Monday 25 January 2010



david ellis

FROST and drought don't really seem to be in the equation when you are growing grapes for hopefully premium wines on what is pretty ordinary soil.

But Ian McKenzie and Ken Pollock pulled off a coup from just such conditions with their 2007 BlackJack Cabernet Merlot that they've just released – a corker drop to really enjoy now or, at $25 a bottle to pop away in the cellar to develop even more beautifully over the next five to ten years.

BlackJack Vineyards are just south of Bendigo in Victoria's old pear- and apple-growing Harcourt Valley, a place where the cool climate allows the grapes to grow slowly with vintage not until April or May. But in 2007 frost and drought reduced grape crops to below half the norm, and Ian and Ken literally hand-made every drop of BlackJack's '07 Cabernet Merlot from this.

Their efforts are our rewards: this is a great drop with plenty of red berry, black olive and hints of mint – just the choice with an olive-crusted lamb rack and steamed vegies.

ONE FOR LUNCH: We're great fans of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, but Debbie Lauritz at Climbing Wines has blow us away with a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from the Orange region in the high altitude and cool climate of NSW's Central West.

At $21.99 grab a bottle of this wine that's got great tropical fruit flavours, nice citrus and lemon notes, crisp acidity and beautifully soft on the palate. You'll really enjoy this with a tuna nicoise salad.

AND ONE FOR FUN: A clever blend of warm and cool climate fruit from areas as diverse as the Riverina, King Valley, Tumbarumba and Orange have resulted in a nice and inexpensive Deen De Bortoli Vat 7 2008 Chardonnay; pay just $12.90 and enjoy the peach and stone fruit characters, nutty complexity and lively fresh finish. A great drop for partying.



[] NO gamble on enjoyment with this Cabernet Merlot from BlackJack

[] CLIMBING high, this Aussie Sauvignon Blanc reaches new heights

Saturday 23 January 2010

Wine Auction for Haiti

HAITI IS SUFFERING from the devastating effects of the recent earthquake and hundreds of thousands of people are dying.

They need our help :: time to roll our sleeves up and pull our fingers out, guys.

PLEASE READ THE BLOG POST and let's do something about it :: LET'S SAVE SOME LIVES!

Monday 18 January 2010


GETTING the right Balance
of alcohol, fruit and flavour.
david ellis

A mate who ended 2009 somewhat forlornly after being told by his doctor to reduce by a third his propensity for a bottle of red or white with dinner every night, has now begun the new year with surprising enthusiasm.

Its because he's found that rather than having to have a couple of "dry" nights each week, or to cork the bottom third of his nightly choice, he can still actually enjoy his full bottle – while remaining within his doctor's orders. Well, as he says, more or less.

And it's the result of McWilliams working in conjunction with Weight Watchers to come up with a red and a white under a new label called Balance, whose wines are 1/3rd lighter in both alcohol and kilojoules than most regular drops.

Yet at only 8.5 per cent alcohol McWilliams' Balance Shiraz and Balance Semillon Sauvignon Blanc are still both remarkably full-flavoured, food-friendly wines that've not lost anything in enjoyment from their lower alcohol content.

And for those who seriously watch their weight, each has a Weight Watchers' Points value of 1, which means devotees can enjoy a glass of either of the Balance wines with a meal, knowing it equates to just one standard drink.

CLARE classic from Tim Adams
for that next bbq.
Each is priced at $16.99 – and so fruit-forward and flavoursome are they, you'll find yourself wondering how-so when they're so "light?"

ONE FOR LUNCH: BACK in the 1970s a young apprentice winemaker, Tim Adams learned the art of making a great Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec blend from the late Mick Knappstein at Stanley Leasingham. It's a skill he's never forgotten, and now his own Tim Adams label Cabernet is as much a Clare Valley classic as was Mick's Bin 56; Tim's 2005 Cabernet is a full-bodied, slightly spicy blend of 86 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 14 per cent Malbec to savour at $28.50 with a good char-grilled steak.