Monday 28 January 2013

Putting Durif on the map, Rutherglen-style.


DURIF grapes: Rutherglen makers look to
developing Durif as one of our iconic red wines.

David Ellis

DESPITE the many organisations they have to promote their industry, our winemakers are a pretty much independent and individualistic lot, so it was with interest we learned of a group in Victoria's Rutherglen who've been successfully working together to promote not their industry and not their region, but just one wine they all make, Durif.

And they're quick to point out that they've been doing it virtually since the first Durif vines were planted at Rutherglen in 1908 by the forebears of today's families behind the eight labels, All Saints, Bullers, Campbells, Cofield, Morris, Rutherglen Estates, Scion Vineyard, and Stanton & Killeen, seeking to develop the Durif style as one of Australia's iconic red wines.

"And at the same time they've also been able to further develop their own individual house styles through exploring new viticultural and winemaking practices," says Chairman of the Durif of Rutherglen Network, Colin Campbell. "And then about ten years ago we went a step further by establishing the Network to lift the profile of Durif amongst red wine lovers, and to win over new devotees.

EXCEPTIONAL Aussie sparkling from
exceptional fruit and exceptional handling.
"We've done events around member cellar doors, sommelier and trade tastings, and public information campaigns… we must be making some impact, because more and more Durif is appearing in bottle shops, on restaurant wine lists, and most importantly, on the dinner tables of homes around Australia," he says. For more information about Durifs of Rutherglen, email

CHRISTMAS, New Year and Australia Day may now be behind us, but that's no reason to stop drinking the bubbly stuff: as Sir Winston Churchill so famously once said of it: "In success you deserve it, in defeat you need it."

And Yellowglen have released two exceptional traditional method sparklings for those extra special occasions that will come up in 2013: a 2002 Exceptional Vintage XV and a 2004 same label that were both made from fruit sourced from their Hargrave Vineyard in Piccadilly Valley in the Adelaide Hills. Only the best parcels of fruit were chosen, and then the best resultant wines left to mature for up to 10 years, leading to wines with a rich complex palate, delicate bead and lingering finish; wonderful value at $49.99.



Tuesday 22 January 2013

Rich pickings in the Hunter Valley

Media Release
It’s harvest time in the Hunter Valley and Australia’s most historic winemaking region is predicting it will be a standout 2013 vintage.

“The warm, dry weather this summer has produced an excellent crop of grapes that have ripened faster than usual,” said Andrew Margan, Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association President. “Vintage started around January 12, which was two weeks earlier than normal. Early picked Chardonnay, Verdelho and Semillon is being harvested and the initial signs are very promising. Great flavour balanced with nice acidity is already evident in everything picked. Yields will vary depending on the soils where the vines are grown, but generally the crop looks up around 10 per cent on average.”
Harvest time in the Hunter Valley

It’s an exhilarating time to be visiting wine country with a flurry of grape picking, crushing and harvesting throughout the region adding to the wine-tasting experience. However 2013 is set to be an excellent year all-round with the Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association collaborating with the finest Hunter Valley food and wine producers for several events.

The crème de la crème of the Hunter Valley winemaking industry come together to celebrate the achievements and excellence of their peers at the prestigious Hunter Valley Legends & Wine Industry Awards on Thursday May 23. The awards acknowledge and congratulate those who have contributed to the growth of the region, and are announced at a gala black-tie dinner.

The next event on the calendar is Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month, which showcases the region’s finest wine and gourmet food throughout June 2013. Supported by Destination NSW, the month-long festival is the perfect opportunity for visitors to meet Hunter Valley winemakers, chefs and producers with a variety of events, including wine flights by the fire, food and wine matching experiences, winemakers’ dinners and much more.

The Clear Image Hunter Valley Wine Show 2013 Celebrations Luncheon on Friday August 16 is another date to add to the diary. Recognised in the wine industry as one of the leading regional wine shows, this event celebrates the premium winemaking standard of Hunter Valley wine producers with medals and trophies announced at the Celebrations Luncheon.

