Category Archives: Wine and Food Pairings

Apr 04 2012

De Bortoli Highlights Regional Focus of the Windy Peak Range

Posted on April 04, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Over the past 20 years dozens of new Australian wine regions have been discovered, and many of these regions are now flourishing. Just look, for example, at the success of wines from Orange, Geelong, the Great Southern and the Canberra District. Even within regions winemakers are becoming far more attuned to the nuances of terroir and how subtle differences can influence the character of the wine.

Consumers are also becoming more terroir savvy. I have friends who say they prefer the tropical fruit flavours and crisp acidity of Orange sauvignon blanc, for example, even if they can’t recall exactly which wines they’ve tried.

Family-run De Bortoli, one of Australia’s best independent producers, has re-labeled its entry level Windy Peak brand, and now the region where the wine is made is clearly displayed on the label. De Bortoli owns substantial vineyards in the Yarra Valley, Hunter Valley, King Valley, the Riverina and even has a vineyard in Marlborough, New Zealand.

The move to include the region on the Windy Peak label looks like smart marketing for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s recognition that even the budget-minded consumer is becoming more discerning about where and how a wine is made. Secondly, it highlights that Windy Peak is a quality product sourced from De Bortoli’s own vineyards. (Unlike some of those wines I’ve seen from the so-called critter brands – you know, the ones with the cute little marsupials on the label – that vaguely state that the wine is from ‘south eastern Australia’!)

De Bortoli launched the new label for the Windy Peak range at a luncheon in Sydney at Matt Moran’s and Peter Sullivan’s new Woollahra venture Chiswick. The setting reminded me of a stylish but comfortable Southern Highlands home. Our room overlooked a beautiful lawn and a … Read the rest

Nov 11 2011

Can you tell if a wine is any good just by tasting it? Impressions from a Craggy Range Tasting

Posted on November 11, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Have you ever been unimpressed with a wine on first taste, but then fallen in love with it over the course of a meal?

Well, according to a very interesting article by Decanter’s Andrew Jefford “digestibility is as much a hallmark of truly fine wine as is sensorial intricacy and harmony.” Jefford goes on to explain:

Twenty-five years of reading wine assessments, as well as providing assessments of my own, have convinced me that tasting without drinking is, in fact, a monstrous (if inevitable) flaw in all wine criticism. I’d like to see wine critics append a ‘D’ or a ‘*’ to any numeric score or tasting note for a wine which has been drunk rather than merely assessed by tasting. Any critic who claims that they have never had to adjust, after drinking, an initial assessment based on tasting alone is lying. (Jefford on Monday: Thinking about Tasting by Andrew Jefford, Decanter, 7 November 2011)

Jefford’s comments resonated with me when I attended a tasting last night of the Craggy Range lineup hosted by NZ Wine Online. The event was held at the Roof Top Bar of Coast, but the sun hadn’t set so I was hot and thirsty. Not the best state to be in when tasting wines! Fortunately the weather cooled and big plates of antipasto arrived in time to whet our appetites.

All the wines on show were excellent, but the Craggy Range Old Renwick Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (26.95) was definitely an example of a wine that opened up with food. I was initially perplexed by its unusually dry, stoney and mineral character, but over time its delicious lime and grapefruit flavours also shone through.

Initially struck by the dark rich purple red colour of the Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2009 (37.95), … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

A Brilliant BYO Dinner!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you love great wine and food, one of life’s great pleasures is to organise a group dinner at a favourite restaurant that allows BYO, and ask each of the diners to bring one of their best bottles.

On Thursday night we attended such a dinner at the fine French restaurant La Grande Bouffe in Rozelle. Organised by my husband’s Food and Wine Society, I knew the wine selections were going to be pretty good (the table captain had been in touch with key members of our table in advance of the evening) but, wow, what a wonderful night of wine imbibing!

We started with a bottle of Perrier-Jouet Champagne 1998. Fresh and still fruity with delicate citrus and floral aromas and deliciously fine bubbles, it was the perfect accompaniment to the canapes of natural oysters with a champagne vinaigrette, fish tartare on fine toast and pork roulard with celeraic salsa.

