Home > Uncategorized > Tip me up and pour me out!

Tip me up and pour me out!

Buneos Dias Senors y Senoritas!

It has been a week of eventful goings on!  Both good and bad I have to say.  The good being the Penfolds tasting that I attended that was exemplary in every way, to which I will elaborate on later, the crazy events in Hong Kong where a wine auction was held, and wait until you read what was sold and for how much – economic downturn…what economic downturn?  On the bad side, I now face mornings waking up without the always enjoyable prospect of cycling through Richmond Park on the way to the office, no morning coffee with a certain someone who I used to share ‘last night’s tipple’ reviews with and most importantly, no bloody income!  That’s right folks, I have become a victim of the ‘laters mate’ philosophy, or in layman’s terms, I got booted out of the business!  Such are things at the moment, in all parts of the working world and certainly not just the wine trade, that decisions need to be made and cuts implemented – unfortunately I have become one of the ‘cuts’ and so I find myself here on a Monday morning writing this blog post, when really I should be doing is sitting at my desk working away on the next consumer campaign, checking the media for all things wine and telling people about it, reacting to what I have found, and being convivial with people in a way that allows me to work my 9-5 but also converse passionately with my colleagues (sorry, ex colleagues).  Working!  Always a tricky situation for those that have been through it, but I am finding it especially difficult because I adored what I did, well most of it anyway.  Ok, so enough about that, nobody wants to read about my strife!  However, it does bring me neatly onto a question that was once asked by Yosser Hughes – Gizza job!!  If any of you that read this blog are fellow trade people and know someone that knows something about something in the Wine Trade, I would love to hear about it.  I NEED to get back out there in the trade, even now after just one day!  I must continue my journey wherever that may be and tell my stories.

Ok, so the Penfolds Tasting that I must tell you about.  It was at the Hospital private members club in Covent Garden, and I actually took the missus with me to this one.  She is great in that not only does she really support me in what I want to do and achieve, but she takes the time to actively learn about what i am learning about, and as a result, has a bloody good palate on her – despite her spending every hour God sends doing her CIMA qualification!  So, the scene was set, and in we walked into a darkened set of rooms with tasting pods in each corner.  By the way, I have to point out that although i am lucky enough to attend quite a number of tastings and events, I always get excited about each new one and always go in with the thought that it is my first time!  What is the point in looking at it as a chore, or another slice of aimless networking opportunities that don’t actually work out?  It will only work out if you really want it to and if you talk to people and share thoughts and ideas.  So, I go in with this fresh attitude to each and every event I attend.  So we were handed a glass of wonderful Koonunga Hill 76 Shiraz Cabernet 2008.  Absolutely fantastic, smooth, full of fruit and not stickiness that I often get with Aussie reds.  Then we were escorted to our seats where we would be entertained for a while with the trials and tribulations of the ex director general of the BBC Greg Dyke – you may remember him from back in 2004 when he resigned from the BBC following the Hutton Enquiry.  Have a read about if you are not familiar with it, it is very interesting.  Anyway, he had many things to say and anecdotes to use, all of which were inspirational and at times hilarious!  After that, we simply tasted our way through some superb wines:

Koonunga Hill – Autumn Riesling 2008

Thomas Hyland cool climate chardonnay 2009 – this was excellent and what made it unique was that its spent 7 months on the lees (ok, pay attention, the lees is the yeasty residue that is left behind after fermentation

Koonunga Hills 76 – Shiraz Cabernet 2008

Bin 28 Kalimna – Shiraz 2007

Bin 28 Shiraz 1991 – this was a pretty special wine, not only was it the ‘vintage year’ that Greg Dyke chose to talk about, but it just happened to be one of the greatest vintages of Australian Shiraz on record.  Wines from here and in this year show deep red colours, rich, complex flavours of chocolate, coffee and sweet jammy plums – sticky in a lovely way!  Wine writers describe 1991 Aussie Shiraz or Syrah as plush and lavish…need I say more?

Thanks to The Hospital Club and indeed Penfolds for hosting such a great night and see you at the next event!

