Friday 23 December 2011

The best of Geelong Food & Wine in one spot - with a few famous friends

The vibrant food and wine culture of the Greater Geelong region will be front and centre over the weekend of March 10-11 2012 with the staging of the inaugural Geelong Food and Wine Show.

Shining the limelight onto the region will be celebrity chef ambassador Melbourne boy-done-good George Calombaris plus dessert king Adriano Zumbo and the surfing chef Ben O'Donoghue.

Over the two days, Deakin Waterfront Campus will be transformed into a marketplace of chefs, providors and winemakers. More than 80 exhibitors will be presenting their produce, with a series Masterclasses run by George, Adriano and Ben, as well as local chefs, cheese makers and winemakers.

The Geelong Food and Wine show is part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, and acknowledges the importance of produce from the Geelong region to Melbourne's food and wine culture. The Geelong region, stretching across the Bellarine, Moorabool Valley, Surf Coast, Otways and Western Victoria regions, is home to some of Victoria's most revered wine and produce.

The show is also a great opportunity to sample the talent on flow with the booming local restaurant industry in one spot.

And no Geelong event would be complete without the city's favourite footy players, so expect to see some familiar faces cooking up a storm over the weekend.

Highlights of the program include:

•   Masterclasses with George Calombaris, Adriano Zumbo, and Ben O'Donoghue using local produce
•   Exclusive High Tea with Adriano Zumbo
•   Celebrity Cook-off with Ben O'Donoghue and Geelong Football Club players
•   The ultimate cheese experience showcasing the breadth of cheesemaking in the region
•   Wine appreciation classes hosted by local winemakers
•   Tasting from more than 80 regional producers, wineries and restaurateurs

The event is being supported by the City of Greater Geelong and Geelong Otway Tourism.

A website with full program details will be live in January 2012.

Exhibitor enquires

Monday 19 December 2011


FLASHING idea from NSW's Southern Highlands'
Diamond Creek Estate with Christmas seafood.

David Ellis

THIS is the story of how three colleagues will celebrate Christmas this year, and some quite different wines they'll be doing it with.

The first is a group of around a dozen couples who through Mother Nature's misfortune, have never experienced the joy of having children. They come together early each December, pull out their cheque books and go on a buying spree for kids' toys… which they give to agreed charities and childrens' hospitals.

On Christmas Day they come together again and share their love of Chardonnay, each contributing the least-known label they can find and sharing it over a Very Long Lunch, and interestingly this year two of them have chosen the same label. It's from Diamond Creek Estate in the small, cool-climate winemaking area of the NSW Southern Highlands, and the vintage chosen is the excellent 2008.

HAIL MARY – a Good Catholic Girl's idea if you've a mob
coming for Christmas Day and lamb's on the menu.
Our colleagues tell us that its beaut stone-fruit characters and tropical pineapple overtones will make it a great choice with their salmon mouse and lobster salad Christmas Day Long Lunch; it's not widely available so ring (02) 4872 3311or look at if you are interested in finding out where to buy it. It's certainly good value at $20 a bottle (by the case.)

The second of our unusual Christmas lunches is hosted by a mate who invites all his single employees – this year that'll be around forty of them – to another Very Long Lunch at which he, his wife and their adult 'kids' will cook ten legs of lamb in a battery of hooded barbecues, and roast vegies in as many electric frypans.

And as he says he's got to pray it won't rain, we've tipped him towards a Cabernet Sauvignon that'll be ideal with his roast lamb luncheon – and is appropriately-labelled Hail Mary Full of Grace. It's made by the irrepressible Julie Barry who owns the equally delightfully-titled Good Catholic Girl winery in the Clare Valley; with fresh and intense black fruit flavours and spicy tannins, it's got lamb and home-made mint sauce written all over it. Julie made just 133 cases; phone her on 0419 822 909 if you want to grab one or six at just $25 a bottle.

GRANDMUM's recipe apple pie and custard ideal
with West Aussie Voyager Estate Chenin Blanc.
And the final unusual one is a mate who traditionally finishes his family's Christmas lunch with a homemade apple pie and custard to a recipe handed down a half-century ago by his Grandmum who always said "on Christmas Day we don't have to eat stodgy English Christmas pudding." And the wine he'll have with it will be a Chenin Blanc, not one of our biggest sellers and mostly made in Western Australia, with his choice a 2011 from Voyager Estate; at $20 its great value to enjoy with his Grandmum's apple pie and custard.

And a Merry Christmas to you all…

Friday 16 December 2011

10 wines, 10 vintages - Optimism got them here

Media release:

For Steve and Sharlene Dadd their dream of planting a vineyard and producing their own wine seemed so far flung 14 years ago when they first bought the

picturesque 200 acre property at the gateway to Mudgee, now home to Optimiste Wines. But it seems that optimism has certainly paid off, and just as they release the wines from their celebrated 10th vintage they set to work on renovating the 100 year old, dilapidated Australian farmhouse on the property which this summer will become the Optimiste Tasting House.

A rustic setting with wide breezy verandahs and stylish and welcoming comforts, the Tasting House will become the long anticipated showcase for Optimiste wines. Overlooking the manicured vineyard across the rolling hills of Mudgee, visitors will be welcome to taste the 10 wines that form the Optimiste range, together with other daily 'tastes' on offer designed to match each wine; bringing a new cellar door experience to the Mudgee region.

The name was inspired by a concept which the Dadds openly admit to 'borrowing' from Helen Keller who was quoted as saying "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence", and duly inspired by the challenges of farming as well as their young sons challenges with disability.  The unicorn which they have incorporated in their logo symbolizes this hope and passion.

This same spirit of optimism has inspired the Dadds to craft fine wine from their Mudgee vineyard, and to celebrate their 10th vintage they have just released three new tremendous wines in time for summertime  feasts:-

Optimiste Pinot Gris 2011 (RRP $20)

Optimiste "Paris in Spring" Rose 2011 (RRP $20)

Optimiste Shiraz 2008 (RRP $20)

All three wines reflect the superb conditions from the last 4 spectacular vintages on their perfectly elevated, sloping vineyard about 10km to the east of Mudgee. Idyllic growing conditions, spring rain and dry breezy summers, then cool mornings during harvest have produced to fully ripe, finely structured, maximum flavoured wines.

The Pinot Gris has been made in the Alsacian style, with a small portion fermented in old French oak barrels to give a certain richness.

Like Paris in the spring, the Merlot based Rose is bright and full of life and has been intentionally made to highlight the rich, spicy red fruit flavour typical of Mudgee Merlot, with a balanced dry finish.

The 2008 Shiraz is a knockout with elements of the typical savoury Mudgee Shiraz but winemaker Michael Slater has added a touch of elegance inspired by the Rhone styles of Shiraz.

Optimiste  Wines will soon release their first 100% Merlot from the exceptional 2010 growing season. Named 2010 Optimiste "Rooftops" Merlot (RRP $20) in honor of a close  family member,  a Merlot-loving  old builder who is undergoing cancer treatment, all profits from this limited first release will go to the Prince of Wales Hospital Cancer Unit.

The Optimiste range of wines includes: Semillon, Pinot Gris, Rose, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot,  Shiraz, Bordeaux Blend of Cabernet/Merlot/Petit Verdot, Botrytis Semillon and soon to come – Viognier & Merlot

Optimiste Wines (0428) 640 800       Is your glass half full…?

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Lindauer celebrates Pearl anniversary

Media Release:  


Lindauer's highly rated sparkling wines have delighted consumers for 3 decades now with their exceptional quality and value for money.  Celebrating 30 years makes this a 'Pearl' anniversary for Lindauer; perfect for sparkling wines where it's all about the fine bubbles or 'bead'.

Founded in 1981, Lindauer was the first commercially available méthode traditionnelle from New Zealand and helped found the country's reputation as a producer of exciting Sparkling Wines. Whilst their wines started as a bold statement about the quality of bubbles that could be created in New Zealand's cool-climate, over the years they have constantly improved and refined, and are now regularly outperforming much more expensive wines from revered sources abroad.

At the 2011 International Sparkling Wine Symposium, held earlier this month in the UK, the range of wines submitted by Lindauer all achieved over 90 points, outscoring many sparklings from some well known Champagne Houses.

