Tuesday 31 January 2012

1 month Countdown has begun! 2012 NSW Wine Festival ~ Feb 25 to March 31

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On track to be even bigger and better than last year, The Sydney Morning Herald NSW Wine Festival, bought to you by Citibank,  begins in just under one month and runs throughout the month of March.

The festivities kick-off on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 February with Sydney Cellar Door in Hyde Park South, one of the country's largest outdoor wine and food experiences, followed by a month-long celebration of NSW wines in bars and restaurants throughout the city and state-wide.

Tokens are on sale now for Sydney Cellar Door at  www.nswwinefestival.com.au

With an estimated 30,000 people due to enjoy this fabulous weekend in the park, buying tokens in advance online is a great way to maximize your time spent sampling from over 100 of NSW's most exciting wine brands. But visitors can also just arrive on the day, with FREE entry and Tasting Packages available from the token stands from just $25.

Meet the talented winemakers behind your favourite drops up-close-and-personal, including some of the State's most stellar wineries like Audrey Wilkinson, Bimbadgen, Brokenwood, Cumulus Estate Wines, De Iuliis Wines, Logan Wines, Moppity Vineyards, Printhie Wines, McGuigan Wines and Westend Estate Wines.

All the wines on offer can be deliciously complemented by food from 25 of the city's hottest restaurants (many of which are featured in The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide) including Bodega and Porteno, Almond Bar, Efendy, Zushi, Peruvian hot spot Morena and more.  Regional food and restaurant stalls include Esca Bimbadgen, the Hunter Valley Cheese Company and Restaurant Cuvee.

A new layout to this year's Sydney Cellar Door, running along the length of Park Street in Hyde Park South, will provide a bigger area than ever before and even more shaded seating areas to relax and enjoy discovering your way around NSW's best wine styles, new hidden wine gems and finest culinary delights. Not forgetting free all-day music and live entertainment, including the My Ty's and electro-acoustic band Kinetic Method - creating a world-class festival vibe!

The 2012 NSW Wine Festival program continues after Sydney Cellar Door, with bars and restaurants throughout Sydney and regional NSW featuring many food and wine matches and exclusive degustation dinners. The program is:

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

A selection of Sydney's wine bars offering a glass of NSW wine and matching bar snack for just $15.

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

Leading Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide restaurants throughout NSW create exclusive, great value wine-matched menus from just $30-$50, letting everyone enjoy the best our state has to offer.

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

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

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

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, a list of participating bars and restaurants and pre-purchase tokens, visit www.nswwinefestival.com.au and look out for the special NSW Wine Festival program in The Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living section on Tuesday, February 21, 2012.

Twitter       @NSWwinefestival

Monday 30 January 2012


NICE drop for that
next big celebration


David Ellis

BEFORE he passed away in 2004, Malcolm Logan loved nothing more than donning his North Sydney Bears beanie and scarf, grabbing a bottle of his own bubbly and cheering-on his team on TV.

Today his son Peter has inherited his dad's skills in creating sensational sparkling wines from fruit from the Logan premium, cool-climate vineyards on the frosty hilltops outside Orange in Central Western NSW.

His latest release is a 2009 'M' Cuvee named in honour of his dad and interestingly, and unusually, made from equal portions of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – with two-thirds being from red grapes its got a nice salmon pink colour and brims with strawberry and spice characters on a creamy palate.

Beaut buying at $35 for that next big celebration.

ENJOY this with barbecued prawns
or pork chops with sweet 'n sour sauce
ONE FOR LUNCH: A FLAVOUR-explosive Rosé from Margan Family Winemakers shows just how good this style can be when it comes from a stand-out vintage such as the Hunter Valley enjoyed in 2011.

Made from Shiraz fruit from the company's 40 year old Fordwich Sill vineyard, winemaker Andrew Margan has labelled it Rosé, but with 'Shiraz Saignee' on the label as well – Saignee (which is pronounced sanyay) being a French term that refers to the juice run-off from the red grape skins.

