Monday 29 March 2010



david ellis

WHILE Verdelho is not up there amongst our bigger-selling wines, its one of the top three signature white varieties of Western Australia and a great option to enjoy with seafoods and lighter white-meat dishes.

Cape Vale has just released its 2009 Debut Series Verdelho and this one fits the bill beautifully for those seeking a wine with vibrant tropical fruit and intense citrus flavours that really set up the taste buds.

Cape Vale has been making Verdelho – that's a native of Portugal – for three decades, drawing fruit from across its family-owned vineyards in Western Australia's Geographe, Pemberton, Mount Barker and Margaret River, vineyards that give it a great diversity of fruit ranging from the sandy soils of Mount Barker to that from the rainy and frequently cloud-covered Pemberton.

Winemaker Justine Hearne has done an exceptional job with the 2009 wine that benefited from good ripening conditions that extended well through into Autumn. Pay $17.95 and enjoy his 2009 with oysters, smoked salmon, white fish in creamy sauces or with chicken, pork or veal dishes.

ONE FOR LUNCH: You don't need to wait for a special occasion to enjoy a good sparkling Rosé, and while long associated with love and other celebrations, this is a sparkler that can really be enjoyed any time with a wide variety of dining options.

Victoria's Blue Pyrenees 2002 Rosé Brut is a blend of 65 per cent Pinot Noir, 12 per cent Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, and is a nice dry sparkling wine with red apple fruit flavours and those enticing aromas of fresh-baked bread.

It's good buying at $24.95 to share with a range of dishes from appetizers to pasta in a rich tomato sauce, fish, white meats, and to finish a meal with a dessert of berries and cream or soft cheeses.



[] GREAT choice with seafoods and white-meat dishes

[] SPARKLING idea that needs no special occasion to pull the cork

Tuesday 23 March 2010



david ellis

WHEN Wayne Stehbens says his 2009 Katnook Estate Sauvignon Blanc is "his best yet," he does so with somewhat of authority: he's been making the variety since 1981, decades before many other Australian winemakers wrapped up in their Chardonnays had given it even the remotest thought.

"2009 was an extraordinary year for Sauvignon Blanc," says the veteran of 28 continuous vintages of the variety in South Australia's Coonawarra. "Temperatures were slightly below average, it was dry and we had excellent fruit off the vines just before a heatwave set in."

The resultant wine from all these blessings of Mother Nature has up-front tropical fruit flavours, subtle herbaceous characters and nice accompanying minerality. And running contrary to what most say about Sauvignon Blanc, Wayne predicts that this one will cellar well for up to ten years.

"We tend to buck the general view that Australian Sauvignon Blanc does not age," he says. "Only recently we tasted a 1981, our very first vintage of the variety, out of the cellar. It was extraordinarily youthful with orange blossom notes, a touch of minerality and barely a hint of oxidation."

Pay $28 and for something a little unusual in food matches, Wayne suggests a puree of peas and beans, shitake mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil.

ONE FOR LUNCH: IF you like a good slab of prime rib, don't look past Kirrihill's 2008 Single Vine yard Tullymore Cabernet Sauvignon from the Clare Valley to go with it.
Winemaker Donna Stephens took advantage of the finest premium fruit from the Tullymore Vineyard to craft a wine with classic Clare Cabernet flavours: ripe black berries, plum, mulberry, a nice touch of oak and elegant tannins. At $19.95 good value with that prime rib and oven-roasted vegies.



[] "BEST yet" says veteran of 28 vintages of his Coonawarra Sauvignon Blanc.

[] PRIME drop to go with prime rib and oven-roasted vegies.

Saturday 13 March 2010

Allan Scott brings family wines to Sydney

Wellington Tourism brought to Sydney as their special guest, acclaimed winemaker, Allan Scott, who provided his 09 Sauvignon Blanc for lunch with 100 media guests at delightful Etch Restaurant.

