An Australian Wine Blog

Monday, 29 December 2014

Thoughts on Fourteen

I'm not normally one for taking on end of year reviews. But 2014 was a funny fucker. A year of highs, lows, of love and loss.


Mornington Glory
In my little wine world, 2014 started with a trip to the Mornington Peninsula. A trip with a good bunch of wine lovers, each of us coming at wine from different angles. There's nothing of my own work to refer you back to as a recap. 

I freely admit I struggled. I enjoyed the wines. Initially. But my palate couldn't hold up to the demands placed on it from the rigours of extensive tasting. Everything started to taste brutally tannic to me. I couldn't do anything justice. I questioned myself more than I did the wines. 

Queensland Wine Week
From little things, big things grew. A wonderful celebration of Queensland wine. An opportunity to get wine from my adopted home into the mouths of many. Sadly, personal circumstances prevented my full participation. However, my own personal highlight was being able to lead a coach load of folks to the Granite Belt region and introduce them to the people and their products. Here's a little video we made of that day.

Serious Consequences AKA Orange-gate
It was also the year in which Australian wine continued the ascent up its own arse. The wine region of Orange in New South Wales took umbrage at the increasing reference to white wines made from extended skin contact as 'orange' wines. I can understand their point from a legal perspective, understand their desire to protect their GI designation. 

However I'm not sure that people really confuse the two. Have a chuckle at the absurdity in this piece by Max Allen, and if you're still confused about skin contact wines, then Mike Bennie sets the record straight here


QWA
I peered into the dark underbelly of the Australia wine show system. This was not Four Corners exposé, rather I volunteered for 3 days as a steward. The system is somewhat at odds with my own tasting regime, where wines are - more often than not - tasted on their own, with and without food, over an extended period.

It was an insight, but more than that it was about camaraderie, of working within your team and supporting your tasting panel.

Of Loss
In 2014 the wine world lost a very unique voice, Jeremy Pringle. Jeremy was someone I looked up to. From my very early forays in and around the world of wine, Jeremy's Wine Will Eat Itself website was a great resource for identifying wines that were of interest to my own growing fascination with wine (and an acknowledgement must go here to Jeremy's friend Keira for keeping the website - and Jeremy's legacy - going. Salut!)

Never one to shy away from criticism, he was a critic in the true sense, but his talent and palate were more than a match for that combative temperament. The wine world is poorer for his loss, and I know many who mourn the loss of friendship.

Wine Cannibalism
And of course Jeremy was right you know. Towards the end of August 2014, it seemed that wine actually would eat itself. An article by Huon Hooke caused uproar. He didn't seem to articulate himself that well and - in my opinion - came out of the affair looking rather out of touch and old fashioned. There were some excellent opinion pieces in response, one that stood out for me was from Tom Hogan (yes, there may be some inferene of bias here, I quite like 'trendy-piss' and would consider Hogan a mate, insofar as my yardstick for a term is "someone I've had a beer with" - no accusations of fence-sitting here).

Whilst neither of the key 'gate' episodes (it's still mandatory to add 'gate' to anything that sets the twittersphere alight isn't it?) - being Orange-gate and Somm-gate - involved me personally, they did leave a slight sour taste in my mouth. Again, questioning my own participation in the small corner of the world in which I sit. 

What next?
As with most things, the good outweighs the bad. I'd still like to get out 'there' more, wherever that may be. Yes, there are plans. There always are.

As with many things it's about balance. Balancing the different roles I play: father, husband, amateur wine hack and somewhere amongst all that there's a full time job to hold down. 

Here's to 2015 then eh?

You can follow me on twitter if you so desire: http://twitter.com/TheVinsomniac

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