Monday 28 June 2010



david ellis

BACK in 2003 Hunter Valley maker Margan decided that with an outstanding vintage they'd launch a new White Label range of wines that stood out from the rest, and that being from generally smaller single vineyards such wines would be made only in small batches.

And wisely they decided that in years when they didn't have fruit of quality deemed high enough to go behind the label, they would not sully the White Label name by releasing inferior wines.

The 2005 vintage was certainly not one of those, and in fact provided brilliant fruit of a quality that winemaker Andrew Margan sought for his White Label: one he's just released, an Aged 2005 White Label Semillon, is a fantastic example of how good Hunter Valley Semillon can be, with toasty vanillan hints, lovely citrus fruit flavours and a mineral finish.

At $35 impress guests with a bottle of this and a platter of fresh-shucked rock oysters for starters.

ONE FOR LUNCH: NOT being afraid to rip out vines that don't live up to expectation has paid off for West Australian maker Capel Vale, particularly in the case of their Regional Series that are wines made from fruit grown where the optimal expressions of variety can be achieved.

A 2008 Regional Series Cabernet Sauvignon from the Margaret River is just such an example, a wine with upfront cassis and plum flavours, and secondary notes of chocolate, tobacco and cedar.

At $24.95 share this cool climate beauty with a cool climate beef stroganoff.



[] IMPRESS guests with this and fresh-shucked rock oysters

[] COOL climate beauty for cool climate beef stroganoff

Winter Food & Wine Events Planned for Kauri Cliffs & The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

New Zealand luxury lodges Kauri Cliffs and The Farm at Cape Kidnappers will host four Winter Food & Wine Weekends bringing a fantastic line-up of guest chefs, winemakers and wine authorities to the Relais & Chateaux properties in 2010.

The series kicks of on Saturday July 24 at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay New Zealand, when Melbourne based chef Josh Emett teams with Felton Road Wines’ Blair Walter for an indulgent dinner matched with prestige wines.

And this is a great story! Josh Emett and Blair Walter grew up on nearby farms but their careers took them in different directions. After years in New York at the helm of Gordon Ramsay’s eponymous restaurant, Josh is in Melbourne to open Maze for Ramsay in the Crown complex. Blair Walter has stayed closer to home, in Central Otago, building his winery Felton Road into one of the world’s most sought after wine labels. This special dinner will combine Josh’s passion for cooking with Blair’s Felton Road wines.

The Great Pinot Noir Challenge
Australia’s foremost wine authority James Halliday and his New Zealand counterpart Bob Campbell M.W. return to Cape Kidnappers for this fabulous wine challenge! James and Bob will conduct the ultimate ‘taste-off’, a fabulously friendly rivalry and celebration of pinot - showcasing the finest of Australian and New Zealand Pinot Noir. A must for pinot fanatics!

with special guest Duncan Forsyth from Mount Edward Wines I CLIFFS
Peter Gilmore is Executive Chef at Quay in Sydney. Quay has received seven consecutive ‘Three Chef’s Hat’ awards from the Sydney Morning Herald’s ‘Good Food Guide’, and made culinary history in ‘09 by taking out four top awards in the same year, including ‘Restaurant Of The Year ‘09’ for both The Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Gourmet Traveller ’09 ‘Restaurant Guide’; He won these awards again in ‘10, and debuted in the coveted S. Pellegrino’s ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list. Peter’s food will be matched to wines by Duncan Forsyth from boutique Central Otago winery – Mount Edward.

The finale to the series is a must for champagne lovers – Join Ludovic De Lageard of Champagne Laurent - Perrier for a sublime five course dinner matched with champagnes from this famed house. Founded in 1812 in Tours-Sur-Marne, about an hour’s drive from Paris, Laurent-Perrier is undoubtedly one of France’s great champagne houses and synonymous with style and celebration - and this weekend promises both! Ludovic will also conduct a tutored champagne tasting on Saturday afternoon.

All weekends allow ample free time for guests to enjoy the many leisure options available at these two luxury properties. World class golf courses, Day Spas, scenic walks or venture further a field for fishing, winery visits, and more, the Winter Wine Weekends offer a range of activities in the one inclusive price.

