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NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by TomHill » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:52 pm

When I saw the headline, my mind started to wander...Oz wines are soooo....yesterday. Reminds me of the WhackAMole game...you can't beat 'em down....the varmits keep popping their ugly heads up again.

Asimov:OzWines

But Asimov refutes the stereotypical image many of us have on Oz wines. Sure...the Rieslings and Semillons are good...nay...great..but the reds??? Eric actually finds a lot of them he likes that are graceful & balanced...the kind that appeal to the IPoB crowd, I presume. You have to give him credit for approaching the subject w/ an open mind. Nice article.
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Brian K Miller » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:27 pm

IPoB, Tom? :?:
...(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by TomHill » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:29 pm

Brian K Miller wrote:IPoB, Tom? :?:


Raj Parr's In Pursuit of Balance crowd. Recently had a tasting of Pinot/Chards in SanFrancisco in which WS HarveySteiman
panned many of the wines...thereby getting the IPoB crowd's dander up. Sorry for being so obtuse, Brian.
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by David Lole » Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:09 am

And from my Aussie perspective, the Asimov article just scratches the surface of what Australia has done exceedingly well for decades now - making resounding, ageworthy, world class reds. Robert Parker Jnr. had a terrible effect on what Aussie wine makers/exporters thought was "the mark" (ie huge wines = huge scores = huge dollars) way back when. Although the high alcohol, huge extraction, big oak, no future, dead-fruited "bruiser" wines continue to be made (hopefully, in ever-decreasing volume), and given that America's general perception of Australian red wine is still, seemingly, somewhat out of whack with reality (what is sold in America vis-a-vis the totality what is made in Oz), the movement to more elegant, lower alcohol, less oaked reds here has gained some momentum in the last few years. Our chardonnay has gone almost full circle in less than a decade. Hopefully our reds are on a similar path. With a glut of grapes and unsold wine all across Australia, the smart operaters here have twigged that sheer quality is perhaps one salvo to an impending crisis in the local wine industry. One only hopes that not too many go down the gurgler before word gets out on what great juice they have to offer, especially for the price.
Last edited by David Lole on Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Tim York » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:26 am

David Lole wrote:And from my Aussie perspective, the Asimov article just scratches the surface of what Australia has done exceedingly for decades now - making resounding, ageworthy, world class reds.


David, as you have an appreciation of European wines at least equal to that of most European wine-lovers as well as a far superior knowledge of Australian wines, I feel emboldened to ask a question which some might regard as provocative, namely-

What do Australian growers and terroirs contribute to mainly European grape varieties which should motivate me to seek out Australian versions when the European originals are so much easier to find?

I taste wines from estates like Frankland where I find high quality but where the product is not sufficiently distinctive from what is made here for me to make a special effort to stock up with them.

I concede that South Australian Shiraz is unique but then I don't actually very much like most warm climate Shiraz/Syrah. Oz 100% Sémillon is also fairly unique because it is usually blended over here and much Oz Riesling is reliably dry which is becoming rare here with "trocken" allowing up to 10g/l of RS. And I have had some excitingly unusual stickies.

One of the charms of wine tourism in Europe is the marriage of terroirs with local grape varieties, which give rise to a vast palette of flavours, provided that growers resist the temptation to smother them in oak, particularly prevalent in Spain. This is very difficult for the New World to rival.

From Azimov's article it looks as if an effort is being made in New York to import boutique wines to interest the US connoisseur but again will they be very distinctive compared with the US products?

Can you suggest what an European palate should be looking for from Australia to give an experience which is likely to be both acceptable and distinctive? Availability here is not great but is much better in London which I visit occasionally.
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Thanks...

by TomHill » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:00 am

David Lole wrote:And from my Aussie perspective, the Asimov article just scratches the surface of what Australia has done exceedingly for decades now - making resounding, ageworthy, world class reds. Robert Parker Jnr. had a terrible effect on what Aussie wine makers/exporters thought was "the mark" (ie huge wines = huge scores = huge dollars) way back when. Although the high alcohol, huge extraction, big oak, no future, dead-fruited "bruiser" wines continue to be made (hopefully, in ever-decreasing volume), and given that America's general perception of Australian red wine is still, seemingly, somewhat out of whack with reality (what is sold in America vis-a-vis the totality what is made in Oz), the movement to more elegant, lower alcohol, less oaked reds here has gained some momentum in the last few years. Our chardonnay has gone almost full circle in less than a decade. Hopefully our reds are on a similar path. With a glut of grapes and unsold wine all across Australia, the smart operaters here have twigged that sheer quality is perhaps one salvo to an impending crisis in the local wine industry. One only hopes that not too many go down the gurgler before word gets out on what great juice they have to offer, especially for the price.