Showcasing Lindauer's quality-to-value position is the Lindauer Brut Cuvée NV at a RRP of just $14.95

This wine is made from Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%) from the mature Lindauer vineyards in Gisborne. The long, cool maritime influences here produce natural acidities in the grapes, ideal for the production of superior Sparkling Wine. The best fruit comes from the sites with strong silt and clay soils, as they provide the natural vigour and water holding capacity required to quickly ripen crops early in the season, before it loses this valuable acidity.

The cuvée stays on lees for 12 months, creating a wine with crisp fruit flavours and balance.

For something / someone special, try the Lindauer Special Reserve Brut Cuvée NV with a RRP of $19.95

Made from Lindauer's finest fruit and using a higher percentage of Pinot Noir (75%) to Chardonnay (25%), this wine has had an extra 18 months of love, spending 2 ½ years being nurtured in the bottle on lees before release. The predominance of Pinot Noir and time spent on lees leads to a complex full bodied wine which is often described as "unexpectedly Champagne-like".

So whether you are looking for a playful wine to delight at New Years or some more serious "pearls" to impress at Valentine's or Mother's Day, Lindauer has twice the appeal with both price and quality under one label.


Nationally, in all good independent and chain bottle shops.

Lindauer is distributed by Fine Wine Partners. Please call P: 1300 668 712 for local stockist details.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Burnbrae: One of Mudgee's Foundation Winegrowers

Mudgee is one of Australia's oldest wine growing regions. Wines have been made in this NSW region continuously since 1858. It was however during the 1960s that a renaissance took place, with the establishment of a number of family owned brands that extended the plantings.

The Burnbrae site was identified in 1968 for its viticultural advantages. Translating as 'the sloping field down to a stream', Burnbrae sits at 600 metres elevation, with good seasonal rainfall and well-drained soils derived from the shale and slate.

The current Burnbrae winery sits beside the original site of the open-air winery, which was arranged beneath an established peppercorn tree. The peppercorn tree is still a key feature of the picturesque Burnbrae cellar door and cottages.

The Burnbrae vineyard was planted in 1968 and at the time, was one of only a handful of families making wine in Mudgee. 40 years later, the Australian wine industry has expanded ten fold, however it is these older plantings that can't be replicated.

The current custodians of Burnbrae are Tony and Jill Bryant, who sold their broad acre farm after identifying the vineyard as a special piece of Mudgee's winegrowing history.

Situated on the outskirts of the Mudgee township in the Erudgere Valley, the Burnbrae winery is overseen by one of Australia's most experienced winemakers, Frank Newman. After working for sixteen years with Penfolds and then twelve with Angove, Frank moved to the lesser-known Mudgee region, after seeing the quality of fruit being grown on these aged vines.

Two of the latest wines to be released from Burnbrae comprise the 2011 Burnbrae Pinot Gris and their signature wine, the 2008 Burnbrae Shiraz.

The 2008 Burnbrae Shiraz is made from grapes grown on the estate's 40-year-old vines. "2008 was one of the best vintages we have had in a decade," commented Burnbrae winemaker Frank Newman. "We had great soil moisture from the winter rains, and coupled with the long cool ripening, resulted in great depth of flavour in the fruit."

The Shiraz was handpicked and plunged for the first week after harvest in open fermenters and basket pressed. 90 per cent of the wine underwent secondary malolactic fermentation in barrel prior to the total blend undergoing a further two years maturation in a combination of a tightly grained American and French oak.

"2011 was a fascinating vintage in Mudgee. Many vignerons didn't harvest any grapes. Our Pinot Gris was sourced from a cooler sub region in the valley, with vintage somewhat earlier than usual. The Mudgee crop was well down from previous years, however the wines that were made are proving to be of a considerably high quality. The earlier harvest resulted in lower alcohols, great natural acidity, whilst maintaining plenty of flavour," concluded Frank.

Pricing and Distribution: The Burnbrae wines are distributed through select NSW outlets as well as from the Cellar Door and online at

2008 Burnbrae Mudgee Shiraz $28.00

2011 Burnbrae Mudgee Pinot Gris $18.00

Monday 12 December 2011

2012 NSW Wine Festival - The Month to Wine & Dine!

Media release:
NSW Wine Festival ~ Feb 25 – March 31, 2012

2012 sees the return of the NSW Wine Festival. Now in its fifth year, this is the State's premier celebration of New South Wales' award winning wines and beautiful wine regions. Each year has seen the festival grow both in crowd numbers and in the number of fantastic wine and food experiences, and 2012 will be no exception. An estimated 35,000 people are set to attend the opening event in Hyde Park South (at a newly expanded venue) and for the very first time, Sydney's wine bars and pubs will join the program.

All NSW Wine Festival details are available on line at The full program will be published on the website and in The Sydney Morning Herald on February 21, 2012.

·      The Sydney Morning Herald 'Sydney Cellar Door' - Sat 25 & Sun 26 February, 2012 (11am-6pm)

One of the country's largest wine and food tasting events is now bigger than ever with a new layout in Hyde Park running along the length of Park Street in the city centre. This bigger area in one of Sydney's most stunning alfresco (and convenient) settings will give visitors more room to meet around 100 talented winemakers who will be bringing their favourite drops to the city from NSW's 14 diverse wine regions.There will be even more shaded seating areas in which to enjoy a vast array of exciting new wine styles accompanied by all-day live music and cool entertainment, creating a world-class festival atmosphere.

The event is FREE to enter, with wine tasting packages starting at just $25. Tasting packages will be available for advance purchase via

·      NEW TO 2012 … NSW Wine of the Month – February 27 to March 31, 2012

Sydney's wine bar scene has exploded in the last year – just look at the latest Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide with its extensive listing of interesting small bars. This year, they'll be sharing the festival spirit with 'NSW Wine of the Month': offering a glass of NSW wine and matching bar snack for just $15.

·      Dine with NSW Wine – February 27 to March 31, 2012

Each year during the NSW Wine Festival, leading Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide restaurants throughout NSW create exclusive wine-matched lunch and dinner menus from just $30-$50, including wine. Enjoy the best our state has to offer for a bargain price.

·      Tour NSW Wine Regions Dinners - selected dates throughout March, 2012

And don't miss the very special Tour NSW Wine Regions Dinners - a series of unique degustation dinners featuring fresh NSW produce and matched to the finest NSW wines, and hosted by leading food and wine personalities at four selected hatted restaurants.

·      NSW Wine at The Sydney Morning Herald Growers' Market ~ Sat 3 March, 2012

To celebrate the NSW Wine Festival, the ever popular Pyrmont Growers' Market will transform its regular Market Chef stage into the Market Wine stage. Leading wine experts will treat market-goers to guided tastings of premium NSW wines, along with advice on pairing wines with delicious tidbits from key food producers.

For full details and a list of participating bars and restaurants, see, and look out for the special NSW Wine Festival program in The Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living section on Tuesday, February 21, 2012.

NSW's 14 diverse wine regions are: Canberra, Cowra, Gundagai, Hastings River, Hilltops, Hunter Valley, Mudgee, New England, Orange, Perricoota, Riverina, Shoalhaven, Southern Highlands and Tumbarumba.



David Ellis

WE never cease to be amazed at the number of people who seem to find it twee or trendy to simply blurt "ABC" ("Anything But Chardonnay,") particularly when you can get your hands on such excellent examples as Peter Logan's Apple Tree Flat 2011 that's absolute bargain-buying at just $12 a bottle.

In fact we 'fess up that at the price and with a dozen or so family invading for a Christmas Eve seafood buffet this year, we've already put a case in the fridge to go with it – and if you are thinking chicken either hot with the baked vegies or cold with a salad on Christmas day, it'll go excellently with those too.

Peter Logan's Apple Tree Flat vineyard is at Mudgee in NSW that was one of the first regions in Australia to produce Chardonnay, and his cool-climate vineyards are amongst some of our highest at around 850m to 1000m above sea level, resulting in wines with delightful citrus (predominantly grapefruit) and cashew flavours – ideal with a buffet of shellfish and white fish cocktails.

