Monday 27 May 2013


27 May 2013
SERVE well-chilled with mixed fried
seafoods, or a Thai beef salad.

David Ellis

THE French have been making pinot gris for yonks, with references to it going back as far as the 14th century, while later it found its way to Italy where its grown and labelled as pinot grigio and is now one of the most popular white wine varieties imported into many regions in the USA.

And it's gaining growing fans here in Australia too, in the last decade or so locally-made versions moving from somewhere down in the "alternative white wine" category, to more worthy mainstream recognition – in particular those made in our cooler regions.

But there are some makers turning out marvellously credible pinot grigio in warmer areas too: in the Hunter Valley, for instance, David Hook Wines was somewhat of a pinot grigio pioneer in that region in the late 1980s, with David producing consistently excellent examples ever since from his family's one-time grazing property at Pokolbin.

POTENTIAL Hunter classic?
Think about this with peppered
scotch fillets under a creamy
mushroom sauce.
'Grigio' is Italian for grey and while many pinot grigio in their homeland have a grey shade about them, in Australia such is not always the case. David Hook's recently-released 2012, for instance, is a bright medium green with yellow and gold tinges, and is a wonderfully steely dry drop that's nicely balanced between fruitiness and acidity

At a great-value $18 and with forward tropical fruit flavours and a touch of spice, serve this David Hook Pinot Grigio well-chilled with mixed fried seafoods, or Thai beef salad.

ONE TO NOTE:  ANOTHER interesting drop from one of the Hunter's smaller makers is a 2011 LDR Shiraz from the family-run De Iuliis Wines, whose Chief Winemaker, Mike ("MickeyD") de luliis has crafted a drop that's great for enjoyment now, but will improve marvellously over the next five years – so think cellaring a few for the future.

Made from fruit grown on heavy clay soils, this wine's already showing all signs of being a Hunter classic – medium to full-bodied with a soft mouth feel of fine grained tannins, ripe plums and blackberries, and at $40 its one to give good thought to for a special occasion dinner with spicy peppered scotch fillets under a creamy mushroom sauce.  


Thursday 23 May 2013

Ten quid champers comes up trumps

A bottle of Aldi bubbly which costs just £12.99 has beaten some of the world's most renowned champagnes in a blind taste test.

The cut-price supermarket drink was voted by experts as better than other bottles, some of which were ten times more expensive.

Read more:

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Robert Oatley’s impressive Signature Series win again

Media Release

The second vintages of Robert Oatley's impressive Signature Series wines continue to garner acclaim, both at home and abroad.

In news released this week, Decanter, Europe's most respected wine magazine has announced the 2013 World Wine Awards winners, where judges tasted a record-breaking 13,362 wines to award 156 trophies.

Robert Oatley Signature Shiraz 2011, from South Australia's McLaren Vale, collected the trophy for the top Australian Red Rhône Varietal under £15.

This impressive award adds to numerous golds and trophies garnered by the range of six regional-varietal wines over the past 18 months, including a top-gold for the Signature Riesling 2012, at the 2012 International Riesling Challenge, held in Canberra.

"What a terrific result" said Executive Chairman Sandy Oatley "...that speaks volumes for the quality of the wines being produced by Larry Cherubino and our team of growers and winemakers. No wonder we're enjoying enormous sales success as we present them around the world."

The Robert Oatley Signature Series comprises six wines, with an RRP of $24 and are available at fine wine stores and restaurants Australia-wide.
  • 2012 Riesling, Great Southern
  • 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River
  • 2012 Chardonnay, Margaret River
  • 2012 Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley
  • 2011 Shiraz, McLaren Vale
  • 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River

Monday 20 May 2013


CHEW over history with this and a
cold-weather's lamb, pork or veal casserole.


David Ellis

RIDDOCH Coonawarra's a company one could easily write a fascinating book or three about, beginning with Scottish-born pioneer John Riddoch who rode the wool boom of the 1860s, and 30 years later planted Coonawarra's first wine grapes in 1891.