Thanks for your perspective from DownUnder, Dave. You want us to send over RajParr to fire up your InPursuit of Balance
movement?? And then HarveySteiman to tear it to shreds??? :-)
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:32 pm

Some interesting observations from Tim and think article will create lots of comment on various forums.

David, Tim is gung-ho since the successful jewel hest at Brussels Airport and has some spare cash . :lol:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/world ... .html?_r=0
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by JC (NC) » Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:21 pm

Even the "big, but balanced" Aussie wines are hard to find in the USA market these days. James Irvine Grand Merlot is no longer imported to the USA and the same was true a year or two ago of Wynn's John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon. I'm not sure if the latter has changed. wine-searcher.com only shows John Riddoch from the 90's available through auction, no recent vintages on release.
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:26 pm

Tim York wrote:
David Lole wrote:And from my Aussie perspective, the Asimov article just scratches the surface of what Australia has done exceedingly for decades now - making resounding, ageworthy, world class reds.


David, as you have an appreciation of European wines at least equal to that of most European wine-lovers as well as a far superior knowledge of Australian wines, I feel emboldened to ask a question which some might regard as provocative, namely-

What do Australian growers and terroirs contribute to mainly European grape varieties which should motivate me to seek out Australian versions when the European originals are so much easier to find?

I taste wines from estates like Frankland where I find high quality but where the product is not sufficiently distinctive from what is made here for me to make a special effort to stock up with them.

I concede that South Australian Shiraz is unique but then I don't actually very much like most warm climate Shiraz/Syrah. Oz 100% Sémillon is also fairly unique because it is usually blended over here and much Oz Riesling is reliably dry which is becoming rare here with "trocken" allowing up to 10g/l of RS. And I have had some excitingly unusual stickies.

One of the charms of wine tourism in Europe is the marriage of terroirs with local grape varieties, which give rise to a vast palette of flavours, provided that growers resist the temptation to smother them in oak, particularly prevalent in Spain. This is very difficult for the New World to rival.

From Azimov's article it looks as if an effort is being made in New York to import boutique wines to interest the US connoisseur but again will they be very distinctive compared with the US products?

Can you suggest what an European palate should be looking for from Australia to give an experience which is likely to be both acceptable and distinctive? Availability here is not great but is much better in London which I visit occasionally.


Good question, David you out there?
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Jon Leifer » Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:44 pm

While the wines do sound attractive, I wd have to question whether it wd be worth making the effort to find them, either locally...lotsa luck on that..or online..Only name I recognized was Hewittson which is brought in by a major player, Wildman..No clue re the others..and there is an ocean of wine available these days. Perhaps Little Peacock will do well with this venture, maybe they will carve out a niche that works out for them..More power to them if it does..
No horse in this race, not much of a buyer these days, just having fun drinking down my cellar..
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Tim York » Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:25 am

Jon Leifer wrote:No horse in this race, not much of a buyer these days, just having fun drinking down my cellar..


That goes pretty much for me as well.

However, I retain my curiosity for new experiences and a small budget to attempt to find them. Recent personal discoveries include Bierzo and Valdeorras (from Mencia and Godello grapes), Marcillac, Gaillac from local grapes, Fronton, Aglianico del Vulture, Etna and Valais's Petite Arvine and Cornalin (CH).

I would love to learn what similar novel experiences Oz can supply, in addition to, say, Grosset Riesling, Hunter Valley Sémillon (which producers?) and Clonakilla, without breaking the bank in the same way as Grange and HOG do.
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by David Lole » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:17 am

Tim York wrote:
David Lole wrote:And from my Aussie perspective, the Asimov article just scratches the surface of what Australia has done exceedingly for decades now - making resounding, ageworthy, world class reds.


David, as you have an appreciation of European wines at least equal to that of most European wine-lovers as well as a far superior knowledge of Australian wines, I feel emboldened to ask a question which some might regard as provocative, namely-

What do Australian growers and terroirs contribute to mainly European grape varieties which should motivate me to seek out Australian versions when the European originals are so much easier to find?

