Monday 30 March 2009



david ellis

ONE of the oldest working wineries in Australia, and certainly amongst the most interesting to visit, is Oakvale at Pokolbin in the shadow of the Hunter Valley's famous Brokenback Range.

First planted to grapes by an industrious expatriate Scottish coal miner, William Elliott in 1893 the former dairy farm has been owned by just three families over the past 116 years, current owner Richard Owens (who also owns the nearby Milbrovale vineyard at Broke-Fordwich) buying it in 1999.

Oakvale produces a range of wines that are mostly available only through Cellar Door or mail order, and one outstanding drop that should be a must-buy for Semillon buffs is the 2008 Gold Rock: wonderful lime citrus and slightly herbaceous characters dominate in a palate that has good acid balance and a long crisp finish, making it exceptional buying at $20.

It's worth a visit to the Hunter to taste the Oakvale range at the Cellar Door and enjoy country morning or afternoon teas and light luncheons at the coffee shop. And the kids will be fascinated with a replica old country store stocked with grocery items from a half century ago in William Elliott's original 1893 slab cottage, as well as the kid's playground.

And consider a night at their luxury country cottages to enjoy a bottle or two of the 2008 Gold Rock Semillon there with pan-fried white fish fillets; if you can't visit phone toll-free 1800 005 550 or order through

ONE FOR LUNCH:  2007 was one of the best vintages ever for Merlot in the Margaret River, with a warm Spring and consistent temperatures throughout the ripening period producing fruit with fine tannins, intense flavour and great colour. Evans & Tate have just released their Merlot from this vintage and its little wonder it's already sweeping up Trophies and Gold Medals: this very more-ish wine is full-bodied with berry fruit flavours and subtle cedar and spice, ideal at $22.99 to share with a lamb roast.

(Need a drink? We're archived on


[] A MUST-BUY Semillon from one of our oldest wineries

[] JUST the match with a lamb roast


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