Monday 12 May 2014


A NICE lesson in history, and an ideal
drop with Spanish seafood paella.


David Ellis

WHEN the folk at Katnook Estate in the heartland of South Australia's Coonawarra decided to plant Sauvignon Blanc for winemaker Wayne Stehbens to see what he could achieve from the variety, neither owners nor Wayne realised quite what an adventure they were embarking upon.

Because it was 1981, and decades before Sauvignon Blanc was to become the darling it is today, and with Wayne surprising everyone with the drop he crafted then, and has continued to do so for over thirty years. And his latest, from the 2012 vintage, is a cracker drop from what he refers to as "an extraordinary year for the variety," with slightly warmer conditions than normal and below average rainfall,  that together meant for early-ripening fruit that could be harvested in top condition.

Wayne also added a 5% splash of Semillon to this wine, helping boost its varietal grassy notes to complement its passionfruit, grapefruit and gooseberry flavours, and zesty mineral hints. A really top-drop he ranks amongst the best he's ever made, and remarkably for a Sauvignon Blanc showing great potential for 10+ years cellaring.
DURIF is still somewhat rare in this country, but wonderfully
rewarding with cooler weather steak and kidney pie.

Pay $25, and for an ideal match put it on the table with Spanish seafood paella.

ONE TO NOTE: DURIF is still a somewhat rare wine in Australia, with Rutherglen being considered its "home" here after canes brought from its natural homeland in the south of France were planted there in 1908.

Morris Wines' 2007 CHM Durif is a stunning example of just how good this wine can be: an almost opaque ruby-black in the bottle, this one's got an intense fruitcake, chocolate and spice bouquet, coupled with full-bodied flavours of rich cherries, plums, blackberries and spice, and intense tannins.

Rutherglen's soils and climate are ideally suited to Durif, and combine these with the winemaking skills of those like Morris Wines and you've a marvellous drop that at this time of year goes ideally with a steak and kidney pie. Pay $60 at fine wine outlets.

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