The February issue

Our clean eating issue is out now, packed with super lunch bowls, gluten-free desserts and more - including our cruising special, covering all luxury on the seas.

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Recipes by Christine Manfield
21.02.2017

As the '90s dawned, darling chefs were pushing the boundaries of cooking in this country. A young Christine Manfield, just starting out at this heady time, soon became part of the generation that redefined modern Australian cuisine. She shares some of her timeless signatures from the era.

Cirrus, Sydney review
20.02.2017

Cirrus moves the Bentley team down to the water and into more lighthearted territory without sacrificing polish, writes Pat Nourse.

How to grow rocket
20.02.2017

A vegetable patch without rocket lacks a great staple, according to Mat Pember. The perennial performer is a leaf for all seasons.

50BestTalks brings World’s best chefs to Sydney and Melbourne
16.02.2017

Massimo Bottura and more are coming to the Sydney Opera House.

Toby Wilson, Sean McManus and Jon Kennedy to open Bad Hombres
16.02.2017

Expect Mexican-Asian flavours and an all-natural wine list from two of Sydney’s edgier operators.

Local Knowledge: Moscow
16.02.2017

Director of Shakespeare theatre company Cheek by Jowl Declan Donnellan walks us through the essential sights and his favourite cafes and restaurants of his hometown.

On the Pass: Danielle Rensonnet
16.02.2017

Bellota chef Danielle Rensonnet talks us through the current menu at the restaurant and her favourite summer ingredients.

Melbourne's Tomato Festival is back in 2017
15.02.2017

Returning for another year, Melbourne’s Tomato Festival is ripe with cooking demonstrations, talks, and produce stalls dedicated to plump produce.

Most popular recipes summer 2017

Counting down from 20, here are this summer's most-loved recipes.

Bali's new wave of restaurants, hotels and bars

The restaurant and hotel scene on Australia's favourite holiday island has never been more exciting and Australian chefs, owners and restaurateurs are leading the charge, writes Samantha Coomber.

Persian love cake

Baguette recipes

These baguette recipes are picture-perfect and picnic ready, bursting with fillings like slow-cooked beef tongue, poached egg and grilled asparagus and classic leg ham and cheese.

New South Yarra restaurants

The Melbourne suburb lost some of its lustre in recent years, but is now bouncing back.

Fast summer dinners

From an effortless tomato and ricotta herbed tart to Sri Lankan fish curries and chewy pork-and-pineapple skewers, these no-fuss recipes lend to relaxing on a humid summer's night.

Long Chim, Melbourne review

David Thompson brings the heat to Melbourne with his newest incarnation of Long Chim. Michael Harden drops by for dinner.

Curtis Stone's strawberry and almond cheesecake

"I've made all kinds of fancy cheesecakes in my time, but nothing really beats the classic combination of strawberries and almonds with a boost from vanilla bean," says Stone. "I could just pile macerated strawberries on top, but why not give your tastebuds a proper party by folding grilled strawberries into the cheesecake batter too? Cheesecakes are elegant and my go-to for celebrations because they taste best when whipped up a day in advance."

A return to sauvignon blanc

Stuart Knox of Sydney's Fix St James

Stuart Knox of Sydney's Fix St James

Sauvignon blanc has an image problem in fine-wine circles. It's the most popular commercial white wine in Australia. We guzzle an ocean of it every year, mostly in the form of cheap supermarket bottles from Marlborough in New Zealand. But its ubiquity is its undoing: familiarity, for some, has bred contempt.

Snooty wine lovers and sommeliers dismiss the grape's fruity charms, claiming the wines it produces are boring. And as a result you can struggle to find sauvignons in some of our top restaurants. Unless, that is, the wines have been made using unconventional techniques.

The modern mainstream sav blanc - clear, crisp, fruity - relies on safe handling in the winery: clear juice, cultured yeasts, cold fermentation in stainless steel, early bottling, sulphur dioxide preservative additions.

But a growing number of adventurous sauvignon winemakers are doing the opposite: wild fermenting cloudy juice, on skins, in barrel or clay amphorae, ageing before bottling, with little or no sulphur. And the resulting wines are reigniting a passion for it.

"I have quite a few sav blancs on the wine list now, but it's not always obvious that they're sav blancs," says Stuart Knox, owner of Sydney wine bar Fix St James. "I have a sauvignon blanc section for familiar wines, from Marlborough to Sancerre, but I also have skin-contact sauvignons in the 'amber' section, and low- or no-sulphur sauvignons in the 'weird' section."

Knox says savvy is a great grape for back-to-the future techniques because, regardless of how it's made, it retains its distinctive varietal character. "For people who are new to natural or skin-contact wines," he says, "that unmistakable sauvignon flavour is something familiar they can hang on to."

Barrel-fermenting (and ageing) sauvignon is nothing new, of course. Most top French producers from the Loire Valley such as Didier Dagueneau in Pouilly Fumé and Alphonse Mellot in Sancerre do it; oak-aged sauvignons have been sold as "fumé blanc" since the 1970s, and a large number of New Zealand producers have adopted the technique for their reserve wines since Cloudy Bay released its barrel-fermented, lees-aged sauvignon, Te Koko, a decade or so ago.

Indeed, if you are bored by innocuous Marlborough savvy, track down a bottle of Greywacke Wild Sauvignon, or Churton Best End, or Hans Herzog Sur Lie, or Dog Point Section 94. These are complex, multilayered expressions of grape and region.

The trend towards natural winemaking and skin-contact sauvignon, on the other hand, is revolutionary in that it's a radical return to old methods. Leading natural Sancerre producer Sébastien Riffault, for example, claims his low-or-no sulphur, oxidative, savoury wines recall the true flavour of Sancerre back in the early 20th century.

One of the first Australian winemakers to try the radical approach of fermenting sav blanc on skins - like a red wine - was Barossa-based Tom Shobbrook. In 2010, Shobbrook picked some savvy in the Adelaide Hills and wild-fermented the juice on skins for six weeks. The resulting cloudy, yellow, intensely flavoured wine, called Giallo, was a revelation, and inspired others to explore skin-contact white winemaking.

"That first wine came out of a challenge between (winemaker) Anton van Klopper and I to see who could make the most interesting sauvignon blanc," says Shobbrook. "We both picked fruit from the same vineyard on the same day. He made a clean, barrelfermented wine but I started playing with skins to see how far you can go. Luckily it worked, so we kept doing it. And now we're seeing other interesting skin-contact white wines around."

One winemaker inspired by the trend is Brad Wehr, producer of Wine by Brad, Amato Vino and Mantra in Margaret River. In 2015 Wehr made his first skin contact savvy, a refreshing dry white called Skinnydip.

"Skinnydip came about when I didn't have room for a batch of sav blanc grapes in the winery during a hectic vintage," says Wehr. "I had some clay amphorae so I chucked the grapes in to see what would happen. I liked it so much I'm going to make more this year."

Echoing Knox, Wehr says that despite the funk of wild ferment, the savoury grip of skin contact, and the cloudiness of bottling without filtering, he likes that Skinnydip tastes unmistakably of Margaret River savvy.

"I like sauvignon blanc as a variety," he says. "I like to drink it and I'm having fun doing things with it.

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