Wednesday, 13 December 2017

La La Land Vermentino - Victoria Riverina


David Ellis

AMONGST the fastest-growing in sales in Australia of "alternative" wine varieties is Vermentino, a light-to-medium bodied white you'll find makes for excellent summer-time enjoyment with fish and seafoods, salads and light Asian dishes.

Over in Europe it's long been the biggest selling white variety on the French island of Corsica, in the Mediterranean 90kms off Italy's west coast, and is also going gang-busters on Italy's Sardinia Island just to Corsica's south. And on Italy's mainland, too, where it is grown along the Tuscan coast it is now so popular that growers there are having difficulty keeping up with demand – something we would not be surprised to see happen here in the not-too-distant future.

And one Aussie Vermentino well worth looking at over our coming warmer months is a first for the variety from La La Land Wines near Mildura in Victoria's warm north-west. From their 2017 vintage and carefully crafted in Sardinian style by La La Land's Frank Newman and Aidan Menzies, this is a wine whose fruit does the talking, and also rewards with delightful texture and mouthfeel.

Pay $18 and enjoy embracing flavours of fresh limes, almonds, green apples, peaches and fresh acidity, that all together in the glass will make for a great dining partner with those summertime seafoods, salads and pasta dishes.

[] VERMENTINO is one of our fastest-growing "alternative" wine varieties, and this one an excellent match with summertime seafoods, salads and light Asian dishes.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Angullong 2016 ‘Fossil Hill’ Sangiovese - Orange / NSW Central West

ONE TO NOTE: ANGULLONG Vineyard at Orange in the central west of NSW, has released a 2016 'Fossil Hill' Sangiovese that's named after significant fossil sites more than 450 million years old and discovered around the 1890s on the-now Angullong vineyards.

Angullong once lay under the sea and has been inhabited through the millennia by some of our earliest forms of life, with these reflected in the 263 species of fossils that have been found there. As well, in mid this year a network of significant limestone caves on the property known as the Cleifden Caves was added to the NSW State Heritage Register.

And wine-wise, a now-available 2016 vintage Angullong 'Fossil Hill' Sangiovese is a nicely medium to lighter bodied drop with flavours suggesting blueberries and sour cherries, and a touch of spice.

With subtle tannins as well it's a nice one at a suggested $26 to enjoy with tomato-based pastas and pizzas.

WINESPEAK: CLEAN is an expression used to mean that a wine is not showing any obvious faults to it, or any out-of-place flavours or aromas.

[] IF you like tomato-based pastas and pizzas, this is a wine to go ideally with both.

6 Nov 17

The Thief 2015 Shiraz - Barrosa Valley


David Ellis

WHEN then-Poundkeeper in the Flinders Ranges' town of Melrose in South Australia was charged with stealing a cow way back in 1867, it's a safe bet he'd never have envisaged it raising him to something of celebrity status 150 years later.

But that's the case with Mr John Walter Mooney who was sent to gaol with hard labour for allegedly pinching the cow in cahoots with his own stockman and a local butcher, and slipping it in with his own for slaughter and sale through the butcher's shop.

And when the poor fellow told the presiding judge that his official Pound-book would show that he was holding the cow legally, but that he didn't have the book with him in court to prove it, the judge grunted that he should have brought it with him, and sent Mr Mooney off to the slammer for four years.

Bizarrely, when he died fifty years later, as a consequence of his imprisonment Mr Mooney was excommunicated and disallowed a Catholic burial – a slight that saw his entire family then withdraw from their life-long faith.

Now his great, great granddaughter, winemaker Natasha Mooney has created a label in her forebear's memory and honour, using fruit off her vineyard at Greenock on the north-western edge of the Barossa Valley, and with that label somewhat impishly titled The Thief?

Natasha's 2015 The Thief? Shiraz has a wonderful depth of red fruit flavours to it and a tingling spiciness from 18 months in oak; at $22 it's a well-priced stand-out with all manner of beef dishes.

[] THIS colourfully named drop has a colourful background to it that dates back some 150 years, and will help start the conversation as you start to pour.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Box 2015 Tempranillo - Margaret River


Bunkers Wines celebrate some of Margaret River's greatest surf breaks. The region is a magnet for both wine lovers and surfers from all over the world.

Mean and menacing, The Box throws up thick square barrels that suck out over submerged rocky outcrops. In contrast, there is nothing to fear from The Box Tempranillo. A warm and generous red with nutty oak flavours, it displays spicy hints of the variety's Spanish heritage. 

WINEMAKER'S NOTE: A deepish red purple colour with lifted berry fruit and cinnamon oak aromas. A bright spicy palate is bright with fine dark cherry and American Oak spice flavours leading to a balanced tannin finish.

VINTAGE: Fine and warm with good conditions throughout.

VINEYARDS: Bunkers's Tempranillo vineyards are in northern Margaret River with gravel soils over an ironstone base. All vines are vertically shoot positioned and run in north south aspect.

VINIFICATION: Hand-picked fruit was fermented in open vats and about 25% of the blend was fermented in new American oak, matured further for one year prior to bottling.

VARIETAL: 100% Tempranillo
ALCOHOL: 14.2%
PH: 3.45
WINEMAKER: Brian Fletcher

Rosabrook 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon - Margaret River


WINEMAKER'S NOTE: This is the classic blend from Margaret River - pale green with aromas of succulent Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The palate is flinty and dry, with an explosive first impact of sweet racy fruit, creamy middle palate with a fine and lengthy finish.

VINTAGE: After a cold and wet start to spring, warmer weather through December and January provided good ripening conditions leading into vintage. The 2017 vintage was significantly later in the season than the past few years due to a fairly mild summer. Overall it was a good vintage – producing grape varietals with clean, crisp and pure fruit flavours.

VINEYARDS: Dispersed across the Margaret River region.

VINIFICATION: Harvested in early morning, crushed grapes were juice-extracted to a bright condition and cold fermented in stainless steel, then early bottled to retain varietal character.

