Tuesday 26 November 2013

2013 International Sweet Wine Challenge


The line up of wines at this year's 2013 International Sweet Wine Challenge was anything but short with entries up on last year, proving that this show is fast becoming one of the leading global wine shows dedicated to the delights of non-fortified sweet wines.


A panel of expert judges, including Chief of Judges Ben Edwards (President of Sommeliers Australia and contributor to Australia's best selling wine guide, the Australian Wine Companion), and International Guest Judge Madeleine Stenwreth MW (Master of Wine), judged the wines and have announced the results in plenty of time for the festive period, when many of us get to enjoy more of the sweeter side of life and cuisine.


Amongst the bronze, silver and gold medals awarded, five wineries from three countries experienced the ultimate sweet taste of success, taking home an International Sweet Wine Challenge Trophy.




   Best Young Sweet, Floral styles ~

2012 Forrest Wines Botrytised Riesling (Marlborough, New Zealand)


   Best Young Sweet, Other Varieties & Blends ~

2012 Nederberg Noble Late Harvest (Paarl, South Africa)


   Best Mature Sweet, Floral styles ~

2010 Blue Pyrenees Cellar Door Botrytis Riesling (Pyrenees, Australia)


   Best Mature Sweet, Semillon predominant ~

2011 Gramps Botrytis Semillon (Riverina, Australia)


   Best Sweet Wine from the Museum Class ~

2002 Lillypilly Noble Blend Family Reserve (Riverina, Australia)


And the wine that has claimed the top title of 2013 International Sweet Wine of the Year was the … 2010 Blue Pyrenees Cellar Door Botrytis Riesling.


Judge Madeleine Strenwreth MW said, "I was very pleased with the high overall quality of the entries across such a wide spectrum of sweet wine styles.


The best examples and Trophy winners were bursting with personality, intensity and class while bright and lively acidity balanced the sweetness in a delightfully refreshing way. Once again it reminded me that these wines deserve so much more attention.


As the global consumer undoubtedly feels lost among this complex and diverse category, a medal on the bottle can give the guidance needed to inspire to enter the world of natural and beautiful sweetness. This international challenge is also an excellent benchmarking exercise for sweet wine producers of the world and entries should rightfully grow even further in the years to come".

The Riverina Winemakers Association created the International Sweet Wine Challenge nine years ago to showcase the quality of sweet wines around the world and allow Australian sweet wines to be judged alongside their international counterparts.

Monday 25 November 2013


LAMB shanks, osso bucco or roast
beef perfect partners with this one.



David Ellis

HAVING enjoyed a vintage in 2012 that most Coonawarra growers and winemakers agree was excellent, Rymill have released a Shiraz under their The Yearling label that certainly backs-up what all have had to say of that year.

Rymill's Senior Winemaker, Sandrine Gimon says the ideal fruit from the vintage was perfect for The Yearling reds, the label named after one-year-old thoroughbreds as it's designed to be enjoyed young… or as Sandrine says "hot out of the starting gates."

"2012 gave us low yields and smaller berries with lots of concentration of flavour, for those who can remember, it was very reminiscent of the exceptional 2004 vintage in Coonawarra," she said. "It's meant that the 2012 The Yearling Shiraz shows lots of dark red fruit character complexity, while also offering caramel, vanilla, cedar box and liquorice as well."

"FRUIT salad wine" to go with mildly-spiced
Asian dishes or seafood salads or platters.
This is a very generous wine with quickly recognisable plum, dark cherry and blackberry to the fore, nice soft tannins and a subtle Shiraz spiciness on the finish. Pay just $15.95 and enjoy with baked lamb shanks, osso bucco or roast beef.

ONE TO NOTE: CHENIN Blanc is often dubbed a "fruit salad" wine for its fruitiness and sweetness, and while vineyard areas in Australia planted to the variety have actually diminished in size in recent years, it's still a popular wine to put on the table with mildly-spiced Asian dishes – and equally with summery seafood salads or platters.

