Monday 8 December 2014

2014 Margan Chardonnay - Voyager Estate Margaret River 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot

GREAT match with "new age" Christmas beef or
lamb roasts in the outdoor covered barbecue.


David Ellis

AS long-time traditionalists who found it hard coming to grips with the idea of ditching the hot turkey at Christmas in favour of cold seafoods and salads, we're now finding it even more challenging seeing growing numbers going back to "hot" – but in the form of roasts done outdoors on Aussie Christmas Days in covered barbecues.

Quite a number of neighbours, friends and even relatives have told us they're doing "slow cooked" barbecue-oven roasts this year – beef butts, lamb legs or shoulders, racks, or even piles of shanks – so those who normally sweat it out in the kitchen, can spend more time enjoying the company of guests outdoors near the ice-box.

And when some of these "new age" types asked if we could suggest a good wine to go with their outdoor beef or lamb and accompanying hot-baked trimmings, we suggested splurging a little with a Voyager Estate Margaret River 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot – that would match perfectly with both the beef and the lamb.

Not the cheapest at $70, it is, however, an outstanding drop made from fruit off three exceptional vineyards mainly planted back in the mid-1990s (and some earlier still in 1978,) with wonderful fruit purity on the palate, and a richness and freshness they'll certainly find hard to beat with those beef or lamb choices.

FOR traditionalists, equally perfect with
Christmas Day honey-baked ham or seafoods.

ONE TO NOTE: THE Hunter Valley's Andrew Margan, on the other hand, is a traditionalist planning on matching this year's family honey-baked ham on Christmas Day with his 2014 Margan Chardonnay, a very rewarding drop at a nicely-priced $18 for those of us to whom Chardonnay will always remain a favourite tipple.

2014 was particular good for Chardonnay in the Hunter, and this one is a great buy-now, drink-now wine that'll reward at the Festive table with lovely aromas of white stone fruit, grapefruit and some oaky creaminess that all follow through nicely on the palate… ideal with Andrew's honey-baked ham idea, and equally so if you – like us – are opting for cold seafoods and salads for this year's family celebrations.

Or if you're doing roast turkey, match it with Andrew's 2013 Margan Shiraz; at $22 its peppery notes will match perfectly the turkey's white and dark meats with a herbed stuffing.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.

week beginning 08 December 2014

Logan Vintage Cuvee - Vintage Tasmania Wine Book


David Ellis

YOU'LL want this for your own bookshelf, or as a Christmas
gift for family or friends with whatever interest in wine.
YOU don't have to be a Tasmanian to enjoy a fascinating insight into the State's wine industry in Vintage Tasmania, the Complete Book of Tasmanian Wine – an engrossing 280-page true-to-title work you'll find hard to put down with its wealth of fascinating facts past, present and future.

And if you've a visit to the State in mind, it's a great guide, too, to its Wine Routes. Written by local wine writer and historian, Tony Walker this is a book to enjoy your-self – or to give at Christmas to family or friends with any degree of interest in wine.

Beautifully illustrated, it covers everything from the first wine grape plantings in 1823 to the demise of the fledgling industry, its revival by (remarkably) a Frenchman, Jean Miguet and an Italian, Claudio Alcorso in the 1950s and how, despite this, its first commercial-size vineyards not coming into production for another 20 years in 1974.

Tony points out how historically Tasmania was unknown territory for viticulture, with all Australian research based on warmer climates – and now how, as James Halliday says in the book's introduction, its future has "virtually unlimited potential." Paying tribute to those who did the hard yards by often trial and error, it's also a rewardingly insightful guide to the State's now more-than 50 vineyards.

Well worth every cent at $49.95 (freight free) from 
SAY "Happy Christmas" with this premium drop that's equally
ideal as an aperitif to set the mood, or throughout any Festive meal.

ONE TO NOTE: A WONDERFULLY crispy dry bubbly for Christmas celebrations is Logan Wines' Vintage 'M' Cuvee made from fruit off the north-facing slopes of Mount Canobolas at Orange in NSW's Central Ranges – at 930m above sea-level one of the highest and coolest grape-growing regions in the State, and thus ideal for the growing of fruit that makes for the most marvellous of premium sparkling wine.

Winemaker Peter Logan has created a drop that's equally ideal as an aperitif before a meal, or throughout the entire meal itself, no matter what you've got on the table. Pay $35 for the just-released 2011 and say "Happy Christmas" with family or friends.

We're also on Australian Good Food Guide in main blog.

Monday 1 December 2014

Shaw Cabernet Merlot 2012 - Tim Adams Clare Valley Pinot Gris

HELPING lead Pinot Gris' growing sales success
in this country, and ideal with a seafood salad.

David Ellis

WHEN the Clare Valley's Tim Adams decided to plant somewhat new and unproven at the time Pinot Gris ten years ago, he reckons he did so simply for the challenge of seeing just how well this variety would go.

His wife Pam, their company's General Manager, had a different view: she suggested (we think tongue in cheek) that Tim was going through a mid-life crisis. But she supported his venture – and persistence – and today Tim Adams Pinot Gris is one of the top-selling premium Pinot Gris in this country, playing a major role in driving the varietal's constant sales growth across Australia.