Along the way he and a brother amassed nearly 50,000ha of prime agricultural land, amongst other things establishing the Coonawarra Fruit Colony that included those first wine grapes; the region struggled from 1901, however, and the grapes used only for brandy and fortified wines until Samuel and David Wynn bought the winery and many Colony vineyards in 1951 and put Coonawarra back on the fine-wine map.

Today Riddoch Coonawarra is owned by the Pinnacle Liquor Group whose ambition is to see more wine lovers enjoy the wines of this unique region – and their recently-released 2010 Merlot is one that will most certainly help them do so.

HONOURING a tradition that makes it perfect
with barbecued meats, game or seafoods. 
Crafted by the Pinnacle winemaking team and consultants including Coonawarra legend Wayne Stehbens, this is a wine that's got beautifully intense mulberry and herbal fruits to the forefront, gently-layered spices and fine chocolate in there as well,  balanced tannins and fine acidity.

At $19.99 it's rewarding buying considering its quality, and a drop to enjoy with tomato-based Italian dishes, or traditional cold-weather lamb, pork or veal casseroles.

ONE TO NOTE: WHEN early-day European vignerons set fire to piles of winter-time prunings of their grape vines, they found that meats grilled over these fires took on a pleasantly unique and slightly sweet smoky flavour – and so they turned their "early barbecues" into an annual mid-winter festival they called Vinefire.

Today the Hunter Valley's  Hungerford Hill is honouring the old tradition with a VINEfire label, one of whose wines is a very more-ish 2012 Chardonnay that's refreshingly dry and with lovely honeydew and banana flavours. And at $18 it lives up to the vinefire tradition of being a perfect match with barbecued meats, game or seafood.


Sheraton Raises a Glass to Celebrate Global Roll-out of Premium Wine Program with 24 Hour 'Toast Around the World'

Media Release

Sheraton Social Hour Now featured at more than 400 Hotels around the World

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts has announced the global roll-out of its signature wine program to 430 hotels around the world. From Asia to Europe to the Americas, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts was raising a glass and betting big on its premium wine program with a global celebration. Sheraton Social Hour was hosting a 24-hour “Toast Around the World” at Sheraton hotels and resorts across the globe including Edinburgh, Mexico City, Bali and Bangalore.

The festivities kicked off in Asia with celebrations at the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers and Sheraton Shanghai Pudong Hotel this month. A celebratory toast passed virtually, including Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Bangkok; Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway around the world until it reached The Sheraton New York Times Square and The Sheraton Waikiki for the conclusion of the day-long global celebration. Hotel guests and brand followers were invited to join in on the virtual celebration with the brand’s new dedicated Social Hour mobile platform,, where they could browse through hundreds of toasts shared around the world for the special occasion or create their own using #SheratonToast. Want to raise a glass? Consumers and guests were invited to join the conversation and celebration at #SheratonToast.

The Social Hour program, developed by today’s premier wine experts and the brand’s global food and beverage team, offers guests a specially curated menu of premium wines and weekly tasting events.

“Following tremendous early success, we’re proud to offer our guests at all Sheraton Hotels a specially curated menu of premium wines and in Asia Pacific, the program will feature Wines of the World, a wine menu that is highly rated,” said Vincent Ong, Asia Pacific Senior Brand Director, Sheraton, Westin, Aloft, Four Points by Sheraton and Element. “As the World’s Gathering Place we are continuously looking for ways to elevate our guest experiences with new social interactions and believe Social Hour to be a great program for both business and leisure guests.”

Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers - Social Hour

Sheraton Hong Kong will host evening Social Hour tasting events three times a week featuring three pours of 50ml of premium wines from the “Wines of the World” menu at HK$105 (service charge applies) – available at Lobby Lounge on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:00 – 8:00pm. Each glass is served in Stolzle stemware to ensure that each varietal is presented in the perfect stemware that artfully enhances the wine’s flavour and aroma.

White Wines Ÿ 3 X 50 ml pours for HK$105 (Changes regularly)

Chardonnay, Pirque, Concha y Toro, Chile

Notions of popcorn, toast, spiced apple, melon, and jasmine lead to a medium-bodied, ripe plush Chardonnay with savory flavors, lively acidity, and excellent length.

