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Life

California Dreaming

No longer just the domain of superstars of the screen, Los Angeles is adding some new leading lights to its food and wine scene.

As the second most populated city in America, Los Angeles is often the entry point for Australians wanting to explore the home of the brave. For food and wine lovers, the City of Angels is often a pit stop on the way to the urbane dining rooms of San Francisco with the perception being that fine 
food and wine play second fiddle to the lure of Hollywood.

But things have recently changed, and LA’s food and drink scene now dazzles as much as any movie star. So it’s well worth spending a few days exploring the refreshed food culture; from the high end down, there’s plenty to taste.

But first some advice. If you want to check out the celebrity haunts or local favourites like Venice at sunset, you’ll need to hire a car. Because while getting your head around driving on the right after 15+ hours on a plane can be daunting, the public transport is even more so.

But once you’ve secured some wheels, avoid the 405 anywhere near the morning and afternoon peaks, otherwise you’ll find yourself in the granddaddy of all traffic jams and LA drivers take no prisoners.

For those really wanting to experience the LA bubble, look no further than Beverly Hills. Originally built as a farming ranch, the Hills became its own city at the beginning of the first World War. When compared to the rest of Los Angeles, it’s like Beverly Hills has its own atmosphere and it’s easy to see why the rich and famous choose 90210 as their postcode.

Low Key Luxury

For accommodation, it’s hard to beat the Montage Beverly Hills . Situated in the middle of the ‘golden triangle’ – the city blocks wedged between the borders of North Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard and North Rexford Drive – the Montage is classically elegant, but refreshingly understated, and while it promotes low key luxury, everyone gets treated like a millionaire.

If you want to shake off the jet-lag and unwind, the Montage has draped cabanas by the rooftop pool overlooking the city – a great way to get some peaceful perspective. Inside, the lavishly tiled Grecian atrium features a mineral ‘wellness’ pool and a swathe of spa choices.

As for food, the Montage’s main restaurant, Georgie , really helps sets this hotel apart. One of a chain of national restaurants, Georgie was built by New York chef, cookbook author, TV personality and American Iron Chef winner, Geoffrey Zakarian. The restaurant is Geoffrey’s ode to his son, and while the food reflects his classical French training, it also acknowledges America’s many cultural influences. Geoffrey blends and melds Italian, South American, French, German Asian and Middle Eastern touches with quality local ingredients and the result is a refreshing and balanced range of choices, executed with a light touch.

Wine-lovers have plenty to choose from too with over 800 drops from all around the world on offer, and at more affordable prices than we could access in Australia. Their ‘by the glass’ Coravin menu is a great place to start with Coravin being a gadget that allows wine to be extracted from the bottle without opening it. This means air can’t get in and spoil the remainder, giving restaurants an economic means to offer wines by the glass that are normally only available by the bottle.

Wine and Cheese

If you are thirsty for more wine, head north a couple of blocks up North Canon Drive to Wally’s Beverly Hills Vinoteca . Wally’s is part wine library, part wine bar, part bottle shop, offering an astounding range of wine from all over the world. It’s a wine lover’s paradise where you can browse thousands of wines, buy a bottle and take it home, or have someone open your choice to enjoy with the great range of food, cheese or charcuterie.

Speaking of cheese, a quick stroll will get you to The Cheese Store on North Beverly Drive . Norbert Wabnig has been behind the counter since the late 70s and his passion for cheese is displayed in every nook and cranny of this gourmet haven.

Shop Till You're Broke

If $10k handbags and Ferraris appeal, then a walk along Rodeo Drive will have you wide eyed. Considered one of the most exclusive shopping strips in the world, Rodeo Drive is where all the stars go. Giorgio, Valentino and Tiffany keep Versace company alongside a well-heeled Jimmy Choo.

But when you’re all shopped out and in need of more wine, a day trip to Santa Barbara is a must. Head north up the 101 past Oxnard and Ventura and you will soon find yourself in the downtown area of this relaxed Spanish-style town nestled underneath the dramatic Santa Ynez Mountains. Regarded as the American Riviera, Santa Barbera has a Mediterranean climate that makes the production of a wide range of wine varieties possible.

