratten had plenty of opportunities when they set about establishing their Capel Vale Wines' Whispering Hill vineyard in Western Australia's Mount Barker in 1984.

Although 50km inland it was a site on which the southerly Spring winds blew through you not around you, its noise through the Casuarina trees inspiring the vineyard's name. And add the wind chill factor, and you'll understand why early-flowering Pinot Noir and Chardonnay had to be discarded – while later-flowering varieties of Riesling and Shiraz proved happier on the site.

"We had to go through numerous plantings to get the best vines to match the weather pattern of the growing season," Peter says. "With all the difficulties and low yields, it meant high-cost grape growing but we persisted as we passionately believed Whispering Hill to be a vineyard of a lifetime."

That persistence has certainly been well-rewarded with their 2005 Whispering Hill Single Vineyard Mount Barker Shiraz. "The hungry soils give the wine a variety of special characters," Peter says, "the granite sands in particular contributing to wonderful complexity: with rich, sweet fruit flavours and a nose of pepper, red berries and spice, this is a wine that will compete with the best on the world stage, and has the potential to drink very well for 10-years plus."

Pay $49.95 and if you're not into long-term cellaring, decant a day prior to serving with char-grilled prime rib or game dishes.

ONE FOR LUNCH: GREAT buying at $20.99 is Rosemount's Show Reserve range, seven reds and whites from Australian and New Zealand vineyards that include the always-popular McLaren Vale Traditional – a centuries-old Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

This wine has generous Cabernet fruit, tobacco leaf and spice flavours, and will go ideally with roast lamb or a cheese and fruit platter.


(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)                                                   
                                                            ………………

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

. PERSISTENCE paid off for Capel Vale with this spectacular Shiraz

. TRADITIONAL favourite: one for roast lamb or a cheese platter

Monday, 4 August 2008

YARRA BURN FIRES UP A CLASSIC


Wc04Aug08



wine with david ellis


THIRTY years ago, with winemaking in Victoria's Yarra Valley still somewhat in its infancy, David and Christine Fyffe released the first wines under their Yarra Burn label, and stood back to anxiously await the reaction.

Any trepidations certainly proved unfounded as the accolades, the trophies and the gold medals that have rolled in ever since still clearly testify.

And in the three decades since that first release, the Fyffe's have created some absolute stunners, while also finding time to pioneer Yarra Valley spark-ling in 1983 and Australia's first Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend soon after.

Their now-released 2007 Yarra Burn Chardonnay is a classic of unbridled tight citrus characters on the palate coupled with sweet ripe fruit, all made the more enjoyable with that fully-developed citrus – and hints of white peach –  coming through in the bouquet that almost explodes on pouring.

An excellent choice at $25.50 to serve with seared tuna steaks and winter vegetables, or at a Sunday brunch of duck terrine, salad and crusty baguette.

ONE FOR LUNCH:  PETER Barry has raised a few eye-brows with the labelling of his Jim Barry 2007 The Lodge Hill Dry Riesling – but he says he's included the word Dry for his international rather than local customers.

"Most Australians expect Rieslings from premium areas such as our Clare Valley to be dry, but more than 90 per cent of Rieslings are markedly sweeter overseas where our Lodge Hill's got a big following," he says.

"At 480 metres – amongst the highest in the district – ours is a Riesling whose palate is dry, with tangy lemon rind and lime fruit flavours, and with a chalkiness that balances the steely, crisp acidity and long limey finish."

Pay $19.50 and serve with scallops grilled for a minute on the shell, and drizzled with a sauce of soy, ginger, garlic and lemon; top with fresh parsley.

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)   

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

. NO FEAR: Yarra Burn's not looked back since its launch three decades ago.

. DRY approach – telling it as it is for Jim Barry Wines' countless overseas fans.

Monday, 28 July 2008

G.S.M. – IT MEANS A TASTE OF FRANCE


Wc28Jul08

YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning 28July 08


wine with david ellis
 

IF you're thinking about a dinner party with a touch of French flare, think about Rosemount's Show Reserve 2005 McLaren Vale G.S.M., a taste of the South of France if ever there was one.

