Australian Tasting Notes

Posted by Martin Field on 1 March 2006 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field

Chapel Hill Unwooded Chardonnay 2005 – around $14 (Australian dollars)
Fresh grapey juicy nose. Youthful and refreshing in the mouth, showing bags of ripe fruit – dried pears? and zingy acidity. Excellent as a chilled luncheon aperitif.

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2004 – around $20
Compôte of stone fruits and hints of toasty oak lift the nose of this one. Soft and rich in the mouth, flavours of apricot conserve are dominant while the finish is firm enough to suggest entrée style accompaniments.

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Six ways to ease the Aussie wine glut

Posted by Martin Field on 1 March 2006 in Wine

by Martin Field

The old brain has been chugging away addressing the ongoing problem of over-supply of wine grapes and wine in Australia. Although the 2006 vintage is not a record one the wine glut has seen grapes rotting on the vine, wineries going broke and, as you’d expect, corporate ethicists from larger wine companies inventing more devious strategies to dishonour contracts with grape growers.

But I have a few strategies of my own to suggest and these, if applied across the board, will undoubtedly transform excess into success.

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Clos des Fées, Angiolino Maule and others for dinner

Posted by Mike Tommasi on 28 February 2006 in Food and Wine

Sunday evening we invited our winemaking friends Laurent Barrera and Emmanuelle Dupéré and as usual we ended up with quite a lineup… you can see some pics on their own Nowatlover blog

Starting with Champagne “Les Rachais”, the new cuvée from my friend Francis Boulard of Champagne Raymond Boulard, one of those wines that act as terroir enhancers, you have never tasted anything like it, my impression is iodine, salt, seawater, oysters with lemon juice, some people have a hard time with it, I just love it, end so does everyone at the table, made from his biodynamic vineyard (undergoing conversion), I would love to actually try it with oysters…

Next, four bottles get served blind at the same time, we are told that one is a very expensive super-something wine worth over 60 Euro, and that they all have something in common.

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Vital fluids

Posted by Martin Field on 31 January 2006 in Food and Wine

by Martin Field

Splashing around at St Andrews Beach in brain-boiling 40C degree temperatures, during the Australia Day holiday week, I came over all strange. Despite the liberal application of aged, slightly rancid coconut oil, with an SPF rating of minus 25, my skin turned the colour of a two year old Beaujolais – a sort of sickly brown-edged red – and I felt faint.

After a relatively short wait (less than a day) in the local medical centre, the doc asked me what was the trouble. I described my symptoms. ‘Were you drinking?’ she asked. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘Plenty of water.’

‘If water was any good,’ she said, ‘we’d have it running through our veins instead of blood. I’m sorry to say you are severely debeerated.’ ‘What does that mean?’ I asked naively.

‘Debeeration,’ she explained, ‘Is a condition that occurs when a person has not consumed sufficient brewed liquid. Deprived of essential complex alcohols and other associated vitamins and minerals, the victim’s system will then start to fail, their muscles will melt down and eventually they may die.’

‘But along with water I’ve also been drinking a lot of light and mid-strength beers.’ I countered in mitigation.

‘Aha! There’s your problem.’ she said. ‘They’re not actually beer. If I may speak scientifically, they are a sort of no-frills substitute for the real thing. In laypersons’ terms, they are the tragic equivalent of drinking instant coffee.’

Horrified and chastened at her insight into my condition, I replied plaintively, ‘Please Doc, what am I to do? I place myself entirely in your hands.’

‘Well, first we’ll have to urgently rebeerate you. I don’t think you’re that far gone that we need to put you on a beer drip but I recommend the immediate consumption of half a dozen stubbies… of ice-cold, full-strength, amber fluid. After that I want you to drink at least two litres of genuine beer daily, avoid imitation beer and strenuous activity and come back and see me in a month.’

With this she wrote out a prescription listing a number of local and imported ales, advising me, ‘Unfortunately these are not subsidised but they should be available on discount at your local drugstore*.’

‘But Doc. What about driving? You know it’s illegal for me to drink and drive.’

‘Do you want to live or do you want to drive? she snapped. ‘You clearly have a problem identifying life priorities!’ ‘Next.’

*liquor store.