Tim says those first plantings a decade ago were the result of drinking a great Alsace Pinot Gris with an old mate, and thinking how well the variety may go on some specific Clare Valley sites. He's not looked back, and today uses fruit in his Tim Adams Pinot Gris from his own vineyards and those of contract local growers.

His latest release, 2014 is loaded with hearty fruit characters (think pear, lychee and peach complemented with a subtle citrus zest and fruit sweetness,) and cleansing acidity. Pay $20 and particularly enjoy with seafood salads over our warmer months.

AT a well-priced $16 savour this one
with tomato based pasta dishes.
ONE TO NOTE: SHAW Vineyard in cool-climate Murrumbateman around 25-minutes north of Canberra, is somewhat unique in that while it is at a higher elevation than most vineyards in the region, its sloping profile enjoys optimum sunlight and gives protection from potential frost damage through its good air-drainage…

Now one of the district's more-renowned producers of quality wines, Shaw has just released a 2012 Winemakers Selection Cabernet Merlot that's a real mouth-filler of fresh berry flavours and delightful aromas from the glass of cassis and dark plums.

Fruit came off the family-owned company's low-yielding vines that were picked in the cool of night for optimum fruit quality; pay a well-priced $16 and enjoy with tomato based pasta dishes, or simply a good steak.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.

Monday 24 November 2014

Hunter Valley’s Andrew Margan - Rosemount Estate’s 2012 Balmoral Syrah


David Ellis

LIKE they used to do it – back to the future
wine to enjoy with summery seafoods.
MANY years ago before wines were identified on labels by their grape varieties, they were named after their place of origin – quite often down to the actual block within a vineyard and which could contain several grape varieties.

In a somewhat back to the future move, the Hunter Valley's Andrew Margan has released a white and a red emulating this old practice, labelling them Field Blend White – Block 8 and Field Blend Red – Block 11.

The white comprises predominantly Semillon and smaller amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio from a vineyard planted with these mixed varieties 40 years ago, all the fruit from the 2014 vineyard being picked and vinified together in a single batch. The red is predominantly Shiraz with some Mataro and Tempranillo, and underwent the same process.

We loved the white that's wonderfully fruity with forward citrus and tropical characters and crispy dry on the palate. It's also nicely soft, and a great drop at $15 to enjoy at this time of year with a whole host of summery seafood ideas.
A CHRISTMAS gift idea not to be
enjoyed until at least 2020.

ONE TO NOTE: IF you're looking for a stand-out drop as a gift for a wine-loving family member or friend this Christmas, can we suggest Rosemount Estate's 2012 Balmoral Syrah – then watch their reaction when you tell them not to open it until at least 2020, or if they're really patient not for another 15 years beyond this.

Made from tiny quantities of exceptional fruit off a range of Rosemount's best McLaren Vale vineyards, this is a ripper drop already, but will only get better and better over those years in the cellar – we're prepared to suggest anything up to 25.

Black fruit flavours are to the fore with nice tannin and fruit acid. Pay $75 and if your Christmas recipient can't keep their hands off opening it in the immediate future, recommend that they match it with the best beef cut their butcher can offer them.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.


Monday 17 November 2014

Cherry Tree Hill Merlot - Rymill Coonawarra Sauvignon Blanc


David Ellis

COOL surprise from the NSW Southern Highlands
ideal with barbecued steak and mushrooms.
IF you're one of those re-discovering the joys of Merlot after it seemed to go out of fashion for a time, a stunning drop worth investing in by phone or internet is a 2011 'Halle' Reserve from Cherry Tree Hill in the cool-climate NSW Southern Highlands.

This small maker that began growing grapes in 2000 on the  30-year old family farm at Sutton Forest, is making a big impression on the local scene, and while its wines are currently available only by phone or online you can be sure it'll become a major player when a cellar door currently under construction opens before Christmas.

Gabi Lorentz and his family established Cherry Tree Hill farm after arriving here from Hungary in the 1980s, and today son David manages the vineyards and oversees all aspects of the winery operation – with wines themselves made by highly-respected local contract makers Anton and Mark Balog. The 2011 Halle Reserve Merlot has blueberry fruit-like flavours, and interesting Hungarian oak hints make it a more-ish drop to enjoy with barbecued steak and mushrooms, or bacon wrapped prawns.

Pay $32 a bottle, less 10% for six or 20% for 12, plus $12 freight for any number of bottles; go to or phone David Lorentz on 0414 366 000.

THINK lime-marinated prawns
with this Sauvignon Blanc.
ONE TO NOTE: ITS forty years ago that Peter Rymill and his wife Judy Ritchie founded Rymill Coonawarra in the heartland of this famous wine growing region, a region that in fact Peter's great-grandfather, John Riddoch founded back in 1890 after arriving here from Scotland during the Gold Rush of 1852.

Today Rymill Coonawarra needs no introduction to those who enjoy quality wines, and one that particularly impressed recently was their 2014 Yearling Sauvignon Blanc – not just because of its wonderfully full-on fruit flavours, but because of the price-tag of just $15.95.

Tropical fruits like passionfruit and paw paw dominate, together with grapefruit and lime, an enjoyable flintiness and nice varietal zesty finish. Enjoy it with Chief Winemaker, Sandrine Gimon's suggestion of grilled lime-marinated prawns.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.


