Category Archives: Wine Opinion

Dec 12 2012

What Makes a Great Wine?

Posted on December 12, 2012 | By

Most serious wine drinkers intuitively know when they’ve experienced a truly superb wine. You can’t wait to come back for more and with every sip you discover something new as the wine opens up and unfolds its complex layers of aromas and flavours. Often the sensation lingers, and months, even years later, you can recall that special occasion when you enjoyed a bottle of 1975 Penfolds Grange or a Chateau D’Yquem 1998 for example! (Fortunately speaking from experience here!)

In a fascinating video on, the world’s best-known wine critic Robert Parker talks at length about what makes a great wine. While acknowledging the importance of trusting your own palate, Parker explains that like any great work of art, literature or music, for example, consensus usually forms around why a wine is regarded as exceptional. (Winefuture 2011 Hong Kong Great Bordeaux,, 8 November 2011)

Here’s the criteria Parker uses for assessing greatness:

1. For a wine to be great it must satisfy both your hedonistic and intellectual senses.

Hedonistic rapture speaks for itself! Here’s CellarTracker’s Jeff Leve’s response to sampling the 2009 Chateau Latour:  “I wanted to cancel my remaining appointments for the day spending the afternoon drinking the entire bottle with some bread and cheese, while peacefully relaxing in their vineyards. And it was only 9:00 in the morning!”

Chateau Latour is also an excellent example of a wine that also satisfies the intellectual senses. It’s a modern day classic from a world-renowned wine region.

2. The wine must be nuanced. In other words its personality and complexity will unfold as you imbibe it. With each sip you learn something more!

3. A wine must have depth and intensity of aromas and flavours without being heavy. Ah, yes, a fine Bordeaux is designed to be enjoyed … Read the rest

Nov 11 2011

Is Australia now Austria? WS Top 100 dings Aussies

Posted on November 11, 2011 | By

Wine Spectator have just completed their major marketing release of their annual Top 100 wines, and there was one thing I was particularly keen to see. It wasn’t the identity of the number one wine (Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2009), or the top ranked Barolo (Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra 2006), but rather how many Australian wines made it on to the list this year. As recently as 2009 there were 10 Australians in the Top 100, and last year there was still six, including two in the top 10. However, something told me that it was going to be ugly this year.

First of all, there’s the exchange rate. While the economies of the USA and Europe struggle to maintain a pulse, the Australian economy has kept on truckin’ (commodities to China), and the A$ has gone through parity with the US$. Can’t be good for Australian exporters. Secondly, there’s fashion. Australian wine, and Shiraz in particular, benefited from this for many years, but that phase is over, and the new black is no longer black Shiraz. In the December 15 edition of Wine Spectator there are a number of articles in relation to Argentinian wine, especially Malbec, which is apparently the new black, or has been in recent times at least. In Nathan Wesley’s article ‘Malbec’s Moment’ he has this to say about Australian Shiraz,

Many winemakers are worried Argentina is overinvested in Malbec, as Australia seems to be in Shiraz. During America’s recession and Malbec’s ascent, Australian Shiraz, the wine-world darling only a few years ago, got caught with a glut of wine priced either too low or too high. As a result, sales declined in the United States from 6.1 million cases in 2006 to 5.2 million cases in 2009

And there was … Read the rest