WE've long subscribed to the view that the Australian wine industry is made up of some of the world's more interesting characters who display a diversity of interests, pastimes and lifestyles not found in the Old World – where wine-making is more-largely simply handed down from father to son or daughter.
Jim Wolfensohn is one such of our more unusual winemaking characters: Aussie born and raised, he spends most of his life in New York's heady world of finance, including Presidency of the World Bank from 1995 to 2005.
Hardly the sort of guy you'd find getting down and dirty in a vineyard on visits home to one of our smaller winemaking areas, Hilltops. But Jim does just that at his Yabtree West grazing property near Gundagai when not in the Big Apple, and where he's mastering a few hectares of exceptional Shiraz vines.
With the help of Simon Robertson whose family pioneered the Hilltops region with their Barwang vineyard, Jim Wolfensohn draws on the local rolling hills to provide reflected sunlight that harnesses the power of photosynthesis, helping grapes ripen earlier and reach full fruit maturity at a lower-than-usual sugar level – much like in Germany, France and Italy.
And he called on another local, Italian-trained Joel Pizzini to make his 2007 Yabtree Shiraz that's a wonderfully European-style wine, rich with deep ruby colours and mouth-filling flavours of blackberries, black pepper and aniseed.
Great $25 value with saltbush lamb, roast pheasant or wild mushroom risotto.
ONE FOR LUNCH: IF you've a favourite Indian or Thai restaurant that's BYO, next time you visit take along a bottle of Logan's Orange (NSW) 2009 Weemala Gewurztraminer. This is a curry-lover's wine whose spice mirrors that of the food, while the floral lychee and passionfruit flavours complement the heat and kick of the curry, much like a fruit chutney does.
At $18 this is a lovely cool-climate wine for curries and other spicy dishes.
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 NICE connections: from Heady New York to the road to Gundagai
 CURRYING favour – this floral wine's ideal with curries and spice dishes