Monday 14 December 2015

Tintilla Estate Rosato di Jupiter Sangiovese

THIS Rosé has a regular wait-list of keen followers, and this
year a third of anticipated production had been
sold before the wine was even made.

ONE TO NOTE:  TINTILLA Estate, that proudly boasts to being the first in the Hunter Valley to plant Sangiovese vines – and that was back in the mid-90s – is earning a well-deserved reputation for the Rosé it makes from the fruit of these vines.

So much so in fact it has a wait-list each year of regular buyers, and this year had sold a third of anticipated production before the wine was even made. Winemaker James Lusby has created in the 2015 a Rosé that, despite coming from a challenging cold and wet vintage, is wonderfully dry and food-friendly.

At $26 its good-value buying and ideal at this time of year with summer salads (avoid any bitter greens,) pork sausages off the barbie, or linguine with garlic and mussels.

McGuigan 2006 Bin 9000 Semillon - Hunter Valley

AUSSIE world record setter that
virtually marched off the shelves

David Ellis

WE admit to being somewhat blasé when it comes to medals, trophies and other gongs going to those in the winemaking industry, seemingly just about every maker we know winning something or other for one of their wines (at some time or other,) and which makes us fear that if we mention one award we're going to have to mention the lot – and that would take up our entire column every week of the year.

But we feel we should give recognition to one accolade that's just been handed out as it's a world first – and that we can give it mention because the wine's sold out anyway. And that's the Semillon Trophy at the 2015 International Wine and Spirit Competition that was won for an amazing fifth consecutive year by the Hunter Valley's McGuigan Wines – the first time in history anyone's achieved such a feat.

The record-setting 2015 winning drop was McGuigan's 2006 Bin 9000 Semillon that Chief Winemaker, Neil McGuigan sums up as having been "a true Hunter style Semillon, fresh and light when young, and which will develop rich honey and toast characters with extended cellaring over the next 10+ years."

Medium bodied and full of gooseberry and lime on the palate, with fresh acidity and a lingering finish, it virtually marched off the shelves… to the disappointment of those who missed out.

for week beginning 14 December 2015

Thursday 10 December 2015

Are we becoming a nation of beer snobs?

Christmas set to be a bit ‘posher’, with urbanites choosing craft over regular beer

New beer-purchase data from thousands of Aussie beer lovers reveals that beer preferences are following wine and coffee preferences – driven by a need for an ‘experience’ – with more and more urbanites expected to be seeking variety in the beers they choose this Christmas.

The analysis was carried out by, Australia’s leading and fastest-growing mobile-payment and deals app for bars, pubs and their restaurants. Clipp took September and October beer-purchase data in five beer categories – craft*, regular, cider, low-alcohol and special-diet – from their 55,000-strong customer base across more than 600 establishments Australia-wide. The analysis revealed that more urbanites are consuming craft beer – beer made traditionally by small breweries in limited quantities – rather than the regular beer Aussies have traditionally known and loved.

click to enlarge
With urban areas leading the charge, craft beer accounted for 45 per cent of all purchases nationally, with regular beer coming in second at 40 per cent. Melbourne takes the craft beer crown, with the highest percentage of craft beer purchases (55 per cent) against just 34 per cent of regular beer purchases. Perth comes in second, with 48 per cent of craft purchases and regular beer at 35 per cent. Sydney is third, with 46 per cent of craft beer purchases and regular beer at 39 per cent.

In contrast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Adelaide and Darwin are holding onto their love of regular beer, with this category accounting for 59 per cent, 63 per cent and 65 per cent of all beer purchases respectively.

Greg Taylor, CEO and co-founder of Clipp, says: “With the variety of beers on offer at Australian establishments, urban beer lovers now regard beer as an experience – much like they do wine and coffee. People seek to be more adventurous and it’s common now to be offered ‘beer tastings’ at pubs to enable you to choose your preferred beer.”

“Beer drinkers also like the idea of supporting a small craft brewery and its story, and they like the personality of the craft brand. As a consequence, their craft beer of choice becomes a talking point among their friends and better enables them to show their own personality. Additionally, I believe people are now eating better and are seeking to drink better.”

When it comes to spend volume, the number one craft beer Aussies purchased most – and are expected to purchase over Christmas – is James Squire followed by Stone & Wood, Little Creatures, Feral and then Young Henrys.

“Smaller breweries are catching up to the big players and showing their prevalence in the industry. The craft beer company Young Henrys from Sydney’s Newtown made it into the top 5 list nationally which is a great achievement for a relatively newcomer on the scene,” said Greg.

Interestingly, craft beer consumption is driven mostly by those in their 20s and 30s, with consumption consistently higher the lower the age bracket: 54 per cent of those in their 20s purchased craft beer, compared with 51 per cent of those in their 30s, 42 per cent of 40-somethings, 31 per cent of 50-somethings, and just 15 per cent of those over 60.

A city-by-city analysis by Clipp reveals Aussies in each city share similar tastes in craft beer. In regular beer, Aussies have different favourites depending on where they are from, with Carlton Draught the only beer to make it into the top five rankings across all cities.

