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

Thursday 1 October 2015

Maurice O’Shea Award Dinner to partner with key wine conferences in July 2016

McWilliam’s CEO Rob Blackwell

McWilliam’s Wines, the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference & Trade Exhibition (AWITC) and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) are pleased to announce that the 2016 McWilliam’s Maurice O’Shea Award Event will be held in Adelaide on Monday 25 July 2016. The Maurice O’Shea Award Dinner will take place in conjunction with the 16th AWITC and the WFA Outlook Conference which are being held as a combined event in Adelaide from 24 to 28 July 2016.

McWilliam’s CEO Rob Blackwell said “McWilliam’s Wines is delighted to continue its association with the WFA Outlook Conference and to join for the first time with the AWITC. We look forward to welcoming delegates from the combined conference to the dinner.”

AWITC Chair, Dr Dan Johnson responded “The McWilliam’s Maurice O’Shea Award Dinner is widely regarded as the most prestigious event on the Australian wine industry calendar. It’s very exciting to be able to align this dinner with the 16th AWITC and Outlook. The Maurice O’Shea Award Dinner adds another very compelling reason for our industry to be in Adelaide from 24 to 28 July 2016”

WFA Chief Executive Paul Evans said “The combination of these major events back-to-back provides exceptional value for attendees and it promises to be a showcase week not to be missed. The Federation welcomes the opportunity to partner again with McWilliam’s and the Maurice O’Shea Dinner and I encourage members of our industry to circle the dates.”

Conference delegates will be able to book tickets to the Maurice O’Shea Award Dinner as part of their registration, which opens in February. Tickets will also be available directly from McWilliam’s Wines.

The McWilliam’s Maurice O’Shea Award recognises an individual, brand, institute, activity or entity that has made a historically significant contribution to the Australian wine industry. Nominations will be invited from across the wine industry in February.

Previous winners of the Maurice O’Shea Award are:

• Dr Peter Dry (2014)
• The Australian Screwcap Initiative (2012)
• Philip Laffer AM (2010)
• Dr John Gladstones (2008)
• The late Dr Ray Beckwith OAM (2006)
• The late Guenter Prass AM (2004)
• Australian Wine Research Institute (2002)
• Dr Wolf Blass AM (2000)
• The late Dr Bryce Rankine AM (1998)
• Brian Croser AO (1997)
• Hazel Murphy AM (1996)
• James Halliday AM (1995)
• The Jacob’s Creek Brand (1994)
• The late David Wynn AO (1993)
• The late Ron Potter OAM (1992)
• The late Len Evans OBE AO (1991)
• The late Max Schubert AM (1990)