I taste wines from estates like Frankland where I find high quality but where the product is not sufficiently distinctive from what is made here for me to make a special effort to stock up with them.

I concede that South Australian Shiraz is unique but then I don't actually very much like most warm climate Shiraz/Syrah. Oz 100% Sémillon is also fairly unique because it is usually blended over here and much Oz Riesling is reliably dry which is becoming rare here with "trocken" allowing up to 10g/l of RS. And I have had some excitingly unusual stickies.

One of the charms of wine tourism in Europe is the marriage of terroirs with local grape varieties, which give rise to a vast palette of flavours, provided that growers resist the temptation to smother them in oak, particularly prevalent in Spain. This is very difficult for the New World to rival.

From Azimov's article it looks as if an effort is being made in New York to import boutique wines to interest the US connoisseur but again will they be very distinctive compared with the US products?

Can you suggest what an European palate should be looking for from Australia to give an experience which is likely to be both acceptable and distinctive? Availability here is not great but is much better in London which I visit occasionally.


Tall order questions, Tim. I'll try and answer it as best I can (and to keep my mate, Alberta Bob happy) when I get back next week from more interstate jazz engagements I have at the moment.
Cheers,

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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Ben Rotter » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:30 am

Tim York wrote:What do Australian growers and terroirs contribute to mainly European grape varieties which should motivate me to seek out Australian versions when the European originals are so much easier to find?

I think this is a very good question to ask.

I would be interested in David's response. I provide the following thoughts...

The question of how Australian wines are differentiated from European wines is quite a different question to how Australian wines are differentiated from international wines IMO.
The clear distinction for me with respect to Europe is in regard to "fruit ripeness". Generally speaking, Australian wines present a riper aromatic/flavour profile, and often a fuller/heavier palate weight and different quality of tannins, than their European counterparts.

Distinction from wines on an international platform is more difficult.

There is a degree of distinctiveness for:
*Riesling from Clare Valley, Eden Valley, and Great Southern. Rieslings from those regions are (traditionally) a combination of being completely dry with a purity of lemon/lime aromas (often, and ideally) coupled with "mineral"/rock/talc/kerosene aromas. But the difference isn’t drastic relative to Rieslings from elsewhere in the world.
*I feel similarly about Cabernet Sauvignon. Given modern Bordeaux (and Cabernet Sauvignon from regions like Napa/Sonoma), I'm not sure that Australia's Cabernets are distinctive enough to warrant listing, though the traditional style of Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra may be an exception.
*Aussie Chardonnay has almost completely changed in style over the last five to ten years (it's leaner, less ripe, and less oaky - but it's still reasonably ripe and pretty oaky), but I don’t think it has significant distinctiveness internationally.
*I suppose Aussie Shiraz has a degree of distinctiveness in that, for example, the Barossans show such big ripe fruit (and oak), the Victorians show ripe fruit but with a somewhat more savoury edge, and the Hunter Valley examples show an earthiness (at least with age) along with more red fruit character and a relatively lighter palate. But I don’t see them as particularly unique in an international context.
*It’s worth making a case for Rutherglen Durif. It’s relatively similar to Californian Petite Sirah, but it possibly has enough distinctiveness (the non-fruit aromas are different, and the tannins/palate is typically more punchy) to be considered unique (and it is certainly different from European equivalents).

What does Australia do that absolutely isn’t done elsewhere in the world?

*The traditional Hunter Valley style of Semillon - lean-and-citrusy-when-young but toasty-honeyed-when-old
*Sparkling Shiraz – perhaps not the heights of vinous interest, but it’s fun and particularly enjoyable during a hot summer’s day/night
*Shiraz Cabernet – not seen much these days, but it’s a pretty unique blend
*I think Aussie stickies ("dessert"-sweet wines, often with Botrytis influence) are generally underappreciated. Semillon stickies receive praise (particularly De Bortoli's Noble One), but I actually think Australia's Riesling stickies are more impressive - try Mount Horrocks' Cordon Cut, for example
*Fortified wines. Rutherglen Muscats are reasonably well known (Stanton & Killeen, Campbells, Morris and Rutherglen Estates are perhaps amongst the most widely seen outside Australia). Wines like Seppelts’ Para Liqueur Port (a tawny style aged in a solera system, with blends going back 100+ years) have no comparison.
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:50 am

