Monday 23 June 2014


A VERY special wine that maker Neil McGuigan
suggests is ideal with rare roasted aged fillet
of beef and a red wine reduction.
David Ellis

NEIL McGuigan, the extraordinary driving force behind the McGuigan Wines label that's been named International Winemaker of the Year for a record three times (2009, 2011 and 2012,) has now come up with another reward for wine aficionados – a Claret-style red (yes, Claret – remember the name?) that he's been quietly working on with his Hunter Valley winemaking team for an amazing ten years.

Labelled The Philosophy, this 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz blend of super-premium fruit from South Australia's Eden and Clare Valleys, fulfils a decade-long challenge both to himself and his team: to create an icon wine that goes beyond anything else, and recognising not the makers, but the wine as the hero.

"I named it after my own philosophy: that every day you need the ambition to craft a super-premium wine, spreading that focus through every step of your winemaking process, so your $10 wine starts tasting like a $12 wine, the $12 like a $15 and so on to every wine from your lower price levels, to your very best super-premiums."

TAKING on the challenge when it
comes to a wine to stand up to, and enjoy, with
spicier dishes or those with stronger Asian influences.
The 2010 The Philosophy is a wine strong on blueberry fruits without being overly sweet fruited, fine tannins and an incredibly long palate; well rewarding the $150 asking price, but with only limited availability, it's worth getting hold of now to make the most of any particularly special occasions coming up in the next year or so.

ONE TO NOTE: CHOOSING a wine to go with spicier dishes, or with many of those with stronger Asian-influences, can often prove somewhat of a challenge, but one that takes-on such challenges really well is Gewurztraminer – and Rymill's just- released 2013 Coonawarra gt (the gt for Gewurztraminer) does just that trick.

Layered with lovely aromas from rose petal and orange blossom, to freshly-cut lemons and limes, it's the wine's palate of juicy pink guava, papaya, lychees and zingy citrus that stands up, takes-on, and tempers those spicier foods. At $21.50 it's a top-drop to enjoy now with that next normally challenging spicy or stronger Asian meal. And it'll develop even further withanything up to a decade in the cellar.

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


Tuesday 17 June 2014

Neil McGuigan's cellar door to the world

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says Hunter Valley winemaker Neil McGuigan has long extolled the value of having a winery cellar door – and while his gets 120,000 visitors a year, he says he was gobsmacked on a recent overseas trip to find out just how valuable.


"I was in Bangkok, and after a winemakers dinner two Scottish people came up to me after they saw our McGuigan banner and said they'd just visited Australia, been in the Hunter, visited our winery and, yes, bought some of our wine.


"Then a couple of days later in a taxi in the UK the driver saw my McGuigan shirt motif, said he'd been in the Hunter nine years before – and that he'd bought two cases of my wine.


"Blow me, a couple of days after that in Belfast I'd been launching our Black Label Reserve wines to the media there, mentioned the value of a cellar door, and after a story appeared in a local paper about it, a blogger put up that he'd been to our cellar door just a month earlier."


Finally on his return to Australia, Neil was promoting his wines in Melbourne to managers of a supermarket chain, when one told him he'd just come back from the Hunter – and yes, visited McGuigan's Cellar Door and done a nice little bit of personal buying.


Little wonder Neil extolls the value of his Cellar Door. (McGuigan's is at 477 McDonald's Road, Pokolbin and is open daily for free tastings from a couple of dozen wines on offer. Details

Monday 16 June 2014

Carpene Malvolti's Prosecco 1868 - Logan Weemala Shiraz Viognier


ON its own or with light Mediterranean
dishes, this one's great $25 buying.

David Ellis

AN interesting and rewarding sparkling out of Italy that's quite fruity yet at the same time nicely soft and dry, is Carpene Malvolti's Prosecco 1868 Extra Dry, and which sells here for a very agreeable $25 a bottle.

Founded in 1868 in Italy's Veneto region by Antonio Carpene, the company became the first in Italy to submit traditional still wines made from Prosecco grapes to the sparkling process; over the ensuing 146 years the company's been handed down from father to son and still remains firmly in Carpene family hands today.

Fruit for this bubbly, that's equally at home in the party-room and at the table, came from the picturesque Conegliano and Valdobbiadene hills of Veneto, and was produced under the Charmat method in which the wine is secondary fermented in bulk tanks and bottled under pressure; it is fruity, extra dry and aromatic, with strong hints of apple on the palate and bouquet.

Perfect as an aperitif, a party-room bubbly or at the table with light Mediterranean dishes – very popular in its home region is to share it with an octopus and potato salad – it is also equally at home mixed into cocktails with the likes of cranberry or orange juice, lemon-lime-and- soda, and a host of others.
AT $19 a beaut companion with a winter's
Beef Wellington or steak and kidney pie.
ONE TO NOTE: PETER LOGAN  has come up with a great drop in his recently-released 2012 Logan Weemala Shiraz Viognier that's got a lovely silky palate of red berries, plums, bay and tarragon and a nice long finish – and as we know, the longer the finish (the time the flavour lasts in your mouth) the finer the quality of that wine.

Peter grew fruit for this one at Mudgee 600m up in the Central Ranges of NSW, an area that produces reds with uniquely rustic characteristics and usually stronger savoury elements than most other regions, and which are recognised for strong acid, tight tannin structure and generous flavours.

At $19 this is a good-value lip-smacker to enjoy with cold-weather favourites such as Beef Wellington or a hearty steak and kidney pie.