The Fordwich Sill vineyard produced just 0.5 tonnes to the acre of fully-ripened fruit in 2011, giving Andrew Margan the opportunity to create a wonderfully-flavoured wine that's bright pink in colour, has vibrant berry and cherry aromas, a palate of juicy red fruits and a dry finish.

At $17 it's a great drop to enjoy with barbecued prawns, or pork chops with a sweet and sour sauce.

 (NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out  http://www.vintnews.com )

Friday 27 January 2012

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival turns 20

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Celebrate all things culinary at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival this year as it celebrates its 20th birthday with a host of gastronomic extravaganzas. Boasting more than 300 events across Melbourne and Victoria, there is something for every gourmand including 80 events under $50.

Visitors can share in Melbourne’s obsession with food and wine with over 20 days of eating and drinking, comprising gastronomic delights from one-off dinners, whirlwind tours and crawls to hands-on learning, regional adventures and riverside parties.

The Festival kicks off with the brand new Riverside Opening Weekend on 3-4 March when the Yarra River transforms into a food and wine lover’s paradise. There’ll be plenty of activity including the Cellar Door & Farmgate at South Wharf, which will bring together craft brewers, artisan products and boutique cellar doors complemented by restaurants and bars along the promenade once the sun goes down.

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A firm Festival favourite, the IGA World’s Longest Lunch will snake itself along the banks of the Yarra River on Friday 2 March inviting guests to enjoy a three course seasonal feast under the tree line of Alexandra Park. Designed by hatted regional star chefs Patrizia Simone (Simone’s of Bright), Annie Smithers (Annie Smithers Bistrot, Kyneton) and George Biron (Sunnybrae, Birregurra), each course will be matched by the finest drops from Yering Station. Complementing all this feasting will be 29 Regional World’s Longest Lunches taking place across Victoria.

The Langham Melbourne Masterclass stage will be a hive of activity with world-class culinary whizzes over the weekend of 10 and 11 March including world number one chef Rene Redzepi (Noma, Copenhagen), three star Michelin chef Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Italy) and Claus Henriksen (Dragsholm, Horve), who will each provide inspiration and insights into their clever creations.

And for those keen to get their hands dirty, there are plenty of hands-on cooking classes to get involved in from making macaroons and passata to learning the art of porchetta.

Further afield, North East Victoria plays host to the Tastes of Rutherglen festival, which begins with a regional showcase dinner on 10 March highlighting the best produce from across the region. Visitors to the region over the following two weekends can continue to enjoy perfectly matched food and wine combined with culinary experiences and activities at participating venues.

For more information: www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au

Monday 23 January 2012


LIKE father like son: a crackajack Jim Barry
Pb Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon made by son Peter.


David Ellis

THE late Jim Barry often delighted in telling of his "scientific approach" to creating his first Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon blends in the 1970s – he'd make up a few with varying proportions of each wine, leave them open on the kitchen sink, and then watch and taste their development over the coming few days.

He'd then declare which blend he considered the best, always adding: "First call, best call…" But initially popular as they were at the time, consumer interest faded away in the early '80s as buyers swung back to single varietal wines.

Ten year's ago Jim's son, Peter went somewhat back to the future, creating a Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon from the great 2002 vintage in the Clare Valley, a drop he intended purely for personal enjoyment with family and friends. Their enthusiasm encouraged him to make another in 2005, a crackajack wine that's collected some prestigious medals and awards both here and internationally.

NEW Zealand bubbly's a good price
when there's a party on the horizon.
Peter's blend is 70% of his 2005 The McRae Wood Shiraz and 30% of the 2005 The Benbournie Cabernet Sauvignon, both very impressive wines in their own right. The blend's nose explodes with blackcurrant, blackberry, Satsuma plums and Morello cherries, with these following through on the concentrated palate.

