What's next in Australia?
And for those of us who love wine, the end of the Olympics isn't so much a farewell to the land Down Under as it is a beginning, for this autumn (spring in the Southern Hemisphere) brings two major wine-related events that will keep Australia very much on the wine map: The "Top 100" Sydney International Wine Competition from Nov. 13-17; and Wine Australia 2000 in Melbourne, Nov. 23-28.
I have the great honor to be a judge at this year's Sydney competition, and will be traveling to Australia for the first time to take part. While I'm there, I hope to spend a little extra time visiting wineries and meeting online friends in Australia and New Zealand, finishing up at Wine Australia.
The Sydney International Wine Competition, http://www.top100wines.com.au/, takes several unusual approaches to judging wine that appeal to me and that, I believe, make its results more meaningful to wine consumers. It solicits entries from all over the world (more than 1,200 wines were entered last year), and it selects an international panel of judges to critique them. It requires that the wines entered be made in sufficient quantity that wine lovers will stand a chance at finding them on the open market after the results are announced. It categorizes its divisions not by grape or country but by the style of the wine - "lighter-bodied white," "fuller-bodied red" and the like - and perhaps most intriguing of all, the finalists are judged not only in isolation but also on the basis of their ability to match with appropriate food. I'm looking forward to the weeklong judging marathon - and to reporting back to you from the Australia and New Zealand wine country.
(By the way, there's still time for wine producers to enter the competition: Entries are open until Oct. 15. For more information, click to the competition's Website or contact email@example.com by E-mail.)
Wine Australia 2000, meanwhile, is said to be the world's largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Australian wines, with some 8,000 wines from 350 wine companies presented under one roof at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. For more information visit the Victorian Wineries and Tourism Website, http://www.visitvictoria.com/wineries/index1.html and click on the "Wine Australia" link.
Australia's wines are well represented in the rest of the world nowadays, a marked change from as recently as 10 to 15 years ago, and they show a breadth and variety that offers something for just about everyone, from big, fruity Cabernets, Shirazes and Grenaches to fat Chardonnays, delicate Rieslings, festive sparkling wines and maybe most noteworthy, world-class dessert wines. New Zealand, long best known for its white wines, is now beginning to show serious strides in reds as well.
I'll be writing more (although certainly not exclusively) about the wines and wine lore of this region in the next couple of months. If any of you who live Down Under or who have particular affection for its wines would like to get in touch to offer your advice, I'd be happy to hear from you by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note, but I'll answer as many as I can; and please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.
We hope you'll invite your wine-loving friends to register for their own free weekly copy at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor.
Full-bodied Australian Chardonnay
Clear light-gold in color with a greenish hue. Butter and pineapple aromas, very ripe tropical fruit. Mouth-filling and rich, more structured than the nose might suggest. Definitely more New World than Burgundian in style, but to its credit, it keeps its oaky qualities in balance with fresh, ripe fruit. U.S. importer: Old Bridge Cellars, San Francisco. (Sept. 27, 2000)
FOOD MATCH: John Dory fillets sauteed in butter with lemon.
Spirits, beers and other libations
Wine country dreaming
California Wine Club
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Vol. 2, No. 37, Oct. 2, 2000