It was a phrase that made me laugh straight away when I heard it come from the lips of one of those doing tastings at tonight’s “West Australian Wine Show” at The Wollahra Hotel.
He was making a point about those attending the show that, unlike many wine shows, we weren’t just a bunch of piss-heads trying to get wasted as quickly as possible. Little did he know…
But as I looked around the room I noticed lots of “doctors and their wives”, quite a few young couples, and quite a few “lawyers and their junior partners”, so I’m sure he was absolutely correct :)
We also noticed one or two quite pregnant women. At first they were sipping water. After a while they were having a drink or two themselves, which I’m sure can’t be a problem if you’re eight months pregnant :)
The other memorable phrase of the night came from Damien who said, “Don’t worry, there’s bucket loads of red left”, as we made our way around the dozen or so wineries who were there, wondering which ones we should prioritize with only half an hour left.
Vasse Felix, Moss Wood, Cullen, Howard Park and Leeuwin Estate were amongst the many wineries with representatives there tonight in a show that quickly sold out. And why not? It was only $35 for the tasting, which included canapes from one of Sydney’s leading establishments, Bistro Moncur.
My particular favourites were the Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignot Merlot 2004 and the Devil’s Lair Cabarnet Sauvignon 02, which is significant as I normally prefer white wines. Another great surprise was the Moss Wood Pinot Noir, the only pinot on show tonight I think, which was really, really tasty. Yeah, that’s about as technical as I get when it comes to wine appreciation, though I do know a good drop when I taste it.
And as for Damo…? He writes…
One of the best wine tastings I’ve ever attended, for three reasons: all the wineries were high quality producers; the small size and compact layout of the tasting allowed you to do several circuits each focussing on a particular style (lighter whites, chardonnays, and reds), and the wineries didn’t hide their best products. So it was a fabulous opportunity to put WA wines under the microscope.
I can’t give detailed tasting notes of each wine, so I’ll group them into three categories of ascending quality:
Group 1: every wine on show. All the wineries present are recognised, rightly, as being top shelf producers. It was not called “Great Wine Estates of WA” purely for marketing purposes – they really meant it! You can rest assured that any wine from any of the producers on show will be at least good and probably excellent, there was nary a dud amongst them. The producers were (in no particular order): Cape Mentelle, Leeuwin Estate, Vasse Felix, Plantagenet, Pierro, Houghton, Moss Wood, Cullen, Devil’s Lair, Howard Park, Voyager Estate and Xanadu.
Group 2: excellent wines that stood out from the bunch. They included:
* Cape Mentelle sauvignon blanc semillion – unusual in that it is partially barrel-fermented with partly wild yeasts. Funky, smoky, complex, very different
* Howard Park Riesling 2002: an older wine that is showing kerosine-like characters, but still with plenty of fruit. Nice
* Pierro Chardonnay 2007 – complex and spicy, lots of promise
* Moss Wood Pinot Noir 2006 – more in the dry red style than a classic pinot noir, but very gluggable. James especially loved this.
* Xanadu special release Chardonnay 2006 – produced only in great years, very spicy oak character with great fruit depth. Needs time
Group 3: superb wines. Justly known as some of the best wines Australia has to offer
* Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2005 – a complete wine with plenty more to come. Magnificent
* Cullen Chardonnay 2006 – rich, unctuous yet not too cloying, mouthfilling and lovely
* Cullen Diana Madeleine Cabernet Sauvignon – the flagship wine of this prestigious winery, my notes simply say ‘yum. superb’. Great now, it will undoubtedly be significantly better if you can control yourself and cellar it for 5-20 years
* Devil’s Lair Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 ex-magnum – soft dusty tannins, rich developed flavour, superb
* Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – Wow! Still my favourite cabernet sauvignon, great at any age. Sublime
“There’s not a bad wine on show”, was the conclusion Damien came to, and which I agreed with, although I instantly began to doubt our tastes.
“Have we become like Homer when he becomes a food critic, and gives everything, uncritically, seven thumbs up”, I asked Damien at one point.
“Of course not”, I concluded, though Homer obiously also fits into the category of “high volume consumer”.