Monday 12 December 2016

Ten Dollar Christmas Wines

BUBBLY way to start that
Christmas Day lunch or dinner.

David Ellis

WHILE we all like to have a nice bottle or two on the table for family and friends joining us for Christmas Day lunch or dinner, "nice" for some equates to "expensive," yet with a bit of judicious buying such doesn't necessarily need to be the case.

And in anticipation of the big day ourselves we started the month with a bit of early shelf-gazing, inspired by the fact we plan to offer a different wine to suit each course come Christmas Day, rather than just one white or one red to see through the whole meal.

JUST so good with festive
seafood lunch or dinner.
We also set a price target of "$10 or so" for each choice to see if we could contain costs without sacrificing quality and flavour. And remarkably we came home not only within budget, but more than impressed with our purchases that we taste-tested with some obliging "guinea pig" neighbours.

And if you too are looking to offer a different wine appropriate to each course this Christmas, and not break the bank doing so, here's what we chose in our test run.

For welcome drinks as guests arrive and as an aperitif with nibbles and finger food,  bubbly is an obvious. We opted for Yellowglen's special Festive Season "Yellow Glitter Pack," a nice crisp, elegant and dry fizz that bursts with melon, pineapple and citrus flavours. Officially $13, you'll get it at $10 or even less at most major outlets.

FOR traditionalists who stick
with their Christmas turkey,
here's the ideal accompaniment.
If seafood's your option this Christmas, at just $10 – and as low as $7.60 at one liquor chain – is McGuigan Wines' Black Label 2016 Chardonnay. With Hunter Valley master, Neil McGuigan behind this one it's an ideal match with seafood, having wonderful sweet tropical fruit and melon flavours, coupled with a delightful creaminess and a touch of vanillin from a light use of oak. A real 'Bravo' $10 drop.

PERFECT with the plum pudd to round
out a grand Christmas lunch or dinner.
And for traditionalists for whom turkey is the only option on Christmas Day, from the Riverina comes a 2016 Shiraz under the renowned Calabria Family Richland label. A recommended $11, but under $10 at some larger outlets, this one's full of varietal fruit and spicy black pepper flavours that go so well with that turkey, baked vegies and gravy. We're sure the Calabria's themselves will go for this at their place – although not head honcho Bill Calabria himself… believe it or not, he's a teetotaller.

And finally for those with still enough room for Christmas pudding, put a bottle of Penfolds Club Reserve Tawny Port on the table with this. It's perfect – at just $15 or a little less at larger outlets, its rich dark berry fruit flavours and a caramel sweetness make it a hand-in-glove match with that pudd.  HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Monday 5 December 2016

Bromley by Wolf Blass wines

BIRDS, nudes, butterflies and Wolf Blass wine
– what more could one ask for?
ONE TO NOTE:  A NOVEL idea if you're still looking for something different and rewarding for that wine-loving friend or relative this Christmas, is an Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, or a McLaren Vale Shiraz or an Adelaide Hills Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay that are all excellent wines from Wolf Blass, and which bear wonderfully colourful one-off labels by acclaimed Australian artist David Bromley.

These Bromley by Wolf Blass wines are $30 a bottle each, with their labels featuring some of Bromley's most recognised art from his Birds, Nudes and Butterflies series. And while making for excellent and unusual gifts for those who enjoy their wine and art, they're also great statement pieces for buyers' own homes too.

Available from most fine wine retailers until sold out, or visit

for week beginning 05 December 2016 

Margan Family Wines 2015 Merlot - Hunter Valley

HAPPILY put this one on the table
with all manner of dining opportunities.

David Ellis

FOR those who like their Merlot, Margan Family Wines have released an interesting and tasty 2015 from their Broke property in the Hunter Valley, a drop that makes for a great match with a whole list of dining options for this time of year's entertaining.

It is interesting because this 2015's fruit is off vines on their own roots rather than having been grafted onto other stock, and tasty as it's true to variety with loads of primary fruit flavours, a touch of spice, and with nice soft tannins. In short, a quaffable, early drinking style of the finest order to enjoy with anything from meatloaf to lamb leg roast, lasagna to barbecued veal chops, or pizza to spaghetti Bolognese.

And interesting too because 2015 was a difficult vintage in the Hunter, with a dry Winter and Spring rolling into a then-wet December, January and February. Which all meant for a threat in particular to the region's red harvest. But Andrew Margan says that while those difficult conditions are reflected in such reds as the 2015 Merlot by way of softer tannins than normal and slightly lower acidity, that resulting softness actually means for wines that can be enjoyed while still very young.

So give this 2015 Margan Merlot a try at a nice $20 with the above food ideas.

for week beginning 05 December 2016 

Monday 28 November 2016

Chandon Brut Sparkling - Victoria

A BOUNCY new bubbly from Chandon in time for the Festive Season is their non-vintage Brut that's a Chardonnay-led method traditionnelle that's based on the 2014 vintage, but comprises nearly 40% reserve wines going back as long as ten years. With flavours of citrus and orchard fruits and a light acidity, it's wonderfully vibrant and elegant and reflects just why their Brut is Chandon's most popular bubbly.

At $32 this one's sure to prove a hit over the Festive Season.


Shottesbrooke Estate Vineyards 2016 Sauvignon Blanc - Adelaide Hills

YOU'LL find this Sauvignon Blanc an ideal
match with lighter Spring-time fish dishes.

A WONDERFULLY crisp and refreshing 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from small family owned Shottesbrooke Vineyards at McLaren Flat in South Australia, makes for a great match with lighter fish dishes now that Spring is upon us.

With gooseberry and tropical fruit flavours and a finishing citrus touch, this lovely drop from the Adelaide Hills should find itself in strong demand right through Spring and Summer when seafoods and salads come to the fore. And a nice $20 price tag makes it all the more enticing.


Rob Geddes Australian Wine Vintages 2017

A GREAT aid for aspiring wine buffs, and equally
so for those already well into their wine enjoyment.

David Ellis

AN easy answer if you are wondering what to give that aspiring wine buff this Christmas, or even one already well into their wine enjoyment, is Rob Geddes informative Australian Wine Vintages 2017 that gives detailed tasting notes for over 3,500 Australian and New Zealand wines in the print version, and 13,500 in the App.

