Monday 28 July 2014

Angus The Bull CV - Rosso Antico


David Ellis

HAMISH MacGowan has done a couple of interesting things with his 2012 Angus the Bull Cabernet Sauvignon: he's made this one from fruit sourced for the first time purely from Central Victoria, and he's lowered the alcohol content by almost 1.5%.

Yet while tweaking this vintage to obvious advantage, he's not taken away from the wine's primary mission of the past ten years or so, and which has been to provide an absolutely ideal accompaniment to prime beef. But rather he's given it more poise, vibrancy and freshness – as he says, "a little more sophistication."

And he stresses that it's not a huge and sudden leap in style, but something he and his team have been working towards over the past few years. "Lowering the alcohol (to 14%) is both a considered change in my winemaking philosophy, and an anticipation of where I believe the consumer's preference is trending," he says.

"Blending 58% Central Victoria fruit, 28% Goulburn Valley and 14% from the  Strathbogie Ranges has given a wine with lovely varietal ripe black fruits, rich dark chocolate and vanillin smoky aromas," Hamish adds. "And a full-bodied palate characterised by firm tannins and a savoury, masculine finish. I'd say it's the most food-friendly example Angus we've made to date."

And most importantly, still that perfect match with prime beef – particularly at $19.95.

ONE TO NOTE: WE don't usually think about wine as something to play around with in terms of mixing with other beverages to come up with in cocktail creations.

But Italy's Rosso Antico cocktail base is in fact a dessert wine made from five different wine types infused with 32 selected herbs. And with its bitter-sweet flavour it not only makes for a very agreeable drop on its own served chilled on ice with a slice of lemon, but provides a nice base for a wide range of cocktails when mixed with everything from white or dark rum, to vodka, gin, fresh fruit juices and soda water.
Pay $22 and start mixing – and sharing ideas with fellow cocktail shakers.

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


[] SHOWING a little more sophistication, but still perfect with prime beef.
[] NICE on its own, or a good base for a wide range of cocktail ideas.

week beginning  28July 2014

Monday 21 July 2014



ENJOY Mediterranean-inspired seafoods
with this Aussie drop's taste of Spain.

David Ellis

WHEN Spanish winemaker Freixenet decided to look seriously at the Australian market and invested in the purchase of a mixed fruit farm on Victoria's Murray River, it wasted no time in using the vineyards there to put out a couple of 2012 sparkling wines under its already internationally-recognised Azahara label.

Both were an instant success, and Freixenet has now followed-up with a non-fizz Azahara Pinot Grigio and also a Shiraz, with winemaker Dr Phil Spillman delighted at their reflection of the character of the Victorian property's orange groves (Azahara in fact is Spanish for orange blossom,) together with the avocado and mango plantations that are criss-crossed by the vineyard blocks.

"We're serious about having a good go at making something really special here," a proud Dr Spillman says. "Wines in a style befitting the Spanish dining and entertaining experience, whilst still staying true to the qualities naturally expressed by the Australian farm."

The 2013 Azahara Pinot Grigio has certainly reflected that aim, with a wonderful palate of crunchy apples, fresh lemon and spiced pears, and a creamy mouth feel. Add some nice acidity and at $15 this makes a marvellous drop with Mediterranean-style salads, and seafoods like salt 'n pepper squid or barbecued white fish fillets.

A FAVOURITE with this style of Shiraz is
a freely herb-sprinkled roast leg of lamb.
ONE TO NOTE: ANOTHER rewarding vino from Victoria is a 2010 Shiraz from hand-harvested, low-cropped fruit off Toolangi Vineyard's Dixon's Creek in the Yarra Valley.

The nutmeg, violets and varietal Shiraz peppery-spice aromas, highlighted from the inclusion of twenty per cent whole bunches in the ferment, are reflected nicely on the palate with complimentary fine-grain tannins and a light acidity. With just 1,400 cases made, and at $20 a bottle, this is a quite lovely medium-bodied drop that goes well with rare eye fillet of beef, roast duck – or our favourite with this style of Shiraz, a freely herb-sprinkled roast leg of lamb.

