Chapel Hill 2009 Savagnin

June 25, 2010

While wandering aimlessly around in Ho Chi Minh City, I found a wine shop which caught my interest. It’s name was “Bacchus Corner”. Later I learned that there is also a Bacchus Corner wine shop in Hanoi. I browsed through their shelves and picked up an interesting bottle of wine. A ‘2009 Il Vescovo Savagnin’ by Chapel Hill Winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia.

2009 Savagnin by Chapel Hill in an unorthodox wine glass

When I bought the bottle I did not fully understand and appreciate what treasure I had acquired. I bought the wine because I had never before heard about the grape variety. What is Savagnin?

Well, Savagnin Blanc is a French grape variety grown mainly in the Jura region. However, Savagnin Blanc is also known as Traminer, grown around Tramin, a smlal Tyrolean town in Northern Italy. Experts think that the variety has “traveled” along the Alp mountains to the Jura region of France.

I also bought it because I found that most wines on offer were quite expensive. 340.000 Dong which is about US $ 17 is not small money for a bottle of white.

Chapel Hill Winery is of cause a well known producer of premium and award winning wines in McLaren Vale, South Australia. If you want to know more about this fascinating wine region, please visit the blog called “Lonely Grape” by Shane which makes an interesting read (it also contains interesting video clips).

2009 Savagnin

When researching this wine, I discovered that wine critics had awarded it 92 Parker point! Woh, I thought, what did I accidentally buy? The wine maker is Michael Fragos, and he has done an excellent job.

Alcohol is low (12.5%), and colour is a straw yellow. The wine is fresh and clean and shows fruity (lemon) and flowery aromas. It finishes rather abruptly but that does not take away anything from this exuberant and explosive white wine.

The crucial question you might ask is: Would I make it my house wine? Well, probably not. First of all it is not available in Bangkok were I live. Second, because of the price I most probably could not afford to drink it regularly. If you reside in Australia you belong to the lucky ones, I guess. My suggestion: indulge yourself.

Back label

If you are visiting Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City and you stay in the Rex Hotel, Bacchus is just around the corner in walking distance. Check it out.

Grape grower of the year in McLaren Vale

October 3, 2008

The Daily Wine News, an e-newsletter from the Australian Wine Industry Portal of Winetitles, carried the other day a summary of the McLaren Vale Annual Wine Industry Awards. One of the award winners (in the category ‘Grape grower of the Year Award’) was a vintner names Joch Bosworth of Edgehill Vineyards.

I went straight on to google the man and found a very interesting website ( Joch’s wine label – the Battle of Bosworth -is named after a famous battle in England in 1485. The Bosworth family has grown grapes in the McLaren Vale region since the 1840’s. The Edgehill vineyard is located in Willunga, and was established by Peter and Anthea Bosworth, the parents of Joch, in the early 1970’s.

Needless to say that Edgehill Vineyard was converted to organic viticultural practices (in 1995) and today is a certified A-grade organic farm (certified by ACO It has some 50 acres under vines, planted to Shiraz (some more than 20 years old), Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Mourvèdre.

What I find remarkable too is the fact that the rows between the vines are left to a “vicious” weed, the Soursob, the picture of it featuring on the wine label. The Soursob produces a very pretty yellow flower. The life cycle of the Soursob complements the cycle of the grape vines in so far as it dies off in spring and flowers and uses water in winter when the vines are dormant. Would love to know wht his neighbours say to that system.

I present you a video which is posted on Joch’s website. I do this for two reasons:

1. It is interesting to watch and informative
2. It shows the relaxed atmosphere and vine growers culture of my adopted home Australia which I treasure so much.

Enjoy watching it.

I have visited the McLaren Vale wine region only once and enjoyed the triop tremendously, but next time I will look out for Edgehill Vineyards in Willunga.

Battle of Bosworth Wines
PO Box 11 McLaren Vale
South Australia 5171
(Ganney Road, Willunga, SA)
Tel.: +61-885562441


August 29, 2008

The ‘2001 The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon’ from d’Arenberg winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia should be the last bottle of wine we drank with a proper meal, sitting on our Indian garden furniture on the back terrace overlooking our lush tropical garden. The next day, all should be packed away. Interestingly, the food was also Indian. After all, we came from India to Indonesia in 1998, ironically everything seemed to revert back.

The ‘2001 The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon’ from d’Arenberg

In January 2005 we had visited d’Arenberg winery with our friend Sylvan Elhay from Adelaide. The photo above was taken in the car park. We tasted some wines in the tasting room (of which I have no picture) and enjoyed, apart from the wines, the beautiful valley view, depicted in the photo below.

The ‘2001 The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon’ has a beautiful dark, almost blue/black) red colour (almost like blood). The wine has won many gold medals in various wine shows, for instance the 2003 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition, the Perth Royal Wine Show and the Sydney International Wine Competition. The latter awarded d’Arenberg also the title of “most successful winery” in 2003 and the San Francisco International Wine Competition followed with the “Winery of the Year” award the same year. So “gold” was all over the bottle. It retailed for about US$ 40 in the Fatmawati duty free shop in Jakarta and I had reserved the bottle for a special occasion.

The vineyard where the grapes for this wine are grown has a long and interesting history ( D’Arenberg’s new website design includes an introductory video worth watching. Among others the winemaker, Chester Osborn, fourth generation of the founder family, explains the philosophy of their wine-making style.

The Coppermine Road wines belong to the category “icon wines”. The grapes come from a Cabernet Sauvignon clone which is almost extinct. The wines show an intense flavour of blackcurrant, cassis, some chocolate notes. The wine critic Robert Parker suggest a cellaring of 5 to 7 years. So, the 2001 vintage we drank was just perfect. Ang guess what? According to the website and the label on the bottle, even traditional foot-treading is used prior to modern pressing techniques. Not many wines enjoy such treatment these days. The wine had an excellent balance of oak and tannins and we thoroughly enjoyed it with a meal of “left-over” Indian dishes. It was a wine for a special occasion, and a special occasion it was.

What we were drinking: South Australia

March 23, 2007

David, the son of our mutual friend John, from Sydney brought two wonderful bottles of wine over the other day. We had them with a beautiful meal for Saturday lunch. With the spicy clam pasta we enjoyed a bottle of 2006 Sauvignon Blanc from Shaw and Smith from the Adelaide Hills (, a cool climate region in South Australia where my wife comes from. Grapes where planted there as early as 1839 and today there are about 60 wine labels with over 3,000 ha of vineyards planted. This young Sauvignon Blanc is a wine to my taste: fruity (with passionfruit and guava flavours), grassy-herbaceous, flinty and well rounded with a long finish. The wine is unwooded and James Halliday gave it 94 points. Very enjoyable in a tropical climate such as Jakarta.

McLaren vale1

McLaren Vale with vineyards, sea view in the distance

The second bottle we drank with the main dish, a vegetable stew, came from Mitolo Wines (, a family owned winery situated in the most southern tip of the McLaren Vale region. I will write more about McLaren Vale in one of the next entries, because we visited the region in 2005 and had a wonderful time visiting some of its vineyards. We drank a 2004 Jester Shriaz. The wine had a deep purple colour. The nose showed intense blackberry, plum and chocolate aromas of rich black fruit. The wine has a good structure, is well rounded and has a long finish. Of course it should have been cellared for 4-5 more years but we could not wait. Both wines made our day which we spent sitting on the terrace and discussing the pleasures of life in general and life in Indonesia in particular. Come and visit us one day.

McLaren Vale 2

Vineyard view in McLaren Vale