2010 Adelaide Hills food and wine festival “crush”

20 wineries will be show casing the hills finest wines and gourmet food

in a relaxed and fun atmosphere with live music !

check out the program at http://www.crushfestival.com.au


Wine Tour Down Under 2010

The excitement is brewing in Adelaide as the city begins to set up for the 2010 Tour Down Under …


I’ll be hosting two tours:

Tuesday 19 January (Stage 1) – Barossa Valley

Thursday 21 January (Stage 3) – McLaren Vale

For more details, check out my Events page or download the pdf flyer.


The weekend plan was to do 20 kms of the Riesling trail by bike … 8 friends in need of a weekend break.

The weather was grey and storms had started in Adelaide as we left the city, but we soon hit the country side on the drive to Clare which remained dry and yellow and truly majestic.  There is something  magical with the way the light hits the hay bails and the dry landscape at dusk and you can’t help but to feel a true sense of calm and begin to relax and leave the working week behind you …

We booked 2 heritage cottages for the weekend in the town of Clare; Roscrow cottage and Wishing well. Ian really has the B n B experience mastered and in the 12 years he has been running ‘Roscrow’ he has never had a weekend where the cottage has been vacant ! And you can see why when you arrive there, an old Masons Halls which was restored into 2 bedrooms each with private bathroom and a large open dining area which was a perfect social base for the 8 of us over the weekend.  Contact him directly via search on www.southaustralia.com under the Clare accommodation section you will find Roscrow and  his phone number.

Unfortunately, because of the unseasonably rainy weather, we were unable to ride our bikes on the Saturday and instead had to opt for the alternative and take 2 cars (and the most noble had to come forward and offer to drive).  We still drove to the main wineries along the bike trail and the first stop was Skillagalee.

Skillogalee – famous for their Riesling (especially the late picked Riesling) the cellar door is lovely and quant and the staff always friendly.  This trip I noticed they now make a sparkling Riesling which is something I have never seen before and also a Gewürztraminer (a sweet style wine with German origins).  My favourite has always been “The Cabernets ” a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and Cabernet Franc (18%) blended with a small amount of Malbec.

Mitchell Winery– an old favourite, has a lovely cellar door and happens to be an old apple orchard which has been beautifully restored.  There are 9 wines to try (4 whites and 5 reds) and their Watervasle Riesling is consistently delightful year after year.  The GSM is a good reliable red but my favourite in their selection is the 2001 McNicol Shiraz.  At $40 a bottle it is definitely worth it and everyone else in our group agreed and we stocked up on this gem! Their sparkling peppertree shiraz is also fabulous and I often buy a few bottles and find them very difficult to part with even on special occasions.

Kilikanoon– this winery is my favourite in South Australia and I have been coming back year after year because their reds are fantastic.  The quality has remained consistent and although I have seen the prices go up and up but I can never resist temptation for the prodigal grenache, blocks road cabernet sauvignon and my favourite the oracle shiraz (currently priced at $75).

I was pleasantly surprised on an earlier visit in April this year to find they now produce a sparkling “champagne” white called ‘VOUVRAY’.  This wine is maade in Vouvray, France… $25 this stuff is excellent

We all dropped in next door to Penna Lane Winery for some platters for lunch which are a ploughman’s style with a few cheeses and home-made bread and chutney. 

The last winery of the day was Seven Hill Winery – which was established by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1851 to produce sacramental wine.  This cellar door is like a museum with old equipment and photos on display as well as a fascinating dusty old cellar underground.  I am unable to make recommendations on wines for tastings, however I always take visitors to this cellar door – it is a must !

On the sunday we visited an old favourite of mine – Pikes  this winery is famous for their riesling, however this is not my favourite … I have a particular fondness for the LUCCIO SANGIOVESE.  I can also recommend the ‘LUCCIO’ PINOT GRIGIO, the red mullet and the white mullet.  If you are lucky you might even be able to score a great deal on some cleanskins from the cellar door ! 

The next winery we visited was a new one for me Paulett Wines and this place has a fantastic view of the valley and was a pleasant surprise.  Pauletts have a unique product – they sell all their sparkling wines in a piccolo bottle which is excellent for picnics and ‘cinema in the park’ each of these bottles is 2 standard drinks.

We then drove to the small town Mintaro and visited Reilly’s which was a pleasant old restored cottage, the menu here looked great but dining here will have to wait for another visit …

Crab Tree Winery was the next destination and we were fortunate to have the wine maker serving us at the cellar door which was great.  The tempranillo was a highlight for me. 

The final stop was Mount Horrocks which is a highly reputable winery with a delightful cafe and  you simply must taste the cordon cut riesling …


There are many more wineries to explore in this region and the tourism office provide excellent advice.  There is 2 places to rent bicycles in Clare for $25 a day and close to the riesling bike trail. 