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

Saturday 19 July 2014



David Ellis


FORTUNATE are they who've got hold of a bottle or two of Best's Great Western Bin 0 Shiraz, a wine that's been made since the late 1800s but of which today only 800 cases are still made on average each year.


And although we know Henry Best planted his first Shiraz vines at Great Western, between Stawell and Ararat in Victoria, in 1867 the actual year he created his first Bin O is uncertain. But what we do know is that since the Thompson family acquired the Best's Great Western vineyards and winery in 1920, they've remained extraordinarily faithful "custodians" to Henry Best's creation.


Now headed by 5th generation Ben Thompson, the family's recently released the 2012 Best's Bin 0 Shiraz that was made from hand-selected fruit sorted and fermented in small batches, so maintaining its reputation as an undisputed icon of the Great Western Shiraz style, and internationally acclaimed for years.


This 2012 has deliciously spicy dark fruit flavours and a great balance of acidity and smooth tannins for wonderfully enjoyable drinking now, while having the potential to develop beautifully over 15 years or more in the bottle. With just-800 cases available, it's well worth the $85 asking price to enjoy with a slow roasted shoulder of lamb.


ONE TO NOTE:  THE Adelaide Hills has a well-deserved reputation as home to some of Australia's best Sauvignon Blanc, and a 2013 Howard Vineyard Picnic label is typical of just how good the variety from this region can be.


This one has full-on lemony citrus flavours coupled with hints of spice and gooseberry, making it an ideal companion with seafoods from simple grilled fish fillets to garlicky prawns – or as the Picnic label suggests, for outdoor entertaining with cold chicken or other white meats, salads and sharp cheeses on warmer days.


Pay $19 at cellar door for this rewarding drop from the family-owned Howard vineyard and winery at Nairne, the oldest township in the Adelaide Hills.


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





[] SO rewarding with a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb.

[] NAME says it all for outdoor entertaining with cold chicken, salads and sharp  cheeses.


Thursday 17 July 2014

Leogate Estate - Home of the World's Best New Wine

Media Release

Leogate Estate – Home of the World's Best New Wine

2014 International Wine Challenge, London

"Len Evans would be delighted. His favourite vineyard has been honoured as having produced the grapes for the World's Best New Wine" say Bill and Vicki Widin of Leogate Estate Wines and Brokenback Vineyard.

The 2014 International Wine Challenge in London last night awarded the "James Rodgers Trophy for the Best Wine in its First Year of Production" to Leogate Estate's 2011 "The Basin" Reserve Shiraz (RRP $115).  When accepting the award in person at the gala dinner, Bill and Vicki Widin attributed the Trophy both to Len Evans' attention to detail in establishing Brokenback Vineyard, and to Mark Woods' superior winemaking skills. "The Basin" had earlier also been awarded the Trophy for the best Hunter Valley Red Wine.

Leogate Estate's Brokenback Vineyard in Pokolbin was one of Len Evans' Rothbury Syndicate vineyards planted in the 1960's. The Shiraz vines all original, and are situated on a low hill with direct east and west facing blocks. A substantial section of the east facing blocks is known locally as "The Basin" and forms somewhat of a natural amphitheatre. The vines there, being protected from much of the Hunter Valley late afternoon summer sun, have developed over the years rather differently from the vines on the west facing blocks - primarily by being more luxuriant in both vine size and canopy. This difference in the vines is entirely environmental, and results in a slightly different berry taste.

Leogate Estate's talented winemaker, Mark Woods, to his eternal credit, noticed this difference and for the 2011 harvest decided to keep separate the parcels he selected from each east and west section to be the 2011 Shiraz Reserve wines, naming the two parcels "The Basin" and "Western Slopes".

The London judges described the 2011 "The Basin" as "Refined, cool Shiraz style with bright fruit, savoury notes, supple tannins and great drinkability. Lovely freshness on the palate which lifts and lengthens the overall flavour". The judges also described the "Western Slopes", for a Silver Medal, as "Sweet, ripe berries and vanilla on the nose. Peppery, roasted flavours with a concentrated great length and well balanced tannins".

James Halliday in his 2014 Australian Wine Companion gave the 2011 "The Basin" 96 points and a cellaring date of 2050, and gave the 2011 "Western Slopes" 97 points and a cellaring date of 2060.

