About a friend

Ross McCann. Steve Blandford

Very recently, the Sydney wine scene lost one of its own. For a number of years, Ross McCann had been battling cancer; on November 10, the battle was lost.

Most wine trade people would know Ross and many readers in the Sydney area would have met him, though you may not necessarily have realised it. If there was a fine wine tasting event, there was a good chance Ross was there, a stalwart representative for the Vintage & Vine company, sharing vinous joys. Passionate and very knowledgeable about wine, he always shared his knowledge with enthusiasm, generosity and humour. He was also a long-standing member of the Second Tuesday Club, the professional wine-tasting group to which both Huon and I belong. His presence will be sorely missed. Most importantly, he was the life-long partner of Corrie.

I wrote this piece when I heard the news on the day of his passing.

Wine can be many things.

At its most fundamental, it is an enjoyable drink that comes in a myriad of flavours and styles. It can enhance a meal or add to the enjoyment of a gathering of friends. It can help a conversation flow or be an integral part of a celebration. We all know this.

He was a bon vivant brimming with the juices of life, generous to a fault, full of humour and fun even in the darkest times.

At another level, many producers, and some wine scribes, will tell you that it is a snapshot of a time and place, a liquid time capsule or message in a bottle. Wine is an agricultural product and as such is subject to the vagaries of climate, micro and macro, and weather. Not every vintage is perfect, but good wine expresses its place of origin like no other agricultural product I can think of; the seasonal conditions, the soil, the aspect of the vineyard, and so on, all those things that make up that mildly mystical thing called terroir. It all adds to the inherent complexity and intrigue of this liquid. For many of you, these thoughts may also be bleedingly obvious.

At yet another level, individual bottles of wine can be markers in a life. I still remember, almost 40 years later, a wine shared with the woman who was my first “true” love – a humble bottle of Wyndham Estate Pinot Noir. Or, at the other end of the scale, a glorious and impeccable bottle of Penfolds Bin 7 opened at my 50th. Good wine, really good wine, should never be drunk alone. It is made for sharing and, if you are of that bent, for contemplation and discussion. And those moments of shared pleasure, intrinsically linked to the wine, become embedded in your memory.

The Mascarello Monprivato 2010 shared with Ross. Steve Blandford

I mention all of these things because this morning, from the other side of the world, I received news of the passing of a valued colleague in wine and, more importantly, a cherished friend. Ross had been in a lengthy tango with Jimmy Dancer, which has finally come to an end. I grieve for him.

He was a bon vivant brimming with the juices of life, generous to a fault, full of humour and fun even in the darkest times. Passionate about wine and food. As I think of him, I remember wines shared. A bottle of Mascarello Monprivato 2010, drunk during a tour of Piemonte which became a favourite wine for both of us. Or a monumental amarone, undoubtedly a great wine but one not to my personal taste, that he served blind more than once to see my reaction – it was the same each time (which I think rather pleased him). There were a plethora of other wines, less grand though now no less significant in their sharing. I will open a few bottles over the next few weeks and think of him.

The message from all of this. If you are holding on to some special wines waiting just for the right occasion, don’t wait. Make the occasion. Bugger the proposed drinking window, open and share that bottle. Invite family or friends over, take it on your next visit to a friend, go to a good BYO with your partner, or celebrate an anniversary or an achievement. Find a reason. Even if the wine has not reached its zenith, better to think what may be than what might have been. Value the time and the companionship.

Vale Rossco. Teach the angels a thing or two about wine.

One thought on “About a friend”

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    timbovino says:

    What a wonderful article and tribute to a great friend. Couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of sharing wines with your nearest and dearest family & friends. Cheers

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