Monday 10 November 2014

Hungerford Hill 2013 Classic Gundagai Shiraz - Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

David Ellis

CLASSIC Shiraz from the Gundagai region
where this varietal does so well.[]
ESTABLISHED back in 1967 as a boutique estate in the Hunter Valley, Hungerford Hill since 2002 has been owned by the Kirby family of the well-known James N Kirby engineering business, who've overseen its growth into a multi-regional wine-making operation now embracing not only the Hunter, but NSW's Tumbarumba, Gundagai, Hilltops and Orange regions.

But grown as it has, its stuck by its boutique estate philosophies, and just recently under its Classic series label released a Gundagai Shiraz, a Hilltops Cabernet and an Orange Merlot from the 2013 vintage.

The 2013 Classic Gundagai Shiraz is an elegant, medium to full-bodied wine that reflects just how well this variety does in the warm temperate Gundagai climate at around 200 to 300m altitude on the NSW side of the border with Victoria.

With typically varietal dark fruit and black pepper notes it's one to pair-up with Asian pork spareribs or Peking Duck, or with barbecued honey/chilli marinated steaks.

MAKE Sunday morning brunch a sparkling
affair with this Spanish drop.
ONE TO NOTE:  IF you enjoy a bubbly anytime because, let's face it, you just like the flavour and the sensation of bubbles, Spain's Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut is one to consider always having a bottle of in fridge or cellar.

This is one of the largest-selling sparkling wines in the world and officially a Cava – a wine made to the traditional Methode Champenoise. A blend of Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo white grapes it was fermented for 10 to 12 days, racked and clarified, and then bottled for secondary fermentation in the bottle.

With flavours of green and citrus fruits and nice Mediterranean aromas in the glass, this is a bubbly with loads of sparkle and more-ish-ness about it. Well priced too at $16 to just drink and enjoy on its own, or to share with friends over a late-morning Sunday brunch of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, or Quiche Lorraine.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.


Monday 3 November 2014

Toolangi Chardonnay - Rosemount Estate’s MV Collection 2012 Shiraz

David Ellis

PREMIUM drop to enjoy with simple roast chicken,
grilled lobster or barbecued veal chops.   
THE Yarra Valley has garnered an enviable reputation over the past couple of decades for Chardonnays out of makers like Toolangi who planted their first vines there back in December 1995.

And as the latest release from this small family-owned operation, their 2012 is a veritable explosion in the glass of what Chardonnay is all about, with predominantly citrusy grapefruit flavours to the fore and quite extraordinary length (how long the flavour lasts in the back of the throat after swallowing.)

Owners Garry and Julie Hounsell went in hard with the secateurs for this wine, pruning back heavily to maximise fruit flavour and quality as Yarra Valley vines, with the climate they enjoy, can be quite prolific producers. And interestingly, after harvesting the fruit was processed at two separate wineries, Yering Station and Oakridge, and the resultant blend put together at Yering Station.

This 2012 Toolangi Chardonnay is nicely priced for a premium drop at $25, and with its full-on varietal flavours makes for an ideal partner with everything on the table from simple roast chicken, to grilled lobster if you're maybe celebrating, or for a  more casual outdoor barbecue of veal chops and mushrooms.

THIS one's a perfect match with a
Sunday beef roast or barbecued herbed lamb chops.
ONE TO NOTE: IF that Toolangi Chardonnay was all about flavour in a white wine, Rosemount Estate's MV Collection 2012 Shiraz is all about flavour in a red wine.

One of four wines released mid-year under the MV (McLaren Vale) Collection label, this one is again a glass whopper that's all flavour, flavour and more flavour – with savoury blackberry to the fore and nice back-up cherry fruit, supple tannins and a long finish, justifying Rosemount's Chief Winemaker Matt Koch's summation that McLaren Vale is one of the company's "most dynamic wine regions."

Pay $25 and match this one nicely with a Sunday beef roast or barbecued herbed lamb chops.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.

Monday 27 October 2014

2012 de Mestre Wines Shiraz - Matua Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc

David Ellis

BEST wine from the smallest vineyard
you've never heard of
SYDNEY lawyer-cum-weekend winemaker, Paul de Mestre likes to sum up the fruit of his hobby as "the best wine from the smallest vineyard you've never heard of…"

And while we think he's pretty much right, don't go rushing out trying to find a bottle. He makes just 800 a year, and these can be bought only from his little 16ha vineyard on Sofala Road at Ilford in the Mudgee Region of the NSW Central Ranges, or online. And even then that's if he's got any…

While not officially organic, Paul takes a minimalist approach to his winemaking, trusting nature, as he says, at every turn. The result is delightful cool climate varietals that can vary considerably from vintage to vintage, but which always deliver big on texture and flavour, be they his Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon or Viognier.

His currently available 2012 de Mestre Wines Shiraz at $30 is a corker, coming from a perfect vintage – and by adding a touch of Viognier he's achieved a wine that's nicely fragrant and has forward flavours of plum and black pepper that make it an ideal accompaniment with slow-roasted Greek lamb (how we enjoyed it.) Go to to organise a bottle or six, or to arrange a vineyard visit.

 LABEL helps you choose off the shelf
the style of Sauvignon Blanc
that best suits your palate.
ONE TO NOTE: NEW ZEALAND's Matua that can claim to being the country's first producer of Sauvignon Blanc 40 years ago, has now come up with an interesting concept with the release of three labels that give buyers some extra help in choosing off the shelf the style of Sauvignon Blanc that best suits their palate.