The Jim Barry Pb (Personal Bottling) Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 will be released in February at $49.99; you'll find it a great partner with a good rib-eye.

ONE FOR LUNCH: NEW ZEALAND's Lindauer has been making a quite stand-out sparkling for some 30 years now, using fruit from its cool maritime climate Gisborne vineyards that's ideal for making premium bubblies.

A 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir blend, the Lindauer Brut Cuvée NV is just $14.95, a good price for this delightful drop next time there's a party on the horizon.

(NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out  http://www.vintnews.com )

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Rymill Coonawarra @ Tasting Australia 2012 Celebrity Chef Event



As part of 2012 Tasting Australia (26 April to 3 May) Rymill Coonawarra will be teaming up with Stephanie Alexander to create The Rymill Coonawarra Harvest Lunch on Saturday 28 April.

This long lunch will be held on the winery's lawns and guests will enjoy a menu specially created by Stephanie to reflect her thoughts on the region's finest local fare. Rymill Coonawarra senior winemaker Sandrine Gimon will expertly match the menu with Rymill Coonawarra's fine wines, including the feature wine 2010 mc².

Rymill Coonawarra is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Stephanie Alexander during the Tasting Australia festival. During the lunch Stephanie will speak about her Kitchen Garden Scheme and her passion for local produce and inspiring food.

A true food aficionado, Stephanie has been running successful restaurants and cooking programs since her first restaurant, Jamaican House, opened in 1964.

Her work includes the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing food education and introducing kitchen gardens into primary schools.

Rymill Coonawarra and Stephanie will be partnering with Pipers of Penola, four time winner of Best Regional Restaurant in South Australia, whose talented chef Simon Bowen will work with Stephanie to create delicious dishes for the guests to enjoy.

Since its inception in 1997 Tasting Australia has become a huge international success, providing entertainment, information and education. The biennial festival is the perfect opportunity for the public – alongside leading food and drink professionals, and the world's food, drink and travel media – to enjoy the best that the nation and particularly South Australia have to offer in terms of produce, food products, wine, hospitality and tourism.

South Australia and Rymill Coonawarra hope you will join them in the celebrations … Bon Appétit!

The Rymill Coonawarra Harvest Lunch with Stephanie Alexander

Where:              Rymill Coonawarra Winery, Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra SA
When:               Saturday 28 April 2012
Time:                12pm-3pm 
Cost:                $95 per person all inclusive
Bookings          Purchase online at www.rymill.com.au


Tuesday 17 January 2012

New Generation Hunter Valley | On the Road Again

Media release:

Lock up your daughters and open your wine vaults – the New Generation Hunter Valley boys are once again ready to hit to the road for the second rendition of their hugely successful epic east-coast Australian adventure dubbed the New Generation Hunter Valley Caravan of Courage 'On the Road Again'.

Kicking off in Melbourne on Friday April 20th with one of their infamous Pop Up Wine Bars, this one-month long travelling roadshow will be bigger and better than ever. As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it – so the itinerary will be very much similar to last year's and will include 10 not-to-be-missed Pop Up Wine Bar and dinner events throughout 2000km of the spectacular east Australian coastline. From Melbourne the boys will head northbound and pop into Sydney (Friday May 11), Port Macquarie (Tuesday May 15), Byron Bay (Wednesday May 16), Brisbane (Thursday May 17) and finally Noosa for the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival where the group are heavily featured in the star-studded festival program (Friday May 18 – Sunday May 20).

Entry to all of the Pop Up Wine Bar events (Melbourne, Sydney & Brisbane) cost $30 and each will be held in a secret city location. Over 24 New Generation Hunter Valley wines will be on offer, plus a few extra specials if you know the secret New Gen handshake! To register for tickets, visit www.newgenerationhuntervalley.com.au and venue details will be released in the week prior to the boys popping up.