VARIETAL/S: Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

ALCOHOL: 12.5%
WINEMAKER: Brian Fletcher
CELLARING: Drink now

Calneggia 2017 Rosé - Margaret River, Western Australia


WINEMAKER'S NOTE: Made by the saignée technique – that is to "bleed off" juice from a red wine has produced a savoury but delicate style.

VINTAGE: 2017 vintage conditions were exceptional for this wine style.

VINEYARDS: The 2017 growing season was characterised by a return to average winter rains followed by a very cool spring free of high winds that led to good flowering and fruit set. These cool conditions with heavy falls of rain in February and March continued into summer leading to a delay in ripening compared to recent vintages. These were ideal conditions for the aromatic white varieties and could have been tougher for ripening the reds however the sun kept shining long enough to develop great colours and fine tannin structures.

VINIFICATION: Red juice was run off several red wine ferments, lightly clarified and then fermented in stainless steel. Bottled early to retain freshness.


Calneggia Family Vineyards

Monday, 13 November 2017

Rymill Coonawarra GT Gewurztraminer

ONE TO NOTE: RYMILL have been making Gewurztraminer for over thirty years now, drawing on fruit from a single vineyard they planted back in 1985.

So you would be right in presuming they've got it right when it comes to growing the vines, harvesting the fruit, and making the wine, their recently-released 2017 proving, you'll find, that it'll be a true lip-smacker for enjoyment chilled on upcoming hot summer's days.

Winemaker Sandrine Gimon says this now-available 2017 gt (as Gewurztraminer is generally referred to) is clean, crisp and exquisite, and equally perfect for entertaining large numbers, or to complement fine foods – think Asian or all manner of duck, chicken, pork, seafood or roast vegetable dishes – at more intimate dinner parties.

With suggestions of cumquats and lychees to the forefront on the palate, it's also got undertones of turmeric and butterscotch and is nicely priced at $20.

[] MULTI-CUISINE lip-smacker with all manner of duck, chicken, pork, seafood or roast vegetable dishes.



THE industry and buffs of Katnook Estate wines are mourning the sudden passing on November 5 of the Estate's long-time senior winemaker, Wayne Stehbens. He was 62.


In his youth Wayne worked in his school holidays alongside his father Ray who was then Katnook's General Manager, went on to study winemaking at Charles Sturt University, and returned to Katnook as its winemaker in 1979 – winning 49 wine show awards for the company in his first year.


He is survived by his wife Michelle who is Katnook's Cellar Door Manager, and family.

- David Ellis



Shaw Vineyard Estate 2017 Riesling - Canberra District


David Ellis

A just-released Shaw Vineyard Estate 2017 Riesling is a classic drop from this maker's Murrumbateman vineyard in the Canberra premium cool climate wine region, and made all the more classic with a touch of botrytis that's helped concentrate sugars, fruit acids and wonderful passionfruit and tropical fruit flavours to more than usual prominence.

And it's little wonder that owner/winemaker Graeme Shaw is quick to offer how this one's drawing enthusiastic response from visitors both at cellar door tastings, and over meals in the winery's Olleyville Restaurant.

"We sourced the grapes from low yielding spur-pruned vines," Graeme says, "and we harvested in the cool of night to ensure fruit was delivered at temperatures of less than 20 degrees, contributing greatly to the unique character of this wine."

The weather was on side too, Graeme adds, with heavy spring rains followed by a reasonably average summer that was not too hot, and came with just the right amount of rain. "The result is that this is a Riesling that lives up to the acclaim of previous vintages of our Estate label, and punches well above its $30 price point," he said.

Enjoy with salmon or scallops if you like your seafoods, or equally with spicy stir-fries and curries if they're more to your fancy.

[] CLASSIC Canberra region cool climate Riesling to tuck into with seafoods or spicy stir-fries.


Monday, 23 October 2017

She's apples! Hillbilly Cider is Bilpin's delicious pure beverage

Hillbillies at heart can escape the big smoke and experience nature for real at the newly opened Hillbilly Cider Shed in the heart of Bilpin apple country.

Wend your way up the famed Bells Line of Rd and follow the comforting aroma of fermented apples into the Hillbilly Cider Shed to discover a hidden refuge of Prohibition-era speakeasy ambience overlooking a working apple orchard.

There, you can escape the foot-stomping winter chill outside and imbibe in a belly-warming mulled cider and munch on fresh salted popcorn while learning about the cidermaking process and the Hillbilly philosophy from Hillbilly Shane or Hillbetty Tessa McLaughlin themselves.

In 2007, the couple shifted to a bohemian existence on 35-acres at Bilpin, where fourth-generation farmer and Canonbah Bridge winemaker Shane set about making a cider in a cellar he dug by hand under the house.

The result? Just apples. With altitude. And a squeeze of good old Hillbilly magic.

``We don’t add sugar, we don’t pasteurise and we don’t add artificial flavours,’’ the Cider Australia treasurer says. ``We’re all about keeping it real and honest – 100 per cent crushed fruit fermented with minimal intervention for an easy bohemian bubble.’’

Dedicated Hillbillies can seek out the uninhibited honest earthiness, mountain air, memories of good times with friends and fermented fruit of Hillbilly Cider straight out of the barrels at the new cider shed.

Tasting cider straight from the barrel is but one experience available exclusively at the inner Hillbilly sanctum.

In season, pick the very apples that go into the cider.

Stock up on the new Scrumpy and Sweet Julie ciders – the ones you don’t see around too much outside the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury, and grab new ciders the moment Hillbilly Shane releases them.

In fact, the Sweet Julie is the only cider in the world made from the Julie apple, discovered and grown at the orchard onsite and the newest apple discovered in the area since the Granny Smith 100 years ago.

Environmentally conscious cider lovers can reduce packaging purchase to zero by investing in their own 1.854lt Hillbilly Cider growler, only at the Hillbilly Cider Shed.

It’s also the only place in the country to buy a cider canimal. Filled with nearly a litre of Hillbilly liquid goodness, canimals ``are mini kegs so they’ll keep you going for a while – you won’t lose your place around the bonfire’’, Shane says.

Have your canimal filled on the spot with your choice of cider straight off the barrel and pressure sealed by the first and only canimal machine used for cider in Australia.

