Archive for October, 2011

Fair crack of the whip! – A Tassie shiraz takes the Jimmy Watson Trophy!

Reviewed 10 wines on offer by Crystal Wines, Le Vigne, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Cellar Door, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia.

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Tasmanian wines have well and truly been hitting the news lately, with Waterton Vineyards 2009 Riesling taking out the International Riesling Challenge in Canberra and Pooley 2009 Butchers Pinot Noir taking out the National Cool Climate Challenge. Well you’d expect that of fine Tassie Rieslings and Pinots. But a Shiraz?

When I started Tiger Wines earlier this year, it was because I expected that Tasmania would benefit from global warming, but not this quick!

The Jimmy Watson winner for 2011 is the 2010 Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Pere Tasmania Shiraz.

Here’s what Mike Bennie from The Wine Front said:

“Wow. Does it get any more exciting and out there than this wine winning the Jimmy Watson trophy in 2011? Not only a first for Tasmania, but it’s a Tasmanian Shiraz! Hooley dooley! I was lucky enough to be a judge at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show this year and it was my bust-out favourite wine of the trophy winners – a clear best of show after the (excellent) chaff had been sorted. 2010 chardonnays were a revelation, there were some contenders in the 2009 shiraz classes and cabernet and cabernet blends were on the whole exceptionally high standard from younger vintages. But only one wine takes out the Jimmy….”

Yes, Tiger Wines is lined up like everyone else to get some. In the meantime, we’ll be offering some Spring Vale Freycinet Pinot Noir next week to help quench your thirst for a Tasmanian red. Watch http://www.tiger-wines.com to see when they land.

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One lone Aussie in the bunch today.

2009 / Greywacke / Wild / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$46.40 at Crystal Wines – This  is a ripper of a wine according to The Wine Front, who give it 95 points (“exceptional”) and is my second favourite here today. RRP of around NZ$31 so price here is good. Drinking to 2015 with alcohol of 13.2%. Oh, did I mention? It’s made by the former founding winemaker of Cloudy Bay, Kevin Judd. I think I’ll get some of this.

2010 / Greywacke / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$36.80 at Crystal Wines – Looks like the little brother to “Wild” which is bit odd when you think about it. It’s nearly up there, getting 4.5 stars from Epicure (“first class”) and a “recommended” from Decanter. Bob Campbell gives it 93 points and says it’s a “classy wine”.  So you’re on pretty safe ground then. And you know, at S$36.80 you’d have to think it’s a steal compared with you-know-what. I do, so I’m getting some.

2010 / Mount Brown / Waipara / Sauvignon Blanc / S$23.90 at Le Vigne – OK, so we take a fair step down in quality here, but we’re also getting close to the price limit that any drinkable wine can go to. Remember that with that $7 tax, “two buck chuck” hits Singapore at around this price point. Look, I’m not going to tell you that this is the best wine this side of the black stump, but I can tell you that Bob Campbell said “if you like the assertive acidity (I do) the wine offers good value at this price.” That price in New Zealand is NZ$14 so the comparative price here is terrific. Just don’t expect Cloudy Bay (or Greywacke)

2010 / Wither Hills / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$35.50 at The Cellar Door – Are we done with the sauvignon blancs yet? Apparently not. This one’s not bursting with high ratings either. Wine Spectator in the US gave it 87 points (“very good’) and Bob Campbell gives it 82 (“average to good”). He felt a bit let down by this wine calling it “slightly too sweet”. No doubting the value, it’s just that on this day, it’s outclassed. Sort of like Australian horses in the Melbourne Cup.

2007 / Aunstfield / Heritage / Marlborough / Pinot Noir / S$91 at Rubicon Reserve Wines – Wow. Right at the high end of pricing for a Kiwi pinot. But Michael Cooper’s pretty happy with it giving it 4.5 stars (“excellent”) and says it’ll go to 2021. “Built for cellaring” he says. With a RRP of NZ$75, it’s right where the BBI would expect it to be at S$91.