The label of their Matua Smooth describes it as "soft and elegant," and being from the warmer Hawkes Bay region more luscious, juicy and food friendly; a Matua Crisp as "fresh and tropical" with vibrant Marlborough tropical fruit and citrus fruit flavours and fresh, crisp acidity; and a Marlborough Matua Lighter as "cool and fragrant" with tropical passionfruit and gooseberry flavours and 25 per cent less alcohol/calories.

Each of these 2014 vintage wines is priced at $22 through BWS.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.


Monday 20 October 2014

Lindeman's value Chardonnay - Briar Ridge 2014 Single Vineyard Dairy Hill Semillon

David Ellis

GET the conversation going around a seafood
lunch or dinner with this great drop.
LINDEMAN'S Bin 65 Chardonnay has long been one of the best value-for-money Chardonnays in this country (and in international markets too,) one that at a current $10 never fails to satisfy for flavour, toss-it-down enjoyment, and price.

And interestingly while launched onto the market here 23 years ago, it had in fact been in production for six years before that – to supply the Northern Hemisphere that had taken with gusto to the drink's fruit-driven and easy-drinking style, and when eventually released in Australia in 1991 was an overnight equal  success here too.

The current-release 2014 made from fruit sourced across a wide area of South Eastern Australia maintains the tradition, with lovely fruit salad, fig, peach and toasty oak aromas that follow through delightfully on the palate. Enjoy it on its own pre-dining as the conversation gets going, in the party-room, and indoors or out where it makes for a terrific match at the table with all manner of seafoods.

And you'll notice that it's new label's got some changes to it, with a sketch of Dr Henry John Lindeman's 1885 Cawarra homestead set within a triumphal wreath featuring Australian native eucalyptus and gum nuts, and under these the Latin phrase 'Felicitas in Vitae,' meaning 'In Life Happiness' – from Dr Lindeman's own favourite quote "the one purpose of wine is to bring happiness." 

ENJOY this trophy winner with oysters
with Asian sauces, seafood salads or crab.
ONE TO NOTE: THE Hunter Valley's Briar Ridge has just released its 2014 Single Vineyard Dairy Hill Semillon that garnered a Trophy for Best 2014 Semillon at this year's Hunter Valley Wine Show.

A great coup for Chief Winemaker Gwyneth Olsen who joined the company only last year, this is a drop that came from low-yielding vines with wonderful concentrations of flavour, that in turn reward in the glass with elegantly crisp citrus and refreshing acidity, and with accompanying lemon and lime aromas.

At $35 a great partner with oysters with Asian sauces, seafood salads, or crab.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.


Saturday 18 October 2014

Mark Best's Pei Modern restaurant's new wines

Mark Best's new Pei Modern restaurant, recently installed in the space once occupied by The Woods in Sydney's iconic Four Seasons Hotel, is challenging guests' palates with an array of unusual wines to match his bold new menu.

Mark Best's Pei Modern comes to Sydney's Four Seasons Hotel

Think Young Vine Pinot Meunier and Barossa Savagnin to accompany his flavoursome meat and seafood creations.

Read the full report here.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

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Monday 13 October 2014

Rymill Cabernet Sauvignon - Fox Gordon Fiano

AS-LIVELY a character as the dark chestnut
thoroughbred it is named after.

David Ellis

HORSES whose careers put them out there in the public eye, can generally be considered to have a pretty short future if they continually buck their owners at the most inappropriate of public moments.

Such was the case with a steed named Adlai who – whilst considered the most-handsome in the Victorian Mounted Police at the time – unfortunately bucked overboard his commanding officer once too often, and with exquisite timing.

Instantly condemned to the knackery, Adlai was saved by Judy Rymill of Rymill Coonawarra fame who rescued him for a song – and responding to a female's touch, he went on to become a champion in Dressage, Show Jumping, High Jumping and 3-Day Events here, and represented Australia in some at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Although Judy and Adlai have both passed on, Adlai is now being commemorated in a wonderful new 2013 Rymill Cabernet Sauvignon 'The Dark Horse,' a wine with an as-lively a character as Adlai himself, and loaded with blackcurrant, mulberry and dark cherry flavours, rich chocolaty undertones and hints of mint.

At $23.95 reminisce about Adlai over this wine, roast duck and a cherry sauce.

GAINING popularity here and ideal
with pan-friend garlic sardines.
ONE TO NOTE: FIANO is a crisply dry white hailing from the Campania region of Southern Italy, and while not widely made in Australia it's loyal following is growing appreciably amongst fans of labels made here in mainly South Australia and Victoria.

Family-owned boutique, Fox Gordon has an enticing Fiano it makes from fruit from the Adelaide Hills, and with white peach, nectarine and citrusy flavours coupled with interesting minerality, is a joy with – what else – such Italian dishes as pan-fried garlic sardines, or gnocchi alla Sorrentina… gnocchi with basil, Mozzarella and tomato sauce.

A great drop at $22.95 from select premium liquor outlets.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide in main blog.


