Robert Parker on the kinky wine world of 1978 

Richard Jennings provides an excellent summary of Robert M. Parker Jr’s recent address at the Professional Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowbrook in the Napa Valley. Here’s a great Parker quip about what the wine world looked like when he just started out:

When I started in 1978, the greatest wine in Spain, Vega Sicilia, wasn’t even imported to the United States. The alleged greatest Australian wine, Penfolds Grange, wasn’t imported to the United States. There were no by-the-glass programs. Sommeliers were intimidating. They had kinky leather aprons with a lot of chains. They looked like they were working in a sex club.

One of the best Margaret River cabernet sauvignons you’ve never heard of!

Huon Hooke wrote a really interesting article for the SMH’s Good Food magazine about a boutique Margaret River winery in the sub-region of Wilyabrup called Cloudburst. Run by American Will Berliner, Cloudburst burst onto the Australian wine radar late last year when the Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 won trophies for Best Cabernet Sauvignon, Best Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Best Red Wine of the Show at the prestigious Margaret River Wine Show.

The tiny, hand-tended vineyard is biodynamically farmed and most of the cabernet sauvignon vines were planted in 2005 and 2006 from Cullen and Moss Wood cuttings. (Berliner does much of the weeding by hand himself!) And up until recently the winery’s small production of cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay was only available in top US restaurants like Blue Hill and Eleven Madison Park. Hooke describes the wines are “exceptional, and rare, and very expensive.” But, according to Berliner, he doesn’t cover costs.

Greater scientific understanding of ‘terroir’ is starting to emerge

People think of ‘terroir’ as that sense of place you can find in a glass that immediately distinguishes Burgundian pinot noir from say a Central Otago pinot noir. But how exactly is terroir imparted in the wine?

The most recent issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine (April/May 2014) discusses a fascinating study conducted by University of California Davis’s famous oenology department. Scientific research suggests that patterns in the fungal and bacterial communities which inhabit the surface of wine grapes have yeast-like properties that influence the character of the wine, producing character traits analogous to the perceived outcomes of terroir.

That is not to say that the effects of viticultural or geographical factors should be discounted, but perhaps compelling evidence for promoting vineyard management practices that don’t kill the bugs!

Merrill WittMerrill Witt, Editor

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