Before the entrees arrived, we moved on to the Domain Christian Moreau Pere et Fils Chablis 1er Cru Vaillon 2006. This wine comes from a very young domain: the Christian Moreau family only reclaimed the grand cru-rich acreage for the family in 2002, and Christian and his winemaker son Fabien have already done a very good job in restoring the Domaine’s reputation as a leading producer in the region.

The 2006 Vaillon Chablis is made from vines planted by Guy Moreau in 1932. It was already excellent but will probably benefit with more cellar age, which will soften the slight steely edge. The stone fruit, apricot in particular, and lime citrus flavours were balanced by lanolin in the finish. It worked well with my twice baked wonderfully light leak and goat cheese souflee and my husband’s deliciously succulent bacon wrapped scallops on braised mushrooms with a mustard jus.

Now … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Getting Serious about Wine and Food Pairing!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

This week Gary Vaynerchuk looked at what wines go best with hot dogs! (What Wines Pair with a Hot Dog? Episode #944, Wine Library TV, 3 November 2010)

Recently Wine Spectator’s New World Wine Experience brought four of the best chefs in the world together, Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck and Charlie Trotter, to work with Wine Spectator’s Executive Editor Thomas Matthews on pairing the right wine to their dishes. (2010 New World Wine Experience: The Four Chefs Food and Wine Match by Alison Napjus, Wine Spectator, 2 November 2010)

But the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition, the largest wine competition in Asia, has taken food and wine pairing to a whole new level. It has included a world-first Chinese food and wine pairing category in the competition, and it’s proving very popular with both wineries and the public!

Everywhere you look people seem to be getting serious about matching the right wines with the right foods!

And why not? A great meal can become a transcendental experience when married with perfect wine choice. James Halliday gave a wonderful description on his Australian Wine Companion blog of the wine/food pairings at the Annual Clonakilla Dinner at Attica, 28 October 2010. Here’s a sample:

The Grosset (Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2010) was accompanied by ‘snow crab’, one of those dishes that only Shewry (ie. Ben Shewry, co-owner and chef at Attica) could conceive of and execute, in no way derivative, simply coming out of his imagination (and a fair bit of trial and error in the kitchen in the development phase, no doubt). The presentation alluded to a snow-capped mountain, the snow on the outside of the mini-mountain on the plate a profusion of other textures and flavours hidden Read the rest

Oct 10 2010

Viognier: A Difficulty Grape makes a Great Wine!

Posted on October 10, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In yesterday’s post, Wine of the Week: Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier I talked about how Clonakilla had transformed perceptions of Australian Shiraz with its ingenious blend of Shiraz and Viognier – inspired by a style of wine associated with Northern Rhône’s Côte-Rôtie. By co-fermenting just a small percentage of Viognier with Shiraz, Tim Kirk of Clonakilla lifted his wine’s aromatic profile and added a new dimension to the palate structure, creating a wine that was lighter and more elegant than traditional Australian Shiraz.

So what are the attributes of Viognier, an enigmatic rare white grape variety, that made its addition to Clonakilla’s Shiraz so special?

A little bit of research revealed that Viognier, the only permitted grape of the tiny Northern Rhône appellations of Condrieu and Château-Grillet, was almost extinct in the mid 1960s. In fact, the revival of the grape’s fortunes has much to do with the efforts and persistence of Australian and Californian winemakers!

In Australia, Viognier was first planted by Yalumba in 1980. At the time, Peter Wall, Yalumba’s Director of Wine, had just returned from a trip to Condrieu where he became convinced that the exotic grape variety was suited to the winery’s vineyards in the Eden Valley. Yalumba used clones from three vines of 1968 stock, which they believe were imported by the local Nurioopta viticultural station in 1968.  Even by the 1980, only 20 hectares of Viognier were left in Condrieu, so sourcing new clones directly from France was not a viable option at the time.

Managing Director Robert Hill Smith calls Yalumba’s 30 year relationship with the grape a “labour of love”.  At its best, single variety Viognier is a brilliant clear golden yellow with intense flowery (violets) and fruity (apricot, white peaches and citrus) aromas interwoven with honeysuckle scents and minerality. A complex, … Read the rest