CHRISTMAS DAY LUNCH: IF turkey's on the menu, many of us will opt for a good Cabernet Sauvignon to go with it – but with rels coming from the Shakey Isles, we've put aside several Pinot Noirs from New Zealand's YealandsWay.

Their 2010 has rich, ripe dark-cherry fruit flavours and a hint of savoury spiciness that makes it a beaut companion with that turkey and seasoned stuffing; made from Marlborough/Central Otago fruit, it's value at $21.99.      

CHRISTMAS MUST:  THERE'S still time to pick up Rob Geddes' excellent 29th edition of Australian Wine Vintages for yourself or as a gift for a wine buff: rather than list every wine made in Australia and New Zealand, Rob and his tasting team have reviewed 4000-something wines from consistently-good makers, or from those they consider offer excellent value for money.

There's also a review of 1000 interesting older vintages – and a useful travel section with advice about cellar doors and places to stay and sightsee in wine country. Dubbed "the little gold book" its great value at $34.95 in-store or online from


Saturday 10 December 2011

Tastes of Rutherglen Festival - March 2012


March 9-11 & March 17-18, 2012

Discover the passion of North East Victoria's local producers and meet the winemakers behind Rutherglen's world-class wines when the region hosts the ultimate party for gourmands  - Tastes of Rutherglen - March 9-11 & March 17-18, 2012.

21 wineries celebrate vintage under sunny autumn skies and guests can indulge in perfectly matched food and wine combinations. New this year alongside exciting "culinary experiences" are some interactive "culinary activities" at each cellar door.

Music, food, wine and authentic, rustic fun seamlessly blend at what has become one of regional Victoria's best Festivals spanning two weekends.

The Festival begins on Friday, March 9 with Tastes on Main - a regional showcase dinner at the Rutherglen Wine Experience on Main Street, hosted by The Winemakers of Rutherglen. Special guest at this year's dinner is Jared Ingersoll, chef of Sydney's Danks Street Depot, where he sources the best Australian produce and supports artisan producers.

Then the journey begins over the two weekends as each winery offers its own "culinary experience"! Some of North East Victoria's favourite chefs join with talented winemakers to present unique and fabulous "culinary experiences" at each winery.

Festival-goers can indulge in a fabulous dish matched to a sublime wine, or something more interactive such as a behind the scenes tour with a winemaker to see what really goes on during vintage!  The choices are endless at this action-packed food and wine festival. 

Transport is easy over the two weekends thanks to the TAC Winery Shuttle Bus which circles between all 21 wineries, and festival-goers can hop on and off as they like in this safe and hassle-free way to tour the wineries.  Pick-up and drop-off also available in Rutherglen, Wagunyah & Corowa, Albury Wodonga, Howlong, Mulwala, Bundalong, Chiltern, Wangaratta and Yarrawonga.  A Designated Driver Reward Campaign, also sponsored by TAC operates all weekend with information available at participating wineries. 

All-inclusive passes make it easy!

Great value "all inclusive" tickets are available for pre-purchase or on the weekends and are also designed to make festival navigating simple and easy. Guests simply purchase a ticket online or from participating wineries or tourist information centres and let the indulgence begin! 

Ticket Packages start from just $50 and include an official Tastes of Rutherglen glass for tastings at all 21 wineries plus two tickets for a culinary "experience" or "activity" at the winery of choice, Additional culinary tickets are $20 each and individual glasses $12.

Over both weekends, a range of events will take place at wineries including themed wine dinners, produce markets, dinners under the stars, live bands and much more!  There is fun for the whole family, with plenty of wineries offering children's entertainment. 

Here are just a few of the Tastes of Rutherglen highlights:

Some of the "culinary experiences" available at all wineries include:

Stanton & Killeen Wines & Green Shed, Beechworth – Lemon paprika Rivalea pork medallions on a cozido of white bean, roast tomatoes, pork sausage and garlic infused olive oil topped with crackling and a parsley and coriander salad, matched to the Stanton & Killeen 2009 Prince Reserva.

Campbell's Winery & King River Café, Milawa– Barbeque pork, prawn and coriander omelette roulade on a vibrant Vietnamese noodle slaw with a mint, lemongrass and ginger dressing - matched with Campbell's 2011 RieslingM

Scion Winery – After dark by After Noon – French chocolate hazelnut torte, hand-made leaf of nougatine dark chocolate, Gundowing hazelnut & frangelico ice cream with a touch of raspberry – matched with a chilled French-style Scion 2007 semi-sweet Durif. 

Some of the "culinary activities" on offer include:

St Leonards Vineyard - Baile Salsa! : always wanted to travel to Spain and get some salsa dance lessons but no time to do so? Those visiting St Leonards during Tastes of Rutherglen can indulge in a salsa dance class they won't forget! 

Chambers Rosewood – Learn to brew the perfect cup of coffee at home at an entertaining workshop at Chambers Rosewood cellar door!  Plenty of tips and a sample bag and mug to take home. ichael's ate$650 worth of wine to be won!

Cellar Door Entertainment includes:

Buller's Winery – Enjoy special performer Renee Geyer on Saturday 10 March! Australia's Queen of Soul in concert at Buller's with bar selling wine, champagne cocktails + strawberries & cream!

Cofield Wines – live music, regional produce stalls, and entertainment for children and great dishes from The Pickled Sisters Café! 

All Saints Estate - A Day on the Green – Saturday March 17 – Noiseworks, Ian Moss, Ross Wilson, Daryl Braithwaite & more performing in a five hour music feast! A celebration of the Oz rock history they defined, enjoyed with All Saints Estate wines, or course!

Some Special Dinner Highlights:

Taste Rutherglen on the Main – A long table dinner on Friday, March 9 at 6:30pm along Rutherglen's Main Street will showcase Rutherglen's own unique hero dishes and wines. The dinner, hosted by chef, cookbook author and champion of regional produce Jared Ingersoll along with the Winemakers of Rutherglen, will feature local restaurants preparing hero dishes from local produce.  Tickets $120

All Saints Estate Twilights Dinner in the Vines – A popular event on Sunday, March 11 at 7pm to celebrate Rutherglen's food heroes in a regional  with  matched wines by All Saints Estate. Enjoy a night of dining under the stars. 

Jones Winery & Vineyard Dinners – Celebrate harvest with Mandy Jones at her Vintage Banquet Gourmet three course dinners prepared by their chef Kate Akrap. Saturday 10 & Saturday 17 March – 7pm 

For more information, a copy of the Tastes of Rutherglen program, or to purchase tickets call 1300 787 929 or visit Tickets can be purchased online  

Monday 5 December 2011


NOTHING better with rare rib-eye
fillet and field mushrooms.


David Ellis

WAYNE Stehbens has built an enviable reputation as Senior Winemaker at Coonawarra's Katnook Estate for creating wonderfully fuller-bodied Merlots that always stand out from the crowd.

And his newly-released 2009 is no different: crafted from full-flavoured fruit from a low-yielding vintage, this wine's got beautifully up-front plum and red currant flavours, a nice sweetness to it – together with a touch of spice – and fine tannins.

"We had average winter rainfall that helped budburst in Spring," Wayne recalls of the 2009 vintage. "But January was a testing time with a mini-heatwave, slightly below average temperatures for the rest of the vintage – that was the latest since 2004 – and yet resultant fruit of outstanding flavour."

CELEBRATE New Year's Eve with this
– as Sydney's Lord Mayor will do.
At $40 enjoy this one with rare rib-eye fillet and field mushrooms.

SPECIAL OCCASION: WHAT better way to ring-in New Year than with the same wines that Sydney's Lord Mayor and her official guests will be enjoying at the Sydney Opera House on December 31 as they watch the annual fire-works that have made Sydney the New Year's Eve capital of the world.

The Hunter Valley's Scarborough Wine Co has been chosen to provide the wines for this year's official bash – and at the Dawes Point Viewing Area for a selection of the 1.5-million people who will line the harbour foreshores for this year's event – and one in particular to think about for your own celebrations is their 2009 Scarborough Yellow Label Chardonnay. At $28 it's honeyed lime, butterscotch and roasted cashew flavours match beautifully most party foods.

