Monday 27 August 2012


PURR-fect with Italian tomato-
based pasta sauce dishes.


David Ellis

LIQUOR store group, Local Liquor have done themselves proud with a 2011 New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc they've had made exclusively for their own stores and bottled under their own whimsical The Owl & The Pussycat label.

The group asked contract winemakers Cheviot Bridge to create a couple of wines that would be outstanding both in flavour and value for their first-ever house label, Cheviot's Adelaide Hills-based winemaker Shane Virgo over-seeing the making of this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, while at the same time making an Owl and The Pussycat Barossa Valley 2011 Shiraz.

The Sauvignon Blanc is wonderfully food-friendly, crisp and with subtle tropical fruit flavours, varietal passionfruit notes and nice lemon-lime touches. And interestingly its success can be attributed to the poor limestone soil and glacial wash on which its grown – not much use for agriculture, but perfect for viticulture.

Match this one with Italian creamy garlic or tomato-based pasta sauce dishes at a great-value $13.99; the Canberra-based Local Liquor group has around 250 stores in the ACT, Sydney, NSW, Victoria and Queensland selling their Owl & The Pussycat wines. Find your nearest on
A GEM from a Merlot Tragic maker:
enjoy with the Sunday roast.

ONE FOR LUNCH: WHEN you've a self-confessed Merlot Tragic at the helm, you can be assured the wine they'll be producing will be top-notch – and such is the case with the 2010 Climbing Merlot from Orange in the NSW Central West.

Maker Debbie Lauritz says that cool-climate Orange is perfect for producing top-quality Merlot, although 2010 was slightly more challenging than usual with the end of the drought wreaking somewhat of havoc. But her resultant Merlot has loads of rewards from the ripe berry fruit and plum aromas to the supple tannins, the dark toasted oak flavours and natural acidity that gives it brightness and lift; pay $23.95 and enjoy with a traditional Sunday roast – or be patient and put aside 'til around 2016 for even more rewarding enjoyment.


Monday 20 August 2012


PUT this $10.99 French red on
the table for that next barbecue.


David Ellis

BOAST that you'll be putting a French red on the table at that next barbecue, and when guests lap it up with the steaks, chops and sausages 'fess-up that French as it is, it cost you just $10.99 a bottle.

The quirkily-named Arrogant Frog Ribet Red is a 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot blend from the Languedoc region in the south of France, and has nice cherry, raspberry and strawberry compote characters, supported by ripe cassis, plum and herbs coupled with chocolatey tannins.

And as interesting is the wine itself and its unusual label, equally so is its maker Jean-Claude Mas – a native of Languedoc, he worked in the sports car business in Paris, Miami and Bordeaux, became a race-car driver, but succumbed to his passion for wine and gave up fast cars for winemaking.

The Arrogant Frog label now sells some 10-million bottles annually world-wide, and is available here through Woolworths Liquor, Dan Murphy's and BWS.
INCREASINGLY popular: spritzy
Moscato that's just 7% alcohol

ONE FOR LUNCH: With Spring just around the corner a wine to look out for for that first picnic of the season, maybe brunch on the balcony in the sun or late afternoon canapés as night falls, is increasingly-popular Moscato.

Campbells in Victoria's Rutherglen have released a delightfully easy-drinking 2012 Moscato that you won't have to think twice about indulging a few glasses – its just 7% alcohol which is around half the norm.

This pinkish-hued wine with refreshing natural spritz was made from 40-year old Muscat vines and has loads of Muscat grape flavours and citrus blossom, summer berries, musk and rosewater aromatics. Excellent value at $18 and great for Spring-time fun entertaining. If any trouble finding it check out


Monday 13 August 2012


INTERESTING and worthy
investment from a "virtual winery."


David Ellis

WHEN I told my wife that Melbourne Shiraz enthusiast, Peter Mornement had come up with the idea of a "virtual winery," she was absolutely delighted – and suggested that that night I forego uncapping the usual bottle, and instead taking a "virtual drink" from an empty glass.

Her joy evaporated when I told her that Peter, a highly-respected specialist wine merchant, had not only achieved his goal, but had bottles of what he (and others) are convinced will prove to be some of Australia's best-ever Shiraz.

Peter contracted three leading winemakers in areas renowned for their Shiraz, financed the purchase of 10 tonnes of fruit and 30 new oak barrels for each, and gave them a free hand from there-on to each produce an ultra-premium drop. He dubbed his venture Palmarium (Latin for "outstanding,") and registered the brand-name Exemplar (Latin for "original.")

AND equally so this one from
the same fascinating concept.
The first two wines – Exemplar 2010 Heathcote Shiraz from Central Victoria made by John Ellis, and a South Australian  Exemplar 2010 McLaren Vale Shiraz created by Walter Clappis – have just been released in a 6-pack featuring three of each. John Ellis made his from fruit off Joe Marton's Heathcote vineyard, and Walter Clappis used that from his own biodynamic McLaren Vale vineyard.