Rueda DO, Verdejo, Marqués de Riscal, Spain

A bright, straw-yellow coloured wine. As you expect from a verdejo wine, on the nose it has high aromatic intensity, with tropical fruit and hints of fennel and fresh grass. In the mouth it is both syrupy smooth and refreshing, with a slightly bitter finish which is typical of the variety making it long and pleasant to drink. Overall it is a fresh, well-balanced wine.

Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon, Cape Mentelle, Australia

Pale straw with lime green hues. Punchy lifted aromatics of lemon blossom, blackcurrant and papaya with subtle hints of fresh thyme and cordite. Medium to full flavoured with a fine texture. Limes, apples, lychee and honeydew melon characterise the fruit flavours which are framed by juicy acidity, providing great length of flavour.

Red Wines Ÿ 3 X 50 ml pours for HK$105 (Changes regularly)

Cabernet Sauvignon, Réserve Spéciale, Gérard Bertrand, France

Fleshy in texture, full bodied, and intensely flavored (black currant, blueberry, dark plum, toast, dark chocolate, spicy oak, vanilla), well balanced, and very long on the finish.

Merlot, Marqués de Casa Concha, Concha y Toro, Chile

Notes of cherries, plums, licorice, dark chocolate, cassis and lingering smoked black-tar on the finish. Already some complexity beginning to develop out of its firm, quiet and supple core.

Shiraz Cabernet, Private Release, Penfolds, Australia

Medium bodied. Lovely fresh flavours of plum and blackcurrants balanced with a gentle touch of toasted oak and subtle soft tannins.

For more information on Sheraton Hong Kong Hotels & Resorts, please visit

Monday 13 May 2013



HISTORIC edge to a
truly excellent food wine.
David Ellis

HUNTER Valley maker Andrew Margan has an unusual wish for his 2011 White Label Barbera – "I hope no one likes it," he confides,  and then adds a little cheekily, "so I can drink it all myself."

Sadly for him, but happily for wine lovers, Andrew won't get his wish. We for one found it a wine to take to with gusto, and we're sure others will do the same once they've had a chance to taste it. For this is a wine that's nicely medium-bodied, has forward dark berries, spice and some earthiness on the palate, and with its natural high acidity and long tannins, is one that's a natural as a truly excellent food wine.

Andrew drew on fruit from the family's Ceres Hill Vineyard that's adjacent to their Broke winery, fruit whose vines in 1998 were the first Barbera planted in the Hunter, and which in turn had come from Italian stock planted on Mudgee's Montrose vineyard.

White Label wines are Margan Family Winegrowers' best-of-the-best, and this one well fits the role – at $40 enjoy with heartier beef dishes including, with cooler weather on the horizon, a good steak pie. You'll find its little wonder Andrew says he wishes he "could achieve exactly this every year" – and why his wish that no one will like it, so he can keep all his 2011 Barbera to himself, simply won't be fulfilled.

ONE for special occasions, or any
other occasions for that matter.
ONE TO TRY: RYMILL Coonawarra's Senior  Winemaker, Sandrine Gimon is another who has put the "favourite" moniker on one of their 2011 wines – in this case the Rymill Coonawarra Brut. "I have a soft spot for sparkling after my vintages in Champagne," says Sandrine, who can boast having studied in Reims and trained at Veuve Clicquot  Ponsardin – neither of them mean feats.

"As soon as I tasted the Coonawarra fruit on coming here, I knew that stunning sparkling wines could be created here too," she says. A blend of 82% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir and 8% Pinot Meunier, and made in the traditional method, this is one that's all about flavour and characteristics that shine – and at just $25 great buying for celebratory occasions… or for that matter, any time bubbly thoughts come to mind.


Wine Showdown at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, Kingscliff

Inline images 1

Peppers Salt Resort & Spa in the picturesque seaside village of Kingscliff in Northern New South Wales is spicing up their next series of Peppers Gourmet Food Trail events with a showdown between 'rival' winemakers at their inaugural 'Wine Wars' event at Season restaurant on Friday 7 June.

Ensuring an entertaining evening of light-hearted rivalry, the event will see two South Australian wine greats - Petaluma from the Adelaide Hills and St Hallet from the Barossa Valley - bring the vineyards to the coast.

