Monday 25 May 2009



david ellis

ACCIDENTALLY knock the bottle off the outdoor table and rather than shatter into a thousand pieces on the concrete floor, it'll simply bounce around; take it on a picnic and there's no worry about the weight in the ice-box because its 36-per cent lighter than a normal glass bottle…. and it'll chill quicker too.

And when you've got to get rid of it, simply squash it to minimise space in the recycling bin.

This is the packaging in which Wolf Blass has just released its new Green Label wines – a lightweight recyclable plastic (PET) bottle that, probably best of all for many, helps produce 29% less greenhouse gas emissions over the life cycle of the whole product package than a traditional glass bottle.

This means from grape growing to winemaking, bottling and packaging, consuming, disposal and recycling; even cartons in which it is delivered are made from 100% recycled material, and bottle labels are printed with an alcohol-free process, while gold inks are used rather than gold cap foils.

If all this is starting to make you feel good, the new Wolf Blass Green Label wines in these bottles will make you even more so: a 2008 Crispy Dry White and a 2008 Cabernet Shiraz are both fruit-forward styles ready for immediate enjoyment. At just $16.99 each share the white with pan-fried whiting fillets and the red with barbied beef spare-ribs.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Here's an idea for chocoholics – grab a slab of bitter, dark chocolate and a bottle of Logan's Weemala 2007 Merlot, settle down in front of a winter's fire, and you'll feel you've landed yourself in Chocolate Heaven.

Blended from 50% fruit from Mudgee and 50% from Orange in NSW's Central Ranges, this is a beautifully light to medium-bodied red with flavours of black olives, red berries, plums and dark chocolate; it's nicely priced too at $17 – and if you're not into chocolate, match it with a salami-topped pizza.



[] ANYTHING but lightweight wines in these lightweight bottles

[] GETTING to Chocolate Heaven via Mudgee and Orange

Monday 18 May 2009



david ellis

A BUSINESS-savvy retired builder and a young-gun winemaker have joined forces to put the Hunter Valley's Ballabourneen label back on the shelves.

Alex Stuart established the brand back in 1994 when he and wife Di retired out of Sydney and set up a small vineyard at Lovedale, contracting the late Alasdair Sutherland to make their whites and Andrew Thomas their reds.

They amassed a swag of trophies and medals before selling-out in 2006 and retiring for a second time; then last year a chat with Daniel Binet re-kindled Alex's enthusiasm for the industry once again, and over a hand-shake the two formed a partnership to re-start the Ballabourneen label.

"I had tremendous respect for Daniel from when he was Alasdair's assistant winemaker," Alex says. "He had enormous self-belief, solid training, a passion for Hunter wine and the like most young-guns a desire to make his own wine."

With Ballabourneen already well-known and with stocks of previous vintages still in storage, the duo had a good basis from which to start, and bought fruit from local growers for their first "new start" wines. One of their initial releases is a 2009 Semillon that's already showing all the signs of becoming a Hunter classic: it has intense lime aromas, a lean and elegant backbone and with a decade's cellaring will reward with classic Hunter honeyed complexity.

If you can't wait until 2019, pay $22 now and enjoy with pan-friend white fish.

ONE FOR LUNCH: HARDYS have released a marvellous 2008 Chardonnay Pinot Gris blend under their Chronicles label, sub-titling it "The Gamble" in deference to founder Thomas Hardy, a 20 year old who took a punt and left Devon, England for Australia in 1850, and with a mix of passion and daring created one of Australia's most celebrated wine companies. A beautiful blend of peach and creamy Chardonnay flavours and pear, green apple and minerality from the Pinot Gris, it's ideal to enjoy with any shellfish; pay $16.99.




[] RISEN like the Phoenix: out of retirement and back on the shelves.

[] LABEL's deference to Thomas Hardy's punt and passion.

Tuesday 12 May 2009


With claims by Fosters for an ‘Australian first' for the Wolf Blass Green Label wine, Sirromet Winery has released new figures to show their current position in the eco market.

"Sirromet released First Step, a new wine range in PET bottles, in January 2009," said Sirromet Chief Winemaker Adam Chapman. "These are the same type of bottles and the same size that Fosters is now claiming as a market first for Wolf Blass.

"Our claim is also backed by Visy, the bottle manufacturers.

"But Sirromet goes better than just PET bottles and the multitude of eco benefits they bring," said Adam. "Sirromet has reduced CO2 emissions from an industry standard of say 4 to 5 kilos of CO2per bottle of red wine down to 2.57 kilos of CO2 for First Step Cabernet Merlot.

