Monday 30 June 2008



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.

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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



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.


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

. ONE for Vietnamese chicken, pork of fish dishes

Monday 16 June 2008




david ellis

TASMANIA's Bay of Fires has been producing wonderful cool climate Pinot Noirs for the past seven years, and their 2007 that's just been released is possibly their best yet.

Some unusual weather conditions contributed to this: late frosts in October knocked the vines around a bit and resulted in what is known as "hen and chicken," a condition that causes a high proportion of unfertilized flowers to develop into tiny currant-sized berries without seeds – but with a nice concentration of richness and flavour.

On top of this, unusually high temperatures later in January and February pushed flavour ripeness, resulting in a wine with beautifully raspberry- and cherry-like characteristics, a sweet fruit edge and soft unaggressive tannins.

This is a wine to enjoy with a roast leg of lamb and baked vegies; pay $40.

ONE FOR LUNCH: WAYNE Stehbens has created another classic Katnook Estate Coonawarra Chardonnay from the long, dry and cooler than average 2005 vintage that resulted in rich, full-flavoured fruit with high natural acidity.

This delightfully fruit-intense wine has typically varietal peach and stone-fruit flavours and a suggestion of pineapple on the palate; really good buying at $28 to linger with over a leisurely Sunday lunch – how about a Spanish omelette, salad and a warm crusty baguette?

BUY OF THE WEEK: WE sometimes approach wines with a bit of trepidation when the winemaker tells us it's "their first varietal experiment."

But the Clare Valley's Penna Lane have done wonders with their first go at Zinfandel, the 2006 The Willsmore coming up trumps with full-bodied Zinfandel Christmas pudding and plum fruit flavours and savoury oak.

Well worth the $35 to share with Thai or other rich and spicy foods.



PINOT NOIR to enjoy with a roast leg of lamb and baked vegies.

CLASSIC Coonawarra Chardonnay: ideal with a leisurely Spanish omelette.

Monday 9 June 2008



YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning 9 June 2008

wine with david ellis

TWENTY years ago when new-comer grape-growers and winemakers, pharmacist Ian McKenzie and schoolteacher Ken Pollock came to deciding just what wines would flow from their new BlackJack Vineyards in Central Victoria's Harcourt Valley, the one they pondered over the most was Shiraz.

"In those days there was hardly a market for Australian Shiraz," says Ian, "and many growers who had Shiraz vines were pulling them out in favour of other varieties; but we were keen on Shiraz, and today we're glad we trusted our judgment – and the advice of some wise counselors – and now the variety is our flagship red."

The fertile Harcourt Valley has rewarded BlackJack Vineyards, and drinkers, admirably: its Shiraz' in particular are rich, powerful and distinctly regional, the current 2006 release full-on berry flavoured with beautiful varietal spiciness and pepper undertones.

Pay $35 and enjoy with a hearty osso bucco and parsley infused potato mash.

ONE FOR LUNCH: ROBERT Fiumara reckons his just-released 2007 Lillypilly Moscato is the closest things you'll find in a bottle to eating a bunch of just-picked grapes that have had a few hours chilling in the fridge.

"This is a wine that's delicate, soft and grapey with all the hallmarks of Muscat aromatics and enough acidity to balance the sweetness," he says. "Drinking it anytime reminds me of summer year-round."

Good buying at just $13.50 to quaff nice and cold with light desserts, peaches and rock melon with ice-cream, or a platter of fresh fruit and soft cheeses.

BUY OF THE WEEK: BIDGEEBONG have aimed at the younger adult market with their 2006 Young Lovers Cabernet Merlot, a great-value $22 drop whose balanced sweet fruit and rich varietal characters go ideally with Asian dishes.

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WINE that nearly wasn't is now a flagship red

LUSCIOUS as eating a bunch of chilled, fresh-picked grapes

AIMING at younger adult market