Hillbillies can picnic under the trees with the company of cider shed dog Star or sit on the deck and soak up the vibes of raw Hillbilly music, meaningful conversation and the nostalgic scent of crushed cider on the breeze.

After tasting the award-winning alcoholic and non-alcoholic apple and pear ciders, cleansing the palette with salted popcorn, stocking up on your chosen flavour of bottled bohemian lifestyle, be sure to proclaim your Hillbillification with pride on clothing and other items available at the cider shed.

Hillbilly Cider is also available throughout the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury and beyond via independent bottle shops, funky bars and restaurants, or catch the Hillbillies at farmers markets and music festivals.

The Hillbilly Cider Shed, Shields Orchard, 2270 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin, is open from 12pm to 5pm Friday and 11am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday (check website for extra open days during school holidays). Go to for more information.

Angullong 2016 Fossil Hill Orange-Region Sangiovese

Angullong 2016 Fossil Hill Orange-Region Sangiovese ($26): grapevines are propagated from cuttings and different source materials show variations that are known as clones. This medium-bodied dry red is made from the 'brunello' and 'piccolo' Sangiovese clones, which produce smaller, more intensely flavoured berries than the 'grosso' clone, which is proving ideal for making the Angullong Rosato. I like this dry red a great deal and find it a good match for a range of red meats, especially rare beef.

- John Rozentals

Angullong 2017 Fossil Hill Orange-Region Rosato

Angullong 2017 Fossil Hill Orange-Region Rosato ($24): This wine recently went a treat with the nibblies we grazed on before a suitably long lunch in Angullong's vineyard near the locality of Panuara, on the southern slopes of Orange's main landmark, Mt Canobolas. It may be quite a frivolous pink in colour, but this wine has some substance to it. It's made from the Italian red variety Sangiovese, completely dry and packed with quite a delicious, morish flavour.

- John Rozentals

Huntington Estate 2013 Mudgee Special-Reserve Shiraz


John Rozentals

Huntington Estate 2013 Mudgee Special-Reserve Shiraz ($36): This is a fine example of Mudgee red — and exactly of what Tim Stevens is talking about. It's a richly flavoured, full-bodied dry red with a lot of earthy flavours and plenty of fine-grained tannins that are already well balanced against those flavours. It's drinking well now and will only get better. Match it with some of the best steak, char-grilled medium-rare for me.

It's all in the tannin. Mudgee red wine and Huntington Estate

JOHN ROZENTALS returns from Mudgee thinking about full-bodied dry reds and urges readers to go with the flow of the tannins.

Tannin structure is critical to the way that a red wine tastes and responds to food, yet I doubt that most wine lovers understand tannins.

Tannins come mostly from the skins of red grapes and aren't bitter, they're astringent. There is a big difference.

They have a high affinity for proteins and combine them to form long-chain insoluble molecules. That's why they dry the mouth. Saliva contains a lot of protein. Red wine combines with these proteins and hence your mouth feels dry — and you can sometimes scrape red-coloured residue off your tongue with your teeth.

It's why protein-based fining agents, such as egg-white and skimmed milk, are sometimes used to remove tannins from red wines.

Foods such as red meat contain a lot of protein, so when you consume them with red wine, the wine's drying effect on the tongue is lessened. That's one reason they go well together, and it's certainly why you should taste wine with appropriate food before buying it.

The tannin structure of grapes — and hence of the wines they make — depends much on environment, grape variety, growing conditions, timing of harvest, etc. The extraction of that tannin, and its persistence in the wine depends much on winemaking techniques.

It's the regionality that comes to the fore when Huntington Estate owner and winemaker Tim Stevens claims the area can produce some of the best red wines in Australia, and hence in the world.

"There is no doubt that our style of red wine is unique; we have high levels of high-quality tannin and acid that can make the wines somewhat astringent when young. I make no apologies for this, as the structure makes the wines great for aging and great with food … In time the fruit and tannins integrate to become sublime," he said.

"Our wines are old-style and don't suit tastes where body and complexity are not important. The style of Mudgee reds is not something we can change, even if, God forbid, we wanted to. This is because of our unique climate and soils, which are what they are.

"Time and again, I have seen Mudgee winemakers (myself included) try to tame these tannins by manipulating the vineyard conditions or playing too much with the wine in the cellar. Invariably, the wine becomes stripped or dull. Handled properly, Mudgee wines are full-bodied, have loads of super-fine tannins, good acid levels, with concentrated and complex flavours that last of the palate.

"The trick is to be guided by the vineyard and intervene as little as possible. Go with the tannins, not against them."

Caption: Tim Stevens working on a Huntington Estate red … "The trick is to be guided by the vineyard and intervene as little as possible."

Grey Sands 2015 Pinot Gris - Tamar Valley, Tasmania


David Elli

WHILE living in the UK in the early 1980s, Bob and Rita Richter spent a lot of time exploring the wine-growing regions of Europe, and concluding that Europe's best wines were coming out of its cooler regions.

So on their return to Australia at the end of 1984, and keen to get into cool climate winemaking, Bob enrolled into a winemaking course at the Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1985 – and he and Rita gave themselves a holiday to Tasmania that same year to see what was already there, and what the potential may be for their own future in the cool island State.

As a result, in November of 1987 they bought land in the Tamar Valley, and because as Rita puts it "everyone down here was growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay," they opted instead for Pinot Gris and Merlot… with smaller quantities of some 16 other varieties on their Grey Sands vineyard (so-named after the silty sand atop hardpan and clay.)

With some varieties struggling in the Tasmanian conditions the Richter's did a bit of varietal juggling, and today they've still an amazing seventeen different varieties.

And their decision in 1987 to include Pinot Gris has proven a judicious one, for sales today of the variety are the fastest-growing of any white wine in Australia, at around a healthy 15 per cent annually.

Interestingly, Pinot Gris is something of a What Is Old Is New Again as it was first planted in Australia in 1832 by James Busby in the Hunter Valley, but never really took off, probably because being a cool climate variety it ripened in the warm Hunter Valley before developing any significant flavour or aroma. But then in the 1990s when plantings began in cooler regions, it suddenly hit its straps.

