Monday 20 April 2015

Shaw Isabella Riesling - AIX Rosé

David Ellis

TAKE this one on a picnic with cold chicken,
turkey and salads, or simply sandwiches and
crispy bread rolls with these as fillings.
FOR those of us with a passion for Rosé it was great news to learn that a drop from one of the largest and most prestigious wineries in France's Provence region is now available on shelves here.

Maison Saint AIX that was founded in the early 1900s on a one-time truffle farm has long been hailed as producing amongst the most popular Rosés in France, a not-bad accolade in a country where Rosé consumption easily outstrips that of white wine.

A blend of organically grown Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, the 2013 that's just been released here is a slightly dry wine with vibrant apple and citrus to the fore and secondary rich spicy notes. There's also a nice crisp acidity, and as Rosé buffs we liked the creamy finish that puts this one up there with the best for enjoyment with a range of foods, or simply on its own as an aperitif.

Priced at $29.95 we'd suggest matching the 2013 AIX Rosé with a shellfish lunch or dinner, or take it on a picnic with cold chicken or turkey and salads – or even simply with easy multi-grain sandwiches or crispy rolls with these as fillings on that picnic.

ENJOY with Thai and Mexican dishes
whose heat will be tamed
by the lovely fruit flavours.
ONE TO NOTE: THE Canberra District's Shaw Vineyard Estate has been producing some cracker wines for a decade now, and a newly-released 2014 Isabella Riesling lives up well to the company's reputation despite coming from a vintage that suffered some minor frosts in the growing period, and was then subjected to extreme summer heat in the lead-up to harvest.

Located higher than most of its neighbouring vineyards at Murrumbateman 25 minutes north of Canberra, the company has earned a deserved reputation for fresh, crisp and balanced Rieslings, with their 2014 Shaw Vineyard Estate Isabella a lovely Germanic style whose apricot, apple, pear, sweet honey-like and citrus flavours make it great to enjoy with – and tame-down – the heat of Thai and Mexican dishes.

At $30 it's good buying.

for week beginning 20 April 2015

Fox Gordon By George Cabernet Tempranillo 2012 - McGuigan The Shortlist Botrytis Semillon 2012


David Ellis

UNUSUAL and fulfilling blend to go
with red duck curry or spicy paella.
BACK in the 1990s Sam and Rachel Atkins (nee Fox,) David Cumming, Jane Gordon and Natasha Mooney had a dream, and that was to make, market and sell premium wines from the Barossa Valley and Adelaide hills that would one day sit amongst the great brands of the world as measured by value and enjoyment .

Having learned their trade through working with some of Australia's largest wine companies, today they're well on the road to achieving that dream: their boutique Fox Gordon label that they launched in 2000 recognises the founding women in the company through the surnames of Rachel and Jane, together with a logo of stylised images of Rachel and Natasha (who is company winemaker.)

And while already well on their road, they say they do not mind how much time it takes to fulfil their goals and dreams, nor the commitment, investment, belief and passion necessary to go with it.

A rewarding drop reflecting these attributes and which they've just-recently released, is a Fox Gordon By George Cabernet Tempranillo 2012, a quite unusual blend that delivers rich blueberry and rhubarb fruit flavours together with sweet and juicy tannins.

And it's nicely priced at $22.95 to enjoy with a red duck curry, or spicy paella.

TIME to start thinking Winter time pudds and
"sticky" dessert wines like this one.
ONE TO NOTE: MID-YEAR'S not that far off, which means time to start thinking hearty pudds, and to go with them good "sticky" Botrytis Semillon dessert wines.

The Hunter Valley's Neil McGuigan has created a particularly rewarding such "sticky" in his McGuigan The Shortlist Botrytis Semillon 2012, because in it he's crafted a drop that will go equally well with one of those warming Winter-time pudds  – or with anything from fruit salad and ice-cream to cheese-cake, apple pie and custard, anything in the way of slices… even cheese platters.

Hunter Valley and Riverina fruit for this luscious dessert-matcher was left on the vine late enough to become infected with Botrytis Cinerea, the so-called "Noble Rot" that concentrates flavour, sugar and acidity to give the wine its distinctive character.

At $20 a 375ml half-bottle, you'll find it delightfully rewarding with those dessert ideas.

 for week beginning 20 April 2015

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Orange Wine Region comes to Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel

Sydneysiders and visiting travelers will have the rare opportunity to experience Australia's iconic Orange Food & Wine region this May, when Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel and Brand Orange brings the country to the coast.

Following 2014's hugely successful month of events, the aptly named 'We Heart Orange' kicks off on May 1 and promises an array of palate pleasing and mouth watering produce and fine wines to satisfy even the finickiest of foodies.

