Andrew Jefford November 2010 column
Homage to Catalonia
Homage to Catalonia
As I write, the Languedoc summer is quietly tilting towards autumn.
What’s the rarest gold of all? In the Decanter World Wine Awards, it’s pink gold.
Jeffrey Grosset is the most celebrated Riesling producer in Australia. Andrew jefford meets a man whose focus is as intense as his wines
As I write, London’s fine-wine traders are holding their breath. The Bordeaux 2009 campaign is about to explode. France’s Pentecostal bank holiday falls today; everyone knows that the big guns will begin booming tomorrow. All the scores are out, and they’ve provided Bordeaux proprietors with the equivalent of a book of blank, signed cheques. Ridiculous, obscene, outrageous: you could choose your adjective in advance. All are about to be justified by the prices whistled up by the top wines. Every last case, though, will sell; indeed, they’ll be fought over. In 20 years, the prices will seem cheap. Many of the wines, thus, will be bought purely as a financial speculation. It will be a sound one
It was a customarily sticky morning in Singapore.
What is it about Pinot? No other grape inspires as much attention. It’s both nerd-magnet and fashion doll; it fuels flights of rhetoric and gigabytes of research data; it famously chastens winemaking ambitions and accounts for more wasted consumer cash than any rival variety. And it’s a conference darling. I’ve just got back from a giant shed on Wellington’s waterfront after three days of intense Pinot-gazing. Not once did anyone say to me ‘Why are we wasting so much time on this over-rated, under-coloured wine weed?’
Religion, like politics, is considered conversationally off-limits. That’s why chat can be dull: the interesting topics glitter icily to one side, forever out of reach. Yet the assumption that mature adults can’t balance emotion and reason is flawed, as is the idea that we can brook no contradiction of our beliefs and convictions. So, when a winemaker tells me that he’s ‘working hand-in-hand with the Creator’, I listen. This has to be more interesting than a list of barrel suppliers.
Can fine wine be made at 14% alcohol? And 15%? Or do such levels affect the intrinsic quality? With levels continuing to rise, not least in Bordeaux’s heralded 2009s, andrew jefford hears both sides
You could call it the equivalent of a tsunamiwarning siren, its wail hanging ominously in the heavy afternoon air. Four key Australian wine bodies recently lobbed out a joint ‘Restructuring Action Agenda’ to Australia’s wine growers. It should have been edged in ebony; the news was bleak.
The popular image of the Zen Buddhist is of someone quietly intense, gifted with lunar calm, whose infrequent actions are sudden, dramatic and awesomely effective. On the movie screen, they can generally fly, too.
It’s an understatement to say the wine show system is important in Australia. Wine shows are the hinge around which the struggle for quality in Australian wine is articulated. They’re the source of the country’s greatest strengths and the reason for its greatest weaknesses. I love judging in them, despite misgivings about their effect: it’s fun, it’s educative, it’s collegiate. Australia’s most distinguished wine producers seldom enter shows, since they don’t require that kind of endorsement to sell their wine. Those same individuals, however, are often senior judges or even chairs at the shows themselves, meaning that the system has near-universal support here. Most of Australia’s wine journalists, too, judge or chair key shows.
Making wine skillfully is a fine achievement. Being a role model, though, is something else. It signifies that everything along your way would be worthy of emulation, from the first stirrings of vocation through to the dissected entrails of achievement. Perhaps it’s the pioneering spirit, but Australia is well endowed with figures of this sort. Such as Ron Laughton of Jasper Hill.
If you’re looking for a terroir-driven, vintage-specific Barossa wine, andrew jefford thinks he has the prime exponent
Who holds the power in Champagne - the growers who own the land, or the houses that make the wine? Andrew Jefford tracks a case of love thy enemy
Should wine critics and buyers be surrogate drinkers for the masses, or is their job to open our minds to new discoveries? Either way, surely their palates are too developed to serve the average Joe? By ANDREW JEFFORD
Together, we can stop the supermarket bullies
Why is there not more vintage Champagne knocking around? It should be a good-value prestige wine, says Andrew Jefford, but too often it’s ignored – by producers and drinkers – in favour of bland non-vintage
So does terroir not exist in Champagne?
2005 Bordeaux: I wish I could say it’s rubbish
Premier Crew: The young supremo at the helm of Château Latour outlines his vision to Andrew Jefford
The letters MW after a name lend an authoritative aura. But what are masters of wine actually like? And with a notoriously high failure rate and no professional teaching staff, why would anyone go through the rigours needed to become one? andrew jefford finds out
For four decades, Hugh Johnson has been bringing wine to the masses with his wit-washed critiques. ANDREW JEFFORD hears the wine world’s most prolific author reflect on how tastes – both his and those of others – have changed over the years
Château Musar’s award-winning and distinctive wines made it through 20 years of Lebanon’s civil war, and are now better than ever. ANDREW JEFFORD talks to owner Serge Hochar about the philosophy behind a great wine
Although born with beer in his blood, it's wine that flows through the veins of Anthony Hanson MW, dynamic head of Christie's wine department. He talks to ANDREW JEFFORD.
The burning debate surrounding the best Bordeaux vintage of the 1980s has been re-ignited. A new look at the 1989s, 10 years down the line has provoked a flurry of interest on the speculative wine market, yet the classic 1982s remain a more expensive and desirable commodity. ANDREW JEFFORD tackles the vintage which appears to be coming into its own and pits it head to head with previously acknowledged stars of 1982 to assess how the two are growing with age