Thursday, June 23, 2005

Aussie Wines Online Launches International Australian Wine Home Delivery Service
The following is a PRWEB Press Release.
Offering a ‘delivered to your door’ service around the world, a small Australian wine exporter has not only made great tasting Boutique Australian wines available online but offers delivery direct to the customer’s door. And business is booming.

Sydney, Australia (PRWEB) June 22, 2005 -- Aussie Wines Online, a small Australian wine exporter in Sydney, has now made accessible online to wine drinkers outside Australia, the lesser known yet excellent quality Australian wines from independent and boutique Australian Wineries. And made it easy and convenient by delivering direct to the customer’s door, around the world.

“Australian boutique Wineries produce some terrific wines and they are Australia’s best kept secret” says Wayne Moore, Director and founder of Aussie Wines Online. “These wines are lovingly produced by independent winery owners who take great pride in their product. Each wine shows individual characteristics of the soil and growing region, giving more taste and variety than bulk wines”.

Australian wines are becoming increasingly popular but as there are hundreds of Wineries with growing regions scattered across Australia, the choice can be overwhelming and confusing. This company has eliminated the guess work and presents a select range of recommended boutique Australian red and white wines to order online, in popular varieties and blends. The customer also has the option to mix a case to their own taste from the available wines. The wine selection changes regularly to give plenty of variety and the export prices are affordable as quality boutique wines offer exceptional value.

The website has a distinct Aussie flavor including the company’s appealing ‘blue roo’ Aussie kangaroo logo with its unique wine delivery method. The site is easy to use and shows a clear picture and description of each wine with more detailed information including growing region and serving suggestions if desired. It’s also informative with additional tips for storing and serving wine plus some basic ‘wine speak’ information for the novice or those who always wanted to know more but were too embarrassed to ask.

Boutique Aussie wines - real flavor, real wine by real people. Visit and get the Taste of Australia delivered to your door. It’s that easy.

For additional information, jpgs and promotional material, contact Ms Lindsay Lewis, Marketing Director, Aussie Wines Online. Phone Australia +612 9460 8050

Background information: Aussie Wines Online Pty Ltd ( is an independent Australian wine exporter supplying trade and private customers outside Australia and specializes in wines from independent and boutique Australian wineries. website was launched April, 2005.

It all sounds very impressive until you go to the website and find that currently there are only seven wines for sale.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

There's a syrah for every wine drinker
This is what Roger Rutan has written for The Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon, USA. As much as I love Shiraz/Syrah I doubt that it suits all palates. More to the point I very seriously doubt that the wines listed by Rutan will satisy "every wine drinker". I may be getting a little ahead of myself because I have not had the pleasure of tasting the wines mentioned in the piece by Rutan but that is simply because my local wine shop simply does not carry any of them! Rather poor selection on the part of the wine shop you might say, especially when Rutan gives six examples of "premium quality syrah wines". I guess it all dependes on your definition of premium quality. Shiraz/Syrah/Petite Sirah in the range of $15 to $21USD per bottle is not really touching the price range of premium. Double it and you might be getting a bit closer to reality.

But if you are limited to paying below $20USD for a bottle of Shiraz/Syrah then you might like to look to Australia for St Hallett Faith from the Barossa Valley, Kangarilla Road from McLaren Vale, RockBare from McLaren Vale, Jim Barry Lodge Hill from Clare Valley, or the Green Point Shiraz from Victoria.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Wine and Sex
If any clever wine makers have read this little piece of information they are probably already thinking of making wines that have the aroma of grapefruit. And I’m sure there will be hoards of wine loving women who will buy the wines. I’m not sure if drinking such wines has the same effect as having grapefruit smeared on your body, but then who said you have to drink it!

One the other side of the coin I’m not too sure if there will be very many who will be making wines that smell of lavender and pumpkin pie, or doughnut and black licorice. But there are plenty of wines that already smell of licorice. I wonder if that is why……..

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sparkling Shiraz
Question of the Day on my Wine Lovers Calendar is When was the first sparkling shiraz made in Australia? Answer. 1890! Wonder what it was, and if there is any left?

Additional information provided is that it is an Australian specialty, some 70 wineries make a sparkler and that Peter Rumball winery makes only Sparkling Shiraz.

All interesting stuff. BUT if you go to Peter Rumball's web site he has some history of sparkling shiraz. A rose style was made in 1881 called Sparkling Burgundy by the Victorian Champage Company. But Rumball's site directs you to The Wilson Vineyard at Polish Hill and this Classic Clipping where you can find. There can be little doubt that Edmond Mazure deserves the honour of being the creator of the Australian sparkling burgundy style. One other acknowledgment is due, and that is to Ernest Whittington of the Adelaide Observer.

