Monday 24 August 2009



david ellis

ONE of the more eye-catching labels to come our way of late is Good Catholic Girl from boutique maker Julie Barry in South Australia's Clare Valley.

The daughter of the late and legendary Jim Barry, Julie says that being born into a Catholic wine family, it meant that in vintage her fate was sealed, and only natural that she develop an interest and love of wine from an early age.

Just two wines are bottled under her Good Catholic Girl label: one is a Shiraz from her own Limerick Vineyard that was planted in 1997 with cuttings from her father's famed Armagh Shiraz vines just across the paddock (and certainly a great a head-start in the Shiraz-making stakes.)

The other is a Riesling from fruit she sources from two vineyards at Penwortham – the original settlement in the Clare.

We found her 2008 Teresa Clare Riesling (named after her mother) really something, with dominant cassis and lemon flavours, coupled with hints of lime and fresh Granny Smith apples – all-in-all a refreshingly succulent drop ideal with seafood such as crabmeat fritters and salad, or roast pork.

Julie made just 108 dozen; if it sounds appealing its just $25 a bottle plus freight. Order on 0419 822 909 or email

ONE FOR LUNCH: VICTORIA's cool-climate Blue Pyrenees' "Varietal" range certainly live up to their claim of value-for-money for premium quality wines at consumer-friendly prices.

The 2006 Blue Pyrenees Varietal Shiraz is one in particular to look out for if you like flavoursome reds: made from low-yielding, big-on-flavour vines, this one's got nice sweet blueberry fruit flavours that give way to hints of chocolate and varietal spice; pay $18 and serve with barbecued kangaroo steaks and whole foil-roasted buttered potatoes.



[] INVITE this Good Catholic Girl to a seafood or roast pork dinner

[] LIVING up to its claim: value-for-money premium quality red

Monday 17 August 2009



david ellis

WHEN boutique Margaret River winemaker Deep Woods released its 2007 Ebony Cabernet Shiraz last year, it was inundated with praise from consumers and wine critics alike as an outstanding wine at a great price for average consumers.

It's a safe bet Deep Woods will get the same praise again this year for its just-released 2008 Ebony Cabernet Shiraz, an equally good drop as the 2007 and still priced at just $14.95 a bottle.

Winemaker Travis Clydesdale drew on fruit from across the company's Margaret River vineyards to create a wine that he likes to describe as "a quintessential, juicy Margaret River red," with soft, juicy 'jube'-like fruit characters and ripe and plush tannin.

Certainly it's a very quaffable, easy-drinking wine, and by giving it only minor oak treatment, Travis has allowed its lovely Cabernet and Shiraz fruit characters to take centre-stage; a beaut drop to share with pizzas or pastas.

(If you're wondering where the name Deep Woods came from, the 32ha property is perched high on a ridge that unfolds into a picturesque secluded valley bounded by stands of jarrah and marri trees – hence Deep Woods.)

ONE FOR LUNCH: BARWANG Wines that originally planted its Tumbarumba vineyards south of the Snowy Mountains to make bubblies, made a good move when it experimented a few years ago with Chardonnay there as well

With cool winters and low average temperatures much like Champagne in France, the area's ideal for grapes to ripen slowly so the fruit develops wonderfully full flavours; the just-released Barwang 842 Tumbarumba Chardonnay (so named because the highest vineyards are at an elevation of 842m) has intense peach, rockmelon and lime flavours and excellent oak; pay $35 and enjoy with butter-brushed grilled lobster.



[] AT $14.95 just the drop with pizzas or pasta

[] TREAT yourself to grilled lobster with this top Tumbarumba beauty

Monday 10 August 2009



david ellis

EXCELLENT Autumn and Winter rains in 2008 and perfect ripening conditions earlier this year gave Hunter Valley makers every opportunity to create some exceptional wines from the 2009 vintage.

Tintilla Estate's owner/winemaker, Robert Lusby and winemaker son James, took advantage of every aspect of this vintage, and you'll have trouble trying to find fault with their 2009 Tintilla Angus Hunter Valley Semillon.

Somewhat fruitier than normal, this wine's got lovely lemon and lime flavours, good acidity and an austere finish, making it ideal to enjoy young with pasta smothered in a creamy mushroom sauce; certainly great buying at $26.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Just 80 lucky diners will sit down to a degustation prepared by classic French chef, Damian Pignolet of famed Bistro Moncur in Sydney's Woollahra, with accompanying wines from cold-climate Logan Wines at Orange in the NSW Central West.

A 2008 Chardonnay and a 2007 Shiraz will head-up the wine list: we're particularly wrapped in the Shiraz that's very food-friendly and almost a cross between the style of France's southern Rhone and that of Italy with its forward fruit flavours and excellent use of wood.

The Damian Pignolet/Peter Logan Degustation Dinner will be held at Logan Wines' Mudgee Tasting Rooms on September 19; details (02) 6373 1333. If you can't make it, pay $25 and match up the Logan 2007 Shiraz with roast duck and baked vegies.

FOR THE DIARY: The Hunter Valley's Inaugural 'Home Grown Gold' Wine Tasting will offer the first chance to taste Gold and Trophy winning wines from the 2009 Clear Image Hunter Valley Wine Show; venue is Lindeman's Wines in Pokolbin on Saturday afternoon August 29 with entry $20pp. There'll also be a Wine Masterclass ($50pp;) info or (02)4991 4533.




[] SHARE this one with pasta and a creamy mushroom sauce

[] FOOD-friendly Shiraz ideal with roast duck and baked vegies

Monday 3 August 2009



david ellis

THE Clare Valley's Kirrihill has released a new Clare Valley Regional Wines label with a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Shiraz for those looking for early-drinking, affordable reds.

Inspired by winemaker Donna Stephens, who joined Kirrihill's team just in time to work the 2008 vintage, the new range draws on fruit from targeted vineyards in several of the Valley's sub-regions to showcase its renowned regional characteristics.

The 2008 Kirrihill Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, made jointly by Donna with side-kick Marnie Roberts, captures classic Clare plum, mulberry and dark cherry on the palate, coupled with aromas of blackcurrants and violets.

Nicely priced at just $14.99, this is a real-value buy-now, drink-now red for next you chuck a steak on the barbie.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Another Clare Valley maker, Tim Adams admits to a relatively new-found zeal for Pinot Gris – a variety he says has long held a fascination for him (although his wife and daughter reckon it's more midlife crisis.)

So when he decided he'd have a go at planting this Alsace variety, he didn't do as most do and stick in a few experimental vines to assess their worth over several vintages: with wife Pam Goldsack and friend Grant Crawley they devoted 2ha of their Sheoaks Vineyard to Pinot Gris in 2001 – and triple this (6.5ha) in their Ladera Vineyard three years later.

Their adventurous spirit has certainly paid off: the Tim Adams 2009 Pinot Gris ($23) has nice pear, peach, lychee and passionfruit flavours, and a crisp acidity, all attributes that make it ideal to share with Thai, Vietnamese and other Asian dishes that have a hint of chilli to them.



[] GOOD one to open with a good steak at the next barbie

[] FASCINATION – or midlife crisis? Whichever, it's a great drop