Most of the vineyards, wineries and cellar doors are located up in the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys to the north, however, there’s a cluster of great cellar doors in the heart of Santa Barbara.

The Urban Wine Train boasts 29 cellar doors where you can taste an impressive range of varieties and styles. From classic Euro-style Shiraz and Cabernet to new world Chardonnay and Pinot, rustic Tempranillos and Italian varietals of every shape and style. Santa Barbara’s wine offering is expansive and when you experience its warmth and hospitality, you’ll wish you had more time.

Aussies Doing Us Proud

Back south in LA, try to get a booking at Maude and see how Curtis Stone is getting on after winning LA Weekly’s Best Restaurant in LA in 2015 . With an intimate 24 seats, Maude offers a ten-course 
chef’s tasting menu that features a different seasonal ingredient every month. From limes in January to truffles in December, it’s an innovative approach that’s seen the culinary team create over 1000 dishes so far. Read our recent interview with Curtis Stone.

Another Australian flying high is Louis Tikaram, the former chef at Sydney’s Longrain who’s doing great things with Thai flavours at EP Asian Eating House in West Hollywood.

With talent like this on offer, Los Angeles is now pumping with vibrant energy and flavour. The over stacked plates of classic Americana and tired European staples of the past have been replaced with exciting and accessible food styles and flavours that reflect the diversity of modern Los Angeles. So while the movie stars of Hollywood might be carefully watching their waists, a trip to modern LA will have you expanding yours.

 

 

