All posts tagged: Australia

julian myles 2YGrbLlbz6Y unsplash 1 scaled

New California Wine Collection from Penfolds – A Multi-Continent Blend

Who says you can not blend fine wines from two continents? Aussie winemakers have always cast aside unwritten stuffy traditions in wine. Penfolds have combined the outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley with Australian Shiraz to create an international blend called Penfolds with a wine designation they call “Wine of the World.” The latest project is called the Penfolds California Wine Collection: four California-based wines from vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles, with prices ranging from $50 to $700. “This is not us marching into California to show people how to make wine,” Penfolds Winemaker Peter Gago told Wine Spectator. “It’s made with respect.” According to their AVA, fine California wines tend to be strictly produced—not to mention consumed and collected—but the Penfolds philosophy does not work this way. It’s a radical approach to blending wine, but cross-regional blending is a perfectly normal way of doing things in Australia. Particularly for Penfolds. Founded in 1844, Penfolds is a historical treasure in Australia. Penfolds Grange holds almost mythical wine status in the country. Considered …


Protectionism in the Global Drinks Trade: The Role of Tariffs and Non-Tariff Trade Barriers

Here is the recent essay I wrote for the WSET Diploma Unit 1 assignment – Protectionism in the Global Drinks Trade – a topic that is becoming more relevant and critical as we approach the Brexit deadline in March 2019. This is written as an academic essay outlining the tools of protectionism, such as tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers, and how they are used in international wine and drinks trade. It’s not my usual post, but now more than ever in the UK, it is important to look at both sides of the trade argument, and I have attempted to do this without emotion or politics.  __________________________________________________________________ Protectionism in the Global Drinks Trade 1. Introduction and the tools of protectionism Significant progress had been made since the Second World War in lowering international trade barriers, particularly those associated with tariffs. However, while there has been a decrease in tariff barriers, there has been an increase in non-tariff barriers to international trade, particularly those related to technical standards. In 1994, a multilateral trade agreement was concluded …


Australia Despatch: Notes from Sydney

Before I left London everyone warned me about the cost of a lime in Australia. What was everyone talking about? After the third person had mentioned it I found the story on the BBC website about the outrageous cost of the £1.50 lime (usually about 30p in London). Luckily for me the taste of lime is THE taste of Australia – I have never tasted lime in wines from anywhere else – it is in the Riesling but also in some other varieties I did not expect… Lime is a very cooling taste, so it works well for early evening drinks on hot days. When I visit Australia I like to try wines from regions that I do not see often in the UK. I often despair at the selection in the UK; as relevant to me as Paul Hogan or a Walkabout pub. It’s a formula that works but like any formula it is a bit dull. What is going on in Geelong or King Valley or Tasmania? That is what I was eager …

The Truth About Mac Forbes

Let’s try to forget Mac Forbes is rather attractive. I don’t want this to influence my perception of the wine in any way. Of course. That’d be completely unprofessional. Hands up – I had written about his wine before I met him: “Supersonic”. But, for the sake of objectivity, let’s get this out of the way… and he is married. So, I said it. There. What about the wine? Mac was in London between visiting Austria and Portugal. In itself, this is a very Australian idea of Europe and her wine. The island of Australia covers from St Petersburg to Dublin. Yet this is the key to understanding it. Let me explain.

Inferno Paradiso: Tasting Mount Langi Ghiran 2004 – 2009

Love that is not loved back, pardons the loving. Once a lovesick friend wrote me this on a napkin in a café, a quote from Dante’s second circle of hell (“Amor cha nullo amato amar perdona”). To be honest, it’s the only thing I can quote from Dante’s Inferno, the text studied by winemaker Dan Buckle for his thesis, long before he became the new winemaker at Mount Langi Ghiran. What I do know about Dante’s Inferno is that it is about poetic justice, and there is certainly something poetic about a winemaker who has studied the descent into the flames of hell to be now working in the Grampians in Alpine Victoria, an area almost routinely devastated by bushfire and drought.   Inferno Whether there is justice is another matter – as Dan said at a vertical tasting of his wines from 2004 to 2009, what he has learned during these hard years: “it’s one thing to stress a vine, it’s another to kill it.”

