THE YEAR THAT WAS: Wow, what a year it has been! Vintage 2015 has been lauded all over the country, and many people are also saying that it is the best Riesling vintage in the last few decades. For me it has been an awesome year trying new and exciting wines. Over the course of 2015 I tried around 2,000 wines, made from all sorts of different grape varieties, from countries scattered across the planet.
Apart from the usual European suspect countries, I tried wines from Austria, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Crimea, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia (Bali) Argentina, Chile, Brazil, USA, Canada and Mexico.
Some of these wines were rather ordinary, but most were good and a few were sensational. It shows that almost every wine growing country produces a few exceptional world-class wines, a number of good wines and a raft of 'commercial' wines.
This fine wine ratio is true not only of the 'Old World', where for example, in France a minute proportion of the wine produced are world-class, but also in new wine world countries. Yes the 1st Growth Bordeaux wines are stunning but for every case they make, there are probably 100,000 cases (my guess) of vin ordinaire being made, the cheapest of which should be, in my opinion, sold with an accompanying stomach pump.
The same applies to most countries in the 'New World' where there are seas (or is it lakes?) of vin ordinaire being sold. Try drinking cheap Argentine wine for an interesting experience.
I think that this is also the case in emerging countries, which I guess we should probably call the 'New-New World Wines'. I have tasted some awesome wines from Brazil, Mexico, Thailand and Japan but I am sure that much of the wine that is made in these emerging countries is definitely vin ordinaire.
Having said that, I do believe that Australia, along with possibly New Zealand, Austria, Chile and USA (California) are the countries that have the highest 'common denominator' in wine, in that their least, or poorest wines are drinkable and some can even be pretty good. That is if you were armed with say USD10-15 to buy a bottle of wine from any country in the world, those I just mentioned above, would provide you with the best (most drinkable) wine at that price point, whereas with most other countries you would have to spend more (in some cases much more) in order to get a wine of a comparable level of quality. To illustrate my point, many years ago when I was in Singapore with a colleague we conducted a wine education course for the 50-60 bottleshop managers from a supermarket chain. To prove this very point we went to one of their bottleshops and bought wines from USA, Italy, France and Chile with the same shelf price (or higher) than each of the Australian wines we were presenting. The result was that for four out of the five varieties in the test, all bar one elderly Francophile manager, preferred the Australian wine. The only exception being Merlot where the Chilean wine was preferred to the Aussie. That’s a pretty awesome “batting average”.
So in order to stay ahead of the 'pack' in delivering, or over delivering value on the global wine market, Australia needs to be constantly enhancing and improving its wines.
One of the great ways that Australia keeps innovating is by trialling ‘alternative' grape varieties rather than like most of the rest of the winemaking world, who stick to the ‘classical’ mainstream varieties. Some of these new Aussie wines are really exciting. Therefore I urge you to seek out new tasting experiences by both trying wines from different parts of the world, especially the 'New-New World' wines and by trying Aussie wines made from varieties that you have either not tasted or heard of before. Why not try varieties like - Mencia (Spain’s hidden treasure), Carmenere, Rkatsiteli, Saperavi, Albarino (the real one) Lagrein (Oh yum!) Verdejo, Fiano and so on. Sure, you may not like/enjoy all of them, but out of all the ones that there are, I am sure that you will find a new favourite variety.
As this is my last Blog for the year, I hope you and your family enjoy the festive season and wishing you all the best on your wine adventure in 2016.
By the way these were My Favourite 20 Wines Tasted In 2015:
#1 Warrabilla Limited Release Parola’s Durif 2009 (Rutherglen)
From here on in, they are not listed in any specific order:
: Lark Hill Biodynamic Grüner Veltliner 2015 (Adelaide Hills)
: Taylors Estate Shiraz 2014 (Clare Valley)
: Stony Ridge Larose Waiheke Is Cabernets 1995 (New Zealand)
: Champagne Monsigny N/V (France) – from ALDI
: Hahndorf Hill Gruner Veltliner 2015 (Adelaide Hills)
: GranMonte Durif 2014 (Thailand)
: Morris Wines Shiraz 1970 (Rutherglen)
: Domaine Asmara Reserve Shiraz 2013 (Heathcote)
: Artwine Grumpy Old Man Grenache 2014 (Clare Valley)
: Chateau Mercian No Awa N/V Sparkling Koshu (Japan)
: Dell’ Uva Petit Syrah 2012 (Barossa Valley)
: Mollydooker the Violinist 2013 Verdelho (McLaren Vale)
: Orlando St Hugo Cabernet 1990 (Coonawarra)
: Tbilvino Rkatsiteli 2013 (Georgia)
: Warrumbungle Cease & Desist Val Cuna 2008 Chambourcin/Shiraz
: Patritti Wines Saperavi 2011 (Barossa)
: L.A. Cetto Nebbiolo 2010 (Mexico)
: Bream Creek Chardonnay 2014 (Tasmania)
: Penfolds Para Port 1939 - amazing!