Monday 25 April 2016

Stage Door Front & Centre 2014 Shiraz - Barossa Valley

THIS Shiraz has barbecued
beef ribs written all over it.

ONE TO NOTE:  2014 was an absolute rollercoaster for growers and winemakers in the Eden Valley of the Barossa Ranges, with unseasonal late frosts to finish winter and start spring, the hottest summer on record including 13 days recording over 40C, the wettest day since 1969 with more than 100mm falling on February 14, and yet all resulting in surprisingly good fruit, albeit off a low-yielding vintage.

And from all this, fledgling newcomer in the Valley, the Stage Door Wine Co came through with an exceptional 2014 Shiraz, a wine loaded with dark berry fruit flavours, a dusting of ripe, rich and exotic spice, and fine-grained tannins – one to enjoy now at $25 a bottle with barbecued beef ribs, or to tuck away for another five years or so bottle age.

25 Apr 16

Riversdale Estate 2013 Crater Chardonnay- Tasmania

STUNNER of a Chardonnay from
Tasmania's 2013 "endless summer."


David Ellis

TASMANIA'S Riversdale Estate has released a 2013 Crater Chardonnay that's an absolute stunner from a cool maritime climate region that's less than 20km from the Hobart CBD, and interestingly whose vineyard was for years a key player in the development of Penfolds' famed Yattarna Chardonnay.

And while located in the island State's renowned Coal River Valley, rather than from a property devoted entirely to grape production Riversdale Estate's vineyard in fact occupies just a third of a 120ha mixed farming operation.

Established by Ian and Wendy Roberts in 1991, the vineyard flourished from onset, with Chardonnay in particular thriving in the soils and climate, and 2013 an outstanding year that'll long be remembered as a virtually "endless summer" – warm, dry and sunny, and giving way to an exceptional autumn and outstanding vintage.

Moderate yields of perfectly ripened fruit displayed superb citrus, grapefruit and apple characteristics, and winemaker Nick Badrice used oak simply to highlight what he sums up as "the wine's vibrancy, minerality and extraordinary length of flavour."

Pay $52 cellar door or online at  and enjoy with – what else – market-fresh Tasmanian crayfish, or your favourite other seafoods.

25 April 2016

Monday 18 April 2016

La La Land 2015 Pinot Gris - Murray Darling region

THE name may suggest they could be
away with the fairies, but this excellent
first white from the company is anything but.


David Ellis

THEY'VE only been around since 2013 and to now have made just two wines, a Malbec and a Tempranillo, but unusually-named La La Land Wines that are part of the larger Wingara wine group, have now released their first white – a very more-ish 2015 Pinot Gris.

Made from fruit from the Murray Darling region that straddles the Murray River to embrace part of north-western Victoria and western NSW, this is a more-than rewarding drop that's both light and fresh, and has a flavoursome palate of crunchy nashi pear, white peach and hints of zingy lemon/lime.

And it can only help further cement Pinot Gris' currently bourgeoning popularity in this country, and which is interesting because the variety – whose history dates back to the Middle Ages in homeland Burgundy – is certainly anything than new here. For in fact it was first grown by James Busby who included Pinot Gris amongst some 363 vine cuttings he brought back with him in 1832 from a visit to Spain and France, and planted in what is now the Sydney Botanic Gardens.

The La La Land 2015 Pinot Gris is nicely priced at $16, and makes for a perfect match with sushi, fish tacos or a butter chicken.

18 Apr 16

Monday 11 April 2016

Apple Tree Flat 2015 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc - Central Ranges

$13 bargain white with
any-time-of-the-year seafoods.

ONE TO NOTE:  WAS a time just a few years ago when Semillon Sauvignon Blanc was looked upon in Australia as a "summer wine," one to be enjoyed only during the warmer months of the year with seafoods.

No longer. Today it's as popular in the cooler months as the warmer ones, a perfect match with fish and chips, freshly shucked oysters or fresh peeled prawns whatever the outside temperature. And the more-so when you can get wonderful examples like Apple Tree Flat's 2015 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc for a bargain $13.

Made from 58% Semillon from Mudgee and 42% Sauvignon Blanc from Orange (both in the NSW Central Ranges,) this one has marvellous light tropical flavours and a crisp long-lasting finish. Perfect with that seafood or other lighter-style dishes.

11 Apr 16

Margan 2014 White Label Chardonnay - Hunter Valley

PERFECT Australian Chardonnay to serve
with a French Chicken Cordon Bleu.


David Ellis

ANDREW Margan used fruit off exceptional low-yielding vines on his Saxonvale Vineyard in the Broke Fordwich region of the Hunter Valley for a 2014 White Label Chardonnay that Chardonnay buffs – and despite what many will tell you, there are still plenty of us around – will find a true delight.

Because as well as coming off vines some forty years old, the fruit also thrived under these vines' shaded canopies, giving Andrew marvellously fine-flavoured grapes for this lovely drop… one that makes for rewarding buying and enjoyment now, while showing its also got potential for aging if you've the patience to wait.

Bright and sprightly with fresh honey and vanilla, together with some citrus overtones on the palate, and with a beautiful creaminess and nutty finish, at $40 this is a wine that Andrew likes to put in the Modern Australian Chardonnay category.

And while he says Chardonnay may have found a home in this country with a natural affinity to sharing with a range of local foods, his suggestion is to match this one with rich, French-styled dishes… we'd suggest maybe Chicken Cordon Bleu – chicken rolled with ham and Swiss cheese and served with lashings of a creamy wine sauce.

 11 Apr 16

Monday 4 April 2016

d’Arenberg The Old Bloke & The Three Young Blondes - McLaren Vale

QUIRKY label for a quirky blend
of a red with three whites.


David Ellis

CHIEF Winemaker at d'Arenberg Wines in South Australia, Chester Osborn has long had a passion for searching out new grape varieties suited to the diverse terroir of his vineyards in McLaren Vale.

And he's coupled this with an equal passion for creating the most unusual of blends, and then giving the resultant wines the quirkiest of labels. Wines such as his recently released The Old Bloke & The Three Young Blondes that's 91% Shiraz (the Old Bloke, sourced from the company's oldest and most-gnarled Shiraz vines,) and 3% each Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne that d'Arenberg planted in the 1990s, and subsequently the youthful Three Young Blondes in this unique blend.

Bringing these four together has resulted in a beautifully complex and captivating wine that seems to get better with every flavoursome sip, with wonderful and almost chunky Shiraz tannins tempered by the lusciousness of the three white Rhone varieties… and with equally wonderful aromas to savour as well.

The most premium release in d'Arenberg's 104 year history, this stand-out wine is $200 and available only from the cellar door or online (,) and a richly rewarding drop to share over a good cheese plate to finish a special dinner.

4 Apr 16