Monday 20 April 2009


david ellis

VERY special occasions call for very special wines, and up there with the very best special-occasion reds is Mount Pleasant's 2005 Hunter Valley Maurice O'Shea Shiraz.

Hand-nurtured from the start with the selection of individual bunches of fruit from 125-year old vines on the Old Hill Vineyard, through the winemaking process and into bottle, this wine was first created in 1987 as a tribute to legendary Maurice O'Shea, and his recognition of the special partnership between soil and varietal, site and style, and vineyard and individual winemaking expression.

2005 was an excellent vintage in the Hunter and Mount Pleasant's Chief Winemaker, Phil Ryan used this to full advantage, crafting a wine that would surely bring a sparkle to Maurice O'Shea's eye if he were around today: it has beautifully rich blackberry and plum fruit flavours to the fore, nice layers of spice and velvety tannins.

It is classic Hunter Valley Shiraz, reflecting its origins in the heavy, rich, volcanic soils in the Old Hill Vineyard that O'Shea purchased back in 1921 from the King family, who had planted it to vines in the foothills of the Brokenback Range way back in 1880.

Well priced at $65 for a wine of such finesse for that very special occasion, match it with roast duck, a red currant jus and seasonal vegetables.

ONE FOR LUNCH:  Spring frosts followed by above-average temperatures during the growing season resulted in reduced yields in Coonawarra in 2008, but rewarded makers with fruit of great flavour-intensity. One such was Katnook Estate's Wayne Stehbens who produced a beautiful Sauvignon Blanc from this topsy-turvy vintage: it has subtle herbaceous and mineral notes and a nice richness on the palate – don't look past it at $28 to go with oysters, prawns and a warm crusty baguette, or spicy chicken or veal dishes.




[] SPECIAL occasion red that honours a legend.

[] MATCH this with oysters, prawns and a warm crusty baguette.

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