wine with david ellis
MAKERS in South Australia's cool-climate regions will long remember the vintage of 2008 – right in the middle of harvest they were slammed by a heatwave that was not only freakish for the 35-degree temperatures that came with it, but the fact it lasted an extraordinary fifteen consecutive days.
Growers drew on every resource they could to get fruit off vines and into overflowing wineries as tonne upon tonne of grapes literally ripened before their eyes, throwing up challenges of enormous proportions in all directions.
Kirrihill Wines' senior winemaker, Donna Stephens recalls it as one of the toughest and most exhausting of her career, but is delighted with the resultant Companions Range wines that came out of such adversities.
Particularly outstanding is the 2008 Companions Chardonnay Viognier, a real stunner for what is normally a cool-climate wine, with a typically Clare Valley buttery and pineapple Chardonnay component and spicy peach and apricot from the Adelaide Hills' Viognier input.
And interestingly Donna gave it no oak maturation, thus preserving those full-on varietal characteristics. Great value at just $14.95 – and as it came from the heat, how better to enjoy than outdoors with a summery Caesar Salad?
ONE FOR LUNCH: WHEN a West Australian bandit named "Moondyne Joe" Johns decided to relieve a thirst by breaking into Houghton's Swan Valley winery in 1869, it's unlikely he would have expected to find himself honoured by the company on one of its labels 139 years later.
Moondyne Joe was on the run from prison and unfortunately for him a group of thirsty police officers investigating a local drowning turned up and found him in the winery cellar as he was helping himself to a quiet litre or three.
Houghton's The Bandit range includes a fruit-laden Sauvignon Blanc Pinot Gris 2008 ($19.95) that's excellent with white-fleshed fish and a garlic sauce.
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. COOL result from freakish 15-day heatwave
. WINE thief steals centre stage