*Clipp’s craft beer data includes craft beers produced by the major beer manufacturers, such as James Squire.

Monday 7 December 2015

Voyager Estate 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot - Margaret River.

GET the family together around this, a perfect match
with lamb roast or chops off the holiday barbie.

ONE TO NOTE: IF you like a good lamb roast, or just good ol' lamb chops off the barbie, a great wine to spoil the family with as you enjoy these great lamb-and-wine get-togethers over the coming holidays, is a Voyager Estate 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot from Western Australia's Margaret River.

88% Cab Sav, 8% Merlot and just a touch of Petit Verdot to round it out, this is a rich and flavoursome wine that's been almost tailor-made for enjoyment with lamb: it has wonderful sweet dark- and red-berry fruit flavours to the fore, suggestions of bayleaf for a touch or savouriness, and is rounded out with finely-grained tannins.

Its $70 a bottle for that special Festive family occasion, and if you're not into lamb, match it up with a Black Angus beef fillet with wild mushrooms and baked vegies.

  for week beginning 07 December 2015

Kreglinger 2006 Vintage Brut - Tasmania

COOL climate Tassie sparkling a great
choice with Festive celebrations in mind


David Ellis

G and C KREGLINGER has been one of Belgium's most-respected wine companies since its founding in Antwerp way back in 1797 as the country's first licenced wine traders, and what many don't realise is that it's been around in Australia since 1893.

However it traded here as primarily wool exporters, not getting into winemaking and marketing until 2000, firstly in South Australia and a year later in Tasmania when it bought a majority ownership in Pipers Brook Vineyard and Winery in the State's north-east. It was this purchase that led to it also creating its own exceptional cool-climate, limited-production and super-premium Kreglinger sparkling wine range.

Just released from this range is their 2006 Vintage Brut that was made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay off a vineyard in Tasmania's north-east dedicated 100% to sparkling wine production, and whose low yields reward with significant increases in fruit aroma and flavour. This in turn carries through on the wonderfully creamy palate with its abundance of citrus, brioche and French pastry flavours.

Pay $55 for this really outstanding Tassie drop to enjoy over the Festive Season with such party-room treats as oysters, caviar and delicate sushi or sashimi.

 for week beginning 07 December 2015

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival

Fowles Wine, Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove and Tahbilk have recently announced Melbourne Food and Wine festival events. Fowles Wine will host a Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Wild Feast featuring produce poached from across the region, join them to dine on game and old breed meats, compete in traditional garden games, sway to the sounds of rag time jazz, parade in a 'Fashions on the Field' competition and scoop exclusive lots at their charity auction. Click here for more details.

The following day Montalto will host an Autumn Harvest Long Table Lunch at their restaurant. Already they have set aside a designated Melbourne Food and Wine Festival garden bed, where seeds have already been planted raising herbs, vegetables and fruit especially for the event. If they can’t grow it, it will be sourced locally and prepared on the estate. Click here for information.

Co-hosts Tahbilk and Mitchelton will collaborate with regional food guru Jillian Hayes to create a food and wine pairing unlike anything offered before. The long table will be placed along Tahbilk’s historic Long Bridge, spanning an impressive 80 metres and overlooking the glorious billabongs and wetlands of the Goulburn River.

In this magical setting experience a three-course culinary feast, with wines from the host vineyards, and revel in the entertainment provided by acclaimed Italian soprano Stefanie Bellamio. Click here for details.

Source: Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Hunter Valley to Host 2016 NSW State Wine Judging

In the true spirit of the recently announced Hunter Valley Tourism Alliance, the judging of the 2016 Pier One Sydney Harbour New South Wales Wine Industry Awards will be held next year in the Hunter Valley at Cessnock Leagues Club from 20-22 September. During the three days in Hunter Valley Wine Country, the judges and officials will be spoilt by all the Hunter region has to offer. "This is part of the continuing strategy to attract recognition and prominence for Hunter Valley Wine Country," Chairman of the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association, Hon. George Souris said.

In recent years the NSWWIA implemented that the judging be held throughout the regions following successful trials in both Griffith and then Orange consecutively.

Following the 2016 judging in the Hunter Valley, the awards lunch will be held at Pier One Sydney Harbour on 28 October 2016 for all of the NSW wine industry to celebrate.

The judging of the awards in NSW's premier wine district of the Hunter Valley is a flag for the importance that the Hunter Valley is barely one and a half hours from the Sydney metropolis and only half an hour from Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens, as well as the growing importance of Newcastle Airport and Cruise shipping in the Port.

"I look forward to welcoming prominent judges to the Hunter; it is an opportunity for them, outside of their judging duties, to familiarise themselves with the local wine industry, the varieties under cultivation and being planted, the geography and agricultural strengths of the area and also to note the extent of development of tourism facilities in Wine Country."

"I hope they will also have a chance to sample something of the surrounding villages such as Wollombi and Broke."

The 2015 NSW Wine Awards demonstrated the strength of wines against competition from throughout the State with a whopping 197 medals received for the 293 wines which were submitted for judging. This gives the Hunter Valley a 67% strike rate and puts them ahead of all of the other regions which participated.