2008 / Zema Estate / Coonawarra / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$40, S$37 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – An Aussie at last. Yeh, bit of a difference of opinion on this one. James Halliday has no qualms giving it 94 points but Mike Bennie from The Wine Front is more reserved giving it 89. He puts it down to the difficult 2008 vintage, but to give Zema a fair go, he reckons “raise your glass to the vagaries of the harvest – the wine still shows good form at the price (A$28)” And, that good form (another racing term?) carries on here too. Drinking to 2020+ ish.

The BBI call for this week is the Greywacke Sauvignon by half a length to the Greywacke Wild Sauvignon, with a short half-head to the Zema cabernet.

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WINESPEAK 101 – Waffle with the best of them. Today’s word is PUNGENT

“Vibrant purple wine with pungent green olive nose with a big hit of pepper.” – Pepper and purple give it away. It’s a Shiraz

“Distinct pungent aromas and excellent flavour length on a very sweet, slightly oily, palate.”  – Doesn’t sound very attractive does it? Anyway, they’re talking about a Chenin Blanc

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THE CONTINUING HISTORY LESSON……..

Struth! Did the French really start the Australian wine industry? Let’s find out:

“Meanwhile [in 1800-1801] the two French prisoners of war arrived. Great expectations were held for their efforts. They planted one vineyard with 7,000 cuttings but the vines could not withstand our climate and they died. The Governor gave them more land and more vines. They planted 12,000 cuttings on the side of a hill at Parramatta. The first vineyard was at The Crescent, just beyond the old Government House, Parramatta. Governor King became enthusiastic. In 1803 he wrote home; ‘Upwards of 10,000 vines are in very fine condition and it is intended to make a very large vineyard at Castle Hill.’ Next year most of the vines got the blight and died. The wine made from the grapes of the other vines seems mostly to have been drunk by the French prisoners of war. Which certainly was a just return for their labour. They were so often either drunk or sleeping off the effects that King lost his patience: in 1804 he wrote that the damned Frenchmen knew little of wine making and what wine they made, they drank; one he was sending back to England immediately. Whether the other kept up his drinking habits history does not relate.”  – The Aesthetics of Wine, March 1946

Phew!

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Oh dear. Did the French start the Australian wine industry?

Reviewed 5 New Zealand wines and 3 Australian today. Seems only fair given the rugby outcome. From my time in New Zealand in 1988, I learnt two golden rules when it came to rugby. The first rule is that it’s best not to be an Australian in New Zealand if the All Blacks win. The second rule is that it’s best not to be an Australian in New Zealand if the All Black’s lose.

Wines on offer by Essential Fine Wines, Goddess Wines, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Underground Wines, Wine Direction.

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Were you a fan of Cliff Richard? Come on, own up! Well now you can be a fan of his wines too. Have a look at:

http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2011/08/sir-cliff-scoops-a-quintet-of-wine-awards/

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Here’s today’s reviews:

2009 / Rock Ferry / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / S$30 at Underground Wines – “A gutsy Pinot Gris” is how Bob Campbell describes it. He gives it 87 points (“above average” so OK rather than startling. It retails for NZ$27 which I must say seems a bit high locally, but whatever, that translates into excellent buying here when listed at S$30.

2008 / TerraVin / Marlborough / Pinot Noir / S$42 at Goddess Wine – Bob Campbell called it “charming, fruity” but only gives it 85 points so it’s sitting right on the bottom edge of his “above average” but still good. Retails for NZ$35 so is very acceptable.

2010 / Wignalls / Unwooded / Great Southern / Chardonnay / S$38 at Wine Direction – Halliday 88 (“above average”) and drinking for the next year. Retail price of A$18 so pricing here is OK. It still fits comfortably within the BBI.

