Monday 30 October 2017

Calabria Bros Sophie Rosé 2016 - Barossa Valley

FROM Calabria Bros Wines in Griffith NSW
an exceptional 2016 Barossa Valley Sophie Rosé,
that at $18 is ideal with Italian antipasti tapas,
or a coconut prawn curry.

ONE TO NOTE: GRIFFITH-based Calabria Bros Wines have an almost magical rosé in their Barossa Valley Sophie Rosé 2016 that maestro Bill Calabria crafted from Barossa Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre and a touch of Pinot Grigio.

With flavours suggesting fresh-cut apples and succulent red forest berries, this wine named after Bill's first granddaughter Sophie, has a nicely savoury and dry finish to enjoy slightly chilled with a coconut prawn curry, or with Italian antipasti tapas. And at $18 it's nicely priced for family enjoyment.

30 Oct 2017

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.

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.

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