Monday 6 October 2014

Gruner Veltliner - Pinot Noir Domaine Chandon


THIS is a wine to match
with dishes as diverse as
white meats,spicy Asian,
seafoods and vegetarian.
David Ellis

DESPITE its enormous popularity in other parts of the world as one of the most food-friendly of wines, Gruner Veltliner has only been made in this country since 2009, Lark Hill pioneering it in the Canberra District that year, and twelve months later Hahndorf Hill Winery releasing South Australia's first-ever.

Since then around a dozen others have followed with plantings and releases of this wine, whose largest producing country is Austria followed by Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and to a far-lesser degree a number of regions in the USA.

Hahndorf Hill is the major player in Australia, it's Larry Jacobs a master in coaxing the best from the grape into the bottle – so much so that Austria's leading wine magazine recently hailed his 2012 as "the best Gruner Veltliner outside Austria."

Larry's latest release, from the 2014 vintage is another ripper drop that could probably best be described as akin to the finest Sauvignon Blancs, and with this one having a wonderfully full forward-palate that erupts with citrus, stone fruit and spice.

PERFECT match with Peking Duck
at your favourite Chinese eatery. 
Pay $28 and see why the variety's regarded so highly in other parts of the world for its food-friendliness: it's a marvellous match with anything from white meats (think pan-fried pork chops with plum sauce,) to spicy Asian, seafoods and vegetarian.

ONE TO NOTE: A 2013 Pinot Noir out of Domaine Chandon's vineyards in Victoria's Yarra Valley shows just how well this variety does in cool climates, and additionally in this case with the winemaking team able to go beyond the norm to get added flavour nuances by sourcing fruit from vines over a range of elevations from 80 metres to 400 metres above sea level.

The result is a wine with terrific varietal aromas and a generous and complex palate – dark plums and raspberries come to the fore and are complemented by nicely gentle tannins. Pay $30.95 and take it along to your favourite Chinese eatery to enjoy with Peking Duck.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide in main blog.


Monday 29 September 2014

Peter Logan Rosé - Tim Adams Pinot Gris

GREAT with tomato-based pastas,
pizzas and Indian curries.

David Ellis

WHEN winemaker Peter Logan married Hannah Murphie back in October 2003 he had a special surprise for her: he'd created a Rosé for the day he labelled Hannah, and not only had it served at their wedding reception, gave a bottle to every guest…

Awww Shucks, you may say – and then, Oh Wow when you hear what a success it's gone on to be, today rating as one of the most popular labels from Peter and Hannah's Logan Winery at Orange in NSW's Central Ranges (and where Hannah, incidentally, is now General Manager.)

A blend of 52% Pinot Meunier, 21% Shiraz, 15% Cabernet France and 12% Pinot Gris, the latest release 2014 Hannah is a lovely easy-drinking drop, one its namesake says she loves for its "freshness, red fruit and spice flavours, appetite-whetting brininess, and a crunchy finish that makes you want just a little more…"

It also has a nice touch of refreshing tannin. At $23 you'll find it delightful with pastas and accompanying tomato-based sauces, a range of pizzas with tomato and mushroom influences – and with our favourite Rosé match, Indian curries.

WITH warmer months near, think
this one with seafoods and salads.
ONE TO NOTE: TIM ADAMS has released a 2014 Tim Adams Pinot Gris that's his tenth as he continues his vision of creating a benchmark Pinot Gris from the Clare Valley – with this one a blend of fruit from both his own vineyard, and that from other local growers with whom he works closely for consistency of quality and style.

Pinot Gris was virtually unknown in the Clare when Tim planted his first vines, and today he can be proud of what he's achieved in the development of this wonderfully food-friendly drop. His just-released 2014 has dominant pear, lychee and peach flavours, a subtle citrus zest, fruit sweetness and cleansing acidity.

Pay $20 and as we go into our warmer months, start thinking along the lines of this one with seafood and salads, or a range of Asian cuisines.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out Vintnews We're also on Australian Good Food Guide in main blog.


Monday 22 September 2014

McLaren Flat Shiraz - Yarra Valley Chardonnay


David Ellis

FURTHERING the McLaren Vale region's
reputation as one of our foremost
Shiraz-making areas.
REGULAR readers will know our penchant for the more unusual in names bestowed on the labels of wines of many of our makers, and while one we came across recently may not rate with the actually unusual, it is how it came about intrigued us.

It's Shottesbrooke Vineyards in South Australia's McLaren Flat and it was so-named by company founder Nick Holmes in 1984 after an estate in Berkshire, England where Nick's grandfather, Richard Holmes was parish priest from 1905 to 1926.

And the label has certainly succeeded in spreading the Shottesbrooke name in this country, with Nick's Shiraz something plenty of buffs have for years enjoyed pouring and sharing with friends. The latest release from a classic 2012 vintage is a real ripper reflecting winemaker Hamish Maguire's skill with this variety that does so well in the McLaren Vale region, and from where so many of our better Shiraz originate.

This is a wine with a lovely crimson-purple colour, and which is elegant and supple with black fruits foremost on the palate; pay $20 and match it perfectly with pepper-crusted venison.

 A CHARDONNAY to enjoy
with a diversity of tasty treats on the table.
ONE TO NOTE: CHARDONNAY buffs – and there are plenty of us out there who roundly rebuff the "not another Chardonnay" brigade – should be over-joyed with a rewarding 2011 under the Estate label of Victoria's Toolangi Vineyards in the Dixon's Creek area of the Yarra Valley.

