All posts filed under: Favourite Posts

The Mysterious Lady: Hunter Valley Semillon

Hunter Valley Semillon is the reclusive star in Australian wine. While other Australian wines have been all-singing, all-dancing on the world stage, Hunter Valley Semillon has been elegantly waiting in the wings or outside the theatre smoking a cigarette with an attitude of whatever, so what? I don’t like fashion and I’m not signing autographs. For Hunter Valley is the oldest wine region in Australia, nearly 190 years old, and has seen a few fashions come and go. As a style, it has been seriously unimpressed with the fashions over the past 20 years for high-alcohol, oak bombs despite the rest of the country diving in head first. It could not be a fruit bomb even it if tried; it is inimitable and timeless. That is why Jancis Robinson once described this unoaked white wine as, “Australia’s unique gift to the world”. Despite the fashions, Hunter Valley Semillon has remained slender and elegant: generally 12-12.5% alcohol, mostly boutique production, excellent aging potential and no oak whatsoever. Sounds familiar… The parallels between Hunter Semillon and German …

Piedmont Songs in Australia: La Violetta

It is rare for a Syrah to call Piedmonte its spiritual home, let alone a Syrah from Australia. La Violetta’s Ciornia has the freshness, restrained fruit, a light frame of oak and depth of earth expected from a Barbaresco; yet, this Syrah hails from a vineyard surrounded by virgin forest in Denmark, Western Australia, one of Australia’s most isolated wine regions. Spices, fleshiness, weight and colour suggest Syrah but the elegance, floral notes and restraint in extraction suggest the wine has been treated as gently in the vineyard as if old Nebbiolo vines. Not many new world winemakers would put their wines up against wines from the Old World. But after tasting his wines, the winemaker Andrew Hoadley pulled out a few hidden bottles from his private stash of Piedmonte’s rebel grape, Freisa – also one of my favourite wines in the world. We tasted a vivace and still Freisa (2001 Vajra Kye´) admiring the savoury, non-fruit characters that are so astounding about this wine unique to Piedmonte. Aside from his time spent working in …

dark sunglasses required: sexy Sicilian wine

There’s a stuffy image to the wine industry. It’s where middle-aged men with cigars who imagine themselves out every night patting strippers on the bum between glugs of Bordeaux as they discuss wine like stock prices. Sicilian wines are not for them. There’s also the people who go to the supermarket on the way home from work, get home and perfunctorily open a bottle to watch television for a few hours before going to sleep to do it all again the next day. Sicilian wines are not for them, either. Sicilian wines are TROPPOOOO BUONNNOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! For the first time in ages, I had the Planeta Cometa Fiano and I felt about it exactly as I always did: affable, over-the-top glamorous, completely unpretentious and overall just delicious. If Dolce & Gabbana had a wine then it would be close to this. This is effortless Sicilian style. On a grey London day, I wanted to reach for my dark sunglasses to pour it. The colour is golden straw like mid-afternoon sunshine by the beach. It had a …

Amarone: This is not a love song

If logic applied, I would not love Amarone della Valpolicella. To say it’s a big style of red is an understatement; it’s dramatic, high in alcohol and generally quite expensive. It has been said, Amarone “is seductive, sexy, confounding… an aphrodisiac”. Naturally, in the face of slavish devotion, I tasted it many times with regulation thin lips and furrowed brow.

Controversial Freisa

“They can be fussy, unreconstructed; most of them don’t want to go along to get along. They have an attitude, an edge.” – Randall Grahm, Preface to Wines of Italy, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology   There comes an evolution in the taste buds when tasting wine and that can be summed up in one word: bitterness. Bitterness is an acquired taste. A five year old does not like bitterness. Did you ever mistake a cold bottle of Indian Tonic Water with Schweppes Lemonade on a hot summers day as a child? Ha! It is a shock. That is perhaps why Freisa d’Asti from Piedmonte in North-West Italy divided the critics. Hugh Johnson described Freisa d’Asti as being “immensely appetizing” to Robert M Parker Jr described Freisa as producing “totally repugnant wines”. But I defy you to come to a firm conclusion on it from a simple sip-and-spit basis. This is never going to be a mainstream wine. Not because it’s not a good wine, it is an excellent wine, but because …

Diary of a Riesling Lover

Riesling Redux: April 3 – July 5, 2010 Riesling is something to turn to when the world gets too busy and crazy. Riesling, especially German Riesling, is not easy, outside of the common push and shove of the marketplace, a tonic to the mad prices of Bordeaux En Primeur this year, which has been the background machine-hum to the following notes. Over the past two months there has been some tragedy as well as great moments for me. In fact, Riesling has been my vino da meditazione. A moment to reflect. After the blandness of the day, it’s good to enjoy difficult things. Each Riesling here was like capturing raindrops.  

What is a ‘vino da meditazione’?

I love reading wine tasting notes in Italian. I always want to sing it back. For example, What is a vino da meditazione? It’s an intriguing term often seen in Italian wine notes. It looks like the word “meditation”, but it’s not quite. Coined by famous Italian gastronome, Luigi Veronelli, meditazione is often used to describe sweet passito wines or red wines aged for a long time such as Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino. From my Italian sources, a vino da meditazione can mean: 1. Calm, sweet wine (without bubbles); 2. Important red wines; 3. Wines with a long vinification process from vine to bottle such as Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (at least 5 years in oak), Barolo Riserva (5 years) or Vin Santo (8 years in oak); 4. A way to drink these wines with an attitude of understanding its complexity:”Stop and slow down – this wine should be approached calmly, reflectively to understand its complexity and composition”.   Holy Wine   A classic vino da meditazione is Vin Santo (holy wine), a Tuscan sweet …