Friday 1st May will introduce a curated menu of selected Orange Wines accompanying the hotels existing and extensive menu of beverages. Visitors to the hotel can experience dynamic flavours and variations from wineries including Logan Wines, Phillip Shaw, Ross Hill Wines, Heifer Station, Hedberg Hill, Cargo Road Wines, Rowlee Wines, Gilbert by Simon Gilbert, Colmar Estate and Bantry Grove, Angullong, Faisan Estate, Orange Mountain wines, Patina Wines, Roaring Fork Wine Co, Small Acres Cyder, Tamburlaine Wines, Highland Heritage, Brangayne and Boree Lane Wines.

For those looking to finesse their wine tasting know-how, master classes will be held on Thursday 14th and Thursday 28th May 2015 from 6.30pm on the hotel's top deck.

Saving participants the 260 kilometer trip to Orange from Sydney, senses will drift away while remaining seated and enjoying picturesque views across Sydney Harbour. A limited number of tickets can be purchased from the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel website for $40 per person.

Orange Wine Master Classes, each Thursday in May
The pinnacle of the celebrations will occur over Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th May when the inaugural Taste Orange Food and Wine Festival returns to Robertson Park; dressed with the charm of the delightful Orange region. Adventurous gastronomes and families will discover some of Australia's finest grapes, special food offerings from country gourmet producers and Watsons Bay locals. Pre-package tickets for the festival are available online, $30 per person which offers10 coupons at $3 each and a tasting free glass.

A special accommodation package has been created from $209, which includes one night stay in Watsons King Room, a welcome bottle of Orange Wine on arrival and a complimentary wine class on Thursday 14th or 28th May.

We Heart Orange will conclude in grand style on Friday May 29th 2015 when hatted restaurant, Racine Restaurant pops-up as Racine by the Bay for one night only. Over two sittings held in the hotel's hamptons-esque Sunset Room, guests who purchase tickets are set to enjoy a bespoke menu of Orange's finest designed by award winning and acclaimed Executive Chef, Shaun Arantz.

For more information on the program of events visit

About Brand Orange:

Food and Wine has been the story for the Orange Region for many years and is entwined with many other industries. Brand Orange Ltd has been at the marketing helm of this region since 2007 and continually strives to grow the desire to visit, live and invest in the Orange Region of NSW, Australia.

Located in the Central Ranges of NSW about 3 ½ hours from Sydney, Orange has four distinct seasons and is located at the foot of an old extinct volcano, Mt Canobolas, which makes for a fertile environment suitable for growing a large range of produce. The surrounding region is well known for an abundance of high quality produce and in more recent times a burgeoning wine industry. The region is now home to over 40 cellar doors. In addition, Orange has become well known for its events such Orange F.O.O.D Festival and Orange Wine Festival.

The region is rich in local history, a flourishing cultural scene, fruitful landscapes, historical buildings, art and culture and some of the best food, restaurants and wine in Australia.

Monday 13 April 2015

Barossa Vintage Festival - Barossa Comes Home

Australia's original wine tourism event, the Barossa Vintage Festival is almost upon us. But this is much more than a wine festival, it's a celebration of all things Barossa.

Whether you want to try some of the sumptious Shiraz, try your hand at grape treading or perhaps peruse the markets for some spectacular hand-made produce, the Barossa Comes Home event will be the perfect taste of the festival you are looking for.

It's the end of vintage: the grapes are crushed, the Harvest is done and among the 750 grape growing families of the Barossa Valley, it's time to get together and celebrate. Or if you've been away, it's your very own Welcome Home Party – and a rich celebration of all things Barossan.

Set on the Tanunda Oval, Barossa Comes Home is an open-house picnic, where locals invite the rest of the world in to taste the fruits of their toils and the loves of their labour. And in 2015, there's a lot!

Special features include grape treading, a market bazaar, children's entertainment (including a bouncy castle and merry-go-round), the Bund der Bayern German Dance Club and other local brass bands, and over 30 wineries from the region – all available for your tasting pleasure.

As for food, strictly Barossa-only food producers will be on show, including ShuAm Pork, Hutton Vale Lamb, Barossa Valley Cheese and lots more including vegetarian options.

Entry for the event is $15 per adult, with children under 18 years free. Included in your entry will be the outdoor tasting glass (plastic GoVino, valued at $5) and 5 x wine tasting tickets, each valued at $2. Further tasting tickets can be purchased or people can buy by the glass or bottle direct from the wineries.

A special note, there is NO BYO alcohol or glass into the oval.

For more information on the Barossa Vintage Festival visit

Far Ago Hill Pinot Gris - Voyager Estate Chenin Blanc


David Ellis

PERFECT with shellfish or
pepper-sprinkled Tasmanian salmon,
from NSW Southern Highlands and
good enough for the Governor's table.
ON week days you'll find Katrina Hill running a busy interior design and colour consultancy in Sydney, but come weekends she ditches high fashion for jeans, a tractor, bobcat or slasher and becomes vigneron on her Far Ago Hill vineyard at Canyonleigh, in the Southern Highlands half-way between Sydney and Canberra.