"This has been achieved with winery machinery up grades to more efficient machinery, lowering water use, management of water metres, worm farms, liquid waste farm and chemical changes that do not effect the BOD levels in our waste plant and changing winery practises to be simply more efficient.

"First Step's PET 750ml packaging, recycled label and cartoon are the icing on our environmental cake at this stage. It really does show that we are lowering our foot print through actions, not green credits!"

Sirromet is keen to do more with wind turbines just one of the projects to help reduce the power intake for processing. The company is also looking at floating solar panels for the vineyard dams to reduce power use and water evaporation at the same time.

First Step is available via Sirromet's Cellar Door, at supportive retail outlets and online at The wine retails for $12 per bottle.

Sirromet's Green Cred

Sirromet practices environmental sustainability in its wine making and operations. The on-site worm farm helps recycle all organic waste, from grape stems and skins to cardboard boxes, while on site rainwater collection means the Mount Cotton operation is virtually 100 percent self sufficient for water needs. Even the grey and black water is recycled on site - a true sign of serious self sufficiency.

Monday 11 May 2009



david ellis

WESTERN Australia's Capel Vale has been producing ripper Chardonnays from its Margaret River and Geographe vineyards for over 25 years, and since 1992 from the fertile, deep karri loams of its Pemberton Vineyard as well.

These latter are truly quite outstanding, with a creamy texture, softness and underlying acidity that's put them in the 'must buy' category with aficionados.

For Capel Vale CEO, Simon Pratten and consultant Winemaker, Larry Cherubino its been a natural progression, taken in response to consumer trends away from the fuller bodied, oak-dominated styles of Chardonnay of a quarter century ago, to the greater elegance of the best Chardonnays from makers in Old World countries.

Their Capel Vale Pemberton 2008 Chardonnay embodies all that they've sought, with lovely stone fruit characters and high levels of complexity, yet still retaining a lightness and delicacy.

At $23.95 you'll find it a great partner with crackly roast pork and apple sauce.

ONE FOR LUNCH:  NEW ZEALAND's Cape Campbell Family Winegrowers say their 2008 Cape Campbell Pinot Noir ($24.95,) and Cable Station and Lobster Reef Pinot Noirs ($19.95 each,) are the 'greenest reds' in the world.

It's because Cape Campbell is one of six New Zealand wineries – and only a handful globally – to achieve carbon neutral certification under the country's carboNZero program, doing so through strict greenhouse gas emissions, and offsetting unavoidable emissions by way of verified wind farm carbon credits.

The Cape Campbell and Cable Station wines are full-on varietal flavoured wines of great intensity and showing typical Marlborough region characteristics, while the Lobster Reef is a lighter style with lingering flavours and nice balance; share any or all with a lamb roast and baked vegies.



[] ELEGANT dinner partner with crackly roast pork and apple sauce

[] GREENEST red in the world: a New Zealand Pinot Noir for the lamb roast

Saturday 9 May 2009


david ellis

WHEN Kym Tolley left Penfolds after 17 years to start his own winery in Coonawarra, he admits to something of a rude surprise.

"I thought it would be great to have my own winery," he says. "But no one told me that after making the stuff, I had to actually get out there and sell it – and I ended up travelling the world doing just that. It was an amazing learning curve that actually became part of the inspiration for my wine."

So much so in fact that he's called his latest Penley Estate Special Select Shiraz 'The Traveller,' in deference to this aspect of his life.

Created from fruit from a small low-yielding, water-shy block whose vines produce small berries of extraordinarily concentrated flavours, this 2005 Shiraz is beautifully rich, full-bodied and elegant with concentrated cassis flavours.

Its certainly one of the best Special Select Shiraz to come out of Penley Estate where Kym fills the role of owner and Chief Winemaker and works on his wines in conjunction with winemaker Greg Foster.

A nice accompaniment to spicy, rich-meat winter casseroles, kangaroo fillets or roast duck; recommended retail price is $50.50.

ONE FOR LUNCH: YOU'D think that a wine that beat contenders from around the world to take gold at the prestigious Chardonnay Du Monde competition in France would have a price tag to match.

But McWilliam's 2007 Hanwood Estate Chardonnay that took out this accolade sells for just $12.99. Named after the company's property in the hot NSW Riverina, part of the fruit for the 2007 was sourced from cooler climates that Wine Production Director, Jim Brayne says give it its elegance, refinement and balance: toss it down chilled with prawns and salad.


[] TRAVELLING man's match for rich and spicy winter casseroles.

[] WORLD beater at $12.99 to toss down with prawns and salad.