Friday 28 November 2008



wine with david ellis

RAY Klavins and Stephen Stafford-Brookes are refreshingly frank about how they achieved a great little Penna Lane Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from the horrific 2008 vintage in the Clare Valley.

Their delightfully fresh and lively wine is the product of what was one of the Claire's most challenging vintages in its history, but rather than seeking credit for an exceptional drop from a harvest in which a heatwave played havoc with many makers, Ray and Stephen simply say they got their fruit off at the right time – before the heatwave struck.

And they add: "Whether that was by good luck or good management, who knows?"

The 2008 vintage started well enough with perfect ripening conditions through a nicely cool February, but things rapidly went downhill from that with a March heatwave that saw virtually all fruit across the region ripening at the one time – leaving many winemakers without enough tank space to handle the flood of juice, and so having to abandon perfectly good crops.

By getting their's off when they did Ray and Stephen were able to create an excellent Sauvignon Blanc Semillon with intense tropical fruit flavours and a lively, zesty finish; pay $19 and team it with your favourite seafood dish.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Western Australia's Capel Vale has earned an enviable reputation for Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from its low-yielding Margaret River vineyards, and their new Regional Series 2007 Margaret River Cabernet Merlot is a wonderful addition to these.

Best parcels of fruit went into creating a wine with a rich and fleshy palate, a soft tannin finish and – from a small addition of Petit Verdot – lifted  aromatics. At $22.95 it's almost under-priced to enjoy with prime rib and jacket potatoes served with a good whack of butter or cream.

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Photo captions:

[] GOOD luck or good management – who cares? It's a great wine.

[] PERFECT partner with prime rib and jacket potatoes

Monday 17 November 2008



wine with david ellis

WHEN the call's for a few bottles for larger-size celebrations and you don't want to too-heavily hammer the wallet, De Bortoli's Windy Peak range is one that can pretty-much always be relied on to provide the goods.

They've around a dozen wines under the Windy Peak label, so there's just about something for every taste from Chardonnay and Shiraz to a Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, a Rosé and Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling.

The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon sourced from Victoria's Yarra and King Valleys is one of the stand-outs of their more-recent releases, with a nice grassy bouquet and gooseberry and grassy varietal characters on the palate from the 85 per cent Sauvignon Blanc, and citrus notes from the Semillon.

One of those buy-now, drink-now wines this one's light-bodied and will go well with a range of foodstuffs, in particular Thai and Vietnamese dishes and most seafoods.

At just $14.99 it's good value if you've need for a few bottles on one occasion.

ONE FOR LUNCH: WITHIN a couple of decades of being planted to grapes in the 1890s, Koonowla in South Australia's Clare Valley was producing 7000 cases of wine a year.

But a disastrous fire and challenging times in 1926 saw it converted to grain and wool production, until Andrew and Booie Michael bought the property in 1991 and restored it to its original purpose of winemaking.

With highly-regarded winemakers David O'Leary and Nick Walker on board, they're producing exceptional wines, including a value-priced The Ringmaster series who's ripe and luscious Ringmaster 2006 Shiraz further profited from 18-months in French and American oak; a steal at $15 to accompany a rack of lamb.

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[] WITH a dozen in the range, Windy Peak is $14.99 value buying  

[] TRY this ripe and luscious Shiraz with a rack of lamb

Wednesday 12 November 2008

A door in The Rocks leads to Australias best-kept wine secrets

Walk through the Heritage doors of Wine Odyssey Australia in The Rocks, Sydney and you embark on a true wine adventure – a sensuous exploration of some of Australia’s most highly regarded independent wineries, joined by some of its secret gems.

The launch of Wine Odyssey Australia (Tuesday 11th November) represents a landmark moment for Australian winemakers and consumers alike. The passionate conception of three successful businesswomen, Wine Odyssey Australia was created to provide a new way to go to market for Australia’s independent winemakers and help them to be appropriately rewarded for their world-class product.

Burgeoning wine lovers will discover a richer dimension in their wine experience - through a Wine Bar, Aroma Room and Tasting Theatre. Wine Odyssey Australia aims to introduce them to the rarely tasted treasures of Australian wine and the distinctive winemakers behind them, broadening wine awareness, expanding wine vocabulary, and ultimately deepening appreciation of and desire for premium Australian wine.

In the Wine Journey Room, you’ll unearth fifty exceptional Australian wines you’re unlikely to find outside of the cellar door - and can choose to experience them by serving yourself via a state of the art Enomatic pouring system to a tasting glass, half-glass or glass. Wine Journey cards (e.g. take a Chardonnay Journey, a Margaret River Journey) help you navigate your way around the wines.

The first list of fifty, which will be refreshed during the seasons, will include top names like Grange, Domaine A, Mount Mary, Bass Phillip and Moss Wood, interspersed with some of Australia’s best kept secrets such as Lamonts, Mayfield and Panorama.

Then there’s the Wine List of 200 premium Australian wines by the bottle. The wines have been expertly chosen by Sommelier Donna Freemen, who over the last ten years has worked with some of Sydney’s best restaurants (Pier, Aqua Dining, Prime, Flying Fish) including being a One Glass winner in this years Gourmet Traveller Wine List of the Year for her work at The Boathouse.

