Whiteout in Vienna

Curiosity gets the better of Curtis Marsh who lines up for a sauvignon blanc tasting, with surprising results.

How would you like to try no less than 50 sauvignon blanc’s before lunch?

It was a daunting prospect, even for a hardened wine professional. Personally, I am not endeared to sauvignon blanc, although I do enjoy the occasional racy, flinty sancerre blanc from the Loire Valley. Putting aside the notion of a monotonous succession of nostril-twitching grassy, herbaceous bouquets and gum nagging acidity, the opportunity to taste so many examples of this variety from all over the world got the better of my curiosity.

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Sorry, wrong number

The wine rating system is flawed, because it doesn’t take into account the human factor.

The growing cast of wine consumers obsessed with scores – seemingly an inherent process for choosing super-premium wines these days – troubles me. It is not just the credulous trust in scores that is a concern, but the dependence of wine merchants and marketers on critics to sell wine through the blatant exploitation of ratings.

I encountered a ratings-obsessed individual not long ago when emceeing an options tasting, the entertaining – albeit masochistic – sport of identifying masked wines guided by multi-choice questions.

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Bordeaux or bust
Caroline Frey, oenologist and winemaker at Chateau La Lagune

The 2005 vintage is being hailed as among best of the past century but there is always plenty of spin involved.

Wine merchants throughout the world are ubiquitously fixated with en premeur sales of 2005 Bordeaux, blamelessly riding the wave of a frenzied market chasing a dream vintage. The Bordelaise propensity to embellish necessitates some recalibration after the vintage has sold out, the adage being “the finest Bordeaux vintage appears to be the one that Chateau owners and merchants are currently selling or have the most of in their cellars.”

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Start Your Own Wine Bar at Home!

With the very nature of wine appreciably less intimidating nowadays and a growing familiarity amongst the populace, a glass of wine is increasingly becoming a part of everyday life around the world.

Today’s more self-assured, open-minded wine consumer has a considerably larger vinous world to explore with a myriad of regions, varieties and styles.

As any wine marketer will acknowledge, wine consumers are at their most inquisitive and adventurous in a restaurant environment or wine bar and willing to try something new, most likely served by the glass.

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The Wine for the Christmas Turkey
Christmas turkey paired with Pinot Gris

Conventional wisdom would point to chardonnay as a logical choice, ideally with some bottle age.

Roast turkey certainly calls for a white wine with texture and richness or even opulence, which is why this year, my perfect match is Seresin Pinot Gris 2008.

One of my personal favourites in Seresin portfolio their pinot gris is made in style that one associates with the Alsace region in France with a textural richness and complexity yet has very little oak influence.

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Two countries, one grape variety
Lunch at the Australia & New Zealand Pinot Noir Celebration

Australia and New Zealand both produce first class pinot noir but Curtis Marsh is swayed by a Wellington street party in its honor.

Having recently listed the merits of pinot noir from Victoria, Australia’s stronghold of the variety, it would be remiss not to address the antipodean challenger of New World pinot greatness, New Zealand.

Despite mutual British ancestry and a Commonwealth bond, the two countries are culturally disassociated and intense rivals. To quote the late New Zealand prime minister David Lange “The best thing between New Zealand and Australia is the Tasman Sea.”

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One hell of a wine workout
Vinexpo logo

Taste testing the best 2003 Bordeaux at Vinexpo had its pain and its pleasures… Curtis Marsh confesses all.

I recently spent three grueling days tasting at the world’s largest and most significant wine show, Vinexpo, with leading vintners from all over the globe massed at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Vinexpo has been held bi- annually in Bordeaux since 1981, with overseas exhibitions in the Asia-Pacific region organized in alternate years.

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Age of Wisdom
Dean Hewitson, Barossa Valley, Australia

At the other end of the discounted and oversupplied wine market are undiscovered bargains made from old vines.

Having written on the subject of inexpensive wines in this column recently, I highlighted that price-to-quality rapport will always be subjective. There are many facets and arguments to what determines good value, although for most consumers discounts strongly influence the sense of a bargain.

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On with the inquisition
Bordeaux Wines, France

Choosing the best out of Bordeaux from 2003.

Continuing with my 2003 Bordeaux inquisition the following days tasting held by the Union de Grands Crus de Bordeaux here at Vinexpo was a more comprehensive representation of the Bordeaux communes with an impressive turnout from the northern Medoc appellation St- Julien.

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Think Pink
Rose Champagne bubbles

Rose champagne is enjoying high demand and not just because of Valentine’s Day.

Rose Champagne, or Pink Champagne as it is more commonly known, if not a little mincing, has become increasingly vogue over the last few years. Indications are that its popularity is becoming more entrenched and it is easy to see why, with an appealing bouquet of fresh strawberries, added dimensions of flavor and complexity and more allure than normal (white) Champagne.

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