"We want to see the Hunter shine even further in 2016," Mr Souris concluded.

Tipsy: The drinkers' guide



David Ellis

WE'VE had plenty of books come across our desk in the three decades or so we've been writing this column, but none quite like a 200-odd pager that came in this month, and simply titled Tipsy.

For while the majority of the others have been pretty-much deeply thought out single-subject works covering wine, or whisky, beer or aperitifs, and how they are made or how best they should be served, Tipsy is a wonderfully expansive look at all this, and at the one time is informative, amusing, and simply an enjoyable read.

It was penned by Clare Burder who has been in the wine business in one way or another since she was just 15, and who now runs appreciation courses covering wine, beer, whisky, gin and sake – while also heading-up her boutique, family-owned Eminence Wines in Victoria's King Valley.

Tipsy takes readers through everything from how to master a daunting 40-page wine list, understand "trade talk," this-goes-with-that cheeses and drinks, to how not only are wines made, but also beers, whiskies, gins and sakes. It also covers storage and cellaring, getting the most enjoyment from rums, tequilas, ciders and vermouths, understanding the difference between a single malt whisky and a blend… even selecting the best glasses for quaffing a good beer, and tips on how to pour like a pro.

We think it a real must-have, and great value at $24.99 from all good book stores.



[] FUN and informative, a must-have for when you want to know all about that drink you've got in mind.


for week beginning 30 November 2015

Monday 30 November 2015

Lindeman's 2013 St George Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

CLASSIC Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
that's rewardingly rich and generous in flavour.

ONE TO NOTE: 2013 was an excellent vintage in Coonawarra, and on Lindeman's 12ha St George Vineyard the reds ripened slowly and fully to give winemaker Brett Sharpe wonderful fruit of excellent colour density, concentration of flavour and ripe tannin structure for the limited release 2013 St George Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Already brimming with generous and rich blackcurrant flavour and savoury tannins, at $70 this is a great wine now but will simply get better over the coming five, ten or even more years. Put it on the table with a good steak, or simply enjoy it on its own.

week 30 Nov15

Monday 23 November 2015

Logan Wines Vintage ‘M’ Cuvee - NSW Central West

GREAT party drop named for a dad who was a
great fan and devotee of premium sparkling wine.

ONE TO NOTE: PETER LOGAN at Logan Wines at Orange in the NSW Central West has long displayed a dogged commitment to evolve and improve his Logan Vintage 'M' Cuvee that's named in memory of his late father, Malcolm – a great fan and devotee of premium sparkling wine.

Made in the traditional Champagne method, Peter's latest release is from the 2012 vintage and is interesting in that he's broken away from a usual practice of close to equal parts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. For this one he's opted instead for a literally whopping 79% Chardonnay, 11% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier , all off 18 year old vines growing in rich, deep volcanic soils on the north-facing slopes of the local Mount Canobolas.

Crisp and dry with flavours of lemon, wild strawberry, almond and a salty minerality, this 2012 Logan Vintage 'M' Cuvee is a great drop at $35 for upcoming partying.


Margan Wines 2011 Aged Release Shiraz - Hunter Valley

SPECIAL occasion good cheer, an ideal red with the
turkey this Christmas, or perhaps another
any time up to 20 years down the line.


David Ellis

IF you've an extra-special Christmas coming up and you are looking for an extra-special wine for just the two of you, give real consideration to Margan Wines' recently released 2011 Aged Release Shiraz.

At $100 a bottle this is a unique wine you'll find is just the drop for a unique-occasion Christmas, especially if turkey is at the centre of the table: Andrew Margan created it using grapes from 40 year old Hunter Valley vines that yielded just a half tonne per acre of intensely flavour-concentrated fruit when picked at full ripeness.

After fermentation it was given 20 months in new French oak barriques, then bottled and aged for four years in Margan's own cellars under Andrew's care.

A beautiful dark purple in colour, this one screams classic Hunter Shiraz, with aromas of white pepper, ripe dark berry fruit, tar, a hint of cigar box and lovely follow-through flavours. And while Ideal for that special-occasion Christmas lunch or dinner turkey this year, it'll also mature beautifully over the next couple of decades for even greater enjoyment at Christmases or other special dining events down the line.

for week beginning 23 November 2015

Drink red wine at room temperature, right? No.

No Australian Drinks Warm Beer, So Why Are 82 Per Cent of Us Drinking Red Wine Too Warm?

In a recent IPSOS study conducted by Taylors Wines, 8 out of 10 Australians are drinking their red wine 'at room temperature'. While this may seem like normal behaviour, our warm Australian climate is actually having a negative impact on the flavour of our favourite shiraz, pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon.

The temperature of an average Aussie home, particularly in summer, ranges between 22˚C-24˚C, and according to industry experts, including the Court of Master Sommeliers, serving a red wine at this temperature robs it of its finesse and flavour. This antiquated advice of drinking red wine at 'room temperature' originates from medieval French drawing rooms which were closer to a chilly 14˚C-16˚C.

