Winemakers call it The Pox. It is the dreaded social disease of wine. It is shared around unwittingly – passed by those who usually don’t know they’ve got it, to those who are unaware they’re running a risk of contracting it. If a winemaker buys or borrows someone else’s used barrels, they may find their wine is infected – usually too late to do anything about it.
In the pantheon of iconic Australian wines Grant Burge’s Meshach is a bit of a puzzle. It was first made in 1988 and released in the early ’90s at a similar time as a wave of new, reserve-style reds from the Barossa region. That wave included St Hallett Old Block, Peter Lehmann Stonewell, Barossa Valley Estates E & E, Rockford Basket Press, Yalumba Octavius and Elderton Command. All were made from shiraz, mostly grown on the very old vines for which the Barossa is famous, and all are notable for the way they’ve built and maintained fame and following.
Happy birthday, ‘Chateau’ Tahbilk – 150 years old this year. It’s quite something in this young country…150 years is a long time in a land that’s only seen white men making wine for around 220 years. It’s been known as Chateau Tahbilk most of that time, but Tahbilk is the name it prefers to go by now, on account of the French connotations of the word chateau. It’s been owned by the Purbrick family for 85 of those years. Today, the fourth generation of the family is in charge, in the person of Alister. His father John, brother Mark and sister Debbie George are also on the board of directors. And young daughter Hayley has recently begun working for Tahbilk. In this era, family equals good. While corporate has a bad press in the wine business, family is equated with positive things such as stability, continuity, consistency of wine style and philosophy.
The tragedy of Australia’s wine sector is that it has always been in reality two wine sectors: big and small, the big having the interests of the large winemaking companies at heart, the small having their own, very different interests. The big are the minority but they have the voting power on the industry bodies, such as the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA), which levies a fee on winemakers according to their size and gives them proportionate power.
If ever there were wines for one season it would be Rosé and Gewürztraminer. Neither are mainstream wines but each has a following of passionate devotees, particularly during the summer season when they come into their own. Here’s the really good news. New Zealand makes top examples of both styles, there are plenty of good wines to choose from and the average price is lower than Chardonnay or Pinot Gris. Rosé and Gewürztraminer also seem to match most of the popular summer dishes such as seafood and salads.
Sea, sun and Syrah are three good reasons to join the Hawke’s Bay wine trail. You can enjoy all three at some of the country’s best vineyard restaurants. If you need more convincing to grab your corkscrew and credit card try history, hospitality and a head-turning range of wine styles that’s more extensive than you’ll find in any other local wine region.
Which is the largest sized bottle:
And now for something completely different … No, it’s not a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris but an ancient Bordeaux grape variety that made its debut in this country a year ago. It’s a dry wine with subtle pear, currant bud and citrus flavours. Certainly worth a try.
I’m often asked how long you can keep an opened bottle of wine before it goes off. The answer depends on many factors including the level of wine in the bottle (more is better), storage temperature (cooler is better), wine type (robust reds last longer than delicate white wines) and whether you like your wine young, fresh and fruity or soft, mellow and not so fruity.
Make the earth move a little…
1. Prepare a generous portion of Martin Bosley’s Raspberry Semi Freddo according to his recipe
2. Chill either of my wine selections and a crystal white wine glass to fridge temperature
3. Wait for a balmy summer’s day and take the wine and Raspberry dish into the garden where you should sit under a tree with dappled sunlight around you. It’s best to do this alone.
4. Taste the Semi Freddo. Sip the wine. You may hear a Celestial choir singing the Hallelujah chorus.