Monday, February 28, 2005

Waiter there's a horse in my wine!

This book is now in stores in Australia, but it's hard to get.

Instead of searching high and low you can buy it online, use the link below

Buy it here

Here is a small extract of Jennifers writing dealing with reaction to some Australian winemakers move to Italian Varieties.

"That's no Barbera!" scoffs a journalist I'm travelling with in Australia. Enrico Viviano, director of Radio Toscana in Florence, has been on this rant for days. Too much oak, too much alcohol, too much fruit. In short, not Italian.

It takes a sour, orange wine with a tannic death-grip to finally elicit; "Now that's Barbera! You could drink this all day long," implying: and not fall off your chair and stain your teeth purple. I suppose to the untraveled Eskimo, what Manolo Blahnik makes does not much resemble a shoe, either.

Touring Australia with an Italian provides ringside seats to the seismic shock of two wine cultures colliding. Australians might be closer to Europe in their drinking habits, but their winemaking ethos is as different as it gets.

European winemaking is an art, involving as much instinct and old family lore as science. Government regulations ensure the same disadvantages to all: in bad vintages, no one has recourse but to make bad wine, badly. To hell with absolutist, international standards of quality -- they protest. It's about identity!

This is mystic mumbo-jumbo to the pragmatic Australian winemaker who packs a vast, viticultural bag of tricks and is not afraid to use it. Bad vintage? Simply import grapes from another region. The consistent, easy-drinking results may be pooh-poohed as "supermarket wine," but it conquered both England and America.

Lacking tradition, indifferent to appearances, Oz is free to do things that make Europe -- even America -- cringe. Like pioneering both screwcaps and casks (wine-in-a-box, to us) and so bringing yobbos and swillers of suds into the fold. Intuition, terroir, who needs them? Yellowtail, recently America’s number one red import, sprung neither from a vineyard nor a vision, but from the desk of label designer Barbara Harkness, who calls her ready-to-go brand service, "Just Add Wine."

Somewhere between European pessimism (“Why start? I'll probably fail.”) and American cockeyed optimism (“Every day in every way I'm getting closer to being a motivational speaker!”) threads the Aussie worldview (“Yeah, hell exists, sod it.”) As playwright David Williamson observes, "Most Australians… assume…that under the skin of a bastard lies an utter bastard." It's the sort of unshockable place where you can hear a little old lady observe that a cork is in “tight as a fish's ass."

As Americans know, the freedom that nurtures vigor also permits bad taste, a right I champion, even while pining for quaint, medieval towns, far from New World vulgarities.

Enrico, who lives in such a town, has a problem with vulgarity. Italians are more delicate, he explains. For instance, if you're staggering drunk, your problem is not too much wine, it's non basta mangiare -- not eating enough. But these wines, oily, purple, practically sending up a plume of alcohol! No one could mangiare basta!

We do witness one Australian concession to subtlety: The obvious, overdone, American oak, responsible for wines so reeking of coconut and vanilla that even their über-fruit gets buried, is being replaced, in a mad stampede to…obvious, overdone French oak!

They say it wasn't until France put the kibosh on names like Champagne, Burgundy and Hermitage, that Australia really found her style. I'm not so sure it mattered. In this galaxy far, far away, comparisons with REAL French wine seem irrelevant.

The Barossa style, the most familiar to Americans, developed long ago when German immigrants gave up trying to make the neat, cool whites of their homeland and succumbed, like an English colonial officer "going native," to the wild imperative of the land, which was to produce big, red, juicy Shiraz.

That is by no means the only style. Australia has its share of small producers and subtle wine. There are cooler-climate Pinot Noirs and Rieslings, and quite a few Italian varieties, it's just that we see so few of them here. I hope that changes soon, because they're delicious wines, even if they don't taste like Europe. And why should they? Better to let a thousand grapevines bloom.

From Waiter, there's a horse in my wine! by Jennifer Chotzi Rozen.

Buy it here

Friday, February 18, 2005

Alpine Valleys Wine Region

The Alpine valleys is a new wine region in North Eastern Victoria, but with a broad range of microclimates it is already showing itself to be a wonderful area for varietal experimentation. See the Vinodiversity page on the Alpine Valleys to read about it.

Much better you should go there and see the scenery, taste the food and wine, smell the fresh mountain air, and listen to the music and talks.

Alpine Valleys Food and Wine Festival


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Cool climate durif

John Vale, an innovative winemaker form Balnaring on the Mornington Peninsula has successfully established a planting of Durif. This variety is more commonly associated with warmer climes. After two vintages he is optimistic that the experiment is paying off.

Here is John Vale's article

Durif in a cold climate, well cool actually

John Vale, an innovative winemaker form Balnaring on the Mornington Peninsula has successfully established a planting of Durif. This variety is more commonly associated with warmer climes. After two vintages he is optimistic that the experiment is paying off.

Here is John Vale's article

Monday, February 14, 2005

Blended and varietal wines

I have just written an article on Blended and Varietal wines and posted it on OzArticles which is a website with a mission to distribute articles about Australia.
Blended and varietal wines

Yarra Valley Grape Grazing 19 and 20 February 2005

The annual Grape Grazing weekend is with us again. When this event began quite a few years ago only a few wineries had restaurants attached. Now most wineries have some sort of food option so there special zing has to come form the quality of the food and wine. There are plenty of events and options so check out the program. You may also like to check out the Vinodiversity guide to
alternative varietals in the Yarra Valley

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Barossa Vintage Festival 28 March to 3 April 2005

The Barossa Vintage Festival is held every second year, in the odd numbered years. This year it is being held in the week after Easter, starting on Easter Sunday. There is a myriad of educational, heritage, culinary and cultural events organised and all will be great fun. There is a series of events under the banner of Varietal Passions, a must fro Vinodiversity lovers. It is good to see that non-shiraz wines are getting some recognition. If you are lucky enough to be going, check out the range of varieties available by reading
Vinodiversity's guide to the Barossa Valley.

If you can't make it this year then you should check out the guide to see how the Barossa is diversifying into some newer varieties. Although Grenache and Mourvedre are the major alternative varieties grown in the Barossa Valley, there are quite a few other varieties which will be vying for their share of the limelight.

Website of the 2005 Barossa Vintage Festival

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Cool Climate Durif – You must be kidding!

We normally associate Durif with warmer climates, in fact most of the producers are in Rutherglen or inland wine districts. But Vinodiversity likes to see who is pushing the envelope. There is a new Winemakers tale about growing and making Durif on the on the Mornington Peninsula.

The author, John Vale is Proprietor and winemaker at Vale Wines, a specialist in innovative and hand made wines. See the article by John Vale

Friday, February 04, 2005

Win some chockies & bubbles - if you are quick

Winedownunder are having a little lottery (for Australian residents only)

The prize is a couple of baby champers and some chocolate. But be quick, entries close on Sunday 7th Feb.

Wine Downunder - The wine cellaring and wine tasting resource for all wine enthusiasts.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Vinodiversity newsletter

The February issue of the Vinodiversity newsletter is coming soon. So don't miss out!

Sign Up here!

You can see some more Wine Art here