Now in its 34th edition, 'The Gold Book' as its also known, is a great guide towards exploring everything from wine country to the shelves of your local bottle shop, while being equally helpful in understanding wine varieties and the regions in which they are grown, and invaluable for those wanting to cellar and invest in wine.

One of fewer than twenty Masters of Wine in Australia, all wines reviewed are tasted by Rob and his select panel comprising several fellow Masters of Wine, hand-picked sommeliers, major retail buyers and winemakers. Australian Wine Vintages 2017 is priced at $34.95; for more details or to buy hop onto

for week beginning 28 November 2016 

Monday 21 November 2016

Stanton and Killeen Rutherglen Moscato - Victoria

WITH half the alcohol of most wines, this one's a good
choice for those wanting to watch alcohol intakes
in the office or home party room this Festive Season.

ONE TO NOTE: WITH the office Christmas party season about to kick off, Stanton and Killeen in Victoria's Rutherglen have released a sweetish Moscato that's not just good buying at $15, but is just seven per cent alcohol – or around half the norm, so is ideal for those wanting to watch alcohol levels in the home or office party room this festive season.

Moscato is one of the world's oldest cultivated wine varieties, and this one from Stanton and Killeen has flavours of sweet honey coupled with suggestions of peaches and nectarines, a slightly zippy acidity and a light spritziness. And all of which make for an especially nice match in any party room with cheese platters.

for week beginning 21 November 2016

Shaw Vineyard Estate “Reserve Merriman” 2014 Shiraz - Murrumbateman

AN exceptional cool climate Shiraz to indulge on its own,
or with BBQ'd beef or spicy Asian and Mexican dishes.


David Ellis

WAY back in the mid-1800s pioneer sheep breeder George Merriman put what is now the cool-climate Murrumbateman wine region on the map with merino wool he produced there and which quickly won world acclaim.

Today equal world acclaim is being heaped upon exceptional wines coming off vineyards that now flourish in that Murrumbateman region between Canberra and Yass, including those of Shaw Vineyard Estate that actually occupies part of George Merriman's original wool-producing property.

And each year owner Graeme Shaw takes a particularly close look at the Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon off his historic Estate, and decides just which of these three is the finest – and bottles it under a "Reserve Merriman" label in honour of the pioneering George.

Graeme's just released his 2014 choice, which was the Shiraz from that year and which has wonderful balance on the palate between ripe berry fruits and varietal pepper and spiciness… and which is actually the first Shiraz he's released under the Shaw Vineyard Estate "Reserve Merriman" label.

At $65 indulge it on its own, or with BBQ'd beef or spicy Asian or Mexican dishes.

week beginning 21 November 2016

Monday 14 November 2016

Pepper Tree Limited Release 2016 Wrattonbully Pinot Gris

CRACKER drop with everything from mushrooms on toast to
Thai fish cakes, lemon chicken or even German sauerbraten.

ONE TO NOTE: A somewhat simple and impromptu "dinner party" of creamed and slightly-peppery mushrooms on toast for those who lingered on after watching the Melbourne Cup at a mate's home, will in fact be long remembered for one thing – our host's choice of a perfect wine to match this simple but successful offering.

For he broke out a few 2016 Pepper Tree Limited Release Wrattonbully Pinot Gris, a wine whose lovely Nashi pear and fig flavours matched so stunningly with the creamy spiciness of those mushrooms. Winemaker Gwyn Olsen really has crafted a cracker drop with this one, and if you are after something more substantial than those mushrooms on toast, think about matching it with Thai fish cakes, lemon chicken or even German sauerbraten (pot roast.) And it is just $22 a bottle.

for week beginning 14 November 2016

Lindeman’s Gentleman’s Collection Tawny

GREAT Christmas idea for dads, grand-dads, older-era uncles
(and aunts) who can fondly remember "another time."


David Ellis

WAS a time when true gentlemen of this world always had a good tawny port on hand to offer guests at the completion of a fine dinner, or to bid them Good Night or Farewell as they made their way to bed or to home.

And now Lindeman have released a wonderful new tawny to recall that era, offering with it a light-hearted set of rules reflecting yesteryear chivalry, and complete with guidelines to savouring this almost by-gone wine style. For, as Chief Winemaker Wayne Falkenberg says, "along with slippers and dressing gowns, fortified wines have become somewhat of a quaint tradition of yesteryear, a terrible shame for the generations who have missed out on this rich, luscious wine style."

Part of Lindeman's Gentleman's Collection, this is an almost-must for those of us who can remember those days of yore, and a great idea as a Christmas gift for dads, grand-dads, older-era uncles (and aunts!) who can fondly remember "another time."

A blend of four grape varieties from half a dozen vintages, and fortified with a secret select spirit, this Lindeman's Gentleman's Collection Tawny has lovely concentrated sweet fruit flavours, hints of spicy raisins, sweet maple syrup and a nutty finish. At just $22, it's ideal for under the tree this year for special someone's from another era.

for week beginning 14 November 2016

Monday 7 November 2016

Riversdale Estate 2015 Roaring 40s Sauvignon Blanc - Tasmania

LOADS of tropical fruit flavours in this rewarding
Sauvignon Blanc out of cool climate Tasmania.

ONE TO NOTE: ALTHOUGH the first vines were planted only in the 1980s, Sauvignon Blanc has now become Tasmania's third most widely planted wine grape after Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

And a nice example of the quality that it's risen to is the 2015 Roaring 40s Sauvignon Blanc of Riversdale Estate in the Coal River Valley just 20km out of Hobart. For here's a wine that reflects a long growing season in the cool maritime climate, and the resultant tropical fruit flavours in small-bunch harvested fruit.

At $24.50 this one's a great match with shellfish, grilled snapper or smoked salmon; check to order online.


Wynns 2013 John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon - Coonawarra

FLAGSHIP drop from top one per cent of fruit
of Coonawarra's exceptional 2013 vintage.


David Ellis

WYNNS make their flagship John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon from only the very best fruit off their vast plantings in Coonawarra, and then only in those years when that "very best" is considered to have risen to a level considerably beyond the norm.

