Keo VSOP 12 year old Brandy – around $30. From Cyprus. Higher in alcohol (40%) and bigger in bottle (750ml) than most entry level brandies around. Tea-hued, warm sweetish nose, faint oak. Generously flavoured, nice aged spirity characters with maybe raisin like fruit and integrated barrel notes. Most enjoyable.
In a story in the Melbourne Age today (20 July 2005) Coles demands half-measure from wineries Leon Gettler reports that a major Australian liquor retailer has required its wine suppliers to package wine in six-pack cartons rather than 12-pack cartons from October 2005.
The main reason for this change is based on occupational health and safety issues – in other words, the repeated lifting of heavy 12-bottle cartons is seen a risk to the staff health – and who could argue with that?
No doubt other retailers will follow this lead and I don’t think it would be over the top to suggest that this will herald the end of the 12-bottle case of wine (and spirits for that matter) as we know it.
The obvious flow-on (no pun intended) will be the abolition of 12-bottle packs of 750ml beer bottles and even 24 and 30 pack slabs of 375ml beer cans and bottles. The costs to the beverage industry (not just small winemakers) to repackage will be massive – the profits to packaging companies sensational. Consumers, as usual, will bear the costs of this repackaging in the long run.
Nothing beats getting together with a bunch of wine lovers to taste a selection of superior reds and whites. Drinking good wine is, after all, about enjoyment, fine dining, friendship and sharing. Isn’t it? Then how do you account for what I call ‘wine misers’?
We’ve all met one or two. They’re usually blokes. They know a lot about wine and spend a fair bit of money on it. Typically, they will own an interior-designed, expensively constructed cellar, that is well-stocked with the best that money can buy: top-shelf, imported, indented, aged and selected wines.
With a proud gleam in their beady eyes they like to take you on a guided tour, to point out the rarity of certain bottles and to explain the shelving and cataloguing system and the intricacies of the air-conditioning and the constant humidification.
Trouble is, when they eventually offer their by now exhausted and thirsty guest/s a post-tour drink, they will inevitably open a cleanskin, boasting, ‘Only seven bucks the bottle! The guy who sold me this reckons it’s the equivalent of a thirty-five dollar Coonawarra cabernet!’ It is more likely to taste like it’s only a step away from vat dregs, Chateau Cardboard or the vinegar factory.
The daughter dined out at the Napier Hotel in downtown Fitzroy a couple of weeks ago and reported that a couple of lads in her party ordered and enjoyed a Bogan Burger. What’s a Bogan Burger? Well, on a foundation of buttered Turkish bread the chef places (not necessarily in this order) a steak, a crumbed chicken schnitzel, a potato cake, bacon, a fried egg, cheese, beetroot, lettuce, tomato, onions, and a slice of pineapple.
I would be surprised if tomato sauce didn’t appear in their somewhere too. All of this is topped off with another piece of bread and decorated with a cocktail umbrella. The price for this calorific cornucopia is a mere $AUD14.50. What I want to know is what wine would be a suitable accompaniment to this gourmet delight?
Penfolds RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002. About $AUD150. The RWT is black cherry in colour and near opaque. Nose of pepper and spices, cherry liqueur, aniseed and lightly charred French oak. The palate (this is way too young to drink now) is solid, dry and chewy with ‘cop this!’ tannins. The fruit as you might expect is enormous but is subdued at the moment by the untamed chewiness. The long finish has hints of raspberries and high-grade, slightly bitter, dark chocolate. This’ll all come together in a couple of years into a memorable blend that promises to cellar well for 20 and more years.
Just recently I bought a dozen bottles of a wine I reviewed for an online newsletter. Since then two of the bottles I’ve opened have shown cork taint; the corks are those agglomerate ones with a disc of solid cork stuck on each end. I contacted the wine distributor about the problem – he said he’d send me two replacement bottles (still waiting) and I emailed the winemaker to alert him to the problem – no reply.
Now I’m wondering if the remainder of the dozen will be sound and whether the bottles I sold to a mate to try will be in good condition. It’s a mildly depressing prospect.
Controversial news from the UK, the best restaurants in the world are british. Or so think the british editors of Restaurant magazine…
Prices in Australian dollars
Merum Semillon 2004. Around $26. Pemberton, Western Australia. Pale gold. Aromatic with lemon, dried pears and faint smoky oak. Fuller-bodied white with flavours of citrus and nuts, softly textured in the mouth it closes with a zingy finish.
Terra Felix Marsanne Roussanne 2004. Around $15. Central Victoria. Transparent lemon. Nose is a fruity, perfumed mix of stone fruits and floral notes. Velvety mouthfeel showing full flavours reminds me of chewing a just quite ripe peach. Delicious style at a nice price.
Haselgrove Adelaide Hills Reserve Viognier 2004. $25. Pale, hint of green. Nose reminded me of lemon butter – with an edge of spicy oak. Think of a fresh baked apricot Danish and you’ll get the picture. Crisp and vigorous to finish.
‘What is it with cask wines? Are they any good?’ The question arose, yet again, at a recent wine course.
I replied that casks (foil or plastic bags of wine in a cardboard box) have their place – in the home – if not in the restaurant. I argued that cask wine is a useful standby in the kitchen, in the same sense as instant coffee, tea bags, and dried milk, and not only is cask wine handy as a cooking ingredient but also for a quick snort when you don’t have an open bottle handy.