Although only recently bottled, Leogate Estate's 2013 "The Basin" and "Western Slopes" Reserve Shiraz are already magnificent drinking and have outstanding cellaring potential. Brokenback Vineyard had a great season for the 2014 vintage, and both wines in barrel look very good at this stage.

Leogate Estate Wines are distributed in Australia by Estate Wines and available through the Leogate Estate website and Cellar Door.

Leogate Estate "The Basin" Shiraz 2011 RRP $115

Leogate Estate "Western Slopes" Shiraz 2011 RRP $115

For further information, interviews or sales & marketing enquiries please contact Bill Widin at

Leogate Estate Wines, Broke Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320, Australia

Monday 14 July 2014

Romantic Food and Wine Getaways in Central NSW

Central NSW Tourism has unearthed some heavenly new and unique places to stay in its food and wine regions, perfect for a romantic, long weekend in the country.

Stay in eco-suites on a vineyard in Orange, on the banks of the Lachlan River in Forbes, or in a historic home on a hill in Bathurst. If you’re celebrating with friends, Mudgee’s luxury new rural retreat Horizon is perfect for groups.

Each place offers something very special, with local food and wine an integral part of the stay. It all begins just 2.5 hours’ drive from Sydney in a region that offers a rich cultural heritage and magnificent landscapes along the way.

Central NSW is one of Australia’s biggest food and wine bowls with award-winning producers, wine-makers, restaurants, cafes and farmers markets.

Orange - Borrodell Vineyard

The place: Tree-changers and a metro influence have led to a boom in cafes and wine bars opening in Orange. Unearth your favourite at the rustic Agrestic Grocer, industrial Factory Espresso or hip Ferment The Orange Wine Centre where you can taste over 100 wines in state-of-the-art Enomatics, dine on tapas and hire bikes. Orange is 3.5hrs drive from Sydney.

The accommodation: Stay at Borrodell Vineyard on the slopes of Mt Conobolas in cottages and suites. Settle in with a wine by the fire at the new Cider Suites, Sommerset and Kingston, named after cider apples grown on site.

298 Lake Conobolas Road, Orange Tel: 02 6365 3425

Forbes - Girragirra Retreat

The place:Taste real earthy tucker on the banks of the Lachlan River with freshly caught river fish, fruit picked from the Spring blossoms and local lamb rubbed in river salt and rosemary.Rex flies from Sydney daily to Parkes just 30km away.

The accommodation:Wiradjuri for ‘be well, be happy, be merry’, Girragirra Retreat is tucked away down a country road just 4km from Forbes. The architect designed, luxurious, self-contained two bedroom apartment is perfect for one or two couples with generous living areas overlooking a billabong surrounded by Red River Gums and native grasslands. Pick your food from the food garden, cook in the gourmet kitchen or outside on the BBQ, and retreat to luxury linens and bathrobes. Part of a 50 acre organic farm on the banks of the Lachlan River.

180 Warrul Road, Forbes, Tel: 044 974

Bathurst - Bishops Court Estate

The place: Bathurst’s historic buildings and laneways are being re-born as hip new bars and dining spots, preserving its past as Australia’s oldest inland settlement, 2.5 hours’ drive from Sydney. Sip on cocktails at Webb & Co, a transformed department store, or at The Church Bar & Dining, on notorious Ribbon Gang Lane.

The accommodation: The best address is Bishops Court Estate, a historic luxury boutique hotel set on a hill with beautiful gardens, a gourmet restaurant in the chapel and cooking classes for guests. Wake to the sound of birds and country air in one of seven suites, many with their own Juliet garden.

226 Seymour Street, Bathurst Tel: 02 6332 4447

Mudgee – Horizon

The place: A food and wine lovers’ paradise, Mudgee is a historic town surrounded by a tapestry of around 40 wineries with excellent producers, cafes and restaurants. Dine at the new Zinhouse, Pipeclay Pumphouse or at Alby & Esthers wine bar. Just 3.5hrs drive from Sydney.

The accommodation: Mudgee’s newest deluxe five star self-contained accommodation, Horizon, is a bright spacious rural retreat. Architect designed; there are four bedrooms, a state of the art kitchen and wet-edge swimming pool. It is set on 50 acres with vines, cows and river access.

