Monday 27 July 2009



david ellis

PINOT Gris is a relatively new variety to be planted in Tasmania, but the island State's cool-climate winemakers are showing they are up there with the best in handling this delightful and increasingly popular grape.

Bay of Fires, whose winemaker Fran Austin is crafting some really exceptional wines from a number of classic varieties the company is having plenty of success with, has just released a 2008 Pinot Gris that's sure to prove a hit with those turning towards this very versatile food-match wine.

Using fruit from across various areas of Tasmania's vineyard regions, Fran has turned out a more-ish wine with classic Pinot Gris pear, citrus and spice flavours.

Pay $28.50 and enjoy with a wide range of Asian pork or chicken dishes, or with Atlantic salmon steaks topped with a sprinkling of mixed herbs.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Senior winemaker at Coonawarra's Katnook Estate, Wayne Stehbens is being pretty modest when he says 2006 was such a great vintage that wines that came out of it were "almost self-made."

He should mention also that he's got a more-than-average handle on the place: he's been making wine there for Katnook for 30 years.

The 2006 vintage in Coonawarra was a very early one with slightly above-average temperatures during summer and extending into the ripening period, so that the low-yielding vines had loads of flavour.

Wayne's 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is one of his best: elegant and generously flavoured with rich dark berry, sweet oak and fine grained tannins.

Pay $40 and enjoy with prime rib and a Bordelaise sauce whose peppercorn, shallot and thyme flavours will match this wine perfectly.




[] CLASSIC with Asian dishes or salmon steaks

[] PERFECT with prime rib and Bordelaise sauce

Monday 20 July 2009


MORE-ish with seafood any time

david ellis

THERE'S nothing new about making wine in the Canberra Region – they've been doing it for 180 years.

What is new – in the sense of the last ten or twelve years – is the exquisite quality today of some of those wines: owners of over 140 vineyards have worked hard to coax the best from their cool-climate vines, and some thirty-three wineries have worked equally hard to extract the best from that fruit.

One such drop is Ravensworth Wines' 2008 Riesling that's got lovely gentle apple and lime flavours, a hint of lemon and a touch of minerality that's crisp and more-ish; pay a good-value $18 for this wine and enjoy with your favourite seafoods.

ONE for gamey dishes on cold nights
NEIGHOURING Hilltops around the NSW town of Young is another of our smaller regions that's coming up with plenty of nice surprises.

Chalkers Crossing have created some really excellent wines here, and one worth searching out is their full-bodied 2006 Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon: complex red-berry flavours and fine tannins are coupled with accompanying fresh cassis, blackcurrant and mint aromas.

Don't look past this now at $24.99 to enjoy with gamey meat dishes or a platter of strong cheeses – or put aside for greater enjoyment in eight or nine years.

THESE two wines, incidentally, are amongst thirty from six makers that will feature at an interesting "By the Dozen Top 6" Canberra and Hilltops tasting in Sydney's The Rocks on the evening of July 30th.

The 30 wines were chosen by "Top 6" founders David and Veronica Webster who tasted dozens from the two regions and will discuss their reasons for choosing their "Top 6" makers' final 30; cost is $25pp that's redeemable against orders of $240 or over. Book at – and ask about future "Top 6" tastings from Hunter Valley and Tasmanian makers.



Wednesday 15 July 2009



david ellis

THERE are some vintages that can be rated as no better than just another vintage, there are others that can be rated as better than other vintages, and there are vintages that can simply be rated as greater than other vintages.

And then there are vintages – few of them, mind you – that are so great, their wines almost jump out of the bottle and whack you in the face in their hurry to let you know that they are even greater than great.

2005 in the Barossa Valley was one of these latter, and for Barossa Valley Estate's Winemaker, Stuart Bourne it provided fruit to transfuse into a wine that aficionados will be talking about and ruminating over for years to come.

The 2005 in the Barossa Valley was, in the simplest of terms, one of the best on record, and Stuart captured the very best of every aspect of the fruit for his BVE 2005 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz, giving those looking for the best of the best, a special wine for very special occasions.

Its one that begins with a bouquet that erupts from the glass with cedar, leather, plum and blueberry aromas, and ends on the palate with unforgettable upfront chocolate, ripe fruit and minty flavours.

Wines like these don't come around often, and when they do they don't come around cheaply: this one will cost you about $90, so share it with family or friends over a really good rare roast beef and simple but tasty pumpkin mash.

ONE FOR LUNCH: THE Adelaide Hills have long been considered home to some of Australia's best Sauvignon Blancs, but other varieties being grown there, including Rieslings, are also giving other regions a run for their money.

One Adelaide Hills Riesling worth seeking out is Tomich Wines' 2008, a nicely balanced drop with lime, tropical fruit and almond-bread flavours; at just $16,  great value with a hearty seafood chowder or an onion and pickled-ginger tart.


Tuesday 7 July 2009



david ellis

IF you enjoy white fish and a good white wine to go with it, you'll not do better than to pan-fry some South Australian King George Whiting fillets and serve them up with a nicely chilled Riesling – its one of the great food/wine matches of all-time.

And one quite excellent drop for just such a match-up is Wicks Estate's 2008 Riesling from the cooler Adelaide Hills: here's a wine whose lime and citrus blossom aromas, and lively fruit-intense palate of citrus and tropical fruit and fine minerality, goes superbly with whiting.

Simon and Tim Wicks, whose family long had horticultural interests in the foothills at Highbury, east-north-east of Adelaide, kick-started Wicks Estate in 1999 when they bought 54ha at Woodside, 10km north of Hahndorf.

It provided them with a range of soil types ideally suited for growing various varietals, including Riesling, and in 2004 they built a state-of-the-art winery, signed-up the highly-skilled and respected Tim Knappstein to make their wines for them… and as they say, the rest is now history.

Pay $18 for the 2008 Wicks Estate Riesling, and treat family or friends to this and those pan-fried King George Whiting fillets – for good measure, topped-off with a stir-fry of diced mushrooms, asparagus, garlic, chives and almonds.

ONE FOR LUNCH: A REWARDING red to savour with a hearty Winter's leg of lamb is Poole's Rock Firestick 2006 Hunter Valley McLaren Vale Shiraz, a wine sourced from these two premium grape-growing regions that whilst far-flung from each, in fact have much in common.

That commonality is long growing seasons, mild temperatures and fertile soils that allow the grapes to develop full and intense flavours; this wine's rich with spicy plum, blackberry and vanillin oak, ideal to go with that roast lamb… and even better still, it's remarkably well-priced at just $12.95 a bottle.



[] AN all-time great food match: Riesling with King George Whiting fillets

[] AT $12.95 here's a bargain Shiraz with a Winter's roast leg of lamb