Monday 6 September 2010



GRAND drop from century-old vines
for that very special occasion.

David Ellis

WHEN British sea captain, Henry Stentiford decided to call it a day way back in 1893, he didn't settle in his homeland, but instead chose the colony of South Australia which he'd taken a fancy to during his days at the helm.

And again he surprised many by not settling in waterside Adelaide Town, but going well inland to join the pioneering Coonawarra Fruit Colony and electing to grow grapes on his 28ha there; he called his block Laira after a favourite South Pacific barque that was once famously rammed and sunk by another at Dunedin wharf in New Zealand (and later refloated.)

Stentiford's vineyard on the rich soils of Coonawarra was ultimately bought by legendary "Patron of Coonawarra" Eric Brand in 1950; Brand and his family set up the area's first small winery there in 1966 and crafted exceptional premium wines until the family sold out to McWilliams in 1999.

One of the latter's most outstanding wines is their Brand's Laira Stentiford's Old Vine Shiraz that's made from fruit off the original vines planted 117 years ago by the old Captain; the just-released 2006 is a powerful drop, yet while huge on flavour still has an elegant palate of spicy, dark berry fruit flavours, toasty cedar oak and a long finish showing fine and lingering tannins.
DRINKING a bit of history
– and ideal with South Australian crayfish.

Not cheap at $74.99 it's certainly worth an investment for a special occasion dinner – one that celebrity chef, Peter Howard suggests could have as a centre-piece chargrilled sirloin steak, braised eschallots and Maitre d' butter.

ONE FOR LUNCH: The Coonawarra Fruit Colony had been founded in 1891 by John Riddoch at Katnook, and today's Katnook Estate Wines has just released a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc made from fruit grown on the original Riddoch block. Labelled Katnook Founder's Block it's got full-on Sauvignon Blanc flavours and at $18 is a great match with fresh South Australian crayfish – and will have you feeling like you're drinking a little bit of history, particularly as John Riddoch's original office is now Katnook Estate's Cellar Door.


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