Friday 26 February 2010

Macedon Ranges: Hanging Rock Mystery Solved

Everyone knows the 100-year-old mystery surrounding eerie Hanging Rock in Victoria's Macedon Ranges, just outside of Melbourne. One mystery however was solved when I visited there recently. Hanging Rock, at 500m elevation, is apparently Australia's coldest wine growing region and produces some stunning pinot and chardonnay.

Travelling with Trevor Armstrong's Victoria Winery Tours was a breeze as we leisurely visited the wineries and sights around Kyneton and Woodend with a professional driver and tour guide rolled into one.

Victoria's Macedon Ranges Wine Region is unique within Australia's expanding wine landscape and you will find unusual wine varieties in commercial production and under experimentation.

Lagrein, Nebbiolo, Chambourcin, Prosecco, Norton (Cynthiana), Garganega and Pinot Gris are just some of the new varieties you'll discover as you wander through the wineries.

Check out Hanging Rock Winery (to-die-for Riesling), Cobaw Ridge (fascinating organic Lagrein), Chanters RidgeBig Shed Wines (great sparkling) and Mount Towrong Vineyard (delightful Prosecco).

Break up your day with lunch or stay for dinner at Star Anise Bistro located in the intriguing Piper Street of Kyneton. Lunch Thu-Sun, Dinner Thu-Sat inclusive. 03 54 222 777. Bookings essential.

Diary Notes:
Roderick Eime travelled as a guest of Macedon Ranges Shire Council Tourism

    Monday 22 February 2010



    HERE's just the partner for a late-summer prawn
    salad with a home-made mayonnaise dip.
    david ellis

    A ONE-TIME sheep station in the now-Canberra wine region is proving that it's equally at home producing fine wines as it was when it once produced some of Australia's finest wool.

    Shaw Estate Vineyard is a 280ha property at Murrumbateman, and with 32ha of this devoted to vines is the largest privately-owned vineyard in the Canberra wine region.

    And interestingly its showing that its not just the Hunter that can create some of NSW's best Semillons: a 2009 Shaw Semillon Sauvignon Blanc is a rewarding drop with beautifully intense crisp lemony and passionfruit flavours from the 85-per cent Semillon component, and herbaceousness from the Sauvignon Blanc.

    Although planted just over ten years ago, Shaw Vineyard is turning out some rewarding wines, with Graeme Shaw saying Canberra's cool nights help vines retain acidity, while its warm days assist full fruit ripeness and intensity of flavour.

    Pay $22 for the Shaw 2009 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and enjoy with an end of summer prawn salad served with a home-made mayonnaise-based dip and warm crusty baguettes.

    A TASTE of history to chat over with
    special-occasion steak and bacon tournedos.
    ONE FOR LUNCH: WESTERN Australia's Houghton has dedicated a 2007 Cabernet Malbec to its late-1800's winemaker, Charles William Ferguson.

    And doubtless if he was around today, Charles would be delighted with the compliment, and the quality of the wine: 2007 was a good year for reds in WA, and this one – predominantly Cabernet from Frankland River with the touch of Malbec from Mt Barker – has resulted in a wine with great fruit flavour and  nice oak. At $49 enjoy with special-occasion steak and bacon tournedos.  .

    (NEED A FOOD/DRINK MATCH? Check out )

    Saturday 20 February 2010

    Trophy Winners Announced for 2010 Sydney International Wine Competition

    Trophies, including the Joy Lake Memorial Perpetual Championship Trophy for “Best Wine of Competition” from the 2010 Sydney International Wine Competition were presented at a seven course dégustation banquet in the Grand Ballroom, Shangri La Hotel Sydney, on Saturday, February 20.

    This independent International Wine Competition is unique in that the final round of judging is conducted with appropriate food which, Competition Director Warren Mason says, “offers a realistic consumer guide for matching appropriate wines to diverse food dishes”.

    Instead of varietal categories, finalists are categorised according to palate weight: Lighter, Medium and Fuller Bodied Styles. Final judging was done beside food dishes that wines of the given palate weight complement.

    All 2010 results have been published on the Competition’s website with individual judges’ comments for each Award winner and recipes of all the food dishes presented.

    “The International Panel of Judges’ comments clearly show the consumer that we all have slightly different palates, different perceptions about wine” says Mason. “The Competition’s main aim is to encourage consumers to make up their own minds about which wines to choose. It’s built around helping consumers make considered choices, to take full advantage of the vast array of wine styles that are available and to choose what to drink with a given dish with a purpose in mind. We aim to help them become their own, informed sommelier.”

