Monday 31 March 2008




wine with david ellis


THE annual release of Penfolds' Bin range is always much anticipated
by aficionados, and this year's Bins that have just hit the shelves
are sure to have the faithful lining up for their favourite numbers
for investment purposes or special-occasion dining.

Eight reds and whites from the 2005 to 2008 vintages are amongst those
just-released, including a first-ever single-vineyard Bin from the NSW
Central West, the 2007 Bin 311 Orange Chardonnay.

Made to both reflect the Bin 311 style and the Orange region itself,
this is an exceptional example of cool climate Chardonnay with nice
stone fruit flavours, a touch of nougat and a refreshing acidic
backbone; you'll find it equally enjoyable alone or with pan-fried
Atlantic salmon and stir-fried Asian greens.

Bin 311 was launched in 2005 using fruit from that vintage, as well as
2006 from Tumbarumba. (And if you are wondering about Penfolds'
numbering system, it originated in the 1950s and '60s to identify
experimental and 'reserve' wines put aside for the exclusive use of
the company's directors. Now it's used to identify Penfolds' finest
and most highly sought-after drops.)

ONE FOR LUNCH: YELLOWGLEN has added a sparkling new wine to its Perle
range, a Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier Non Vintage Rosé sourced from
premium wine regions that's richly flavoured with strawberry and plum
in the mouth, has a nice dry finish and is up there with classic
Australian bubblies.

And even though rich it's not too heavy, so ideal as an aperitif, or
with soft cheeses, sashimi, fresh oysters, or seared tuna; good buying
at $28.99.

BUY OF THE WEEK: DEAKIN Estate's Dr Phil Spillman has created a
wonderfully quaffable $10 drop with his 2007 Sauvignon Blanc… served
chilled it's fresh, fruity, soft and zingy kiwifruit, lime and feijoa
(pineapple guava) flavours ideally suit oysters, white fish, asparagus
or goats cheese.

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BINS for buffs: Penfolds' annual release of its Bin series is always

PEARLER – Yellowglen's Perle Non Vintage Rosé is ideal with soft
cheeses or seafoods.




david ellis

WHEN William the Conqueror decided to take over England in 1066, he
gave one of his invasion's cushier jobs to his half-brother, Bishop
Odo of Bayeux.

Odo was told to take hold of a small wooden fortress that had been
built on an island in a lake in Kent around 857AD by the then King of
Kent, Ethelbert IV. Away from the battle-front, the good Bishop found
the task a no-brainer and settled into an easy lifestyle amid one of
the prettiest parts of England.

So much so in fact that when counters went around 20 years later to
write up the first census for the Doomsday Book, they found a very
content Bishop Odo still ministering to an equally laid-back flock of
just forty-nine: a Keeper of his Fortress, 28 villagers, eight
smallholders, a dozen slaves and a handful of animals.

And the reason for the little community's relaxed outlook on life: a
half-hectare vineyard whose French-origin grapes kept them supplied
year-round with wine made by Odo himself.

Nine hundred years later, using a bit of literary licence, wine
produced from a vineyard on Bishop Odo's original site, is claimed to
be made "from England's oldest vineyard" even though Odo's grapes died
out 300 years after he himself went to his Maker, and today's vines
weren't planted until 1980.

And the site of Bishop Odo's fortress is now one of Britain's
most-visited historic sites, although long gone is the little wooden
fortress. In its place is the grand Leeds Castle – often dubbed "the
loveliest castle in the world."

The rambling 'new' stone Castle was built in 1119 by one of William
the Conqueror's Lords, Robert de Crevecoeur to supersede the wooden
fortress, and now occupies two islands in the lake; it is connected to
the surrounding countryside by a stone bridge that replaced the
original drawbridge.

And its history is as colourful as the setting itself: it's been used
as a garrison, a prison, a convalescent hospital, and played home to
six medieval queens and three noble families.

Henry VIII so loved the place he decreed it his summer palace, but
despite his love of a glass or three of red he ordered the cessation
of monastic winemaking there; without care the vines ran to ruin and
eventually died.

When Leeds Castle's gardeners decided to replant the vineyard in 1980,
they located the exact site of the original planted by Bishop Odo, and
in the first year of winemaking harvested enough grapes to make 1200
bottles of wine.

The vineyard now produces ten to fifteen times that amount, and with
Bishop Odo's winery long gone, the grapes are processed at a local
winery and labelled Leeds Castle Wine.

Leeds Castle is a captivating place to visit, and not just for its
history: it was totally restored by its last private owner, Lady
Baillie who bought it in 1926 and, with the assistance of Paris
decorator Stephane Boudin, transformed it into an elegant country

She opened it to the public in 1976 and today it sits in its lake amid
200ha of park, woodland and old-world English gardens.