And on Sunday November 3, Hunter Valley Uncorked Balmoral will celebrate its eighth year of showcasing the region’s best wines and produce to Sydneysiders. With entertainment and free entry, this beachside event is a real family favourite.

Consumers can visit the website - – for more information and media/trade who require more details, please contact Kylie White at White Ink

PH (02) 9439 1633 or (0401) 408 080

Photo courtesy of Chris Elfes

Monday 21 January 2013


SIMPLY delicious: match this chilled with
fresh-sliced avocado, or avocado ice-cream.

David Ellis

WE'RE not suggesting there's a new national dish in the offing, but when winemaker Phil Spillman invited us to try his 2012 Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc chilled with nothing other than a cold avocado on a very warmish summer's day – and vineyard manager Craig Thornton obliged with a couple of vineyard-grown fruit straight out of the fridge – we were blown away with the wonderful rewards of such simplicity.

And the more-so at home on a late afternoon some days later when the nation's heatwaves were kicking-in, and we shared a bottle or two of Phil's wine with friends over whole avocados both spooned off the plate, and spread on sourdough… and one of those friends later told us that they'd whipped avocado through some  vanilla ice-cream – the result, they said, with the Sauvignon Blanc was sheer summer heaven.

CHILL out on this one served lightly chilled
or icy-cold with grilled fish and summer salads.
As well, at just $10 this Deakin Estate won't break the bank, and being light-bodied, fresh, zesty and brimming with fruit flavour, is ideal in summer with those avocados as an appetizer – before finishing-off the bottle over a main course of grilled fish and salad.

ONE FOR LUNCH: ANOTHER wine we enjoy in the warmer months, and which doesn't seem to get the recognition here it deserves, is Rosé – a drop you should best enjoy lightly chilled, but will find equally enjoyable from ice-cold to room temperature.

Terra Felix has a great La Vie en Rose 2011 Rosé from their Lake Marmal Vineyard in Central Victoria: with wonderful blackberry and raspberry fruit aromas and lively fruit flavours, its ideal lightly chilled with a summery Nicoise Salad, or again with grilled fish and salad. Available at Dan Murphy's and independents at $17.50.



Monday 14 January 2013


SPECIAL occasion treat with
flame-grilled fillet of beef.


David Ellis

WHEN you've made wine in the USA, France and Italy as well as Australia, and you've a Jimmy Watson Trophy under your belt as well, it's saying something when you describe fruit from a particular vineyard as "the kind of thing winemakers dream of."

But that's how the McLaren Vale's Serafino Wines' Chief Winemaker, Charles Wish sums up fruit from the company's Sharktooth Block vineyard that goes into its flagship Sharktooth Shiraz. "When I joined Serafino in 2009 I was blown away by the exceptional fruit off that block," Charles says. "It definitely was the kind we winemakers dream of."

For Shiraz buffs, Charles' Serafino 2009 Sharktooth Shiraz really is quite outstanding, deep purple in colour and with a palate that's full-bodied, rich and intense with wonderful dark berry fruit flavours.

GREAT buying at $10.95 to enjoy
with Italian antipasto platters.
While not cheap at $70, it's certainly more than rewarding for that special occasion, teamed with a good flame-grilled fillet of beef or simply on its own.

ONE FOR LUNCH:  WE'VE long been fans of the consistently excellent Richland label Pinot Grigio crafted by Bill Calabria at his Westend Estate at Griffith in the NSW Riverina. And his latest from the 2012 vintage lives up to what we've come to expect from its predecessors: the product of Bill's excellent fruit and his winemaking expertise, this is a drop that's quite pungent with ripe pear and lemon aromas, and has a palate that's richly full-bodied with crispy apple, lychee and spice fruit flavours.

Excellent-value at just $10.95 to enjoy with a range of foods from – naturally –  traditional Italian antipasto platters, to Asian Pad Thai and noodle dishes.