Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The end of the critic? Why Carruades de Lafite is an important indicator for 2010 Bordeaux En Primeur

The ultimate wine brand in in the world is not Lafite. It is Lafite’s second wine: Carruades de Lafite. Once the Bordeaux circus returns, the points are published and the prices are drip-fed out to the buyers by the Chateaux, keep an eye on the prices of Carruades de Lafite. If the "Carruades trend" continues, this could signal the end of the critic-led Bordeaux price.

More than any other wine, quality is irrelevant to its price: over the years, Carraudes de Lafite has become pure brand. It is a signifier (the Lafite name) without the need for any reference to its signified (the actual wine in the bottle). The points and tasting notes are irrelevant.

However, the label, and how the name is attached to the first wine of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, is very important. Whether it has a high or low score.

Unlike Lafite, which is often lauded as the wine of the vintage, it can not be said Carruades de Lafite has the same quality. For example, Carruades averaged a modest 89 Robert Parker points between 2000 and 2006. Yet the insatiable thirst for Lafite means even these back vintages have increased in price, some on par with other first growths such as Mouton Rothschild.

The spectacular rise in the price of Carruades over recent years throws into question the role of Western wine critics and the 100 point system’s effect on price in the Asian market. I wager the “Western” idea of scores will be irrelevant to the eventual price again this year.

Just like the waiting list for a Hermes Kelly bag, it won’t matter about the colour or the price, buyers will just feel lucky to be on the Lafite list. Perhaps they will even be happy with a fake.

Neither alternative – scores or brands – are particularly appealing ways to set prices for wine in themselves. But imagine a time when we will look back and say: at least scores kept the quality of the wine a little more honest; compared to now, when pricing is based purely on brand alone.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Outside the law: Burgundians Anne Gros and Jean-Paul Tollot's "Table Wine" from Minervois

It’s as if these two Burgundians have run away to the South of France and created something great for the village party. The name of the wine, La 50/50, refers to the winemakers partnership rather than the blend and Anne Gros asks on her website, "Is it love at first sight? Absolutely!"

There's a sunny joyness about this wine from South and a sort of recklessness that appeals: it has all the spicy richness of the Languedoc but with the weight and core minerality you expect from her Vosne-Romanee (the Minervois vineyard is at the same altitude as Gros' vineyards in Burgundy, although this does not explain the weight: I’d say the style has more to do with the deftness of the winemakers). A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan, it is labelled as Vin de Table, or the lowest classification, where it is illegal to show the vintage on the label – although they have, trickily, in the form of "Lot no: 2009".

All this rebellion put me in the mood for a good time. And a good time was had with a slow-cooked pork ragu and excellent company.

2009 La 50/50 Vin de Table Domaine Anne Gros et Jean-Paul Tollot Vin de Table, Minervois - £15.95 from Lea & Sandeman Notting Hill

Image: Gainsbourg and Bardot, Bonnie and Clyde

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Leap into Luxury: Super-Tuscan 2007 Messorio from Le Macchiole

Some Super-Tuscans scream luxury but the 2007 Messorio from Le Macchiole is a quiet wine that opens before you as you taste it, to give the feeling of falling forward into space: like a confident step from a plane into silent velvety dark below, the fruit billows outwards on the palate like a slow-glide on a silk parachute. Afterwards the tongue is literally left frozen in shock from hundreds of tiny pin-pricks of acidity, which may sound bad, but tasting at this very young stage (en primeur/anteprima), it is only the tingle of expectation for a profound experience in the long-term.

The 2007 is considered a "tropical vintage" in Tuscany, which may explain the richness in the fruit, but this Merlot from Bolgheri has all the hallmarks of developing well and is completely and smoothly in balance. I long to see this wine, or any Messorio for that matter, with 10-15 years of bottle age. Even at Anteprima stage, I have no hesitation in recommending taking a self-assured leap.

Tasted at Lea & Sandeman Italian En Primeur tasting 30 March, 2011.

More: Antonio Galloni review of 1994-2006 (not 2007 vintage) "A Study in Greatness" (Robert Parker subscribers)

Image: Yves Klein, "Obsession de la levitation (Le Saut dans le vide)" Obsession with Levitation (Leap into the Void), 1960

Also posted on

Languedoc Seduction: Domaine Peyre Rose Clos des Cistes 2002

While most Languedoc wines from the difficult vintage of 2002 had the taster asking, “How bad can you be?” This wine is like being in a secluded corner at a crowded party and whispering the same thing. Winemaker Marlene Soria has achieved a grand clandestine moment with 2002 Peyre Rose Clos des Cistes.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this wine is not the dramatic Mediterranean garrigue character, nor the resolutely non-berry style of the dark rose and golden figs, leather and slight bay-leaf menthol. It is the fleshiness given to this powerful, idiosyncratic voice from the South of France: a region where a lot of voices have yet to find out what they exactly want to say.

