Monday, September 24, 2007
I've got plenty of pretty little biases against certain types of wine, and one of them is a general tendency to believe the worst about Australian bottles. Too big, too fruity, pandering to the hoi polloi, lotsa oak, silly cartoon labels, all of that. But I try not to get hidebound in these beliefs, so I leave the door ajar to the possibility that I might be convinced otherwise.
And so, I accepted an invitation to a tasting of vintners from Western Australia. What could it hurt? Beside, I've always liked that Margaret River stuff. More restrained, less fruit and alcohol obsessed.
I'm glad I did. Otherwise, I wouldn't have had the chance to taste the excellent Leeuwin Estate line-up of Chardonnays, including the Art Series and Prelude lines, which are wonderfully chalky, mineral and ageworthy, and which Wine Spectator recently singled out.
I was also surprised by the all-around excellence of the Thompson Estate line-up. Full, smooth whites (Chard, Semillon/Sauv Blanc) and light, elegant reds (Cab/Merlot, straight Cab and Pinot Noir). I also learned, by drinking all the Houghton wines, what your average West Australian drinks on a steady basis. Not bad stuff, drinkable. Apparently, the Aussie versions of these wines are more alcoholic.
To keep the drinkers sober, the winemakers offered a big, brimming bowl of crayfish. But nobody knew how to eat the damn things, so the tasters left them lonely and focused on the cheese tables. Everyone knows how to eat cheese.