The New Generation Pop Up Wine Dinners will take place in Port Macquarie at the Stunned Mullet restaurant, and in Byron Bay at the glorious Byron Beach Cafe. Seats for these dinners will cost around $90 and will feature over 12 New Generation Hunter Valley wines expertly matched to the sumptuous seasonal menus these award-winning restaurants have on offer. More details on these dinners and how to book to come shortly…

And how, one might ask, are these six winemakers going to cover such a distance with all that is required to put on 10 unforgettable events? This year the boys will be travelling in serious comfort and style – and the sort of style that can only be summed up in a picture….

So all aboard for what will be one huge month of wine, wheels and whacky adventures. Make sure you're following @NewGenHV on Twitter and on facebook.com/newgenerationhuntervalley for all the latest and greatest. Trust us, this is one bus you really don't want to miss.

The New Generation Hunter Valley includes the winemaking talents of David Hook (David Hook Wines), Andrew Thomas (Thomas Wines), Rhys Eather (Meerea Park), Nick Paterson (Mistletoe Wines), Mike De Iuliis (De Iuliis Wines) and Andrew Margan (Margan Wines). What they have in common is the uncanny ability to make fantastic wine and have a fantastic time and a relentless ambition to put the Hunter Valley back on the map as a sublime and sexy destination.




Monday 16 January 2012


WINEMAKER of the Year's $9.99 Cab Sauv
ideal with the Sunday roast.


David Ellis

PUT the name Neil McGuigan together with "Black Label" that we normally associate with the best on the top-shelf, and you can expect that a McGuigan Wines' Black Label is going to be a pretty pricey drop – whereas in fact it's a steal for price, value and sheer enjoyment at just $9.99 a bottle.

There are some dozen varietals and styles catering to virtually all tastes in the McGuigan Black Label series, the newest addition being a Cabernet Sauvignon that Neil – International Winemaker of the Year in 2011 – crafted from 2010 vintage fruit from a diverse range of both dry and irrigated vineyards.

QUAFF this one with Thai soft
shell crab or a seafood platter.
And it's got plenty of nice varietal cherry and blackberry flavour highlights, coupled with influences of chocolate and vanilla. Not made with any intention of long-term cellaring, buy now and enjoy its full-on flavours with a Sunday roast.

(Interestingly red wine sales overall in Australia are growing at just 2.4% a year, whereas Cabernet Sauvignon sales are almost treble this at 6.7% a year. And as McGuigan Wines' Black Label Red is our #1 selling branded bottled red, it will be interesting to see if sales of their Cab Sauv overtake those of its "older brother.")

ONE FOR LUNCH: South Australia's Hesketh Wines are up there with the best when it comes to creating quirky labels to catch the eye of those browsing the shelves… although its not as if they really have to go to such extremes considering the excellent wines behind those labels.

The Protagonists, Thirsty Dog, Scissor Hands, Cruel Intentions and Rules of Engagement are just some of their creations, and a wine that impressed us recently was their Hesketh 2011 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc Bright Young Things: at $20 this is a classic Sauvignon Blanc with nice citrus and tropical fruit flavours and a racy finish; quaff it down chilled with Thai soft shell crab, or a summery seafood platter.

(NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out  http://www.vintnews.com )

Wednesday 11 January 2012

2012 Grampians Grape Escape

21st annual Grampians Grape Escape

May 5-6, 2012

Halls Gap Village Oval

Celebrating 21 years, this major regional food and wine festival will showcase Western Victoria's best offerings of wine, beer, olive and lavender products, ice-cream, preserves, gourmet sausages and pies, cookies, cakes and gluten-free food; as well as lentils, fresh fruit and berries and organic produce, yabbies, duck, venison, turkey, beef, lamb, pork honey, teas and herbs.  There'll be cooking demos by notable chefs, Grampians Winemakers Barrique Auction, Festival Dinner, Culinary Challenge and Junior Cupcake Competition. Guests will also be treated to live entertainment and fun for the kids. General Admission $20, Children $15, Family Ticket (online purchase only) $99. Opening times are 10am to 4.30pm Saturday and 10am to 3.30pm Sunday. For more information and ticket packages, go to www.grampiansgrapeescape.com.au.

