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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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