Monday 26 May 2008




wine with david ellis

IT's ultra-premium, it's ultra-priced and you can bet it will be in ultra-demand – not just because this is a sensationally soft and subtle wine with an-almost 100 per cent score-card for everything that's great about Cabernet Sauvignon, but because over 60% has already been grabbed for the overseas market.

It's the Jim Barry 2002 The Benbournie Cabernet Sauvignon, a mature and refined spectacular from one of the greatest vintages in the Clare Valley; that soft and subtle palate has beautifully vibrant fresh fruit flavours and enduring tannins, while on pouring the glass comes alive with a bouquet of cedar, menthol, blackcurrant, cigar box and roasted capsicum.

If you're going on the hunt for this wine for a very special celebration, expect to pay $85 – great value in fact as its one that will not only stand up with our top local Cabernet Sauvignon's, but match it with the best international labels.

(Colleagues recently shared a bottle at a special-event dinner at Bel Parco Restaurant in Sydney's Bicentennial Park; they matched it with roasted fillet of beef, truffle-infused potato puree, wild mushrooms and Cabernet Sauvignon jus. And the verdict? Perfect-o.)

ONE FOR LUNCH:  A great idea next time you're in party mood is Beelgara's 3-litre sq3 Wine Cube Rosé 2007, as this is a quality wine in a box and very competitively priced at just $20 - with 3-litres equaling four bottles, it's the equivalent of just $5 a bottle. Served chilled, this wine from the NSW Riverina has nice sweetish raspberry fruit flavours to the fore and a soft mouthfeel. And ideal for the party room or as a barbecue-starter, as it's easy to serve and goes nicely with dips, pâtés and cheese platters.

BUY OF THE WEEK: TIM Adams' 2006 The Fergus is one of those wines that takes blending to almost new lengths: this one from the quite excellent 2006 vintage in the Clare Valley combines Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo. Pay $25 and enjoy its full-on flavours and aromatics with duck, turkey, lamb or game dishes.

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UP there with the best international Cabernet Sauvignons.

PARTY time: this Rosé in a cube is great value at the equivalent of $5 a bottle

Monday 19 May 2008



YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning May 19 2008

david ellis

LOGAN Wines in NSW's Orange region has always been somewhat imaginative when it comes to label design, and its latest effort is not only a quite exceptional one, it also invites consumers to its new range of very exceptional signature-series cold-climate wines.

Each label depicts a hand-crafted embroidery design representing the fruits, berries, leaves and flowers characteristic of each of the new wines: a 2007 Chardonnay, 2007 Pinot Noir, 2006 Shiraz and 2006 Cabernet Merlot.

And according to winemaker Peter Logan, they don't just represent a pretty package, they bring with them wines particularly true to their region – especially, he says, the '07 Chardonnay that's refined, food friendly, and typical of cold-climate Chardonnays that develop gracefully into some of the world's finest aged wine styles.

Whilst not disagreeing, we were more blown away with the '06 Shiraz that's very much Rhone-like in spiciness and structure, rather than typically Aussie-big on fruit, and is more refined with soft mid-palate fruit. A seductive $25 beauty to enjoy with a winter's home-made chunky steak pie and garlic mash.

ONE FOR LUNCH: West Australian makers have really popularised  Cabernet-Merlot blends, and the Frankland River's Ferngrove has a just-out 2007 whose nicely sweet core of blackberry and fleshy fruits on the front and mid-palate help balance some of the firmer Cabernet tannins.

Those blackberry and mulberry fruit flavours make it ideal to enjoy with pork fillet and herb-enhanced sweet potato mash; nicely priced too at $15.99.

BUY OF THE WEEK: Chapel Hill Winery has added some Adelaide Hills fruit to its latest Unwooded Chardonnay, and is changing some of its vineyard and winery practices to enhance its competitiveness with bourgeoning Sauvignon Blancs. The 2007 comprises 46% McLaren Vale fruit, and 27% each Adelaide Hills and Coonawarra; at just $14 a great buy to serve with whitebait fritters.

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photo captions:

SEDUCTIVE cold-climate Shiraz to cuddle up to over a chunky pie and mash.

