Monday 25 May 2015

Margan Shiraz Saignee Rosé - Logan Weemala Shiraz Viognier

TRY something different with this Rosé
– like barbecued all-pork sausages and a tossed salad
jazzed up with a touch of spice and saltiness.

David Ellis

THE Hunter Valley's Andrew Margan is a dab hand with Rosé, and a 2014 Shiraz Saignee Rosé he's recently released is a nice creamy drop whose aromas and flavours are almost akin to a romp through a lolly shop.

Saignee is a French term referring to the juice that's run-off from the soaking red grape skins to make a wine that's pink rather than full-on red, although in this case the wine's more a brilliant ruby red than pink.

Andrew used 100% Shiraz from his 40 year old Fordwich Sill vineyard for this one, and when poured into the glass it's all about lovely strawberry, cranberry and milk lolly aromas; on the palate it's strawberries again (with perhaps thoughts of straw-berries and cream,) with the Shiraz also giving off some Allspice notes as well.

We normally like matching Andrew's Rosés with spicy Indian dishes, but on this occasion we paired it with barbecued all-pork sausages from our local butcher, and a tossed salad we'd jazzed up with a touch of spice and saltiness. At just $15 a bottle for Rosé, it was a match we didn't regret.

THIS one with its wonderful flavours and tannins
is made for enjoyment with your favourite steak.
ONE TO NOTE: NSW Central Ranges maker, Peter Logan reckons 2013 was the best vintage for Shiraz he's seen in his 20 years in the region, so that a Logan Weemala Shiraz Viognier he's just released is a wine that after putting in the barrel he pretty much left there for a year to evolve itself.

"It was a breeze," he says of this 2013, "and with 70% Mudgee and 30% Orange Shiraz and a just a small portion of Viognier, it is quintessentially Mudgee, with a floral perfume over red and dark berry and cherry aromas, and a rustic palate."

At $19.95 this is a wine to enjoy now, or to leave in the cellar for long into the future – making a 6-bottle buy a great idea so you can enjoy noting its development over the next few years. With its wonderful flavours and tannins, it's made to consider with your favourite steak.


for week beginning 25 May 2015

Monday 18 May 2015

2013 Hahndorf Hill Blueblood Blaufrankisch - Domaine Chandon 2014 Chardonnay

YOU'VE probably never heard of this one,
but it's worth ordering online to enjoy
with a roast leg of lamb, venison or duck.

David Ellis

WHEN one-time doctor-cum-vigneron, Larry Jacobs and journalist Marc Dobson migrated from South Africa in 1997 to pursue their passion for wine, they fell instantly in love with and bought  the boutique Hahndorf Hill Winery in the Adelaide Hills, that was then on the market.

They were particularly fascinated with the number of Germanic and Austrian grape varieties that had been planted by the winery's previous German owner in the early 1990s, with one of these being Blaufrankisch that's an Austrian variety which thrives in the Adelaide Hills' warm days and cold nights, and was being used to make Rosé.

In 2008, however, Larry and Marc took a bolder step, deciding to make a 100% varietal Blaufrankisch – and to this day are the only Australian makers doing so, although the variety has recently been planted in both Victoria and Tasmania.

The just-released 2013 Hahndorf Hill Blueblood Blaufrankisch is a stunner drop, and well worth ordering directly from the cellar door: if you are wondering about flavours, think along the lines of a blend of Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo and Shiraz, with elegant red berry fruit and a touch of spiciness, nicely cocooned in gentle tannin.

A FLAVOURSOME drop with roast
barramundi fillets and herbed roast potatoes.
Certainly well recommended at $40 to enjoy with venison, lamb or duck; order online through or on (08) 8388 7512.

ONE TO NOTE:  COLD, wet and windy conditions just as vines were flowering in the Yarra Valley last year, meant fruit production was markedly down – but conversely quality was "exceptional" thanks to a rapid change from those adverse conditions to "fantastic" during the subsequent growing season.