2008 / Pikes / Le Merle / Clare Valley / Riesling / S$45 at Wine Direction – This rates solidly in the low 90s from both Halliday and Gourmet Traveller Wine. Acceptable alcohol at 12%, and drinking to 2020. RRP of A$38 making the price here pretty attractive. A safe bet.

2008 / Mitchell / Peppertree / Clare Valley / Shiraz / S$35.53 at The Cellar Door – This is the stand out wine for me today.  James Halliday gives it 96 points (outstanding”) and says that it’s the best Peppertree to date. Long legs, way out to 2030. Usual 14.5% alcohol. With a RRP of A$26 and only S$35 odd here, I’m definitely getting some of this.

Today’s Bastard Box choice is a no-brainer. It’s the Mitchell Peppertree Shiraz. $36 bucks for a 96 point Clare Valley “best yet” shiraz, or $30 bucks for a Pinot Gris, any Pinot Gris? I’ve made my choice. And if push came to shove, I’d put the Pikes Riesling in there in second place. Nothing wrong with the Pinot Gris, and it’s a good comparative price, I just get more excited by the other two wines.

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WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them. Today’s word is – BLACKCURRANT

“Sweet, ripe blackcurrant nose, medium-bodied but ripe and lively, fresh and not extracted.”

“Stylish wine with good definition of blackcurrant aromas and elegant, fresh, cassis varietal palate with hints of violets and excellent oak balance.”

Give yourself a pat on the back if you picked that the wines are reds. Give yourself a drink if you picked the first one as Syrah and the second one as Cabernet. Easy isn’t it?

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THE WAY WE WERE – 1978 BULLERS RUTHERGLEN

“A cordial invitation is extended to visitors to the Rutherglen area to visit our winery…..” Weren’t we ever so polite back in 1978. Marketing novices perhaps, but polite.

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Oh dear. Does this mean the FRENCH started our wine industry?

“From this small beginning, a few vines in the Governor’s garden, the only vines in the New Continent, Governor Hunter was able to report in 1789 that Sydney had eight acres under vines.  History does not relate who made the first wine. Nor who first exported some to England. But someone did. The Duke of Portland writes to the Governor of New South Wales in April, 1800: ‘As it appears that the soil and climate of New South Wales are favourable to the cultivation of the grape, there will go out by the “Royal Admiral” two Frenchmen, who are prisoners of war here and who appear to have a perfect knowledge of the cultivation of a vineyard and the whole process of making wine….I trust the employment of these men will enable you in a very short period to cultivate a vineyard for the Crown to such an extent as to allow of your producing, on the spot, whatever wine may be wanted for the public account.’” – The Aesthetics of Wine, March 1946

Stay tuned…….

A mob of 90+ wines at less than $30! – Great buying. And our first Tassie shipment.

Reviewed wines on offer by Eve Spirits, Le Vigne, The Cellar Door, Wine Exchange Asia.

Not a great quantity this week but the value is good and much of it is below $30.

Great wines coming out of Tasmania too. Have a look at the Tassie update at the end of the blog.

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And you thought oak came from barrels…..see http://oaksolutionsgroup.com/

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2009 / Norfolk Rise / Mount Benson / Pinot Grigio / S$25 from Le Vigne – I’m not an expert on Pinot Grigio so I leave it to others, but I do know that it’s hard for this style to get into the 90+ range. This wine’s no exception coming in with 4 stars from Epicure (“very good”) and Halliday (“fair to good”). I think you’d want to drink this now.  A nice sundowner perhaps and with 13.5% alcohol, still leaves you sober enough to move on to the blockbuster shiraz with dinner. Retails at A$16-17 so this is an outstanding price here.

2010 / Langmeil / Live Wire / Eden Valley/ Riesling / S$28 at Le Vigne – I’m buying some, do I need to say more? This is a 94 point Halliday Riesling for $28 bucks! That’s insane. Still drinking out to 2018 according to Halliday, and look at this – 8.5% alcohol. You simply have to get some of this for Xmas for your mother-in-law’s visit. Its RRP is A$20. Insane.  Oh, and it’s medium sweet so she’ll definitely like it.  Maybe too much. Best get a case then.

