Pass me my sunnies, it’s a bit bright in here next to all this bling. If you’ve never heard of Hilltops before, this showstopper is reason in itself to check out this overachieving region. It’s been the source of Jimmy Watson and Great Australian Shiraz Challenge trophy winners, and its glorious grapes are the magic ingredient. Brought to life by the legendary Tim Kirk, this incredible vino is a blinder.
Combining shiraz and viognier is common practice in the Rhone region of France, the spiritual home of this grape blend. It’s wine that’s achieved near mythical status and stratospheric prices in Côte-Rôtie, thanks mainly to the efforts of an icon called E. Guigal who consistently wows the world. Tim Kirk is one of the lucky ones who has visited and tasted these fabled wines, and they inspired him to create his own shiraz viognier magic in Australia for Grove Estate, as well as Clonakilla.
If the awards and high acclaim are anything to go by, Kirk appears to have cast a spell on the critics. And it’s not hard to see why. Intense and aromatic, it jumps from the glass with lively cherries, cloves and spice. The palate is elegant, graceful and peppery with a rustic texture and lingering finish. Thoughtful and poised, this is the kind wine you stare at and think “is this really just $14.80?”. To which we say, ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’.
It’s cool, we get it, you want to know absolutely everything about this wine. Well here you go, go nuts.
- Alcohol by Vol.
- Bottle Vol
- Blend Info
- Serving Temp.
The 2014 vintage was once again well suited for growing Shiraz in the Hilltops. The wine is best described as being slightly more intense than the the previous vintage due to a drier season which resulted in smaller berries. The grapes were slightly riper and the resultant wine shows plum, blackberry and liquorice characteristics - closely related in style and character to the highly appraised and awarded 2010 vintge
The Hilltops (no relation to The Hilltop Hoods...) is quickly emerging as one of the most exciting and new viticultural regions in Australia. Located in Southern NSW and nestled on the South West Slopes of the Great Dividing Range - this discrete region is home to a small number of boutique wineries with vines dating back to the early 1860s, and more recently, the 1970s. Known for its continental climate, i.e. very hot summers and terribly cold winters has given rise to distinctive, award-winning regional wines that never fail to charm.
The rules are there ain’t no rules, but here are some foods we think will work pretty well with this wine...
- 1 kg centre fillet of beef , trimmed (the timings below work perfectly for a fillet of roughly 10cm in diameter)
- olive oil
- 2 large knobs of unsalted butter
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 600 g mixed mushrooms
- 100 g chicken livers , (cleaned)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon truffle oil , (optional)
- 50 g fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 x 500 g block puff pastry
- 1 large free-range egg
- For the gravy:
- 2 onions
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 heaped teaspoon blackcurrant jam
- 100 ml Maderia wine
- 1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
- 2 heaped teaspoons plain flour , plus extra for dusting
- 600 ml beef stock , (hot)
- Preheat a large frying pan on a high heat. Rub the beef all over with sea salt and black pepper. Pour a good lug of oil into the pan, then add the beef, 1 knob of butter and 1 sprig of rosemary. Sear the beef for 4 minutes in total, turning regularly with tongs, then remove to a plate. Wipe out the pan and return to a medium heat. Peel the onion and garlic, then very finely chop with the mushrooms and put into the pan with the remaining knob of butter and another lug of oil. Strip in the rest of the rosemary leaves and cook for 15 minutes, or until soft and starting to caramelise, stirring regularly. Toss the livers and Worcestershire sauce into the pan and cook for another few minutes, then tip the contents onto a large board and drizzle with the truffle oil (if using). Finely chop it all by hand with a big knife, to a rustic, spreadable consistency. Taste and season to perfection, then stir in the breadcrumbs (you can use pancakes to line the pastry and absorb the juices, but I prefer using breadcrumbs like this).
- Preheat the oven to 210°C/425°F/gas 7. On a flour-dusted surface, roll out the pastry to 30cm x 40cm. With one of the longer edges in front of you, spread the mushroom pâté over the pastry, leaving a 5cm gap at either end and at the edge furthest away from you – eggwash these edges. Sit the beef on the pâté then, starting with the edge nearest to you, snugly wrap the pastry around the beef, pinching the ends to seal. Transfer the Wellington to a large baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, with the pastry seal at the base, and brush all over with eggwash (you can prep to this stage, then refrigerate until needed – just get it out 1½ hours before cooking so it’s not fridge-cold). When you’re ready to cook, heat the tray on the hob for a couple of minutes to start crisping up the base, then transfer to the oven and cook for 40 minutes for blushing, juicy beef – the two end portions will be more cooked, but usually some people prefer that.
- Meanwhile, for the gravy, peel and roughly chop the onions and put into a large pan on a medium heat with a lug of oil and the thyme leaves. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then stir in the jam and simmer until shiny and quite dark. Add the Madeira, flame with a match, cook away, then stir in the mustard and flour, gradually followed by the stock. Simmer to the consistency you like, then blend with a stick blender and pass through a sieve, or leave chunky. Once cooked, rest the Wellington for 5 minutes, then serve in 2cm-thick slices with the gravy and steamed greens.
The wines we remember are about the moments. The people, the places. That’s life. Here are some ideas...