An aviary with over 100 exotic species from around the world provides
eagles, falcons and hawks for falconry exhibitions, and is also home
to Jack – the only free-flying African Augur Buzzard in the UK.

There's a yew maze in which to test-out your deductive skills, an
underground grotto with macabre mythical beasts, hot air balloon rides
to take-in the stunning Kent countryside, and for those who can't help
themselves, a golf course.

There's also a duckery on the lake, as well as the castle's symbolic
Black Swans – descendants of those originally imported by Lady Baillie
from Australia.

But probably most unusual of all is the only Dog Collar Museum in the
UK. No one seems to know quite how it started, but it has examples of
hunting-dog collars spanning five centuries, and more modern canine
couture for the 21st century pampered pooch.

Leeds Castle attracts over 500,000 visitors a year and is open from
10am to 4pm during the winter months, and to 6pm in summer; it is
closed Christmas Day. Entry is 14-pounds per person for adults,
11-pounds for seniors and 8.50-pounds per child.

For information see travel agents, call the British Tourist Authority
on 1300 858 589 or check-out



LEEDS Castle – the loveliest castle in the world.

TODAY's vineyard, developed on the site of the original planted in 1068.

HENRY VIII's Banquetting Hall.

AUTUMN colours in the spectacular gardens of Leeds Castle.

Photos: Leeds Castle

Monday 24 March 2008



YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning 24 March 2008

wine with david ellis


BEELGARA have created a great new version of the ubiquitous cask – a
budget-friendly job that holds 3-litres (four bottles) of premium
bottle-quality wine rather than vin ordinaire, and is cube-shaped to
save on fridge space.

And their so-called sq3 casks of wines are sure to not only please
those looking for vintage wines at a budget price, but greenies too:
Beelgara say the new casks reduce carbon production in the
manufacturing process by up to 80 per cent through the use of
cardboard and a foil bladder rather than glass.

These 3-litre sq3 cubes can be somewhat deceptive on first appearance,
certainly not seeming capable of having the equivalent of four bottles
tucked away inside; the current range includes a premium 2006 Cabernet
Merlot, 2006 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, a 2006 Chardonnay and a 2007

Each cask costs $24.95, or the equivalent of just $6.25 a bottle, at
select liquor stores and BWS; while all proved their value, the 2006
Cabernet Merlot got the most attention at a recent barbecue, with its
plum and berry fruit flavours and slightly earthy oak a great match
with lamb grillers and salad.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Bidgeebong Wines' Director of Winemaking, Andrew Birks
called on schoolteachers-turned-farmers, Robert and Heather Johansen
for fruit for his very more-ish 2006 Tumbarumba Sauvignon Blanc.

The Johansen's Mountain View Vineyard is just out of Tumbarumba and
their fruit enabled Andrew to create a wine that's got nice zesty lime
and lemon flavours coupled with fragrant passionfruit and herbaceous
aromas; pay $20 and enjoy with stir-fried chicken breast strips, lemon
grass and Asian greens topped with sliced avocado, lime juice and

BUY OF THE WEEK: The wallet will appreciate you sharing that next
Sunday roast chicken with De Bortoli's Montage 2006 Chardonnay
Semillon; lovely creamy texture with lifted peach and tropical
characters, and its under $10.

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IT's in the box – deceptively looking Beelgara sq3 casks hold the
equivalent of four bottles of premium wines.

MATCH this with stir-fried chicken breast strips, lemon grass and
Asian greens topped with sliced avocado, lime juice and coriander.

Monday 17 March 2008



YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning 17 March 2008

wine with david ellis


WE've all some very special occasion lurking out there in the future,
and if you've one in mind and are looking for a good, good drop of
red, give some thought to Katnook Estate's just-released 2003 Odyssey
Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ok, its $95 a bottle. But remember it's very special occasions we're
talking about here.

This is a remarkable wine from a vintage that gave below average
yields, but fruit of exceptional quality: Senior Winemaker, Wayne
Stehbens spun his usual Odyssey magic to come up with a drop that's
rich and complex with ripe dark berry, dusty mulberry and spicy plum
fruit flavours, coupled with subtle vanilla, mocha, and chocolate from
long oak maturation.

Add its lingering tannins and it's a great celebratory wine with red
meats, game-bird dishes, or lamb shanks – or simply with a block of
high-cocoa chocolate before a winter's fire.

And if you can resist the temptation to draw the cork now, a few more
years in the cellar will make it all the better. Ohhh, yeahhhh....