CHRISTMAS MUST: A GOTTA-have for yourself or a family or friend wine buff this Christmas is Jeremy Oliver's Australian Wine Annual 2012. Jeremy's used his 27 years industry experience to rate 14,000-plus current and back-vintages from more than 300 leading Australian producers… it's a must for those looking for the best from Under $20, to what Jeremy considers our Top 100 for that Very Special Occasion. Priced at $29.95 from most book shops.
MUST have for wine buffs' Christmas stockings.


Thursday 1 December 2011

Plunkett Fowles Launches its New 490 Metres Wine Range

Seriously Approachable Wines with a Fresh Design

Plunkett Fowles 490 metres wine range are seriously approachable wines that have been launched with new labels and additional varieties including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc*, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.

Matt Fowles, Chief Executive said: "We think the new label increases the visibility of 490 metres wines for existing customers and those wanting to explore the best of central Victoria's wine. The addition of new varieties to our 490 metres range also provides people with greater choice at this price point."

Design wise, a topographic map of the Strathbogie Ranges underpins the labels across all Plunkett Fowles core range of wine, including 490metres.

Matt Fowles said: "We think the contours of the map are a bit like the fingerprint of Mother Nature, visually displaying the landscape in which the vines grow and the wines are made - a vital piece of information that is inextricably linked to quality and elegance of our wine."

The name for the 490 metres range was inspired by the height at which Plunkett Fowles winery sits in the cool, elevated plains of the Strathbogie Ranges - 490 metres above sea level. On the label this is displayed visually by a line intersecting a slope at the precise height and location of the winery.

490metres RRP $14.95

Monday 28 November 2011



David Ellis
COOL idea with seafood, a herbed
pork casserole or Japanese dishes.

NSW's Southern Highland Wines has released a crackajack 2011 Oldbury Reserve Sauvignon Blanc that's very much in the style of its 2009 – the most-awarded wine in the company's young eight-year winemaking history.

Located in picturesque high-altitude and cool-climate country outside the little hamlet of Sutton Forest, Southern Highland Wines produces a credible eight white varietals and styles, and five reds, under their S H W and Oldbury labels, the latter crafted from the best fruit from their 40ha of vineyards.

Winemaker Dominic Bosch used skin contact, cold maceration and low temperature fermentation to create the 2011 Oldbury Sauvignon Blanc, that exudes a stylish personality with nice varietal lychee, kiwi fruit, thyme, lemongrass, lime and asparagus aromas that follow through with a smooth seamlessness on the palate.

If you're into seafood, match this one with banana prawns, oysters or pan-fried snapper, or try it with a herbed pork casserole, Japanese dishes or blue cheese; pay $28.  If you have trouble finding it locally, it can be ordered online through, with freight costs additional.

CLASSIC Evans & Tate to enjoy
with barbecued beef ribs or grilled tuna.
Sutton Forest is 1.5hrs drive from Sydney or Canberra; SHW's Cellar Door is open daily 10am-5pm and their restaurant for lunch Thursday to Monday.

ONE FOR LUNCH: FANS of Evans & Tate will know how the company's WA Margaret River vineyards enjoyed ideal vintages from 2007 to 2009, and now the just-released 2010 Evans & Tate Classic Shiraz Cabernet reflects a fourth great vintage that year too, with warm weather and low rainfall meaning low fruit yields that offered-up outstanding flavour ripeness and tannins.

At $19.99 this is a wine with a beautiful palate of forward Shiraz black-fruit flavours, making for an ideal match with barbecued beef ribs or grilled tuna.


Windowrie's The Mill range, best of NSW

Windowrie has continued its very successful 150th year celebrations with a tranche of awards from Australia’s most respected wine magazine, Winestate.

The winery has recently received the following awards, positioning it as one of NSW’s best winemakers. The awards comprise:

‘Best New Release’ 2011 Windowrie The Mill Cabernet Merlot

This ranking is given to the best ‘New Release’ wines from Australian and New Zealand that were tasted by a range of winemakers and wine judges as part of the monthly Winestate Magazine tastings during 2011. There were approximately 5,000 wines tasted.

‘Best of State (NSW) 2011 Windowrie The Mill Cabernet Merlot

2010 Pig in the House Shiraz (5 Stars)

The wines that are included in this band comprised only 5% of the total 10,000 wines tasted by Winestate during the year.

“This is capping off a fantastic year for Windowrie,” said family member and owner Jason O’Dea. “Since Anthony D’Onise came on board as our winemaker, and broadened our sourcing of grapes to include Orange and Hilltops, as well as our Cowra fruit, we have attracted some exciting awards and wine show results.”

“2011 is also the 150th anniversary of The Mill, where we have our cellar door tasting room, so it is giving the locals and visitors to the region an extra reason to drop in.”

“One of the most pleasing thing about these results is that they are across the whole range, not just for a single wine.”

These results include:

NSW Small Winemakers Wine Show 2011

· ‘Trophy for Best Bordeaux Blend’ – 2010 Windowrie The Mill Cabernet Merlot
· Gold Medal – 2010 Windowrie The Mill Cabernet Merlot
· Top Gold Medal – 2010 Windowrie The Mill Shiraz

Cowra Wine Show 2011

Trophy for the Best Local Red Wine – 2010 Windowrie The Mill Shiraz
Gold Medal – 2010 Windowrie The Mill Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

Cairns Wine Show 2011

Gold Medal – 2010 Windowrie The Mill Chardonnay

James Halliday’s 1001 Wines Under $20, 2012 Edition

90 Points – 2010 Windowrie The Mill Merlot
91 Points – 2010 Windowrie The Mill Cabernet Merlot

Royal Adelaide Wine Show 2011

Gold Medal – 2010 Windowrie The Mill Cabernet Merlot

Although the wine industry continues to experience an oversupply, NSW wines are growing in sales within NSW. “NSW wine drinkers are choosing to consuming more NSW wines which is driving this growth. This is particularly evident with the premium NSW wines, which are seeing good growth, reflecting that consumer are happy to pay for quality.”

All the Windowrie wines are available for tasting and sales at the Windowrie cellar door in Cowra, as well as online via Summer opening hours are Thursday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm

Thursday 24 November 2011

Lerida Estate Pinot Noirs

Media Release

Pinot Noir ~ No. 1 on this Year's Christmas List

"…Pinot Noir produces the most complex, hedonistic, and remarkably thrilling red wine in the world!" says Robert Parker, a statement  that Jim Lumbers, owner of Lerida Estate, whole-heartedly agrees with - especially when matched with his Christmas turkey.

It was Jim's love of Pinot Noir that saw him spend many days in the vineyards of Burgundy while living in France in the late 80's, and prompted him to try the Pinot Noir wines of Dr Edgar Riek, one of the pioneers of the Canberra District wine region, on his return to Australia. This tasting bought him to the Lake George region of the Canberra District in 1997 to track down what he described as "some of the most outstanding Pinot Noirs I'd ever tried".

As a result, Jim and his wife Anne Caine purchased a 40 acre plot of land nestled at the bottom of the Cullerin Range, overlooking the beautiful and mysterious Lake George - perfect for planting Pinot Noir. According to Jim, "The terrior here is ideal; Pinot needs sunshine without excessive heat, dry air, deep soil and cool nights, and the gravelly, colluvial soil at the foot of the Range provides all of this. These conditions encourage deep-rooted, healthy vines with enough stress to favour the production of grapes with thick skins, excellent fruit flavours and high levels of anti-ageing polyphenols. The slopes face east, allowing the rising sun to dry out any dew, and so reduce the impact of moulds and mildews. The steepness of the slopes also contributes to vine health by promoting good air drainage and reducing the risk of frost damage during the growing season."

The newly released Lerida Estate 2009 'Cullerin' Pinot Noir, Canberra District (RRP $35) follows the highly successful 2008 'Cullerin' Pinot Noir which received excellent scores from both wine critics and wine shows alike. Jim says, "The 2009 vintage was crafted to achieve a balance between a fruit driven style, and more texture and weight.  In particular the aroma of the new 2009 is very evocative with stewed plums, rhubarb and spice, mixed with gamey and savoury overtones, and a hint of vanilla from 20% new oak barrel."