For Domaine Chandon, flavour intensity, freshness and abundant natural acidity in that fruit has resulted in a 2014 Chardonnay being a real stand-out, with upfront fresh pear and apple flavours, a lovely zesty acidity and great length of flavour. Pay $32 and enjoy with roast barramundi fillets and herbed roast potatoes.

for week beginning 18 May 2015

Monday 11 May 2015

Banjo's Run Merlot - Chateau de Sours Rose Bordeaux

David Ellis

NSW Southern Highlands' Banjo's Run Merlot
great with so many food options.
WE happily admit to a fondness for Merlot, an easy-drinking, food-friendly drop that today is the second-most consumed red in the world after Cabernet Sauvignon, with around  260,000ha (640,000 acres) planted to the variety globally.

And while it thrives in warmer regions it can do exceptionally well in cooler climates too, and where because it doesn't ripen too quickly, it develops a beautiful softness along with lovely fruity varietal flavours. One such cool climate label we suggest is worth trying is from the boutique Banjo's Run at tiny Exeter in the NSW Southern Highlands, around half way between Sydney and Canberra and 1.5hours from each.

Their 2013 is medium bodied with nicely recognisable Merlot red berry and blackcurrant fruit flavours, and with its suggestions of spicy tannin makes for a great match with a Italian tomato-based pastas, herbed chicken or osso bucco.

Banjo's Run 2013 Merlot is just $25 a bottle by the 6- or 12-bottle pack: order direct, and check cellar door hours if thinking of visiting the Southern Highlands, with vigneron Bill Hall on, 0408 228 724 or Freight begins from just $10 per pack depending on distance.

MATCH this with special-occasion grilled lobster,
or maybe Thai or something similarly spicy.
ONE TO NOTE: THE late (great) Auberon Waugh, writing for The Spectator Magazine's Wine Club,  once described Chateau de Sours  Rosé as "probably the greatest Rosé in the world" – somewhat high praise indeed.

And be it so or not, this company has been producing exceptional wines (not just Rosés) out of Bordeaux for some 200 years, yet remarkably a 2013 Chateau de Sours Rosé that's just been released here sells for an extraordinarily modest $23.95.

A blend of Merlot and Cabernet, it has a palate akin to strawberries and cream, a wonderfully sparkling freshness, and with 12.5% alcohol it's a ripper drop for that special-occasion dinner to go with grilled lobster… or maybe a more everyday Thai or something similarly spicy.

 for week beginning 11 May 2015

Thursday 7 May 2015

Wolf Blass New Look Cellar Door Beckons with Black Label, Blending and Bromley

Press Release

South Australia's Wolf Blass Cellar Door in the Barossa Valley is offering several enticing reasons to drop in for a tasting, following a recent redesign.

Paying homage to Wolf Blass' iconic Black Label Wines, the most iconic red blend in the Wolf Blass stable, the Cellar Door has recently created an impressive Black Label Wall, showcasing the world's only collection of every Black Label vintage since the winery's inception in 1973. The wall is a tribute to the Black Label's unprecedented Jimmy Watson success, Australia's most prestigious and sought after wine award.  Black Label is the only wine in the country to win the coveted trophy a record four times.

For those who fancy themselves as an amateur winemaker, the Cellar Door is offering two educational and interactive wine experiences.  Guests can 'Blend it like Blass' by taking the Black Label's regional components and then using them to blend their own version of the reputable series. The experience is available for $40 per person for a minimum six guests.

If a more rustic tasting experience appeals, guests can taste 'Black from the Barrel'. The Black label comprises many layers of flavour in a complex composition of intense fruit characters, magnificent structure, a rich lustrous texture, long velvety tannins and a lingering palate. Visitors taste the two individual components directly from the barrels, alongside the current vintage Black Label Cabernet Shiraz. This is available for $20 per person.

Adding to the Cellar Door's charm, visitors can marvel over a new installation of a life size artwork, titled 'Wolfie', oil and acrylic on canvas, 2014, by one of Australia's most recognised artists and fellow South Australian, David Bromley. The painting, which hangs proudly on the Black Label Wall, was created as a celebration of Wolfgang Blass' 80th birthday. The artwork, depicting him wearing his trademark bow-tie, was entered in this year's prestigious Archibald Prize.

The state-of-the-art Visitors Centre and Cellar Door is an all-encompassing destination for guests visiting the region, offering interactive behind-the-scenes experiences while showcasing impressive memorabilia and artwork.