And in the case of their latest release – from the wonderful 2013 vintage on the company's classic terra rossa soil vineyards – winemaker Sue Hodder used under one per cent of that very best of fruit for this wine. So little wonder some reviewers have already described the 2013 John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon as arguably "richer and more concentrated than any other wine from Coonawarra in that year."

Named after pioneer pastoralist and politician, John Riddoch who established the Coonawarra Fruit Colony in 1891, this 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is powerful yet supple and restrained, with wonderfully concentrated black olive and mulberry flavours, elegant tobacco and cassis, a hint of rosemary, and chalky tannins.

With only limited production due to the grape selection criteria, this one has a $150 price tag to enjoy with a platter of hard and aged cheeses for Christmas, New Year or other celebrations, to share at the table with a rare to medium-rare rib-eye or sirloin steak, or consider as a very special Christmas gift for a VIP red wine buff.

Monday 31 October 2016

Bill Calabria’s Three Bridges Durif

ONE TO NOTE:  BILL Calabria has a most more-ish Durif under the 3 Bridges label of his Calabria Family Wines in the NSW Riverina, a wine that's big enough to stand up to the gutsiness of a hearty osso bucco, braised oxtail or a good Rogan Josh (lamb curry.)

This interesting varietal whose quite tiny berries produce a wine almost impenetrably black in the glass, originated in France, but today is found mainly in  only Australia (principally the Riverina and Rutherglen in Victoria,) and in California and Israel.

Bill Calabria's Three Bridges Durif is intensely flavoured with dark plums, Morello cherries, coffee and coconut to the fore, has toasty vanillin oak and a nice little spiciness. At $25 it's a great match with those dining suggestions above.

[] HERE'S a red that's big enough to stand up to the gutsiness of a hearty osso bucco, braised oxtail or a good Rogan Josh (lamb curry.)

McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillon - NSW Hunter Valley


David Ellis

IT doesn't take much to have us singing the praises of Neil McGuigan for what he gets up to at McGuigan Wines in the Hunter Valley, and none more so than after we get down and cosy with one of his Semillons.

For if the Hunter is acknowledged as the world's premier region for the best of Semillons, and the McGuigan Bin Series Semillons renowned globally as the company's most-awarded wine, it must mean Neil is justified in taking a bow for the international recognition these of his are accorded.

And if you've a very special event coming up and are thinking seafood at the heart of it, an ideal wine to match would be the 2013 vintage of the McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillon. For here's a wine from a season that while it saw many a challenge thrown up at the team – from dry and cool, to heatwaves and rain – is fresh and light in its younger years, but then goes on to develop into a classic rich honey and toasty Hunter style Semillon with nice long cellaring potential.

At $30 make it a feature alongside fresh prawn cocktails to kick off special events, and go on to share it with main course platters of grilled seafoods.

[] A RIPPER alongside fresh prawn cocktails to kick off special events, and then with follow-up main course platters of grilled seafoods.

for week beginning 31 October 2016  

2016 NSW Wine Awards Final Results

Best Dry Red of Show
Windowrie Estate 2015 "The Mill" Shiraz

2016 Pier One Sydney Harbour NSW Wine Awards Final Results

The 2016 Pier One Sydney Harbour NSW Wine Awards has just announced the main Trophy winners for this year's Awards and yet again the results have excited judges, industry professional and wine lovers alike. 2016 Chair of Judges PJ Charteris commented on how the overall medal count was up again this year and said, "The most exciting thing was seeing the diversity in region and variety. NSW winemakers are having a red-hot crack at producing high quality wines from old and new varietals and this is a tribute to the passion and strength of the NSW wine industry."

The sold-out Presentation Lunch was held at Pier One Sydney Harbour on Friday 28th October, with quests of honour the Governor of New South Wales, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd), and Minister Niall Blair MLC, Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Lands and Water, being there to say a few words and be amongst the first to find out which gold medal winning wines would take home the ultimate Trophies. Also in attendance were NSW Wines valued supporters Pier One Sydney Harbour, Wine Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Multi Color, Longfellow's Insurance, Orora Stelvin, Riedel, Australia Post, CCL Label and CiSRA Canon, without whom the event couldn't take place.

During the presentations, President of the NSW Wine Industry Association Tom Ward thanked all involved and commented on the high quality of judges involved in this year's show. He also said, "This year we continued the theme of going to the regions for judging. We were lucky enough to spend time in the Hunter Valley and I think this is an unique way of judging that exposes not only the judges to the region but also allows the region to get engaged with the show – we appreciate all the people that gave their time to assist in the event. I am happy to announce that next year we are looking to host the wine show in Mudgee and working with them to deliver another great experience."

This year, Central Ranges wines (which incorporates the regions of Mudgee, Orange and Cowra) were the big winners, with 9 trophies, followed closely by the Hunter Valley with 8, and then the Southern Highlands and Hilltops also claiming well deserved accolades (please see full list of Trophy winners at end).

The champion of the Awards was Windowrie Estate from the Cowra, who were awarded the ultimate title of 'Pier One Sydney Harbour 2016 NSW Wine of the Year' for their 2015 "The Mill" Shiraz. The Trophy was claimed by winemaker Anthony D'Onise who was representing Windowrie Estate owners the O'Dea family. The O'Dea's started growing grapes in the 1980s and then opened the Cowra region's first ever winery. Their winning Shiraz was described by PJ Charteris as a worthy winner and "a wine that expresses its beautiful fruit first and foremost. It is great to see fruit and distinctive varietal fruit character as the defining features of a wine".

Another great achievement recognised at the Presentation Lunch was the work of Bruce Tyrrell who was awarded with the Graham Gregory Award for services to the NSW wine industry. Minister Niall Blair MLC presented the award to Bruce, commenting on Bruce's many years of hard work within the industry and how he had done so much for our state and country. Bruce very humbly accepted the award explaining, "I have just done what I thought needed to be done … like in football, you are only as good as your weakest player so anything you can do to help, lifts us all up." He then threw down the gauntlet to the other winemakers in the room, expressing his desire for the next generation to continue this work."