"Our winemaker Malcolm Burdett and I work together and draw on Edgar's previous experiences in the region to craft elegant Pinot Noirs made from low-yielding vines, with a strong focus on naturally ripened bunch tannins, which releases the full spectrum of primary and secondary flavours thanks to the use of wild yeast and minimal intervention.

Whilst the 2009 is still young, if decanted before tasting you will discover that the wine already delivers the flavours to match its fine, silky tannins and body, and experience with previous vintages indicates that the wine will also improve over the next 8-10 years."

This wine is ideal for this festive season's dishes of game and roast turkey…and many more to come!

Another style of Pinot Noir which is impossible to ignore as summer rapidly approaches is Lerida Estate's 2011 Pinot Rosé (RRP $18). Again all the fruit for this wine is sourced from Lerida Estate's Lake George vineyard. Jim didn't need a rosé revolution to convince him that Pinot Noir can produce stunning, dry rosé wine with the colour of pale Argyle diamonds. "This wine is mostly made from juice runoff from our red ferments after 10-12 hours skin contact and holds both fruit and savoury characters wound up in a tight ball of natural fruit acids. If I was to classify it I'd call it a 'modern, high-end bistro wine'. It's quite French in style with a light touch and a style that goes fantastically with food – particularly with spicy dishes. I love it!"

Elegant wines from Lake George in the Canberra District which showcase Pinot Noir's potential & bright future on this unique site.

Lerida Estate 2009 'Cullerin' Pinot Noir, Canberra District (RRP $35)
Lerida Estate 2011 Pinot Rosé, Canberra District (RRP $18)

Availability: Nationally though Vintage Cellars and good liquor stores. Distributed by Vino Bambino (VIC), Vintner Partners (NSW and QLD) and Lerida Estate (ACT). These wines can also be purchased at the Lerida Estate Cellar Door or via their online store at

Jim Lumbers & Anne Caine, Lerida Estate    P: 02 6295 6640    E:  W:

Lerida Estate, Federal Highway, Lake George, NSW 2581 (turn off at the Gurney VC Rest Area)

Current Lerida Estate wines:

Cellar Door Range

Zenzi rosato frizzanti ($14.50)  
2010 Unwooded Chardonnay ($16.50)
NV LGB ($19.50)

Super Premium Range                    

2008 Brut Rosé Methode Champenoise ($29.50)
2010 Viognier ($22)
2011 Pinot Grigio ($25)             
2010 Chardonnay ($32)
2010 Botrytis Pinot Gris ($29.50)                                             
2011 Pinot Rosé ($18)
2010 Pinot Rosé Sur Lie ($22)
2010 Canberra District Shiraz ($29.50)
2009 'Cullerin' Pinot Noir ($35)                               
2010 Merlot Cabernet Franc ($29.50)

Proprietor's Selection Range

2008 'Josephine' Pinot Noir [only made in exceptional vintages] ($78)
2008 Lake George Shiraz Viognier ($49.50)

The name 'Lerida' was chosen to reflect the history of the region. Back in 1827, NSW Surveyor-General Major Thomas Mitchell named a local creek 'Lerida' after his travels in the Spanish region of the same name.

Lerida Estate prides itself on excellence in design of both its wine and winery. The winery buildings were designed by distinguished Australian architect Glenn Murcutt and have featured in several international architecture publications.

The Estate includes a winery, cellar door and café facility, as well as Petanque/boules pistes for competition or social games.

Wednesday 23 November 2011



David Ellis

ITS that time of year when we decide what will be the feature of this year's Christmas table, and to help with your decision-making about the wines to go with your choices, we asked our wine writer David Ellis for his ideas as to just what goes best with what.

CHRISTMAS MORNING BRUNCH is becoming increasingly popular amongst Australians, David says, and to match creamy scrambled eggs and smoked salmon try a Handpicked Wines' delightfully "spritzy" Moscato d'Asti from Italy ($25,) or a great Aussie-made Chandon Cuvee Riche bubbly at $39.95.

PRE-lunch or dinner platters call for more bubblies, and great value is Eternity Sparkling Dolcetto from Bill Calabria's Westend Wines (just $10.95), the always-rewarding Hardys Sir James Brut de Brut ($15) or a cracker-jack House of Arras Brute Elite ($55.)

TURKEY, whether hot or as a cold salad, is always all the more enjoyable with a good red: for a break from the traditional Cabernet Sauvignon, try it this year with an Aussie-made Pinot Noir – Lerida Estate's "Cullerin" 2009 from the Canberra District at $35 is really beaut value; if you prefer a white, don't look past Hardys Oomoo Chardonnay ($18.50) while Chandon Sparkling Pinot Shiraz ($29) is a delightfully rewarding "sparkling red."

DUCK will be a tasty alternative to turkey for many, and to match we suggest a choice red: try the exceptional Tim Adams 2006 The Fergus (Grenache) ($27,) or equally-rewarding Borrodell 2006 Pinot Noir ($38.)

SEAFOOD could soon be Australia's No 1 Christmas favourite and whites are the perfect match: we recommend Wicks 2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($18,) Climbing Pinot Gris 2011 at $21, or Leasingham Classic Clare Riesling ($40.)

IF A BARBIE'S your choice, match sizzling beef or lamb with reds: try the more-ish Amberley Secret Lane Cabernet Merlot ($19.99,) outstanding 2009 Limited Release Heathcote Shiraz ($29.90) or exceptional Katnook Estate 2009 Merlot ($40.)

CHRISTMAS PUDD: What else but Lillypilly Noble Blend 2008 "sticky" dessert wine ($22.50,) Westend 3 Bridges Golden Mist Botrytis ($22,) a pink Ballabourneen 2011 Sparkling Moscato ($26) or Hardys Tall Ships Tawny Port ($9.00?)

CHEESE PLATTERS: Bay of Fires Tasmanian Cuvee Brut ($31.50) or Brown Brothers 2006 Paticia Noble Riesling ($35.90.)


Photo Captions:

[] AUSSIE-made Chandon classic Cuvee Riche bubbly

[] VALUE buying Westend Eternity Sparkling Dolcetto

[] MADE for the turkey: Lerida Estate's Cullerin 2009 Pinot Noir

[] PERFECT seafood match – Wicks 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

[] LIMITED release Heathcote Shiraz just the drop with a Christmas barbie

[] FINISH up with a cheese platter and Brown Brothers wonderful 2006 Patricia Noble

[] OUR wine expert, David Ellis at his home in the NSW Southern Highlands

Thursday 17 November 2011

Scarborough Wine Co. A New Year Resolution worth Keeping

At Scarborough Wine Co. we are incredibly proud to be able to use our family home in the Hunter Valley to bring you wines for those special celebrations in your life - as we always say, "Our home. Your wine." And this year we will be involved in even more celebrations than ever as the Official Wine Partner for 2011 Sydney New Year's Eve.

Scarborough Wine Co. was selected by the City of Sydney as a renowned, 'home-grown' producer of fine Australian wines, being based in New South Wales' own Hunter Valley vineyards. We will join other home-grown talents such as the creators of the world's most technologically advanced fireworks displays, Foti Fireworks (family-owned and run by the Foti family), in the ultimate home-grown celebration; local families working together to make sure Sydney continues to be known as the New Year's Eve Capital of the World!

As the Official Wine Partner 2011 Sydney New Year's Eve, a range of Scarborough Wine Co. wines will be poured at the Lord Mayor's Party at the Sydney Opera House, including our flagship wine the newly released 2009 Scarborough Yellow Label Chardonnay. Scarborough Wine Co. specialises in Chardonnay, from the full-flavoured Yellow Label to the light, crisp Blue Label style, this varietal has become synonymous with Scarborough.

Fruit for our Scarborough Yellow Label Chardonnay is selected from our Estate's premium vineyards on the deep hillside red/brown terra rossa soils, of limestone parentage. The wine is fermented and matured on lees for 12 months in both new and older French oak. The meticulous use of French oak combines with bottle age to produce a full-flavoured wine that is true to the style of Scarborough.