Bob and Rita Richter's Grey Sands 2015 Pinot Gris is a particularly inviting example of the varietal, with wonderful aromas of crystallized pineapple and custard apple, and with a lily of the valley floral lift to it. And when it comes to flavour, this one's beautifully rewarding with deep and ripe varietal fruit flavours coupled with suggestions of ginger and quince, and a long, long finish.

Certainly well worth it's $45 cellar door and website price with spicy foods like Thai fish cakes, green chicken curry – or if you aren't into spiciness, with calamari or paté as a meal starter. To see more and order online, go to




[] FROM out of the cool of Tasmania, a perfect match with spicy Thai fish cakes or a green chicken curry.

[] "Should we net these now or can they wait a bit longer?" That's the question for the Richters in their constant battle with fruit-stealing birds (mainly Silver Eyes)… they delay netting as long as possible as it reflects some of the important radiation.

week 23 Oct 17

Thursday, 28 September 2017

2017 NSW Wine Awards winners announced


The finalists of the 2017 Pier One Sydney Harbour NSW Wine Awards have just been revealed, and the 22nd annual NSW Wine Awards has unveiled one of the most exciting and diverse ranges of new gold medal wines on record.

In fact, 58 gold medals have been awarded this year, to wineries from 10 different NSW wine regions and to wines made from Semillon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Vermentino, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Barbera, Merlot and Durif, as well as blends of the above!

President of the NSW Wine Industry Association Tom Ward clarifies, “We have indeed had a great result for both the show and our state’s wineries this year, with a high proportion of gold medal winners highlighting the quality and diversity of NSW wines available out there. This is in no way a result of us trying to punch up the wine and make everyone a winner; a gold label is a level of trust for the consumer and our gold medals have to be seriously earned. That is why getting such a high profile and experienced panel of judges is so important. This year we were thrilled to have Dave Brookes as our Chief Judge, leading a panel of 8 other expert judges from across Australia, and 6 associate judges.

We have also introduced a more hi-tech scoring process with an iPad based system from the Australian Wine Research Institute. This has enabled us to really get the best out of the judging - correlates all the scores in one system and monitoring judges high and low scores - and be as efficient as possible.”

Please see below a full list of all the wines that are now competing for top honours and one of the 20 Trophies available (preliminary results for all entries can also be accessed at Announcement of the 2017 Trophy winners will take place on Friday 27 October at the NSW Wine Awards Presentation Lunch at Pier One Sydney Harbour.

Who do you think will take home the coveted title of 2017 NSW Wine of the Year?


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

Monday, 17 July 2017

Logan Wines’ 2013 Apple Tree Flat Merlot - NSW Central West

ONE TO NOTE: THOSE who compile the figures tell us that the second-most popular red wine in the world today after Cabernet Sauvignon is Merlot, with sales in Australia putting us amongst those making it the current hit that it is.

With a velvety softness on the palate and less tannin than Cabernet, Merlot has an ability to prove a great match with just about any food – just dodge anything highly spiced, or fish or leafy greens.

This wine proves perfect with grilled lamb chops, roast chicken, pork loin with a mushroom sauce, tomato-loaded Italian dishes, casseroles it can also be tossed into during cooking, barbecued steak, and beef or veal burgers.

And one label ideal with all of these is Logan Wines' 2013 Apple Tree Flat Merlot from the Central West of NSW, where altitude and cool climate see it develop abundant yet soft flavours of blackberry, plum and black olive, and which winemaker Peter Logan sums up as "a deliciously fruity, soft and fun mealtime drop."

Only query is the price – some buffs wonder if at just $13 it's not perhaps a little under-valued?

[] AT just $13 a bottle, some Merlot buffs wonder if this one's perhaps a little under-valued considering its quality and flavour.


Tim Adams’ 2017 Clare Valley Pinot Gris


David Ellis

THERE were plenty of reasons for smiles in South Australia's Clare Valley this 2017 vintage, amongst grape-growers because of highest prices they'd enjoyed for years – coupled with above-average quantities of fruit off their vines – and amongst winemakers in having fruit they've lauded as the best in three decades.

Plus there'll be smiles to come amongst wine buffs too, as the outstanding wines of this vintage start coming onto the market.

And one you'll find already on the shelves is Tim Adams' 2017 Clare Valley Pinot Gris, a drop of outstanding structure, flavour and acid profile, and reflecting a vintage that Tim ranks in the Top Five in his 40-odd years as a winemaker and vigneron.

With rich and robust fruit characters on the palate and bright acidity, pair this one with fish, prawns, lobster or oven-roasted chicken.

And at $22, there's reason to smile at the price, too.

WINESPEAK:  When a winemaker refers to a wine as being "Big" they're not referring to the bottle size, but to the wine being high in alcohol content, or in intensity of flavour.

[] HERE'S a drop that makes for a great pairing on the table with fish, prawns or lobster, or with oven-roasted chicken.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Ross Hill's Phil Kerney - pick a pair of Pinnacle pinots

By John Rozentals

I wrote a few weeks ago about Orange's Brangayne having two vineyards — one decidedly higher and cooler than the other.

They're certainly not the only ones in the district adopting this approach. Ross Hill also has two vineyards — their 'home' vineyard at Wallace Lane, high on the slopes of Mt Canobolas, and the Griffin Road Vineyard, on the milder north-western edge of Orange as you head along the Mitchell Highway towards Molong and Dubbo.

If winemaker Phil Kerney didn't have the Griffin Road Vineyard at his disposal, the only red in Ross Hill's premium Pinnacle Series would be a pinot noir.

That's the only red variety that Phil and Ross Hill's owners reckon will ripen at Wallace Lane, and hence it's the only red variety planted there.

But the Pinnacle Series label carries four reds, of which the 2015 vintages have just been released — the two I've reviewed here plus a 2015 Shiraz and a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, the latter already having sold out.

They formed a very solid quartet, which will expand to a quintet if Phil Kerney gets his way, by the addition of a pinot noir made 100 per cent from the Griffin Road Vineyard.

That should make for a highly interesting comparative tasting — two pinots made by the same hands from vineyards separated by a couple of hundred feet in altitude.


