All posts filed under: Wine Regions

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 …

Bird in Space

New Wave: Kooyong Estate Farrago Chardonnay

In the same way as the sculptor Constantin Brancusi sculpted this piece in 1910, the Farrago Chardonnay from Kooyong Estate is spectacularly modern. Kooyong Estate winemaker Sandro Mosele has been peacefuly innovating on the Morninton Peninsula near Melbourne under the radar and turning out classic modern masterpieces.   To say this wine is defined by its minerality is like saying the above sculpture of Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse is only defined by its smoothness. It has a linear feel like Brancusi’s Bird in Space, yet has layers and texture, “quiet” fruit like pear and grapefruit, with very light touch of French oak (only 30% new). The name “Farrago” comes from the name of the corner of the cool-climate vineyard with motley soil of high sand and clay (farrago means assortment, medley) giving the wine its mineral core. There is nothing else like it and what I like about it is that I find no references to French wines.   This is the second time in two weeks I have been jolted out of my complacency. First, …

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 …

Five cool wine regions in Australia

When I first arrived in London, a customer in our dusty Mayfair shop asked me whether Australia has vintages. It’s enough to make you cry into a Chardonnay with a cute animal on the label. To get you up to speed, here are five cool wine regions in Australia you need to know today.    1. Mornington Peninsula   Example: Kooyong Estate Pinot Noir, Stonier Pinot Noir   Great Ocean Road   What you need to know: Mornington Peninsula is a wealthy part of Victoria, only one hour’s drive from Melbourne. No expense is spared in these small vineyards; in some places you wonder if they also iron the grass. The cool air from the huge expanse of ocean, which leads to Antarctica, benefits Pinot Noir especially. In Melbourne and Sydney, Mornington Peninsula wines often feature on restaurant lists as it’s excellent with food. Generally, the style is slightly more savoury and not as “bright” as New Zealand Pinots.   Moss Wood produces their Pinot Noir there. It is their only operation outside Margaret River, …

Lunch with Randall Grahm: Imagining Change

Imagine we live on a planet. Not our cozy, taken-for-granted earth, but a planet, a real one, with darkpoles and belching volcanoes and a heaving, corrosive sea, raked by winds, strafed by storms, scorched by heat. An inhospitable place. It’s a different place. A different planet. It needs a new name. Eaarth.” Environmentalist, Bill McKibben     To be honest, it took me a while to sit down and write this post after lunch with Randall Grahm from Bonny Doon vineyards. Why? Firstly, my notes from the conversation at lunch sitting next to him read like a Steiner school brain map: Volcanoes, White Grovonia, Root depth, new clones, aesthetics, saline water, Acacia barrels, the lime taste in Australian Riesling “what is it?” RG asks…. Secondly, there has been a lot already said about Randall and it’s easy to get caught up in the “Californication” of him. He does look particularly exotic from a European perspective. The gonzo Ralph Steadman drawings on the labels (artist of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing), the long hair, the …

Bazaar not Bizarre: Modern Turkish Wine

A mark of intelligence is how to answer stupid questions in a smart way. And before I went to this year’s London International Wine Fair, I had many stupid questions about Turkish wine.   Are Islamic countries allowed to make and sell alcohol? Is it going to be rough traditional wine that will give me headache? Can you buy wine in restaurants there? Where is this wine drunk? How do you even pronounce the grape? Is it a grape or a style of wine?   Yes, all stupid questions. In response, the Turkish wines represented at LIWF answered them all smartly (and patiently). Unlike some other country’s stands at LIWF, I did not have one sigh from the patient people at the Turkish stand. It would have been fair to answer my ignorance like this:   Yes. We do. Make wine. In Turkey. And they’d be forgiven. Look at a map, will you: Turkey is the crossroads between the ancient birth place of wine, Syria, and Europe. Turkey has been making wines for hundreds of …

Lalou Bize-Leroy, Burgundy

astrological principles guide the world’s most illustrious winemaker, Lalou Bize-Leroy “Wine is from a cosmic inspiration, it has the taste of the world matter.” – Lalou Bize-Leroy Lalou Bize-Leroy is the person behind some of the most expensive, sought-after, imitated and adored wines in the world. Her Burgundies are breathtaking, ethereal and out-of-this world. Yet she has to be one of the most idiosyncratic and eccentric winemakers on the planet. Lauded by her critics, shunned by her neighbours, loved by her buyers and collectors. Controversially, Lalou manages her wine on horoscopes and phases of the moon – she is one of the first exponents of bio-dynamic management of wine based on a cosmic, Steiner philosophy. Madame Bize Leroy doesn’t just think big, she thinks cosmically big. And let’s the rest of the world catch up. You may not believe in it, you may not understand it, but she must be doing something right. You don’t get a page of superlative praise from the world’s biggest wine critics for no reason. What you need to know …

Eccentric Winemaker series, Pt 3: Anne Gros, Burgundy

Now, you may think, why Anne Gros? She is certainly not as outlandish as the previous two winemakers I have featured in Wine, Woman and Song’s Eccentric Winemaker series. This is true. She is from a historic Burgundian family stretching back to the 1830s, making blue-labeled wines in the blue-blooded part of Burgundy, Vosne-Romanée. Yet, there is something unique about Anne Gros. To be an eccentric you must dance to the beat of your own drum. Anne Gros is certainly doing something different, right under the noses of the the old guard. In an extremely traditional area such as Burgundy, even the most imperceptible tremors and changes result in huge waves. Just look at her label. It’s modern – blue! – no fancy script or complex descriptions of proprietors over the vineyard name. It clearly states the region and the Domaine name. How different it looks compared to the traditional Burgundy bottles. To the wine itself: her wines are lightly filtered; unfashionable at the moment. They are unashamedly feminine. Arguably, most wines from Burgundy are …