Monday 28 July 2008



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.  


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. FRENCH connection inspired by the Southern Rhone Valley.

. CHUCK a steak on the barbie with this classic.

Monday 21 July 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.      

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

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

Monday 14 July 2008



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.

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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



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.)



. 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.