a postcard picked up at Santorini in Greece says it all!

St Hallets: the best of the Borossa Valley

Stuart Blackwell, one of the doyens of the Borossa was in Melbourne recently to speak about his St Hallets wines. Now he is a roving ambassador for the brand rather than having any day-to-day winemaking or management responsibility (after he was bought out when St Hallets went public). However it seems that St Hallets has retained its tradition of single winery winemaking (rather than the blending that goes on in the larger wineries). St Hallets itself started in 1972 as a rustic fortified winery and today boasts state of the art winemaking equipment.

Stuart Blackwell, brand ambassador

As far as varietals go, Shiraz is the king of Borossa and the Riesling is the queen of the Borossa (Eden Valley is classified as part of the Borossa region). St Hallets has had many show winners in its Rieslings (with age eg 2005) served in Qantas 1st class and in selected fine dining restaurants. A pristine, limey citrus-y finish and if bought now will keep for another 10-15 years.

St Hallets wines

Then of course there are the reds (Shiraz) – Faith, Moppa Hills, Hampel, Blackwell and Old Block (the latter being the most celebrated – elegant and subtle with grape from vines over 80 years old ).  All these wines are beautifully round  with intense and dense  flavours, however each distinct in its flavours because each of the wineries behind these 5 labels are influenced by the terrior and the microclimates they are found in. So what makes the Borossa reds so intense? The main reason is that there are few wine regions in the world (let alone Australia) that have vines older than 100 years such as the Borossa and still on their own roots (ie not being grafted). The deeper and bigger the root systems, and even though they are less productive in that they produce smaller bunches and fewer berries, all the character of the soil intensify in the grape, producing the big dense and opulent favours.

St Hallets are sold retail at Vintage Cellars

Francophiles better hurry to Randalls

In about 6-10 weeks from now the sale of Randalls The Wine Merchant in Albert Park to the giant Coles will turn this favourite spot for lovers of French and Italian fine wines into a Vintage Cellars.  Pity, as another independent bites the dust.  Except this one was known far and wide as a great place if you wanted not only good French wines but shop staff who knew their French wines. Lets hope that  Vintage Cellars does not kill this wonderful offering, especially at a time when (given the Australian dollar) imported wines are starting to look rather inexpensive.  In 2010, sales in Australia of Italian wines went up 60% and French wines went up 40%!

Some great buying at Randalls during its dying weeks…………

Coldstream Hills wins with its 2009 Pinot Noir

In a year in which the Yarra Valley was ravaged by fire, Coldstream Hills has produced a winner with its 2009 Pinot Noir. It has had to find its Pinot grape from 3 regions and as far afield as Tasmania. But that effort has been paid in full by a highly awarded wine. It has taken the Royal Adelaide Wine Show Best Pinot Noir Trophy and other 3 gold medals (Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne).

This cool climate Pinot Noir is gentle and smooth but complex and well developed – much like the French Burgundians. A stylish wine with a great nose and good length on the palate.  Drinking now but can also go down for 2-5 years. Limited supply.

A perfectly balanced Trinity

Massena Moonlight Run GSM

While the Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir red wine varieties are best known in Australia (and the new world), the GSM blend is not as well known.  One wonders why!

GSM stands for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre – all of which are southern Rhone Valley grape varieties from France. But when grown outside France we can’t call them Rhone wines, but that is what they are. (Note in Australia, Syrah is known as Shiraz and Mourvedre is known as Mataro)

The GSM is not as big as a straight Shiraz,  has less tannins and a smoother finish than the shiraz, but memorably soft on the palette. Here are 2 wonderful examples of Australian GSM (or Rhone style wines)

My favourite is the 2008 Massena Moonlight Run GSM. Beautifully soft wine made by 2 friends who have come together to form this label – Tony Standish (formerly Torbreck) and Jaysen Collins (formerly Turkey Flat). It also has 6% Cinsaut, also a Rhone Valley varietal.

Another GSM beauty is the 2008 Grant Burge Holy Trinity, also from the Barossa Valley in South Australia.

To the 08 Burgundy Vintage via Melbourne

A wonderful night spent sampling the latest shipment of 2008 red Burgundies (including Grand Cru) at an impressive evening of food and wine at the Burgundy Dinner organised by Vintage Cellars Toorak.

The food was equally impressive with

·         Salmon gravlax with seeded mustard potato salad and apple aioli

·         pan seared quail accompanied by fig and rocket salad

·         chargrilled eye fillet (perfectly pink) with gratin of wild mushroom and creamy mash

·         ripe delice du Bourgogne.

The wines were elegant and beautifully balanced……My favourites were the  Frederic Magnien Gevrey Chambertin 08 and the Gros Frere et Soeur Vosne-Romanee 08…………good drinking in 5-8 years. Expensive at $96 and $120 per bottle (dozen price) respectively.

To top the night off we were treated to a visual tour of Burgundy by Francophile Richard Saleeba who manages the store,  disappearing to Burgundy from time to time to feed his wine habit and his photographic talents………we were transported to Burgundy via a photographic slide show of some exceptionally beautiful vistas in and around Beaume  where he spent a month at the last vintage school……………ahhh!

Aerating your wine with no fuss!

Vinturi, the NAPA Valley (USA) wine acccessory company has come out with a wine aerator which takes all the fuss out of decanting.  It fits into a small cloth pouch and can slip into a handbag (if you must take it out of the home!).

I have tried it by aerating aged wine directly into a glass (without decanting) and have also tried it with aged wine by aerating it into a decanter – both creating wonderful results. No fuss and no added time needed to let the wine breathe……..if you are like me, then these 2 features alone should convince you to get one of these!

Vinturi Wine Aerator

Locally stocked in Minimax stores or in Essential Ingredient in South Yarra


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