Monday 25 August 2008



wine with david ellis

WE've long considered one of the most valuable assets in the cellar to be Australian Wine Vintages – truly "the Gold Book" for the true wine enthusiast.

And the latest edition reflects the first change in authorship in the book's 29 year history, with Master of Wine, Robert Geddes joining original creator, Robin Bradley for the 2009 edition – Robin's last before he retires in 2010.

Australian Wine Vintages provides buffs and collectors with a unique, easy to understand data base about the quality, value and "use-by" potential of the best wines from Australia's top 350 producers – with Robert this year undertaking an enormous 18,000 data searches to create a realistic snapshot of current values and prices through retail outlets and at auction.

Since first appearing in 1979, the "Gold Book" has sold over 900,000 copies and provided enormous assistance both to the trade and sophisticated wine drinkers and collectors: one Sydney man has built-up a $100,000 cellar based purely on the book's recommendations, and two others have used it to amass over 650 bottles each including rare vintages dating back to 1976.

The 2009 edition of this must-have book for true wine aficionados is priced at $34.99 and will be on sale in time for Father's Day… if you can take the hint.

ONE FOR LUNCH: IF ever a wine has "special event" written over it, it's Lindemans 2005 Coonawarra Pyrus – a classic Bordeaux style blend with a backbone of 81 per cent old vine Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and a touch of Malbec.

This is a wine whose rich and supple palate has intense sweet berry fruit flavours, pluminess from the Merlot component, and spicy and earthy notes from the small 2% Malbec contribution.

Pay $54.99 for that special-occasion and share with a hearty Beef Wellington.

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. A MUST-have for those who take their wine seriously.

Monday 18 August 2008


wine with david ellis

BACK in 1996 when Jim and Ruth Swift turned 12ha of their historic farming and grazing property at Orange in NSW's Central West over to wine grapes,  the Orange Viticultural Region as we now know it had not even been defined.

How quickly and how much things have changed, with Orange now a serious contender amongst Australia's cool climate wine makers, and with the Swift's Printhie label up there amongst the very best from this exciting new region.

Sons Ed and Dave Swift returned to the Printhie property in the early 2000s from "city jobs" in engineering and graphic designer respectively, and with winemaker Drew Tuckwell, who previously worked in the Hunter, north-east Victoria, McLaren Vale and for a while in Tuscany, have been instrumental in the "new look" Printhie wines.

Latest release is their reserve range Swift Family Heritage label that was launched this month with a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz and a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon… elegant, beautifully flavoured wines that with only 300 6-bottle packs made of each are sure to be snapped up at better restaurants.

The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz is a stand-out, full of savoury, cranberry and plum flavours from the hand selected fruit, and with elegant ripe tannins; order it at better restaurants with prime rib or other beef dishes, or buy through the cellar door at $32 a bottle ($190 by the 6-bottle pack with free delivery in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. Phone 02 6366 8422.)

ONE FOR LUNCH: SEMILLON Sauvignon Blanc and seafood go hand-in-hand, and aficionados of this combination should look at Capel Vale's 2008  Regional Series Pemberton Semillon Sauvignon Blanc derived from fruit drawn from vineyards in three of Western Australia's coolest wine regions.

Intense aromas ranging through straw, melon, stone fruit and citrus complement the herbaceous palate, and there's no oak; pay $22.95 to kick off with oysters as a starter for a seafood spread.

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GET it while you can: just 1800 bottles are available of this stand-out red

SEAFOOD's worthy companion – they go hand-in-hand

Sunday 17 August 2008




wine with david ellis

IF, as they say, every problem is an opportunity, Peter and Elizabeth Pratten had plenty of opportunities when they set about establishing their Capel Vale Wines' Whispering Hill vineyard in Western Australia's Mount Barker in 1984.

Although 50km inland it was a site on which the southerly Spring winds blew through you not around you, its noise through the Casuarina trees inspiring the vineyard's name. And add the wind chill factor, and you'll understand why early-flowering Pinot Noir and Chardonnay had to be discarded – while later-flowering varieties of Riesling and Shiraz proved happier on the site.

"We had to go through numerous plantings to get the best vines to match the weather pattern of the growing season," Peter says. "With all the difficulties and low yields, it meant high-cost grape growing but we persisted as we passionately believed Whispering Hill to be a vineyard of a lifetime."

That persistence has certainly been well-rewarded with their 2005 Whispering Hill Single Vineyard Mount Barker Shiraz. "The hungry soils give the wine a variety of special characters," Peter says, "the granite sands in particular contributing to wonderful complexity: with rich, sweet fruit flavours and a nose of pepper, red berries and spice, this is a wine that will compete with the best on the world stage, and has the potential to drink very well for 10-years plus."

Pay $49.95 and if you're not into long-term cellaring, decant a day prior to serving with char-grilled prime rib or game dishes.

ONE FOR LUNCH: GREAT buying at $20.99 is Rosemount's Show Reserve range, seven reds and whites from Australian and New Zealand vineyards that include the always-popular McLaren Vale Traditional – a centuries-old Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

This wine has generous Cabernet fruit, tobacco leaf and spice flavours, and will go ideally with roast lamb or a cheese and fruit platter.

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. PERSISTENCE paid off for Capel Vale with this spectacular Shiraz

. TRADITIONAL favourite: one for roast lamb or a cheese platter

Monday 4 August 2008



wine with david ellis

THIRTY years ago, with winemaking in Victoria's Yarra Valley still somewhat in its infancy, David and Christine Fyffe released the first wines under their Yarra Burn label, and stood back to anxiously await the reaction.

Any trepidations certainly proved unfounded as the accolades, the trophies and the gold medals that have rolled in ever since still clearly testify.

And in the three decades since that first release, the Fyffe's have created some absolute stunners, while also finding time to pioneer Yarra Valley spark-ling in 1983 and Australia's first Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend soon after.

Their now-released 2007 Yarra Burn Chardonnay is a classic of unbridled tight citrus characters on the palate coupled with sweet ripe fruit, all made the more enjoyable with that fully-developed citrus – and hints of white peach –  coming through in the bouquet that almost explodes on pouring.

An excellent choice at $25.50 to serve with seared tuna steaks and winter vegetables, or at a Sunday brunch of duck terrine, salad and crusty baguette.

ONE FOR LUNCH:  PETER Barry has raised a few eye-brows with the labelling of his Jim Barry 2007 The Lodge Hill Dry Riesling – but he says he's included the word Dry for his international rather than local customers.

"Most Australians expect Rieslings from premium areas such as our Clare Valley to be dry, but more than 90 per cent of Rieslings are markedly sweeter overseas where our Lodge Hill's got a big following," he says.

"At 480 metres – amongst the highest in the district – ours is a Riesling whose palate is dry, with tangy lemon rind and lime fruit flavours, and with a chalkiness that balances the steely, crisp acidity and long limey finish."

Pay $19.50 and serve with scallops grilled for a minute on the shell, and drizzled with a sauce of soy, ginger, garlic and lemon; top with fresh parsley.

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. NO FEAR: Yarra Burn's not looked back since its launch three decades ago.

. DRY approach – telling it as it is for Jim Barry Wines' countless overseas fans.