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

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