Scarborough Wine Co. will also provide all the wines at the Dawes Point Viewing Area helping a selection of the 1.5 million people who gather along the Sydney Harbour Foreshore for the 9PM Family Fireworks and Midnight Fireworks Display, see in the New Year with flavour and style.

Not forgetting those that will be holding celebrations at home, Scarborough Wine Co. has created some very special offers so everyone can discover a part of the local wine community and celebrate with some fabulous wines this festive season and New Year.

Visit to view our special home-grown celebrations packs and enter our competition to win one of six magnums of Scarborough Yellow Label Chardonnay.

At Scarborough Wine Co. it's not just about making wine. It's a way of life. The Hunter Valley is our home and this is where the passion begins. To make the best wine we can, and share it with you…this New Year's Eve and every day after that.

Scarborough Wine Co. is the Official Wine Partner for Sydney New Year's Eve for 2011 – 2013

Purchasing Scarborough Wine Co. wines:

All our wines are available through leading independent liquor stores or via our website

Sally Scarborough, Scarborough Wine Co. P: 02 4998 7563 E:

Twitter:         Facebook:!/Scarboroughwine

Monday 14 November 2011

Toppers Mountain

Following a partnership dissolution,Toppers Mountain is now solely owned by Mark Kirkby. Planting began in the spring of 2000, with the ultimate fruit salad trial of 15 rows each of innumerable varieties and clones. The total area planted was made up of 28 separate plantings, many of these with only 200 vines in a block. As varieties proved unsuited, they were grafted to those that held the most promise. Thus far, Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc hold most promise among the white wines, the Mediterranean reds doing better than their French cousins. The original 28 varieties are now down to 16; chardonnay, gewurztraminer, sauvignon blanc, tempranillo, shiraz and merlot are the commercial varieties, the remainder in the fruit salad block still under evaluation. Integrated Pest Management has been successfully adopted throughout the vineyard. Champion Winery of Show, New England Wine Show 11.

Author: James Halliday


UNUSUAL drop from Chile to enjoy
with spiced-up barbecued beef.

David Ellis
WINEMAKERS in Chile have somewhat claimed the Carmenere grape as their own, even though it was once one of the original "Noble Grapes" of Bordeaux, where, interestingly, it's hardly known these days.
Eduardo Jordan is a winemaker in Chile whose name is highly respected internationally, particularly for his work with the De Martino company that was the first in his country to label a wine a Carmenere. More recently he's been making the varietal for Two Eights Australia, an interesting concept that sources wines from highly acclaimed winemakers and grape-growers around the world, and releases them under its Handpicked Wines label
RED and white in the one bottle:
enjoy with sweet 'n sour pork spare ribs.

Eduardo Jordan's Handpicked Wines' 2008 Selections Carmenere was made from fruit from Chile's dry and warm Maipo Valley and is a medium-bodied drop with a palate loaded with dark cherry, black fruits and spicy flavours. At $20 it's a delightful quaffer to enjoy with the coming of our warmer weather.
And its one of those medium-bodied reds that on a hot day responds well to a brief time in the ice-box as you barbecue some beef and capsicum kabobs marinated in garlic, coriander, oregano, paprika, cumin and a good splash of lime juice.

ONE FOR LUNCH: MARK Kirkby delights in telling people he has something of an "ultimate fruit salad" vineyard, as he's trialled something like 28 well- and lesser-known grape varieties at his Topper's Mountain vineyard in NSW's newest wine region, the New England, and aims to narrow these down to 8-10 star performers.
He and winemaker Mike Hayes have blended into a delightful drop Mark's red Pinotage and white Viognier, resulting in a 2010 Topper's Mountain Wild Ferment Pinotage Viognier that's nicely flavoursome with pronounced ripe plums to the forefront. Pay $35 and enjoy with sweet and sour pork spare ribs.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Cabernet in the Cabinet for Koonowla

(from left) President Clare Valley Winemakers Association, Governor of South Australia Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce (middle) and accepting the trophy, Andrew Michael from Koonowla Wines
It was a Cabernet from Clare which took out the Trophy for Best Dry Red at the Clare Valley Wine Show last Friday 28th October. The team at Koonowla couldn't be happier to have had their 2008 Koonowla Cabernet Sauvignon (RRP $22) judged to be the top wine amongst some of the country's most renowned Shiraz.

Andrew Michael from Koonowla Wines was enormously proud of this win particularly due to the extremely high caliber of exhibitors in the class and across the board at the show and the regions fame for producing top quality Shiraz. He says of Koonowla's success "we were up against seriously high profile, expensive and top quality wines…for our Cabernet which you can pick up for just over $20 to receive this sort of accolade, it says a lot about the sort of value-for-money you can get in Australian wines from smaller Aussie producers".

This value-for-money statement is nothing new for Koonowla Wines, as late last year the team picked up the trophy for Best Red Wine under $25 at the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge for their 2006 Koonowla Shiraz ($22), which is sitting proudly in the winery's trophy cabinet!

The judging for the Clare Valley wine show went over two days, with 45 exhibitors and 352 entries in total, resulting in 144 medals awarded to those who stood out the most.

Koonowla Winemaking duo David O'Leary and Nick Walker are no strangers to success in the Clare Valley Wine Show, and this year was no exception as they picked up numerous medals for wines made under their own label O'Leary Walker Wines.

Koonowla Wines, set amongst the rolling broad acre hills of the Clare Valley, with 250 acres of vineyard and beautiful stone buildings is a truly iconic property consistently creating top quality Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling.

With the Summer of Riesling campaign about to kick off, timing couldn't be better for Koonowla with the new addition to the Koonowla Ringmaster range with their 2011 Ringmaster Riesling (RRP $16). This wine brings the entire Koonowla portfolio to a rounded six wines, and is a true Clare Valley style Riesling with lemon lime flavours and a crisp dry finish.

Distributors:  Young  &  Rashleigh  Wine  Merchants,  P:  02  9967  5900,  
E:,  W:

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Frog Rock - A fabulous fizz for summer

Media release:

Local Legend Frog Rock Wines of Mudgee are gearing up for a very busy fizzy summer and have released their first sparkling wine suited to all tastes and budgets just in time for the silly season…

Frog Rock Wines Fizzy Frog 2009  (RRP $30)

This wine, like the rest of the fantastic value-for-money Frog Rock range, is to be taken seriously (despite its name-sake!) as it delivers wonderful structure and flavour and is made in a similar fashion to those created in France's best Champagne Houses.

The Fizzy Frog is a classic French inspired blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with small parcels of grapes which were hand selected to create a vintage cuvee that is light salmon in colour.

Frog Rock is owned and run by long time locals the Turner Family, and they're thrilled with their debut sparkling wine (which sits right next to their award-winning desert wine 'Sticky Frog'). According to owner Rick Turner at Frog Rock "this little beauty has an interesting complexity that arises from secondary fermentation, providing a lifted fruit nose and lengthy mid palate flavor with a fine persistent bead".

Fizzy Frog is designed to be enjoyed as an aperitif in the sun this summer with good friends and your favourite music.

Frog Rock Fizzy Frog can be purchased online at and can be found at good independent liquor stores Australia wide.

If you would like a sample of the Frog Rock Fizzy Frog 2009, or for any other media enquiries please contact Winestream Communications E:

Check out the Frog on Facebook….

Monday 7 November 2011


NICE drop to take along to
your favourite Chinese BYO.


David Ellis

WHILE few had anything positive to say about the 2011 harvest in the Clare Valley – and most of the rest of a very sodden South-Eastern Australia for that matter – Koonowla winemaker Andrew Michael says it was one of those times when small proved sound.

"It was certainly a challenging time, particularly for larger commercial producers, but being a small operation we had more 'hands on' time with the vines, and our micro-climate escaped the worst of the weather," he says.

And he is particularly pleased with his 2011 Koonowla Ringmaster Clare Valley Riesling. "It bursts with mouth-filling citrus flavours and has a zesty long acidic finish," Andrew says of this wine that came out of some of Australia's worst vintage weather in recent history, with deluging rain and floods across most South-Eastern growing areas.

At $15.99 this is a good-value drop to take along to your local Chinese BYO.