Commenting on the Winter Food & Wine Events, Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers Managing Director Jay Robertson commented, “we are truly excited to be bringing some of the world’s best chefs and winemakers to New Zealand for these very special weekends. It is a fantastic line-up of talent and combined with golf, spa or just relaxing at the properties, it is really the ultimate New Zealand weekend!”

The price for each weekend is $800NZ per person* (double occupancy) per night and includes luxury accommodation, degustation dinner with matched wines, tutored wine tasting, full breakfast and choice of a round of golf or a 50 minute massage in the Day Spa.

For reservations at Cape Kidnappers phone 64 6 875 1900 or email

For reservations at Kauri Cliffs phone 64 9 407 0010 or email

More info on and

Wine on the Wharf

When: 18 July
Wine on the Wharf is Stewarts Wine Co’s major wine tasting event celebrating premium and boutique wines from the best regions of Australia, New Zealand and the world. This year guests will sample over 400 different wines. There are two wine sampling sessions - 11am – 1.30pm and 2.30pm – 5pm at Moda Events, Portside Wharf, 39 Hercules St, Hamilton. Admission is $38.50 for each session or $66 to attend both. More information: +61 7 3216 4444.

James Brazill Shiraz (Good Catholic Girl) 94 points Awarded By James Halliday

Good Catholic Girl reveals her virtues

Rod and Spur Wine Co Ltd has gained further endorsement and recognition for its fantastic wine portfolio. This time it is the Good Catholic Girl, James Brazill Clare Valley Shiraz 2007, which recently impressed James Halliday, one of the world’s leading authorities on Australian wine, in his definitive guide,The Australian Wine Companion 2010.

He quotes, “2007 Good Catholic Girl The James Brazill Clare Valley Shiraz gains additional divine approval, having been picked on St Patrick’s Day (March 17), every bit as propitious as the biodynamicists’ fruit day, for this is a most attractive medium-bodied wine; very supple (not normally a Clare Valley feature) and has good length. 94 points, drink to 2022, $30, Screwcap, 15% alc“

For those in the know, 94 points is a tremendous accolade to achieve, with many of the world’s top wines scoring around the 90 mark.

The Winemaker, Julie Barry, daughter of the infamous Jim Barry, responds “ we are delighted to receive praise from such a renowned authority of the Australian wine industry. It’s almost like gaining God’s approval itself!”

Rod and Spur has just introduced the Good Catholic Girl range to the UK market, with its first customer being Naked Grape Wines, Alresford,Hampshire.

Several other specialist retailers have also shown interest and soon Good Catholic Girl will soon be gracing many counties across the UK.

This sits on the back of Rod and Spur recent success at the LIWSF 2010, where they scooped 4 medals, including one gold, for their wine portfolio.

Jeff Mattison, managing director for UK/Europe for Rod & Spur quotes “This wine sits well with the overall ethos of the Rod & Spur Wine Company. We pride ourselves on the fact that we work with people who really care about what they do, crafting wines by truly understanding the art. This results in wine with soul and personality, packed full of fruit with lots of flavours. I most certainly agree with James, Good Catholic Girl The James Brazill is divine!”

For more information about the range, visit

Monday 21 June 2010



david ellis

IT can get pretty chilly out in the Orange region of Central Western NSW, but Peter Logan at local company Logan Wines reckons that's what makes it the hottest cold-climate region in Australia.

And he says it's because of those chilly conditions that his Chardonnay is the best wine he makes. "Chardonnay coupled with cold climate viticulture is the pinnacle of winemaking if it's done right," he says. "I get so excited about how great these two elements are when they're combined."

Yet Peter has to admit to having to encourage a lot of visitors to his cellar door to even taste his latest 2009 Chardonnay, as so many have turned off the variety. "But once they try it, it walks out the door. And yet there's no big secret to it: I simply allow Chardonnay's lovely natural beauty to shine through, rather than exaggerating it with too much oak of malolactic fermentation."

The result with the 2009 is a rewarding drop with nice citrus tones and fine minerality, and at $22 one to encourage the Anything-But-Chardonnay crowd back into the fold over pan-fried Atlantic salmon and buttery potato mash.

ONE FOR LUNCH: YELLOWGLEN has added a sweet white Bella Bianco bubbly to its popular Vintage range.

