Andrew Corrigan's Blog

<p>Just travelled through England, Scotland and Ireland. Aussie wines are around but unless a specialised wine merchant, the range is really basic. Often the brand is a generic such as Koala Ridge Shiraz etc. There are more wines from Chile, South Africa and Spain than Australia in common pubs and restaurants. The only NZ wine seen commonly was Savvy Blanc and occasionally Marlborough Pinot Noir.</p>

The well known Italian varieties Sangiovese and Nebbiolo are grown and produced well in other countries than Italy. A recent trend is the interest in less well known Italian varieties. Australia has a craze for Barbera, Montepulciano, Vermentino, Fiano and others. Just check out a wine list in a trendy Melbourne bistro!

I said it last year – but its worth saying again. The results of the Cairns Show Wine Awards are wonderful as a guide to value wine buying. Largely this is the result of the food matching classes under which wines are judged but also the requirement for wines entered to be currently available for sale. As well as large Australian producers there is a range of very small producers from a diverse range of locations. It was notable how well the new Woolworth’s brand Pinnacle performed as well as De Bortoli, Orlando/Jacobs Creek, McWilliams, Tyrrells, McGuigan and Blue Pyrenees alongside small specialised producers such as Shaw Vineyard (Murrumbatemen/Canberra), Home Hill (Tasmania), Tenafeate Creek (Barossa Valley), Coolangatta Estate (Shoalhaven/Nowra) Lucas Estate (Granite Belt), Lerida Estate (Lake George), Palmer Wines (Margaret River) and Rutherglen Estate (Rutherglen).

Australians are keen on Champagne and famous houses are readily available – Moet&Chandon $55 (soft, a little sweet), Pol Roger $72 (citrus lemon chalky texture), Veuve Clicquot, $55 (honey creamy), Mumm Cordon Rouge, $40 (fresh floral aromas), Roederer $57 (flowers and red berry aromas, dry, full bodied), Bollinger $57 (distinctive sweet salad dressing/aldehyde aroma and very creamy rich taste), Taittinger $57 (rich floral and chalk aroma), Billecart-Salmon $80 (combination of tart freshness and fuller bodied complexity) and many more. The Houses usually also issue a vintage wine with prices around $90 - $120, and a prestige wine with prices around $180 - $280. There are also good examples at lower prices from lesser known producers, often the lesser priced wine being produced by a Grower. Although the growers supply the Houses, they can also release wine with their own label. The wines are cheaper than the Houses but not as refined in taste. Examples include Larmandier-Bernier ($75), Charpentier ($55) and Launois ($60).

A Sommelier is the French term for a specialised wine waiter. They exist in Australia and mostly they are pretty good - they really do want to see a customer enjoy a wine. They can be overly enthusiastic. Plenty of customers are scared of them because they fear that their intermittent wine knowledge will be exposed. It is a blokey thing and women are not so easily worried. Sommeliers call themselves "somms" for short. They can be too readily influenced by trends. They usually hunt in a pack, going together to the same trade tastings and coming away with the same conclusion that (a) French wines are passe, go to Greece; or (b) French wines are the best but you need a small owner operated biodynamic producer.

Top 5 (Affordable) Sparkling Wines – my recommendations for 2013

  1. Brown Brothers Pinot Noir Chardonnay ($20) – terrific value; dry yet creamy satisfying flavour
  2. Chandon Vintage Brut 2009 ($36) – a dry fresh but lingering taste, great before a meal
  3. Hardy Sir James Vintage ($23) – a richer style; creamy but dry
  4. Yarra Bank Cuvee ($38) – soft but dry elegant style
  5. Jansz Premium Cuvee ($21) – fresh berry fruit aroma and fresh dry taste

 Top Whites (Affordable) for Summer – my recommendations for the holiday season 2012/2013