AND one for not-too-spicy Indian dishes.
ONE FOR LUNCH: ANOTHER small South Australian maker to see the positive side of the 2011 vintage was McLaren Vale's Kangarilla Road.

"Our 2011 Kangarilla Road Primitivo Rosé actually benefitted from the mild summer and that cool, wet vintage," says winemaker Kevin O'Brien. "While McLaren Vale is rightly famous for its reds (such as) Shiraz, it's also capable of producing lighter reds when conditions allow, so we jumped at the opportunity to produce some of the finest Rosé wines we've ever released."

With a palate loaded with zesty rhubarb and a spicy finish, at $22 this is a great companion with not-too-spicy Indian dishes.

Kangarilla Road also produced an excellent Chardonnay from that trouble-some 2011 vintage, one full of lemon and grapefruit flavours. Value at $18.


Monday 31 October 2011

New World of NSW Wines

Last week's 2011 Citibank NSW Wine 'Best of the Best' Tasting was a huge success with over 300 trade and consumers seizing the opportunity to meet the State's most talented winemakers and taste the Top 40 wines from the 2011 Citibank NSW Wine Awards, including Trophy winners and the 2011 Citibank NSW Wine of the Year.

The tasting highlighted some exciting wine trends in the world of NSW wines…

·         New Wave Chardonnays

Six Chardonnays featured in the Top 40, including the 2011 Citibank NSW Wine of the Year ~ Mistletoe Wines 2009 Reserve Chardonnay from the Hunter Valley.

According to Chief Judge Huon Hooke, these wines were "refined and restrained", in contrast with earlier more full bodied Australian styles. Huon also commented on the high quality of Chardonnay from all of the State's wine regions. Whether from traditional or emerging, warm or cool regions, the wines were equally delicious, showing how winemakers all over NSW are embracing the production of a modern, more elegant style of Chardonnay which is enticing consumers back to this most famous of white grapes.

·         New Hunter Heights

Thirteen of the Top 40 wines, including five of the ten Trophies were claimed by exciting wines from the Hunter Valley. The Hunter is Australia's oldest wine region and home to just over 100 wineries who have consistently produced wines of exceptional quality and outperformed the region's size. While steeped in history, a 'new generation' of Hunter winemakers is emerging who are not content to rest on the region's laurels and are pushing the wines of the Hunter to new heights.

·         Central Ranges ~ Top Awards

The Central Ranges is a 'wine zone' that encompasses the central western wine regions of Orange, Cowra and Mudgee and their surrounding vineyards. This area at the heart of NSW is starting to beat very strongly with eleven wines (six classified as Orange, two classified as Mudgee, three classified as Central Ranges) making it into the NSW Top 40 and the Logan 2009 Weemala Merlot and the Winburndale Wines 2008 Fontana Cabernet Sauvignon from the Central Ranges continuing on to collect a coveted Trophy. The wines and winemakers of the Central Ranges are definitely ones to watch.

·         Great Grape Diversity

A pleasing result from this year's Awards is the emergence of a range of high-quality Pinot Noirs, two of which received Top 40 status. Our emerging cool-climate regions, such as the Southern Highlands, Canberra and Orange, are working hard to show that this high-maintenance red variety can thrive here.

As well as Pinot Noir, there were also some excellent wines made from Viognier, Verdelho, Merlot, Tempranillo, Durif and Zinfandel. In fact, 14 different grape varieties or blends were used to make these "best-of-the-best" wines, demonstrating the huge diversity of NSW wines.

Another exciting Citibank NSW Wine Awards for NSW wine lovers with plenty of great success stories, and anticipation growing for the 2012 Sydney Cellar Door which will kick start the 2012 Citibank NSW Wine Festival on Saturday and Sunday 25th & 26th February.

The Citibank 2011 NSW Wine Awards Top 40 (in alphabetical order)

1.       Angullong 2010  Bulls Roar Tempranillo, Central Ranges ($25)
2.       Audrey Wilkinson 2011 Winemakers Selection Semillon, Hunter ($25)
3.       Ballabourneen 2011 Majors Lane Semillon, Hunter ($25)
4.       Barwang "842" 2009 Chardonnay, Tumbarumba ($35)
5.       Brangayne Of Orange 2009 Tristan Cabernet Shiraz Merlot, Orange ($30)
6.       Brokenwood 2011 Forest Edge Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Orange ($25)
7.       Capital Wines 2011 The Whip Riesling, Canberra District  ($19)
8.       Centennial Reserve 2010 Pinot Noir, Southern Highlands ($30)
9.       Centurion Wines 2011 Verdelho, Hunter ($19)
10.    Cherry Tree Hill 2006 Riesling, Southern Highlands ($25)
11.    Constable Estate 2010 Premium Semillon, Hunter ($24)
12.    Coolangatta Estate 2006 Semillon, Shoalhaven Coast ($45)
13.    De Bortoli 2009  Deen De Bortoli Durif, Riverina ($13)
14.    De Bortoli 2008 Noble One, Riverina ($64) TROPHY WINNER
15.    De Iuliis Wines 2009 Steven Vineyard Shiraz , Hunter ($40)
16.    Eden Road 2010 Gundagai Shiraz, Gundagai ($45)
17.    First Creek Wines Winemakers Reserve 2010 Chardonnay, Hunter ($40)
18.    First Creek Wines Winemakers Reserve 2010  Shiraz, Hunter ($42) TROPHY WINNER
19.    Freeman Vineyards Secco Aged Release 2004 Rondinella Corvina, Hilltops ($75) TROPHY WINNER
20.    Grove Estate 2006 Shiraz-Viognier,  Hilltops  ($40)
21.    Hedberg Hill 2010 Claudia's Viognier, Orange ($20)
22.    Lillypilly 2002 Noble Blend, Riverina ($40)
23.    Logan 2009 Weemala Merlot, Central Ranges ($18) TROPHY WINNER
24.    Logan 2009 Cabernet Merlot, Orange ($25) TROPHY WINNER
25.    Lowe 2009 Zinfandel, Mudgee ($75)
26.    Mistletoe Winery 2009 Reserve Chardonnay, Hunter ($40) TROPHY WINNER & CITIBANK NSW WINE OF THE YEAR
27.    Mount Majura Vineyard 2010 Tempranillo, Canberra District ($40)
28.    Nick O'Leary 2010 Shiraz, Canberra District ($30)
29.    Philip Shaw 2010 No 11 Chardonnay, Orange ($35)
30.    Pokolbin Estate 2005 Reserve Shiraz, Hunter ($50)
31.    Printhie Wines2010  Mt Canobolas Collection Chardonnay, Orange ($35)
32.    Ravensworth 2009 Shiraz Viognier, Canberra District ($27)
33.    Saddlers Creek 2008 Supreme Botrytis, Riverina ($36)
34.    Tertini 2009 Pinot Noir, Southern Highlands ($30)
35.    Thistle Hill 2011 Organic Riesling, Mudgee ($40)
36.    Thomas Wines 2006 Braemore Semillon, Hunter ($45) TROPHY WINNER
37.    Tulloch Wines 2011 JYT Selection Semillon, Hunter ($25)
38.    Two Rivers 2011 Stones Throw Semillon, Hunter ($16) TROPHY WINNER
39.    Tyrrell's Vineyards 2008 Vat 47 Chardonnay, Hunter ($50)
40.    Winburndale Wines 2008 Fontana Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Ranges ($30) TROPHY WINNER


GREAT buying at $10.95 to enjoy
with seafoods or Asian stir fries.


David Ellis

WHEN one of the NSW Riverina's early pioneers Francesco Calabria, who'd arrived from Italy in 1927 with wife Elizabeth, decided he needed a glass or three of good home-made red or white to ease the pains of a day on the family's fruit farm in the new-fangled irrigation area, he didn't have the money to invest in all the necessary equipment to make it with.

So he took over Elizabeth's laundry tubs, and improvised from his workshop from there. By 1945 he was making wine full-time under the Calabria Wines label, and today son Bill is at the helm of the family-run business that's now called Westend Wines, helped by wife Lena, sons Frank, Michael, Andrew and daughter Elizabeth, selling world-wide, and amassing more trophies and medals than Francesco could ever have packed into his wife's little laundry.