From Whittingtons 1898 report: This year he (Mazure) intends making about 50,000 gallons of principally the celebrated St. Henri claret. He is also hopeful of turning out about 2,000 dozen of his famous sparkling Burgundy. Last year Auldana produced 1,500 dozen of this brand... .. A feature of the new cellars connected with the vineyard is a tunnel which is driven under the Magill Hill to a distance of 50 feet and in which the temperature has never been known to exceed 600. This cool retreat is utilized for storing "Sparkling Burgundy" and other wines in course of maturing.

Most references to Auldana quote 1895 as the year that sparkling wine production commenced at Auldana, although that date more correctly would apply to the extension works of the cellars. But clearly, Mazure was making sparkling wine before 1895. To have the Sparkling Cup available in mid 1894, would suggest that the wine was put down in 1893. Given that the facilities for sparkling wine production were in place then, and the above hint that Sparkling Burgundy needed some maturation, we can reasonably assume that the wine that Whittington tasted in 1895, was put down in '93.

The critical question arises as to whether Mazure's early wines more closely approximated the lighter bodied French wines, or whether the now-familiar "Keatsian" shiraz-based style was produced right from the onset.

On the evidence available it would appear that the wines were big from the start. At Auldana, Mazure worked with a young Hurtle Walker. Hurtle's son Norm later joined his father making sparkling wines at the Romalo Cellars. Norm Walket is still involved in the wine industry, and is in no doubt that the style of sparkling burgundy produced at Romalo was always "big and gutsy". "Most of the base wine for those sparkling burgundies was shiraz that came from A. P. Birks in Clare, and their wines were always big, so big that sometimes they had to be broken down first."

Fascinating stuff! Sparkling Burgundy is one thing, but 1898 Auldana Cellars St Henri Claret. Now that's a wine I'd like to try!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Celebrating 125 Years of Research, Education and Outreach
Viticulture and Enology Program, UC Davis125th Anniversary Celebration 1880-2005
In 2005, the Department of Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the creation of its mission by the state of California. This event will be commemorated with a daylong program on June 28.

The morning session will begin with a lively multimedia presentation of the history of the Department of Viticulture and Enology and the California wine industry. The second session will cover the innovative vineyard and winemaking practices pioneered in California with a preview of future advances in the industry. The final session of the morning will discuss historical wine making recipes and include a tasting of wine styles of the last century.

The lunch will feature wines of our recent graduates and scholarship recipients, and will honor the investment in their careers made by our generous scholarship donors.

The afternoon sessions will celebrate the consumer. The first panel composed of renowned wine journalists and retailers will discuss the consumer's concept of California's style. This will be followed by a panel discussion by leading California winemakers on how they craft wines for today's marketplace. The final event of the program will cover the facts and myths of food and wine pairing and will highlight some of the latest results obtained by Professor Heymann on this timely topic. The day will end with a grand tasting of wines crafted by our alumni who are among the world's top winemakers. A gala dinner will cap off the evening.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Another Day at The Wine Shop
Dropped into my favorite wine shop today for their Chardonnay Tasting. I guess Chardonnay is not as popular as it used to be. I’m an hour late for the kick-off but I’m still the first one there. Unexpected, because there has been an older, bearded, guy at the last couple of tastings who has professed a distinct preference for this varietal. He turns up about twenty minutes later with his usual bag of cheeses and crackers. He’s late because he had to watch his great grandson play baseball. Some things are more important than tasting wine!

By the time he arrives I’m already well into the Chardonnays. A group of six that I taste double blind. An interesting and diverse line up that shows once again that unwooded Aussie chardonnay performs very well while stuff from across the Atlantic just does not come up to par. OK, Michael cut these foreigners some slack. So while the conversation turns to fish restaurants, and which of the four Sideways characters would you want to spend time with, I turn my attention to some of the better quality whites and reds from the Winebar list. I only select a couple of the whites, but I have to admit that the 2001 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Clos des Papes, Paul Avril is pretty good. It is almost as unusual as the 2003 Rosak Chardonnay from the Santa Rita Hills of California. Among the reds I pick out three. One is the only Aussie on the list, another is a Carlisle Zinfandel that I have heard a bit about and the third is the Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan. Whoa, $8.35 a taste! I could have bought a bottle of cheap Shiraz for that. This stuff better be good.

Maybe it was the eight tastes of white wine, or trying to decide whether I’d want to spend time with Miles or Maya (like that is a difficult choice), but by the time I get to the to reds I’ve forgotten the order they were poured. Now I could just look at the list. Its only a matter of turning over the page that I’m writing my tasting notes on. But how hard can this be? Barossa Valley, Sonoma County and Bordeaux. Hell, let’s make it really simple. Australia, USA and France.