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Wine
Riverina: Farming, Food And Wine
Words by Nathalie Craig on 16 Mar 2018
The Riverina region has undergone a renaissance that’s seeing its established traditions given a fresh makeover. The result is a dynamic food and wine experience presenting local produce with European flair. The Riverina  has long been referred to as Australia’s food bowl. This south western region of New South Wales between Griffith and Wagga Wagga is abundant with citrus and stonefruit, grapes, figs, olives, nuts, lamb, beef, chicken, wheat and rice. What is not so widely known is that there is a shift happening in this rural farming centre. It’s being led by a growing number of innovative chefs, winemakers and growers dedicated to providing new and unique wine, food and agritourism experiences. Dining Out
The wealth of fresh produce available in the Riverina , combined with a strong history of Italian immigration following the World Wars, means there is no shortage of quality places to dine. Chef Luke Piccolo, who owns and runs Griffith’s renowned Limone Dining , cut his teeth at Sydney restaurants Pilu at Freshwater and Pendolino before returning home to Griffith to open his own fine-dining establishment. Luke, who is of Italian heritage, won the Council of Italian Restaurants Australia (CIRA) Young Talent Award in 2013. His nonna, who cooks beautiful rustic Italian food, was the first to show him the ropes in the kitchen. “When he left school, Luke came to help at our family restaurant and we were blown off the planet with what he could do,” his father, Peter reveals. “We were blind to what had been going on for the past decade. Then all of a sudden there he was in the kitchen at 16 years of age with amazing cooking skills, work ethic and creations.” Luke’s nonna taught him about the no waste policy, which you can now see woven into Limone Dining. The place is built almost completely from recycled materials and Luke offers an evolving seasonal menu featuring local produce. Think fresh tagliolini with spring lamb ragu followed by char-grilled quail with pancetta finished off with blood orange almond sponge and lemon custard. For full-blown Italian dining in Griffith, visit Zecca Handmade Italian in the old bank building. Run by returning locals, Ben, Michaela and Daniel, Zecca’s regularly changing chalkboard menu is packed with delicious Italian staples. Their Maltagliati, casarecce and pappardelle pastas are lovingly made by hand each day. Plates of house-made antipasti are packed with olives, salumi and baccala from local Murray cod. Another restaurant not to pass by is Pages on Pine in the main street of Leeton. It is a stalwart of the area, run by French-born chef Eric Pages and his wife Vanessa. They serve up French fare with a creative twist and are huge supporters of local producers, including Coolamon Cheese, Bruceron pork, Riverina  lamb and Randall Organics. They also offer a three-course set menu, matched with Leeton wines from Lillypilly and Toorak. Coolamon Cheese
A nirvana for cheese-lovers has been formed inside an historic 1920s co-op building in the main street of Coolamon. Cheesemaker Barry Lillywhite and his son Anton Green have filled the space with top-of-the-line cheese making facilities, a commercial kitchen, deli and generously sized dining area. All their cheeses are handcrafted on site using just four simple ingredients: local Riverina milk, starter culture, rennet and salt. “By hand-making our cheeses in small batches we can tend to them more closely, watch them mature cheese by cheese and release them to our customers at exactly the right time,” Barry explains. Barry’s signature collection of native Australian-flavoured cheeses pack a punch. Right now he has lemon myrtle, river mint, bush tomato and alpine pepper cheeses on the menu. Other cheeses available include vintage cheddars and oil-infused fettas, blues and runny Bries and Camemberts. His soft cheeses are a far cry from varieties you find in the supermarket. “Our soft cheeses are not stabilised and this is why they are soft and gooey and have a mind of their own,” he explains. “In fact, the only preservative we use in any of our cheeses is salt.” Visitors to Coolamon Cheese can taste test the cheeses or sit down to a cheese-inspired meal from the cafe menu. Here the cheeses are served with a range of gourmet accompaniments like tempura saltbush, cold roast lamb, pickles, onion jam, sticky prunes and balsamic strawberries. Guests are also invited to take a tour of the factory led by one of their cheese makers. “We want visitors to understand where their food comes from and the processes it goes through to get to their plates,” Barry says. Wine a plenty