And that latter role rewards her with a ripper Pinot Gris – a variety for which the Southern Highlands is earning a fast-growing reputation – and whose story began in 2003 after Katrina and then-husband, Ricardo Farago had toured Europe tasting as many Pinot Gris as they could, and coming home to search for the ideal site from which to produce their own that would be equal to the best they'd tasted in Europe.

It was at Canyonleigh they found their perfect combination of soil, climate and the elements, and now Katrina tends it at weekends under advice from consultant Ben Brazenor, and with her wine made by Chris Carpenter at Lark Hill in Bungendore.

Since 2011 Katrina's Pinot Gris' been labelled Far Ago Hill, a play on ex-husband Ricardo's surname Farago and her own maiden name Hill; a current-release 2014 is a great drop of delicate aromatics, lemon-citrus and apple flavours and with a crisp, dry finish – perfect at $30 with seafood, it was served at former NSW State Governor Dame Marie Bashir's Farewell, and at the 2014 Archibald Prize presentations…

FROM one of the best-ever white wine vintages ever,
match this one with mildly spiced Asian dishes.
To purchase or for more details: Katrina on 1300 769 217 or

ONE TO NOTE: VOYAGER Estate in Western Australia's Margaret River has released a 2014 Chenin Blanc whose soft tropical fruit flavours, fresh acidity and a suggestion of sweetness you'll find an ideal match with mildly spiced Asian dishes or fresh seafoods.

2014 gave Voyager Estate one of its best white wine vintages ever, with fruit that Manager of Winemaking and Viticulture, Steve James says was "absolutely outstanding," and which came off three separate vineyards including one whose Chenin Blanc was part of the company's first plantings of the variety in 1978.

An early-drinking style, this is a beautiful $20 drop to buy now and enjoy now.

for week beginning 13 April 2015

Sunday 12 April 2015

Would you swap wine for sex?

Well, half of you said 'yes'
Some might say sex AND wine were the perfect combination
​IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says a survey by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts has found that after a long day in the office or while travelling, the majority of people would prefer a glass of good wine to most other things – including even hopping into bed with their partner.

The survey that was conducted in the US, Germany, China, Argentina and China found nearly half of those asked – an amazing 48 per cent – said they'd make the wine option #1 as a means of unwinding.

As well, 29 per cent said they'd give up their smartphone for a day in return for a top wine at the end of a busy day, 23 per cent their social media account for a week, and while travelling 23 per cent would give up use of their hotel's spa for that glass of wine. Another 12 per cent said the gym.

And possibly most surprising of all, 23 per cent would give up sex with their partner for a week, in exchange for a glass of premium wine after a long day.

The hotel group undertook the survey as part of its premium wine program, Sheraton Social Hour, that takes a regular look into global traveller guests' wine drinking habits, taste preferences, spending and social influences.

Read full survey here

Monday 6 April 2015

Tim Adams The Fergus - Shottesbrooke Sauvignon Blanc

David Ellis
enjoy with Confit of Duck.

ITS close to twenty years – nineteen in fact – since Tim Adams and wife Pam Goldsack made their first Tim Adams Fergus, a Grenache-based blend they named after neighbour Fergus Mahon who sold them some Grenache back in 1993 during a desperate shortage in the Clare Valley of Shiraz and Cabernet fruit.
Since that pioneering drop of 85% Grenache and 15% Cabernet in those desperate times, The Fergus has comprised Grenache with various other reds, the latest being the 2012 that's 35% Grenache from the Mahon's Fergus Vineyard, 35% Tempranillo from Tim's Ladera Vineyard, and 30% from his Sheoak Vineyard at Watervale.

The result's a wonderfully mouth-filling wine with Grenache spiciness to the fore, nice plum and red berry flavours, gentle tannins and beautiful floral aromas, all combining to achieve Tim's aim of a corner-stone drop reflecting commitment to quality and traditional Clare Valley wine styles.

Remarkably it's just $24, and if you can resist the temptation to get into it now (with, we'd suggest, Confit of Duck) it'll reward beautifully over the next decade or more.
A WINNER with seafood, or chilled
on its own as guests arrive.

ONE TO NOTE: ABOUNDING tropical fruit flavours and a wonderfully crisp acidity are highlights of an Estate Series 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from boutique Shottesbrooke Vineyards in the Adelaide Hills.

Winemaker Hamish Maguire also used fruit from McLaren Vale in this lip-smacker drop that's got everything in it from those tropical fruits to a grassiness, suggestions of lemon citrus and a refreshing mouth-feel.

Sauvignon Blanc and seafood go hand-in-hand so make your choice from the seafood counter as to what to enjoy it with best, or equally offer it chilled on its own as guests arrive for that seafood lunch or dinner.

Nicely priced at $20.

for week beginning 06 April 2015

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Hunter Valley Magazine Issue 4, 2015


Hunter Valley Magazine showcases the best food, wine and other experiences in Australia's top food and wine region.