Tag: Jay McInerney

Jun 06 2012

Mount Mary Quintet: The Quintessential Cabernet Blend

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

When I was reading Jay McInerney’s article on Paso Robles blends, I couldn’t help thinking about Australia’s most renowned blended wine, the Mount Mary Vineyard Quintet Cabernets. Justin Smith of Saxum, one of Paso Robles’ most respected winemakers, told McInerney that “Blends are a great tool for winemakers to be able to bring complexity and balance to their wines, especially when working within a single site.” (Discovering the Beautiful Blends of Paso Robles by Jay McInerney, The Wall Street Journal, 15 June 2012)

Mount Mary has been putting Smith’s approach into practice for over 40 years. Back in the early 70s, Mount Mary’s founder, the late Dr John Middleton, decided that he wanted to make an elegant, low alcohol Bordeaux blend. He settled on a gentle, north facing slope in the heart of the Yarra Valley and planted it to cabernet sauvignon (46%), merlot (26%), cabernet franc (18%), malbec (5%) and petit verdot (5%). These varieties became the basis for his celebrated Mount Mary Quintet Cabernets.

Elegant, structure and complexity are the adjectives most used to describe the Quintet’s style. Middleton preferred the taut, tight and lean flavours of great old red Bordeaux, and modeled the Quintet on the classical proportioned wines he revered. When it was first released in 1979 the Quintet proved a revelation to consumers, more used to a richer style of Australian cabernet. Available only to buyers who gained a spot on the coveted mailing list, it quickly attained a cult-like status.

Today the Mount Mary vineyard is regarded as an exceptional site, and the crops are carefully managed to insure that the integrity of Middleton’s original style is maintained. (Apparently Middleton was very hands-on up until his death in 2006 at age 82.) Each variety, for example, is picked only after … Read the rest

Mar 03 2012

Savaterre Chardonnay: The Sommeliers’ Choice

Posted on March 03, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The Wall Street Journal’s Jay McInerney recently wrote a very interesting article about the growing influence of sommeliers in shaping wine tastes. Our guest editor David Hawkins of One Aussie’s Wine (an Aussie wine buff now living in New York City) followed up with an insightful post about how the shift away from big, ripe, concentrated wines to more elegant and artisanal offerings is part of a wider cultural phenomenon that favours quieter, sophisticated fare, as witnessed by the critical success of the silent movie “The Artist” and the current dearth of loud rock music! (Why Sommeliers are the New Restaurant Stars by Jay McInerney, The Wall Street Journal 25 February 2005)

Their observations resonated when I was researching the understated yet gorgeously complex Savaterre Chardonnay, which yields from a family-owned vineyard perched on a ridge looking out to the picturesque Victorian alps in Beechworth, Victoria.

Interestingly, the Savaterre website lists the names of  Australian restaurants which feature its wine on their lists. It reads like a who’s who of country’s best: Tetsuya, Guillame at Bennelong, Vue de Monde, to name just a few.

According to McInerney, sommeliers tend to prefer wines that display freshness and balance over power and concentration because they work better with food.

Crisp, clean, complex and elegant are words commonly used to describe  the Savaterre Chardonnay.  Little wonder then that it’s a top pick for the very best fine wine lists!

It is also a wine that ages beautifully. I was very fortunate, courtesy of David, to enjoy a bottle of the Savaterre Chardonnay 2004 over Christmas. It was a brilliant example of the ageing potential of beautifully made Australian chardonnays. Still light in colour, a delightfully fresh bouquet slowly revealed nuanced aromas of stoned fruit, citrus and hazenuts as … Read the rest