Made from low-cropped, hand-harvested fruit, this one has beautiful white peach and melon flavours to the fore, suggestions of apple and lemon, and gentle acid to round it all out.
Pay $35 and enjoy with a range of dishes from herb-sprinkled roast chicken, to prawns in a creamy sauce or white fish accompanied by a butter sauce.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.


Thursday 18 September 2014

Gramps hit The Sweet Spot at ISWC

Media Release


Sometimes described as the "quiet achiever from the Orlando stable" the Gramps team had lots to shout about at the 2014 International Sweet Wine Challenge (ISWC) Presentation Dinner when their 2011 Gramps Botrytis Semillon beat off stiff and sticky competition to claim the ultimate title of 2014 International Sweet Wine of the Year.

When describing the Semillon category at the 2014 ISWC, Chief of Judges Sophie Otton said, "an exciting class to taste containing some complex and detailed beauties", so it might be no surprise that the Challenge's overall winner came from this selection. However the 2014 ISWC wasn't just about Botrytis Semillon with medals also presented to sweet and semi-sweet wines made from Moscato, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Furmint, Viognier, Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc.

Eventually the panel of expert judges, including Sophie Otton, Jeremy Dineen and International Guest Judge Madeleine Stenwreth MW, whittled down the ISWC entries to award the finest seven with this year's Trophies.


Best Young Sweet, Floral styles ~    2013 Forrest Wines Noble Riesling (rrp$45)
Best Young Sweet, Semillon ~        2013 Two Italian Boys The Sticky Italian (rrp$25)
Best Young Sweet, Other Varieties ~   2013 Foxey's Hangout Late Harvest Pinot Gris (rrp$28)
Best Mature Sweet, Floral styles ~     2012 Lillypilly Noble Harvest (rrp$32)
Best Mature Sweet, Semillon ~         2011 Gramps Botrytis Semillon (rrp$21)
Best Mature Sweet, Other Varieties ~ 2011 Lillypilly Noble Blend (rrp$40)
Best Sweet Wine from Museum Class ~ 2008 De Bortoli Deen Botrytis Semillon
2014 International Sweet Wine of the Year ~ 2011 Gramps Botrytis Semillon

Sophie Otton commented, "This year's ISWC saw an impressive range of sweet and semi- sweet wines entered, by winemakers who have demonstrated their passion and commitment to these styles. It is heartening to see the continued growth of these wines, and producers' exploration of them. We saw this year some very fine examples, and there is every reason to be extremely optimistic about their future development here.

"This was a very difficult show to judge as these wines are not easy to assess and it required a great deal of concentration and discussion from the judges. However, the hard work paid off as the top wines selected to go into the trophy taste-off were all sublime; diverse and unique, all beautifully made. It was a great pleasure to see what producers had achieved.

"The Gramps Botrytis Semillon is the sort of wine that demonstrates an absolute mastery of the style. With complexity and intensity on the nose, superb exotic fruit characters and the perfect infusion of botrytis, this is a powerful wine with beautifully managed oak.

"It says a great deal about the Australian wine industry, that a show like the International Sweet Wine Challenge can elicit such interest from winemakers, both here and from around the world, and there is no doubt that it fills an important niche within the wine industry.

This helps to draw attention to dessert wine styles, which really are a labour of love. Winemakers take a great risk making these wines, not to mention the difficulty of managing the low yields. I think it's really admirable that these producers are so dedicated to the evolution of this style."

The Riverina Winemakers Association created the annual International Sweet Wine Challenge in 2006 to showcase the diversity and quality of sweet wines from around the world and allow Australian winemakers to see their wines alongside their international counterparts. The 2014 ISWC Presentation dinner was held on 4th September at The Wine Museum, Griffith NSW.


Monday 15 September 2014

Tintilla Hunter Semillion Angus 2012 - Mistletoe Mozcato

ITS praises long sung, this is a great
drop with all manner of seafoods.

David Ellis

JUDGES, reviewers and loyal consumers alike, have long sung the praises of Semillons from Tintilla Estate in the Hunter Valley.

Family owned and operated, the company's just-over 10ha (25 acre) vineyard was planted with Semillon and Shiraz in the heart of Pokolbin over 20 years ago, and has not looked back since, the Lusby family proud that they harvest fruit from their low-yielding vines that give rich and concentrated flavours, and make their wines on the one property.

And while Semillon and Shiraz remain their mainstays, they now produce quite exceptional Sangiovese as well, and a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay from fruit off a block a couple of kilometres down the road.

But look out for their 2012 Tintilla Angus Hunter Semillon, a lovely un-oaked drop made from handpicked fruit whose lime/lemon flavours blend in well with suggestions of sweeter gooseberry. With its vibrant acidity you can expect this one to do well in the cellar over the coming 10 years.

REWARDING low-alcohol bubbly made
from the "Prince of Muscat Grapes."
Well recommended to enjoy with all variety of seafoods at $28.

ONE TO NOTE: ANOTHER Hunter family we've long had time and admiration for are the Sloans at Mistletoe Winery also at Pokolbin, and who've just released an interesting low-alcohol bubby they call Sparkling Mozcato – the Z in deference to Australia rather than the usual Moscato spelling.