CAPTION: Phil Kerney … wants a pair of pinots in Ross Hill's Pinnacle Series.

Ross Hill 2015 Pinnacle Series Cabernet Franc

Ross Hill 2015 Pinnacle Series Cabernet Franc ($45): Meets all the Pinnacle Series requirements by being made 100 per cent from a single estate-owned vineyard, in this case Griffin Road, a vineyard I often pass on trips between my Molong home and Orange. Cabernet franc is a bit of a freak at Griffin Road, easily qualifying for its own individual guernsey. I really like the power and length of this wine, as well as its perfumed, herby characters. Visit

- John Rozentals

Huntington Estate 2016 Chardonnay - Mudgee, NSW


Huntington Estate 2016 Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay ($24): The Mudgee district has a proud history with chardonnay and, in fact, claims to have been the birthplace for the variety in Australia. This is a richly flavoured, complex dry white which spent eight months sitting on yeast lees in barrel. Its fruit flavours are primarily in the stonefruit sector of the flavour wheel but there's a hint of old-fashioned chardonnay oakiness there as well … and I like that. Visit

- John Rozentals

Ross Hill 2015 Pinnacle Series Pinot Noir - Orange, NSW

Ross Hill 2015 Pinnacle Series Pinot Noir ($40): Made from 100 per cent Wallace Lane fruit, this is a quintessential cool-climate pinot, showing subtle flavours and a medium-bodied, sinewy structure rather than beefy muscle. It's a spicy, food-friendly wine that I'd love to try in Beijing or an Australian Chinatown with the best Peking Duck. Visit

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Topper’s Mountain 2012 Wild Ferment Tempranillo


Tempranillo really seems to have taken off in Australia — and for the very good reason that the variety is making some exceptional dry reds. This is a firmly structured dry red with excellent balance of fruit, oak and tannin. The fruit lies predominantly in the dark-plum spectrum, but there are spices too, principally of the Middle Eastern persuasion. But for me the main feature lies in the long flavours of an elegant, firmly structured wine … and then there's the elegant package you'd be proud to display on your table at the local bistro. Suggested retail: $32


John Rozentals

Eloquesta’s Olsen challenging our wine industry’s norms

Doing it the old-fashioned way … Stuart Olsen uses his feet to stir up a red ferment.

John Rozentals
The Australian wine industry may be brimming with characters but it is essentially a fairly conservative place, with just about everyone pursuing clinically perfect wines. It's a goal that Stuart Olsen, who makes wine at Dubbo under the Eloquesta label, principally using fruit from Mudgee and Orange, reckons leads to a boring sameness.


Eloquesta 2014 'A Boy with Fruit' Orange Chardonnay ($32): Winemaker Stuart Olsen certainly thought laterally when he made this wine and consumers will have to do likewise when they taste it. The fruit comes from the Orange district, in two equal-size batches — from Gordon Hills Estate on the Cargo Road and from the warmer, lower-altitude Belgravia Vineyard near Molong.

It's made in an "antique style", as they did hundreds of years ago in places such as Croatia and Slovenia — foot-trodden on skins for two-to-three weeks, and pressed into old, new and reconditioned French oak and brand-new Hungarian oak, and matured for nearly two years. The barrels were stirred monthly on gross lees. It was only lightly filtered at bottling and retains some yeast sediment and hence potential cloudiness if stirred up —just like the best of Coopers ales. It shows a complex blend of fruit and associated flavours — Stuart sees dried stonefruit, mango, honey and acacia flowers in the bouquet, and I'm not going to disagree with him. It's a deeply golden-coloured, complex brew that won't be to everyone's taste but keen wine people will mostly love it for its uniqueness in Australia and the honesty of the winemaking approach.

Grab a couple of bottles and share them with wine-loving friends over some hearty, strongly flavoured eastern Mediterranean seafood dishes. And please excuse the lengthiness of this review, but it's a provocative white wine worth study, contemplation and much discussion about whether our wines are generally overly pure and too sanitised. Visit

Eloquesta 2015 ‘A Boy with Fruit’ Mudgee Rosalia ($22): This is another one out of left field. In Australia black muscat grapes are usually used to make frivolous pink moscatos and muscat liqueurs. Instead, Stuart Olsen has made a dry, quite aromatic rosé showing nuances of Turkish delight. It’s light, flavoursome, and good just about anywhere that doesn’t demand anything too serious. Rosalia, incidentally, is a Hungarian rosé festival — and the name of Stuart’s grandmother. Visit

Australia's winery experiences come to life in NZ

Top New Zealand business event planners and decision-makers had the opportunity to discover Australia's creative business events delivery and immerse themselves in a bespoke Australian wineries experience in Auckland last night.

Hosted by Business Events Australia, Tourism Australia's specialist business events team in partnership with Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia, 60 guests were taken on a journey through five of Australia's leading wineries, showcasing the unique experiences available for the New Zealand business events market.  

Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia is a hand-selected collection of Australia's premium wineries offering quality winery experiences, based around world class wines, warm and knowledgeable hospitality and culinary excellence. Going beyond wine tasting, last night's event provided guests with a multi-sensory experience of Australia's unique places, people, produce and business events offering.

"New Zealand is Australia's largest inbound market in terms of visitation and many business events planners in the market feel they already know Australia well. Last night was an opportunity to extend their knowledge of Australia's exceptional food and wine, business event delivery capabilities, friendly people and unique landscapes," said Penny Lion, Executive General Manager, Events for Tourism Australia. 

Hosted at inner-city photography space, The White Studios, guests were treated to a degustation menu and matching wines inspired by each of the five wineries - d'Arenberg, Moorilla, Seppeltsfield, Montalto and The Lane. As the evening's facilitator, Australian wine writer, judge and educator Nick Ryan used his knowledge and passion for Australian wine to help bring the stories of each winery to life.