White wine isn't exempt from the harsh Australian sun either. While nothing may seem more refreshing than a crisp glass of riesling poured straight from the fridge, chilling a white wine too cold can mask its flavours and aromas, making its acid flavours more pronounced. In a recent Wine Intelligence survey commissioned by Taylors Wines, 77 per cent of Australians enjoy a cool glass of white fresh from the fridge, while 21 per cent even serve it directly from the freezer.

This means approximately 406,825 bottles of red wine and 436,615 bottles of white wine each day are inadvertently being consumed at the incorrect temperature. (1)

Taylors Wines third generation Managing Director Mitchell Taylor says this is a dilemma that affects most Australian wine drinkers, they just don't know it yet.

“Temperature is a vital piece in making sure wine is enjoyed at its very best. While our winemakers take great care to ensure our wine is of utmost quality and value, the warm Australian climate is not so great for storing and drinking wine,” Mitchell said.

“It's an issue that most wine lovers don't know is having a massive impact on their enjoyment and appreciation of wine.”

While expensive high-tech wine fridges and thermometers can be used to control and monitor a wine's temperature consistently, most Australians don't have access to this equipment, so Taylors have found a solution to wine drinker's temperature troubles with their latest label innovation.

Now featured on the back of Taylors Estate and Promised Land ranges is the Optimum Drinking Temperature Sensor – a temperature sensor which uses thermo-chromatic ink technology that changes colour depending on the temperature of the wine, turning green when the white or sparkling wine is just right to pour, and turning fuchsia for the red wines.

This is the first time the technology has been used in educational application, allowing wine drinkers to know when their wine is at the best temperature to enjoy, depending on the variety.

Taylors' wines can now be enjoyed
at their correct temperature
“Using insights and research into Australian wine drinking habits, we're excited to share a simple way for wine consumers to know when their wines are just right to drink,” Mitchell said.

According to Taylors Chief Winemaker Adam Eggins, he suggests putting a red wine in the fridge 30 minutes prior to serving. This will give the wine time to chill to the optimum drinking temperature, turning the back label's small seahorse sensor to a bold fuchsia colour.

As for whites, Adam suggests pulling a white wine from the fridge 30 minutes prior to opening and enjoying as this will give the wine enough time to warm up, opening the wines aromas and unique flavours.

The Taylors Estate range of wines are available for RRP $20. The Taylors Promised Land range are available for RRP $15. Both ranges are available at all good liquor retailers throughout Australia and online at

For more information about Taylors new Optimum Drinking Sensors, visit

Instagram: @taylorswines
Twitter: @taylors_wines

(1)Nielsen ScanTrack Liquor data to 23/08/15, ABS Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia 06/05/15, IRI-Aztec Liquor Outlook data to 05/07/15

Saturday 21 November 2015

Where do Australians buy their wine? (Roy Morgan)

According to the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research, some 4.8 million Australian adults buy alcohol in an average seven days, spending almost $296 million between them (an average of $61 per person per week). Enjoying the largest slice of this rather substantial pie is liquor megastore Dan Murphy’s--leader not only in terms of market share, as it happens, but also in total customer numbers.

In any given week, 1.2 million Aussies 18+ (or 23.9% of total alcohol-buyers) shop at Dan Murphy’s, spending an average of $67 each. The result? An impressive 26.3% share of total dollars spent on alcohol during an average seven-day period—well ahead of BWS (Beer Wine Spirits), which has 17.9% of the total weekly liquor spend.

With 1.1 million people shopping there in an average seven days, BWS is only just behind Dan Murphy’s in terms of customer volume. However, because BWS customers spend considerably less on average ($48) than Dan Murphy’s shoppers, the difference in market share between the two retailers is more pronounced.
Top 10 liquor retailers in terms of market share

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2014 – September 2015 (n=3,730). Dollar figures = average customer spend for each store. (click to enlarge)

Liquorland (10.8% of total market dollars), 1st Choice (6.3%) and wine clubs such as Cellarmasters and the Wine Society (4.8%) complete the top five liquor retailers with respect to market-share size.

But where a retailer sits in term of market share does not always correspond with the volume of customers shopping with them in any given seven days.

Wine clubs are the most striking example of this. While they account for the fifth-greatest portion of total dollars spent—thanks to their customers’ hefty $194 weekly spend— they don’t even crack the top 10 for customer numbers. Used by 74,000 Australian adults in an average seven days, these online retailers tend to specialise in bulk sales (eg cases of wine) rather than spontaneous one-off purchases.

The opposite pattern is true of ALDI Liquor, which attracts the fifth-highest number of shoppers in any given seven days (251,000) but only 2.2% of total dollars spent due to their customers’ low average spend ($26). Given the low prices of ALDI Liquor’s products, this is not especially surprising.

Andrew Price, General Manager – Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“These latest alcohol findings will come as very good news to Woolworths Limited, which owns both Dan Murphy’s and BWS, the retailers with the highest share of Australia’s liquor market—just over 44% between the two of them.

“With its enormous, well-stocked stores, low-price policy and strong online presence, Dan Murphy’s also happens to be the current Liquor Store of the Month in the Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Awards. Clearly the chain is ticking all the right boxes among Australia’s alcohol buyers, who not only flock there in droves but rack up one of the higher average weekly spends.