Five score travel writers and PR reps all talking at once certainly tested the acoustics, but the din dropped when the stunning seafood plates were served.

Allan describes the wine as a "fresh and invigorating aromatic mix of tropical passionfruit aromas with a hint of varietal herbaceous notes adding to the complexity of the nose. The palate is crisp and lively with a flavoursome arrat of tropical passionfruit and pineapple underpinned with zesty citrus acid giving this wine great mouthfeel and a well balanced refreshing finish."

Translation: "delightful". Cellar door price: NZ$17.50

Report: Roderick Eime/

Monday 8 March 2010



david ellis

FOR true believers, March 1 is a day that is looked forward to each year with an anticipation that goes well beyond the norm.

Because it's the day that Penfolds release their Bin range of wines, a collection of just a half-dozen or so labels that for a half century now have rewarded enthusiasts with a extra little something both in multi-regional blends, and in highly-stylised wines from individual regions.

And importantly, priced to be enjoyed at a luncheon or dinner that doesn't  have to be a particularly noteworthy occasion to seek reason to pull one of these out of the cellar: the 2008 Bin 138 Barossa Valley Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache, for instance, is just $29.99.

Even the grand-daddy of this year's releases, the 2007 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz (often referred to as "Poor Man's Grange" because it was first made in 1960 by Max Schubert who created Grange, and components are matured today in the same barrels as the previous vintage of Grange,) is well-priced for its quality at $64.99.

(This 2007 Bin 389 was sourced entirely from South Australia's Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Padthaway and the Barossa. Nicely balanced full-fruit and oak flavours make it enjoyable drinking now, but you'd do well cellaring a few to truly enjoy in another five or so years.)

This year's Penfolds Bin releases also include two new wines, a 2009 Bin 23 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir, and a 2005 Reserve Bin Aged Release Eden Valley Riesling – each priced at $39.99.

Others in the 2010 release are the 2007 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz ($33.99,) the 2008 Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz ($33.99,) 2009 Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay ($39.99) and the 2007 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon ($54.99.)




[] NICELY priced: Penfolds' Bin Releases for 2010 include this Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz at just $33.99.

[] GRAND-daddy of this year's releases, the classic 2007 Bin 389.

Thursday 4 March 2010

New Pop Up Food and Wine Events in the Mudgee Region

The Mudgee Region has welcomed a wave of new pop up food and wine events, offering visitors intimate time with the chefs, farmers and wine-makers in small groups. There are cooking classes, farm walks, produce markets and lunch and dining experiences on the wineries.

"The aim of each event is to educate people about the food and produce we love and share the Mudgee lifestyle at some beautiful venues," said Lucy White, CEO of Mudgee Region Tourism Inc.

"The Mudgee Region's food and wine scene is more relaxed and personal than in other regions – it's not about stiff white cloths and silver service – but about fresh, stylish food and produce made with passion. These new pop up events suit our unique style." added Lucy.

On The Wineries

* 'Fork It Lunches' at Burnbrae Wines - these new monthly lunches offer a three-course meal prepared by well known local chef, Rachael McCarthy. Dine on the verandah with Burnbrae Wines and enjoy the rustic charm of this cellar door and its quaint country setting. Held monthly on Sundays, cost from $45.00pp and includes a glass of wine.

* Di Lusso Estate 'Winemakers and Pizza' lunches - fresh, hot pizzas straight from the outdoor pizza oven are served with a range of Italian varietal wines, olive oil and farm-made fig products. This authentic Italian long-lunch is enjoyed under the pergola and overlooking 'Lago di Lusso'. Held every weekend and open for casual lunches daily except Tuesdays.

Produce and Cooking
* Cheese Making at Leaning Oak Winery and Dairy – new Farmstead Cheese Making Workshops include milking the sheep and goats, then making, ripening and ageing cheeses by hand. From 9am-4pm, includes morning tea and lunch and costs $165pp. (20 March, 25 April and 2, 29, 30 May).

