Reviews & Articles
Southern Pride by Joe Fattorini09-Aug-2008
It should come as no surprise that Australia produces the world's best wine, but it does
It's the worst question in the world for a wine boffin. "So" pleased with themselves, "if you could only choose one nation's wine to drink for the rest of your life, which would it be?" Let me tell you that if you choose to ask me or any other wine guru- that question, the usual etiquette is to just lean back in your chair, fold your arms and adopt a face writ large with the expression , 'well that's stumped you hasn't it Mr-Smug-Wine-Know-It-All"
Either that or you'll look at me and expect me to read your mind, instantly knowing you've been telling the entire table (for an hour at least) that "some guy in Haddows told me all the really serious wine people are into Swedish wine at the moment, no seriously. Look, let's ask him, he's a wine expert. I mean it, go on, we'll ask him. I bet you ... I BET you he says Sweden".
When I reply, "Er, Australia," no matter what the mood at the table, no matter what, I immediately find I've disappointed everyone. This is the tragedy of my life.
So I'm sort to the man who looks like Lurch from The Munsters (only with much, much bigger teeth) who asked exactly this question, the ruined a tie spluttering "Australia!?" when I delivered my reply. It's true. In all the time I've written for this newspaper, the single most rewarding wine producing country has been Australia. Of course, things were a little different when I started out 15 years ago. There are maybe twice as many producers making more than twice as much wine and Australia is now the most popular country of origin for wine bought in the UK. When I began, people often hadn't even tried Australian wine.
In that time, too, Australia has established two quite different wine industries. In the middle of the country, gargantuan wineries crush as many grapes in a few hours as whole wine regions crush in a year. Incredibly, one winery alone Yellow Tail exports more wine today than the whole of Australia did when I started writing the column with Tom Shields.
Yet beyond that big, bold, brassy industry is an apron of fascination, top-notch, cool-climate wine regions now ranked among the finest in the world. When I began writing, Tasmanian sparkling wine was about as highly regarded as Sir Les Patterson's Tasmanian camembert. It is now considered one of the world's greatest sparkling wines and the island looks set to become one of its greatest regions. Places like the Mornington Peninsula and the Grampians were wine buffs obscurata a decade and a half ago and are now found on bar wine lists (well, some of the better ones) across Scotland.
So when it comes to picking three countries to talk about at The Herald Wine Event, Australia is a must. Besides tasting Australian wines we'll have sessions on the wines of Chile and South Africa, a buffet supper, a glass of wine when you arrive and another with your meal. I hope to see you there.
The Herald Wine Event is on Sunday, August 17 at Oran Mor, Glasgow. Tickets cost £ 30 and can be reserved by calling 0141 302 7319 or 0141 302 7412.
Joe Fattorini, The Herald Magazine (Glasgow)
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