Huon Hooke

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Fine Fino for the Buying

When Birks Chip Dry Fino – a sherry-style wine – won an award at the 2010 Royal Sydney Wine Show, it was one of those David and Goliath stories. This micro-boutique wine was aged in barrels in the cellar of Andrew Birks’s suburban home in

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Up in Smoke

Smoke-tainting of grapes from wild-fires and controlled burns has caused the wine industry at least $300 million in the last five years, according to the Australian Wine Research Institute. The AWRI hosted a free seminar in Melbourne late last month informing grapegrowers and wine producers

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It’s what’s inside that counts

Something was missing at the recent Saltram museum tasting. Here was a rare opportunity to taste Saltram Mamre Brook reds from the current vintage to the first one from 1963, and Stonyfell Metala from now to the first from 1959. Yet only one member of the younger generation of wine writers was present. Everyone else was grey-haired – or no-haired. And it’s not that younger guests weren’t invited. My regret was the chance to taste history and learn about the evolution of Australian wine was not shared by the up-and-coming generation.

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Natural history

What possesses a winemaker with 20 years’ experience making vast volumes of wine for the biggest wine companies to go bananas about a 600-litre clay amphora? It’s tempting to label Glenn James as born-again. Seen the light. Is he repenting for a life spent churning out mass-market wine? Is he over-reacting to soul-destroying corporate life? All good ponderable questions.

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Bollinger Returns to 1846 Bottle

Conservative champagne Bollinger has always used the standard-shaped bottle for its wines, including prestige cuvees, RD and Vieilles Vignes Francaises. Other houses use a multitude of special bottle designs, some outlandish. Now Bollinger is doing a backflip: In future, its wines will come in a

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Sons and daughters

Dads copped a right hiding at Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) ”Unlocked” event in Sydney. The next generation hosted a tasting of supposedly modern wine styles immediately after a tasting hosted by the older generation with its more traditional wines. The message was clear: one generation – all men – were gradually handing over responsibility to their offspring – mostly daughters. And the daughters, plus a few sons, bagged their dads mercilessly as being control freaks who were only grudgingly letting the next generation inside the cellar.

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Very Adult Desserts

Adding a dash of wine to the dish you are going to eat with that wine isn’t new – think sherry and consommé. I’ve just returned from Santorini, Greece, where the pre-eminent vin santo producer, Argyros Estate, commissioned a German chocolatier to make a special

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Woodlands ‘Chloe’ Reserve Chardonnay and ‘Margaret’ Reserve Cabernet Merlot Malbec Verticals + Exclusive Pre-Release Offer

Woodlands are some of Margaret River’s finest wines, the reds made in a subtle, elegant style that’s all about balance and harmony without sacrificing cellarworthiness; chardonnay in a very complex, powerfully-fruited style that is unmistakably Margaret River. Last month I had a vertical tasting of Woodland’s ‘Chloe’

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A Real Whiz: Aerating with a Blender

From time to time, I am encouraged to improve my drinking experience by spinning wine bottles in an electric magnetiser, or other aerating gadgets. Usually they cost a lot and don’t appear to give any benefit. The American author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and

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Over 200 new tasting notes available

We’ve uploaded over 200 new tasting notes this month, available on both the website and iPhone App, with special focus on Chardonnay and Shiraz. Here are a couple of real highlights: 2010 Voyager Clone 95 Chardonnay – 97pts 2009 Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay – 97pts 2010 Giaconda Chardonnay – 96pts