Tag: The Wall Street Journal

Jun 06 2012

Don’t Overlook the ‘Wow Factor’ and Value of Magnums!

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

Here’s a few interesting facts about magnum size bottles of wines:

1. They are perfect for dinner parties. They contain about 12 glasses of wine and come with that wow factor, as in, ‘you must really know your wine to have the confidence to splash out on a magnum’, or ‘you obviously have enough room in your cellar to accommodate magnum size bottles or, better still, you obviously store your wine in a professional wine storage facility!’ (Yes, I know, a shameless plug!)

2. Experts agree that they are the best format for ageing wines. This has do with the fact that the proportion of wine to air in a magnum is greater than in a regular 750 ml bottle and consequently the wine develops more slowly. Jamie Goode of the Wine Anorak goes so far as to say: “From many discussions with collectors and experts, I’m convinced that the optimal ageing trajectory for top wines is achieved with a combination of a sound cork, a magnum bottle, and horizontal storage at a constant 11 ºC at high humidity. The wineanorak guide to storing wine at home, wineanorak.com)

3. Typically, wine producers only bottle their top drops in magnums, and are inclined to give the bottling another level of oomph by going all out in terms of presentation. Today, for example, I received an email from Clonakilla. They have just released magnums of their flagship Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2010.  Each magnum comes packed in a pine box imprinted with the Clonakilla logo and vintage year!

I’ve often wondered why magnums aren’t more popular. The Wall Street Journal’s Lettie Teague pondered this question in a wonderfully titled article, Magnum Force: Big Bottles for Big Bashes. Here’s a few of her interesting insights:


  • Women, in general, don’t buy
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

Oct 10 2010

The Two Speed Wine Market!

Posted on October 10, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

For most Australian wine consumers the last few years have been a buyer’s heaven. The wine glut, increased competition from overseas, a high Australian dollar and the GFC have created a ‘perfect storm’ – leading to some of the best buying opportunities in decades!

So you may be surprised to hear that in Asia, and in particular Hong Kong and China, demand for wine is accelerating and prices, especially for first growth Bordeaux, are booming. William Lyons of The Wall Street Journal reported that the price of Chateau Lafite Rhothschild 2000 has climbed 611 per cent since December 2004.  A Bull Market for Wine: Top vintages have outperformed almost every other asset class over the past decade. How much longer can it last? The Wall Street Journal, 19 September 2010.

Recent Sotheby wine auctions in Hong Kong achieved 100 per cent clearance rates and more than 80 per cent of the lots sold for prices that exceeded high estimates. A 12-bottle case of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2005, for example, sold for US$232,962, equating to approximately $US19,413 per bottle! Sotheby’s Big Wine Haul by Amy Ma, The Wall Street Journal, 4 October 2010.

What’s fueling Asian demand for fine wine? Lyons says that Hong Kong’s decision to abolish all import duties and taxes on wine in 2008 is one of the reasons behind the boom. But as Shayne Heffernen explains in his very interesting article, China’s Emerging Wine Market, Live Trading News, 17 October 2010, over the past 10 years increasing cultural and business exchanges between Chinese and Westerners have for the time created a wine culture in China.

Today, affluent urban Chinese are associating wine with sophistication, vitality and high social status, according to Wu Jianhua, head of the Shanghai Drinks Association (SDA). Jenny Li, a Chinese wine … Read the rest

Oct 10 2010

Weekend Wine Reading

Posted on October 10, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Have you even wondered how wine gets a ‘buttery’ aroma? Turns out that one of the chemicals that gives butter its aroma – diacetyl – is also a by-product of malolactic fermentation, the process whereby the sharp malic acid of grapes is converted into the creamier lactic acid of dairy products. Gregory Dal Piaz from Snooth provides some great insights about how wines get all those wonderful and not so wonderful, eg. cat’s pee, aromas and tastes in his very interesting article, Wine Nose: Talking about Caramel, Vanilla… and Cat’s Pee? by Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth, 13 October 2010.

At a recent Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong a 12-bottle case of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2005 sold for US$232,962, equating to approximately $US19,413 per bottle! Sotheby’s Big Wine Haul by Amy Ma, The Wall Street Journal, 4 October 2010. If you’re interested in learning a bit about the philosophy and wine making practices of the winery responsible for some of the most expensive wine on the planet, then take a look at  Searching for Perfection: A Rare Peek Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Wine Domaine in Burgundy by William Lyons, The Wall Street Journal 1 October 2010.

Photo Credit: Aesthetic Promenades. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti uses horses instead of tractors to till the vineyards!

Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

Weekend Wine Reading

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Looking for a few interesting wine-related articles to read over the weekend?

I’m always on the look out for wine news and wine related information posted on the web.  Many experts, professional and lay, are now writing about wine on a regular basis, and sometimes the plethora of information available can seem a bit overwhelming!

Hopefully my posts are giving you a bit of guide about what’s available, so you can create or edit your own bookmarks of favourite sources.

Here’s a few not-to-miss articles for this week:

If you’re dreaming about making a booking at one the most famous restaurants on the planet, El Bulli near Roses on the Costa Brava, Spain, then an account by Eric Asimov, The New York Times wine critic, of his 38-course meal and accompanying wine at the legendary establishment may spur you to try to secure that reservation!

Picking a Wine for a 39-Course Meal by Eric Asimov, The New York Times, 21 September 2010 and El Bulli and a Meal for the Ages by Eric Asimov, The New York Times, 21 September 2010

Gregory Dal Piaz, an editor at Snooth, has posted a very fun article about the role wine has played in some our favourite movies, Wine in Movies The Most Memorable Cinematic Moments, 23 September 2010.

On a more serious note, William Lyons has a very intriguing article in The Wall Street Journal on wine as an investment, A Bull Market for Wine: Top vintages have outperformed almost every other asset class over the past decade. How much longer can it last? 19 September 2010. According to figures compiled by Fine + Rare wine brokers, Château Lafite Rothschild 2000 has climbed a staggering 611% in value since December 2004! Read his article to find out what’s fueling demand!

Hope … Read the rest