    The Competition’s attracts entries from both boutique and large commercial wine companies. “Each wine entered has its own unique story”, says Mason. Some notable examples this year include:

    • The Wine Society Perpetual Trophy for “Most Successful Winery or Brand” of Competition went to Westend Estate Wines, Griffith, NSW. Westend took out nine awards from 20 wines entered. Considering only 15% of all entries receive any award, this was a remarkable achievement.

    • Against the might of the “big boys” three Red Wine Trophies went to the Young area in the Hilltops GI region, Central NSW. Considering miniscule Hilltops has only three Boutique wineries plus about another five growers, this was a remarkable achievement. Look for Grove Estate and Moppity Vineyards.

    • Peter and Margaret Lehmann’s “Margaret” Barossa Semillon 2004 took out the Joy Lake Memorial Championship Perpetual Trophy for Best Wine of Competition for the second time in three years. A Semillon? From the Barossa? This was a remarkable achievement.

    A public tasting of all Trophy and Blue-Gold Award winning wines will be held on Saturday, 20 March 2010, The Menzies Hotel, Sydney: White Session 10:00 am to 12 noon; Red Session 2:00pm to 5:00 pm. Tickets can be booked online at Click SIWC Events on Menu.

    Monday 15 February 2010



    david ellis

    WE don't know of many wine buffs who go in search of the juice of the grape from Austria, but Hesketh have released an Austrian Gruner Veltliner that – if it follows overseas trends – could prove to be something of a new fashion statement here.

    Both an any-time and food-friendly wine, the crispy 2008 Hesketh "Perfect Stranger" Gruner Veltliner was made by Berthold Salomon from fruit sourced along the steep hills bordering the Danube River, and made at the company's historic circa-1792 winery.

    Salomon and other makers are enjoying a new-found popularity with this varietal that's actually been around since Roman days, and not only in Austria but from London to New York: younger patrons of trendy bars and clubs in these cities have dubbed it "Gru-Vee," in keeping with its hip new popularity.

    And while a style for any-time enjoyment, if you want to try it with a meal you'll find its fresh peppermint, lime citrus and green apple flavours an ideal match with Thai soft-shell crab; if not into seafoods, enjoy it equally as well with fresh-cooked asparagus. Certainly excellent value at $24.95.

    ONE FOR LUNCH: After a couple of not-so-good vintages weather-wise in Western Australia's Margaret River, 2008 returned to the exceptional conditions for which the region is known, and Evans & Tate lost no time in turning out a super 2008 version of their benchmark Classic Red.

    A great blend whose dominant Shiraz component has given beautiful fruit sweetness and a fleshy texture, its Cabernet Sauvignon input has added even more fruitiness plus a touch of elegance and a generously long finish.

    You'll find the Shiraz component in particular makes it a rewarding match with most barbecued red meats, and the $19.99 price is again excellent value.

    (NEED A FOOD/DRINK MATCH? Check out )


    [] SOMETHING different out of Austria.

    [] CLASSIC Red is classic Evans and Tate.

    Tuesday 9 February 2010



    david ellis

    McWILLIAM'S have released their 2005 flagship 1877 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz, a classic wine for that classic very special occasion or celebration.

    Labelled 1877 after the year that Samuel McWilliam planted his first vines at Corowa in the NSW Murray Basin, this latest release has been created from premium fruit from some of the best vineyards at Heathcote in Victoria, Hilltops in NSW and South Australia's Coonawarra.

    First crafted in 1998 in homage to six generations of winemaking at McWilliam's, the wine's had extraordinary success on the show circuit, in its brief seven-year history notching-up eight trophies and 56 gold medals.

    The 2005 is wonderfully rich with blood plum, black spice, mint and cassis from the Cabernet Sauvignon component, and softness and a beautifully savoury finish from the Shiraz contribution.

    Worth the $85 price to make that very special occasion all the more memorable.

    ONE FOR LUNCH: WE'VE long been unabashed fans of Lillypilly's unusual Red Velvet that was launched by Robert Fiumara and his late brother Dominic in 1985 – a time when eyebrows were raised at the mere suggestion of an Australian-made red that was both slightly sweet and (horror of horrors) intended to be served chilled for quaffing at summer parties or barbecues.

    And even more adventurous was the blend, not one or two varieties brought together in the bottle, but an amazing twelve that many had never even heard of: Merlot, Carignane, Ruby Cabernet, Zinfandel, Saint Magaire, Tarrango, Durif, Touriga, Mondeuse, Chambourcin, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

    The 2009 is as good as the blend's ever been, a light quaffer to enjoy chilled – or even with ice cubes and soda water – and its only $13.50. Give it a try.

    (NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out )


    [] CLASSIC wine to make a classic occasion all the more memorable

    [] CHILL this light red for party of barbecue quaffing