Eyes, nose and tongue primed. Let’s go. The first wine is extremely nice. Delicate and yet very complex. Very soft and supple on the palate with tannins picking up toward the finish. Well structured, great potential. The second wine is even better. Very open with cloves and currents. On the palate it has a lot of acidity and huge tannins, and the flavors caress the palate in a lingering afterglow. I’m definitely buying this! The third wine gives an immediate alcohol hit. Initially closed it grudgingly gives up aromas of earth and caramel. The palate is a battle between frighteningly victorious acidity and defeated tannins. I believe the description in some wine circles is austere. Right! Well I’m steering right away from this. If you want to spend time with the wine it does seem to soften, but I’m ready to spend time with Maya. However first I have to flip this piece of paper.

Wine 1 is 2002 Betts and Scholl, Grenache, Barossa Valley $29.99USD 14.9% alcohol
Wine 2 is 2003 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County $23.99USD 15.8% alcohol
Wine 3 is 2002 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan $69.99USD

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Whales, Japanese Scientists, and Shiraz
I have always been troubled that Japanese scientists must kill whales in order to study them. Its not the sort of research practice that is employed by most other countries. But who cares about the dwindling numbers of whales, the Japanese increase their blood thirsty activities every chance they get, all in the interest of science of course. Its been difficult to see how the SHIRAZ Blog can address this problem in a wine related way and then along comes Emma Tom of The Courier-Mail with a rather interesting suggestion.

“The modest proposal is that knowledge-hungry Australian scientists would be able to hunt and kill several hundred Japanese whale scientists per year to obtain important information such as how old they are, where they live and how their loins taste when marinated, barbecued and served with a feisty shiraz.”

What I like about this idea is the use of Shiraz as the wine of choice. Appropriately big, bold and the color of blood. And it has to be Shiraz, not Syrah, because it is Australia that is taking the argument to the Japanese; the killing of Minke whales occurs in the Antarctic Ocean.

What Aussie Shiraz would you suggest be served with marinated and barbecued loin of Japanese whale researcher?

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Wines of Espana
It took a while but I finally have put up notes for the April 21st Third Thursday Tasting for 2005 at Vintage Wines of San Diego. This one features some Spanish reds and was written up as: One of the hottest wine regions right now not only for great values, but also for some outstanding and highly rated wines. Come try 8 from the 2001 and 2002 Vintages. Check out my tasting notes here.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Yellow Tail Shiraz versus Coca-Cola
Somewhere out there in cyberspace and the printed media there is a growing belief that the American wine palate is orientated toward sweetness because of the consumption of non-alcoholic carbonated beverages. I’m not sure where this all started but even the noted wine critic Robert Parker has said in an interview for FRANCE Magazine “For Americans, weaned on sweet cola beverages, tannin is practically an alien component on the palate.” Those who support this argument cite the increasing popularity of New World wines dominated by flavors of sweet vanilla oak from places like Australia. Its no secret that a number of Australian-made wines that fit this mold are sold almost exclusively in the USA; although its equally true that many Aussie wines stay at home.

In a recent article this relationship between being “weaned on sweet cola beverages” and the popularity of New World wines was taken a step further by Dara Moskowitz who suggested that one of the most popular Aussie exports, Yellow Tail Shiraz, has, to her palate, a lot in common with Coca-Cola. Now while I have never actually tasted Yellow Tail I am a big fan of Aussie Shiraz. My palate says these wines have very little in common with Coca-Cola. But that’s my Aussie palate. What about an American palate? Let’s see if my American wife, Miranda, knows the difference.

Yesterday I had Miranda leave out a glass of Classic Coca-Cola so it would warm and go flat. When I got home I opened a bottle of 2004 Yellow Tail Shiraz and poured it and the cola into black tasting glasses so that the color of the liquid in the glass was hidden from view. When Miranda got home I asked her to smell each and tell me what they were. It took her, oh about 3 seconds, to identify the first glass as having alcohol and an equal amount of time to identify the other glass as containing cola. Of course actually tasting from the glasses identifies the contents even more quickly.

What might be confusing Dara Moskowitz’s palate? Well my tasting note for the Yellow Tail might help.

Yellow Tail Shiraz 2004: Dense cherry red with red edge. Very open with pronounced sweet vanilla oak. Quite simple but appealing. Medium weight with soft tannins but little holding the wine together. A definite acidic bite upon entry with some sweetness to the finish. Initially unpleasant to drink but your palate does get used to it. 2, 2, 3.5, 8.5 = 16.0/20, 80/100.

The aromatics are very pronounced sweet vanilla oak. I guess at a (really big) stretch that might be confused with Coca-Cola. But my conclusion is simply that Aussie Shiraz might not be Pomerol but it ain't Coca-Cola either!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
I have put up some tasting notes for Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand on my Tasting Notes Blog. Check it out! You might just find one or two good value wines for a summers' day!