“BWS serves a different purpose, being geared more towards convenience with its stores located adjacent to Woolworths supermarkets. It is interesting to note that Woolworths also has a finger in the wine club pie with Cellarmasters, one of the country’s top online wine stores.

“With its three very different liquor retail offerings, Woolworths seems well positioned to thrive in this competitive market even as the proportion of Australians drinking and buying alcohol continues to decline…”

Monday 16 November 2015

Shottesbrooke 2013 Estate Merlot

PUT this great Merlot on the table with
Italian meatballs in a rich tomato sauce.

ONE TO NOTE:  IF  you are among Australia's expanding ranks of Merlot lovers, a rewarding example from one of our major growing areas, McLaren Vale is Shottesbrooke Estate's just-released 2013 vintage.

Soft and juicy on the palate yet with lovely bright red fruit flavours to the fore, coupled nicely with underlying dark plums, this is a great example as to why Merlot is so popular with those who enjoy a red that doesn't detract from any of the enjoyment of a meal's flavours.

At $20 and with those red fruit flavours along with a touch of light oak and some fine and savoury tannins, this Shottesbrooke 2013 is just the drop to put together with Italian meatballs in a rich tomato sauce.

for week beginning 16 November 2015

Segura Viudas Grand Cuvee Reserva


David Ellis

A BUBBLY from Spain to give serious thought
to for the upcoming Festive party season.
WITH the Festive Season not all that far away and attention turning to decisions about the bubbles to go with it, a label to give thought to for quality, price-value and as something of a talking point, is Spain's Segura Viudas Grand Cuvee Reserva.

Hailing from the Penedes region 50km south of Barcelona – and one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world – Segura Viudas winery began life in the 11th century as a military watch tower, became a country mansion a couple of centuries later, spent time as a church, and finally in the 19th century evolved into a winery.

Today it's part of the vast Freixenet wine company stable (the biggest sparkling wine maker in the world,) with its Grand Cuvee Reserva a great choice for entertaining or special-occasion dining – and interestingly 85% made from the traditional Spanish varieties of Macabeo and Parellada that give it wonderful fruit flavours, and the remaining 15% originally-French Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for lovely acid balance.

Officially classified as a Cava, a Segura Viudas Grand Cuvee Reserva 2011 was made in the Methode Traditionelle, and at $25 is a perfect match served well-chilled with upcoming Festive Season aperitifs such as pate and honey-glazed prawns.

for week beginning 16 November 2015

Monday 9 November 2015

2013 Reserve Merriman Merlot - Shaw Vineyard - Canberra Wine Region

HONOURING a Murrumbateman, Canberra District,
pioneer and a great match with duck, veal or pasta dishes.
ONE TO NOTE: SHAW Vineyard Estate at Murrumbateman in the Canberra District has really kicked some goals in its just-ten year existence, and another for its books is a just-released 2013 Reserve Merriman Merlot made from the very best of fruit that was hand-selected from low-yielding vines, and picked in the cool of night.

Graeme Shaw has been producing Estate and Reserve label Merlots for many years – the difference being the extra time the Reserve spends in select French barrels – and has now added the moniker Merriman to his 2013 Reserve Merlot. That's because it's the name he gives to his best red of the year, and honours pioneer George Merriman who produced world-class wool from Murrumbateman land on part of which the cool-climate Shaw vineyard now thrives.

At $60 with lovely varietal plum and black cherry flavours, savoury tannins and a long finish, this is a great drop with duck, veal or pasta dishes, or mild-spiced curries.

wc 9.11.15

Rob Geddes’ Australian Wine Vintages 2016

PERFECT Christmas gift for those who
love their wines – or even for yourself.

David Ellis

IF you're starting to wonder about an ideal Christmas gift for that VIP relative or friend just getting into the appreciation of quality wines – or is already there and wanting to further increase their knowledge – look no further than Rob Geddes' Australian Wine Vintages 2016.

This great little 33rd edition of what's more-popularly dubbed "The Gold Book" is an absolute treasure trove of information as it showcases the top 10% of Australian wineries, and gives detailed tasting notes, assessments of vintage qualities, and indicative pricing of an amazing 6,000-plus wines from 300 Australian wineries – forty of these latter being new first-time inclusions.

Rob Geddes cleverly demystifies the wine buying and enjoyment experience in this pocket-size book (and which is also available on app,) and as well as current vintages looks at selected past years for those already into, or maybe thinking of beginning a cellar. A really must-have both for the new-into-wine and the already-established, it's a worthwhile $34.95 from, with free delivery before Christmas for that special relative, friend – or yes, yourself.

for week beginning 09 November 2015

Friday 6 November 2015

2015 NSW Wine Awards Results

2015 Pier One Sydney Harbour NSW Wine Awards


The 18 Trophy-winning wines and winemakers in the 2015 Pier One Sydney Harbour NSW Wine Awards were presented with their highly-coveted awards at a sold-out Presentation Lunch at Pier One Sydney Harbour, attended by the who's-who of the wine industry, media and NSW Government.