Tom Ward concluded by saying, "I look forward to the year ahead and am optimistic that we have an industry that is heading forward. I will leave you with some numbers to support that optimism; shipments from NSW-based wine exporters increased by 8% to $487 million in the 12 months ended September 2016.  This represented additional revenues of $35 million over the year."

List of 2016 NSW Wine Awards Trophies:

Trophy for Best Young Riesling ~ Colmar Estate 2016 Block 6 Riesling (Orange)

Trophy for Best Young Semillon ~ First Creek 2016 SV Murphys Semillon (Hunter)

Trophy for Best Young Sauvignon Blanc ~ Brangayne of Orange 2015 Sauvignon Blanc (Orange)

Trophy for Best Young Chardonnay ~ First Creek 2014 Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay (Hunter)

Trophy for Best Young White Other Varieties ~ Tulloch Wines 2016 Cellar Door Release Pinot Gris (Orange)

Trophy for Best Mature Dry White ~ Tyrrell's 2009 Vat 1 Semillon (Hunter)

Trophy for Best Light Red ~ Tulloch Wines 2016 Cellar Door Release Sangiovese Rose (Orange)

Trophy for Best Young Pinot Noir ~ Rotherwood Estates 2015 Pinot Noir (Southern Highlands)

Trophy for Best Young Shiraz ~ Windowrie Estate 2015 "The Mill" Shiraz (Central Ranges)

Trophy for Best Young Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Ballinaclash 2015 "Joseph" Cabernet (Hilltops)

Trophy for Best Young Other Red Varieties ~ Tamburlaine 2015 Reserve Malbec (Orange)

Trophy for Best Young Red Blend ~ Pokolbin Estate 2014 "Phoenix" Shiraz Tempranillo (Hunter)

Trophy for Best Mature Red ~ George Wyndham 2009 Black Cluster Shiraz (Hunter)

Award for Best Organic Wine ~ Tamburlaine 2015 Reserve Malbec (Orange)

Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine ~ De Iuliis 2011 Sparkling Chardonnay (Hunter)

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

Trophy Best Dry White of Show ~ Tyrrell's 2009 Vat 1 Semillon (Hunter)

Trophy for Best Dry Red of Show ~ Windowrie Estate 2015 "The Mill" Shiraz (Central Ranges)

Pier One Sydney Harbour 2016 NSW Wine of the Year ~ Windowrie Estate 2015 "The Mill" Shiraz

Thursday 27 October 2016

Blossom Hill’s 2015 Rosé

ONE TO NOTE:  ROSÉ is a wine we more-usually think of for enjoyment in our warmer months, one to put on the table under a summer's sun and share with family and friends over seafoods and salads, or maybe pork sausages off the barbie…

But rosé is equally for enjoying in our colder months as well, and both with main courses and desserts – for mains it's hard to beat a good one with Thai chicken in a coconut curry sauce, and for desserts to share with warm winter fruit tarts and pies.

One that's ideal for such occasions is Blossom Hill's 2015 Rosé that absolutely bursts with juicy fruit flavours – think lush and vibrant fresh-picked strawberries, cherries and watermelon – and which makes it perfect with those wintertime main and dessert suggestions. And the more so with its price tag of just $13.

[] ROSÉ equally enjoyable with wintertime mains like Thai chicken in a coconut curry sauce, or desserts of warm fruit tarts and pies.


St Huberts Wines 2016 The Stag Chardonnay - Yarra Valley

David Ellis

ACCORDING to company history, St Huberts Wines that was one of the first wineries in the Yarra Valley in 1862, was named after the Patron Saint of the Hunt, a 7th century English nobleman who turned a life of pleasures to one of helping the needy after confronting a magnificent stag between whose antlers hung a hauntingly shiny Cross…

And, the company adds, while the winery's founder was a Mr de Castella whose first name also just happened to be Hubert, he chose to name his winery after the Patron Saint and not simply Hubert after himself. By the late 1800s it had grown to be the largest winery in the Yarra Valley, but after WWI and then the Great Depression it was turned to more-profitable dairying, which continued until the Yarra rose to wine prominence once more in the 1960s, with St Huberts again a pioneer.

Today this premium cool-climate maker is hailed world-wide, and a new label it's just released and appropriately named The Stag, is fast winning praise from all quarters. Try in particular the 2016 The Stag Chardonnay that's all wonderfully vibrant citrus and pear flavours, lively acidity and with a mouth-pleasing freshness… at just $20 it's a really great drop to simply enjoy on its own, or to pair-up with salmon fish cakes.

[] NEW label from a Yarra Valley winery whose history goes back to 1862.


Mr Mick 2016 Rosé - Clare Valley

ONE TO NOTE: TIM Adams and Brett Schutz, winemakers at the Clare Valley's Mr Mick Wines, have released a 2016 Rosé that Mr Mick himself (the late and legendary Mick Knappstein who had a great passion for Rosé,) would be more than delighted with.

Because this one's been made in the style Mick Knappstein enthused over – fresh, easy-drinking and in his words "for everyone to enjoy." And particularly so with food, yet at the same time also being a great drop to enjoy on its own as an aperitif.

With subtle apple, raspberry and strawberry fruit flavours and nice fresh acidity, this is a Rosé that will go perfectly with Asian dishes, or any other foods with a little spiciness. Pay $17, and while enjoying this one raise your glass to the late Mr Mick.

[] A ROSÉ made equally for enjoyment with food, or on its own as an aperitif.

Monday 24 October 2016

Pepperjack 2015 Barossa Shiraz

ONE TO NOTE: ALTHOUGH launched only in 1996, the Barossa Valley's Pepperjack Wines have amassed an extraordinary following of devotees to their bold, rich and vibrant reds that are made purely with steak lovers in mind.

And while still young, they've heritage in being part of Saltram Wines that was founded in the Barossa 157 years ago by English immigrant William Salter and his son Edward, with an initial 4ha of Shiraz, and their cellar simply a hole in a hillside.

A just-released Pepperjack 2015 Barossa Shiraz is all concentrated layers of blackberry, blue fruits and oak, nicely balanced with soft tannins for absolute full-on flavour; and at $30 it's made to enjoy with just one thing, your favourite steak.

