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The Essential Salad and Wine Matching Guide

Fresh flavour-filled salads to match your selection

Celebrate fresh and flavourful salads perfect to serve in the warmer months! There’s no limit to what we can call a salad these days and the idea that it needs to be served cold is a distant memory. The best combination of ingredients is seasonally-driven and matched with a wine with the appropriate weight and texture.

Red drinkers are not left out, but opt for a lighter, more aromatic variety served with warm salads that include meat. Don’t forget that the dressing is an important consideration, with the light and zesty styles best matched with lighter wines and the creamier options best paired with wines with a bit more weight and appealing acidity.

Salad Wine Matching Infographic Guide

Light and aromatic whites

Trent Mannell loves whipping up a simple salad when friends drop by and the summer salad with asparagus and goat’s curd is a perfect choice. When it comes to wine matching, he explains, “While the beauty of this salad is its simplicity, it also includes quite strong flavours in the asparagus and goat’s curd. Offset them with a light, aromatic white like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or Vermentino.”

Medium weight and textural whites

Keith Tulloch loves his whites with texture and find rocket, pear and walnut salad with blue cheese dressing a perfect match for this style of wine. “With its beautiful textures, this salad needs a white wine match that’s full of texture too”, he says. “I recommend Pinot G, Fiano, Arneis or Marsanne.”

Fuller bodied whites

Entertaining a group can be stress free when you serve up a dish like King salmon with warm Romesco salad. This is one of Adam Walls’ go-to dishes and for a wine match, he says, “Salmon calls for a fuller-bodied white, as do the ingredients in the Romesco salad. I recommend a classic Chardonnay or Verdelho, or for something different, a Viognier or Roussanne.”

Light to medium weight and savoury reds

Red lovers don’t miss out when it comes to summer salads, and Dave Mavor loves adapting the classic match of duck and Pinot Noir for the warmer months with warm duck breast and cauliflower salad and his favourite Pinot. But, he explains, “You could also try Grenache & GSM blends, Nero d’Avola, Sangiovese or Tempranillo.”

