Star Drinking

Queen Adelaide Brut NV – under $10 – **  – Pale gold, small bead. Nose of dried apples and pears. Soft and full in the mouth with a hint of lemon acidity. Will please people who don’t enjoy bone dry bubbly.

Yering Station Yarra Valley Fumé Blanc 2010 – $26 – ˜˜***  – Barrel fermented sauvignon blanc. In this wine, barrel-fermentation has softened much of the herbaceous pungency we expect in unwooded versions. Nevertheless there is still a hint of edgy tomato leaf over the faint woody overtones on the nose. The palate is full and rich and interwoven with sherbet-like acidity.

d’Arenberg McLaren Vale The Dry Dam Riesling 2010 – $15 – ˜˜˜*** Ripe lemon, new season pear and some floral notes on the nose. A generous mouth filling style permeated with lemon and lime intensity. There is a hint of apple pie at the finish. Good aperitif or entrée wine.

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Chips Rafferty meets Laurence Olivier

From a column I wrote for The Melbourne Times, 12 July 1989:

I’ve just read a description of a dinner held at Emu Plains, New South Wales in 1948. (The Gourmet’s Week-End Book, edited by André Simon, Seeley Service, London 1952).

The setting was “Leonay“, the home of hosts Mr. and Mrs. Leo Buring. Their guests included Sir Laurence Olivier and Lady (Vivien Leigh) Olivier, and Chips and Mrs. Rafferty.

Among the wines served were an 1893 Great Western Hermitage, a 1920 White Hermitage from Dame Nellie Melba’s Coldstream vineyard, a 1932 Coonawarra Hermitage, a 1934 Hunter River Hermitage, a 1944 Drayton’s Hunter River Semillon and a 1940 Leonay Liqueur Brandy. Continue reading

Watching Keith Floyd

Over the last few weeks 7two has been running – at 6 p.m. weekdays –  a series of food shows by the late Keith Floyd – Floyd on France, Floyd’s American Pie and Floyd’s India.

The earlier shows are gems of pure entertainment: vigorous, sometimes slapdash, unpretentious, often spontaneous, witty, and informative. All episodes are well lubricated, both in recipes or in Floyd’s gullet, with lashings of good wine.

Though some episodes were made over 20 years ago, they make many of the current crop of TV celebrity “chefs” look like contrived, over-produced, self-indulgent amateurs.

Australian Cultural Wine Cringe?

Winemaker Stephen Pannell has called upon Oz wine consumers to take the pledge and reject foreign wines this coming January. Pannell reasons that as foreign imports have grown, local winemakers have suffered financially and that wine grapes have been left to rot on the vines.

He suggests we have to get over our cultural cringe and instead support the local industry by drinking more Australian wine.

I don’t see any evidence to support the alleged cultural cringe effect and I can’t see that in the short to medium term a few weeks boycott of imports will have any significant impact on Australian made wine sales. Continue reading

Overrated Gourmet Tucker

Uber-chefs, gourmets, cashed up bogans, credulous restaurant reviewers &c, are forever banging on about certain de luxe menu items. I contend that this is not because taste is the main consideration but is mainly due to factors of rarity, fashion and the ability to indulge in conspicuous consumption.

Here are the top five we’ve tasted over the years – without excitement.

Foie gras: bland, fatty, force-fed, cirrhotic goose liver.

Caviar: salty, fishy tasting sturgeon eggs of uncertain age and erratic quality.

Buffalo mozzarella: excellent texture, usually tasteless, has to be all dressed up “like a pox doctor’s clerk” to serve. Continue reading

Star Drinking

Waipara Hills Brut – $22 – ** – Sparkling riesling from Waipara, New Zealand. Light straw, medium bead. Pears, water melon and floral notes on the nose. Smooth texture on the palate shows hints of dried pears, ripe apples and mild acidity. Finishes off-dry.

Nepenthe Pinot Gris 2010 – $19 – **- Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Pale, hint of green. Subdued sherbet-like bouquet. Fruity ripe citrus in the mouth. Soft acidity to finish. Continue reading

Vini Illuminati

by Annie Field

Last Wednesday we were hosted by the Illuminati wine family. We stayed an extra couple of nights in the wintery Le Marche region, just to attend the work organised appointment. We met up with Stefano Illuminati around midday for a tour of their facilities, a tasting and what was described as a lunch that was to be “nothing special” in the organising pre-emails.

The winery and vines are actually in the Abruzzo region which borders Le Marche to the south. Stefano shepherded us into his Porsche for a tour of their expansive vineyards, pointing out the different vineyards (Montepulciano being the star, the white Pecorino an up and comer), trellising techniques (they use both espalier and canopy styles) and described with ardour how the business has grown since his great grandfather established it over one hundred years earlier. Continue reading

Peter Lehmann Wines – Barossa Valley


Ian Hongell - Winemaker at Peter Lehmann Wines

Ian Hongell - Winemaker at Peter Lehmann Wines

Peter Lehmann Wines

Since its inception in 1979, Peter Lehmann Wines has been a Barossa Valley mainstay. The wines, especially the shiraz and riesling have been – in my little black book – synonymous with the Barossa style. So much so that when overseas guests have asked me to recommend typical Barossa wines, Peter Lehmann always come to mind.

The winery and cellar door are set in leafy, park-like gardens and guests can wander around, taste a good selection of wines and if peckish, enjoy lunch on a sunny verandah – as we did. Continue reading

Henschke – Keyneton – Eden Valley


Stepping into the venerable cellars at the Henschke winery in Keyneton is a real trip into the past. The marks of generations of Henschkes having been hewn into the stony structures since the mid-nineteenth century.

In the winery are rows of open concrete fermenters still in use after numerous vintages, and the visitor may picture how winemakers in earlier days used gravity rather than motorised pumps to process young wines.

Henschke Winery - old concrete vats

Henschke Winery - old concrete vats


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Magical History Tour – more Barossa and Eden Valley

Seppelt Family Mausoleum

Seppelt Family Mausoleum


The drive to Seppeltsfield is memorable – avenues of numerous stately date palms and on a hill the brooding Seppelt family mausoleum. As you arrive you are confronted by a complex of aged stone buildings that seem to have “just growed” since the winery’s beginnings in the mid-1800s.

In the old cellars the visitor is shown rows of casks still containing tawny port styles from 130 vintages. In the tasting room, ancient and modern fortifieds, brandies and table wines are there for an indulgent sip or two. Continue reading