South Australian winery d'Arenberg shared details of its newest venue, the architect-designed d'Arenberg Cube, set to open in late 2017. With a vintage being laid down every year since 1878, Seppeltsfield Wines, also from South Australia, gave guests an exclusive tasting of their 1917 port. Also from South Australia, The Lane Vineyard showcased their 'blend your own' experience whilst Tasmanian winery Moorilla, situated at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), demonstrated the relationship between art with wine. The Mornington Peninsula's Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove offered guests a glimpse into their 'Estate to Plate' experience, a guided exploration of the property's two acres of kitchen gardens, olive groves and extensive sculpture collection.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Is this the world's most expensive Wine?


David Ellis

AN auction in London has just seen 152,750 pounds (around AU$262,680) paid for a case of near-30 years old French wine that the buyer's going to no doubt spend plenty of time looking at, but in no way pull a cork.

The vintage 1988 Pinot Noir came from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti vineyard in Burgundy, which at a mere 1.8ha (4.5 acres) is one of the smallest estates in France, and was first worked seriously by monks from a local abbey back in 1232.

Today it produces on average just 450 cases a year of Pinot Noir from a single strain of vines, that wine being described variously by connoisseurs as "the scarcest, most expensive and frequently best wine in the world," "a perfection of aroma and taste" and "the peak of Pinot Noir." And if you want one of those cases of the latest vintage, it'll cost you around AU$17,200 – IF there are any left.

Horses are still used in the vineyard to avoid tractors compacting the soil, fertiliser for the vines is a home-made compost of crushed vine roots, grape skins and residues from fermentation, and grape yields are kept low through severe early season pruning to remove substandard fruit and concentrate flavour in the remainder.

And on picking, every grape is hand examined for health and condition, meaning it can take the total fruit selected from up to three vines to make just one bottle of wine.

The 152,750 pounds for the case of 1988 was paid by a European wine investor at a just-held Fine and Rare Wines auction conducted by British auction firm Bonhams in London. If you'd like to see what other classic wines they have coming up in future auctions, go to


[] HAILED as the frequently best wine in the world, this dozen-bottle lot of French Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Pinot Noir, has just sold at auction in London for the equivalent of AU$262,680.

[] HORSES are still used in the vineyard to avoid tractors compacting the soil and damaging the vines' roots.

(Images: Bonhams Auctioneers)

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Blue Wren No. 216 Verscato - Mudgee

Blue Wren, situated amongst the vines and situated in one of New South Wales’ premium wine regions – Mudgee - has just released their first ever Verscato label – Blue Wren No. 216 Verscato.

Exhibiting all the characteristics of a Moscato; the new Verscato it is an innovative and fun wine with low alcohol, a yellow tinge, hint of sweetness and vibrant fizz - with the Verscato made from the Verdelho grape, rather than the Muscat Grape.

“The rationale for our Verscato came to us after participating at numerous wine shows and the never ending search from our loyal customers for a Moscato wine. Not actually producing Muscat grapes we previously could not meet the demand of the market yet continually deliberated about how we could meet the expectations of visitors to our vineyard,” says Blue Wren owner Kip Harris.

“With the on-going successful production of Blue Wren’s Verdelho White Port, it was agreed to attempt to create a Moscato-style wine also utilising our Verdelho grape,” said Harris.

The result is the Blue Wren No. 216 Verscato. It shows all the characteristics of a Moscato; with an abundant white peach and candied pineapple nose, tropical guava on the palate, coupled with notes of passion fruit and key lime flavours. It is light in colour and holds an-oh-so slight spritz. At 7.0% alcohol, it is the perfect pre-dinner aperitif or equally, makes for a pleasant light dessert wine.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Celebrate “Cabernet Season” in the Napa Valley November through April

Napa Valley's Cabernet Season features the following events:

Napa Valley Film Festival – November 8 – 12, 2017
Napa Truffle Festival – January 12 – 15, 2018
Napa Valley Restaurant Week – January 21 – 28, 2018
Napa Valley Marathon – Sunday, March 4, 2018
Arts in April – April 2018

Napa Valley Film Festival

The ultimate celebration of film, food and wine, the NVFF (Napa Valley Film Festival) lights up the picturesque towns of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. NVFF features more than 100 new independent films and studio sneak previews screening in venues throughout Napa Valley. and

Napa Truffle Festival

The annual Napa Truffle Festival features an exciting lineup of special guests from the food and wine world, including truffle cultivation experts and internationally renowned chefs.

Napa Valley Restaurant Week

This program provides special restaurant offers for both visitors and locals with single priced $20 two-course lunches and two-price dinner options at $36 and $46 for a three-course meal. Participating restaurants are encouraged to donate corkage fees to the Napa Food Bank, or a charity of their choice. A total of eleven Michelin Stars shine on Napa Valley -- including The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood, each with three Michelin Stars; and five restaurants which have each been awarded one Michelin Star (Auberge du Soleil; Bouchon; La Toque; Solbar and Terra).

Napa Valley Marathon

The Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, named one of the “Top 10 Marathons Worth Traveling For” by Forbes Travel, is dedicated to fostering and promoting quality racing in an inspiring setting.

Arts in April

The Napa Valley showcases its wealth of art and artists from American Canyon to Calistoga for the annual Napa Valley Arts in April, featuring works that span artistic disciplines, genres and decades. Last year featured more than 70 special shows, openings and exhibits providing an artistic feast.

St. Helena welcomes Cabernet Season with the “Little Book of Big Experiences,” which includes 25 quintessential St. Helena experiences, including wine and food pairings, guided tours, meals and lodging specials. The “Little Book of Big Experiences,” which is valued at more than $1,000, may be purchased on-site at participating venues or at the St. Helena Welcome Center, located at 657 Main St. in St. Helena, as well as online at, which provides details of each offer. The cost of each book is $100 and offers are valid November 2017 – March 2018.


Calistoga's annual Winter in the Wineries Passport offers a relaxed way to tour, taste, and meet winemakers at more than a dozen heralded wineries, both large and small, in and around Calistoga. Passport holders also receive discounts at several of Calistoga's finest restaurants, lodging properties and downtown shops.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

D’Arenberg 2014 releases: Shiraz, Grenache

D'Arenberg 2914 The Dead Arm Shiraz ($65)— This is my favourite of the three new vintages of the Icons. The lovely, rich berryfruit flavours have a delightfully earthy, old-vine edge to them. Think ripe berries, foot-crushed autumn leaves and stewing mushrooms. Then bring on the heartiest of winter beef stews.