Sparkling Wine … testing the theory that how you clean your glasses impacts on your bubbles

The Experiment

To test the theory that the method you use to wash your glasses has an impact on your sparkling wine, i.e flatten your bubbles.  A good quality sparkling wine will visibly retain its bubbles (or “beads”) in the glass 15 minutes after pouring.

The Panel

Joe Phillis – Wine appreciator and good friend.  A true sparkling wine devotee.

Tanya Denning – Wine appreciator and good friend.  A true sparkling wine devotee.

Mary Seely – Wine appreciator and good friend.  A sparkling wine enthusiast.

Caroline Offord – Author of this blog and a wine appreciator.  A sparkling wine enthusiast.

The Wines

Domaine Chandon N.V Brut  $24.95

Janz Premium curvee N.V   $24.95

Veuve Amiot (Loire Valley, France) $13.95

The Process

Three glasses were presented for each panel member.  Each of the glasses had been cleaned in a different way.

  • Wine flute #1 – Dishwashing detergent in the sink, rinsed and left to air dry.
  • Wine flute #2 – Placed into the dishwasher on rinse with hot water, no detergent and air dried.
  • Wine flute #3 – Hot water in the sink, no detergent and dried using a tea towel.

The Results

  • Wine flute #1 (detergent, rinsed) – within one minute of pouring the wine the bubbles began to flatten in the glass
  • Wine flute #2 (no detergent, air dried) – the wine remained vibrant and alive for the 15 minute trial period (we couldn’t wait any longer to drink it!)
  • Wine flute #3 (hot water, towel dried) – a slight reduction in ”bead” quality compared to flute #2 (no detergent, air dried)


The best cleaning method for sparkling wine glasses is to wash them in hot water (no detergent) and leave them to air dry or use a good quality linen tea towel.

Does putting a teaspoon in an opened bottle of champagne work to preserve your bubbles overnight ? – Tanya

” When a team of Stanford researchers put the idea to the test – all in a thirst for knowledge, and digging into their own pockets for research funds – they found that the spoon theory falls flat.”



My article titled “Wine tasting tips” (published 8/11/09) discourages the use of detergents but recommends washing your glasses in hot water and if a quick dry is necessary then a good quality linen tea towel is acceptable  (regular tea towels can leave lint or residue which can also flatten your bubbles).

The key points to consider are:

  • Allow enough time to prepare and clean your champagne flutes prior to use.  If they have been in the cupboard for a while than re wash them.
  • It is ideal to have good quality glasses, ie crystal flutes
  • A good quality sparkling wine should display excellent “bead” 15 minutes after pouring and beyond … and be able to store in the fridge overnight for drinking the next day.

On this last point I would have liked to have tested this theory but the sparkling wines were all excellent and completely consumed on the night !

White Wine … testing the theory of serving temperature and the effect on taste

I chose Chardonnay for this social experiment (11/11/09).  A big factor for this was that two of the “social experiment” panel are chardonnay lovers.  Another reason is I am a little inexperienced with Chardonnay and thought this could be an opportunity to taste a few different bottles (so I purchased without bias).

 The Experiment

To test the theory that white wine which has been stored in a domestic fridge (average temperature of 5 degrees Celsius) beyond one week can taste like a completely different wine as oppose to the same wine being chilled for an hour (or alternatively chilled on ice for 15 minutes).


The Panel

Joe Phillis – Wine appreciator and good friend.  A chardonnay lover.

Tanya Denning – Wine appreciator and good friend.  A chardonnay lover.

Mary Seely – Wine appreciator and good friend.  A chardonnay apprentice.

Caroline Offord – Author of this blog and a wine appreciator.  A chardonnay apprentice.


The Wines

Stoneleigh 2007 Chardonnay (Marlborough, New Zealand) $19.95

Half Mile Creek 2007 Chardonnay (Vic, Australia) $8.95


The Process

The panel was unaware of the experiment and there were 3 bottles covered up in brown paper bags:

  • Unmarked bottle # 1 – Stoneleigh Chardonnay – stored in the fridge for 9 days at 5 degrees Celsius
  • Unmarked bottle # 2 – Stoneleigh Chardonnay – stored in the fridge for 2 hours at 5 degrees Celsius
  • Unmarked bottle # 3 – Half Mile Creek Chardonnay – stored in the fridge for 1 day at 5 degrees Celsius

 The Panel’s Review

I was the only person on the panel who knew wine # 1 and # 2 were the same and the difference was the bottles had been chilled in different ways (refer to “the process” above). The experiment was a success and each wine tasted different – I could not believe it myself as I was sceptical prior to the experiment!

The panel applied a standard scoring system to each wine   Appearance (3) Nose (7) and Palate (10) which helped to stimulate conversation about the wines and ensure equal attention was given to each tasting.  Here are the questions I asked the panel at the end of the 3 tastings:

 Which wine was the favourite?

All three agreed that the preferred wine was the 3rd one – Half Mile Creek ($8.95).

 Why was this wine the favourite?