Ben, I find that a pretty interesting summary. I am quite a fan of Oz riesling, finding them quite dry when first tasting. However 6/10 yrs in the cellar can make a huge difference.
Mention was made elsewhere about Paringa Shiraz so I have just purchased a bottle to see if my impressions match. Stay tuned, I will post on the Shiraz thread.
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Tim York » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:07 pm

Ben Rotter wrote:
The question of how Australian wines are differentiated from European wines is quite a different question to how Australian wines are differentiated from international wines IMO.
The clear distinction for me with respect to Europe is in regard to "fruit ripeness". Generally speaking, Australian wines present a riper aromatic/flavour profile, and often a fuller/heavier palate weight and different quality of tannins, than their European counterparts.

Distinction from wines on an international platform is more difficult.


Ben, thank you for your interesting reply to my question. I fully agree that there tends to be a clear distinction between the European style and the "international", not just Australian, style. In Europe I typically find less ripe fruit and more minerality and a generally more savoury and less sweet flavour profile. However, some of the widely availably Oz brands seem to push the "international" style to almost caricatural lengths but I suspect that this is man made as directed by marketing departments rather than the result of terroir.

I was hoping to learn about artisan wineries who make purer wines in a much more terroir influenced style which would give something rather more savoury to suit my European palate as well as distinctive compared with what is made here. I accept that many would not be available here but it would what my appetite to make a trip Down Under if I could persuade my wife to put up with a 24 hour+ flight each way. (10 hours to California was already hard for her :( .)

There is a degree of distinctiveness for:
*Riesling from Clare Valley, Eden Valley, and Great Southern. Rieslings from those regions are (traditionally) a combination of being completely dry with a purity of lemon/lime aromas (often, and ideally) coupled with "mineral"/rock/talc/kerosene aromas. But the difference isn’t drastic relative to Rieslings from elsewhere in the world.
*I feel similarly about Cabernet Sauvignon. Given modern Bordeaux (and Cabernet Sauvignon from regions like Napa/Sonoma), I'm not sure that Australia's Cabernets are distinctive enough to warrant listing, though the traditional style of Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra may be an exception.
*Aussie Chardonnay has almost completely changed in style over the last five to ten years (it's leaner, less ripe, and less oaky - but it's still reasonably ripe and pretty oaky), but I don’t think it has significant distinctiveness internationally.
*I suppose Aussie Shiraz has a degree of distinctiveness in that, for example, the Barossans show such big ripe fruit (and oak), the Victorians show ripe fruit but with a somewhat more savoury edge, and the Hunter Valley examples show an earthiness (at least with age) along with more red fruit character and a relatively lighter palate. But I don’t see them as particularly unique in an international context.
*It’s worth making a case for Rutherglen Durif. It’s relatively similar to Californian Petite Sirah, but it possibly has enough distinctiveness (the non-fruit aromas are different, and the tannins/palate is typically more punchy) to be considered unique (and it is certainly different from European equivalents).


That conforms broadly with my prejudices and I add the following remarks.
- some Oz Riesling which I have had is very good and those from Grosset seem to have something a bit different which I would like to explore more, if the prices were less discouraging.
- you touch on a sore point there about Bordeaux, which IMO is often becoming distressingly "international" in its over-ripeness and loss of its distinctive "green" edge. I have had a well aged John Riddoch Cab from Wynns which was very different from any Bordeaux left-banker.

What does Australia do that absolutely isn’t done elsewhere in the world?

*The traditional Hunter Valley style of Semillon - lean-and-citrusy-when-young but toasty-honeyed-when-old
*Sparkling Shiraz – perhaps not the heights of vinous interest, but it’s fun and particularly enjoyable during a hot summer’s day/night
*Shiraz Cabernet – not seen much these days, but it’s a pretty unique blend
*I think Aussie stickies ("dessert"-sweet wines, often with Botrytis influence) are generally underappreciated. Semillon stickies receive praise (particularly De Bortoli's Noble One), but I actually think Australia's Riesling stickies are more impressive - try Mount Horrocks' Cordon Cut, for example
*Fortified wines. Rutherglen Muscats are reasonably well known (Stanton & Killeen, Campbells, Morris and Rutherglen Estates are perhaps amongst the most widely seen outside Australia). Wines like Seppelts’ Para Liqueur Port (a tawny style aged in a solera system, with blends going back 100+ years) have no comparison.