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Australian Wine Notes

Posted by Martin Field on 31 January 2006 in Wine

by Martin Field

Syrah – Return of the cultural cringe
Australian winemakers have a long history of cultural cringing – that is, using European, mainly French names for their wines. Most finally stopped this pathetic practice after being dragged into the late twentieth century by litigation and international trade treaties.

But a few winemakers have short memories – a stroll through retail liquor aisles will reveal the increasing usage on Australian labels of the Frenchified term syrah (Ooh bloody la la) instead of the good ol’ Aussie shiraz. Consumers beware, Australian wines labelled syrah will undoubtedly carry a premium price. Wine marketing tosseurs (tossers in Australian) have a lot to answer for.

Must be the season of wood
Doncha just love Americanese? When we were in the Napa Valley in November we noticed that back label writers over there avoid the use of down market terms such as ‘aged in new and one year old barriques.’ They prefer the more refined ‘aged in new and seasoned oak barriques.’ Bit like advertising for pre-loved cars really.

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On the Road – continued

Posted by Martin Field on 2 January 2006 in Food and Wine

by Martin Field

Chateaux in St Emilion and Bordeaux
The neighbouring regions of St Emilion and Bordeaux are a wine lover’s paradise. Vineyards and wineries are everywhere and there are innumerable lovely reds and whites to sip, to drink, to wallow in. There are guided tours available from the St Emilion and Bordeaux tourist bureaux or, armed with a map, the adventurous wine tourist can simply drive around and check out likely looking chateaux. But check out the tourist brochures first – many places are open to the public ‘by appointment only.’

Yes, you quickly discover that French winemakers are very much into the semi-mystical (to Australians anyway) concept of terroir – the concept of wine quality based on soil types, micro- meso- and macro-climates and all that. But despite reported French antagonism to what they dismiss as Australia’s industrial wines we noticed that many wineries have now entered the equivalent of the oenological industrial revolution and purchased kazillions of euros worth of stainless steel fermenters and associated modern winemaking equipment. Just like the Australians.

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Recommended Australian wines – by Martin Field

Posted by Martin Field on 2 January 2006 in Wine Tasting

Jansz 2001 – up to $37
Pipers Brook. Tasmania. Chardonnay and pinot noir. Pale straw, fine to medium bead. Delicate floral nose with hints of brioche and lime. I’ve always enjoyed the Jansz style and this maintains the line: elegant, light and dry with an edge of cool climate zing to inspire the tastebuds.

Palandri Riesling 2004 – around $18
Frankland River, Western Australia. Light gold, hint of green. Attractive nose of lime sherbet. More of the zippy lime character along with a smidgin of Granny Smith apple comes through in the palate of this well-weighted white.

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On the road

Posted by Martin Field on 22 November 2005 in Food and Wine

by Martin Field

I’ve been on holidays. London, St Emilion, Paris and San Francisco to be exact. Phew! It’s good to be back in Melbourne. Here follow a few random thoughts on the trip.

Mummified suitcases
Travel isn’t the fun it once was – or maybe I’m getting old. I travelled a lot in the late ‘60s and in 1971 the hippie overland trail from London to Calcutta was a highlight. Back then you could travel (rough) without too many concerns about personal security. Thirty to forty years on it’s strange to note that in a supposedly more civilised world international travel can be a bit of a worry.

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Tastings from Australia

Posted by Martin Field on 22 November 2005 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field

Four Emus Chardonnay 2005 – $8 and under
South Australia. Attractive fruity nose full of peaches and pears. Off-dry palate with flavours of tropical fruits makes for a very pleasing summery style.

Barwite Riesling 2004 – around $14
Mansfield, Victoria. Delicate nose of lime and lemon flowers. Light dryish style in the mouth with lovely citrus character. Fine aperitif or entrée accompaniment. Will drink well for five years and more.

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Tastings from Australia

Posted by Martin Field on 1 October 2005 in Wine Tasting

Coldstream Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2005 – up to $25
Yarra Valley, Victoria. Green-tinged, extra pale. Voluminous nose of lychee and asparagus. Beautifully made wine, just bursting with varietal elements including lychee, passionfruit and citrus. The citrus zing at the finish completes the pleasure of drinking this.

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