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Thursday, 7 January 2016

2015: A Year of Change

If 2014 (see: Thoughts on Fourteen) was a year of reflection, of choosing to capture some poignant moments from that year, then 2015 will no doubt be seen as my year of change.

My reflections on 2014 were bookended with a recap of a trip to the Mornington Peninsula and concluded with a desire to "get out there more". A constant throughout my dabblings, forays, meanderings in this little world of wine has been a desire to get out, to meet people, the producers and the places in which wine is made, 2015 seems to finally be the year I started to make that happen. 

Hunter Valley
The tail end of the year saw me make my first trip to the Hunter Valley, shocking I know for a self-titled wine ponce to have taken this long to get to Australia's most historic wine region. It was a holiday, rather than a full on "wine wankathon", a chance to explore somewhere new, with someone new. 
Scott McWilliam hams it up
for the camera

A chance to visit this region that is in a state of flux, with old established wineries seemingly re-inventing themselves, exploring their own deep histories; of new entrants making their mark, of winemakers re-employing what once was. Nothing is really new anymore.

It was encouraging to see a broad mix of wine styles and of varieties beyond Hunter stalwarts Shiraz and Semillon starting to make their mark, whilst those traditional varieties look outstanding off the back of a great vintage. 

But spare a thought for the region as it faces some challenges off the back of significant rain events at a critical period for the development of the grapes.

Beyond the Hunter were trips to the Barossa, Melbourne for Pinot Palooza and of course a second coach-trip to the Granite Belt for Queensland Wine Week.

Of Loss
With each year that passes, it seems that some of our brightest lights dim. Not wishing to denigrate the memories of all those that we lost in 2015, two significant losses that I feel sufficiently saddened by to mark here were those of Willow Bridge Estate's Simon Burnell, tragically lost in a windsurfing accident in March, and that of industry legend Bob McLean whom we lost to cancer in April.

Of Significant Change
We put a little of ourselves out into the blogosphere with each post, with each remark, opinion or comment and so it would be somewhat strange to fail to acknowledge that I separated from my partner of 12 years in this year. A wonderful mother and supportive partner, this significant event probably explains some of the 'wine' changes for me in the year: a reduction in volume and frequency of blog posts, but also coincides with an increased ability to 'get out there more'. 

But with change also comes new beginnings, for the demise of one relationship saw a new one beginning - a new drinking partner, for wine should rarely be consumed alone right?

Swirl, Sniff, Spit
The tasting group that has been in existence since April 2011 saw its own significant change with the sad closure of Era Bistro, our host since that very first session all those years ago. Again, with change comes new opportunities and the wonderful Wandering Cooks became a new home for Swirl, Sniff, Spit - but to quote that well known song: "who knows what tomorrow brings"?

Swirl Sniff Spit at Wandering Cooks
There are some wonderful tasting groups that have sprung up around Brisbane since that first session, and I would like to think that, at least in some small part, Swirl Sniff Spit achieved what it set out to do, and that was to help foster a good wine culture amongst like minded folks in little old Brissy.

Bring it on: let's see what you've got eh?

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  1. Certainly a massive year of change and 2016 looks like a year of new beginnings. Am shocked that was your first trip to the Hunter Valley!

    1. I know, somewhat slack of me Sally :) Certainly a big year of change, and yes 2016 shaping up as one of new beginnings, but also hopefully reinforcement of some of the things I hold dear.....

  2. One door closes and another one opens Stu.....hope to see you hear on the #Granitebelt in 2016.

    1. I'm sure you know about yearly renewal as much as anyone in your profession Andy :) Will be sure to get up the GB again this year

  3. Nice article Stu. Look forward to catching up later in the year.

    1. Thanks Steve - feels a bit like stripping yourself bare in some respects, but good (and cheap :) therapy!

  4. Onwards and upward in 2016 mate!

    1. Cheers AG - good luck with your new ventrure (and adventures) too

  5. Quite the update! Take care, and all the best Stu. I always enjoy reading your posts, although I am rather terrible generally at saying so.