John's is dominated on the palate by soft chocolate and dark cherry characters balanced by rustic oak and firm tannins and will only improve over 10-15 years; Walter's is all about dark berry fruits and spices with tinges of oak and is soft and velvety, and again one that can only improve over 10-15 years. The 6-pack of three each is a worthy investment at $390 through

A second Palmarium 6-pack will contain two each of the 2011 vintages of these wines plus two 2011 Exemplar Barossa Valley Shiraz made by Kym Tuesner, and will be released in 2013.


Monday 6 August 2012



A HEARTY steak with mushroom
or pepper sauce ideal with this.
David Ellis

THE Barossa Valley's Kurtz Family Vineyards has created an interesting and full-flavoured Boundary Row label 2008 GSM (Grenache Shiraz Mataro) created from fruit off vines ranging from a youthful ten, to a more-mature 85 years of age.

Fourth generation of German descent, Steven Kurtz is both grower and winemaker and used minimal irrigation to all vines on his vineyards at Light Pass just east of Nuriootpa, while also pruning for low yields that would give him both maximum quality and varietal characteristics.

Blending 52% Grenache, 31% Shiraz and 17% Mataro (also know as Mourvedre) has resulted in a wine that's got lovely spice and black pepper aromas on pouring, and a palate of full-on sweet berry fruits.

Nicely priced at $18 for its quality and enjoyability, its one to enjoy now with a hearty steak coupled with a mushroom or pepper sauce, or to put away to simply get better over the next four to five years.
WINEMAKER'S choice with this one:
artichoke and goat's cheese tart.

ONE FOR LUNCH: DOMAINE Chandon is best-known for its exceptional sparkling wines, but its cool-climate vineyards in Victoria's Yarra Valley also produce stand-out Sauvignon Blanc fruit as well.

Chandon's Senior Winemaker, Dan Buckle has blended this fruit from the 2011 vintage with that from the company's Strathbogie Ranges and Goulburn Valley to create a wonderfully drinkable Sauvignon Blanc with typical ripe citrus, guava and tropical notes that are reflected on the palate as well, together with juicy acidity.

Pay $24.95 and enjoy it, as Dan suggests, with an artichoke and goat's cheese tart.


Saturday 4 August 2012

New Generation Hunter Valley | The Boys are Back in Town...

What do you get when you take six larrikin Hunter Valley winemakers, a round of beers, 24 new vintage wines and little more than a social media budget? Some would safely say 'trouble' yet this October as part of the Crave Festival it's actually a very cool Pop Up Wine Bar...

The New Generation Hunter Valley winemakers are 'not your usual suspects' – they're not the usual Hunter heavy weights either but they're happy to pay homage to them. They pride themselves on their ability to make serious wine and at the same time have a bit of fun, but they don't take themselves too seriously in a world that is often associated with 'wine wank'. In fact they can regularly be seen traipsing the nation and popping up in mysterious locations in weird and wonderful modes of transport peddling their wares.

On Friday 5 October in a sassy secret inner city location this #semsational sextet including David Hook – David Hook Wines, Andrew Thomas –Thomas Wines, Rhys Eather – Meerea Park Wines, Nick Paterson – Mistletoe Wines, Mike De Iuliis – De Iuliis Wines and Andrew Margan – Margan Wines will again pop up from 6-9pm and do their thing as part of the world famous Crave Sydney Morning Herald Sydney International Food Festival.

For the first time you'll also have the chance to get up close and personal with David Hook Wines, Mistletoe Wines, De Iuliis Wines and Thomas Wines as the pop ups get intimate. These guys will be showing off their individual wares with exclusive pop ups throughout the month of October, for their own loyal fans. You won't leave empty handed either, as you'll receive your very own Riedel glass (valued at $30) as a memento when you buy tickets to their individual tastings.

New Generation Hunter Valley Pop Up Wine Bar                            Friday 5 October 6-9pm

Up Close and Personal with David Hook Wines                                 Saturday 6 October 4-7pm

Up Close and Personal with Mistletoe Wines                                    Sunday 14 October 2-5pm

Up Close and Personal with De Iuliis Wines                                        Thursday 18 October 6-9pm

Up Close and Personal with Thomas Wines                                        Thursday 25 October 6-9pm

These formidable characters are bringing a fresh new energy and vibrancy back into the Hunter. Yet the New Generation Hunter Valley initiative isn't necessarily about age, (let's be honest these boys are no spring chickens) it instead is about using the best vineyard sites and winemaking techniques available at their fingertips to craft excellent wines that reflect their personalities and celebrate the Hunter Valley's rich history.
Tickets are limited and only $30 so be quick to secure your spot and meet these lovable larrikins as they return to Sydney this October.


Details of the secret venue will be released in the weeks prior to the event – all ticket holders will be notified by email.

Make sure you're following @NewGenHV on Twitter and check out for more clues and giveaways.