Monday 28 April 2008



YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning 28 April 2008

wine with david ellis


NOT many winemakers can boast a cricket pitch in the middle of their vineyards, but when Jim Barry Wines bought the disused Penola Cricket Ground in South Australia's Coonawarra ten years ago, they decided to leave the pitch intact as something of a tribute to the State's cricketing greats.

MD of the family-owned company, Peter Barry planted four clones of Cabernet Sauvignon on the ground, leaving a path through to the pitch ("it's got the world's shortest run-up," he says,) and has just released the inaugural wine from this unusual vineyard – appropriately labelled 2005 First Eleven.

Vines for this first wine from the Penola Cricket Ground vineyard were hand-pruned, and fruit selectively hand-harvested to ensure fruit was gathered at full ripeness.

The result is a classic young full-bodied Coonawarra Cabernet with a palate rich in blackcurrant, clove and cinnamon, velvety tannins and liquorice and cherries. Pay $60 and couple with char-grilled steak, a walnut sauce and celeriac mash.

ONE FOR LUNCH – a very special lunch: Katnook's Prodigy Coonawarra Shiraz 2004 is one of those exceptional wines for exceptional occasions, the result of an ideal growing season and the hands-on attention that can be paid to a very small vineyard with a long lineage of outstanding production.

The very noticeable raspberry and plum fruit flavours, sweet anis spices, licorice and hints of cracked pepper feature on the palate, coupled with soft and lingering tannins; pay $95 for that special occasion and share at the table with pesto crusted Frenched lamb chops.

WINE OF THE WEEK: New Zealand's Secret Stone has added a Pinot Gris to its stable, a beautifully crispy, tropical-fruit-rich wine from the Marlborough region of the South Island; great buying at $20.99 to enjoy with pan-fried salmon.

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Photo captions:

HIT drop from Jim Barry Wines is a classic young Coonawarra Cabernet

KATNOOK Prodigy Coonawarra Shiraz an exceptional wine for exceptional occasions

SECRET's out: Secret Stone Pinot Gris: tropical fruit rich from New Zealand

Monday 21 April 2008


YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning 21 April 2008

wine with david ellis

Senior Winemaker at Western Australia’s Ferngrove Vineyards, Kim Horton puts the success of his stunning 2007 Diamond Chardonnay down to two things – a bit of juggling in the vineyard and a bit more in the winery.

“2007 was one of the most intense and earliest harvests we’ve seen at Ferngrove,” he says. “A blast of hot weather in early March had us working really hard in the vineyard, followed by our juggling acts which really paid off.”

Kim chose fruit from four blocks carrying two different vine clones for his 2007 Diamond Chardonnay, picking one parcel before the hot weather and the second after it – but ultimately being forced to abandon the latter-picked.

Despite this problem, the resultant wonderful nectarine, lemongrass, ginger and spicy oak make this beautifully creamy drop one that enthusiasts of the Ferngrove label (based in the Frankland River region 360k’s south of Perth) will quickly snap up – particularly as only limited supplies are available.

Invest $23.99 and serve with chicken or pork and stir-fried Asian greens.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Back in the 1830s Major Thomas Mitchell wrote glowingly of the “rich and verdant” pastoral lands he’d discovered in Central Victoria.

Settlers soon followed the route of “the Major’s Line,” and today growers like David and Ruth Norris at Faraday on the foothills of Mount Alexander (from which Mitchell wrote his praises) are producing enviable quality wine grapes.

Blackjack Vineyards’ 2005 Major’s Line Shiraz made from the Norris’ fruit displays beautifully soft blackberry, liquorice and a little menthol fruit flavour, coupled with oak tannins; good value at $25 with

WINE OF THE WEEK: Katnook Estate’s 2007 Founder’s Block Sauvignon Blanc: zesty and racy with loads of gooseberry, elderflower and a touch of fresh citrus on the palate. Snap it up at $20 and serve with seafoods.

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WA winner: Ferngrove Diamond Chardonnay a stunner with port and stir-fried Asian vegies.

MAJOR success – Blackjack Vineyards’ 2005 Major’s Line Shiraz great value at $25,

Monday 14 April 2008


wine with david ellis


ORANGE in the Central West of New South Wales has gained quite a
reputation for its Chardonnays in the quarter century since the first
vineyards were planted there in the early 1980s.

Now Philip Shaw is showing the region's ability to produce great reds
too – his 2006 Philip Shaw Wines Pinot Noir No 8 proving itself a
darn good drop with wonderful red berry flavours, a touch of spiciness
and soft tannins, and on the nose intense truffle notes, cherry
blossom and perfume scents.

Fruit was harvested from Philip's own 47ha Koomooloo Vineyard that
sits at a cool-climate 868m above sea level; and as he reckons the
most critical stage with Pinot is the gamble on just when to pick, he
chose to label his Pinot Noir No. 8 because that's the Chinese number
for good fortune.

And then there's his sorting table, a practice common in Burgundy but
not so Australia: he has half a dozen people gently handle the fruit
on the sorting table as it comes in, minutely picking out individual
grapes with imperfections.

It's time-consuming and tedious, but it pays off: His 2006 No. 8 Pinot
Noir is a must-buy at $40 to savour over with plum sauce-basted roast

ONE FOR LUNCH: TIM Adams is more than particular about the fruit that
goes into his wines, and for his premium 2007 Riesling selected
batches from across no fewer than ten vineyards in the Claire Valley.

Then he used only the first 500 litres of free-run juice per tonne of
fruit, creating a wine that's intensely flavoured with a zesty acid
finish and lemon-lime aromas; pay $22 and enjoy with seafood salad and
warm baguettes.

WINE OF THE WEEK: KATNOOK Estate's 2005 Estate Shiraz has had time to
develop huge fruit on the palate coupled with sweet vanillin and light
cedary oak tones; a remarkable celebratory wine at $40 with
thick-sliced leg ham and the works.

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LUCKY No. 8: Philip Shaw chose the Chinese number for good fortune to
label his Orange Pinot Noir.

BEING picky about his grapes paid off for Tim Adams' 2007 Claire
Valley Riesling.