Compelled to find out more, I learned Soria stopped shipping to the US soon after gaining recognition in Wine Spectator as well as dumping the three previous vintages (1999, 2000, 2001) with the local wine co-operative due to taint from faulty enamel tanks. This, for a wine that easily commands over £60 a bottle.

I questioned whether I should write about the vinous equivalent of a one-night stand, one that you and I may never see again (it is found in the UK in seriously low quantities). Yet, weeks later, its mysterious voice and dramatic energy still lingers in the memory and shows just how great the Syrah blend from the Languedoc really can be.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Anglo-Saxon Wine Style: Sequencing & how to do it right

I may bang on until I am blue in the face about food matching, but the Anglo-Saxon way is not to think about wine as something to match with food. We can fight against it by suggesting foods, but let's be pragmatic. What is the best way to drink wine if you are not going to eat much more than a packet of crisps?

Sunday, 6 March 2011

2006 Brunello di Montalcino Report from Benvenuto Brunello on

My report from Tuscany on the beautiful, but dramatic, 2006 Brunello di Montalcino vintage can be found on Tim Atkin's website: here.

image @winewomansong

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Late Night Sessions: Pic St Loup, Bergerie de l’Hortus, Languedoc 2008

Home: Wolf Mountain, Mediterranean
Translation: Pic-St-Loup, South of France
Sound: Pick the Wolf, Howling
Honest: yes
Satisfying: yes
Traditional: A little
Need to eat: No
Not for: Thin Merlot lovers
Ideal with: Those born too late for cheap Rhone
Or: Poor Man's Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Or: Who cares? This is good.
Nerdy Fact: Leading AOC for quality in Languedoc S France
More: here

MORE Late Night Sessions notes and music here:

UK Stockist Berry Bros & Rudd
Image: Rene Gruau

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Schloss Gobelsburg: philosophical investigations on the pleasures of Gruner Veltliner

“Then I brought up this question: When you say, Men do desire pleasure, what is this use of “pleasure?” Is it contrasted with pain? Pain is localized, for instance.

He went on with one of the nicest bits of analysis I heard… He started: Pain is a sensation. Pleasure is not. Why are the senses classified together? Obviously they are not a bit alike. Smells, odors, aren’t a bit like sounds. Then he gave this account. With respect to all these, you can time them precisely with a clock. “Now you see; now you don’t. Now you hear it; now you don’t.” By the clock you can tell. Now pleasure isn’t like this. The logic of the word pleasure is quite different. Clock the pleasure. When did the pleasure begin, when did the pleasure end, etc?”

“Wittgenstein conversations 1949 – 1951”, p 63, Oxford. Wittgenstein

Each Gruner Veltliner I have tended to taste is often so demanding, different or weird that I approach this Austrian grape as I would a hard soduku puzzle, slightly exhausted by the idea of the pleasure. It is a puzzle: in Austria, the spicy white is an everyday wine enjoyed in the same way as Chardonnay; but, here, Gruner Veltliner is still an exotic treat.

Schloss Gobelsburg is a benchmark in the Austrian style of Gruner Veltliner, so I joined the customers of Berry Bros & Rudd in their St James Street cellars ready to test my assumptions.

Like all outstanding winemakers, Michael Moosbrugger has done all the philosophical hard work for you; what is left in the glass is pure visceral pleasure. The Schloss Gobelsburg vineyards in the Danube had been owned by the monks since medieval times and the power of contemplation continues.

Each wine is like a philosophical answer to a question.

One of the questions he posed: How much can a winemaker really reduce manipulation of the wine? Can a winemaker really do nothing – does the terroir really speak for itself?

To test his question he went back to the Schloss Gobelsburg monastic wine library to look at how wine was made before 1850 and the industrial revolution. Before then, a winemaker had the same ideas for making wine that existed in Ancient Roman times. In Roman times, wine was based on the Platonic idea of breathing and oxygen. Wine was an organic thing, an embryo that needed to grow and breathe with periodic moments of oxygen to bring the wine to life. The winemaker was only a midwife. Today with modern technology and understanding, the philosophy in the cellar is more about protecting the aromas and reducing fragile components: which results in a wine that is cleaner, streamlined and fresher.

