Archive for category ‘Wine’

Noshtalgia

Posted by Martin Field on 17 September 2009 in Food and Wine

War-games with oyster entrée

In March 1965, a bunch of us Regular Army electronics technicians were posted to provide backup for CMF* war games in the bush near Tea Gardens, New South Wales.

 On the penultimate day of pretending-to-shoot-each-other manoeuvres, a CMF officer (i.e. a sweating red-faced jumped up bank teller from Sydney) ordered us to work as kitchen staff in the officers’ mess tent for their farewell dinner the next night. ‘Nah,’ we said, ‘we didn’t come here to wait on weekend warriors.’ Or words to that effect.

He went away muttering about undisciplined rabble and later came back. ‘What if we pay you?’ ‘Okay… Sir.’ (Cue limp salute here.)

Read the rest of this entry

Star drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 17 September 2009 in Wine Tasting

Hardys Stamp of Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – I bought a dozen at around $6.60 the 1 litre bottle – ***

I know it’s only September, but this red gets my value for money wine of the year award already.

 A lovely robust melange of fully ripe berries, plums, sweet vanillin American oak, mildly assertive tannins and a pleasant aftertaste. Good on its own or with tucker and a stunner at the price. Some very ordinary cask wines are dearer.

Read the rest of this entry

Cheap booze for bankrupt millionaires

Posted by Martin Field on 17 July 2009 in Wine

by Martin Field
Yeah I know you high flyers are doing it hard and don’t know where the next magnum of Krug is coming from.
Public sympathy for scammers and skimmers is in even shorter supply than usual but we lower socio-economic dwellers are charitable, so I’ve decided to share a few tips on alcoholic cost cutting to ameliorate your pain. I have assumed none of the following tips will breach your bail conditions.
Make your own wine. Buy some grapes, put them in a large garbage bag and have the home help trample them on the marble kitchen floor. Bung some yeast in the drained off juice and, when fermented, store in a barrel. Bottle and drink when ready. (True, this is how a friend does it every year.)
Brew your own beer. Buy a can of Coopers home brew stout mix (the best of them all) follow the instructions (or ask your PA to do it). Drink.
Drink more cask (bag in box) wines and cleanskins. Dollar for dollar, cask whites always taste better than the reds – don’t know why.

Read the rest of this entry

Trowelling Stilton at the Melbourne Club

Posted by Martin Field on 17 July 2009 in Food and Wine

by Martin Field
Maybe it was 20 years ago. ‘How about I take you to lunch at the Melbourne Club?’ My eye specialist, a generous, learned gentleman of the old school and also the father of a friend, wanted to repay me for fine-tuning his office PC.
Never having been there – they have an invisible brass plaque by the front door saying ‘No women, no lefties, certain religions are a bit suss, and definitely no riff-raff!’ – I accepted. ‘You’ll have to wear a suit you know,’ he smiled, gazing at my public service uniform: Miller shirt, Lee jeans and Blundstones.
When I arrived at the club, I certainly didn’t look like a member – longish hair, beard, baggy tan suit, a ridiculously narrow dusty pink leather tie and tan R.M. Williams Cuban-heeled boots (to match the suit, you understand). However, after the business with the rubber gloves, some pointed interrogation and upon showing my passport and letters of accreditation, they let me in.

Read the rest of this entry

The Emperor of Scent

Posted by Martin Field on 17 July 2009 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field
I cheekily asked the Emperor of Scent, Luca Turin, if he had ever written wine reviews, and if not would he write one for us.
He replied, ‘I would be incapable of writing a wine review, though I am very flattered you should ask.
‘Here’s why: I believe that what underlies my perfume reviews (and Tania’s) is the fact that insofar as perfume is composed by humans it contains intent, which it is the critic’s job to infer.
‘Wine seems too much a product of divine providence to be an artistic creation proper. I could no more write wine reviews than I could write cloud ones.’
Despite Luca’s reservations, let’s hope that one day he and Tania put their pens to wine in a way that is as evocative and incisive as their writings on fragrance.

Star Drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 17 July 2009 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field
Murray’s Nirvana Pale Ale – about $3 the 330ml bottle – ***
Golden syrup hued ale. Hoppy, spicy nose. The palate is full and smooth with hints of cardamom and lime and a firm bitter finish. Moreish.
Veuve Amiot Brut – $12.30 – **
AOC Saumur, Loire Valley. Methode traditionelle. Chenin blanc and chardonnay. Refreshing bubbly with a nose of dried pears. On the palate, it shows almonds and apple pie along with mild acidity and a good length of palate.
Tyrrell’s Stevens Hunter Semillon 2005 – up to $32 – ****
Very pale. Fresh as a newly bloomed daisy – you wouldn’t know it was over four years old. Aromatic, showing citrus fruits and freshly baled hay. Light lime marmalade flavours are supported by brisk lemon peel edged acidity. Tasty.
Scarborough Chardonnay 2006 – $21-ish – ***
Hunter Valley, New South Wales. A nose of new white peaches and biscuity French wood. Well-structured in the mouth with flavours of stone fruits, subtle toasted oak and a lively acid finish.