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Natural Wine
Words by Nick Ryan on 9 Aug 2016
Natural wine is the hottest thing in the world of wine right now, the boozy buzzword from Brooklyn to Bondi and all licensed points in between. The term ‘natural’ wine is problematic, more on that later, but in essence we’re talking about a winemaking movement that seeks to produce wines with the bare minimum of human intervention. That means no additions, no adjustments, no filtration or fining. Basically we’re talking about removing human intervention in the winemaking process from everything that happens between the picking of the fruit from the vine and crushing it to get the juice through to getting the resultant wine into the bottle. The juice begins to ferment not through the addition of commercially packaged yeast, but rather through the naturally occurring yeasts floating around in the vineyard and winery. The various options winemakers have to fill the gaps that the vagaries of vintage can create are also shunned, which means no added acid, enzyme, nutrient or tannin. Manic organics Any discussion of ‘natural’ wine will invariably touch on organic and bio-dynamic practices and while they’re intertwined, they’re not indivisibly so. When we talk about organic or bio-dynamic wines, we’re referring primarily to the farming practices in the vineyard, while most of the requirements for classifying a wine as ‘natural’ occur, or more accurately, don’t occur, within the winery. So any ‘natural’ wine worthy of the name will come from organic or bio-dynamic vineyards, but there will be wines produced from similarly certified vineyards that can’t be considered ‘natural’ because the winemakers responsible for them choose to be a little more ‘hands on’ when it comes to helping them along the journey from grape to glass. That’s just part of the difficulty with such absolutist terminology. Also tied up in this milieu are the wines that proclaim themselves ‘Orange’, not because they come from the central New South Wales wine region, but rather because they range in colour from the bruised umber of a hobo’s urine to a turbid tangerine akin to flat Fanta. Thrill or spill In essence, Orange wines are white wines made as if they were reds, meaning the juice is kept in contact with skins, often in oxidative environments, to allow the extraction of tannin, phenolic compounds and colour. This can make for some intriguing wines, but anyone expecting them to behave like conventional white wines might be seriously weirded out by the step up in texture and weight. Advocates for natural wine will say that the removal of winemaking fingerprints from these wines allows for the purest expression of terroir, a wine’s ability to express the true nature of the place from which it comes. In theory, this should be right, but experience tells me that’s not always the case. I’ve had natural wines that have thrilled me utterly and I’ve had natural wines that have made me wonder if I should rip my tongue from my mouth and wipe my arse with it rather than subject it to another drop. That’s part of the pleasure, and part of the problem, too. A natural division There is a political statement inherent in the whole ‘natural’ wine movement that makes me a little uncomfortable, an unfair juxtaposition that banishes all other wines that don’t fit the criteria into a bin implied to be ‘unnatural.’ I prefer the term ‘ low-fi’ that some of the best exponents use. It also has to be accepted that a more open-minded attitude to winemaking faults is required to enjoy a lot of these wines and I’m cool with that. There is beauty in the flawed as well as the perfect. But there is a worrying trend amongst the loudest advocates of natural wine to treat any criticism as simply the old-fashioned windbaggery of an old guard who just don’t get it and I think that’s wrong. A natural wine isn’t good just because it’s been made in line with the philosophies and methods that define the movement. A natural wine is good, just as any wine is, when it’s simply a delicious liquid you want to put in your mouth. The world of natural wine is one well worth exploring and some real thrills await those who seek them. Just remember, the best guide is always your own palate and a wine with nothing but a philosophy to commend it will always leave a bad taste in your mouth.
The Cobram Estate story
Words by Ed Halmagyi on 15 Jan 2018
The Murray River flows slowly through the ancient floodplains south-east of Mildura, drifting almost imperceptibly under a baking blue sky. Egrets and cormorants drift with the current, watched from the banks by sleepy kangaroos, while bright flashes of blue kingfishers dart between the trees. The land here is distinctly Australian, and some of the nation’s most celebrated and productive agricultural country, home to stonefruit, citrus, almonds, grapes and sheep-grazing. But a dynamic and fast-growing industry is transforming the region. Over the last two decades, vast groves of silver-leafed olive trees have been planted, breathing new life into the local economy, and changing the way Australians cook. Most significant of these farms is Boundary Bend, whose Cobram Estate brand is Australia’s leading extra virgin olive oil, and deserving winner of the RAS President’s Medal, the pre-eminent prize for agriculture. The company’s story is by turns inspiring, and a keen insight into the opportunities that exist when inspiration is interwoven with a determination towards excellence.
A friendship forms In the early 1990s, Rob McGavin and Paul Riordan were students at Marcus Oldham Agricultural College in Geelong. It’s a small campus, with barely more than 100 students, and while the boys were a few years apart, through the course of their studies, they formed a friendship that would underpin both their personal journeys and their professional careers. Rob was studying agribusiness, and Paul undertook farm management, courses that addressed the operational concerns of livestock husbandry and horticulture, but are more focussed on economics.  Despite his managerial leanings, after college, Rob decided to get dirt under his nails. He left behind the cattle-grazing he grew up with in Central Queensland, and instead chose an industry less susceptible to the tribulations of drought and the fluctuating value of the Australian dollar. With support from his parents, Rob set out for an adventure in wine production, buying a small farm at Renmark in South Australia’s Riverland with his wife Kate. Although Kate’s family were grape-growers from Coonawarra, it was still a trial by fire as they set out to establish the vineyard, and before long were needing help. As luck (or fate) would have it, Paul was at a loose end. He moved to the farm, and their friendship and work relationship blossomed. In time, Kate introduced Paul to her friend Fiona, and before long the couples had established a close-knit group that continues 25 years later.
A story of growth Viticulture, as many wine producers will attest, proved more complex than it seemed from a distance, and soon the team were considering ways to diversify. Paul had an interest in olive production, and could see the potential for a strong Australian industry. And so, knowing little about the practicalities of olives, they planted some test trees. But farming olives required economies of scale to make the significant costs of planting and processing more profitable. So before long, Rob and Paul were keen to find a larger property and build a more substantial grove. At Boundary Bend they found a broad parcel of well-irrigated land with the right mix of sandy, well-drained soil. Coupled with long, hot summers that enable the olives to ripen and swell with oil, it was the ideal location for the next stage in their journey.  In 1999, Rob and Paul planted their first 500 hectares, a sizeable but not overwhelming grove. Today the farm has more than 6500 hectares of olive trees stretching from one horizon to the other. They also have a second planting at Boort in central Victoria, a property they took over when its former owner, Timbercorp, went bankrupt. That process was challenging and nearly ended in the failure of Cobram Estate, and still carries some scars for everyone involved. For several weeks in 2009, Rob and Paul were unsure if the company, and the dreams they had invested in it, would survive. Rob describes that moment as Dickensian, the best and worst of times. Yet in his endlessly optimistic way he prefers to characterise it as a difficult transformation that only made them and Cobram Estate stronger in the long run. After some financial juggling, they acquired the grove and today it forms a significant part of their operation.
Capturing the dream Cobram Estate produces remarkable extra virgin olive oil, and does so from a range of olive tree stock. Picual, Hojiblanca, Coraneki, Arbequina and Coratina are the five principle varietals they produce, but in all there are nearly 30 types grown.  And this is one of the keys to Cobram Estate’s success – a diversification that enables consistently impeccable quality.  There are three central skills required to master the production of olive oil – growing pristine olives, pressing them with maximum efficiency, and then blending them. Rob and his team are dedicated to the idea that their customers value not only the flavour and nutrient density of the oil, but also the fact that it is the same delicious product year-round. Achieving this can pose a significant challenge. All varietals have distinctive qualities of pungency, astringency, colour, aroma and macro-nutrients, but these naturally fluctuate each season. And so it is up to Leandro Ravetti, Cobram Estate’s Technical Director, to lead a team that splices and combines oils in precise fractions until Robust, Classic and Light flavour profiles are achieved. Hojiblanca and Picual are also bottled as unique-varietal oils, offering consumers the same romance and nuances of experience as wine lovers find in the terroir of single-vineyard production. These are remarkable products with which Australians have fallen in love. Not only are they exceptional oils, but Cobram Estate is also proudly Australian in an industry forced to compete against a tide of imported product.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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