Western Australia's Voyager Estate has an exceptional 2013 Chenin Blanc that truly suits those suggested food matches above, the company having some of the oldest Chenin Blanc vines in the Margaret River region dating back to the late 1970s.

This wine has tropical papaya and melon to the fore, with suggestions of citrus and red apple giving it that typical Chenin Blanc "fruit salad" flavour. Pay $20 and enjoy with those mildly-spiced Asian dishes or summer-time seafood salads or platters.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out  http://www.vintnews.com We're also on Australian Good Food Guide http://www.agfg.com.au  in main blog.

Monday 18 November 2013


IF you're planning a game dish for
Christmas Day, this could be the perfect partner.


David Ellis

ADELAIDE HILLS maker Chain of Ponds has released a very-moreish 2012 Shiraz under its unusually-named Grave's Gate label that's well worth keeping in mind if you've thoughts of a game dish on the table for Christmas Day.

For not only has this got great flavours that will go really well with that Christmas lunch or dinner game, at $22 it makes for excellent buying for the Festive table as well.

Greg Clack who worked under the renowned Neville Falkenberg at Chain of Ponds from 2005 until Neville moved on to other things a couple of years later (thus allowing Greg to step up as Chain of Ponds' Chief Winemaker,) blended fruit from both the southern and northern parts of the Adelaide Hills. The result's a beautifully full-bodied wine with nicely balanced dark cherry, blackcurrant and juicy plum flavours, backed-up with secondary suggestions of black olives, dried herbs and fresh-ground black pepper.

GREET Christmas Day lunch or dinner
guests with this flirtatious drop.
There's also a nice subtle oak spiciness, silky tannins and balanced acidity. And while suggesting it could have Christmas Day game written all over it, if you're not into game, it's a great one to consider for the table with many red meat dishes as well.  (The quirky label refers to a new gate at the hamlet cemetery of those buried from 1940-1970.)

ONE TO NOTE: WHILE our thoughts are with Christmas, a bubbly worth having a look at is Hungerford Hill's just-released 2008 Dalliance Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, made from fruit the super-premium cool climate region of Tumbarumba in southern New South Wales.

Dalliance as a word has, of course, connotations of flirting, and despite being firmly Hunter Valley-entrenched, Hungerford Hill have long 'flirted' with fruit out of Tumbarumba as part of their philosophy of using the best fruit from NSW's best growing regions for both their still and sparkling wine production; and this bubbly's a real ripper.

Full of fresh fruit flavours – think honeydew melon to the forefront – and a crisp natural palate-cleansing acidity, at $30 it's well worth thinking about a few on ice for Christmas Day.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out  http://www.vintnews.com We're also on Australian Good Food Guide http://www.agfg.com.au  in main blog.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Balgownie Estate's Gourmet Summer Sunset Package

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There's no better a place to spend a warm, summer's night than in the picturesque surrounds of Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort and Spa in the heart of Victoria's Yarra Valley – where warm summer breezes and gourmet food go hand in hand!

The Yarra Valley resort has just released a special Summer Sunset Package from $390.00 per night (twin share) and you can stay in a Standard Queen Room, receive a bottle of Black Label Balgownie Estate Wine (red or white), a Sunset Cheese Platter for two, a two course dinner each and a gourmet buffet breakfast the following morning.

This luxurious package is perfect for a summer gourmet getaway – only an hour's drive from Melbourne.  Imagine checking in to your room and taking your bottle of wine, cheese plate and picnic rug out into the lawns surrounding Balgownie in the warm afternoon air – or sipping a fine Balgownie Estate wine on your private balcony!

As the only resort in the Yarra Valley that is a working vineyard, spa retreat and restaurant – there is plenty to keep you occupied in one prime location – from trekking the nearby walking tracks to a glass of bubbles by the fire - plus plenty of staff available to relieve your every whim.  The onsite Natskin Spa Retreat can also design a special treatment or spa package to suit your personal preference – offering the ultimate in skin care and pampering– you can indulge yourself with beauty, spa and massage treatments.

This package is all about relaxation and letting the stunning - money can't buy views - over the rolling hills of the Yarra Valley and Dandenongs lull you into contentment.

