Monday 27 November 2017

Robert Stein 2016 Reserve Chardonnay - Mudgee

STEEPED in a family history going back to 1838
and links to the pioneering Macarthur family's first
commercial vineyard in Australia.

ONE TO NOTE: WE don't hear a lot about Robert Stein Wines out near Mudgee in NSW's Central West, but here is a small maker with a prestigious history it is certainly justified in being proud of.

For current winemaker Jacob Stein is the third generation of his craft, his grandfather Robert Stein having planted their vineyard on the slopes of Mount Buckaroo in 1976, and his grandfather's ancestor Johann Stein sailing to Australia from Germany in 1838 to work on the famous Macarthur family's pioneering commercial vineyard as their "vine dresser," and bringing with him vine cuttings for them from his homeland.

A just-released 2016 Robert Stein Reserve Chardonnay was made from those vines planted in 1976, and has a generous body, wonderful citrus and yellow stone fruit flavours, some fine spice, and a creamy palate with nice acidity.

Pay $40 and pair with poached salmon, salmon fish cakes, or grilled pork or veal chops topped with a creamy mushroom sauce.

Blue Pyrenees 2013 Estate Red - Victoria


David Ellis

BLUE PYRENEES Estate in western Victoria has a full-on-taste 2013 Estate Red that winemaker Andrew Koerner created by bringing together four different varietals, maturing them in French oak for two years, blending and bottling in 2015, and then cellaring with care until now.

And his patience has certainly rewarded, for himself and for the recognition this wine is receiving, and for consumers for a wonderfully more-ish drop that at $42, has got "partner with premium dining" written all over it.

Andrew brought together 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 4% each of Malbec and Shiraz for this beautifully rich drop in what he likes to call "a traditional old world style suitable for aging," one that's loaded with fine grain tannins and lovely lingering fresh berry and choc-mint flavours.

Get into it now for that special occasion, or think of cellaring for some other major event any time over the next twenty years, and you'll appreciate why this is a true benchmark wine that Andrew blends only from the best of vintages.

This Blue Pyrenees 2013 Estate Red would make for a wonderful match with the Christmas turkey – either hot or cold – or with a good steak any other time.

 27 Nov 2017

Friday 24 November 2017

The Thief 2015 Shiraz - Barrosa Valley

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.


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.

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 20 November 2017

La La Land Vermentino - Victoria Riverina

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


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.

and from John Rozentals:

The more I taste of white wines made from this newish-to-Australia Italian variety the surer I become of its future here, especially in our warmer regions. The variety retains acidity beautifully and offers plenty of racy, zesty fruit flavours. My only query about the wine concerns what I see as a quite frivolous name. What’s in the bottle is great.


Azahara Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV - Victorian Riverina

IF you are starting to think about the
fast-approaching Festive Season,
here's a value-priced Aussie sparkler
for party-room or dining table.

ONE TO NOTE: IF you're starting to think about the fast-approaching Festive Season and a glass or three of value-priced bubbles to go with it, one worth consideration at just $15 a bottle is Aussie label Azahara Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV.

Comprising 89% Chardonnay and 11% Pinot Noir off vineyards that interestingly nestle amongst orange, citrus and mango groves at Red Cliffs in north-western Victoria, this is a creamy bubbly with bright acidity, fresh lemon, brioche and yeasty flavours, and has a fine and persistent mousse – the eruption of its tiny bubbles in your glass.

This is a rewarding local sparkler to serve well-chilled in the Festive Season party-room, or at the lunch or dinner table, with fare from oysters to petite roast vegetable tarts and sushi, and if you've a sweet tooth, strawberries dipped in chocolate.

 20 Nov 17

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 6 November 2017

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

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

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.

6 Nov 17