The Riverina  is home to 20,000 hectares of vines, making it the largest wine producing region in NSW and the second largest in Australia behind Riverland in South Australia. The region is well established, having been pioneered in 1913 by the famous McWilliam family of the Hunter Valley. Riverina wineries are largely family owned with many having Italian heritage including Calabria Family Wines, Mino & Co, Lillypilly Wines and De Bortoli . Some of the families behind these labels actually began making wine out of necessity when they first migrated to Australia, so they could enjoy a glass with their meal as they would have back home in Italy. “At the end of the long working day, my grandfather found he looked forward to a glass of home-made wine,” Elizabeth Calabria of Calabria Family Wines explains. “Unfortunately, he didn’t have the money to invest in all of the necessary equipment to make it, so he took over my grandmother’s laundry tubs and improvised,” she continues. “Soon enough, he was producing wines for the local Europeans who had also made Griffith their home.” Ideal conditions
The Murrumbidgee Irrigation scheme, coupled with rich red soils and a warm Mediterranean climate, allows most varieties of grapes to grow well. Although the area was once looked upon as a producer of table wines, successful Italian varieties are fast becoming the star. “What is exciting is what we are learning about alternative varieties, such as Montepulciano, Nero d’Avola, Aglianico, Vermentino and Pinot Bianco,” chief winemaker at Calabria Family Wines, Emma Norbiato says. “By controlling the yield and the canopy, we are seeing some beautiful fruit and making some exciting wines. “In the next five years, I would like to think we will see more thoughtful viticulture and winemaking in our alternative varieties. Montepulciano , Nero d’Avola , Pinot Bianco are new to our region and haven’t even reached their potential yet.” Vermentino has also been a successful addition to Lillypilly Wines. Their first vintage of the dry Italian white was released in 2015 and went straight on to win the trophy for Best Dry White Varietal at the Perth Royal Wine Show and another gold at the Small Vigneron Awards in Canberra. General manager of Mino & Co, Nick Guglielmino says while Italian wines are not new to Griffith, there is now a higher demand for them. “We are experiencing a time where these varieties are being more accepted by consumers,” he says. “Griffith indeed has a rich history of Italian culture, so it makes sense for us to follow the style of wines we are familiar with, that of Italian authenticity yet grown in Australian conditions similar to that of their origins.”
Wine
Cycling the Clare Valley Riesling Trail
Words by Elliot Watt on 6 Nov 2017
Discover the fun of cycling the Clare Valley Riesling Trail with Wine Selectors Membership Consultant, Elliot Watt, as he shares all his tips for touring through this spectacular wine region . Exercise and wine don’t usually go together, but, when you think about it, it's actually a genius combination. You are essentially cancelling out the damage done by one with the other. Well, in theory, anyway. Now a word of warning. We’re in no way suggesting you empty a bottle of wine into your drink bottle and hit the gym. There are far more attractive and much more appropriate places to achieve this symbiotic activity. A leisurely two-hour drive north of Adelaide will see you in Australia’s epicentre for Riesling , the Clare Valley, where you’ll find the Riesling Trail. This 35-kilometre-long cycling and walking track follows the path of the old rail line that sliced through the hills before it was irreparably damaged by the 1983 Ash Wednesday Bushfires. Today, the trail takes you past some of the region’s finest Riesling producers, so get ready to sip, sweat and cycle your way through the Clare Valley.  Clare
It all begins with a visit to the Riesling Trail Bike Hire to collect your trusty steed. Kent will size you up with the perfect bike and give you the local lowdown on the trail. Once in the saddle, an easy 12-minute ride north on the trail will take you to your first destination, Knappstein Enterprises Winery and Brewery . Originally established as the Enterprises Brewery in 1878, the current winery was installed by Clare Valley icon Tim Knappstein in the late 1960s. In 2006, 89 years after the original taps went dry, the brewing of beer started up once again in this heritage building. For Riesling lovers, definitely look to the Single Vineyard range, which is a perfect expression of the diversity in Clare Riesling. However, if you prefer a beer, then the delicious Knappstein Reserve Larger will quench your thirst and replenish the tank for the next leg of the journey.  Sevenhill and Penworth
Now you need to put in some hard yards and work off that wine and/or beer. Head south, 6km from Clare, and you’ll arrive in Sevenhill where it’s time to take a detour. John Horrocks Road is off the trail and runs through some seriously beautiful countryside, which will take your mind off the fact your legs are on fire. More importantly, it leads you to one of the jewels of the Clare Valley, Mitchell Wines . Andrew and Jane Mitchell established their winery in 1975 and have created something really special, showcasing a true Australian family-owned and run winery. On arrival, Jane welcomes you like you’re one of the family and you can tell her and Andrew are proud of their wines and vineyards and so they should be. Within their quaint cellar door, they present stunning single vineyard Rieslings, as well as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon. Now, it’s awfully hard to transport wine on a bike, trust me, I ride to work at Wine Selectors and constantly attempt to juggle wines home. However, not to worry, Jane will personally deliver any purchases direct to your accommodation that very same day.  Watervale