Or start your day with a hot air balloon ride over the rolling, luscious green hills of the valley, prices start at $315.00 per person.

So, whether it is a girlie getaway you are after, a romantic retreat or just an excuse to get away and clear your mind over the Summer Holidays, then look no further than Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa – your one stop vacation spot this Spring.


Monday 11 November 2013


WONDERFULLY food-friendly
and a pedigree to go with it.


David Ellis

NAME-DROP to family or friends that you're inviting them around to Sunday brunch accompanied by a Trophy winner from this year's Melbourne Wine Show, and then surprise them by revealing that your trophy-winning Best Riesling of Show cost you all of a recommended $11.99.

We're talking about the Jacob's Creek 2012 Riesling, a wine that impressed the judges with its sweet floral and citrus flavours, framed by a soft acid backbone. "Our classic Riesling has always punched above its weight in terms of quality, and there's a real passion for it among our winemaking team," said Jacob's Creek Chief Winemaker, Bernard Hickin.

"We had some exceptional fruit from the 2012 vintage in Langhorne Creek, and the Barossa and Clare Valleys," Mr Hickin added, saying: "And already the 2013 vintage is also looking good too."

ONE worth searching out
for special occasion dining.
Always a wonderfully versatile food-friendly wine, Riesling matches a whole diversity of dishes at the table, so match this with brunch-time seafood entrees, mains based on simple barbecued pork chops with apple sauce to spicy Thai, Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisines, and desserts such as apple and lime zest tarts or fruit flans.

ONE TO NOTE: THIS month sees the 30th annual release of Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, this year's wine coming from the 2011vintage and the first to bear a revamped label based on one the company used back in the 1980s.

Available at selected Vintage Cellars and Dan Murphy stores, or online at www.katnookestate.com.au, this is a wine worth searching out, particularly as it's one of just 38 listed as "Distinguished" in Langton's V Classification of Australian Wine.

From a vintage highlighted by above-average summer rains that called for extra drive in vineyard management and fruit selection, it's a wine generous with fruit flavours, finely grained tannins and underlying mocha notes; worth the $40 for special occasion dining.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out  http://www.vintnews.com We're also on Australian Good Food Guide http://www.agfg.com.au  in main blog.

Monday 4 November 2013


HERB and garlic lamb loin chops
off the BBQ simply ideal with this.
David Ellis

LATEST Aussie maker to come out with a Tempranillo – that wonderful red whose homeland is the Rioja region of Spain and which is now one of the fastest-growing "new" varietals in Australia – is Logan at Mudgee in the NSW Central Ranges.

Peter Logan's exceptionally-rewarding 2012 Tempranillo under his Logan Weemala label is one he says has been an equally-rewarding journey in the making. "It's a Tempranillo that I think captures the Mudgee terroir to a 'T,' from its savoury varietal characters to flavours of sarsaparilla and earthiness, and even the coal dust of Mudgee," he says.

"It's a rustic beauty that fills a void in our Weemala line-up for a red that is both age-worthy – and steak-worthy."

Well-priced at $19 this is a great drop to enjoy with a steak as Peter suggests, herb and garlic lamb loin chops off the BBQ, or with traditional Spanish cured ham and roasted vegetables.

PEARLER of a come-back idea
when partying is to the fore.

ONE TO NOTE: YELLOWGLEN has enjoyed a well-earned reputation as a maker of Australian sparkling wines for some forty years now, and a re-launch of its Vintage Perle is, well, a pearler of an idea.

Chief Winemaker Trina Smith blended classic sparkling varieties from across our leading sparkling regions to create this 2009 Yellowglen Vintage Perle, a drop that's sure to impress on any occasion when a celebratory bubbly is called for.

Nicely priced at $24.99 it has lovely layers of complex flavours, a delicate bead and a fresh and lingering finish, red-berry fruit flavours reflecting the high Pinot Noir component and its Chardonnay component adding lightness and elegance.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out http://www.vintnews.com We're also on Australian Good Food Guide http://www.agfg.com.au in main blog.