Guests will savour two masked wines per course and palates will be put to the test with guests asked to vote on their favourite. At the end of the evening, the winning 'Wine Wars' winemaker will be revealed.

Accompanying the wines, guests will enjoy a degustation dinner hosted by celebrated wine critic Nick Stock and designed by Peppers Salt Resort & Spa's newly appointed Executive Chef Martin Glutz and Chef de Cuisine Daniel Watt - the resort's new dynamic duo of creative cuisine.

Swiss-born Martin Glutz has over 15 years experience cooking in some of the world's finest restaurants including Vanitas Restaurant at Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast, La Fontaine Restaurant at Hayman Island, and Tony Bilson's former Ampersand Restaurant in Sydney - bringing a world of flavour to each and every dish he serves.

New Chef de Cuisine Daniel Watt will oversee the day-to-day culinary operations of the resort's acclaimed Season restaurant.

Peppers Salt Resort & Spa General Manager Scott Lynch said Martin and Daniel will work together to create a whole new culinary experience at Season.

"Both chefs are renowned for beautifully crafted and technically brilliant cuisine and have a passion for cooking with seasonal and local ingredients.

"They're a perfect fit for Peppers and our commitment to showcasing regional food and wine, from the paddock to the plate, with gourmet dining experiences," said Scott.

Tickets to the Wine Wars event are $135 per person and include a pre-dinner drink and canapés, a stunning three-course dinner matched with wines selected from both wineries, a decadent dessert and coffee and petit fours to complete the evening.

For guests wanting to linger longer, overnight accommodation starts from $178* per night in a Resort Room including breakfast for two at Season, unlimited new release movies and Wi-Fi internet access.

For bookings call  02 6674 7777  or email

When guests aren't savouring fine food and wine, they can step out into nature and enjoy a network of beachside walking and bicycle tracks, the resort's large sandy beach lagoon pool, unspoilt surf beaches, or head to The Golden Door Spa for a menu of soul soothing spa treatments.

Peppers Salt Resort & Spa's Wine Wars event is just one of many Wine Wars events taking place at Peppers properties in foodie locales such as the Hunter Valley wine country in NSW, the picturesque Southern Highlands of NSW and Palm Cove in Tropical North Queensland. For more information visit

Monday 6 May 2013



GREAT sparkling that ignites
a fascinating past.

David Ellis

IT'S not often a wine company will 'fess up that they've let their eye off the ball, but Yellowglen has done just that – and is doing something very positive about it.

"While our commercial tiers have been responsible for the incredible growth of Yellowglen over the past decade," says Managing Director, Michelle Terry, "there is one element of our story that has been overlooked in recent years: that is our place as Australia's premier house of sparkling.

"So over the past year we've reviewed every element of Yellowglen. We've re-engaged with founder Ian Home to uncover the depth and heritage of the brand, we've reviewed our branding and packaging, and we have introduced new wines… including the recent release of the Exceptional Vintage XV wines one of our greatest achievements to date."

There's a 2002, a 2004 and a 2012 in this new range, the 2002 a drop that shows the extraordinary quality Australia can achieve with our sparklings – as Michelle Terry says "this is the ultimate showcase of Yellowglen's hallmark refined and delicate characters, enriched with layered complexity."

EXCELLENT choice with crumbed veal
cutlets and a seasonal garden salad.
Made with fruit from the Adelaide Hills' Piccadilly Valley, it was given nine years on yeast lees in bottle in the company's cold cellars; you'll find it intense yet elegant, with floral notes leading to a rich and complex palate, and with a delicate bead and fresh, lingering finish. Pay $49.99 for that next very special celebration.

ONE TO NOTE: ALTHOUGH it was taken over by Ferngrove Wines in 2008, Margaret River maker Killerby has continued to concentrate on "small winery" techniques and philosophies that it's gained an enviable reputation for since its founding in 1973.

And that reputation flows through with the release of their Killerby 2010 Premium Series Chardonnay, a rewarding drop with limey citrus, stonefruit, ginger and zesty lemon flavours, and a long and pleasant finish. A nice drop at $30 to enjoy with crumbed veal cutlets and a seasonal garden salad.