637 Castlereagh Hwy, Burrundulla Tel: 02 6373

Unearth your Central NSW experience at

Tourism Australia - Restaurant Australia #RestaurantAustralia

Discover Australia's bounty of food and wine experiences. Take in the Barossa Valley by hot air balloon, sample fresh oysters on Freycinet Peninsula, toast a Sydney sunset at Quay and dine under the stars at Uluru. #RestaurantAustralia

Monday 7 July 2014


PAY homage to this drop's Tasmanian heritage by
matching it with salmon, lobster or abalone.


David Ellis

THEY frustrated many of Dutchman Abel Tasman's attempts to land on what was ultimately to be named after him Tasmania, but it's those same tempest-like winds that today are so integral to the success of the State's great cool-climate vineyards.

Now Heemskerk, named after Tasman's 1640's flagship, have released a range of wines under a well-chosen Abel's Tempest label, including amongst them a marvellous 2012 Chardonnay created from fruit from two cool-climate Tasmanian regions, the Coal River Valley down in its south-east, and the Tamar Valley away up in its north.

Bringing to the fore the finest of characteristics of the fruits of these valleys, winemakers Charles 'Chilly' Hargrave and Peter Munro have put together a wine that's awash with generous lemony citrus and nectarine flavours, and subtle oak – and they've generously paid tribute to the skills of Heemskerk viticulturist Jamie Hewet for the extraordinary quality of fruit he supplied them for this wine.

PERFECT partner with a good steak topped
with a creamy dark mushroom sauce.
At a well-pitched $25 this is a delight to enjoy with obvious roast chicken or other white-meat dishes, or go a step further and pay homage to its Tasmanian heritage with a variety of seafoods from salmon to lobster and abalone.

ONE TO NOTE: ROSEMOUNT'S Diamond Label series has been around for a long while now, and its ever-faithful Diamond Label Cabernet Sauvignon is a firm favourite amongst those who like a good steak and a well-priced red – this wine still selling for a nicely-placed $16.

The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon released earlier this year is a wine from predominantly South Australian McLaren Valley fruit out of a vintage that had long and slow ripening conditions, and is one with quite vibrant red cherry, dark plum and creamy milk chocolate flavours, and a hint of mint.

Enjoy this one with that steak, topping it with a creamy dark mushroom sauce.

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

Saturday 5 July 2014




David Ellis


ANDREW Margan has been making wonderful Semillons in what he likes to call "pure Hunter style" for some ten years now, wines that he puts particular effort into for his increasingly-lauded Aged Release range.


The latest is a 2013 Limited Release White Label Semillon, that while you can uncap and enjoy in the glass now, is also one to give serious consideration to for celebrating something special down the line, like maybe ringing-in the year 2020 or – the way this wine's looking already, even 2025.


2013 was outstanding for Semillon in the Hunter, and Andrew drew fruit for this one from a single block of old vines that gave huge, fully-ripe flavours with high natural acidity – that acidity being the key to this wine's ageing potential.


With lifted citrus on the nose and lovely grassy, lemony flavours now, it's a drop to really enjoy with seafoods while young, but put a few bottles away and watch it develop over the years into a more toasty, honeyed wine with a lemony butteriness.

Pay $30, and at that price do also think about putting one aside for ringing-in 2020 – and another for 2025.


ONE TO NOTE: ONE who continues to impress with quality wines at affordable toss-'em-down prices is Apple Tree Flat's Peter Logan, and his latest Shiraz, the 2012 is just the drop at this time of year to enjoy around the fire – or, as Shiraz is often said to be 'Australia's national variety,' to think about matching with our other 'national' icon, roast lamb for an ideal Winter's lunch or dinner.


Shiraz has long been a stand-out variety in Apple Tree Flat's home region of Mudgee in NSW, and this one is regionally classic with red and dark berry fruit flavours, a touch of earthiness, good acidity and some woody spiciness that doesn't make it overly strong in the oak department.


Toss in a price tag of just $13, and you're on a winner with that roast lamb.


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[] ENJOY a bottle now with seafood, and put aside a couple for future celebrations.

[] A 'national variety' to enjoy with that other 'national' icon – roast lamb.