2007 / Langmeil / Earthworks / Barossa Valley / Cabernet Sauvignon/ S$28 at Le Vigne – I could only find one rating on this particular vintage and that was 4 stars from Wine Spectator, which means “very good” in their books. They had it as ready to drink right now, although James Halliday says the 2006 will drink to 2013. Either way, looks best to enjoy now rather than later.  Price-wise, it’s good value and price/quality it comes in OK too. Today’s quaffer then.

2002/ Reschke / Empyrean / Coonawarra / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$80, $75 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – With a name like Reschke, you’d think this would be from the Barossa but no, it’s from that great Cabernet area, Coonawarra. Accolades across the board from Halliday, Wine Front and Winestate. I won’t go into the detail but it’s a solid 4.5 – 5 star wine. Halliday gave his rating in 2005 and WineFront in 2008 so I reckon they’re probably still relevant.  Drinking to 2017 looks a safe bet, but look at the price. Retailed at A$115.  I’m convinced. I’ve bought 2 bottles.

2005 / Veronique / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$38 at Le Vigne – This is 4.5 stars from Halliday and WineFront and the buying here, with a RRP of A$23 is solid value. So far so good, but there a huge difference of opinion as to when it should be drunk.  WineFront says 2010. Halliday says 2025. I went back and checked them both. You’ll have to make your own call on this one.

2007/ Nepenthe / Gate Block / Adelaide Hills / Shiraz / S$44.90 at Eve Spirits – Better known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this Shiraz from Nepenthe comes in at 94 points from Halliday. It’s still got legs to 2020 with the alcohol (14.5%) to carry it through.  Retails for A$39 so the buying here is great value.

I reckon the best thing to do this week is to get yourself a couple of bottles of the Reschke and put them aside for a while. Then, to salve your conscience that you went and spent $160 bucks on two bottles of wine, go stock up on the Live Wire Riesling at $28 a bottle. It’s a steal. And if you don’t want to do that, try the Norfolk Rise Pinot Grigio at $25.

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WINE SPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them. Today’s word – BACON

“Rich, complex and woody style. The smoky bacon oak characters are in balance with the spicy berry fruits.”

“Ripe plum and cherry fruit wih savoury bacon and pepper on the nose and palate . “

Did you recognize the wine? They’re talking about shiraz. I was at a tasting with wine-buffs once when I turned to the gent next to me and said “wow, do you get the bacon on that nose”. He said “How would I know! I’m Indian and I’m a vegetarian.”

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THE WAY WE WERE: 1976 Chateau Yaldara

The name Yaldara lives on. Herman Thumm sold Chateau Yaldara to McGuigan Wines in 1999, and as far as I can tell, it’s now part of Australian Vintage Ltd

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“Everyone says it, but it’s true; the work is done in the vineyard, and all a winemaker can do is stuff things up, so we aim for minimal intervention”. – Nick Haselgrove, quoted in Winestate October 2007

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TASMANIA UPDATE brought to you by Tiger Wines!

Congratulations to Peter Cameron and Jennifer Baird for their success at this week’s International Riesling Challenge in Canberra. Their Waterton Vineyards 2009 Riesling won best Riesling from Tasmania, best in Australia, and best wine of the Challenge.  Watch this space!

Ditto for the 2009 Pooley Butchers Hill Pinot Noir which just yesterday took out Champion Wine of the Show, Champion Dry Red Table Wine, and Champion Pinot Noir at the National Cool Climate Wine Show in Bathurst.

And if that’s not enough, get yourself a copy of the November issue of Decanter which has a three page spread on Tasmania’s cool climate wines.

