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.

(Need a drink? We're archived on                                                   


. PERSISTENCE paid off for Capel Vale with this spectacular Shiraz

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

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