Monday 26 January 2009



david ellis

THREE years ago the Hunter Valley's Andrew Margan from Margan Family Wines, and Hamish MacGowan, the brains behind Angus the Bull – that exceptional and aptly-named carnivores' blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from Victoria and South Australia – decided on another bit of blending.

But it was to be one with a difference, marrying-up Andrew's lip-smacking Hunter Valley Semillon with a Sauvignon Blanc from one of the best makers in New Zealand's famed Marlborough Region.

It was an instant success, and as they'd seen it as something of a neat balancing act, they labelled their new venture the See Saw Wine Company. Now they've released another such blend, this one from the 2008 vintage on either side of the Tasman, a wine they say was made "purely and simply to enjoy at any time."

Andrew's Semillon component has given the 2008 See Saw concentrated lime and citrus characters, while the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has added tropical characters, intense aromatics and a steely acidity.

A great drop while summer is still with us to enjoy with seafood salads or BBQ'd salmon tails; and at $19.95 you'll find it equally great value for money.

ONE FOR LUNCH: As a one-time professional chef and corporate caterer in Sydney, it was not surprising that when Lynne Derwin and engineer husband John decided to go into the winemaking business, they'd agree that the wines they would create would have food foremost in mind.

The Derwin's planted 8ha to vines in Victoria's Yarra Valley and now produce just 2000 cases a year; at $22 and served well-chilled, their refreshingly dry, hand-crafted 2008 Rosé lives up well to their food-match criteria, particularly Asian dishes or roast chicken. (Phone (03) 9730 1181 for supplies if you can't find it on the shelves – it's worth the effort.)



Photo Captions:

[] BRINGING together our Hunter Valley and New Zealand's Marlborough Region

[] CHILL out with this Rosé and your favourite Asian dishes

Monday 19 January 2009



YOUR WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for week beginning January 19 2009

david ellis

FEWER than 250 people live in the little village of Watervale in South Australia, but their vignerons and winemakers create Rieslings there that are the envy of some of the biggest – and greatest – makers in the world.

Jim Barry Wines is one of Watervale's leading proponents of the variety, and with an eye on world trends, Managing Director Peter Barry and Winemakers Luke Steele and Derrick Quinton created a 2008 Riesling that's a sensation for growing numbers of those who like their Rieslings 'dry' – that is, the wine has a sugar-to-acid ratio of less than 1 (to be precise, in this case 7.5g/L acidity to 6.8g/L sugar.)

It makes it an ideal food wine with classic-Watervale lemon, lime and floral flavours, hints of pawpaw and lanolin, and with plenty of natural acidity for a beautiful clean, crisp finish; swirl it around in the glass, take a good whiff and it explodes in the nose with all the characters of a bowl of fresh-cut fruit salad.

At $16.95 this Jim Barry 2008 Watervale Riesling is an exceptional buy to put on the table with hot or cold chicken dishes, seafoods and summery salads.

ONE FOR LUNCH: YOU'd wonder why makers of a wine that blew away the judges when it was created back in 1937, and has been an Aussie household favourite for nearly 70 years since, would want to change the name.

But Houghton's famous White Burgundy that was the brainchild of the legendary Jack Mann, is now labelled Houghton White Classic – to comply with France's dictate that wines made in other countries can no longer be named after French geographical regions such as Champagne and Burgundy.

The 2008 White Classic is the second release under the new name and is 100% West Australian Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Verdelho, Semillon, and a dash of Muscadelle, from the Swan Valley, Gin Gin and Lower South West; pay just $14 and enjoy its citrus and passionfruit flavours with cold seafoods.




[] A Riesling created with foodies in mind.

[] NEW name, but the legend lives on.

Monday 12 January 2009



david ellis

A TEXT book vintage for a WA vineyard chosen back in the 1970s for all the right reasons for growing Sauvignon Blanc, has rewarded winemakers and consumers alike with the 2008 Capel Vale Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc.

CEO at Capel Vale, Simon Pratten is never backward at coming forward to praise the work of his father, Peter for laying the ground work for the company's success today, when over thirty years ago he secured the best sites in the South West and matched them to their ultimate varietals.

In Pemberton's case he chose a block with deep karri loams that was heavy and dark with rocks deep beneath, and which despite being influenced by quite chilly winds from the Southern Ocean, he knew was ideal for growing later-ripening Sauvignon Blanc.

And in 2008 the vineyard was blessed with clear weather, a moderate spring and an ideal summer – and little or no disease. "It gave us a generously flavoured Sauvignon with full mid-palate and great structure," says Simon.

At $22.95 this is a great seafood wine, with a fruit salad-like mid palate, a savoury herbaceousness and smooth crisp finish, all of which combine to making it particularly suited to an opening platter of oysters, followed by a nice cold prawn or lobster salad.

ONE FOR LUNCH: ALSO back in the 1970s another Peter, Peter Robertson was leading the way with the planting of grapes on his pioneering Barwang Vineyard in the Hilltops region near NSW's "Cherry Capital" of Young.

Soon others followed his success, and today vineyards in this area that's 450 to 600 metres above sea level, are producing outstanding wines: reward yourself with the exceptional 2007 Barwang Hilltops Shiraz that's rich with blackcurrant, blackberry and black liquorice flavours… and at $19.99 terrific value to enjoy with a holiday-season BBQ with your favourite beef cuts.



[] MADE for enjoying with seafood, particularly oysters, prawns and lobster.

[] MATCH this one with your favourite beef cuts for a holiday-season BBQ.


Monday 5 January 2009



david ellis

PUT together a low-yielding vineyard on the very spine of Coonawarra's famed terra rossa strip, a perfect vintage, and over 150 years of winemaking experience, and what you've done is bottle-up Lindemans 2005 St George Cabernet Sauvignon.

The 12ha St George Vineyard was planted back in 1967 and since then has produced vintage after vintage of superlative wines, with the 2005 one of the best – a dry and slightly warmer than usual summer with no rain gave winemaker Brett Sharpe the fruit to create a truly classic Cabernet Sauvignon.

Full bodied and complex with sweet blackberry fruit and a touch of licorice on the palate, this is an ideal wine to match with premium beef dishes, or to sip lovingly over a platter of hard after-dinner cheeses.

Not inexpensive at $54.99 it will reward now for a special occasion dinner, and all the more so with eight to ten years graceful aging.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Unusually warm and dry conditions in the first two months of 2008 resulted in ideal fully-flavoured fruit for Roundstone's 2008 Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Typically grassy and tropical fruit characters make this wine a perfect match with seafoods, a plate of fresh-cooked asparagus shared with warm crusty baguettes, or a warm salad.

Well priced to enjoy now at $25, it will also reward well with two or three years cellaring that will see it soften and develop more complexity.

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