G.S.M. (Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre) is a traditional blend in the Southern Rhone Valley, a region that shares climatic conditions similar to South Australia's McLaren Valley where Rosemount first created its version of this French classic in 1994.

Since then Rosemount's has become a benchmark for the style here, being made from premium parcels of fruit from old, low-yielding vines; the 2005 is loaded with dark fruit flavours, spicy cinnamon and liquorice characters and soft ripe tannins.

At $20.99 enjoy this with friends over a French-inspired game casserole.


ONE FOR LUNCH: WHEN it was launched back in 1952 it was labelled Wynns Coonawarra Estate Claret, but as things have changed over time it's become Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz – and is still a classic from the company that was the first winery in the Coonawarra 112 years ago.

The just-released 2007 is rich and spicy with red berry fruit and a touch of nutmeg and soft tannins on the palate, and with a nose of lifted red cherries,  wild berries, sweet spice and hints of cocoa and vanillin oak.

This is a great wine at $20.99 to enjoy when chucking a steak on the barbie.


BUY OF THE WEEK: ANDREW Margan created a sensational drop for Merlot buffs with his 2006 off the family Hunter Valley property, the more so when you consider 2006 followed four years during which rain was virtually unheard of. This wine is beautifully fresh and fruit driven with plum, black cherries and hints of vanilla; pay $20 and savour with a hearty osso bucco.  

 

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)                                      


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PHOTO CAPTIONS:


. FRENCH connection inspired by the Southern Rhone Valley.


. CHUCK a steak on the barbie with this classic.
 

Monday, 21 July 2008

THINKING OF DINNER DRAWS A BLANC


Wc21Jul08

YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for w/b July 21 2008
 

wine with david ellis

WINEMAKER Brian Light at McLaren Vale's Dowie Doole believes the most under-utilised and under-estimated variety at the ultra-premium end of the Australian wine industry is Chenin Blanc.

He points out that In France's Loire Valley, the variety has traditionally been used to produce incredibly long-living sweet white wines and excellent dry whites, because the French limit yields to just six or seven tonnes per hectare.

"But with enough water Chenin Blanc can yield up to four times this to the hectare – a temptation for growers here to look for tonnes of fruit rather than tonnes of fruit flavour," he says. "By simply using Chenin's naturally high acidity as a low-cost way of balancing residual sweetness for easy-drinking, middle-of-the-road and slightly sweet whites, they're doing nothing to enhance the variety's reputation."

Determined to do something about it, Brian's created a 2006 Dowie Doole Tintookie Chenin Blanc from 70-year old, low-yielding vines on Drew Dowie's and Lulu Lunn's Tintookie Vineyard. "These vines struggle a bit in the sandy, quite infertile soils, but deliver plenty of the variety's green pear and white peach flavours, and we pick early to retain freshness and tingling acidity."

A lovely wine at $32 with loads of cellaring potential (six or eight years at least, Brian says.) With those green pear and white peach flavours, a hint of nuttiness and already a nice creaminess coming through, serve it with poached salmon topped with buerre blanc – Chenin Blanc and buerre blanc are, after all, partner specialties of the Loire Valley.

BUY OF THE WEEK: LOGAN Wines in NSW's cold-climate central west have released their 2006 premium Logan Vintage 'M' Cuvee, a full-on-flavour sparkling from Peter Logan who used late-picked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to create an exceptional light-salmon coloured fizz that's spot-on as a special-occasion aperitif. Pay $35, pop the cork and start partying.      

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

. FRENCH connection: showcasing just how good Chenin Blanc can be.

. POP the cork and start partying with this exceptional fizz.

Monday, 14 July 2008

AGE OF DEVOTION: HOUGHTON’S MUSEUM WHITE BURGUNDY


Wc14Jul08



wine with david ellis

DEVOTEES of aged whites should be cock-a-hoop over Houghton's Museum Release of their 1999 White Burgundy, a label originally launched back in 1937 and several years ago re-badged as Houghton White Classic.

