Monday 30 November 2009




david ellis

WHEN British sea captain Henry Stentiford swallowed the anchor and opted for a life ashore back in the 1890s, he chose Coonawarra in far-off Australia with the idea of growing grapes for winemaking.

But he couldn't tear himself totally apart from his days on the sea, and named the 4ha parcel of prime 'terra rosa' land he bought in Coonawarra after his beloved square-rigger sailing ship, Laira.

Today, 116 years later Brand's Laira* is a deservedly-respected household name when it comes to wine-talk, with its super-premium reds still coming off vines planted by Captain Stentiford all those years ago in 1893. (*The property was bought by legendary Eric Brand and his wife Nancy in 1950 who re-named it, and is now owned by McWilliams.)

The just-released 2005 Brand's Laira Stentiford Old Vine Shiraz is a stunner of a wine, one for special occasion celebrations when you're prepared to pay for only the best: a flag-bearer for the label, it has great plum and blackberry fruit intensity, spicy cinnamon, nice oak, and a powerful tannin structure.

Don't baulk at the $74.99  price tag on that special occasion treat with family or friends; serve it with pan-seared filet mignon and a Bordeaux sauce.

ONE FOR LUNCH: Summertime is seafood time, and seafood time is Riesling time: Penna Lane's 2009 Hand-Picked Riesling from the Clare Valley is one such that 's sure to please the most fastidious Riesling buff, offering up an intense concentration of citrus fruit flavours and a refreshing, zesty acidity.

Enjoy with an alfresco summertime seafood salad, or pan-fried fish fillets with either home-cut chunky chips or a tossed salad. Certainly rewarding buying at $21.



[] FOR that very special occasion, from 116-year old vines

[] REFRESHING summertime seafood Riesling

Saturday 28 November 2009

What is Park Hyatt Sydney's Nick Caraturo drinking?

With the arrival of new executive chef, Andrew Kee, Park Hyatt Sydney's sommelier, Nick Caraturo, has been busy updating the wine list to match Andrew's adventurous new flavours.

"The menu is like a wild horse galloping off into the distance," remarks Nick with a casual nod toward the kitchen, "but my wine list moves at a much slower pace."
Since my last visit, Nick has added some interesting reds for summer including an Oliver's Taranga Vineyard '07 Cadenza Grenache.

"I love the jammy, cooked fruit flavours and it's beatufully soft with light tannins and acid."

And if you're looking to challenge your palette, Nick has added a rich '06 Kangarilla Road Primitivo (aka Zinfandel).

"This is a really full-bodied wine that is almost at 'fortified' strength (16%). It's from the McLaren Vale region, where winemakers are re-inventing this unusual grape."

Perfect for sitting back and enjoying with the Friday and Saturday night jazz in the harbourkitchen&bar.

Nick's Tips for Summer Drinking:

"Pinot Noir is getting boring, so try a locally grown Temporillo. There are more and more goods ones available now with fresh, crisp raspberry and cranberry flavours - and don't be afraid to chill it first."

Nick also recommends storing your half-finished bottles of red (if you have any) in the fridge.

"Refrigeration slows down the oxidisation so you can keep it longer after opening. Not a problem I have at my place!"

- Roderick Eime reports on hotels and resorts for HM Magazine

Echuca-Moama launches new food and wine trail

Echuca-Moama is best known by tourists for its paddle-steamers and scenic river location, however this is about to change with the recent launch of the new Echuca Food and Wine trail.

Featuring over 40 operators, the Echuca-Moama Food and Wine trail will harness the riches of the area’s local produce and wine and includes restaurants, cellar doors, wine tour operators and more.

Available from visitor information centres in the area, the trail features two maps - one dedicated to wine, and one to food.

On the wine map, visitors can find all the wineries in Echuca-Moama and surrounding areas including the historic Cape Horn vineyard, originally established in the 1860s to serve the thriving riverboat trade and Monichino Wines, which was opened by one of the first Italian immigrants in the Yarrawonga-Mulwala area and is famous for its barbera and sangiovese.

The food map highlights over 30 diverse eateries from the award-winning Oscar W’s Wharfside to on-the-water dining aboard the paddlesteamers Emmy-Lou and MV. Maryann, quirky pub fare at The Shamrock to Morrison’s Riverview Winery and Restaurant, famous for its picturesque riverside position.

For further information: call Echuca-Moama Tourism Ph: 1800 804 446

Monday 16 November 2009



david ellis

AUDREY Wilkinson is one of our oldest-label wines, the original vineyard being planted by the man himself in the Hunter Valley 143 years ago in 1866, and often referred to as "the birthplace of wine growing in Pokolbin."

It's an illustrious heritage and Audrey would doubtless have cracked a smile had he still been around the place to see the 2006 Audrey Wilkinson Museum Reserve Semillon named NSW's 2008 Wine of the Year.

The company has now released a 2008 "The Ridge" Reserve Semillon, so-named as fruit for this came from its oldest contour-planted Semillon vines running along the elevated Western Ridge of the vineyard.

This is a wine we see as having a huge future – whether it can ever replicate the honour bestowed on the 2006 last year, remains to be seen. It has strong lime and lemon aromas with suggestions of sherbet and snow peas that carry through in the crisp fruit flavours.

At $35 its one to splash out on for a special occasion, matching it butter-brushed grilled lobster and a tossed green salad with a handful of snow peas.

ONE FOR LUNCH: A BRIGHT and bouncy lighter style red to enjoy slightly chilled over a long summer luncheon platters of Mediterranean fare, tapas or antipasto is the 2008 Pepperjack Stylus.

A blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Merlot it's got almost pastille fruit flavours that are soft, juicy and more-ish; pay $24.99.

ANOTHER FOR LUNCH:  IF you're a seafood buff, knock up a shellfish salad and match it with a bottle of Hardys Nottage Hill Sauvignon Blanc; a blend of warm and cool-climate fruit it's got nice grapefruit and lemon rind characters that go beautifully with most seafoods. And it's just $12.50.



[] A HUNTER pioneer and one of our oldest labels

[] BRIGHT and bouncy for Mediterranean lunchtime platters



david ellis

IF you're already contemplating the Christmas turkey and ham and what you'll serve in a glass to go with it, give a thought to a nice chilled Rosé.

Served hot or cold, turkey and ham are both ideal matches with Rosé, and one to consider is Deep Woods Estate's 2009 Harmony label made from Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon fruit from its Margaret River vineyards.

Owner Peter Fogarty had this one crafted in the style of Southern France Rosés – bright and rich in colour with lovely summer berry and plum aromas that follow through on the palate; enjoy it well chilled with that turkey and ham with either hot vegies and gravy or cold salads, or with other Christmas or New Year lazy lunches, picnics or on balmy holiday evenings.

At $14.95 its certainly good value for money and a great food match.

ONE FOR LUNCH: IF you are going to at least try to be good over the Christmas celebratory season – but you don't want to have to knock back offers of a few glasses of bubbles – have a look at the new Omni Light range that have 30 per cent less alcohol and 25 per cent fewer calories than Omni's normal sparklings.

And importantly while lighter in alcohol and calories, they're not lighter in flavour: look for the Omni Light Classic that has lemon and lime on the palate, a Light Pink with fresh strawberries and cream flavours, and an Omni Cranberry that's a lively and effervescent sparkling Rosé style made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and with a touch of Cranberry.

This latter was our favourite, but be warned it's a limited-release bubbly that should prove quite popular, and like all good things when its run off the shelf that's that. At only $12.50 a bottle all three should prove somewhat popular this festive season with their lighter alcohol and calorie counts.



[] THINK about this with the Christmas ham and turkey

[] LIGHT approach to Festive celebrations

Monday 9 November 2009


w/b 09 Nov 09

david ellis

THE Barwang label could almost be described as the accidental wine of NSW.

Back in the 1960s former rear-gunner on RAAF Lancaster bombers, Peter Robertson planted vines on his property at Barwang near Young on the South Western Slopes of the Great Dividing Range, to supplement his wheat farming.

But when his first crop came along in 1970, authorities stopped him taking the fruit out of the area because of an outbreak of fruit-fly; undaunted, the resourceful Robertson set about turning his grapes into wine himself, and Barwang Wines was born.

Twenty years later McWilliam's bought the property and has been making exceptional wines under the label ever since – in particular an outstanding Chardonnay using fruit from the cool-climate hilltops of Tumbarumba.

The just-released 2007 Barwang Chardonnay made by Andrew Higgins has beautifully intense peach and rockmelon flavours, nice minerality and natural acidity; you'll not regret paying $19.99 to enjoy with pan-fried Atlantic salmon.

ONE OR MORE FOR LUNCH: BACK in 1979 the first edition of the "Australian Wine Vintages Gold Book" launched with a review of 800 wines.

The 2010 edition is now out in time for Christmas gift-giving to wine-buff family, friends (or yourself,) and it's got close to 2500 wines from 300 Aussie and New Zealand wineries carefully reviewed by author and Master of Wine, Robert Geddes. There're also useful guidelines for visiting Australian wine regions, best places to eat and stay, varieties to look for in different regions, and Geddes' "Top 100" wines, plus wine terms and cellar door addresses.

At $34.95 it's an invaluable must-have for anyone with any interest in wine.



[] NO regrets about this one to enjoy with pan-fried Atlantic salmon

[] MUST-have for anyone with even a passing interest in wine

Monday 2 November 2009


w/b 2 Nov 09

david ellis

NEW Zealand's Marlborough region and Sauvignon Blanc have been virtually synonymous for the past 30-something years, and one of the best vintages was this year's when vineyards were bathed in sunshine throughout the ripening period and dry and clear conditions carried through to end of harvest.

At Essenze Wines, winemaker Corey Ryan chose fruit from the region's Awatere Valley for its steely and racy minerality, and from the Wairau Valley for its intense passionfruit and refined melon-citrus flavours, so creating a beautifully-flavoured 2009 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

This is a beaut summer wine for alfresco dining, and at $18.99 it's ideal to match with pan-friend barramundi and salad – or as personality chef Peter Howard suggested to me, with a Mediterranean char-grilled salad.

ONE FOR LUNCH: A couple of really interesting and rewarding reds out of Annie's Lane in the Clare Valley in 2008 are a Cabernet Merlot blend and a straight Shiraz.

The Cabernet Merlot is medium-bodied with plum, mulberry, fig and cassis aromas from the Merlot component, leafy characters from the Cabernet and a palate of rich fruit and lingering tannins. At $19.99 a nice one to match with a tangine of duck and green olives.

The 2008 Annie's Lane Shiraz is a great wine now with dominant plum and anise and lingering strawberry and raspberry aromas, and a palate of dense fruit, nice oak and chalky tannins – and its one that will improve beautifully with age.

Pay $19.99 for this as well and don't look past enjoying with Osso Bucco, mashed potatoes and braised spinach.




[] A KIWI to take to an Aussie barramundi lunch

[] ENJOY now with Osso Bucco, or tuck away for a bit more cellaring