Departing Mitchell Wines, with a few more turns of the cog, you’ll be off the detour and back on the trail. This is where things start to go downhill, literally, not figuratively, as you’re now over the incline and can give the legs a rest as you glide through the rolling hills towards Watervale. As soon as you arrive, it’s essential to restore your energy with some carb loading and there’s no better place to do so than the Watervale General Store . It’s one of those charming country icons that is part café, part grocery store, part post office. The food is simple and delicious, but heed my warning, it's not wise to consume a full pizza and then carry on the trail as if you are riding in Le Tour De France. That pizza will come back to haunt you. Leasingham
With a full stomach and renewed energy, it shouldn’t take long to reach the next town of Leasingham and the home of Claymore Wines . Here you can wash down lunch with a glass of Dark Side of The Moon or Bittersweet Symphony . No idea what I’m talking about? Cleverly, the majority of their wines are labelled after hit songs from a bygone era . However, there are no gimmicks when it comes to the wines with some seriously good juice going on here. Sing your way through the range, find your favourite and sit down with a glass accompanied by a board of local South Australian Cheese. For a second in time, you will completely forget about your aching muscles and the fact you still have to ride home.  The Riesling Trail comes to an end a further five clicks south at the town of Auburn. Unfortunately, I cannot tell the tale of Auburn as Leasingham is as far as my legs would carry me. Some say, namely my wife, it was the pizza that lead to my ultimate demise however that’s neither here nor there.  Now begins the journey home, although it's not over yet. As any good bicycle wine tour strategist knows, you’re going to get thirsty, so Stone Bridge in Sevenhill is the perfect rehydration stop. Crafting not only exceptional Riesling but another 14 wines from 7 different grape varieties, Stone Bridge has something to quench any thirst. The aftermath Once off the bike if you stop moving things begin to hurt, the wine wears off and the lactic acid sets in. The only solution is to manoeuvre yourself directly to Seed Winehouse and Kitchen in Clare . Immersed in the simplistic stone and natural timber of the old chaff mill, you begin to imagine you are somewhere in rural Italy about to dine on local rustic cuisine. However, Head Chef Guy Parkinson is no Nonna, he may be better. Offering sophisticated A la Carte and degustation options, the menu highlights local produce with a wine list to reflect. Nearly 200 local and international wines will make the decision hard, add in 47 Gin choices and the mind begins to boggle. Whatever your decision there is no doubt any indulgence is guilt free. You have literally burned off three Big Macs during the ride so sit back, reward yourself and reflect on the beauty of the Clare Valley and the amazing wines it has to offer. Your Quick Guide to the Clare Valley Riesling Trail Wineries Knappstein Enterprises Winery and Brewery Mitchell Wines Claymore Wines Stone Bridge Restaurant Seed Winehouse and Kitchen in Clare Watervale General Store Bike Hire Riesling Trail Bike Hire
Life
My City Adelaide
Words by Duncan Welgemoed & Libby Travers on 1 Apr 2017
Duncan Welgemoed, Chef/co-owner of acclaimed Adelaide restaurant  Africola , reveals where he goes to eat, drink and be merry in his hometown. Having enjoyed a food scene in the 1980s that saw Maggie Beer, Cheong Liew, Phillip Searle, Cath Kerry and Christine Manfield among those rattling the pans, Adelaide is once again at the epicentre of Australian culinary innovation. Home to a veritable melting pot of fabulous restaurants, the city’s culinary landscape has blossomed, offering loads of different genres, cuisines and price points. Add to that, phenomenal wine from some of the world’s most acclaimed wine regions, where prestigious producers sit alongside cutting edge winemakers, and it’s a perfect storm of creativity. With so much going on, we turned to Duncan Welgemoed, co-owner and chef of one of Adelaide’s best restaurants,  Africola , and Food Consultant for the Adelaide Festival, to take us on a tour of some of his favourite local restaurants, cafes and bars. Of course, when visiting Adelaide, your first stop should be to sample the cool vibes and African-inspired meals at Africola. Here’s Duncan’s list of where to go afterwards. ORANA
Orana is one of the most unique restaurants in Australia. Jock Zonfrillo and his team have worked tirelessly to create their taste of Australia, with a distinct and direct focus on native ingredients. It’s challenging, interesting, and like no restaurant in the world! Their showcase of Australia’s Indigenous ingredients is second to none. restaurantorana.com SUNNY’S PIZZA Sunny’s is completely different to anything else here, perhaps even in Australia. At once a bar, a pizza shop and, here’s the kicker, it’s also a dance hall. It’s operated by one the young legends of our South Australian bar scene, events guru Andy Noel. Really good booze and wicked DJs. facebook.com/sunnys.partysize MAGILL ESTATE – TAKE THE IN-LAWS