[] FROM the Barossa Valley, this one's made with just one thing in mind, your favourite steak.


Logan 2015 Chardonnay - Orange NSW

David Ellis

PETER LOGAN has been making Chardonnay at his Logan Wines at Orange in the NSW Central West for some nineteen years now, yet he still muses over whether he's got it as perfect as has been his goal.

"In fact I'm not sure that gaol will ever be reached," says Peter, "even though every year we continue to evolve this wine towards an even better place." And that includes as a sideline to that continuing evolution, now achieving exceptional sales not just here in Australia, but throughout Asia and in northern Europe as well.

Made from cold climate fruit (his vineyards are some 970m above sea level,) Logan Chardonnay has always been a wine of elegance and sophistication, and with his latest, now- available 2015, Peter strove to create a drop that would be "elegant but not anaemic, savoury with a touch of fruit, and having minerality with texture."

And beautifully balanced, it boasts a nice mix of subtle fruit flavours, plus a touch of almond, on a mineral palate with a gentle smoothness to it. And while it spent some time in oak prior to bottling, this has not overpowered the wine's fruit characters.

Pay $25 and enjoy it with shellfish, a seafood pie or chicken terrine. Is that perfect?


[] PERFECT match, Chardonnay and shellfish, or a chicken terrine if you aren't into seafoods.

for week beginning 24 October 2016 

Monday 17 October 2016

Cape Jaffa Samphire Chardonnay blend - South Australia Limestone Coast

CERTAINLY different and interesting,
it's a white that was made as if it was a red.


David Ellis

IF you've a sense for adventure in your pursuit of wine drinking enjoyment, a particularly intriguing drop to search out was released just recently under a Samphire label by Cape Jaffa Winery on South Australia's Limestone Coast.

Interesting because while predominantly Chardonnay with a little Gewurztraminer and Viognier, this one was made more like it was a red than a white, including not only unusually fermenting the fruit on skins, but doing so for six months… something that its makers Derek and Anna Hooper say "called for courage and patience."

The Hooper's were inspired to create this unique wine after seeing such drops on a visit to Georgia in Europe, and took a largely traditional Eastern European approach to its making on their return home. That effort has rewarded them well, as this is a lovely medium to full bodied wine with lots of mouth-feel and a relatively soft finish.

And with its suggestions of tropical fruit flavours it's also a white you can match up with foods normally paired with reds, Derek and Anna suggesting maybe duck that's not too spicy, a chicken liver parfait, or a rich stock-based lobster bisque. Pay $29, and if you've any problems locating it check out


Monday 10 October 2016

2013 Tim Adams Shiraz - Clare Valley

HERE'S the drop if you like
your reds big and hearty.

ONE TO NOTE: IF you like your reds big and hearty, one to grab (or maybe two or three) is the just-released 2013 Tim Adams Shiraz.

A blend of fruit off three Clare Valley vineyards, this is a gutsy drop that leads on the palate with blackberry and mulberry fruit flavours, some spiciness and hints of mint, and a strong reminder that it spent twenty-four months maturing in American oak.

And surprisingly it's just $25 to enjoy now, or to tuck away in the cellar to around the mid-2020's. If you're going to buy and drink now, match it with a good steak, or with hearty kangaroo or venison dishes.


Wolf Blass 2015 Yellow Label Chardonnay

FROM South Australia and consistently
fruit driven and full-on in flavour.


David Ellis

IT'S over forty years now that Yellow Label has been at the heart of winemaking at Wolf Blass wines, delivering to buyers a range of wines from South Australia that are consistently fruit driven and full-on in flavour.

And amongst latest releases is a 2015 Chardonnay out of a vintage that started warm and dry, and was followed by much-needed rain and ultimately warm days and relatively cool nights. Then a final burst of heat in late January saw an early and condensed harvest, and as a result more of those wonderfully full on flavour wines.

The 2015 Yellow Label Chardonnay particularly benefited from all this, with loads of stone fruits to the fore and nicely integrated oak, and whilst made with food predominantly in mind, it can be equally enjoyed as a glass or three on its own.

And as well, although best enjoyed young and fresh, some short-term cellaring will see it develop further complexity.

Pay $18 and enjoy this one with what its makers suggest – creamy veal Stroganoff with mushrooms and parsley, or pumpkin ravioli with sage butter sauce.

for week beginning 10 October 2016

Thursday 6 October 2016

Boutique cider producers show off their wares in Melbourne

No fewer than 28 craft cider producers will showcase 112 different ciders at the 2016 Australian Cider Festival to be held in Melbourne on Saturday.

2016 NSW Wine Awards Gold Medals Announced

The finalists of the 2016 Pier One Sydney Harbour NSW Wine Awards have just been revealed, with the talented winemakers of the gold medal winning wines being informed over the long weekend.

This year, (the 21st annual NSW Wine Awards) sees 10 of the State's wine regions raising a glass in celebration of gold medals; with the following breakdown of top scoring wines…

Canberra District – 3, Central Ranges – 1, Cowra – 1, Hilltops – 3, Hunter Valley – 14, Mudgee – 1, Orange – 8, Riverina – 3, Southern Highlands – 1, Tumbarumba – 1

President of the NSW Wine Industry Association and Awards judge Tom Ward said, "The wines vying for top honours are as diverse as we have ever seen, not just by region but by grape variety and style too. It is really exciting to see wines made to the highest standards from varietals such as Montepulciano, Tempranillo, Pinot Gris and Malbec, as well as the more traditional NSW varieties. We also some outstanding examples in the sparkling and sweet wines."

Please see a full list of the wines competing for trophies below. Preliminary results for all entries can also be accessed at .

The producers of these wines have a lot to be happy about. As well as receiving a 2016 gold medal and now being in the running to receive one of the 19 coveted Trophies - including the ultimate title of '2016 Pier One Sydney Harbour NSW Wine of the Year' - they will also be honoured at a reception at Government House. This event will be hosted by His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd).

Earlier this year the Governor of New South Wales made his first purchase of NSW Wine Awards winning wines (from the 2015 Awards), in keeping with his commitment that only wines made in NSW will be served at events held at Government House.