Monday 9 January 2012

Noosa International Food & Wine Festival Announces Full Program & Tickets Now On Sale

The Noosa International Food and Wine Festival has raised the bar for 2012 with a food and wine program to delight amateur cooks, serious foodies, industry professionals and families alike. From May 17 to May 20 some of the world's best chefs, Australia's celebrity chefs, and Australia's best wine makers will descend upon Noosa bringing their star power from the S. Pellegrino World's Best Restaurant Awards and Good Food Guide Hats to South East Queensland.

The full program is available and tickets are now on sale via the website: www.noosafoodandwine.com.au.

Festival goers will have direct access to internationally renowned chefs Mark Best, Fergus Henderson, Alvin Leung, Davide Scabin, Ben Shewry, David Thompson and Seiji Yamamoto with live cooking demonstrations or, for a very special treat, join them for the Qantas Best Dinner In The World - a stellar, seven course degustation dinner with matching wines presented by Lisa Perotti-Brown, Master of Wine and hosted by Matt Preston.

New highlights for the 2012 Festival include:

Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant combining forces with the Queensland Arts Orchestra along with Jane Rutter and Guy Noble, in The Cook, The Chef and The Orchestra for the Gala Concert and Dinner.
Three inspirational women Stephanie Alexander, Nicki Reimer and winemaker Jane Ferrari discuss food wine and their colourful career paths at a special Westpac Ruby Luncheon.

An expanded program of Hinterland Food Trails this year adds a luscious lunch visit beside the orchard at Freestyle Escape accompanied by a string quartet and a mini farmers market.

The Village Wine Marquee featuring some of Australia's best wine maestros presenting tastings and sharing their extensive wine knowledge.

The International Riverside Marquee showcasing three picnic lunches over three days presented by Australia's foremost specialty chefs celebrating France, Italy and Asia.

Add a series of Lifestyle Lunches celebrating Queensland produce, MasterChefs and wine, a two day Culinary Exhibition and a series of restaurant Food Kiosks plus the Courier -Mail Life Annex for all things food and travel; with talks from top chefs, food maestros and award winning writers. A definite favourite is the Food Critics Cooking Competition where food critics from around the country will be put to the stove test and judged by you. And top it all off each evening with a special dinner at one of the Guest Chefs at Sunshine Coast Restaurants, or one of the acclaimed degustation dinners which includes the prestigious Qantas Best Dinner In The World.

All this, and much, much more; including live performances from Anthony Callea and Jessica Mauboy on Friday, the Martini Club and The Fabulous Singlettes on Saturday and Audio Vixen and the sensational Sneaky Sound System closing the show on the Sunday.

Tickets start from $65 (adult) or $20 (child under 13) per day including two tickets for food or wine, for General Admission on Saturday and Sunday to The Grand Marquee, Food Critics Competition, Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstrations, The Courier Mail Life Annexe and live entertainment.

The best way to experience the Festival is with a Weekend Gold Pass which costs $315 and includes VIP Admission for Friday's Welcome Cocktail Party, Saturday and Sunday with entry to hospitality pavilions and preferential concert seating.

Purchase your tickets before April 1, 2012 and receive a 10% discount (offer excludes tickets for Guest Chefs at Sunshine Coast Restaurants and Qantas Best Dinner in the World).

Visit the website for the full program and online ticket bookings www.noosafoodandwine.com.au
or call (07) 5455 4455 for further information.

Proudly supported by: Audi, Qantas, Westpac, Ilve, Seppelt, Vittoria Coffee,
Events Queensland, Tourism Australia, Tourism Queensland, Tourism Sunshine Coast Tourism Noosa

Friday 6 January 2012

New Rolling Chardonnay

Media Release

Cumulus Estate Wines' New Year's resolution is to be even more committed to sustainable practices, implementing their ultimate 'Bud-to-Bottle' sustainability initiative; responsible drinking – for a healthy body and a health planet.