Made from the small-berry white Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains (often called the Prince of Muscat Grapes) this one's a clean, fresh and sweetly fruity drop with a slight fizz and just 5.8% alcohol. And interestingly it comes with two labels: a blue one you'll find now, and a "Christmassy cheer" from November for the Festive Season.

With an easy-open crown seal, its good low-alcohol celebration buying at $22.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.


Monday 8 September 2014

Shaw Vineyard Estate Shiraz 2012 - Jacob's Creek Sparkling Lightly Rosé


David Ellis

GREAT drop from a difficult vintage that's ideal with
barbecued red meats and pan-fried mushrooms.
THE Canberra wine growing region is interesting in that while it doesn't always leap to front of mind, it does boasts something like 140 vineyards and 33 wineries, and produces cool climate wines that are more often than not, wonderfully rewarding.

And while it was first planted in the 1840s, those early pioneering efforts around Gunning and Yass didn't last long, and it took a long-awaited 1970s "rebirth" to lead to today's many successes there. Amongst them is Shaw Vineyard Estate that, at Murrumbateman, is amongst the highest-elevated in the region, and has been producing exceptional and affordably-priced premium cool-climates since the 1990s.

A particularly rewarding, just-released 2012 Shaw Shiraz (a variety the region is renowned for) is possibly one of owner Graeme Shaw's best-yet – despite coming from one of the region's wettest and more-difficult vintages. Graeme has coaxed wonderful ripe berry-fruit aromas and forward Shiraz spice and pepper notes from this, and these are reflected nicely with ripe tannins on the smooth palate.

Pay $25 and enjoy with barbecued red meats and a side of pan-fried mushrooms.

FEWER bubbles for those who say regular
sparkling's give them "a full feeling."
ONE TO NOTE: JACOB's Creek has added an interesting new drop to its diverse portfolio of Aussie sparkling's that it has been making for some 40 years – a "less bubbly" called Sparkling Lightly that it says will "dance lightly on the palate."

The wine is the result of surveys revealing there are some amongst us to whom the enjoyment of sparkling beverages can, sadly, have a down side: it results in some-what of a full feeling. So by limiting the sugar in the second fermentation, Jacob's Creek have achieved a very delicate sparkling character that has fewer bubbles.

Made from grapes as diverse as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, White Frontignac and Fiano, there's a choice of a Sparkling Lightly White that's all about suggestions of peaches and lychees, and a Sparkling Lightly Rosé that's more raspberries and strawberries. Pay $14.99 if you like your bubbles, but with a less-full feeling.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.


Friday 5 September 2014

40th annual Riverina Wine Show results

Santolin Wines Individual
Vineyard Chardonnay 2013
- best still wine in show


The 40th annual Riverina Wine Show results were announced last night at a gala dinner in The Wine Museum, Griffith NSW. And although a “ruby” coloured Shiraz might have been more appropriate for a 40th Anniversary celebration, it was a stunning Victorian Chardonnay, the 2013 Santolin Wines Individual Vineyard Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley, which took home the top honours of ‘Best Still Wine of Show’.

This year’s show was as hotly contested as ever with an experienced panel of judges, headed by former Wine Director of Rockpool restaurants Sophie Otton, critiquing their way through 56 different wine classes!

As in previous years, the results of the 2014 Riverina Wine Show yet again celebrated the depth of quality and diversity in the Australian wine industry, with 10 different regions taking home the 10 individual “varietal/style” Trophies (the 11th - ‘Best Red Fortified’ - going to a multi-regional blend).

However, whilst showcasing diversity, the show is also highlighting to consumers the link between wine regions, varieties and wine styles.
For the 4th year in a row a Barossa Riesling won the ‘Best Dry, Floral Style White’ Trophy and yet again the Hunter Valley dominated in the ‘Best Semillon’ category.

Riverina Durif continued to claim the ‘Best Durif’ title and Coonawarra is proving that it’s not only great with Cabernet Sauvignon but can also make exciting red blends, with a wine from Coonawarra winning the ‘Best Dry Red Blend’ Trophy for the 3rd year in a row.

Heathcote Shiraz again impressed the judges, not only claiming the Shiraz Trophy again this year but also the ‘Best Popular Premium Red’ Trophy, thanks to the De Bortoli Windy Peak 2013 Shiraz. The Riverina Wine Show is unique in its aim to specifically recognise the quality of “Popular Premium” wines - those wines which are widely available to the general public with production runs of at least 60,000 bottles.

Chair of Judges Sophie Otton did comment that, “the shiraz category had the judges deliberating for the longest period of time with excellent examples from Heathcote, Langhorne Creek, Eden Valley, Coonawarra and Barossa all scoring very highly.”

Tumbarumba and the Yarra Valley proved once again that they are producing amazing Chardonnay, this year adding to their Trophy tally to take home a total of 5 Chardonnay Trophies between them in the last 4 years. This tally doesn’t include the ‘Best Dry White’ and the ultimate ‘Best Still Wine of Show’ Trophies which were both won by the 2013 Santolin Wines Individual Vineyard Chardonnay this year. In a nice coincidence, winning Owner/Winemaker Adrian Santolin, who has worked in the wine industry since he was 15, actually grew up in Griffith, NSW.

