Category Archives: Australian Wine

Australian Wine: Rebooting a Brand

This was an exciting sampling that included many characterful and intensely flavored but balanced wines. Wines like those from BK Wines, First Drop, Ochota Barrels and Sami-Odi had singular and distinct “voices” that made me want to hear a lot more from those producers. Judging not only from my reaction but the general buzz in the room and discussions with colleagues afterwards, I think this event went a long way toward initiating the process of rebranding Aussie wines in this country. Continue reading

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Geek Treat: Sparkling Shiraz at 2012 Hospice du Rhone

Sparkling Shiraz is very much an acquired taste, and no country seems to have acquired the taste except that of its origin, Australia, where it remains highly popular (like Vegemite). It’s not the kind of light and/or minerally sparkler most of us are looking for when we reach for a sparkling wine. It’s often heavy, black fruited and, with a little age, meaty and savory. Those flavors can, however, make it a remarkably good pairing with salumi and charcuterie. Continue reading

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2011 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: Highs and Lows

This is an event I look forward to every year, even if I’ve ragged a bit on the opacity of the selection criteria in the past. There’s always an eclectic group of producers ranging from the very well known and perpetually excellent to the less well known and only occasionally excellent, or at least aspiring to excellence. There’s enough of each to keep it interesting. There’s also always great food on hand. This year’s venue, the Metreon, had its pluses and minuses. The view from the Metreon balcony is one of the best in San Francisco, so the outdoor, balcony part of the event, especially given the beautiful weather conditions, proved to be a scenic and inspiring place to taste wine. The indoor part, on the other hand, especially after dark, tended to be gloomy, cavernous and more than a little depressing. Continue reading

Posted in Australian Wine, Awards, Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Champagne, Chateauneuf du Pape, Greek Wine, Italian Wine, Loire, Napa, Northern Rhone, Port, Rhône, Riesling, Winemakers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2011 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: Highs and Lows

Superb Summer Treats: Non-Champagne European Sparkling Wines

The summery theme for our July Euro Lunch was sparkling wines from throughout Europe with the exception of Champagne. We excluded Champagne so as to give more focus to our theme, and to afford ourselves the opportunity to taste and compare some of the wonderful Cavas, sparkling Loire and Jura wines, and fizzy Italians that are out there, among others. As usual, our chef at Donato, Pedro Ayala, did an outstanding job of pairing very creative dishes to our wines. The result was a delightful summer afternoon of bubbles and flavor that made me thankful for the felicitous combo of summer weather and sparkling wine, as well as for wonderful wine-loving friends to enjoy them with.
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“Liquid Sex”? Retrospective blindtasting of Parker Aussie favorite Oliverhill

It is generally accepted at this point that Robert Parker went overboard in his enthusiasm and high scores for Aussie wines in the last decade. Lots of us fine wine people bought these wines based on Parker’s high scores, and too often found the wines overly concentrated, jammy and alcoholic. Despite Parker’s specific claims with respect to many of these wines that they would last and evolve for 15 or more years, that has not proven to be the case. The disappointment in the fine wine market over many of Parker’s highly rated wines was a major contributing factor to the wholesale collapse of the Australian wine export market over the last few years. This tasting was an opportunity to review the ageworthiness of one of those Parker favorites, Oliverhill’s Jimmy Section Shiraz, which he praised in one vintage by quoting approvingly another taster’s description of the wine as “liquid sex.” Continue reading

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