* olive.a.twist ( at Oakfield Estate – join chef Rebecca Sutton and olive grower Belinda Moon in the grove at historic Oakfield Estate for olive picking, tasting and lunch in the grove. Includes sampling a range of estate grown varietal olives and oils, picking vegetables and herbs from the garden and selecting olives to be brined, processed and later sent to participants. After preparing the ingredients for boned leg of lamb on the BBQ, discuss appropriate wine companioning and enjoy lunch at long tables in the grove with fabulous fresh food and local wines by Robert Stein Winery. (April 24 and May 8, 15, 22). Cost from $190. Ph: 0408 416 396.

* 'UpMarket' Artisan Markets at Fairview Estate – first in a series of four artisan markets for 2010 will be hosted by Fairview Artspace, The Small Winemakers Centre and Gulgee Woolshed. The first is Sunday 11 April, enjoy coffee, cakes, wine tasting, local produce, art, antiques and bush music. 8am to 2pm. Ph: 0438 242 872 or 6372 2850

* Mudgee Farmers Market – a delicious place to taste, take-away and place your orders from over 30 local farmers, all the products are grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked, smoked or processed by the stallholders themselves. Held on the third Saturday from 8.30am to 12.30pm at the St Mary's Church Grounds, Church Street, Mudgee

On the Farm
* Farm Walks – visit and experience a working farm, from olive oil and vegetables to sheep and dairy, and learn what free-range, organic and home-grown is. Run by Mudgee Fine Foods on the third Sunday of every month, at 9am, 10.30am and 12.00

Visitors to the Mudgee Region can enjoy food and wine at a number of restaurants, cafes and almost 50 cellar doors. It is the third largest grape-growing region in NSW producing excellent cabernet sauvignon and shiraz varieties and is renowned for its boutique wineries. This includes five organic wineries and Australia's oldest certified organic grower at Botobolar. Visitors can pick up sweet honey, freshly pressed olive oil, farmhouse cheeses and nuts, and attend a number of unique winery events and celebrations.

The Mudgee Region is a 3.5hour drive for a 40-minute flight with Aeropelican from Sydney. A food and wine lover's paradise, there is also a range of arts, culture, history, and nature and wilderness experiences to be enjoyed.

For more information contact the Mudgee Visitor Information Centre on 02 6372 1020 or go to

Monday 1 March 2010



david ellis

EVER since founding their Tim Adams Wines in 1986, Tim and wife Pam Goldsack have relied on some of the Clare Valley's best grape-growers for fruit for their renowned Tim Adams' Rieslings.

But they're just broken from the mould, releasing a 2009 Riesling and a 2008 Reserve Riesling made, for the first time, from fruit entirely from their own wholly-owned or leased vineyards.

"We've always relied on a dozen independent growers whose fruit has been integral to our success," Tim says. "But as funds have become available we've bought or leased vineyard blocks to now give us control over our winemaking destiny.

"It's given us management over such crucial parameters as canopy structure, leaf-to-fruit ratios, and probably most importantly, fruit yield per acre. It means also that we don't have to negotiate about doing things such as bunch-thinning and the like."

Their 2009 Tim Adams Riesling was crafted from fruit off their three wholly-owned vineyards and one over which they have a long-term lease. At $23.99 this is a real pearler, with zesty citrus-laden flavours that make it ideal to savour with all kinds of seafoods.

ONE FOR LUNCH:   NEW Zealand's essenze Wines (yes, it's a small 'e') have brought to Australia their latest flagship Pinot Noir from the Bendigo sub-region in Central Otago, the 2008.

Hand-crafted in small batches from exceptional quality fruit, this is an outstanding wine with beautifully spicy dark cherry aromas, rich and concentrated dark fruit flavours, and silky tannins. Pay $45 and team it up at a dinner party with slow-casseroled lamb shanks and garlic mashed potatoes.



[] IDEAL with all kinds of seafoods

[] JUST the drop with slow-casseroled lamb shanks and garlic mashed potatoes