Westend's Richland range is dedicated to the family founders who pioneered that "rich land," and is the premium commercial of a half-dozen labels that cater for all budgets. The 2010 Richland Sauvignon Blanc is a particularly excellent wine with great varietal flavours including passionfruit, garden peas, limes and mangoes – and even better is that its great buying at just $10.95.

BUY now, drink later – or if you can't wait,
enjoy with meatballs in an Italian-style tomato sauce.
With a dry, crisp and refreshing finish it's a great partner with seafoods such as oysters, mussels, prawns, crabs and lobsters, sushi and tuna, or Asian stir fries with lemongrass and plenty of coriander, tomato, onion and garlic.

ONE FOR LUNCH: ANDREW Margan has crafted a excellent Shiraz with the intention of buyers putting it away in a safe place for the next ten years – the $20 price tag making it a good investment as it is pleasant for enjoying now, but will become all the more so up to around the early 2020s.

Andrew picked the fruit for this 2009 Shiraz "al dente" (firm but not hard) off 40-year old Lower Hunter Valley vines; with nice savoury black fruit flavours its already an ideal match with meatballs in an Italian-style tomato sauce.


Wednesday 26 October 2011

Nine reasons to dine at Australia's Best Restaurant in a Winery

Media Release

Tower Lodge's nine wins Best Restaurant in a Winery

Tower Lodge's restaurant nine has won the "Best Restaurant in a Winery" at the 2011 National Awards for Excellence held at Luna Park on October 24.

Tower's award is in succession to its win of Best Restaurant in a Winery" and "Restaurant of the Year in the Hunter Valley" at the 2011 Australia Restaurant & Catering Regional NSW Awards for Excellence.

Located nine feet underground in the original Tower Estate cellar, nine and its unique dining concept, was the brainchild of Andreas Breitfuss, Maître de Maison who developed the idea with the aim of offering different dining experiences for Tower Lodge guests.

Nine's private dining space is surrounded by warm earthy sandstone and wood surfaces providing an intimate and luxurious dining experience for up to 16 guests.

"To win the award of Best Restaurant in a Winery in Australia further reflects the hard work and dedication Andreas and his team put into Nine and Tower Lodge," said Matt Cowley, CEO, Tower Estate.

"It is also a reflection on my long term vision for Tower Lodge, to offer our guests a truly unique experience in the areas of dining and accommodation."

Nine features nine seasonal degustation menus (one vegetarian) using, where possible, local Hunter Valley produce paired with one of six optional wine lists, featuring a selection of premium local and imported varieties along with Tower Estate's own wines.

The National Awards for Excellence are the culmination of 10 regional Award events held throughout the year across the nation. Over 270 finalists in 34 categories competed at a ceremony at Luna Park to determine the best of the best of Australia's restaurants and caterers.

Restaurant & Catering represents around 4,000 restaurants and caterers across Australia. Each year over 900 members are reviewed in the Awards of Excellence.

nine Facts

opening times: Friday & Saturday nights 6.30pm to 8.30pm (last booking 8.30pm sharp)

menu type: 9 course degustation (chefs selection created seasonally) excl wines, $180 per person, or 9 course degustation paired with a selection of premium local and imported wines, including picks from the Tower Estate cellar, $250 per person.

wine list: selection of Australian premium wines and exclusive imported varieties including Champagne, sparking, red, white and dessert. The wine list includes specially selected Tower Estate wines.

Tower Lodge, part of the gold standard Relais & Chateaux association is Australia's best shared secret comprising of 12 distinctly different guest rooms including two premier suites. Each of the rooms are uniquely furnished with no room the same and feature a king size bed, deep soaking spa bath, complimented with antique pieces and rich fabrics creating an opulent setting for any guest.

For those who truly want to indulge and enjoy a Hunter Valley weekend, Tower Lodge has packages which include the following:

2 night's accommodation in a Lodge room
Dinner for 2 guest in Roberts Restaurant
Dinner for 2 guests dining in restaurant Nine
Complimentary upgrade to high tea
Pre- dinner beverages daily
Private wine tasting at Tower Estate Winery

Prices are based on twin share and start from $1,035 per room per night.

To make a reservation at Tower Lodge and/or nine visit or call (02) 4998 7022

About Tower Lodge

Opened in May 2001, and situated on the grounds of Tower Estate, Tower Lodge is the only 5-star boutique luxury lodge in the Hunter Region.

The Lodge features 12 rooms including two suites accommodating up to 24 guests. Room rates range from $720.00 per night and include accommodation for two, full buffet and a la carte cooked breakfast, complimentary afternoon tea, a pre-dinner drink and an evening turn down service


Tower Lodge is a member of Relais & Châteaux.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

At the Top of New England | Topper's Mountain

Media release

It was Topper's Mountain Wines which stole the show at the New England's night of nights on Friday when it took out 4 of the top trophies including the coveted Champion Winery of Show at the 2011 New England Wine Show.

Renowned wine critic Huon Hooke chaired the panel of judges at a show that he openly admits he was "...without much of an idea of what I would expect to find." And was pleased to find that this "tiny little wine region... making a bigger range of interesting wines than they have in Coonawarra" where he has gone onto judge at their wine show this week.

Interviewed from the region on Thursday after the one day judging which saw a record 154 wines judged by the expert panel, Huon told the ABC that the potential for the region was great. He made reference to the extraordinary number of less mainstream varieties that were of gold medal standard at this show and thought that perhaps varieties like Gewurztraminer and Tempranillo were styles on which the region could "hang their hat".

Topper's Mountain couldn't be happier with these claims that the less mainstream varieties are set to thrive in the region as they are almost as far from mainstream wine producers as their remote vineyard is from civilisation.

Recently quoted as having the 'ultimate fruit salad' vineyard, owner Mark Kirkby of Topper's Mountain has trialed plantings of 28 varieties in his 10ha vineyard since first planting in 2000, many with as few as 200 vines of each clone or variety. Mark's aim is to narrow these 28 down to 8-10 star performers through grape quality work in the vineyard in conjunction with ongoing wine style evolution with winemaker Mike Hayes to show off the exciting, cool-climate terroir of Topper's Mountain.

Located in spectacular yet remote countryside north-west of Armidale, about 50km north-west of the New England's highest town Guyra, Topper's Mountain reaps the benefit of altitudes in excess of 900m, ensuring idyllic growing conditions for his far-from-mainstream cool climate varietals. The vineyard is situated on beautiful, deep, red & aged volcanic soils high above the valleys of the MacIntyre and Gwydir Rivers.

Rose petals, a hint of tar & fresh strawberry leaves followed by layers of succulent, savoury & meaty  characters on the palate reinforced by Nebbiolo's big, smooth tannins. Plenty of time for cellaring this one!
"It doesn't seem real" says owner Mark Kirkby after winning four trophies; 6 gold, two silver and five bronze medals on Friday night "we couldn't have timed it better having just made our first, albeit small, commercial release of wines under the new  Topper's Mountain label."

It seemed the 2009 Toppers Mountain Nebbiolo (RRP $35) couldn't put a foot wrong, at first being awarded the Trophy for "Best Other Red Variety", then "Chief Stewards Pick of Golds" (which also takes into account the winery's contribution to the region), then finally the big one, "New England Wine of Show". Together with the 2010 Topper's Mountain Gewurztraminer (RRP $30) taking out the Trophy for "Best Aromatic White Wine", had Topper's Mountain named "Champion Winery of Show".

This is the first year which gold medal winners at the New England Wine Show qualify to enter in Australia's National Wine Show held in Canberra each year, giving this small region even more opportunity to show the wider wine world just what great things the region is doing.

Just last year the New England Wine region developed a Regional Brand Strategy aimed at raising the profile and awareness of Australia's newest wine region, and this the first wine show since, gives the NEW (New England Wine) region great promise from which to leverage its marketability, having hosted perhaps one of Australia's most regarded wine critics. Mark Kirkby sits on the marketing and branding strategy committee.

Topper's Mountain are seeking distribution of their wines in the on premise market in Sydney and Brisbane.

For further information contact:- Mark Kirkby – Topper's Mountain Wines, (0411) 880 580