With judges awarding a record number of gold medals in this year's NSW Wine Awards, competition for trophies was especially tough. The trophy winners represent the very best of the best.

Collotype Trophy for Best Young Riesling ~ 2015 Colmar Estate Riesling (Orange)

NSW DPI Trophy for Best Young Semillon ~ 2013 McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillon (Hunter Valley)

Trophy for Best Young Sauvignon Blanc ~ 2015 Cooks Lot Allotment 689 Sauvignon Blanc (Orange)

Longfellow's Trophy for Best Young Chardonnay ~ 2014 First Creek Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay (Hunter Valley)

Trophy for Best Young White Other Varieties ~ 2014 Topper's Mountain Gewürztraminer (New England)

Trophy for Best Mature Dry White ~ 2009 Brokenwood Wines ILR Reserve Semillon (Hunter Valley)

Trophy for Best Young Pinot Noir ~ 2014 Colmar Estate Pinot Noir (Orange)

Orora Stelvin Trophy for Best Young Shiraz ~ 2014 Nick O'Leary Wines Shiraz (Canberra District)

Riedel Trophy for Best Young Cabernet Sauvignon ~ 2014 Moppity Vineyards Lock & Key Reserve Cabernet (Hilltops)

Trophy for Best Young Other Red Varieties ~ 2014 Tamburlaine Wines Reserve Malbec (Orange)

Trophy for Best Young Red Blend ~ 2014 De Iuliis Shiraz Touriga LDR Vineyard (Hunter Valley)

StarTrack Trophy for Best Mature Red ~ 2011 De Iuliis Shiraz Limited Release (Hunter Valley)

NSW DPI Award for Best Organic Wine ~ 2014 Tamburlaine Wines Reserve Malbec (Orange)

CiSRA Canon Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine ~ 2002 Courabyra "805" (Tumbarumba)

Trophy for Best Sweet Wine ~ 2013 Bunnamagoo Estate Autumn Semillon (Mudgee)

Trophy Best Dry White   ~ 2014 First Creek Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay (Hunter Valley)

Clear Image Trophy for Best Dry Red ~ 2014 Nick O'Leary Wines Shiraz (Canberra District)

And it is from these latter 4 top trophies that the ultimate title of 'Pier One Sydney Harbour 2015 NSW Wine of the Year' has been meticulously chosen and will be awarded to … 2014 Nick O'Leary Wines Shiraz.

This is a great success for Canberra District based winery Nick O'Leary Wines and even more impressive when noted that a Nick O'Leary wine won the 2014 Wine of the Year Trophy! The first time a winery has won back-to-back Wine of the Year Trophies.              

President of the NSW Wine Industry Association and Awards judge Tom Ward said, "Nick O'Leary and the Canberra District wine region can deservedly celebrate this weekend with another outstanding achievement. And the rest of the State has a lot to be happy about too with the 2015 trophies going to 7 different wine regions in total and again showcasing the quality and diversity of wines available from all over NSW."

Over the 20 years the NSW Wine Awards has been running, there has been a continual increase in interest in the Awards from wine producers, wine sellers, the public and new corporate sponsors, signifying the real support for our local wine industry and its connection with both tourism and food. This interest has been backed by a continued increase in sales of NSW wines in the domestic market, especially in Sydney.

Monday 2 November 2015

Eden Hall 2015 Riesling - Eden Valley

A PERFECT partner to whole baked
snapper with chilli, ginger and coriander.

ONE TO NOTE: 2015 was a cracking vintage for winemakers in South Australia's Eden Valley, with above average early Winter rains followed by higher than normal Spring temperatures and a generally mild Summer, all resulting in near-perfect ripening conditions and an earlier than usual harvest.

And if you like your Rieslings, one maker that's released a stunner from that vintage is Eden Hall, their 2015 made from fruit off four separate blocks and all about beautiful lemon and ripe lime juice flavours that linger in the mouth with an almost seductiveness. It's well-priced too at just $22, and makes for a perfect partner to whole baked snapper with chilli, ginger and coriander.

for week beginning 02 November 2015

Tim Adams’ 2015 Mr Mick Novo Sangiovese - Clare Valley

David Ellis

AUSTRALIANS are taking more
and more to lighter, savoury reds
with a bit of fridge chill, this one's ideal chilled
with pizza loaded with tomatoes,
cheese, herbs and pepperoni.

WITH Australians in recent years taking more and more to lighter and more savoury red wine styles in our warmer months, we're also doing something that was almost unthinkable even just a few years back – we're actually putting these reds in the fridge to give them a bit of a chill on serving.

And we're realising just how enjoyable they can be, with one maker who is openly advocating the concept of refrigerating lighter reds being the Clare Valley's Tim Adams, who has just released a 2015 Novo (New) Sangiovese under his Mr Mick label, a wine he says is "a quality alternative to Rosé" and nicely priced at $17.

Sangiovese is the most-planted red variety in its homeland Italy, and is the backbone of that country's famous Chianti that traditionally contains anywhere between 75% and 100% Sangiovese, with quite a wide range of other varieties making up the rest.

