Monday 24 February 2014


REWARDING drop of Italian-heritage
from Hunter's "happy Little winemakers."


David Ellis

A GROWING band of Aussie makers are broadening their portfolios with an interesting white of somewhat ancient Mediterranean origin, Vermentino that's a flavoursome late ripener hailing from Liguria, Tuscany, Sardinia and Corsica.

The Little Wine Company in the Hunter Valley have just released their first Vermentino, a 2013, and it's a ripper drop that shows why the variety is gaining popularity here – although as owners and winemakers Ian and Suzanne Little say, leaving the fruit (from the old Roxburgh vineyard in the Upper Hunter) to be picked so long after all the other whites were well off the vines, it had them looking at fruit that appeared so weather-beaten it had them wondering if they'd done the right thing.

But already intrigued with the variety after visits to Italy, they were amazed at just how fragrant the resultant juice proved to be, leaving them "happy Little winemakers."

A rewarding drop with citrus, herb and mineral flavours – but be warned there are three things you need to bear in mind: never think of the cellar, small glasses nor petite sips with this one. Instead buy it, chill it, pour it into a big glass, and relish it by the mouthful.

SEDUCTIVE, savoury and
ideal with that Sunday roast.
And on the table match it with deep-fried calamari or roast pork. Excellent value at $26.

ONE TO NOTE: ANOTHER Hunter Valley maker, the Scarborough Wine Company has released a 2011 Black Label Shiraz that's rich with classic Hunter red berry flavours, pepper, spice and identifiable but not over-the-top tannins.

A very stylish wine, it also reflects the fact it's one made from wonderfully-flavoured fruit off mature vines, giving it what its makers note is it's rewardingly "seductive, savoury style."

Pay $29 and enjoy with hearty-flavoured Sunday roasts (lamb, pork or beef) or game bird dishes; and don't hesitate to think about an extra bottle or so to put in the cellar for rewarding development and enjoyment over the next five to eight years.

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

Monday 17 February 2014


NEAR-perfect weather conditions
reflected in this rewarding Riesling.

David Ellis

WITH seafoods so much to the fore with both family dining and guest entertaining at this time of year, the wine of choice to put with it on the table is so often a nicely-chilled and very seafood-compatible Riesling.

Shaw Vineyard at Murrumbateman in the Canberra District have just released a 2013 Estate Riesling that'll match perfectly a whole diversity of product from your local seafood supplier; owned and run by Graeme and Ann Shaw and their children Tanya and Michael, and Tanya's husband Michael, the Estate has long enjoyed an enviable reputation for its Rieslings, and this one is certainly up there with its best.

"We had near-perfect conditions in 2013 with Canberra recording its hottest summer day on record and warm temperatures extending through autumn," Graeme says. "This enabled  the grapes to reach their full flavour ripeness, producing a spectacularly crisp Riesling that the Canberra region is well-known for."

A FULL and rich Shiraz from
Western Australia's Frankland River region.
Pay $25 and enjoy with those summery seafoods.

ONE TO NOTE: A 2011 shiraz from Ferngrove Wines in the cool-climate Frankland River region of Western Australia's far south, is a wine with wonderfully rich and rewarding blueberry, blackberry and ripe plum flavours, a combo that make it ideal with our favourite food match with this variety, oven-roasted lamb shanks.

At $20 this one is all about the Frankland River's classic regionality and unique micro-climate that are reflected in the entirely estate-grown fruit, and which allowed Chief Winemaker, Kim Horton to depart from Ferngrove's normally leaner notes with its shiraz to a fuller and richer wine.

(If lamb shanks aren't your choice, try this one with roast beef, game or osso bucco.)

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

Monday 10 February 2014


REVERTING to what Australian Chardonnays are really
all about: refinement, elegance and lovely fruit balance. 


David Ellis

IT was way back in 1832 that Chardonnay grapes were first planted in Australia by James Busby at both the fledgling Sydney Botanical Gardens and at his own Kirkton estate in the Hunter Valley, with canes he brought in from France.