Here at Tiger Wines (www.tiger-wines.com) , we’re doing our bit to bring you Tassie wines and we’re very excited to offer our latest arrival. Quantities are tiny, so if you want some, you’ll need to be quick. This is the first time that Pressing Matters has ever exported so you’ll be amongst a tiny number of people outside Australia (and possibly Tasmania!) to get access to wine from this Halliday 5 star rated winery:

Here’s what Huon Hooke said in the Sydney Morning Herald in February this year:

“To say the Pressing Matters wines hit the ground running would be a gross understatement. Show awards for the Riesling came immediately and in this year’s Tasmanian Wine Show, Pressing Matters won trophies for best Riesling, best wine of show (both for the 2006 R9) best 2010 vintage wine (R139 Riesling) and most successful exhibitor. Melick’s tally from the show was six gold medals, five silver and three bronze from 14 entries. Every Pressing Matters Riesling has won a medal somewhere and most have won a gold or silver”

To make it clearer for consumers, the approximate levels of residual sugar are reflected in the labeling – hence R0 (bone dry) and R9 (dry)

2009 / Pressing Matters / R0 / Coal River Valley / Riesling – S$47 (incl GST)

James Halliday 94 points (“outstanding, wine of the highest quality”) and Winestate 5 stars (“outstanding, gold”). Drinking to 2022, alcohol 11.0%. Only 1715 bottles made, 56 bottles available. RRP A$29.

2007 / Pressing Matters / R9 / Coal River Valley / Riesling  – S$47 (incl GST)

James Halliday 96 points (“outstanding, wine of the highest quality”). Drinking to 2017. Alcohol 10.2%. Only 2976 bottles made, 56 bottles available. RRP A$29.

2009 / Pressing Matters / Coal River Valley / Pinot Noir – S$64 (incl GST)

James Halliday 91 points (“highly recommended”). Drinking to 2016. Alcohol 13.5%. Only 1990 bottles made, 8 bottles available. This Pinot has a real sour cherry entry but finishes with a palate that typifies the terroir of Coal River Valley. It’s not Central Otago, it’s not Adelaide Hills. It’s Southern Tasmania. RRP of A$49

Order by e-mail from tigerwines@singnet.com.sg . Collect in the east from Extra Space, Boon Keng Road, or in the west (by arrangement) at Le Vigne, Holland Grove Road.

Grange at S$588 and top weekend buying at S$110 – did someone mention recession?

Reviewed a total of eight wines on offer by Bottles & Bottles, The Cellar Door, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia

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He would indeed be turning in his grave. See http://www.winebiz.com.au/dwn/details.asp?ID=6362 . I knew David Clarke well from my time at Macquarie Bank. I recall an evening at which my department was hosting some special clients at a vertical Grange tasting.  We invited David to open the event. He keenly agreed but regretted that he needed to get away early as he had guests for dinner. Well past his indicated departure time, and well into our vertical tasting, I said “David, shouldn’t you be going, you have guests for dinner” to which he replied “To hell with the guests, this is Grange!”

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In this age of planned obsolescence, short attentions spans, and instant gratification, isn’t it great that we can still procure something that will reward us for our patience and our care. I’m just looking at the tasting notes sent out in James Halliday’s recent Wine Companion newsletter. 2009 Grant Burge Corryton cabernet, drinking to a mere 2020. Then 2009 Tower Estate Horse Paddock shiraz drinking to 2030, ditto 2009 Dutschke Oscar Semmler shiraz, ditto 2009 Hewitson Old Garden mouvedre. I say, good on those winemakers for giving us something that is crafted for the future, such a rare thing these days.

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Well, what a week. Wine Exchange Asia dropped a swag of investment wine onto the market this week and what I understand from Robert Rees is that it’s all gone. If you’re not on their Twitter or Facebook list then you probably missed out. I know I did. Bugger!

It’s not a big selection of wines reviewed today, and I have to say that this is the first time that the value/quality balance is generally OK, not great. We’ve been treated to some exceptional deals on wines over the last few months; some of these deals are still very good good, just not exceptional.

