Much of the wine world has become preoccupied with staking out their own definitions of what wine must be before they will even consider it. They are missing out.
Some insist that a wine contain no more than this much alcohol. There better be no hint of oak character in the flavor profile. And if the wine lacks a jolt of acidity, it's right out. Paradoxically, some of the same folks who espouse these prerequisites (including many of those touting "natural wines") dismiss rich fruit character as simple and salivate over savory notes, even if those come by way of funky organisms such as brettanomyces and volatile acidity.
It takes a certain understanding of the peculiarly Australian sense of humor to appreciate why a documentary tracing the story of Australian wine in past few decades would be titled Chateau Chunder: A Wine Revolution. The reference to a Monty Python sketch from 1972 ridicules Aussie wines with a vulgarity that would involve tossing one's cookies.
Self-deprecating, often sharp, the dry Aussie sense of humor is one reason I enjoy knowing the country's winemakers. They are, for the most part, not full of themselves. Their effort goes into the product and spreading the word about it. Most Aussie wineries, for example, are anonymous-looking sheds, not architectural palaces. It's the wines that matter.
As Washington has come into its own as a wine source worth following, consumers have appreciated the state's prevailing style of clear, pure flavors balanced against refreshing acidity and supple textures. Now that I have tasted the majority of the 2009 vintage, what strikes me is how many wines are much more tannic than usual.
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