The answer to his theory: 2008 Gruner Veltliner, Tradition. This is wine made in the pre-industrial style. Compared to the other Gruner Veltliner wines we tasted, this wine was deeper gold in colour, richer and more savoury. It had an incredible depth but already seemed more developed than other Gruner Veltliner shown from the 2009 vintage.

For the people at the tasting, the 2009 Gruner Veltliner, Lamm was the favourite. From volcanic and sandstone soils it had a very refined palate, peppered with floral notes. Precise and completely in balance like an expensive watch. But it was the 2009 Gruner Veltliner, from the region of Grub, that really held my attention: like an abstract cologne of white pepper on the nose with fresh fruit on the finish. It had a distinctly modern, abstract, cool personality as if it belonged in the museum of modern art. I admit this will not be to everyone’s taste, but still, very thrilling.

Prepared for Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, I came away from the night with the impression of the shimmering gold of Klimt. Pepper. Yes there was strict pepper, but also a lush golden character. Ending with the incredible sweet wine, 2008 Gruner Veltliner Eiswein, tasting of caramelised pear with amazing aged Comte cheese characters, only confirmed my belief that great Austrian wine can be an intellectual as well as a pure sensual pleasure.

The tasting ended at 8.31pm, but the wines shined well into the dark, rainy night.

Food matched: Wild Mushroom & truffle strudel, Herb spaetzle with Gruyere fondue, Fois gras parfait on toasted brioche, Weiner Schnitzel with sauce gribiche, Austrian sausage with mustard.

Images: "wittgenstein illustration 2nd reading branch, 1973" Mel Brochner; "Adele Bauch-Bauerm 1907" Gustav Klimt

Thank you to David Berry Green, Berry Bros & Rudd and winemaker Michael Moosbrugger for the opportunity to taste these incredible wines from Schloss Gobelsburg. Tasted 16.02.11.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Bibendum Annual Tasting, Harpers Wine & Spirit

If you prefer your wine tastings all hushed tones, white walls and good lighting, then Bibendum's Annual Tasting was not for you.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Valentine's Day: wine for the cynical and jaded

Saying pink champagne is romantic is as delusional as saying Paris is feminine when one look at a map shows the city is a continuous paean to military conquests. The best Rose Champagne is not hearts and fluffy toys, it usually has a strong Pinot Noir constitution that can withstand many different food assaults. So if you must buy into the most commercial of days etc etc…

Friday, 4 February 2011

Fast Movers: 3 Popular Wines in London Today

Perhaps deep down I’ve always subscribed to the Oscar Wilde school of thought that Everything Popular is Wrong. So imagine my surprise when I asked my friends in wine shops to tell me what is popular. What wines are making people crazy with excitement? Having some time on my hands this month, I also witnessed the frenzy first hand. These wines’ popularity defy the prescription that wine has to be cheap, boring and of the same-same grape variety. If these styles are popular, then I am sure Oscar Wilde would approve my longing to be wrong:

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Go a little crazy Arneis

First published on VINISSIMA.NET

In local Langhe-Piedmont dialect, the name of the white grape Arneis means “crazy, weird, introverted, whimsical, bizarre”. But what’s really crazy here is that Arneis is not more well-known as a white wine. In a similar way to Viognier, its individuality was once blended away into red wines and production was limited to a small parcel of land. Reminiscent of Viognier with its hint of apricot, good Arneis has an unmistakeable note of delicate white flowers and great Italian texture on the palate. Good humoured, light and original, I won’t say I have never seen crazy-as-in-psychotic examples of Arneis before – I have; that is, when they taste like a simple watery lemon and almond – but, when Arneis is on form, the white flowers, minerality and sapidity are a stroke of crazy-as-in-genius.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

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. Things have been good. Australia has had phenomenal wine success for the past 20 years. Why change it if it's not broken? But now the cute Kylie, sunshine-in-a-bottle image is no longer working. Wine Australia was here today to tell us about “A brand new conversation; a new brand conversation.” Which made me wonder: something was different, but what had changed?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Take a bite: Aglianico del Vulture DOC

First published on VINISSIMA.NET

Aglianico del Vulture dei Feudi di San Gregorio 2007

The first taste of Aglianico is like a volcanic eruption in rewind: a hundred blasts, shreds of mineral rock followed by a fierce lava cooling down into black smoke puffing backwards into the top of the mountain, overgrown with herbs, cool as graphite and purring, velvet and deep, as if nothing had happened.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

How to do the new austere: a baby Barbaresco

This is how to do the new austere well: with a light, baby Barbaresco style wine from a near-abandoned region in Piedmont. Beautiful perfumes and tight tannins somehow make austere seem rich.