And they should be as equally impressed with the price as with the wine itself: this remarkable nine-year-old is available through good outlets at just $33 a bottle, a steal for such a classic that's loaded with full-flavoured honeyed toast and hazelnut characters on the palate, and has an enticing nose of buttered-toast, boxwood honey and complex citrus.

Known since 2005 as Houghton White Classic, the label is now one of our most-sought-after at release each year, both as a drink-now while young, and to put aside for up to eight or nine years in the cellar.

Chenin Blanc has always been the backbone of this wine, with some Verdelho and Muscadelle being added in the mid-70s, and soon after that Chardonnay and Semillon to give even extra finesse and further complexity with aging.

Grab a few at this price and enjoy with poultry or lightly-spiced Asian dishes.

ONE FOR LUNCH: MARGAN Family Winegrowers were the first to plant the Italian varietal Barbera in the Hunter Valley, getting cuttings to do so from Carlo Corino in Mudgee a decade ago in 1998.

It was a great decision and their 2006 is a blockbuster for those who enjoy this easy-drinking Italian-tucker red that's got plenty of ripe blackberry and cherry fruit flavours and long savoury tannins: pay $25 and make a lasagna including lentils and sun-ripened tomatoes, top with Ricotta and Parmesan cheese, bake and serve with garden vegies – or if you're lazy just buy a pizza.

BUY OF THE WEEK: CLIMBING Wines' 2006 Shiraz from Orange in NSW's Central West is all rich plum-fruit flavours, complex earthy characters, spici-ness and nice oak. Great buying at $21 to go with herbed meatballs 'n mash.

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)

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Photo Captions:

ALMOST from another era: Museum Release of Houghton's famed White Burgundy.

BLOCKBUSTER Hunter Valley Italian-tucker red.


Wednesday, 9 July 2008

BRANDY DISTILLERY’S SPARKLING SUCCESS


Wc7July08

YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning July 7 2008

wine with david ellis


YOU could probably say it had to happen: a wine company that was founded in western Victoria in 1963 by two of France's most famous Champagne houses – Krug and Charles Heidsieck – with the intention of making brandy, is instead producing some of our most outstanding sparkling wines.

And no longer under French ownership, but now Australian – and along the way also turning out some of our most outstanding cool-climate reds as well.

Located in the foothills of the blue-hued Pyrenees ranges 180km northwest of Melbourne and now known as Blue Pyrenees, it was originally called Chateau Remy and released the first of its lip-smacking reds 40-years ago this year.

But as well as those reds, its 'methode traditionelle' sparklers are grabbing the attention of consumers and judges alike both here and overseas, particularly a Vintage Brut, Brut Rosé, Midnight Cuvee (whose fruit is hand-picked under floodlight in the middle of the night,) and two cellar-door-only cuvees.

Don't look past the 2004 Blue Pyrenees Vintage Brut for that next celebration: excellently priced at $30, this bubbly has a lively palate of concentrated yeast autolysis characters and grapefruit flavours, and fresh acidity; enjoy it as a starter with hors d'oeuvres or with delicately-flavoured seafood mains.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Celebrating 100 years of family-run winemaking in South Australia's Coonawarra this year, Redman Wines has released a 2005 Shiraz that for price, value and flavour is possibly best described as 'stunning.'

Thirty-five year old vines in the heart of Coonawarra gave fruit for this wine that has wonderfully rich spicy fruit on the palate, soft round tannins and fresh acidity; pay just $23.50 and team with red meat dishes or hard cheeses.


(A recent column suggested an association between Redman Wines and Brookland Valley Wines; Redman has no association with other winemakers outside Coonawarra.)

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PHOTO CAPTIONS:

. TRUE Blue: A Victorian distillery that was supposed to make brandy, is in fact producing some of our best Bubblies.

. SCORING a century, Coonawarra's 100-year old family-owned Redman Wines has released a stunner 2005 Shiraz.

