The kudos and awards are rolling in for Chateau Tanunda in the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley of Australia. The latest, the Australian Wine Producer of the year 2010, awarded by the International Wine & Spirits Competition, was quickly followed by Best International Shiraz and Best Single Vineyard.
No less a worldwide wine giant than Banfi Vintners from Italy, has partnered with Chateau Tanunda, to market the brand to greater heights. Banfi has brought in the daughter of Tanunda owner John Geber, to be the world-wide ambassador for the iconic Barossa estate.
Michelle Geber presented the family of wines in a recent interview. She told me of her father’s earlier years as a negotiant, a buyer and seller of wines, and how he fell in love with the dormant chateau in 1998. “It was a happy accident to see the 40 acres and the two story chateau, which has been enlarged to 200 acres,” she said. “It had some acreage and still does, that grows authentic German Riesling. Our other varietals, which came later are: Grand Barossa Shiraz, Noble Baron Shiraz, Noble Baron Cabernet and 100 year old Vine Shiraz.”
There was a time not too long ago that Australia seemed to be catching up with the traditional wine world in production. Their wineries could do no wrong with their animal labels and an ocean of Shiraz. Single vineyard varietals were not in their strategy, as the government allowed vineyards to add grapes from anywhere in the country without transparency. The smart wineries now are mending their ways with a serious swing to quality.
Chateau Tanunda never needed to go elsewhere for grapes. Their twin properties in the Barossa and Eden Valleys in Southeastern Australia has been locked in to quality since the beginning. Local growers in the community reserved their best fruit for this elite winery.
“Put it down to sentiment, perhaps, but we have access to fruit that other people don’t have,” Geber said.
Shifting to the style of wine at Chateau Tanunda, I asked Geber where in the world her wines are styled after.
“Our wines have a European sensibility,” she answered. She pointed out that most of the varietals are native to France, either Bordeaux or the Rhone Valley. “We make 200,000 cases that are sold to over 30 countries in the world,” she enthusiastically revealed. “Our pricing is very attractive, for our central customer, who often is a ‘Mellenial’ ( 21 to 35) with high disposable income, is upscale and honest in their thinking. We are visitor friendly. We host some 100,000 visitors yearly and produce many festivals and events.”
Each Chateau Tanunda wine has a personality of its own and it keeps its pricing highly competitive. I would recommend the Grand Barossa Shiraz, 2007. It has a touch of Cabermet and Granache for a medley of European flavor, for the best of old world style and new world terrior. ($19) Look further into the Barossa Valley’s oldest and largest winery at chateautanunda.com and banfivintners.com.
Terra, an American farm story
I first met Jeff Rossman in the Hillcrest Uptown District of San Diego, when he opened Terra Restaurant in 1998. I thought it was a name that fit nicely for an American style dining room but didn’t think of the connection to the earth and agriculture. Farm-fresh ingredients wasn’t a drawing card for customers at that time. Dining out for health reasons hadn’t come into the picture the way it has in the past few years.
Rossman realized he wanted to take his restaurant in a different direction when he started working with kids about 6 years ago in the San Diego Unified School District, and a garden project one of the schools had inherited.
He saw the look on their eyes when they were able to taste what they had grown. As the same time, he was teaching cooking classes and saving the most exciting recipes that were garden-based, local, sustainable and organic. The inspiration and passion of his book “From Terra’s Table” gets to the heart of the farm to table movement.
The new location at 70th and El Cajon Boulevard displays a tractor at the front entrance. Inside, all eyes turn to the 10-person Chef’s Farm Table where Chef Jeff hosts monthly wine/beer paired farm-fresh dinners with appearances by local growers.
My choice of wine for my organic salad, smoked salmon and sea bass was the Cinnabar 2008 Mercury Rising Cabernet/Merlot from Paso Robles. It showed up as one of my favored wines to date this year.
Terra American Bistro also does catering with its local, organic menu,and has a bar featuring seasonal fruit and herb-infused vodkas and an array of beer and wine choices. See more at terrasd.com. Or phone 619-293-7088.
— Bacchus Wine Market in the Gaslamp San Diego has a high end Burgundy tasting June 3 from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will be served. RSVP at (619) 236-0005. $35 charge.
— VINZ Wine Bar in Escondido brings in Latin performers Jimmy Patton and Enrique June 3, from 7 to 10 p.m. Enjoy dinner while listening to the concert. RSVP at (760) 743-8466.
— Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas has an Italian wine tasting June 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. for $20 per person. It will be Tuscany vs. Piedmont wines. For more, check out meritagewinemarket.com.
— FLAVOR in the Del Mar Plaza presents Scribe Wines from Napa Valley and a special four course dinner June 7 starting 6:30 p.m. Cost is $95. Call (858) 755-3663.