Wolf Blass is located at 97 Sturt Highway, one hour north of Adelaide. Opening hours are 10am – 4.30pm daily.  For more information visit

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Hunter Valley Wine Festival to be part of 2015 Hunter Valley Food & Wine Month - Accommodation package released

Hunter Valley Wine Festival to be part of 2015 Hunter Valley Food & Wine Month

The Hunter Valley Wine Festival will move from its previous October date to Saturday, 20 June, to become a major new addition to Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month.

The Festival will be staged at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, with more exhibitors, more food stalls, more entertainment, and more fun, but without any increase in ticket prices.

The pre-purchase $20 entry ticket provides five tasting vouchers that can be used to taste wines from some 40 vineyards. There will also be beer and cider tastings at Lovedale Brewery, food outlets, and entertainment throughout the day for adults and kits like.

"The Festival will be an important addition to the Hunter Valley Food & Wine Month," said Festival Manager Jenny Farrell.

"Since re-establishing the Festival after a 30 year hiatus, it has been held in October, but on both occasions it coincided with a severe heat wave and we thought that with the Hunter's very mild winter climate, it would be more comfortable and attractive for wine lovers to appreciate the Valley's superb wines as part of Food & Wine Month.

"It has been fantastic to have the support of the major producers – many of whom had been at the previous Hunter Valley Festivals back in the early 1980s – as well as many boutique wineries. The new-style Festival is a friendly, high-quality event which now boasts a very attractive venue that makes it ideal for all wine and food lovers, from the aficionado to those who just want an entertaining Saturday with family and friends.

"We provide a one-stop shop for people to discover some 40 Hunter Valley wineries in the one location."

Ms Farrell said that the Festival would be a family friendly event, with a miniature train, carousel, lemonade stall and other activities aimed at keeping children occupied, while the adults enjoyed the tastings and entertainment.

The Hunter Valley Wine Festival is a Schwartz Family Company community initiative, with the local Rural Fire Service benefiting from funds raised during the Festival.

For tickets and further Festival information visit

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley Resort is located two hours' drive from Sydney and is the perfect place to stay when discovering the Hunter region with easy access to wineries and attractions.

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley offers deluxe king or twin rooms, spa suites, and two and three bedroom self-contained villas. Leisure facilities include the Tea Tree Spa, an 18 hole golf course, 25 metre outdoor heated pool, fitness centre and the free on-site Water Dragons Club for children.

Special "Stay and Play" packages are available at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley from $279.00 per night including accommodation, breakfast and Festival tickets. Reservations on 138 388, or book online at .

Monday 4 May 2015

Richland Sauvignon Blanc - Katnook Founders Block Cabernet Sauvignon

David Ellis

FRUITY and full-bodied, here's a great match
with cold seafood platters, or Asian
stir fries if you prefer something hot.
SAUVIGNON Blanc is today one of the world's most-widely planted white wine grape varieties, with over 121,000ha (300,000 acres) estimated to be under cultivation around the globe.

Originating in the Bordeaux region of France, it still flourishes there as well as now-other parts of that country, plus Italy, Spain, Romania and Moldova, and further afield Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Chile and South Africa.

A rewarding local example is Calabria Family Wines' Richland Sauvignon Blanc from the NSW Riverina, the 2014 a lovely fruity and full-bodied drop in which maker Bill Calabria has coaxed to the forefront its wonderful varietal tropical fruit flavours of passionfruit, lime and mango.

At just $12 it's a great white on warmer days to simply enjoy on its own, makes a perfect match with seafood platters that include prawns, crabs and lobsters, or as Bill Calabria himself enjoys, with Asian stir fries featuring lemon grass, coriander, tomato, onions and a touch of garlic.

WHAT better than the minty and blackcurrant
flavours of this one with a roast lamb dinner?
ONE TO NOTE:  KATNOOK in South Australia's Coonawarra launched their Founder's Block range in 2005, and in the decade since it's become their biggest selling wine – a just-released 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon a further great example of just why.

For here's a medium-bodied wine that's got wonderfully classic Cabernet Sauvignon mint and blackcurrant to the fore, and with accompanying fine tannins… and interestingly came from a vintage that got off to an early start after good Winter rainfalls in 2012 led into a warm and dry Spring, with these conditions continuing right through the growing season into that early vintage in 2013.

Priced at $20, with those minty and blackcurrant flavours it's a great one to enjoy with roast lamb, or even something with a suggestion of spiciness to it.