The World Upside Down

Victorian Allsorts Tasting, Wine Australia at 2011 London International Wine Fair hosted by Steve Webber and Kate McIntyre MW, 17 May 2011 The Victorian wines shown today want to break free from the notion that Australian wines are pristine and wholesome, with exciting discordant and dirty notes that urged one not to delay tasting (the forbidden). These wines had pulled a thread in the tightly-knit world of expectation of


Never Tear Us Apart? Wine Australia’s new strategy

Listening to INXS on the way to the Australia Trade tasting, I remembered the moment when Michael Hutchence turned up at a premiere for the first time with Kylie Minogue, who had chopped off her hair in to a pixie cut and looked like she had been doing a lot more than the locomotion. Something had changed, we all whispered, but what??? There is a whiff of the 90s about Wine Australia.


Brave New World: Italian varieties and the future of Australian wine pt2

The image of Australian wine at the moment overseas is supermarket-driven, Chardonnay-championing, industry-driven pah! You’d be forgiven to think Australia is only a vast industrial complex run by blokes in white coats performing Ludovico treatments on unsuspecting international wine writers who are held clockwork-oranged, wires holding their eyes and mouths open to drink high-alcohol wine full of splinters.


Lifting the fog: Pannell, Nebbiolo and the future of Australian wine Pt1

For a brief moment, I did an internship as a curator for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Like most internships it was unpaid, part of the reason why I started working in wine sales. Apart from that, one of the best things I learned from my time working as an intern curator in an art gallery was learning to ask questions beyond whether I liked or I didn’t like a piece of artwork.

Primal Genius: Protero Adelaide Hils Merlot and S.C.Pannell

This is a story that starts 2.6 billion years ago. When oxygen first gathered in the atmosphere and single-cell mitochondria ruled the planet, the landscape of Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills was formed. When the volcanoes stopped spewing poisonous gases and the single-cell animals and algae could start to get on with the process of reproduction. Glaciers melted. Fish got legs. Dinosaurs died out. A mere 60 million years ago the Kimmedgian soils of Chablis formed. Humans started fires. It’s been a long way, baby. Until 2000, when the Baldarasso family called in two of Australia’s finest winemakers Paul Drogemuller and S.C.Pannell to see what they could do. The incredible S.C. Pannell What I wanted to taste here on my trip to Australia was a Nebbiolo from Adelaide Hills. If anyone could make a Nebbiolo outside of Piedmonte, which seems almost an impossible feat, then it would have to be S.C.Pannell: his training includes vintages at G.D. Vajra in Barolo, Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Burgundy and Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux. He is also …


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 …

Birdinspace thumbnail

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, …


Cinematic Wines – Pt 6: A Space Odyssey via Astralis (and Sun Ra)

The final Cinematic Wine Series ends with a bang, a BIG BANG: Clarendon Hills Astralis 2002. The tagline for the original Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey can equally apply to this amazing red wine from South Australia, Astralis: Let the Awe and Mystery of a Journey Unlike Any Other Begin Valued at £200 in London, this is an intense drinking experience now until 2050. Yes, you read right. Best drinking around 2025 – 2035, my friends. What were you doing in 1988? Not reading a blog on the internet, I bet. What do you think you will be doing in 2028?? Hopefully drinking Astralis (well, that is my wish for you anyway). Kubrick’s idea of the future in 2001: A Space Odyssey has many hopes and fears about the future, and now, long after 2001, the film is beguiling for its foresight and ability to even imagine such ideas in 1968. The same applies with Astralis. Astralis is a lot more than Science Fiction. Like all the great wines, this is time and space …

Theory of Capacity by Len Evans scaled

Theory of Capacity by Len Evans

The Len Evans THEORY OF CAPACITY 1. There is an awful lot of wine in the world, but there is also a lot of awful wine. 2. No sensible person drinks to excess. Therefore any one person can drink only a certain predictable amount. 3. There are countless flavours, nuances, shades of wine; endless varieties, regions, styles. You have neither the time nor the capacity to drink them all. 4. To make the most of the time left to you, you must start by calculating your future capacity. One bottle of wine a day is 365 bottles a year. If your life expectancy is another thirty years, there are only 10,000-odd bottles ahead of you. 5. People who say, “You can’t drink the good stuff all the time” are talking rubbish. You must drink good stuff all the time. Every time you drink a bottle of inferior wine it’s like smashing a superior bottle against the wall. The pleasure is lost forever. You can’t get the bottle back. 6. There are people who build up …