While the initial wine was instantly acceptable, it was 120 years later in the 1950s that sales of Chardonnay began to peak, and in the 1980s and '90s went absolutely gang-busters – until winemakers' propensity then to chuck oak into their barrels by the shovel-full, saw Chardonnay become so big, fat and oaky that sales suddenly crashed, and softer and less-aggressive Sauvignon Blanc took-over as our white of first choice.

Today Chardonnay is enjoying a well-deserved comeback, due to local offerings reverting to being once again more refined, elegant and well-balanced, and without all that wood.

One enticing example worth trying is from Western Australia's Margaret River, a Voyager Estate 2010 that displays vibrant Chardonnay citrus fruit flavours (in the lime, lemon and grapefruit spectrum,) with a nice savoury element, and a clean flinty finish.

BOLTER: a red that'll have you
sitting up and really taking notice.
If you want to impress at that next special dinner party, at $45 this would be a perfect taste-match on the table with seared Red Emperor and braised fennel.

ONE TO NOTE: GALLOPING into the hearts of buy-now-drink-now red wine drinkers is Rymill's The Yearling Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, the original wine in The Yearling stable and the latest release, the 2012, an absolute cracker.

The product of a perfect vintage and the skilled hand of Rymill's Senior Winemaker, Sandrine Gimon this is one that's all about nice upfront blackcurrant and cherry fruit flavours, a fresh sweetness, and hints of chocolate and mint.

Soft and juicy, yet lively enough to have you and friends really taking notice, do as Sandrine suggests and enjoy with roast rib-eye and root vegetables. Pay $15.95.

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

Poachers Way's finest winemakers come to Canberra

This Summerside, one of Canberra’s newest hotspots – East Hotel – is playing host to a number of local wineries. Every Friday during February, a handful of the region’s finest wineries will head to Kingston to peddle their wares the old fashioned way; taste and talk.

This will be an evening of wine sampling in a chilled atmosphere with a live DJ, nibbles and of course, amazing wine. Wineries that will be showcased include; Four Winds Vineyard, Capital Wines, Mount Majura Vineyard, Lerida Estate, Eden Road Wines and Wily Trout Vineyard.

So why not change your usual Friday night routine, and head to East Hotel on Friday nights from 5.30pm. Bookings essential.

Why not stay the night? Take a look at the great packages on offer at EAST Hotel... and then you can head to Silo Bakery on Saturday morning for the ultimate breakfast experience.

Monday 3 February 2014


ALL the way from South Africa – history
in the naming, rewarding in the drinking.

David Ellis

WE'RE certainly not averse to a nicely chilled Sauvignon Blanc on a hot day – nor any other day for that matter – and one we particularly enjoyed over the recent holidays was not from Australia nor even from New Zealand… it hailed all the way from South Africa.

And interestingly from near Cape Agulhas, the cool-climate, southern-most point on the African continent, and made from grapes grown on what was found in 2001 by a group of friends looking for a vineyard site, as a decrepit, run-down, one-time wheat farm.

Bottled under a First Sighting label this 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is a rewarding drop that reflects it's slow-ripening from one of the region's wettest winters with accompanying cool and frosty nights, and followed by a dry January with top summer temperatures of just 29C. With 15% Semillon blended into its base 85% Sauvignon Blanc, it's a wine with nice tropical and citrus fruit flavours that takes well to chilling.

At $18 match it with fish, pork chops, other white meats, or even sushi; the First Sighting name comes from the "first sighting" of the African continent by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias way back in 1488. If you have difficulty finding it, get onto importers Africape Wines who have offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

QUAFF this one on a hot summer's
day, you'll not be disappointed.
ONE TO NOTE: ADELAIDE HILLS' Chain of Ponds has released another great quaffer for hot weather enjoyment, a 2013 Novello Rosé to simply enjoy on its own or to put on the table with summery seafood salads, cheese platters, tapas or as a nice foil to curries and other spicy dishes.

Really vibrant pink in colour, it has a bouquet all about strawberries and cream and suggestions of fresh raspberries, with strawberries and raspberries on the palate, and all balanced with a quite subtle spicy finish and a sweetness that's not-overpowering.

Good buying at $18 it's a rewarding blend of Sangiovese (72%) and Pinot Noir (28%) for summertime enjoyment.

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