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tapenade and the whites of spring
September 01, 2006

Tapenade and the whites of Spring

With apologies to our friends in the Northern Hemisphere who seem to be approaching autumn.

Spring is the time of renewal. New life abounds around us and inspires new hope. A good time to try some new wine varieties.

Last week I made a trip to Western Victoria and visited a couple of wine regions. Firstly the Grampians. As you know there were devastating bushfires through most of the Grampians National Park last summer. But the Aussie bush is especially adapted to fire and it regrows in a spectacular fashion. Well worth the look, and the local tourism related businesses are keen to welcome visitors back.

The standout winery, from my point of view, in the Grampians region is Bests at Great Western. They have many claims to fame, including the oldest Pinot noir vines in the world. Their famed Nursery Block contains over thirty named unusual varieties, plus seven more that are unidentified and possibly unique.

The varieties in the Nursery Block are planted in a random mixture. Each year the whites and reds are picked separately and a small quantity of a blended red wine and a blended white is released via the cellar door.

On the way to the Grampians we visited a couple of wineries in the Pyrenees region. In spite of problems with drought over the past few years this region is doing very well. Of course they are concentrating on their shiraz based red wines, but there are a few doing some interesting things, for example Enrique and Silvia Diaz of St Ignatius Winery are planning to introduce Torrentes, an Argentinian white variety. Warrenmang are now releasing their Dolcetto/Nebbiolo/Barbera blend under a new label Vinello.

Some springtime drinking and eating suggestions.

Italian red varieties go well with the traditional barbecue foods, especially Barbera and Sangiovese.

Look out for some Vermentino. It is a beautiful white wine variety that hails from the Mediterranean Islands and Italy. The wines are strongly flavoured and make a superb alternative to Chardonnay.

In the warmer weather you will naturally want to get back into the swing of alfresco dining. A nice plate of antipasto or some crudites and dips in a sunny backyard or park is bound to lift your spirits.

I love tapenade. The flavours are all Mediterranean - olives, anchovies, garlic and herbs. Check out my recipe which I make frequently. Darby's tapenade recipe

But you may have an even better suggestion for wine and food matching.

If so, why not share it with the rest of us?

********* Links and reminders *********

There is still a few cases of the Vinodiversity Dozens available from The Wine Club. These fine wines from Aldinga Bay Winery are availble as all whites (Verdelho, Viognier and Vermentino) or all reds (Petit Verdot, Barbera and Sangiovese or mixed dozens. They are competitively priced with delivery to Australia included, so don't miss out.

You can see the latest pages added or updated on the Vinodiversity site here. Just click on the "Permalink" link to see the full page articles.

Check out the range of new varieties being used by wineries in the Grampians and the Pyrenees

Some bargain wines that you may be interested in can be found at WMC. For example, you could do worse than get the 2 for price of one on the Cleanskin Sangiovese, or try the Windy Peak on special.

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