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


Tuesday 10 June 2014

Oatley to distribute Cherubino Wines

Media Release

The blossoming relationship between Larry Cherubino and Robert Oatley Vineyards (ROV) shifts up a gear next month as ROV takes on the distributorship of Larry Cherubino’s personal range of highly regarded wines, in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, from July 1.

Cherubino, ROV’s Director of Winemaking, began consulting to the Oatley family in 2007, moving to a more formal winemaking leadership role in late 2010.

Having established Larry Cherubino Wines in 2005 he has continued to make and develop his own range under a variety of highly regarded labels including Ad Hoc, The Yard, Laissez-Faire and Cherubino. In 2011 Larry Cherubino Wines was acknowledged as Winemaker of the Year by James Halliday (Australian Wine Companion) and Producer of the Year by Matt Skinner (The Wine Guide).

Commenting on the appointment, Robert Oatley Vineyards CEO Anthony Roberts said: “Larry’s small volume, high quality, specialist wines provide a lovely compliment to those he is crafting for Robert Oatley Vineyards. We are certain that we can do them justice, especially in the Australian on-premise and independent retail sectors where we are enjoying considerable trading success.”

“The synergies are pretty clear” says Larry Cherubino “and we’ve been enjoying such a fruitful business relationship it makes so much sense for Robert Oatley to distribute my wines in their key markets.”

Larry Cherubino Wines will continue to be sold in other markets by Liquid Library (WA), A-List Fine wines (SA), Thomas Chin (NT) and Joe Holyman (TAS). Craggy Range Australia will continue to sell the Pedestal Margaret River in Victoria and New South Wales and Queensland.

The Cherubino ranges join a select group of wine brands distributed by Robert Oatley Vineyards within Australia including: Ara Wines (Marlborough); Champagnes Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck (France); Climbing (Orange); Clover Hill (Tasmania); Cumulus (Orange); La Gioiosa (Italy); Rockburn (Central Otago); Rolling (Central Ranges); Santi (Italy); Taltarni (Vic).

Monday 9 June 2014



GREAT for the party-room
or celebratory dining table.

David Ellis

AUSTRALIANS are taking increasingly to the enjoyment of sparkling Rosé, a wine that can have an almost additive allure to it, and one that can prove wonderfully rewarding both in a party-room environment and at a celebratory dinner table.

Chandon have recognised this and last year released a new label it called Vintage Collection, which it dedicated to bubblies that it saw would be a distinctive and exceptional expression of each season, the first being a 2008 Chandon Cuvee 500.

Now its released its second Vintage Collection, a 2010 Chandon Les Trois ("The Three") Rosé – a blend of maritime climate Tasmanian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir giving acidity and freshness, Chardonnay from Victoria's King Valley whose  high altitude Whitlands Plateau add complexity, power and weight, and cool Victoria Upper Yarra Valley Pinot Noir that rounds out all this with characters of floral and spice.

"We believe we've brought together a beauty and interest in flavours which are uniquely Australian," said Chandon Senior Winemaker, Dan Buckle. "The interplay between these three regions makes for a really interesting expression of sparkling Rosé." 

He's spot-on; pay $45, and let the celebrations begin.
PERFECT simply with some matured hard
cheeses or rosemary-infused lamb roast.

ONE TO NOTE: WA's Margaret River Forester Estate has released a fab 2009 Yelverton Reserve Cabernet that is a marvellous drop to settle down with in front of the tele with a selection of matured hard cheeses, or if you are dining with family or friends, with a rosemary-infused lamb roast or rare beef fillet steak.

With currants, bay leaf, menthol and savoury oak on the palate, this wine developed real character through being stored in temperature-controlled cellars for four years before release. A great drop that's well worth the $62 asking price.

And while wonderfully and rewardingly enjoyable now, with careful cellaring you'll find it even more so in three or four year's time.

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

Monday 2 June 2014


SIMPLY made for food
– in particular chargrilled meats.


David Ellis

SIDE BY SIDE is an interesting new label from Brothers in Arms at Langhorne Creek in South Australia, and whose Metala Vineyard is one of the oldest in Australia – William Formby buying the property 130-odd years ago, and first planting grapes there in 1891.

Today his great, great grandson, Guy Adams is the fifth generation to live on and work Metala – side by side with his wife Liz, with the farm still side by side with the vineyard, and the vineyard in turn side by side with the winery.

Little wonder they chose the name for their new label, recently releasing under it a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Shiraz and a Malbec, all nicely priced at $27 a bottle each.

Their 2012 Malbec is a beauty, reflecting why Malbec is grown more in Langhorne Creek than any other Australian wine region. Fruit for this one came off vines planted 12 years ago, the resultant wine a lovely floral and fragrant style, and which, as Liz says, is simply made for foods, chargrilled meats being particularly suited to it.

CHARDONNAY's an easy match, particularly
with roast chicken, pork spare ribs or white fish.
ONE TO NOTE: LERIDA Estate in the Canberra District's Lake George has released a ripper 2012 Chardonnay from a vintage that owner Jim Lumbers sums up as "simply magnificent," with perfect dry and cool conditions supplemented by plenty of days of bright sunshine.

And as bizarrely as it does, Lake George – despite the dry – mysteriously filled with water for the first time in a decade in 2012, continuing to confound the locals.

This 2012 Lerida Chardonnay is a wonderfully fruit-filled, crisp and mouth-filling wine that epitomises just why Chardonnay is the world's most-appreciated white wine when it comes to easy matching with food – and in this case one that reflects the contradictory nature of cool-climate Chardonnay by boasting both fruit and minerality.

Pay $24.50 and match it with roast chicken with a rosemary stuffing, pan-fried pork spare ribs or white fish.

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