Winemaker Charles "Chilly" Hargrave opted for fruit from premium vineyards in South Eastern Australia, crafting his Bella Bianco into a refreshing bubbly with a luscious palate, fresh crisp acidity, and citrus flavours coupled with a rich almost Turkish Delight-like finish.

At $19.99 it's a good-value party room wine for that next celebration – or for simply pulling out when the girls get together for a bit of an afternoon natter.



[] PERFECT with pan-fried Atlantic salmon and buttery potato mash.

[] JUST the bubbly for when the girls get together for a natter.

Friday 18 June 2010


Boutique South Australian winery, Brackenwood Vineyard, is having some success with its unique Cellar Door in the heart of Willunga, which offers 'Wine Flights' as well as traditional wine tastings.

The cellar door is one of the few in South Australia to be located in a prominent country high street location and adds to the experience of a visit to the Southern Vales.

Visitors to the cellar door are given the opportunity to compare and contrast Brackenwood Wines and enjoy them with carefully selected and handcrafted South Australian foods.

The food adds a further dimension to the experience by enhancing and revealing even deeper subtleties within the wines.

Three 'Flights' have been developed to cater for different tastes – a White Wine Flight, Red Wine Flight and Chocolate Flight.

The White Wine Flight features a 2008 Riesling matched with Marinated Artichoke, 2009 Sauvignon Blanc with Adelaide Hills Goats Cheese and 2007 Chardonnay with Smoked Trout.

The Red Wine Flight features a 2009 MC Syrah matched with Venison Pate, 2008 Pinot Noir with Smoked Duck and 2006 Shiraz with Smoked Kangaroo.

The Chocolate Flight features a 2008 Sparkling Riesling with White Chocolate, 2005 Sparkling Shiraz with Dark Chocolate and Red Berries and 2006 RW Shiraz, Amarone style, with Bitter Chocolate Truffle.

The Brackenwood Cellar Door is located in an 1860's heritage building, which was originally the local butcher's store.

The cellar door comprises two main areas – a traditional tasting room with a bar made from reclaimed timber and a main room with a vaulted ceiling and fireplace.

The Brackenwood Vineyard is just 7 kilometres from the cellar door in nearby Hope Forest. A former deer farm, where a handful of deer still remain, the vineyard is set within the southern section of the Adelaide Hills wine region.

The vineyard was purchased in 2002 by the Nagel family.

Over the last 7 years, the family has made significant viticultural changes to ensure the grapes being grown and the wines produced are appropriate for local climate and soil conditions (Terroir).

Vineyard practices are carried out by hand including pruning and harvesting with the wines made in small batches.

Brackenwood produces single vineyard wines (with the exception of the Pinot Noir, where the fruit is sourced from a neighbouring vineyard) using traditional winemaking methods.

Owner and winemaker Damon Nagel said, "All our growing and wine production is biodynamic."

"All of the wines produced by Brackenwood are made using indigenous ferments."

"When the grapes are picked they're dozens of species of yeasts living on the skins that can be harnessed in production rather than adding yeast from a laboratory."

"We happily describe ourselves as 'terroirists' meaning that we believe in using the 'Terroir' or local environment to dictate our growing and winemaking decisions and that includes using naturally occurring yeasts during fermentation."

This single-minded and painstaking approach has paid dividends with the wines winning a trophy and many awards at the Adelaide and Melbourne wine shows as well as accolades from Winestate magazine.

To experience a taste of Brackenwood with a Wine Flight, head to the Cellar Door, located at 17 High Street, Willunga.

The cellar door is open from Wednesday - Friday 11am – 4pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm and Sunday and public holidays 12pm – 5pm. For more information, visit

Shadowfax to toast a successful vintage

For Shadowfax’s end of vintage lunch, Mandozzi will prepare a three course ‘roasted’ feast using the wood fire oven and Victoria’s finest produce including Western Plains grain fed rabbit, Glenloth guinea fowl, Werribee cauliflower and Mount Zero bio-dynamic olives and olive oil.

The lunch will be complemented by a range of Shadowfax’s latest releases including the 2009 Pinot Gris, 2008 Chardonnay and a selection of older wines from the cellar such as the award winning 2006 Chardonnay and 2003 One Eye Shiraz.