- I agree about Hunter Valley Sémillon.
- The Shiraz/Cabernet blend does also make a few excellent wines in Europe, the outstanding one, IMO, being from Domaine de Trévallon near Les Baux in Provence.
- I have had some Oz stickies and fortifieds which were excellent but have drawn a blank about their identity in a quick search through my past posts the archive.


I would love to get David's take as well on this matter. His posts in the Shiraz thread are stupefying in their erudition and very clear in their exposition of different estates' styles. This allows me to judge whether I would like the wines in the majority of cases where I haven't already tasted them.
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Tim York » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:38 am

I have located a TN from a 2009 tasting where I enthuse over an Australian sticky.

And the best for last –

Chambers Rosewood (Victoria) Rutherglen Muscat (€11 for 375ml), amber coloured, was a revelation of complex and deeply rich flavours and aromatics with Oxford marmalade, raisins and fine molasses; 17.5/20 QPR!!


As it turns out to have been a Muscat, I'll also post this on the "great" Muscat thread.
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Ben Rotter » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:16 am

Tim York wrote:I was hoping to learn about artisan wineries who make purer wines in a much more terroir influenced style which would give something rather more savoury to suit my European palate as well as distinctive compared with what is made here. I accept that many would not be available here


The last 5 to 10 years have seen increasing numbers of boutique wineries in Australia, including many that are taking less common approaches (by Aussie standards) - like unusual blends, use of whole bunch, wild fermentations, etc. They tend to focus on what they'd call a "terroir" orientated approach. (I would recommend Luke Lambert, whose wines do get to the UK even if not necessarily Belgium, for starters.)

Tim York wrote: some Oz Riesling which I have had is very good and those from Grosset seem to have something a bit different which I would like to explore more, if the prices were less discouraging.


Then you may find Petaluma (Hanlin Hill), Pewsey Vale (Contours) and Mount Horrocks of interest (if you don't know them already).

Tim York wrote: you touch on a sore point there about Bordeaux, which IMO is often becoming distressingly "international" in its over-ripeness and loss of its distinctive "green" edge. I have had a well aged John Riddoch Cab from Wynns which was very different from any Bordeaux left-banker.


I agree re Bordeaux, which was really my point (there's perhaps now less differentiation than there used to be). Coonwarra Cab Sauv can offer (aside from its ripe fruit) green edges, significant non-fruit notes and substantial tannic structure.

I would love to get David's take as well on this matter. His posts in the Shiraz thread are stupefying in their erudition and very clear in their exposition of different estates' styles. This allows me to judge whether I would like the wines in the majority of cases where I haven't already tasted them.


I would also be interested in David's thoughts. The summary written by Andrew Caillard, which David provided in the Shiraz thread, is surely useful. Though I would caution that IMO some of those producers do not tend to make particularly savoury style wines (they're not caricatures, but many have a fair heap of sweet fruit and oak), so they may not all be what you are looking for. David's list offers many producers to seek out, but one definitively savoury-style producer that immediately comes to mind (that isn't in David's list) is Sutton Grange/Fairbank (for their "Syrah").
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by ChaimShraga » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:50 pm

David and Ben have more experience than me, but I'd like to present one point few people seem to note: Australia is not just a country, it's a fucking continent! I don't think even Parker had the power to dampen the variety a continent can provide.
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by Jenise » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:09 pm

ChaimShraga wrote:David and Ben have more experience than me, but I'd like to present one point few people seem to note: Australia is not just a country, it's a fucking continent! I don't think even Parker had the power to dampen the variety a continent can provide.


But dampen no, but influence? Clearly yes. For example, is there any doubt that without Parker and the U.S. market, Mollydooker would not exist?
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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Oz Wines

by David Lole » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:25 am

I have been agonisingly slow to respond to Tim's question .... but Ben has provided an excellent general summation of the styles and trends in Australia. I have such little involvement with producers these days I was fearful of not being able to supply much useful information. However, I will talk to some of my contacts ITB and come back with some recommendations in due course. Again, apologies for my slackness in getting back to you, Tim.
Cheers,

David

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