ONE FOR LUNCH: WYNN'S Coonawarra Estate have been bottling a great
value-for-money Chardonnay since 1981, and their 2007 at $15.99 is
another that's an ideal partner with the weekend brunch or barbecue.

With quite luscious peach and nectarine flavours coupled with subtle
oak, a few bottles on the ice will go ideally with BBQ'd chicken or a
seafood salad.

BUY OF THE WEEK: LOGAN have released a super-priced range of $11
everyday-drinking wines under their NSW Central Ranges Apple Tree Flat
label. There's a 2007 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and '07 Chardonnay, and
a 2006 Merlot and '06 Shiraz, all of them full-flavoured and very

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CELEBRATE with this – it's been made with special occasion
dinner-partying in mind.

OLD favourite since 1981 for the weekend brunch of BBQ.


Monday 10 March 2008

1974 WINERY’S 2007 DEBUT

wine with david ellis

WESTERN Australia's Capel Vale wines have come a long way since Sydney
radiologist Dr Peter Pratten bought a block of land and set up a
winery in a tin shed a quarter-hour's drive outside Bunbury back in

Today under the guidance of son Simon, Capel Vale draws fruit from all
WA's major cool climate growing areas, and not content to rest on its
many well-earned laurels, the forever innovative outfit has just
released an outstanding 2007 Verdelho under a newly-conceived Debut
Series label.

This is a wine with nice sweet fruit character, a dry and clean
finish, and gorgeously rich tropical fruit aromas

Try it with roast duck, salt and pepper prawns, spicy Asian dishes,
basil chicken, or simply crackers and gherkins; it's enticingly priced
at $17.95.

ONE FOR LUNCH: NIGEL Dolan leads a very creative and imaginative
winemaking team at Pepperjack in the Barossa Valley, one that's
constantly working to showcase the outstanding qualities of the Valley
for which all have a truly genuine passion.

Their 2006 Shiraz is rich red in colour with soft purple hues, big on
rich and softly concentrated berry fruit flavours, and has a bouquet
with plenty of blackcurrant, cherry, plum and a touch of spice.

Well priced at $23.99 to share outdoors with a barbecued leg of lamb
spiked with sprigs of rosemary.

BUY OF THE WEEK: KIRRIHILL's 2007 Clare Valley Rosé was made from
Garnacha, a variety that's little-known here but is Spain's
most-widely grown wine grape; it's got nice strawberry and raspberry
flavours, and is vibrant in Rosé colour. Pay $14.99, chill and
toss-down with Indian butter chicken.

(David Ellis' wine column is archived on



EXCELLENT with a range of dishes from salt & pepper prawns to gherkins
and crackers, Capel Vale's 2007 Debut Verdelho.

TOSS a leg of rosemary-spiked lamb on the barbie to go with this Pepperjack

2006 Shiraz.

Monday 3 March 2008



YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning 3 March 08

wine with david ellis

TIM Adams has done it again with his 2007 Clare Valley Riesling, crafting once more a wine that to our palate is a seafood-lover's delight.

Tim used only the very best 500 litres per tonne of grapes from a near-dozen vineyards in the Clare to create this wine that's intensely flavoured with typically Riesling characters, and has a lovely limey/lemon bouquet.

Like most Clare Valley Rieslings this one can be enjoyed while young and zesty, or popped away to develop over the next five years or so; Tim's bottled it with a screw cap, so you can be assured it'll retain its freshness in the cellar.

And while enjoyable as an aperitif, think more along the lines of matching it with good seafoods; a nice touch of acidity helps it go particularly well with baked barramundi you should try stuffed with breadcrumbs, pinenuts and a hearty handful of chopped olives, onion and parsley.

Well worth the $22 asking price.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Rosemount have broken new ground with their first-ever wine made from fruit sourced outside of Australia.

Their 2007 New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was made by winemakers Charles Whish and Matt Koch from 100% Marlborough fruit; it's quite tropical on both the palate and the nose, and has plenty of typical Marlborough mineral notes and acidity.

Good value at $20.99 with a Sunday brunch of asparagus quiche and salad.

BUY OF THE WEEK: McWilliam's always over-deliver with their Hanwood Estate Chardonnay, and the 2006 is no exception: great stone fruit and melon flavours, coupled with peach and grapefruit characters, make it ideal on the table with roast chicken stuffed with an apricot seasoning. Even better its just $12.


SHARE Tim Adams' 2007 Clare Valley Riesling with baked stuffed Barramundi.

A FIRST for Rosemount: a Sauvignon Blanc from 100% New Zealand fruit.