Sticking with Australia, we all know the usual suspects when it comes to Australian wine, probably the widest known is Jacob’s Creek right?  There are plenty of others, in fact thousands!  Thing is, I have a soft spot for Aussie wine and the way they express themselves; through their winemaking.  I have met a few wine makers from Australia and they don’t stand their and talk to you too technically about it, and start to waffle on about residual sugar and ph levels.  As a lover of wine first and foremost, i don’t wish to know the top-level details about the wine, I want to know and hear about the love that went into it, the people who took all the time required to make the juice as brilliant as it could be and the careful caress of outgoing, passionate and life-living Australian hands!  I get this type of feeling from all whom I have been lucky enough to meet.  It is this attitude and application that has led Australia to be the fourth largest exporter, exporting 750 million litres of wine a year.  Also, its well worth knowing that domestically, Australians consume 500 million litres of wine a year too!  It’s a BIG business and plays a massive part of the Australian economy.  Quick injection of Australian wine knowledge:

Australia is made up of many wine regions, but really there are 5 (in my opinion) that are best known, most of you would have heard of –

Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra, Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley.  The Hunter Valley is probably the most famous of them all, being the most tourist friendly and most visited in Australia.  It is just a 2 hour drive north of Sydney and has a plethora of restaurants, vineyards, attractions and even a visit to Greg Norman’s (famous Aussie golfer) own vineyard!  Ironically, given the international resonance of its name, the Hunter Valley is actually something of a sideshow when it comes to the main business of Australian wine.  The first commercial Chardonnay on this continent may have been produced here (by Tyrell’s) and Rosemount may have built a global reputation in the 1980’s on its ‘Show Reserve’ Hunter Valley Chardonnay (anyone remember that one?).  But today most examples of this variety are produced elsewhere.  The one bearing Greg Norman’s name, for example, comes from the Yarra Valley in Victoria.  If you are ever intending visiting Australia, the Hunter Valley is a must!  I’ll tell you about the rest over the next few posts.

So, with us all facing the backlash of an economic downturn, we are all cutting back; its Asda own rather than Cilit Bang, its Branston beans instead of Heinz, Go & Wash rather than Wash & go – and its Blossom Hill rather than Wolf Blass.  However over in Hong Kong, they adopted the ‘couldn’t give a monkeys’ attitude to the financial difficulties.  Recently, they was a fine wine auction at Sotherby’s where Chateau Lafite Rothchild was the star lot!  Now, when I said at the top of this post ‘wait until you see what people paid’ I meant it, take a look at this…

  • Two cases of 2009, which will be bottled next year (estimated at $10,000-15,000 each), fetched $68,632.
  • Five cases of 2005 (each $12,000-18,000) each brought $37,435.
  • One 2000 case ($20,000-30,000) brought $71,751; two more of the same brought $62,392 each.
  • Two 1986 cases ($12,000-18,000 each) went for $65,512.
  • An imperial (six-liter bottle) of 1982 ($25,000-55,000) found $148,182.
  • Two regular cases of 1982 ($35,000-65,000 each) each brought $132,584.
  • Six bottles of 1961 ($4,000-6,000) sold for $62,392.
  • A 1959 jeroboam (five-liter bottle, estimated at $30,000-50,000), found $171,579.
  • Three bottles of the 1949 ($5,000-8,000) got $53,034.
  • Two 1945 bottles ($5,000-10,000) brought $49,914.
  • A lone bottle of 1929 ($2,000-3,000) found $34,316.

My very first reaction to this was that these people hard more money than sense.  What are they thinking, have they no savvy whatsoever??  Then I began to digest it more and more and came to one simple conclusion;  wine really is up there as an item, consumable good, product, whatever you want to call it.  I always give an argument to my friends that I don’t believe that wine should be seen as a commodity, but really, in years to come, someone very lucky is going to be able to open that bottle, that magnum, that case of wine and enjoy something that only ever gets to be really enjoyed and experienced over one lifetime, and so yes, although at the time of purchase, it can be seen as a ‘product’ and an investment, as much so as a car, a house, a share in a company – but of these examples, do these ever get better the more the time goes on?  I would say no to that.  As a quick round-up, here is what Jamie Ritchie (Senior Vice President of Sotherby’s) had to say about the recent auction:

On that bombshell as Jezza Clarkson would say, there is a job offer on the table in Russia, so erm….Moscow!

Wine is fun, fun is wine, drink it young and when you dine


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