Tim Adams' 2015 Mr Mick Novo Sangiovese is a wonderfully easy-going wine that's all about flavours of red berries – cherries, strawberries and raspberries – mellow tannins and with a nice clean and dry finish. And yes, do pop it in the fridge in our coming warmer months to give it a nice bit of chill… with its acidity, herbaceousness and savoury notes, it's a natural to enjoy with – what else? – a pizza with loads of tomato, cheese and herbs, and if you're a carnivore, plenty of pepperoni.

for week beginning 02 November 2015

Monday 26 October 2015

Heemskerk Coal River Valley Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2010 - Tasmania

A CRACKER for party-room celebrating
or that special-occasion dinner.

ONE TO NOTE:  TASMANIA'S Heemskerk has vineyards in some of the most southerly and therefore coolest grape-growing regions in Australia, places that allow for slow and gentle ripening of fruit and the subsequent preservation of important natural acid.

Named after the flagship of Dutch explorer and merchant Abel Tasman who sighted Tasmania's west coast in November 1642, Heemskerk was founded in 1975, had a colourful history with a half-dozen owners and mixed fortunes over the years, and is now part of Treasury Wine Estates. And a Heemskerk Coal River Valley Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2010 that's just been released is a little ripper of a bubbly we think you'll find a cracker for party-room celebrating.

From a vintage whose growing conditions were close to ideal, this is a sparkling with a bouquet of delicate citrus blossom, fresh lemon and notes of almond nougat, with the almond nougat together with preserved lemon notes the most forward on the palate. There's also a nice chalky minerality; a beaut special-occasion drop at $60.


Logan Wines - Weemala Pinot Gris - NSW Central Ranges

CONSISTENTLY popular at Cellar Door, and ideal
with sashimi, antipasto or roast chicken.

David Ellis

REGULAR readers will know we've an aversion to reviewing wines in this column on the basis of some gong they've won at some show or other – our belief being that if we give one maker a plug for their success, we need to give every medal-winner a plug… and with that many medals flying around the place we'd need the whole of a publication like this just to list them.

But that doesn't stop us giving mention to recognition achieved by a wine from small family concern, Logan Wines in the Central Ranges of NSW. Because their Weemala Pinot Gris off the family's cold climate Orange vineyards is interesting in that it is now the consistently most-popular wine at their Mudgee cellar door, becoming as winemaker Peter Logan says "something of a celebrity in its own right."

And the just-released 2015 is probably good proof why, with delicate yet discernible bright pear, orange rind and nutty flavours, a crunchy finish and lovely bouquet. And at $19.95 it's a wine you'll find equally enjoyable with anything from sashimi to antipasto or a traditional roast chicken.

for week beginning 26 October 2015

Monday 19 October 2015

Bottling Up Canada’s Love For Australian Shiraz

McGUIGAN Wines Black Label Shiraz from
the NSW Hunter Valley, is now the most-popular wine in the
Canadian Province of Nova Scotia, outselling all others
from Europe, America, South Africa,
South America and even Canada itself.
IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, David Ellis says that with its French connections from the past, you'd think the biggest selling wine in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia would be French.

But you'd be wrong, and when you switch your bet to Nova Scotian's favourite drop coming from across the border in the good ol' US of A, you'd be wrong again… even though California, that produces something like 2.65-billion bottles annually, is the 4th biggest wine-maker in the world after the countries of France, Italy and Spain and is right on Canada's doorstep.

Because in truth, the biggest-selling wine in Nova Scotia hails not from Europe, America, South Africa, South America nor even Canada itself, but from Australia's Hunter Valley – McGuigan Wines' Black Label Shiraz now outselling at C$10.99 a bottle, any other wine sold in the Province.

And in another province, Saskatchewan, enthusiasm amongst the locals there for a McGuigan export-only Heritage Road Bloodstone Shiraz, has made it the second-biggest selling wine in that province.

McGuigan Wines' Chief Winemaker, Neil McGuigan was uncharacteristically coy when we asked him what this meant in bottle-sales and didn't want to talk numbers. But he did tell us that his Black Label Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are on a nice roll too – so much so in fact, that they're now in the Top 5 of all Australian wine sales not only in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, but right across most of Canada.

Pipers Brook 2009 Sparkling - Tasmania

POP the cork on this cool bubbly from 
Tasmania's north-east if you've reason
for celebrations now, if see it
simply get better over the next few years.
ONE TO NOTE: Small family-owned Pipers Brook Vineyard in north-eastern Tasmania has released a lovely sparkling from the 2009 vintage that was a cool to mild one in this southern-most of our winemaking regions, and considered by many as a year better for sparkling wine production than for table wine.

A blend of Champagne's "Holy Trinity" of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier, this rewardingly fresh bubbly has a fine, persistent bead and creamy texture, and is a drop that Chief Winemaker, René Bezemer said back in 2009 was made with ageing potential in mind of something like ten years.

Being half-way there now, you'll find this 2009 Pipers Brook Vineyard Sparkling already well worth popping the cork at $37 for party-room celebrations, or as a starter at the table for special-occasion dining. And if you've no reason to open it now, it will only get better with a few more years in the cellar…

Apple Tree Flat 2013 Cabernet Merlot - NSW Central Ranges

CABERNET Merlot is one of the great varietal
combinations, and this new player
on the market is well worth trying.