Since taste is inextricably linked to smell, upstairs in the unique Aroma Room you’ll experience fifty wine aromas that can help you give voice to the extraordinary flavours you’re experiencing. Then in a dimmed Tasting Theatre, you’re taken on a sensory journey through six of Australia’s very finest niche wineries – tasting their exquisite wines as, on screen, the great characters who made those wines share their passion, their stories and their secrets. The first six Wine Odyssey film partners are Lamont’s WA, Witchmount VIC, Pooles Rock NSW, Mayfield NSW, Brian Barry Wines SA and Panorama Vineyards TAS.

Rounding out the epicurean adventure, you can enjoy Wine Odyssey’s Food & Wine Flights – complementary combinations of small plate seasonal food and wine specially selected by the Wine Odyssey Chef Mark Beattie (formerly of the Royal Mirage, Dubai and The Green House, London). All food is selected to follow the principles of freshness and sustainability; 100% Australian and where possible using free range, GMO free, organic or biodynamic products. The restaurant will also provide for those with diet-related health conditions - gluten/wheat-free, dairy-free, and low sulphite wine choices.

The journey needn’t end there. Continue your explorations by selecting from more than 500 premium Australian wines in the Wine Store and on the Wine Odyssey Australia website.

Wine Odyssey Australia offers a revelatory voyage of discovery for wine lovers and when Wine Odyssey Australia reaches Toronto, New York and London, it will help share the extraordinary treasures of Australia’s most innovative winemakers with the wine lovers of the world.

Monday 10 November 2008



wine with david ellis

A recently-released unwooded Chardonnay from Western Australia's Capel Vale shows both how good wines from that State's cool-climate south-west can be, and just how well some unwooded-styles can stand on their own.

Capel Vale has been quietly building a deserved-reputation for fresh and lively wines from its cool climate areas – Geographe, Margaret River, Pemberton and Great Southern – and sourced fruit for its 2008 Debut series Unwooded Chardonnay from select vineyards across these.

Previous unwooded Chardonnays from Capel Vale proved amazingly popular with buyers (who a few years ago would have shied-off such a style,) and this new release should be embraced just as enthusiastically: it's lifted spicy pear aromas are balanced by a lively palate of citrus and stone-fruit characters, coupled with nice texture and depth typical of cool climate WA Chardonnay.

While at $17.95 a bottle this is a wine that can be enjoyed chilled on its own, savour it best with light dishes such as a Chicken Caesar Salad, or with barbecued Barramundi fillets with tossed salad and oven-baked garlic bread.

ONE FOR LUNCH: PETER Logan did something rather unusual with his Logan Wine's Weemala Pinot Gris 2008: he double-harvested on his NSW's Central Ranges vineyard, picking part of the fruit in its early stage of ripeness, and the other when the fruit was riper, and then blended the two.

The result is an extraordinarily enjoyable wine that's fallen between the fresh style of classic Italian Pinot Grigio and the more textured and riper French Pinot Gris – a lovely aromatic drop with aromas of pears, mandarins and melons, and spicy quince and lemon characters in the mouth.

And as Peter gave it no oak treatment, it shows off with it's purely fruit flavours and aromas; good buying at $17 and a nice partner on the table with seafoods or creamy pastas.

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[] LIGHTEN up: an unwooded Chardonnay for the Chicken Caesar Salad

[] DOUBLE dipping – unusual treatment for tasty NSW Pinot Gris

Monday 3 November 2008




wine with david ellis

WHILE sales of Rosé wines both here and internationally are on the up
– one leading British liquor chain now has over 40 Rosé labels on its
shelves – they've a long way to go before threatening more traditional
reds and whites.

But with summer around the corner they're always a good drop to toss
down well chilled on a hot day, and no matter what time of the year
are simply ideal with spicy Indian and similar cuisines.

The Hunter Valley's Tintilla Estate has just released its Sangiovese
Rosata di Jupiter 2008, a Rosé-style whose Italian-origin Sangiovese
component makes it nicely fresh with Cranberry-like berry fruit
flavours; soft tannins balance the residual sugar to round out the
enjoyment of this pretty, pink-coloured wine.

At $20 it's good-value and food-friendly with a slightly
lower-than-normal 11.5% alcohol level; team it up with anti-pasta and
pasta dishes, or with those spicier Indian selections.

Italian tradition, by the way, has it that drinking Sangiovese conveys
friendly feelings from Jupiter – the God of Sky and Thunder, King of
the Gods and also known as Jove…hence the word jovial.

If difficulty finding this wine phone (02) 6574 7093 or visit

ONE FOR LUNCH: BACK in the early 1980s David and Christine Fyffe
pioneered the production of sparkling wine in Victoria's Yarra Valley,
where in 1970 they'd taken a calculated risk and planted a small,
experimental vineyard at Yarra Junction.

They've had no reason to look back and their Yarra Burn label
sparkling wines are hailed both here and internationally for their
excellence and price-value; a new-release Premium Cuvee Brut has nice
lifted citrus and stone-fruit characters, and at just $19.95 is just
the drop for that next special celebration.

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[] A ROSÉ by any name – Tintilla's Rosata di Jupiter

[] SPARKLING performance, Yarra Burn Premium Cuvee Brut