Australia vs Europe (Round 1)

I am inspired by this recent article in The Age: http://www.theage.com.au/news/executive-style/culture/oz-invaders-not-so-dumb/2008/10/14/1223750003685.html

Without much of a doubt, the modern culture of wine (and wine-making) was born in the Old World (Europe). The scene was mainly dominated by France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Just for trivia, the latter country being famous for its fortified wine, port (which is derived from the port-city, Porto). The “white-man” upper classes perhaps drove the historical demand for wines as their alcoholic beverage of choice. These days, wine is readily available to anyone.

Coming from a South-East Asian background, conventional table wine (red or white) is still considered very foreign. It is truly an acquired taste though that has not stopped people from developing a fictitious interest in it so as to appear more ‘sophisticated’ or ‘classy’. Mindless and ill-informed talk about wines from young Asians still send shivers down my spine. Unfortunately, I hear them rather too often.

Like many of my contemporaries here, I ground my teeth on Australian wine. Yes…that full-bodied, very prominent fruit, strong gripping tannins and long finish characteristic of red wines produced over here. When I come to think about it and reflect, I think its a poor introduction to wine-tasting. Subtlety is still not something which most wines over here possess. One can argue that starting at this point is still good for it leaves room for much improvement in palate recognition and the enjoyment of good wine. Whatever it is, this is what we started off with and the fact of the matter is, we still love it.

After reading some of the comments about Australian wine in that article I pasted above, I can’t help but snigger at those arrogant words. There are still many stereotypes and myths to bust. And I hope I can do some of that for you today/tonight.

Firstly, subtlety of wine can still be found very readily over here. Of course, one must first learn how to distinguish the subtle differences but that comes with education and experience. Next, would be looking beyond the major producers and researching for smaller, more premium producers. Problem is that, the really good ones can be hard to find and the price can be prohitbitive too! The best way would be to go visit these wineries youselves. Taste the wine and engage the winemaker, for unlike the major wineries, they don’t or rarely hire extra staff for the cellar door. Most of the nice-smiling, pleasant sounding people behind those counters rarely have sufficient knowledge to satisfy your new-found curiosity. When I say engage, I mean asking questions and exposing what level of knowledge you have so that you can stand to be corrected.

Australia is truly blessed with land, variety, talent and even with terroir of which most Old World supporters claim otherwise. You can tell (quite readily) the difference between Cabenet Sauvignons produced in the Yarra Valley or in Coonawarra. Shiraz produced in the Barossa Valley or in the Hunter Valley. Even the Pinot Noirs across Port Philip Bay (Geelong and the Mornington Peninsula).

So what are you waiting for? With summer coming soon, its the best time to visit the vineyards to see the grapes and pay homage to the noble rot. Afterall, wine is a wonderful creation of God (to be enjoyed responsibly of course).

Cheerio.

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~ by shybeg122 on October 14, 2008.

One Response to “Australia vs Europe (Round 1)”

  1. Interesting Read! Very detailed blog

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