A fabulous wine yet with an honest country heart: violet, roses after rain, stewed cherry, and fresh-smelling wet forest twigs and gun shop, the expansive feeling of the perfume slowed down by refined tannins, like stopping on a mountain path to take photos of a richly-coloured sunset with a super-sharp lens.

From a once thriving wine-region 1-hour drive North-West of Milan, vineyards deserted in the 1950s for the textile industry, the Colline Novaresi DOC is in the highest and most eastern part of Piedmont. This is made near the town of Boca from the Nebbiolo grape which gives the wine a beautiful pale colour and perfume, also seen in expensive Barolo and Barbaresco, but contains up to 30% Croatina grape, a local variety which gives a violet colour and tannic quality slightly deeper than Dolcetto.

Three word review: Dramatic Luxury Lite

La Maggiorina Le Piane 2009 (Colline Novaresi DOC, Piedmont) from Lea & Sandeman, £12.95 per bottle

Monday, 3 January 2011

First wine of 2011: Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon

The devil is said to grant any wish. That includes Chilean accountants who want to know Australia’s formula for success in UK supermarket. Here it is, says the Diablo:

2009 Burgundy & Colette: "the lovesick, the betrayed and the jealous all smell alike."

"But what is the heart, madame? It's worth less than people think. it's quite accommodating, it accepts anything. You give it whatever you have, it's not very particular. But the body... Ha! That's something else again. It has a cultivated taste, as they say, it knows what it wants. A heart doesn't choose, and one always ends up by loving." — Colette (The Pure and the Impure)

In Burgundy in 1916, the Negociant Chauvenet sponsored the author Colette to support the Negociants against the local Growers.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Top 5 Wine Posts for 2010

Jump for stars!! Find the Princess! Dodge the King! Like a Super Mario, Wine Woman & Song grew twice in size this year to take on extra hits and new worlds. Here were the highest-scoring Fire Flowers from 2010 (this year's most-read posts):

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Changes in Rosso di Montalcino DOC race ahead

The red colour of Italian cars is not just any red. It comes from a long history of rules, mostly developed between the World Wars, from when car racing began. Different countries were assigned different colours: blue for French cars, white for German cars and, of course, British cars were racing green. Red was assigned for Italian race cars and now, the red colour of Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari is instantly recognisable as a "race red" (or Rosso Corsa).

All these rules have a history, which gain sense from the time, but most people today know what is meant by Ferrari Red. Just as with Italian car colours, and a lot of things in Italy, Italian wines have many rules. So it is worth considering what the proposed changes in the rules mean, especially when on the 15th December, the 15 board members proposed to change Rosso di Montalcino from 100% to 85% guaranteed Sangiovese.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

The One that Got Away

This wine had the place smelling like Christmas for a week.

Can I give you a tasting note from broken bottle? At around £120 - £140 per bottle, I have to at least try... I was down on my hands and knees licking the floor. Risking shards of glass in my tongue just to have a taste.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG vs European Union

Some headache! The morning after the party to celebrate 30 years of DOCG status in the ancient Tuscan town of Montepulciano, winemakers were making their way to Brussels to confront the European Union’s decision to change Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG to simple “Montepulciano”.

Lunch with the Marchesi de Frescobaldi at new Harrods Wine Department

Being a family with a well-recorded ancient past must not always be pleasant, but at least, like old photos or tear-stained letters, the evidence does not require many words. True, such things as archives, documentaries, and fashion can cause trouble over the years. And it definitely has for the Frescobaldi family at one time or another in its 700 year history.

Three Wines for Xmas Freeze Relief

I always know it is coming but I never really believe it when does. Winter. Each day seems to deepen my shock. I thought I'd share with you these three wines I easily found, EXCELLENT for freeze relief.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Delicious Chance: Essencia at Chez Bruce

By delicious chance, just three weeks before the year finishes, I finally tasted the number one wine on my 2010 Wish List: Tokaji Essencia (1993).


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Last of the True Romantics: Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC

Often my friend from Rome, perhaps while we are walking down the street to the supermarket on a grey Saturday morning, will abruptly stop, hold his hand over his heart, grab my elbow to jolt me back and say with eyes wide open in shock, "Did you see THAT? That's IT! I AM IN LOVE!"

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Laughter in the Dark: Salice Salentino Riserva 2005 (and some tips on enjoying Italian wine)

Last night I tasted the Salice Salentino 2005 Riserva by the Candido family in Puglia. Salice Salentino is the name of a style of wine made from the Italian grape, Negroamaro, found on the Salentino plain located in Puglia, the heel of the "boot" of Italy.

