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

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