Tag Archives: Shiraz

Challenging times

Baru is the name of a range of wines we recently introduced from Sicilly. One red, Nero d’Avola, the indigenous grape which is related to the scrumptuous grenache grape we associate strongly with Spain and two indigenous white wines.  James visited Sicilly last summer and came back determined to find some great value wines from this upcoming wine region. Baru offered the quality and value we hoped plus an extra ingredient – it challenged our members. Nero d’Avola is not shiraz, not cabernet sauvignon, not merlot, not pinot noir or even carignan that often sneaks into popular wines from southern France.

The opening of these wines did not quite set off Mt. Etna in thousands of home across our long country, but it did cause more than a ripple across the Straits of Messina. Our members on Australian Wine Club rate all the wines, without censorship and we read every one of the hundreds of ratings. These Baru wines attracted a lot of interest and emails. Many of you loved the wines, it sold out quickly, but an unusually high number told us you didn’t like it. Jonas Palmberg from Trelleborg http://www.australianwineclub.se/wine_details.php?wine_id=520 gave the wine 11/20, one of the lowest scores we have ever had for a wine. Thank you Jonas for being honest and telling us what you thought of the wine. Ann Wikström from Skövde gave it 20/20, which may be overly generous and there were numerous ratings of inbetween scores. But it shows that James and Jimmy acheived their objective – they challenged your senses, made you try something new that maybe you had not tried before and you can either add or delete these fine Sicillian wines to your list of favourites. At the very least you can add it to your list of wine grapes tried!

We love getting ratings for our wines and as we offer a 100% satisfaction money back guarantee we need to know what our members think about the wines so we can maintain our high quality and still challenge you every now and then!

Challenging times hit Premium Wines Sweden, one of the 3 wine import companies owned by Altia, the Finnish alcohol group. Premium Wines will be closed done and their products absorbed into the other two Altia companies with the loss of 15 jobs. The strength of the Euro and no doubt Systembolaget’s insistence that alcohol importers subsidise Swedish alcohol consumers played a part in this decision. Premium Wines were the first wine importers to welcome Antipodes Premium Wines into their industry in 2004. We got a letter from their lawyers telling us we could not use the name Antipodes Premium Wines as it infringed on their name. We told them in a very Australian way to sod off and eventually made friends when they changed senior management and were acquired by Altia. To our friends there we wish you good luck and hope that you find new and challenging jobs in the near future. Hopefully the stupidity that importers should bear the brunt of the strong Euro while all other consumer goods companies can in some way pass on part of the price increase it to the retailers and customers will change before more jobs are lost in the industry. While Systembolaget’s sales keep rising during these challenging times it is immoral that they should cause more lost jobs to be added to the pile. Their owners have to pick up the tab in the end anyway!

Note: we do not sell any wine to Systembolaget so this problem does not impact us. As a currency moves against the Kronor we quickly move our purchasing to wine producing countries with more favourable currencies so we can always offer the same great value wines to our members.




best is the enemy of better?

My perfectionist sister has come up with this smart motto to keep her tendencies getting too out of control – best is the enemy of better. Correct, right? Wouldn’t it be a better world if more of us simply strove to improve ourselves rather than seeking the ideal world through perfection? The competition to be best leaves many participants still standing at the starting blocks and most of the rest scattered distraught along the length of the track. So just as I was coming to grips with this post-financial crisis of the over-achieving generation mantra, I went to meet Sandro Mosele at his Kooyong Estate winery, 90 minutes south of Melbourne.

Kooyong Estate wines are like drinking a page from a Paul Auster book. You can’t read only one page and after having spent untold minutes pondering the sophistication, beauty and complexity of the creation, it is almost impossible to describe it. You know you appreciate it, love in perhaps and yet when asked why your jaw just drops, eyes glaze over and you thrust the book into the questioner’s hands and say “read it for yourself”.

Kooyong wines are the most sought after wines in our range. We should offer a mixed case of their spectacular Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a copy of Book of Illusions by Mr. Auster. There’s a novel marketing idea!

If you have perfectionist tendencies then I recommend meeting Sandro before you try his wines. As you can see from his photo below, his perfectionism is focused on his wines (and certainly not his old Volvo stationwagon) which gives you heart that his Mornington Peninsula Follies are more than just the Music of Chance. This Oracle from the Melbourne suburbs is so focused on creating a wine that in his palate is perfect his lofty ambitions could dub him Mr. Vertigo. Now you have met him, then try the wines…….

If you can afford and are a fan of Burgundy and find the intense fruit of New World Pinot Noir too over powering then Kooyong Estate’s Pinot Noir could, maybe, possibly be interesting for you. I really detest comparing New World wines with Old World masters like “this Aussie Shiraz Viognier is in the style of Cote du Rhone, or this Californian Chardonnay has distinct Chablis qualities.” Hey, if I want a Cote du Rhone or a Chablis I will buy one with the big Made in France label on it, so don’t take the easy way out and describe this New World wine in terms other than its own reference points.

Sandro strives for perfection and you can taste it in his wines and see it in his eyes when he explains the minute temperature control benefits obtained from his latest purchase of French oak fermenters (almost unseen in Australia). To put the Chardonnay among its correct reference points, it is Kiera Knightely in silk underwear driving a golden Maserati spyder. And Kiera will also look even better in her smalls in 10 years time!

The Kooyong Estate Pinot Noir is another story completely. This is Heath Ledger playing The Joker in the latest Batman Movie. It is so smooth, so complex, so powerful and intruiging it scares you, won’t leave your mind and instantly raises comparisons to the other great Jokers over the years (Nicholson for example). This is a Pinot Noir that only a perfectionist can make.

The few short hours we had with Sandro down on the Peninsula vastly added to my knowledge and appreciation of his wines (Port Philip Estate included) and totally shot down any hope I had of living to my sister’s new found motto of “best is the enemy of better,” with wines like these, is it really?

Below are some photos of Peter Walker, our legendary agent in Australia, Sandro and myself.