Announcement of the top 2016 Trophy winners will take place on Friday 28 October at the NSW Wine Awards Presentation Lunch at Pier One Sydney Harbour's newly hatted Gantry Restaurant. His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd) will also be attending the Presentation Lunch as a guest of the NSW Wine Industry Association.

List of gold-medal-winning Finalists  ~   in alphabetical order only …

Angullong 2016 Pinot Grigio, Orange
Ballinaclash 2015 "Joseph" Cabernet Sauvignon, Hilltops
Cellarmasters 2013 Bin Maturation Bennetts Bonanza Semillon, Hunter Valley
Brangayne of Orange 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Orange
Bunnamagoo 2013 Autumn Semillon, Mudgee
Burnbrae 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Orange
Calabria 2015 Private Bin Montepulciano, Riverina
Colmar Estate 2016 Block 6 Riesling, Orange
De Bortoli 2016 Sacred Hill Moscato, Riverina
De Bortoli 2014 Noble One Semillon, Riverina
De Iuliis 2016 Semillon Single Vineyard Love in the Dale, Hunter Valley
De Iuliis 2011 Sparkling Chardonnay, Hunter Valley
Eden Road 2014 'Tumbarumba' Chardonnay, Tumbarumba
First Creek Wines 2014 Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay, Hunter Valley
First Creek Wines 2010 Winemakers Reserve Semillon, Hunter Valley
First Creek Wines 2016 SV Murphys Semillon, Hunter Valley
First Creek Wines 2011 Winemakers Reserve Semillon, Hunter Valley
Four Winds Vineyard 2015 Shiraz, Canberra District
Logan 2014 Cabernet Merlot, Orange
Moppity Vineyards 2015 Escallier Shiraz, Hilltops
Moppity Vineyards 2015 Lock & Key Reserve Tempranillo, Hilltops
Mount Majura Vineyard 2015 Tempranillo, Canberra District
Mount Pleasant 2014 Wines 8 Acres Semillon, Hunter Valley
Nick O'Leary 2015 'Bolaro' Shiraz, Canberra District
Pinnaroo 2014 Vintage Cuvee, Cowra
Pokolbin Estate 2014 "Phoenix" Shiraz Tempranillo, Hunter Valley
Rotherwood 2015 Pinot Noir, Southern Highlands
Silkman Wines 2014 Reserve Shiraz Pinot Noir, Hunter Valley
Tamburlaine Wines 2015 Reserve Malbec, Orange
Tulloch 2016 Cellar Door Release Rose Sangiovese, Orange
Tulloch Wines 2016 Cellar Door Release Pinot Gris, Orange
Tyrrell's 2009 Vat 1 Semillon, Hunter Valley
Tyrrell's 2005 Vat 1 Semillon, Hunter Valley
Tyrrell's 2012 Vat 47 Chardonnay, Hunter Valley
Windowrie 2015 The Mill Shiraz, Central Ranges
Wyndham 2009 Black Cluster Hunter Valley Shiraz, Hunter Valley

Monday 3 October 2016

Squealing Pig 2015 Syrah - Hawke's Bay New Zealand

GREAT match alongside lamb loin
chops topped with a fennel relish.

ONE TO NOTE:  NEW ZEALAND's quirky-named Squealing Pig has released its first ever Syrah, from the 2015 vintage in Hawke's Bay on the east coast of the country's North Island.

The country's oldest wine region dating back to 1851, Hawke's Bay enjoys plenty of sunny days, and a particularly warm 2015 vintage resulted in fruit that year with great concentrations of flavour and ripeness, and resultant wines of wonderful elegance.

Red berries and dark cherry fruit flavours, coupled with dusty tannins in this 2015 Squealing Pig Syrah, make for it being a great match alongside lamb loin chops topped with a fennel relish. Pay $26 at Vintage Cellars.


Logan 2016 Celementine Pinot Gris - NSW Central West

HERE'S a great drop to go with a
charcuterie board or cheese platter.


David Ellis

TO mark the company's 20th vintage, winemaker Peter Logan has released a very special 2016 Pinot Gris from his Logan Wines at Orange in NSW's Central West.

Very special because firstly this wine has an unusual orange hue to it from including the grape skins in the ferment, something that is normally done only with red wines not with whites, and secondly because he's named it Clementine – after little daughter of he and wife Hannah (who is also Logan Wines' General Manager.)

"We named it Clementine because like its namesake this wine has a vibrant spark to it, is a little unorthodox, makes an impression, demands your attention, is pretty, plus it's also complex and it puts a smile on your face," Peter says.

And he says that including the skins in the ferment has given this Pinot Gris a fuller range of complex flavours than normal, a tang on the palate, and a crunchy finish from the tannins released into the wine from the skins.

"The flavours are more savoury than traditional Pinot Gris, and with the tannin cleaning the palate it makes for a great drop with a charcuterie board or cheese platter," Peter adds. And we like it too for its good-value price tag of $23.

 for week beginning 03 October 2016

Saturday 1 October 2016

Australian Sweet Wine Challenge 2016 Results

Saddler’s Creek Wines
2013 Botrytis Semillon


Top Sweet Wines up a Creek with a Trophy for a paddle!

The 11th annual Australian Sweet Wine Challenge (ASWC) presentation dinner was held in Griffith NSW tonight (Friday 30 September) to unveil this year’s top sweet and semi-sweet wines.

As in previous years, the wines competing to get crowned the best within their style came from all over the country and were crafted from a wide range of grape varieties, including Semillon, Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Muscadelle, Taminga, Moscato, Verdelho, Gewurztraminer, Riesling and blends of the former varietals.

The expert panel of judges - led by Chair of Judges, wine journalist, sommelier and consultant, Sophie Otton – agreed that the quality across the board was very high, with 83% of ASWC entrants receiving a medal. Sophie Otton commented, “As ever, there were some superb examples of sweet and semi-sweet wines entered; culminating with an exemplary Museum Wine Class that always serves as a reminder of how glorious these wines can be.”