SWEET to the core and ideal with pork fillet and sweet potato mash.

Monday 12 May 2008



YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning 12 May 2008

wine with david ellis

GIVING vines shorter and more intense watering rather than traditional trickle methods, and changing trellising to allow grapes to ripen in dappled light instead of under a direct sun, have rewarded the McLaren Vale's Dowie Doole whose owners and winemaker say that like it or not, global warming and climate change have impacted on the industry "like a sledgehammer."

"You'd be remiss to ignore the importance of these changes and to fail to take clear measures to counteract them," says Dowie Doole Winemaker, Brian Light who strives for reds that are savoury rather than overtly sweet in their fruitiness, and so giving them greater appeal when partnering food.

As well as those changes to watering and trellising, Dowie Doole also uses treated water from a recycling plant to conserve natural supplies, resulting in the just-released 2006 Reserve Shiraz being a great credit to the efforts of Brian Light and the company's owners, an example for others to follow.

The palate is loaded with black cherry, dark fruits, spice and marzipan, while aromas of blackberries, cherries and charry oak literally leap out of the glass; a special-treat $50 wine, try it with a Greek-style leg of Bultarra lamb (farmed on saltbush in NSW's Riverland) and marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, pepper, and slow roasted. Serve with Greek salad and crusty bread.

ONE FOR LUNCH: PINOT Gris, Viognier and Traminer are a somewhat out-of-left-field blend, but Saltram  has melded the best of each variety in a wonderful 2007 Shadowood label that shows the Eden Valley isn't just about great reds

At $23.99 this is one to enjoy with a casual calamari and rocket salad that will match perfectly its beautiful orchard fruits, grapefruit and guava flavours.

WINE OF THE WEEK: DON'T consider Sparkling Shiraz is just a Christmas wine – this really is a year-round drop to kick off a dinner party, to share with canapés, or even set up the taste buds for a bbq. Katnook Founder's Block 2005 at $19 is a great choice – so grab a bottle or two and start partying. 


. AN enticing result from adapting to climate change.

. OUT of left field, match this with calamari and rocket salad.

Monday 5 May 2008



YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning 5 May 2008

wine with david ellis

WHAT do you do when you've a great winemaking team with all the skills to go that one step forward, you've access to the very best of fruit, but you don't have a label that you think a resultant wine can sit comfortably with?

You create a totally new label, just as Wolf Blass did in 2001 with its White Label series to embrace specially crafted, iconic aged white wines.

This month it released only the second vintage of premium, aged whites under this White Label series, a fresh, modern-style Adelaide Hills 2003 Chardonnay and an Eden Valley 2002 Riesling.

The Chardonnay is an absolute stunner: while five years old now and drinking beautifully, it has all the signs of plenty of cellaring potential to get even more from it in three to five years. On first taste it's quite delicate, but powerful fruit comes through on the mid plate and there's nice toasty oak.

Blass has certainly achieved what it set out to do with this aged white, and at $40 you'd wonder if they've under-priced this exceptional Chardonnay: match it with your favourite seafood dish – or treat yourself to a lobster thermidor – and you'll have no regrets.

ONE FOR LUNCH: ONE of our most remote winegrowing regions is Tumbarumba in the NSW Snowy Mountains, a region that at 700-metres enjoy a cool climate coupled with extended sunshine hours – resulting in excitingly new and almost unique-in-Australia Sauvignon Blancs.

Barwang is one maker that's proving the untapped potential of this region, its 2007 Sauvignon Blanc coming from three Tumbarumba vineyards, and result-ing in wonderfully rich passionfruit, lemon, kiwifruit and mineral flavours. Just $19.99, you'll find it great with asparagus quiche, salad and a crusty baguette.

WINE OF THE WEEK: Ed and David Swift's Printhie Mountain Range Shiraz Cabernet from the NSW Orange region: generous with plum and blackberry flavours and supple tannins. Enjoy at $17 with hearty beef bangers and mash.



[] TREAT yourself to this stunner with lobster thermidor.

[] EXCITING 'new find' from NSW's Snowy Mountains.

[] WINE of the week for hearty bangers 'n mash.