Magill Estate is a restaurant hosted in one of Australia’s best wineries, Penfold’s. Simplicity is key, with the food providing the perfect seasoning to the wine, rather than a menu being built the other way around. Pared back luxury.  magillestaterestaurant.com HENTLEY FARM – ONE FOR DATE NIGHT Head chef Lachlin Colwill is South Australia’s silent achiever – I think he’s cooking some of the most ambitious food in the country. Lachlan grew up in the Barossa, and while he’s cooked at some brilliant restaurants in between, he is back on home turf and you can taste it. The team harvests produce from their own farm, but also draws on friends and family in the area. There’s a sense of luxury and yet it remains informal, delicate, with a distinct personality. hentleyfarm.com.au EBENEZER PLACE CAFÉS
Situated just behind Rundle Street is a little strip where you could happily spend a whole day bouncing from café to restaurant to bar! This is the essence of what Adelaide’s about with so many brilliant operators doing really super diverse stuff. There’s a symbiosis to their offering that speaks to me about what Adelaide is … what Australia is. PARWANA – THE KIDS WILL ALSO LOVE IT This is the best Afghani food you will eat outside Afghanistan, but there’s so much more to this restaurant. Parwana is run by a beautiful, humble family – the entire family – and there is no one who does more for the community. Keen to share all aspects of their culture with the people of Adelaide, Zelmai and Farida Ayubi run a couple of restaurants. Parwana Afghan Kitchen showcases dishes that would be at home in a royal feast, while Kutchi Deli Parwana, run by their four daughters, is more of a celebration of their rich culture and celebration – this is street party food. And while the Ayubi are devout Muslims, they offer BYO in their restaurants and send all the proceeds to feed the homeless. Their food and culture punctuates the Australian landscape so beautifully. More of this please! parwana.com.au LAVOSH BAKERY One of Adelaide’s most underrated restaurants, serving up the best charcoal-licked Lebanese food. They make their own bread, while all the pilaf is out the back in giant sunken pits. It’s brilliant. As with all the very best bakeries around the world, it’s so entrenched in our daily routine that we’d all be completely lost if it disappeared.  FINO
David Swain is cooking some of the best regional food in the Barossa: a touch of wood, a touch of smoke, incredible produce. Add to that heady mix Sharon, one of the best Maître D’s in the country, and package it all up in one of the most beautiful and oldest wineries in South Australia. That’s hard to beat! seppeltsfield.com.au LA BUVETTE DRINKERY – FOR AFTER WORK DRINKS I’ll often grab my restaurant manager for a post-work de-brief at La Buvette. We can nab some natural booze, have a little cheese, charcuterie, snails, or a croque monsieur – the most excellent snacks, really high quality and a great vibe. labuvettedrinkery.com GOLDEN BOY Golden Boy, serving their take on modern Thai, has to be one of Adelaide’s busiest restaurants. The food ticks all the boxes, but it’s really the service that blows me away, it’s super slick, seamless. Luke, the restaurant manager, brings that old school Italian generosity to the floor. The cuisine and service provide an excellent juxtaposition. golden-boy.com.au STEPPING OUTSIDE FOOD
The South Australian Museum is one of our best kept secrets. The ‘curious beasts’ exhibit is absolutely world class. For a casual drink, the Exeter Pub is one of Australia’s most iconic; it’s the pub that started the Australian wine industry, the sawdust on the floor in direct (but delightful) contrast with the Krug in the fridge (incidentally some of the cheapest you will find in Australia). This pub is still a place to enjoy conversations between wine makers, chefs and drongos. For shopping, I love Beg Your Pardon where super talented tailor Michael Bois has been dressing the who’s who for many years. It’s the only one of its kind in S.A. and like all small businesses, hopefully the more we visit, the longer they will stick around! I also love my trips to the Slick Lobster – best barber shop in the world with the best banter. For fresh produce, I think Boston Bay Small Goods in Port Lincoln has some of the best pork I’ve tasted in Australia. And then there’s the Motlop family and their business Something Wild. They are doing incredible work in the community to showcase Indigenous ingredients to greater Australia; this is fundamental to building and maintaining that industry. THE ADELAIDE FESTIVAL FOOD LINE UP
If you want to see collaboration at play, check out the delicious line-up (across the board) for the Adelaide Festival this March. Among many highlights, there’s a series of long lunches to be prepared by great Adelaide chefs (Karl Firla, Christine Manfield, Mark Best, Cheong Liew, Michael Ryan) all designed to celebrate those golden years of the 80s. adelaidefestival.com.au
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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