D'Arenberg 2014 The Ironstone Pressings Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre ($65) — There's a reason why these three red varieties are planted together in places such as France's Rhone Valley and Australia's McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley. And that's because, in Mediterranean-style climates, they blend into soft, heavenly complexity.


D'Arenberg 2014 d'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache ($18) — For mine, still far better value than any of the three wines in the Icon series. This red carries its familiar red diagonal slash of warning with pride and was first released in the 1960s. It's soft, it's full-flavoured, it's complex, it's beguiling … ok, it's just moreish.

- John Rozentals

Chester Osborn Winemaker - Loud and Proud

It would be easy to dismiss Chester Osborn as simply an extrovert — as someone who wears the loudest of shirts and has shown the flamboyance to match that of his famous father d'Arry and come out at least equal on the personality front.

And he's certainly done that, while at the same time presiding over the creation of one of Australia's broadest range of wine labels — and definitely the most lavishly named.

Think the Stephanie the Gnome with Rose-Tinted Glasses Shiraz Sangiovese or The Witches Berry Chardonnay or The Broken Fishplate Sauvignon Blanc, and you'll get my drift.

But in doing and being all that, Chester has also shown himself to be a highly skilled and sensitive winemaker.

In just over 30 years, he has taken a line-up of mostly average full-bodied dry reds and turned it into a portfolio of elegant wines — red, white and sparkling — that can stand tall among those anywhere in the world.

And, believe me, that's quite an achievement.

Chester has just released the 2014 vintages of his three Icon series wines — the Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon, the Dead Arm Shiraz and the Ironstone Pressings Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre.

Some people will quibble and their $65 price tags, and many won't be able to afford them, but who can afford a Roller or a top-of-the-line Merc? They're at prices that are quite normal for top quality in today's wine world.

29 May 17

Riversdale Estate 2016 Syrah - Tasmania

PROVING just how good is an
increasing range of wines out of Tasmania

ONE TO NOTE:  INCREASING  numbers of growers in Tasmania are reporting great results from trial plantings of Syrah, with buyers who've a passion for cool-climate wines realising just how good are the wines from these vines.

Amongst one of these successes is Riversdale Estate with its 2016 Syrah off vines planted almost a decade ago at Cambridge, in southern Tassie's renowned Coal River Valley. With fruit for the 2016 being intensely flavoured, together with bonus natural acidity and fine tannins, it's all made for a really rewarding drop

Spicy and savoury and with a touch of oak, the marvellous length of flavour will make for a great match with something a bit out of the ordinary like rare pan-seared venison with rosemary and dried cherries. Pay $36 at cellar door, online at or by phone on 03 6248 5555; freight is extra.

20 Mar 17

Wynns 2014 Coonawarra Estate Shiraz

released under this label in 1952.


David Ellis

IT'S little wonder that John Riddoch had been dubbed 'the Squire of Penola' by neighbours of his vast estate at Coonawarra back in the late nineteenth century -  the property covered an amazing 700 square kilometres, and from the early 1880s had been supporting as many as 160,000 sheep.

But in the early 1890s 'the Squire' decided it was time to down-size, and so carved it up into smaller blocks which he sold off  to new settlers, while also planting 52ha of vineyards for himself on part of what he had kept.

After his death in 1901 those 52ha somewhat languished, until Melbourne wine merchants Samuel and David Wynn became impressed with the richness and intensity of wines still coming off the old property. So impressed, in fact, that they bought the place in 1951, renaming it Wynns Coonawarra Estate.

Just a year later they released a 1952 Shiraz under the estate's name, and a now-released 2014 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz furthers the reputation of this premium Coonawarra Shiraz under the label.

Medium-bodied with lovely flavours of red and black fruits, forest floor brambles and a cool spiciness, this 2014 is fresh, lively and rich, and has a beautifully lingering finish. At $25 it's a particularly nice choice with barbecued lamb burgers.

20 March 2017

Blue Wren No. 516 Rosé - Mudgee

Blue Wren, nestled amongst the vines and situated in one of New South Wales' premium wine regions – Mudgee - has just released their first ever rosé label, Blue Wren No. 516 Rosé.

Joining the Rosé Revolution this is the first time that Blue Wren has produced rosé, using Merlot grapes from The Lost Block. The Lost Block is located in the Mudgee region, situated on a small four-acre block that produces low yielding yet high quality fruit and having never  been utilised for a decade - hence the title of The Lost Block.

The result of this is the Blue Wren No. 516 Rosé exhibiting a delicate wine that is clean and crisp with a subtle pink colour and fresh lifted with red berry fruit of the raspberry and a slight hint of strawberry.

At 13.5% alcohol, Blue Wren's rosé is a tran-seasonal drink, that is crisp, dry and savoury on the palate with a sharp dry quick finish making it the perfect dinner aperitif or equally a pleasant light dessert wine.

"We are very happy with the result. Mudgee's grape growing conditions are well suited to traditional rosé varieties, that give rosé produced in Mudgee a distinct ripe and savoury taste that goes with a range of dishes," Says Blue Wren owner Kip Harris.

Today, Rosé wine is among the fastest growing wine styles in Australia because of its refreshing drinkability, and suits the warm climate and it goes with a wide selection of foods.

"We have seen the popularity for rosé grow in and around the region and the exceptional quality of grapes produced here in Mudgee. We are now a part of the Rosé Revolution and have created a vibrant and tran-seasonal wine," says Harris.

For further information please visit:

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Visiting the famous Bundaberg Rum Distillery

The Bundaberg Rum Distillery is a unique, authentically Australian icon unlike any other. For over 128 years the Bundaberg Rum Distillery has proudly created the smooth golden liquor made from the finest sugar cane in tropical Queensland, surviving two fires and two floods as an enduring testament to the Australian spirit.

Visitor Experience Entrance
Whether you’re a rum enthusiast or planning a weekend away, the Bundaberg Rum Distillery, just four hours north of Brisbane airport, offers guests an unforgettable and one of a kind distillery experience.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Riesling 2016

FIFTY-FIVE years on and still going strong, here's a
Riesling that will go with anything from
seafood to duck, pork to chicken, Thai to tacos.