While Shadowfax’s winemaker Matt Harrop will discuss the 2010 vintage and the characteristics of the wines being served over lunch, the Paul Rettke Trio will perform live jazz throughout the afternoon.

Date: Saturday 19 June 2010After the pick
Time: 12.30pm
Location: Shadowfax Winery
                K Road, Werribee
Price: $90pp. $80 for wine club members
Phone: 03 9731 4420. Bookings essential

Tickets are limited, at $90 per person inclusive of canapés, three course lunch and Shadowfax wines.

For bookings contact Shadowfax’s Cellar Door on 03 9731 4420 or visit

This event is part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s ‘Put Victoria on Your Plate’ promotion.

Friday 11 June 2010



david ellis

YOU could be excused for thinking that a Merlot that sells for just $10 a bottle would be the product of some almost factory-like set-up, stored for a few weeks in tanks akin to an oil refinery, and then dumped on bottle-shop shelves just a month or so after the fruit came off the vine.

But a just-released Deakin Estate Merlot is from the 2008 vintage so it's had a couple of good years aging, and is in fact the handiwork of a winemaker who treats fruit for his wines with an almost personal, and certainly no factory-like, respect.

"I do like to think red wines have personality," says Dr Phil Spillman. "In the case of our Merlot the vines seek a life of comfort, just hanging from the wire and not much interested in anything requiring effort.

"But with encouragement, Merlot is nothing short of charming, with a refined personality that needs to be matched only with the highest quality French oak," he says of his 2008, that's 82 per cent Murray Darling and 13 per cent Coonawarra Merlot fruit, with a 5 per cent dash of Murray Darling Petit Verdot.

The result is a wine with lovely rich preserved-plum flavours and fine silky tannins; it's hard to believe its just $10, so get some friends around to share a bottle or three with a meal of pepper crusted lamb cutlets and roast vegies.

ONE FOR LUNCH: IF you are like the majority of us who enjoy white wines young and fresh, De Bortoli's delightful 2009 Windy Peak label Pinot Grigio is all about taking it off the shelf, taking it home and taking off the cap.

Made from fully-ripened fruit from the family vineyards in Victoria's King Valleys, this wine's got nice varietal grassy and herbal fruit flavours, pleasant aromas of honey and hay, and is just $14 a bottle. A favourite in Italy amongst white wine drinkers, Pinot Grigio is ideal with light pastas or shellfish.



[] AT $10 get the mates around for a bottle or three with pepper-crusted lamb cutlets.

[] PINOT Grigio is favourite white in Italy with light pastas or shellfish.

Monday 7 June 2010



david ellis

AN interesting, and slightly out of the ordinary import well worth looking out for, is a 2006 Solar Veijo Crianza from the medieval Rioja Alavesa region of northern Spain – an area of just 300 square kilometres, but the country's most famous and prestigious wine region.

Wines labelled Crianza must be at least two years old and have spent at least twelve months in oak barrels. In the case of the Solar Veijo Crianza, the wine is 100 per cent Tempranillo and actually had fifteen months in American and French oak barrels before being matured for a further twelve months prior to release.

Aromas of red forest fruits and sour cherries follow through on the palate with blackberry fruit flavours and slightly smoky tannins as well. Pay $30 and ask your local Continental deli if they've some Iberian cured, acorn-fed jamon (ham) and a crusty sourdough that will make a perfect match for a leisurely Sunday lunch.

ONE FOR LUNCH: THE  Wairau Valley is a fascinating sub-region of New Zealand's renowned Marlborough, with producers here coming up with tempting Sauvignon Blancs that are not only flavoursome, but well-priced too.

Matthew Mitchell and John van der Linden are typical of winemaker and viticultural teams in the Valley, who between them coax the best from the soil, the local micro-climate and their ultimate fruit to come up with a winning drop.

Their 2009 Braided River Sauvignon Blanc has wonderful hallmark Marlborough characteristics of upfront asparagus, red bell pepper and lime juice flavours, coupled with signature cool-climate zesty acid.

At $18.99 this is a delightful wine to enjoy with a home-made vegetable quiche, or a seafood basket of crumbed prawns, scallops, mussels and white-fleshed fish pieces.




[] A NICE choice with vegetable quiche or a seafood basket.

[] PERFECT with Iberian cured jamon (ham) and a crusty sourdough.