Read the rest of this entry

Noshtalgia

Posted by Martin Field on 17 June 2009 in Food and Wine

Boiled bacon and cabbage in Callan
In the summer of 1968, I travelled from London to Callan (County Kilkenny, Eire) to see my ageing grandmother, Annie. She was happy to welcome me, having last done so in the late 1940s, before my family came to Australia in 1950.
‘You’ll be wantin’ something for lunch then, Martin?’ she asked, semi rhetorically, in her soft Irish drawl. I had told her I’d had no breakfast and had just hitchhiked from Clonmel.
A short while later she served up a whopping great plate of boiled bacon and cabbage, accompanied by a small mountain of creamy mashed spuds adorned with a generous lump of pale farmhouse butter. On the side were thick slices from a just-baked loaf of wholemeal soda bread. Oh, and a bottle of Guinness.
Every evening my uncle Joe drove me into Kilkenny, where we pub crawled in style, revelling in the music of the ‘ballad’ (folk) singers and fiddlers – and drinking numerous pints of Guinness. Less fun was the twilit drive home in Uncle Joe’s old Morris. I swear you could see the road through the rusting floor and only the Leprechauns knew what his blood alcohol content was.

Read the rest of this entry

Noshtalgia

Posted by Martin Field on 17 June 2009 in Wine

History of Phylloxera in the Yarra Valley
As new outbreaks of the grape scourge phylloxera continue to plague Yarra valley wine makers, long time readers may recall my research into the early presence of phylloxera in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. Now I have found a report at the National Library of Australia website, indicating that phylloxera was probably present in a vineyard at Kangaroo Ground as early as 1912. From the Melbourne Argus, February 23, 1922:
“Phylloxera at Kangaroo Ground – The Government viticulturist (Mr de Castella) has reported to the Assistant Minister for Agriculture (Sir Pennington) the discovery of phylloxera at Kangaroo Ground. Vines are dying in one orchard. The owner first noticed this about four years ago, and it is thought that the pest must have been introduced about 10 years ago. Though Kangaroo Ground is not an important vine district, this outbreak deserves special notice as it is the first time phylloxera has been found so close to Melbourne. With the exception of the Geelong outbreak phylloxera has not seriously been found south of the Dividing Range. It is officially stated that the metropolitan district cannot now be looked upon as “clean” and even if it is it will not remain so for long.”

Star Drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 17 June 2009 in Wine Tasting

Cascade First Harvest 2009 – around $24-ish the six-pack of stubbies – ***
A seasonal beer brewed using fresh green hops. Mid-amber in hue, it starts with a hop-laden nose and develops on the palate into a lightly malted style. A slightly sweet edge leads to a lovely sharp bitterness at the finish.
Monteiths Doppelbock Winter Ale – $16 plus the six pack of stubbies – ***
Another seasonal brew, this one from New Zealand. The colour is a deep russet. Blended from six different malts, it has a lovely rich malty nose. The mouthfeel is velvety and the flavours reminded me of a chocolate malted spiced with a dash of Kahlua. Delicious.
Yellow Tail Moscato 2008 – around $10 – **
A light (7.5% alcohol) spritzig white. Slightly sweet, with a tropical fruit salad nose which continues on to the palate. Soft fruity finish.
Tulloch Verscato NV – up to $16 – **
Hunter Valley, New South Wales. Verdelho, shiraz blend. Rose petal pink. Light (7.5% alcohol) sparkling style. Fruity nose, refreshing in the mouth. Sweetish at the front of the palate with a little tart apple acidity to balance. An easy drinking lunch accompaniment.

Read the rest of this entry

El Cheapo drinkos

Posted by Martin Field on 17 June 2009 in Wine Tasting

In these recessionary times, punters are always on the lookout for a cheap drink. With their interests in mind, I wandered down to the local bottle shop and bought some casks, a slab of imported beer and a case of el cheapo reds and whites.
The Oettinger Pils – at only $30 the slab of 24 – was a great bargain – that’s only $1.25 per stubbie. Brewed under the ancient German purity laws of yore, the beer is hoppily aromatic with stacks of flavour on the palate – a hint of sweet malt and a bitter tang to the finish.
I tasted three two litre casks: the Banrock Station Shiraz Cabernet – $13; the Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon – $12; and the De Bortoli Premium Merlot – $11. The Banrock Station was easily the most appealing to my palate – a good balance of fruit, dryness and acidity – I looked forward to the next glass. The other two wines each had a certain soft sweetness that did not grab me at all.
Next in the glass was a Berberana Marino El Vino del Mediterráneo at $4.60. A Spanish number that I thought was no better than it ought to be at the price.
A bottle of J.P. Chenet Sauvignon Blanc 2008 at $8 showed as good value. Totally unlike Oz and NZ styles, it has no asparagus grassy notes, but rather secondary wine flavours with a hint of dried pears and almonds.