ONE TO NOTE:  FOR a region famed for its red wines, it's interesting that Coonawarra is also home to Wynns Coonawarra Estate Riesling, a wine that's been a favourite of Aussie Riesling buffs for its consistency of flavour, quality and expression of variety since 1962 – some fifty-five years.

And its latest release from 2016 is again up there with everything that's made this wine such a favourite, with classic lemon and lime Riesling flavours and a refreshing but soft acidity.

Plus with few boundaries when it comes to pairing with food, this is a drop to match with virtually anything from seafood to duck, pork to chicken or Thai to tacos. Or simply on its own over a good conversation, or watching a favourite movie on TV.

Pay $25 and enjoy now, or give it a few years in a cool, dark spot to age gracefully.

Weemala 2014 Merlot - Peter Logan - NSW Central Ranges

PAN fried veal chops and brown
mushrooms make for a perfect
pairing with this Merlot
from NSW's Central Ranges.

PETER LOGAN'S 20 year old vines on the red loam soils of his vineyards at Mudgee and Orange in the Central Ranges of NSW, have given him good reward with his 2014 Weemala Merlot, a now-available and beautifully stylish wine with its palate of bright mixed berries and thyme, before a long dry finish.

And it makes for a particularly good drop to put on the table with pan fried veal chops and brown mushrooms, the more-so too with its price tag of $19.95.

Peter actually opted to leave 25% of his Merlot on the vines in 2014, the 75% that he did harvest being his best ripe and clean fruit, and the most richly flavoured, of nice texture and with excellent varietal characters.

For those who love to get their nose into the bottle or glass, there's rewarding results here too, the high-altitude Central Ranges always to the fore with wines that are nice and highly perfumed  – in the case of this 2014 Logan Weemala Merlot, of predominantly violets, black olives and truffles.

And if you may be wondering about the name Weemala, it's a local aboriginal word for 'good view,' which certainly Peter's vineyards enjoy out there in those lofty cool climate Central Ranges.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Logan Wines 2016 Sauvignon Blanc- NSW Central Ranges

THIS one makes for a
delightful match with pork
four-quarter chops and apple sauce.


David Ellis

THE growing season for vintage 2016 in NSW's Central Ranges that local maker Logan Wines summed up as "unpredictably kind," gave the company both the biggest harvest in its 20 year history, and it's earliest.

After starting, in the words of owner and winemaker, Peter Logan "scarily hot and dry," the 2016 season soon gave way to much needed rain and mild temperatures, which all proved that even cold climate wine can benefit from a good dose of vitamin D and a wash-down with a healthy amount of water.

"As a result we squeezed in our biggest harvest ever in the shortest number of days," says Peter. "A few records were broken, and nearly a few backs in the process, but we're already reaping the rewards."

And he's particularly happy with the season's 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, a variety that loves sunshine, but with too much heat can ripen without developing flavour, and also lose the all-important acid that it needs. "But this one's proved absolutely true to variety, with complexity and round but fresh drinkability," Peter says.

With prominent grapefruit and guava flavours on a core of lime and minerality, it's a delightful match with pork four-quarter chops and apple sauce; well-priced at $23.

27 March 2017

T’Gallant Pink Moscato - Mornington Peninsula

ONE TO NOTE:  T'GALLANT that was founded amid the rolling hills of Main Ridge on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula in 1990, has a nice range of bubblies pitched at the growing market for quality sparklings priced around $15 to $20.

Their T'Gallant Pink Moscato is particularly interesting, being slightly sweeter than the others and thus of appeal to those with a sweeter tooth, or equally it will pair-up delightfully with sweetish desserts – and yet conversely with spicy Asian food.

And at $20 it comes in an attractive curve-shaped bottle that gives it added appeal as either a gift, or to take along as a thank you to a home-dinner host.

[] EQUALLY enjoyable with sweetish desserts, or spicy Asian dishes.

3 Apr 17

Apple Tree Flat 2015 Chardonnay - NSW Central Ranges


David Ellis

WE'VE readily confessed in the past to being unabashed lovers of Chardonnay, a drop we'll defend to the end against the chorusing of the "not another Chardonnay" crowd.

And when recently offered a sip of a just-released 2015 from Apple Tree Flat in the NSW Central Ranges, we told ourselves that here was yet another reason for our love of the variety… although we did have one query: how come one of such elegance and complexity could be sitting on our local liquor store shelves at just $13?

So we put our query to the 2015's winemaker Peter Logan, who confessed his own love of the variety, and added: "When handled with respect and allowed to show its true elegance, this one's proof as to just what can be achieved at any price point."

Peter also spoke of the 2015 vintage that he described as a joy in his NSW Central Ranges, the region enjoying a sunny and dry spring and summer, and mild temperatures throughout both seasons.  And all of which, he says, then continued into autumn, ensuring a harvest of richly flavoured grapes with good texture and varietal character, and thus this ultimately lovely chardonnay with its flavours of pear, lemon and nectarine before a long clean finish.

A really great drop with seafood party platters or a dinner of grilled salmon.

3 April 2017

[] THWART the 'Not Another Chardonnay' crowd with this great drop.

2016 Shaw Winemakers Selection Semillon Sauvignon Blanc - Canberra District

ONE TO NOTE:  GRAEME SHAW confesses to being a huge fan of his own vineyard's Semillon, and with almost 5ha growing at Murrumbateman in the Canberra district he's in fact got more of it than the rest of the district put together.

And after indulging the rewards of his 2015 Semillon that he says came out of his best vintage ever, he now says his 2016 has equalled that best-ever 2015. And to prove it he's released a 2016 Shaw Winemakers Selection Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, that with some 85% Semillon is basically all about that, and just how beautifully it has blended with the acidity and lighter body of the Sauvignon Blanc.

At $18 it's a great match with seafood, pork, creamy pasta dishes, chicken or turkey.

10 Apr 17

[] AT $18 a great match with seafood, pork, creamy pasta dishes, chicken or turkey.


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