David Ellis

PETER Logan has added a Cabernet Merlot to his portfolio of Apple Tree Flat wines from the Mudgee area in the high elevation Central Ranges of NSW, the latest maker to turn to this increasingly popular blend that many consider to be one of the great varietal combinations.

Although he's been making a very more-ish Merlot for some time, its Peter's first use of Cabernet Sauvignon and he certainly hit pay-dirt with this first harvest as it came from the 2013 vintage – and that was one of the most sensational in Mudgee for many years.

Those who enjoy Cabernet Merlot will find this a really rich, mouth-filling blend while still being medium bodied, the palate reflecting the roughly equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the blend, and all about flavours of rich dark blueberries and raspberries, dark chocolate, thyme and a fresh earthiness.

At just $13 it's an excellent and well-priced drop to put on the table with a lamb roast.

 for week beginning 19 October 2015

Wednesday 14 October 2015

McGuigan Bin Series No. 6000 Verdelho 2014

GREAT with oysters to start,
and a smoked trout salad for mains.
ONE TO NOTE: WITH summer just around the corner, a great drop to think about with seafoods, salads and lighter meal options is Verdelho, a wine whose homeland is Portugal – in particular the island of Madeira – and which does exceptionally well in our NSW Hunter Valley.

And one particularly good one to look for is a McGuigan Bin Series No. 6000 Verdelho 2014, a wine that's full-bodied, fruit-driven, refreshing and easy drinking, with lovely fruit salad and lime flavours and a zesty finish.

At $13 it's a great match with oysters to start, followed by a good smoked trout salad.

Katnook Estate Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

David Ellis
BENCHMARK Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon you'll
find ideal with beef spare ribs braised in a port wine sauce.

IT'S not often we get to enjoy more than a small tasting glass of a $100 a bottle red, but just this month we shared the full bottle of just such a wine with a mate celebrating a birthday – a Big birthday – and he surprised us even more with the revelation he'd got a second bottle in the cellar for his granddaughter's 21st in 2030.

Lucky granddaughter, and lucky everyone else who'll be there for the occasion, for this Katnook Estate Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is up there with the very, very best of them, and winemaker Wayne Stehbens reckons it's only going to get better over the coming 15 to 18 years.

Justifiably proud, Wayne says this wine's the result of a vintage in the Coonawarra wine region that was one of the finest on record, an early, warm, dry and low yielding one that led to fruit of intense aromas, great depth of flavours, and fine tannins. And from all this he selected only the most outstanding parcels of fruit from specific vineyard rows.

Wayne Stehbens
A wonderful benchmark Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, this 2010 Odyssey is all about concentrated blackcurrant aromas, mocha oak complexity – some parcels of the fruit were 'double oaked' to increase flavour complexity – and dense chocolaty tannins. At $100 enjoy on its own for that special occasion or celebration, or if you are after a food match, think about beef spare ribs braised in a port wine sauce.

Monday 5 October 2015

Chandon Brut Rosé

GREAT reflection of Chandon's "wonderful Australian
vineyards" in this bubbly that's equally at home at
the best of parties – or simply with fish and chips.

ONE TO NOTE:  CHANDON Senior Winemaker, Dan Buckle and his team have put enormous effort over the past four years into refining the Chandon Brut style, both in terms of fruit origins and the challenge of balancing complexity with freshness.

Their latest release Chandon Brut Rosé has rewarded them well in this, and their also-goal of reflecting what Dan calls "our wonderful Australian vineyards" through the lens of Methode Traditionelle.  Primarily Pinot Noir (around 60%) with Chardonnay, some Pinot Meunier and a touch of reserve wines from previous years, this is a bubbly with flavours of redcurrant, cherry sorbet and pink grapefruit zest.

Nicely dry with a creamy texture and persistent acidity, enjoy it at $32 in the party room, or at the table with sushi and sashimi – or simply good old fish 'n chips.

Margan 2015 Semillon - Hunter Valley

CRACKER drop to simply think Semillon, river
or sea for the perfect wine and food match.

David Ellis

MARGAN Family Winemakers at Broke in the Hunter Valley have released a Semillon from the excellent 2015 vintage that's terrific value at $20 from such an outstanding season.

Forty year old vines thrive on volcanic soil on Margan's Fordwich Sill vineyard, regularly giving wines that are rich, soft and have intense citrus-like flavours. And in the case of this Margan 2015 Semillon, this means all about upfront lemon zest, crisp citrus and refreshing sherbet on the palate.

Winemaker Andrew Margan says the 2015 vintage was particularly rewarding for white wines, as full ripeness of the fruit had occurred before the January rains came.

"A perfect balance between natural acidity and fruit flavours gives a great mouthfeel with this wine, having you want to go back for more," Andrew says. "And while enjoyable now, cellaring for a few years will result in a beautifully complex Semillon typical of the Hunter Valley." And as for food, simply think Semillon, river or sea.

If you have difficulty locating this one, go onto

for week beginning 05 October 2015