Monday 31 August 2015

Briar Ridge 2015 Fiano - Hunter Valley

PASTA dishes and seafoods will partner
nicely with this Hunter Valley Fiano.

ONE TO NOTE: THE Hunter Valley's Briar Ridge Wines has released a 2015 Fiano, a Southern Italian varietal that in Australia has been mostly made until now in warmer regions such as McLaren Vale, Riverland, the Clare Valley and the Adelaide Hills.

Winemaker Gwyn Olsen brought in fruit from the Hunter's Howards Vineyard for this new-direction wine, a drop with an interestingly lively palate of ginger spice, cumquat and hazelnut to the fore and a quite lovely zestiness.  And while an enjoyable buy-now, drink-now wine, Gwyn says it's showing all signs of developing further complexity over the next five years; pay $28 and enjoy with pasta dishes or seafoods.

for week beginning 31 August 2015

Eden Hall 2015 Gruner Veltliner - Eden Valley

ONE to match up with a Wiener Schnitzel,
the national dish of its homeland Austria.


David Ellis

EDEN Valley in the Barossa may be one of our smaller winemaking regions, but even so is home to some exceptional makers, and at the same time some equally exceptional histories to many of their properties.

Among them is Eden Hall that dates back to the 1840s, was planted to wine grapes in the early 1900s, saw these ripped out 70 years later in favour of sheep grazing, and went back to winemaking again in the 1990s (while still keeping some sheep.)

And now it's released what's believed to be the Valley's first-ever Gruner Veltliner, a wine whose homeland is Austria, is made to a lesser degree in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and is fast becoming popular in the USA and here in Australia.

And Eden Hall had a trump card up their sleeve when it came to making their pioneering drop: one of their winemakers, Christa Deans spent time in Austria working in wineries there and getting to learn all she could about Gruner Veltliner.

Hers is a ripper drop with a rich palate of nectarine and white peach fruit flavours and back notes of citrus and grapefruit and a mineral finish. A naturally food-friendly wine with anything from chicken dishes to seafoods, vegetarian and even light red meats, it's a perfect match with Wiener Schnitzel… which after all is the national dish of Austria from which this variety originated. Eden Hall's Gruner Veltliner is $35 a bottle online with discounts for six or more: check out

for week beginning 31 August 2015

Monday 24 August 2015

One to note: 2012 Girt by Sea label Cabernet Merlot - Voyager Estate

AN unexpected attention-grabber to enjoy with
lamb shanks cooked in a red wine sauce.

ONE TO NOTE: VOYAGER Estate in Western Australia's Margaret River in 2012 had one of its warmest summers, earliest vintages, and highest fruit yields ever, and despite some challenges these threw up at winemakers, it's released an exceptionally smooth and moreish 2012 Girt by Sea label Cabernet Merlot.

Something of an unexpected attention-grabber, this most pleasant drop has layers of dark cherry and blackcurrant fruit flavours, hints of vanilla, spice and nougat, fine-grained tannins and nicely integrated French and American oak. At $28, a great match with barbecued steak, or lamb shanks cooked in a red wine sauce.

for week beginning 24 August 2015

2015 Watervale Riesling - South Australia’s Clare Valley

David Ellis
A DROP to match with anything from seafood to
Asia, chicken, pork or vegetarian dishes.

ALTHOUGH they've been making wines in South Australia's Clare Valley since the 1850s, one little village that's particularly renowned for its Rieslings is Watervale – which all these years on, still has a population of under 250.

Jim Barry Wines is virtually synonymous with Watervale and premium Rieslings, and their now-released 2015 Watervale Riesling is another example of why the team there has such a well-deserved reputation, albeit 2015 wasn't exactly kind to them in many respects weather-wise.

We're talking about rain – firstly a lack of it, and then absolutely plenty of it, combined with unwanted extreme heat. In five months from early August 2014 to early January 2015, the Clare Valley got a mere 67mm, just enough as Peter Barry put it, "to wash the dust off the vines."  Then in three weeks of January down it came… 100mm of it, combined with that extreme heat in February.
But remarkably the vines came through well, and the 2015 Jim Barry Watervale is a great Riesling, with mouth-filling ginger and lime fruit flavours, crispy apple-like acidity and a nice varietal creaminess. Pay $18 and with Riesling being one of the most food-friendly of wines, match this one with anything from seafood to Asian, chicken, pork or vegetarian dishes.

for week beginning 24 August 2015

Monday 17 August 2015

One to note: Tim Adams Clare Valley Pinot Gris

A PUNT that paid off makes for a great-matching
wine with Asian cuisine and seafoods.