“The first wine tasted too young and had a weak palate and also had a spicy aftertaste” – Mary

“I agree. The second wine was an improvement and it was pleasant however the 3rd wine was closer to a typical buttery chardonnay with a lot of characteristic the way I like it” – Tanya

“Yes the third one was the most flavoursome.  My palate was reminded of caramel Jerseys ” – Joe

 Which wine do you think was the most expensive?

The third one – all agreed that Half Mile Creek ($8.95) tasted the most expensive

 What would you say if I told you the 1st and second wines were exactly the same but chilled differently?

Absolutely no way!  A flutter of excitement broke out amongst the panel at this point and I admitted I had been sceptical as well and when I discovered the second wine tasted totally different it was hard to contain myself for the remainder of the tastings. 



The panel confirms that serving temperature has a significant bearing on wine appreciation. The theory was that often at home or in restaurants, white wines are commonly served far too cold.  According to the WInePros website (http://www.winepros.org/consumerism/serve.htm) “Knowing the basic chemical phenomena involved helps to set some ground rules. Lower temperatures mean less volatility, therefore weaker aromas, but also brighter acidity, so a stronger impression of dryness and astringency and a diminished sense of fruitiness and sweetness.”

Full, dry whites are often refrigerated too long and served too cold. It is better to give these wines a timed chill of 15 to 20 minutes, rather than store them typically in your fridge.   Stick to this habit and your Chardonnay will display more aroma and a richer flavour.

Fruity, dry whites, such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, dry Muscat, dry Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Grigio and dry rosé are crisp and refreshing at 10-13°C. (http://www.winepros.org/consumerism/serve.htm)

Refrigerators can vary greatly and average 5°C, but ideally white wine should be stored at 7-9°C degrees Celsius.  However ,there is no need to go and start adjusting your fridge at home for your wine, an ideal and efficient alternative is an ice bucket for chilling your wine bottles.



The key points to consider are:

  • To get the most out of the aromas and flavours of your white wines and be aware of the variety, i.e. don’t leave your dry whites in the fridge for prolonged periods, rather treat them with the same respect as you do for your reds and be mindful of the ideal storing and serving temperature.
  • Put your high acidity wines in the fridge an hour before drinking (i.e. Chardonnay) or just place on ice for 15 minutes prior to serving.
  • You can be less fussy with the more fruity whites like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc – they can be chilled for a few days or even left in the ice bucket.

Wine tasting in Bordeaux

This article has been submitted by Penny Long

So…for purely for research purposes …I signed up for a guided walk involving wine tasting in the Entre-deux-Mers (between two seas) region of Bordeaux, near the Garonne River.

In the morning, we took a two hour leisurely stroll over the hills and through some vineyards.  The first winery we went to was Château de Grand Branet, a 17th century château in Capian, where we tasted, OK drank, some reds with a delicious picnic lunch in the Château hall (asparagus, pâté, foie gras, bread, freshly cracked walnuts and cheese).  A lovely lady called Blanche served our picnic:  there is also bed and breakfast accommodation available in the actual Château from only 65 euro.  The Estate has been classified as Premières Côtes de Bordeaux red appellation; and it produces merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes.

Unlike Australian wines, the bottles are marketed using the appellations (or official regions) of the vineyards.  Bordeaux is renowned for red wines, although roses (remember claret, “clairet”, a dark rose popular years ago – perhaps 1980’s – maybe same vintage as Nik Kershaw?), and a few whites are also made in the region.  Most bottle labels do not indicate the grape varieties used in each wine ie percentage of cabernet, merlot etc.

At the second chateau, Château de Marsan, we tasted a selection of red and white wines al fresco, whilst sitting on a terrace in the late afternoon sun.  The Gonfrier family came from Algeria, bought their first vineyard in the early 1960’s, and so they are relatively new to the industry.  I believe it is a “Château” in name only and that the word “Château” is used purely for marketing purposes.  The processing plant was massive (géant/giant), in comparison to Château de Grand Branet (nain/dwarf) there were large numbers of large vats (stainless steel and concrete), oak barrels and the bottling plant was also very big.  I particularly liked the rose at this Château.

Apologies for not making any tasting notes to describe the wines but I enjoyed them all – quelle une surprise!

See websites for more info:



The walking wine tour was booked through Bordeaux Tourism Office.

Wine Tasting tips – basics

There are a few basics to remember when tasting wine :

* Avoid wearing strong deodorant and perfume

* It is recommended to not brush your teeth before hand, mainly to let the plaque assist in protecting your teeth enamel from the acidity and of course the toothpaste will alter your taste buds.

* When drinking/tasting sparkling wine use good glasses but especially DO NOT clean with any detergents.  Instead rinse or soak with hot water and dry with a quality linen towel (regular tea towels can leave lint or residue which can flatten your bubbles)

* white wines should not be kept in the fridge for long periods of time as the taste will change (and an expensive bottle may end up tasting just like a $10 bottle).  Ideally up to 1 week is fine, chilling on ice or in the fridge for an hour prior to drinking is sufficient.