2007 / Bushmere Estate / Unoaked / Gisborne / Chardonnay / S$30.50 at Underground Wines – The only rating I could get on this was from Michael Cooper who gave it 3 stars, which equates to “good”. He’s showing a RRP of NZ$19 so the price here is terrific value.

2009 / Villa Maria / Cellar Selection / Marlborough / Chardonnay / S$32.39 at The Cellar Door – Ignore the odd pricing and look at the wine. Bob Campbell did and wasn’t overly impressed giving it 82 points, but that’s still “average to good” in his terms and bronze medal standard. Retails for NZ$24 so the small drop in quality is made up for in a very decent price indeed.

2009 / Rockburn / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$52 at Wine Exchange Asia – A solid 89 points from Bob Campbell, making it “above average” and bordering on “very good”. “Good weight and length” he says. It retails for NZ$40 so the price here is pretty attractive.

2005 / Penfolds / South Australia / Grange / S$588 at Bottles & Bottles – I don’t know if this is the cheapest price around town but it looked reasonable to me. Certainly better than the S$820 that Carrefour had it at. I know that Grange is A$550 down-under, but with the WET rebate kicking in, I reckon that you might see it in Singapore at S$500. But then again, you might not. As I said, I think this is a fair price. Oh yes, 95, 96 97 points by everybody that counts.

2004 / Wild Duck Creek / Springflat / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$55, S$49 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Scores a Halliday “highly recommended” rating and it’s drinking way, way out to 2024. The alcohol? A modest (?) 15%.  Retailed for A$36 so the BBI reckons the pricing is spot on.

2005 / Wild Duck Creek / Reserve / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$110 at Wine Exchange Asia – A 95 pointer from Halliday with a life expectancy of 2020. Retailed for A$125 so the offer here is very attractive indeed. Alcohol? Did you have to ask? I’ll whisper it to you…..16%.

So what’s Bastard Box’s recommendation today? I’d go for the 2005 Wild Duck Creek Reserve shiraz at S$110 at Wine Exchange Asia. If you really don’t like the alcohol level, add some water. Oh, yes, it is acceptable. You might want to check with Robert on availability though.

My second choice would go to the 2004 Wild Duck Creek Springflat shiraz followed very closely by the Rockburn pinot. If Wine Exchange Asia has sold out of all of those, then I’d get the Villa Maria chardonnay at The Cellar Door.

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Winespeak 101: Learn to waffle with the best of them. Today’s word is SILKY

“This silky, supple red offers black olive-accented blackberry, plum and cherry flavours mingling with hints of chocolate and spice.”

“Silky, supple and complex from the first sniff to the last echo on the long, expressive finish, this drips with character, offering black olive-accented blackberry, plum and cherry fruit mingling with hints of unsweetened chocolate, bacon-stewed greens and haunting spices.”

The wine? Syrah – so next time someone asks “what do you think of this syrah” simply reply “silky”. Not sure about bacon-stewed greens though…..

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THE WAY WE WERE:  1975 Arrowfield

Interesting that it’s a wine for grown-ups given that you have to be an adult to legally drink! As far as I can see, Arrowfield doesn’t use black labels anymore.

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“A Major Ross, writing from Norfolk Island in 1790 said: ‘From eight grape vines which are found in His Majesty’s garden and two vines I found in Lt. Creswell’s garden, there are 600 cuttings planted here and all of them in flourishing condition. Last August His Excellency, the Governor-in-Chief, sent 250 cuttings from Port Jackson. In the course of two or three years I can see no reason why we may not have as much wine made upon this island as will supply New South Wales and this place. I think it very probable that in a short time they may export wine from this island.’ Alas! There is no record that, even if the wine was made, it was exported to New South Wales. It may have saved a great deal of trouble if it had been a Wine and not a Rum Rebellion.”  – The Aesthetics of Wine, March 1946


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Wine quotations

"A good bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

“The unexacting palates of the masses…are content to ask no question [on origin] so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong , full-bodied, fruity wine” – CE Hawker writing in 1907

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