ONE TO NOTE: THE CLARE Valley’s Tim Adams took a big punt when he planted his first Pinot Gris after enjoying an Alsace Pinot Gris with an old mate, and afterwards thinking the variety might do well on a couple of sites he had in mind in Clare.

And that punt certainly more than paid off, for today Tim Adams’ is amongst the top-sellers of premium Australian Pinot Gris, Tim making his from fruit off his own and select other Clare Valley vineyards.

This 2015 is all about mouth-filling flavours of pear, leatherwood honey and peach, off-set with a subtle citrus zest, fruity sweetness on the middle palate, and cleansing acidity. Nicely priced at $22 for a wine of this quality, it’s a natural to enjoy with Asian cuisine, seafoods and salads.

2013 Limestone Ridge Shiraz Cabernet - Coonawarra



David Ellis

PERFECT conditions result in the perfect
wine with roast beef or lamb dishes.
WHEN you’ve a vineyard that sits directly over Coonawarra’s famed Terra Rossa strip right where the soil is at its most-shallow above a ridge of marvellous limestone, and you enjoy a fantastic growing season to boot, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re going to create wines to have tongues wagging.

And that’s exactly what Lindeman’s got a couple of years’ back, and from which they’ve now-released their 2013 Limestone Ridge Vineyard Shiraz Cabernet, a premium drop that’s worth every cent of the $60 asking price.

Winemaker Brett Sharpe sums up 2013 simply as “excellent” in Coonawarra, with a warm, dry summer followed by a cool autumn. “We had great fruit set, undertook targeted fruit thinning, and cooler ripening conditions followed by a late ‘Indian Summer,’ resulted in reds that ripened slowly and fully and provided us with excellent fruit concentration and ripe tannin structure,” Brett says.

With a lovely spiciness to it, oodles of red and black juicy fruit flavours, subtle floral notes and toasty oak, this 2013 Limestone Ridge Shiraz Cabernet is a great drop for special-event dining, and a perfect match with roast beef or lamb dishes.

Monday 10 August 2015

One to note: Rymill Coonawarra Brut

FOR those next celebrations a great Aussie bubbly
from a French-born, Champagne-trained winemaker.

ONE TO NOTE:  A NICE bubbly to think about for any celebrations you have in the wind, is a 2012 Rymill Coonawarra Brut that's made from grape varieties used in the finest traditional French Champagnes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

And who better to make it than Senior Winemaker at Rymill, Sandrine Gimon who is French-born and Champagne-trained… and for this drop changed the component percentages a little to reflect the exceptional 2012 vintage for Chardonnay in Coonawarra: she made this one with 90% Chardonnay fruit, and for sticking with tradition, equal parts of the two Pinot.

And although those two are just five per cent each of the blend, they're enough to give the wine a nicely subtle pink hue. With a nice creamy mousse, fresh fruit flavours (peach, melon and red berries mostly) and good acidity, it's a great drop for partying – or any time. And nicely priced too at $25.

for week beginning 10 August 2015

Grey Sands Tamar Valley 2008 Merlot


NO irrigation in the vineyard,
seven years in the cellar
– here's a Merlot that's all about
flavour, flavour and more flavour. 
David Ellis

BOUTIQUE Grey Sands Vineyard tucked away in Glengarry overlooking the Tamar Valley just north-west of Launceston, have just released their 2008 Merlot, and while  the results of its long seven years in the cellar must be enormously rewarding for owners Bob and Rita Richter, we're ready to say they're even more-so for buyers.

The Richter's have a philosophy of not irrigating their Grey Sands vineyard, preferring to sacrifice higher yields in favour of maximum flavour concentration in the resultant fruit. And it's certainly paid off in this case, with a drop that's got wonderfully concentrated dark fruit flavours (think mulberries and plums to the fore,) cocoa, spicy oak and nicely balanced tannins.

And it's equally rewarding for those who love to savour aromas out of the glass, all that fruitiness simply erupting from this one – almost like putting your nose into a rich plum pudding.

With those already seven years in the cellar, this 2008 Merlot still has plenty more years of life to come, but if you want to get into it now, enjoy with your favourite red meats – as we did, with a Winter-time's steak and kidney pie.

If you're planning a driving holiday in Tasmania, Grey Sands Vineyard is a half-hour north-west of Launceston with the Cellar Door, gardens and vineyard open from midday to 5pm the last weekend of every month from October to April (inclusive.) To order their 2008 Merlot ($40 cellar door plus freight) email

Thursday 6 August 2015

The Argus Wine List Awarded 3 Glasses

Sommelier at the Argus Dining Room & Bar Jeremy Shiell received a golden tick of approval on Monday night at the Gourmet Traveller Wine Awards in Melbourne with the restaurant's wine list being awarded three glasses.

The accolade is similar to that of winning three chef's hats, so understandably Jeremy and The Argus team are thrilled with the recognition at these prestigious awards.

Jeremy, who has been with The Argus for almost 18 months says the wine list development has been highly interconnected with the restaurant's paddock to plate food offering.

“It is immensely satisfying to create a three-glass worthy list and to receive recognition from experts in the industry. My role has been to build a wine list that offers choices to complement and enhance the food experience and we have some great varieties on offer.

“The Argus has a strong commitment to great wine, including sustainable, low-intervention producers from around the world and local product as well. The last-few years have seen a dramatic sea-change in wine, and I'm proud to champion these changes in an approachable, educational manner,” he says.

The Argus Bar & Lounge wine menu offers an enormous 475 wines for guests to choose from, 15 of these are available by the glass and the selection includes a mix of local, interstate and international offerings.

The Gourmet Traveller Wine Award judges not surprisingly delivered a glowing review of The Argus wine selection.

“This is a list that cries from the rooftops with innovative, artisan, sustainable wine producers with rotating features on winemakers like benchmark Bindi of Victoria and fine Champagne grower-producer Ulysse Collin. It's a cutting edge selection that steers down the natural wine path, but doesn't forget to include fine examples of all genres. Wonderful stuff," it said.


Monday 3 August 2015

Shottesbrooke 2012 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

FASCINATING history of an interesting label
to talk about over slow-cooked lamb shanks.

ONE TO NOTE: SHOTTESBROOKE Vineyard at McLaren Vale goes back over 30 years to when founder Nick Holmes planted his first vineyard, naming it after an estate at Berkshire in England where his granddad was vicar for 21 years from 1905.

Today Shottesbrooke is turning out some real classics under the stewardship of GM and Chief Winemaker Hamish Maguire, Nick Holmes' stepson.

His recently released 2012 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is a terrific drop that's all about the flavours a great Cabernet Sauvignon aspires to – toasty oak, blackcurrant, chocolate and hints of mint. And at $40 it makes for a marvellous match with slow-cooked lamb shanks, buttered baby potatoes and steamed beans.

for week beginning 03 August 2015

Fox Gordon 2014 Charlotte's Web Pinot Grigio

A PERFECT match with Italian-inspired
chicken dishes or shellfish.


David Ellis

SOUTH Australia's boutique Fox Gordon is winning growing numbers of admirers with its range of reds and whites out of the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills, with a 2014 Pinot Grigio from the latter a rewarding example of what a hands-on small family maker can achieve with a variety like this.

Winemaker Tash Mooney has crafted in this a wine that's got lovely varietal pear and apple flavours along with a captivating hint of lime, and one that's sure to appeal to the fast-growing ranks of Pinot Grigio enthusiasts in this country – as in so many others across the world as well, as the variety charges forward in its pursuit of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to be the world's best-selling white.

Founded relatively recently in the 1990s, Fox Gordon is also well on the road to achieving its owners' dream to come up with premium Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills wines that will one day sit amongst the greatest of international brands as measured by value and enjoyment.

Pay $19.95 and match this very moreish Pinot Grigio with shellfish or Italian-inspired chicken dishes; available from select premium liquor outlets or check out for State distributors and cellar door contacts.