As one of the first NSW wine producers to achieve full membership of Entwine*, Cumulus Estate Wines has always been acutely aware of and undertaken activities to preserve natural resources and minimize environmental impact in their 508 hectare vineyard and 10,000 tonne capacity winery. Now they have taken the final step and extended their environmental practices to include their packaging.

In 2012, all of Cumulus Estate Wines' Rolling and Climbing wines will now come in an O-I Lean+Green® lightweight bottle, giving them the same premium look and feel but with the added advantage of:

·         20% less weight per bottle (410g vs 500g)
·         20% less energy in production cycle
·         12% less water in production cycle
·         12% less transport conversion emissions

The wines also have new lightweight flexographic print cartons. Made from recycled materials these use 20% less energy in production cycle and 8% less transport conversion emissions.

"The new generation 'Lean and Green' bottles enable us to extend our commitment to sustainable practises beyond the vineyard and winery to our packaging, without compromising the presentation of our wines," says senior winemaker Debbie Lauritz. "Through the Entwine program, we track our environmental awareness and carbon emissions and set targets to improve standards each year, always continuing our commitment to reaching higher elevations of quality and sustainability."

One of the first wines down the Cumulus bottling line is the new 2011 Rolling Chardonnay, Central Ranges NSW (RRP $17.95)

And the quality inside the bottle is as sharp as the new packaging.  Debbie comments, "Due to the cooler 2011 growing season in the Central Ranges and Orange, we had slower ripening than normal so that when we harvested the fruit it contained lower levels of sugar. This has led to our finished wines having a lower alcohol level and more elegant, finer fruit flavours. The vines also benefited from larger, more balanced canopies and good fruit shading to limit bunch exposure.

These conditions were of particular advantage to Chardonnay this year, giving us possibly the best fruit we've ever produced. The flavours range from citrus and white stonefruits in earlier picked blocks, through to riper tropical fruit spectrum that we deliberately harvested a little riper in early March.

The result is a 2011 Rolling Chardonnay that shows greater finesse and an exciting blend of tropical fruit and citrus flavours, with a textured mouth feel and balanced acidity."

Another great wine championing the quality of modern Australian Chardonnay this summer.

Stockists: All Climbing and Rolling wines are distributed by Cumulus Estate Wines. Available nationally though independent liquor stores.

Existing Cumulus Sustainability Practices:

In the Vineyard:

·         The first Entwine* certified Vineyard in the Orange region
·         Winner 2010 Best Environmental Sustainability / Water Conservation Award at the CGU Orange Outstanding Business Awards, achieved through:
-- Solar powered automated sub-surface irrigation system that reduces evaporation & carbon emissions
-- Computer monitored multi-depth soil moisture probe technology that optimises water usage by individual grape variety and vineyard block
-- Inter-row organic matter composting, grass-cover and clover plantings that reduces insects, moisture loss, erosion and soil compaction
-- Multi-row multi-function farming equipment that covers 3 rows in a single tractor pass to reduce fossil fuel consumption
-- Usage monitoring of all vineyard inputs and recycling of key components such as water, power, fuel, vegetation matter, sprays and grape marc.

In the Winery:

·         The first Entwine* certified Winery in the Orange region
·         Winner 2010 Best Agribusiness Award at the CGU Orange Outstanding Business Awards, achieved through:

-- Energy conservation audits to measure and mitigate usage thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions
-- Energy reduction initiatives including wine tank insulation, inverter technology for heating/cooling of offices and laboratory
-- Water conservation measures at all stages of production
-- Recovery of residual materials and recycling of glass, plastic and cardboard materials.

*Entwine is an initiative of the Winemakers Federation of Australia to foster environmental responsibility – for further details visit www.wfa.gov.au