Sunday, 29 July 2012

Cin, cin!

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned the big twenty-(secret!) and was spoiled to a ridiculously good dinner at Eros Ouzeri - a Greek restaurant in Adelaide's east-end, with amazing food and a cracking wine list.

For the starter, or should I say 'oretika', we had four half dips - this included Melitzanosalata, Tzatziki, Skordalia and Taramosalata - with grilled pitta bread. For the entree, we had Paithakia Salata - seared lamb cutlets, spring onion, Dodoni fetta and rosted garlic mash with red wine jus.

Then came the main: Saganaki Thalasino (pictured): handmade festoni ribbons, bug tails, local prawns, king scallops, cherry tomato flambéed with ouzo, fetta, garlic and chilli

The vino? Massena Barbera 2011 from the Barossa Valley. Sure, 2011 was a bit of a hideous vintage - cold and wet weather making for high disease pressure and the like - but, my gosh, this wine was definitely a surviver.

I've had Barbera perhaps once or twice and fell in love with it instantly. Originally from northern Italy, Barbera is full of cherry flavour, acidity, soft tannins and boasts a burst of spice right from the get-go.

If you're looking for something truly unique and well-priced ($22 a bottle), you really can't not have this wine. It's a treat best drunk on any happy occasion and, with Mediterranean cuisine, it's a dream boat.

Happy drinking.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Chateau Australia

"Chateau chunder from Down Under." What a hideous way to describe Australian wine. Fortunately, that's all in the past, according to writer and director Stephen Oliver.

He's getting ready to debut his latest film, Chateau Chunder: a wine revolution - a doco that seeks to explore the history and evolution of Australian wine, from an unfashionable backwater to the toast of the international wine world.

The film will be launched for the first time at Cinefest Oz Festival, with screenings taking place in Margaret River and Busselton from 22-26 August. 

The trailer can now be viewed online. Check it out:

The film is expected to screen on ABC and BBC sometime next month. Keep an ear out for dates.

Ps. A short update from the pooch. She is very well, minus the fact that she's developed this tedious habit of digging after it's been raining. Each day, after she comes inside, I have to clean her paws with warm water and doggy soap to clean away the mud. That's four paws, you know. Four. Big. Muddy. Paws.

She's lucky she's cute x

Friday, 20 July 2012


One my first projects as a journo at the Grapegrower & Winemaker was to drive to the Barossa and interview a grapegrower, who had uniquely come up with a way to train his vines in the shape of a corkscrew. The idea was that the training system would allow for an open canopy, reducing the risk of humidity and therefore disease. You can find out more about this here.

My boss warned me that he was somewhat on the quirky side. Quirky, indeed, he was, but in the most refreshing way; he's the kind of quirky that resonates when you're super passionate and keen to share your wine knowledge with everyone around you.

His name is Wayne Elson and he's the grapegrower and winemaker at Roenfeldt Hill Wines, north-west of the Barossa Valley.

I caught up Mr Elson a couple of weeks ago. He's just made two rosés: Alinta and Alinta dry. I was lucky enough to have a taste. The rosés, like his corkscrew method, are truly unique in that they're made from 50 per cent Grenache and 50 per cent Zinfandel - both of which were hand-picked.

"It's probably Australia's first ever rosé made from this blend," says Mr Elson, who will be spearheading a promotional campaign of the wines from next month under the banner 'delightfully different'.

"It's probably deemed in the past that you make a rosé from a single variety, but why does that need to be?"

Why indeed, especially when it tastes this good: satsuma plum, strawberry, a touch of tannin and a little pepper, allowing for a savoury complexity - possibly achieved by way of cofermentation of the two varieties, something he says was a real punt.

"When you're a small player, unless you do things differently, you'll never succeed," he says.

So what's the difference between the Alinta and the Alinta dry? Put simply, the Alinta dry has no added sugars, making it a low carb option.

Mr Elson says both wines would taste amazing with steak, lamb and sausages, or with pasta and seafood.

My favourite was the Alinta. But, while I've never been one to go for the low-carb option, I gotta say the Alinta dry was pretty well on par with the Alinta. Both are truly memorable wines that boast a real 'wow' factor.

The vinos will be available from next month from particular retail outlets and restaurants.

Keen beans? Check it:

Monday, 16 July 2012

Aglianico - that's amore

"Al-ee-yah-nee-knoe" - the way to pronounce my new favourite wine, Aglianico. Originally from the Campania region, south of Italy, (although really thought to have originated from Greece), this is a really great and exciting red wine.

From medium to full bodied in strength, this wine boasts floral aromatics, firm tannins and acidity, all of which are more or less dependent on the soils they were grown (generally varying from volcanic or limestone). In fact, some of the vineyards are literally grown around volcanoes. Amazing!

So if you're wondering how I know this, well, let me explain. I have just trotted back to my office after my first wine tasting with Sommeliers Australia - an organisation that holds wine tastings for a mix of wine pros and enthusiasts in cities Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne.

The tasting? You guessed it. It was none other than Aglianico.

The tasting itself was held at the Coffee Branch - a very cosy cafe at Leigh Street, right in the centre of Adelaide. True Italian style. The event sold out; I'm assuming it's indicative of people wanting to cut my lunch with my new love (yes, I'm still talking about the wine).

We started with four wines from Campania, then another four from Puglia, and then the final four from Basilicata. We were even treated to some prosciutto and bread - perfect! Even better when we paired it with our wines; they say cured meats, lasagna and risotto with mushroom or truffle sauce are great food matches for Aglianico.

Apart from learning the history of the variety and appreciating the different flavours it can impart, the tasting itself was actually a super opportunity to meet people also interested in vino. Best of all, though - it's not intimidating. You don't have to be an expert, snob or... 'wineoeverythingologist'. A genuine interest in wine will do and you're in. Cool beans.

My top pick?

Roccamonfina IGT Terre di Lavoro Galardi 2005

This particular wine reminded me of Gamay - a French variety grown in Beaujolais that I'm also somewhat infatuated with. It has smashing floral aromas, silky tannins and an acidity that carries right through the wine to the very end. I envisage this wine as if it were liquid purple streaming down my throat. Oh, so divine. Just don't ask me where you can buy it. I can't seem to find it, anywhere.

In the meantime, have a taste of an Aglianico from an Australian producer. According to Vinodiversity - a virtual blogipedia when it comes to wine - there are many, including:

  • Beach Road Wines Langhorne Creek
  • Brown Brothers King Valley
  • Chalmers Murray Darling
  • Grey Sands Northern Tasmania
  • Pertaringa McLaren Vale

  • But if you happen to be about Adelaide, head over to Cork Wine Cafe on Gouger Street and try the Gamay. It's bliss in a bottle and very comparable to the aforementioned Roccamonfina.

    Keen beans? Check it:
    Keen, keen beans? Check it: