Several pieces of conventional wisdom dashed while tasting Australian Shiraz and California Syrah: Aussie Shiraz is not necessarily the monster in the room. Brettanomyces does not kill a wine for everyone, even for excellent tasters. And even a steak likes a more balanced wine.
Conventional wisdom says Australian wine is moribund in the U.S. market. I keep hearing from retailers who say so. If Australia is dead in the water, who can explain imports of 14.4 million cases, the largest half-year volume of any country? That’s up nearly 50 percent over 2008. Someone has to be buying the wines. Even a below-average second half puts Australia on pace to send a record volume to the U.S. this year.
In 1991 I visited Julia Child in her famous kitchen in Cambridge, Mass., and she made asparagus, lobster, lamb and pears for a menu featured in a Wine Spectator story.
Former Domaine Serene winemaker Tony Rynders is consulting on Swiftwater Cellars, a new winery on the 6,400-acre Suncadia Resort 80 miles east of Washington. This might be the only American winery, and certainly the only one in Washington, in a resort. It is is in Cle Elum, near Roslyn, in the Cascade Range nowhere near any grapevines. That hasn’t fazed dozens of wineries in the Seattle area. Some of Washington’s best wines are made there from grapes grown even farther away. Swiftwater's will be coming from owner Don Watts' Zephyr Ridge Vineyard in Washington's Horse Heaven Hills, plus sources in Walla Walla and Willamette Valley.
Julia Child cooked at my house in San Francisco for a series I wrote when I was food and wine editor of the San Francisco Examiner in the late 1970s and early 1980s. For "Chef on a Budget," I invited well-known cooks and food personalities to devise a company dinner for four using only $20 in ingredients. When we sat down to eat, she could not have been more gracious or friendly. Several times she emphasized how much fun she was having.
The news that American Bill Foley and his Foley Family Wines have agreed to buy a tidy little group of New Zealand wineries could be a positive development. The wines and consumers could benefit significantly. Generally, Foley looks for wine companies that are doing well but, in his view, can do better with an infusion of cash and can benefit from synergy with the rest of his wineries. That describes New Zealand Wine Trust Ltd., the company he agreed last week to buy.
Seppeltsfield, once one of the true icons of Australian wine, had fallen under the radar when the Barossa Valley winery with such extraordinary stocks of old fortified wines passed through the ownership of Southcorp and then to Foster’s, the multinational wine company that also owns Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Beringer. Locals and Australian wine fans feared that Foster’s would break up the property, sell off the vineyards or let it fall apart“Foster’s just didn’t know what to do with it,” says Nathan Waks, CEO of the partnership that purchased the property last year.
I had just finished updating my Australian vintage charts for Wine Spectator’s upcoming red wine tasting report when I received an email from Jonathan Maltus, owner of The Colonial Estate in Barossa.
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