As Nabokov puts it, "This is the whole of the story and we might have left it at that had there not been profit and pleasure in the telling..."

Sunday, 14 November 2010

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.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

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.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Grey Free State: Mornington Peninsula Pinot Gris

"....(it was) a spectral grey, as if all the colour has been sucked out by the sun." - Bruce Chatwin in "Anatomy of Restlessness"

There is a concept in philosophy called the grey area which is a concept for which one is unsure which category in which to place it.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

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.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A new room in the house: 2007 Coriole Vita Reserve Sangiovese, Mc Laren Vale

Just as the smell of clean sheets on the bed can signal a new start after an old affair, the fruit of the 2007 Coriole Vita Reserve Sangiovese is very pure and fresh like a soft, plumped pillow. Although perhaps it'd be more fun if it smelled a little less clean and a little more dirtier.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Bang for the Buck?

In the past week, there's been a regime shift in Wine Australia, the representative body to the UK, with a second major resignation. Paul Schaasfma has jumped into the void, arguing, "it's not rocket science, after all" and that Australian wine should be about innovation and personality which - he believes - is reflected in the sub-£6 per bottle mark in UK supermarkets.

Contrast with Berry Brothers & Rudd

October Wine Likes in Three Words

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Greek Assyrtiko: between thyme and the deep blue sea

What is Assyrtiko? Grown on the volcanic soil of the Greek island of Santorini, it is a white wine that when good, is a summer wind by the sea made into taste and smell.

Last night I had the 2009 Hatzidakis Assyrtiko from Waitrose

Sunday, 10 October 2010

2009 Beaucastel: Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark

2009 Chateau Beaucastel En Primeur Tasting

Tasting Chateau Beaucastel en primeur is like pressing pause on a moment in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto, currently hurtling through space on the 1977 Voyager Space Probe Golden Record as a record of mighty human achievement.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Sicilian, Sartorial, Sensual: Planeta Dinner, W1

Sitting at dinner with Francesca Planeta, it did not surprise me when she told me her wine had run out at Milan Fashion Week.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

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.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Librarians love 01 Les Pagodes de Cos

The 01 Pagodes de Cos, the second wine of Cos d'Estournel, is reckless, obstinate and from all accounts of previous vintages, annoying. The initial brett farmyard characters will either delight or disgust you depending on whether worn leather smells like the promise of sitting in a new car or crusty old boots. But to me, it's not that simple.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Anarchy in the UK? K Vintners' Viognier, Washington State

When Bill Grundy famously interviewed the Sex Pistols for ITV in 1976 he asked Siouxsie Sioux, was she worried or was she enjoying herself... "Enjoying myself," she replies.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Piedmont Songs in Australia: La Violetta

It is rare for a Syrah to call Piedmonte its spiritual home, let alone a Syrah from Australia.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Champagne, darkly: Blanc de Noirs

(Or, How to Have a Good Divorce Party. Advice to a Friend.)

"Dry your eyes, my friend. It's over. The white wedding may have been nice, the dress nice, all that money you spent on champagne on the day, sure, nice.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Cabernet by Stealth: Chinon, by Alliet

The 2006 Chinon Vieilles Vignes from Phillipe Alliet may start out as a typical 100% Cabernet Franc from Chinon: pale ruby, fresh and light dominated by raspberry characters, but this Cabernet Franc can not be simply described as Cabernet Sauvignon without the heavy cape.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Self-Assembler: Hofstätter Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige

Alongside a glass of champagne or a cab ride in the rain, a good bottle of wine is one of life's affordable luxuries. Yet low-key, easy luxury is the most difficult thing to achieve; partly because it involves an element of effortlessness.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Old Man Claret: Bordeaux at £10 - £15 per bottle

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." - Henry Miller

Why drink Bordeaux at £10-15? Many other wines stride in with hi-how-are-you blasts. At this price, there are many choices for a medium-bodied red wine from nearly every corner of the globe. That’s why some are asking, is Bordeaux even relevant anymore?

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Fifth Dimension: Movement in Taste

It's a fact that when you are truly dehydrated, the impulse for thirst in the body shuts down. So you never really know if you are dehydrated even though you desperately need water. In a similar way, sometimes with wine, you don't know a good one, or the idea of what that may entail, until you have one.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

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


Thursday, 5 August 2010

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.

Monday, 2 August 2010

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. However, despite my best attempts to be cynical, I could not help but love the slightly debauched characters of licorice, smoke and dark fruits. Before long, I was singing the same love song, too.