Despite the diversity on offer at the 2016 ASWC, when push came to shove (by some very narrow margins) it was the Riverina and Semillon which shone on the night, collecting the majority of the Trophies. Sophie said, “This result endorses one of the local strengths, something for which the Riverina region can feel extremely proud: producing Australian benchmarks of a wine style that is not only a labour of love, but extremely difficult to execute well."

The Trophy for Best Sweet Wine with a Fruity Style was won by Saddler’s Creek Wines 2013 Botrytis Semillon from the Riverina. Another local winery, Lillypilly Estate Wines,

claimed the title of Best Sweet Wine from Other Varieties & Blends with their Lillypilly Estate Wines 2015 Noble Blend and the Trophy for Best Mature Sweet Wine went to the

De Bortoli Wines 2008 Noble One.

And the ultimate title of 2016 Australian Sweet Wine of the Year went to … Saddler’s Creek Wines 2013 Botrytis Semillon, Riverina

Sophie Otton said of the winning wine, “A deserving winner. This wine showed all the attributes one hopes to find in these wines and here every element was on song; freshness, complexity, richness and intensity.”

So experience the sweeter side of life this year with wines from the 2016 Australian Sweet Wine Challenge. Beautiful things really do come in little packages!

  • Best Sweet, Floral Style ~ Brown Brothers 2013 Patricia Noble Riesling, King Valley
  • Best Sweet, Fruity Style ~ Saddler’s Creek Wines 2013 Botrytis Semillon, Riverina
  • Best Sweet, Other Varieties & Blends ~ Lillypilly Estate Wines 2015 Noble Blend, Riverina
  • Best Museum Wine ~ De Bortoli Wines 2008 Noble One, Riverina
  • 2016 Australian Sweet Wine of the Year ~ Saddler’s Creek Wines 2013 Botrytis Semillon

The 2016 Riverina Wine Show results

Best Still Wine of Show
- the Ian Bicego Trophy
Tempus Two 2015 Pewter Poppy’s Block
Chardonnay (Hunter Valley)
The 2016 Riverina Wine Show results were announced tonight at a gala dinner in Griffith NSW (Friday 30th September). This is the 42nd time this annual wine show has been successfully held in the Riverina but this year saw a first with the presentation of two shows within one: the inaugural Riverina GI Wine Show - with entries limited to wines from the Riverina Geographical Indication (GI), and the Riverina Wine Show Open Classes - open to wines from all across Australia.

The new Riverina GI Wine Show was designed to throw the spotlight on the provenance of wine produced in the Riverina and give the local wine industry a new forum where they can celebrate the diversity of the Riverina and highlight the specific character and qualities of the wines produced there. And this first year seems to have fulfilled all those aims with a panel of judges - headed by wine journalist, sommelier and consultant Sophie Otton – expertly critiquing their way through strong entry numbers spread across 11 different wine classes of wines made from Riverina fruit.

The Durif class was as hotly contested as ever, with judges commenting on it being an “excellent class – good fruit, good colour and good concentration. Good winemaking, full stop!” In the end theMcWilliam's Wines Hanwood ‘1913’ Durif narrowly won top marks to claim the Best Durif Trophy for the 3rd year in a row.

The judges were also delighted to see such diversity and high-quality amongst the Riverina GI ‘Dry Red, Other Varieties & Blends’ class, with expressive and skilfully crafted examples of Touriga, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot and Lagrein all made locally.

Chair of Judges Sophie Otton said, “Each and every wine skilfully expressed its individuality and varietal character. It was difficult to choose between them.” And it was a wine within this class that ultimately won the title of Best Still Wine from Riverina Fruit – the McWilliam's Wines 2015 Hanwood ‘1913’ Touriga.

Unsurprisingly, McWilliam’s Wines also then went on to claim the Trophy for Most Successful Exhibitor of Riverina Still Wines.

The continuation of the Riverina Wine Show Open Classes recognises the broader national interests of Riverina’s winemakers who draw grapes from every State, except Queensland, and produce one in every four glasses of Australian wine! President of the RWS Les Worland explains, “The Riverina Wine Show has been supporting Australian winemakers for the last 42 years and will continue to do so. Not only does it accommodate the fact that many of our local wineries draw fruit from outside the Riverina but it also provides a forum for other blends and non-regional wines. It is also unique in that it is the only wine show to showcase ‘popular premium wines’; those wines which have a large production run and are therefore widely available to the general public.”

In this part of the awards presentation, the big winners of the night were the Pfeiffer Wines NV Grand Rutherglen Muscat that won the Best Fortified Wine Trophy, the Mount Pleasant Wines 2009 Elizabeth Semillon that claimed the Best Popular Premium White Wine Trophy, the Casella Family Brands 2015 Young Brute Shiraz that was awarded the Best Popular Premium Red Wine Trophy and the Tempus Two 2015 Pewter Poppy’s Block Chardonnay that won the ultimate title of Best Still Wine of Show.

Sophie Otton said, “The Tempus Two exemplifies the state of play with Australian chardonnay; refined, gently complex, with balance and finesse.”

Commenting on other wine styles to look out for in 2016/2017, Sophie commented, “While the strength of the traditional varieties was impressive, it was so good to see our winemakers’ excel with the utterly engaging lesser-known varieties.”

For a full list of all Trophy winners please see below.

The results have been announced just in time for the unWINEd in the Riverina festival, which will be held around the towns of Griffith, Leeton, Yenda, Bilbul, Hanwood and Tharbogang over the October long weekend; celebrate what the Riverina wine region has to offer with plenty of delicious wine tastings and cuisine, live music and plenty of other events.