Although the major varietal classes highlighted some exceptional wines, and regional-varietal matches, it is also worth noting some high scorers in the ‘Other Varietal’ categories, with medals being presented to wines made from Frontignac, Vermentino, Viognier, Grenache, Malbec, Montepuliciano, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo and Touriga – indicating a very exciting future awaiting some of these wines and the consumers who will enjoy discovering them. The Fortified classes were also described by judges as a true stand-out of the show and “a real pleasure to taste”.

Full list of all Trophy winners below:
[full results]

Congratulations to all the Trophy winning wines at the 2014 Riverina Wine Show:

1] Best Semillon - sponsored by Braid Logistics Australia
McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillon 2007 (Hunter Valley)

2] Best Semillon Blend - Not awarded

3] Best Dry White, Floral Styles - sponsored by Orora
Dorrien Estate Bin 4 Riesling 2014 (Barossa)

4] Best Dry White, Other Varieties - Not awarded

5] Best Chardonnay 1yo - donated by the Griffith Show Society
Santolin Wines Individual Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley)

6] Best Chardonnay over 1 yo - sponsored by the Riverina Winemakers Association
Barwang 842 Chardonnay 2012 (Tumbarumba)

7] Best Shiraz - sponsored by Collier and Miller
Armchair Critic ‘The Reserve’ Shiraz 2012 (Heathcote)

8] Best Cabernet Sauvignon - sponsored by Patrick Portlink
Bleasdale ‘The Iron Duke’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Langhorne Creek)

9] Best Durif - sponsored by the AEB Group
McWilliams Hanwood 1913 Durif 2013 (Riverina)

10] Best Dry Red, other varieties - sponsored by Riverina Winemakers Association
Last Horizon Pinot Noir 2013 (Tamar Valley)

11] Best Dry Red Blend - sponsored by Classic Oak
Brand’s Laira Marching Captain Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2012 (Coonawarra)

12] Best Fortified, Sweet Style – sponsored by Tarac Technologies
Pfeiffer Wines Grand Rutherglen Muscat NV (Rutherglen)

13] Best Fortified, Australian Fortified Red Style – sponsored by Collotype Labels
De Bortoli Old Boy’s 21 Year Old Aged Tawny NV (Multi-Regional)

And the “Best of…” Trophies went to…

14] Best Still Wine from Riverina Fruit - sponsored by the Wine Grapes Marketing Board
McWilliams Hanwood 1913 Durif 2013 (Riverina)

15] Best Popular Premium red wine - sponsored by Woolworth’s Liquor Group
De Bortoli Windy Peak Shiraz 2013 (Heathcote)

16] Best Popular Premium sparkling wine - Not awarded
17] Best Popular Premium white wine - Not awarded

18] Best Dry Red - sponsored by Riverina Winemakers Association
Bleasdale ‘The Iron Duke’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Langhorne Creek)

19] Best Dry White - sponsored by Riverina Winemakers Association
Santolin Wines Individual Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley)

20] Best Still Wine of Show - the Ian Bicego Trophy
Santolin Wines Individual Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley)

21] Most Successful Exhibitor of Still Wines made from Local Fruit - sponsored by A & G
McWilliam’s Wines (Riverina)

22] Most Successful Exhibitor - sponsored by the Port of Melbourne
De Bortoli Wines (Riverina)

Monday 1 September 2014

Amelia's Letter Pinot Grigio - Andrew's Margan White Label Barbera


David Ellis

ONE whose 126 year heritage will
get the conversation going over
dinner with family and friends.
THE Adelaide Hills' Chain of Ponds have an unusually-named Amelia's Letter label for their Pinot Grigio, and there's an equally unusual story behind it that's guaranteed to get the conversation going over a bottle or two with family or friends.          

Back in the late 1880s at Chain of Ponds, about 30k's out of Adelaide, blacksmith and wheelwright James Caust decided to visit family in homeland Cornwall after the death of his wife, and on the long sailing trip to Southampton penned a letter to his youngest daughter, Amelia then aged 28. It was a long, touching and humorous account of his journey and his love of she and the family he was re-connecting with, and was written in quaint Cornish.

That 126-year old Letter survives to this day, and Chain of Ponds have dedicated the name Amelia's Letter to their annual Pinot Grigio wines since 2010. Their latest, the 2013 is a lovely drop with a pear and ripe peach intensity coupled with a touch of apple, wonderful minerality and a creamy finish. Great buying at $22 to enjoy with oven-baked salmon or a roasted pork tenderloin, as you recount the delightful tale of James Caust's letter to his daughter Amelia all those 126 years ago.

WHAT better with Italian
tomato- and herb-based dishes,
or a mushroom risotto.
ONE TO NOTE: BARBERA is the second-most widely grown variety in Italy, but it wasn't until the 1960s it was established here, with the first vines planted at Mudgee in NSW and from there introduced later into the Hunter Valley by Andrew Margan.

Today Andrew's Margan White Label Barbera is a wine you can happily buy-now and drink-now as they do in Barbera's homeland, while at the same time showing its got everything going for it to develop wonderfully well with anything up to ten years, or even more, in the cellar. Beautifully savoury on the palate with a somewhat red currant tartness, good acid and fine-grained tannins, we happily say forget the cellar – and like us, get hold of it now and enjoy it now.

Pay $40 and serve with tomato- and herb-based Italian dishes, or mushroom risotto.

NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out We're also on Australian Good Food Guide  in main blog.