There's been a lot of commentary this week in Australia on the merits or otherwise of wine lists in high-end Australian restaurants. Leading Australian wine writer Huon Hooke reported that "something has gone very wrong with Australia's top restaurant wine lists. The rare and trendy dominate, with far too few Australian offerings". Rather firm words. Andrew Graham in a good piece over at the Australian Wine Review fairly asks whether wine lists need to be local or just good, and rightly, I think, laments the apparent quality of the next layer down in restaurant wine lists. Many of the same coals were raked over in Steve Heimoff's article last week in the Californian context. Even Jamie Goode in the UK chimed in, although more about the trendy bit, than the local bit, as the latter is I expect a rather less pressing issue in English latitudes. Or at least perhaps beyond the sparkling page, where for the record, I am very impressed with the high quality of English sparkling.
My view? I enjoy Australian wine at all levels, from most regions and have written about it for a while now. There's a lot to explore. I enjoy reading wine lists too, and seeing what's new and interesting, both locally and overseas. My experience is that sommeliers care very much about their wine programmes at high end restaurants and will certainly have reasons for offering almost every wine on the list. Well, most certainly the good ones will. Selection will be a delicate balance between supply, demand, food matching, regions (including Australian regions), interest, look and feel, profitability, turnover, chef and proprietor input. I am sure sommeliers can contribute further. I suspect wines won't be on the list just to look pretty or revel in obscurity for its own sake. Unless of course that's actually the intention, in which case, well, good on them - that's what the restaurant wants to try out. In fact, after reading Huon's note, I wrote down a list of a couple of the producers, both Australian and foreign, that I hadn't yet come across with a view to searching out their wines. So, perhaps for a rather different reason, I am pleased he wrote it.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Beaujolais serves much the same function at home as the wines of Chinon. When it's good it is a refreshing and moreish wine that suits lunch and the warmer months. This particular Beaujolais is a good one. Its aromatics remind of crisp strawberries and raspberries. The palate is also crisp, but not too crisp, with moreish and savoury fruited strawberry and raspberry to the fore. Ready to drink now, this is an enjoyable wine.
Rating: Good, Abv: 12.5%, Price: $29, Source: sample, Vendors: http://www.cesoirwine.com/, Website: n/a, Tasted: 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
This chardonnay from Ross Hill has seen some lees work, which will appeal to those who enjoy its quite peculiar aromatics. Cheese, yoghurt, restrained lemon and yellow grape fruit and, of course, lees came to mind on the nose. The palate gives an unexpected broad impression, with notes of yellow peach and tangy yellow grapefruit but has some good length. With time in the glass, I wondered whether this wine was entirely dry and had a dash of residual sugar running over the mid palate. Perhaps I am wrong. Either way, I felt this wine didn't quite come together to achieve a balance with first impressions stronger than last ones.
Rating: Acceptable, Abv: 12.7%, Price: $20, Source: sample, Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com/, Website: http://www.rosshillwines.com.au, Tasted: 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
This is yet another excellent import from Ce Soir Wines. A blend of tempranillo (80%), graciano (10%) and mazuelo (10%) from Bodegas Latente in Rioja, it has complex aromatics that remind of plum jam, blackberry, old leather, anise and game meats. The palate is in balance, with savoury flavours reminding of old leather, plum, game meats and chocolate too with time in the glass. Ready to drink now, its long length and complexity lead to a wine whose quality well surpasses its modest price point and I highly recommend it.
Rating: Very Good, Abv: 13%, Price: $20s, Source: sample, Vendors: http://www.cesoirwine.com/, Website: http://www.bodegaslatente.com, Tasted: 2014
Here's a wine review from the 2014 vintage. How quickly time passes is a source of mild alarm on my part. It is not always apparent that the journey of life is in fact a journey. This Hunter Valley semillon release has aromatics that remind of grass and herbs and is almost sauvignon blanc like. The palate is dry, with a light petillance and flavours reminding of lemon and grass. The body is towards light, and there's a medium length finish. Very high acidity frames this wine, and it needs something oily to cut through to achieve balance in its raw youth.
Rating: Good, Price: $30, Abv: 10.5%, Source: sample, Vendors: www.wine-searcher.com, Website: http://www.oakvalewines.com.au, Tasted: 2014
Labels: Hunter Valley