Trophy winning wines at the 2016 Riverina Wine Show:

1] Best Riverina Shiraz – The Sean Hampel Award
Nugan Estate 2015 3rd Generation Shiraz (Riverina)
2] Best Riverina Durif
McWilliam’s Wines 2014 Hanwood ‘1913’ Durif (Riverina)
3] Best Semillon (open class) - sponsored by Braid Logistics Australia
Coolangatta Estate 2009 Wollstonecraft Semillon (Shoalhaven)
4] Best Chardonnay (open class) – sponsored by Orora
Tempus Two 2015 Pewter Poppy’s Block Chardonnay (Hunter Valley)
5] Best Dry White, other varieties & blends (open class)
McGuigan 2015 Shortlist Riesling (Eden Valley)
6] Best Shiraz (open class) – sponsored by Multicolour Labels
Moppity Vineyards 2015 Reserve Shiraz (Hilltops)
7] Best Cabernet Sauvignon (open class) - sponsored by Patrick Portlink
Calabria Family Wines 2015 The Seafarer Cabernet Sauvignon (SE Australia)
8] Best Dry Red, other varieties & blends (open class)
Santolin Wines 2015 Syme on Yarra Vineyard Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley)
9] Best Fortified (open class) – sponsored by Tarac Technologies
Pfeiffer Wines NV Grand Rutherglen Muscat (Rutherglen)

And the “Best of…” Trophies went to:

10] Best Still Wine from Riverina Fruit - sponsored by the Wine Grapes Marketing Board
McWilliam's Wines 2015 Hanwood ‘1913’ Touriga (Riverina)
11] Best Still Wine of Show - the Ian Bicego Trophy
Tempus Two 2015 Pewter Poppy’s Block Chardonnay (Hunter Valley)
12] Best Popular Premium White Wine
Mount Pleasant Wines 2009 Elizabeth Semillon (Hunter Valley)
13] Best Popular Premium Red Wine – sponsored by Oak Solutions Group
Casella Family Brands 2015 Young Brute Shiraz Cabernet (Limestone Coast)

Special Awards:

Most Successful Exhibitor of Riverina Still Wines - sponsored by A & G McWilliam’s Wines

Most Successful Exhibitor - sponsored by the Port of Melbourne

Jointly awarded to: McWilliam’s Wines and Australian Vintage Ltd

Growers Excellence Award – sponsored by Wine grapes marketing Board

Ruth Sutherland

Monday 26 September 2016

Lerida Estate 2014 Lake George Pinot Noir - Canberra District

LUSCIOUS fruit flavours make this one ideal with duck,
mushroom dishes, spring lamb or oily fish.
ONE TO NOTE:  A STINT of living in France saw Jim Lumbers falling hard, he'll tell you, for the intoxicating aromas and unparalleled complexity of Pinot Noir – so much so, that on his return to Australia he spent months searching for a site that came as close as possible to the variety's ideal growing conditions as he'd seen in Burgundy.

And when he ultimately found it in the Cullerin Ranges overlooking Lake George in the Canberra District, he established his Lerida Estate vineyard in 1997. Today that vineyard absolutely thrives with vines he got from selections off some of the greatest in Burgundy, and for lovers of Pinot Noir his 2014 is one to really look out for.

2014 was a great vintage in the Canberra District, and Jim's Lerida Estate Lake George Pinot Noir explodes with luscious fruit flavours and integrated tannins; at $26.50 enjoy with a variety of fare from duck to mushrooms, spring lamb or oily fish.

 for week beginning 26 September 2016

2016 Rogue Vineyard ‘Wild in the Wood’ Hunter Valley Field Blend


David Ellis

THERE would be others, we suspect, would lay claim that a wine comprising no less than five varieties, was the result of their carefully hand-selecting fruit off as many vineyards or blocks as there were varieties, and then judiciously blending these to specific proportions of each.

But not John Davis, owner-vigneron of Peppertree Wines in the Hunter Valley and his Head Winemaker, Gwyn Olsen when it comes to their 2016 Rogue Vineyard 'Wild in the Wood' Hunter Valley Field Blend. Because they'll readily tell you that this one's the result of a "misfit" block planted somewhat haphazardly 20 years ago with left-over Semillon, Chardonnay, Verdelho, Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc from other blocks rather than be wasted, and today simply all-in machine harvested.

And that resultant wine turns out in fact to be a really rewarding drop, with lingering individual varietal characteristics and lovely mouth-feel. Pay $30 and enjoy on its own as warmer days approach, or at the table with a range of lunch or dinner-time seafood, chicken or veal dishes.

Or as we did, with pan-fried pork loin chops, apple sauce and potato cakes.

[] A GREAT drop today from a misfit block planted somewhat haphazardly 20 years ago.

Monday 19 September 2016

Riversdale Estate 2013 Riesling - Coal River Valley

ANOTHER ripper Tasmania Riesling – perfect match with
alt and pepper calamari, or chicken enchiladas.

ONE TO NOTE:  TASMANIAN makers have thrown up some ripper Rieslings over the years, products of the State's cool maritime climate that the variety thrives in.

One such maker is Riversdale Estate in the southern Coal River Valley region just 20km out of Hobart, and which has recently released a beautifully rewarding 2013 Riesling under its ultra-premium Cygnus label. Here's a wine made from fruit harvested in small bunches in peak-condition, and loaded with concentrated varietal characteristics and excellent natural acidity.

It's nice forward, yet still delicate, citrus and musk flavours will particularly match beautifully with salt and pepper calamari, or pair it with chicken enchiladas. At $34 it's available online at,  by phoning (03) 6248 5555 or at the cellar door if you are visiting down that way.

 for week beginning 19 September  2016

Mr Mick 2014 Tempranillo - Clare Valley

TEMPRANILLO sales are said to be growing at a
faster rate than any other variety in Australia.


David Ellis

AUSSIE wine buffs it seems, are suddenly discovering Tempranillo, a Spanish red that although being grown in this country on cuttings brought from its motherland around the 1830s, for some reason never really took off.

But come the end of the last century things suddenly changed, and to meet newly burgeoning demand the area of vineyards turned over to the variety blossomed in just ten years from a mere 41ha Australia-wide, to over 475ha by 2010. And sales of resultant wines are today growing at a rate said to be faster than any other variety.

One maker with an exceptional Tempranillo is the Clare Valley's Mr Mick Wines, their currently available 2014 a nicely full-bodied drop with pronounced varietal cherry and strawberry fruit flavours, a hint of spice and a long and lingering finish.

And all of which makes for it being a great drop with a homeland favourite, patatas con chorizo – potatoes with chorizo sausage and chili, that you could possibly say equates to something a bit like Spanish bangers and mash, and a bit spicy.

At $17 enjoy it with that homeland dish, or equally with tacos, nachos or burritos.

for week beginning 19 September  2016