……………

Monday, 30 June 2008

WELL-MATCHING VARIETY TO REGION

Wc30Jun08


YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning June 30 2008

wine with david ellis

SOUTH Australia's Kirrihill Wines has long trumpeted the ideal of matching only the most suitable varieties to the best regions in which they grow, and its new Single Vineyard Series from the Clare Valley testifies to the wisdom of this long-held variety-to-region philosophy.
The three wines in the series – a Bothar Umair Cabernet Sauvignon, Baile an Gharrai Shiraz and a Tulach Mor Shiraz – all come from the excellent 2006 vintage and take their unusual names from the Gaelic for their originating vineyards: Bothar Umair Vineyard (Tank Road) is on the now-Anglicised Tank Road, Ballingarry Vineyard translates to Baile an Gharrai, and Tullymore Vineyard to Tulach Mor, all in honour of Clare's original 1840s Irish settlers.

All three reflect the Valley's variety-to-region capabilities, and its ability to produce cool climate wines of both powerful structure and elegance. The Cabernet Sauvignon from the Olssen family's Bothar Umair Vineyard (a new source for Kirrihill) is a real stand-out with lovely sweet berry and plum fruit on the palate, while well-integrated oak is framed with elegant tannins.

Good value at $19.95 to savour with rare-cooked Beef Wellington drizzled with rich gravy and accompanied by winter root vegetables.

ONE FOR LUNCH: MILD summers with long warm days and cool evenings help makers in New Zealand's Marlborough region produce some exceptional Chardonnays, amongst them the 2007 Secret Stone that bursts with powerful citrus and tropical fruit flavours that are beautifully balanced with the region's renowned minerality and a nicely racy acidity.

This is a seafood-lover's wine to put on the table with whitebait fritters or shellfish and salad, and is temptingly priced at $20.99.

BUY OF THE WEEK: BLACKJACK's 2006 Chortle's Edge Bendigo Shiraz from Central Victoria's Harcourt Valley is full of fresh, ripe fruit flavours and ripe grape tannins, a toss-it-down drop at $18 to enjoy with the next barbecue.

(Need a drink? We're archived on http://vintnews.com)


PHOTO CAPTIONS:

WHAT'S in a name – here's an Irish lilt that's a melody with Beef Wellington.

SEAFOOD lover's special from New Zealand's Marlborough region.

Monday, 23 June 2008

TINTILLA’S “SUPER TUSCAN” HUNTER RED

Wc23June08

YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning June 23 2008

david ellis

ANYONE with a love of Italian food shouldn't look past Tintilla
Estate's 2006 Catherine d'M Sangiovese Merlot, a "super Tuscan" from
father and son winemaking team Robert and James Lusby who were the
first to plant Sangiovese in the Hunter Valley thirteen years ago.

This wine derives it lovely red berry fruit flavours and savoury twist
from its blend of Italian- and French-origin grapes, and draws its
name from a similar marriage involving both countries – that of
Catherine de'Medici of Italy and Henry King of France in 1533.

Robert and James Lusby believe the two grape varieties make ideal
partners, Sangiovese's dark cherry and violet flavours and Merlot's
plum, spice and caramel oakiness resulting in a delightfully
medium-bodied "food wine."

Enjoy it now at $25.60 a bottle with Osso Bucco or hearty meat-based
pasta dishes (Sangiovese, remember, is the major component of
Tuscany's famed Chiantis) or pop it in the cellar to further develop
over the next 5- to 7- years.

ONE FOR LUNCH: WESTERN Australia's Margaret River had a mild, early vintage in 2007, resulting in slightly lower yields than normal but with wines of incredibly intense flavour.

Quirky-named Fifth Leg 2007 Chardonnay is one such drop whose loads of classic Chardonnay stone-fruit and melon flavours are balanced by citrus, crisp acidity and interesting hints of cashew from its subtle oak.

Pay $20.99 and enjoy with a chicken roast, or take along to your local BYO Vietnamese restaurant – it'll go well with their chicken, pork or fish dishes.

BUY OF THE WEEK: DE BORTOLI's Deen Vat Series 2006 Durif is a wonderfully full-flavoured wine whose rich, spicy fruit flavours make it an ideal partner for hearty casseroles or savoury stews. Nicely priced too at $12.99.


PHOTO CAPTIONS:

. A HAPPY marriage – Italy's Sangiovese and France's Merlot

. ONE for Vietnamese chicken, pork of fish dishes

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