Jul 31, 2016

Jim Barry Wines Clare Valley South Australia

It was a cold wet wintry (I said wintery) day and there I was in front of this famous name in wines from Clare Valley South Australia, a member of Australia's First Family of Wine, and about to go in to meet with young winemaker of the year from last year and taste some truly iconic wines. So how did I get here? To help frame how this came about let me share a little story that starts in 2009...

Nov 2009 - Early in my fine wine consuming (different than the regular wine years) I was tasting wine at cellar doors in the beautiful Clare Valley of South Australia with friends, and came across a very special high end wine that was sitting in a discount bin because it's label had been stained by wine (bottle broken in a case). It was half price and although still almost double my usual purchase price range, I had been told by someone I trusted that this was the deal of a lifetime (maybe a slight exaggeration). In a moment of weakness or perhaps some divine intervention I grabbed a bottle and purchased it.
Carefully packing it in the suitcase for the journey back to California where it remained in storage hidden away till Dec 2015. This was a special bottle (read, expensive).

It's December 2015 and for a special occasion I opened one of those bottles of wine that is always waiting for the just right time. You know those special bottles that you bury deep in storage to age a bit. The ones you had to remember not to let die a slow dusty death. The special occasion was my wife's birthday. The night started with bubbles at a top Carmel tasting room Caraccioli Cellars and then off to the lovely Grasing's for a nice dinner, which is where I revealed the special bottle. Kiwi and his wife were going to be included in experiencing this special bottle (really wished I had 2). I can hear some, ok most of you saying 'oh just shut up and tell us what it was.

(Que snare drum) All the way from the Clare Valley in South Australia I shared with Kiwi and Mrs Kiwi, my wife and myself (oh and a little sip for Toby our somm mate) the Jim Barry Wines 2007 Armagh.

Look, critically this was not supposed to be one of the best vintages, but let me say bollocks, this wine was simply magnificent. A truly beautiful wine. Click on the link above for our thoughts.

Here we are in 2016 heading to Adelaide South Australia again and one of my favorite things to do is attend the master classes at the National Wine Center. This trip it happened to be Jim Barry Wines. The person leading the master class was none other than last years young winemaker of the year Tom Barry. A cracking night with good wine and some good conversation lead to a, 'see you later next week at the winery'.

So that's how it came about that here I am in the Clare Valley at Jim Barry Wines. Excitedly in we go and meet up with Tom Barry and we taste and talk about all things wine. We spent a lot of time tasting and talking about a group of wines that Tom is really proud of (he is proud of all their wines).
They are not what you may think. Tom really wants to have the entry level punter taken care of with quality wines at very affordable prices.

All four star wines starting at $19 Aust and up to $22 Aust. The Classic Cover Drive, The Barry Brothers Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon and the Lodge Hill Shiraz. Fantastic value for some great go to wines to share with friends or on any night of the week without breaking the bank. We were impressed. Of course not one to turn down wine we continued to taste through the entire range all the way to the Iconic Armagh. The 2012 Armagh is a very special wine and although it gets no stars as the price point is up there, but for those that can afford it, you will not be disappointed. Again this is a truly magnificent wine. While drinking with Tom, Peter Barry came out to say g'day. I had met Peter in San Francisco at an Australia's First Family of Wine event in 2015 and it was nice to reacquaint.
Great wine to be enjoyed at Jim Barry Wines in the beautiful Clare Valley. Thanks to Tom and Peter for being great hosts. 
Jim Barry wines is a must stop by if you are in the area. 

Happy Wine Adventures,

Jul 25, 2016

Continued growth for Australian wine exports to the US

We may be a little biased towards Aussie wine, ok, ok, very much so. But when you have been exposed to the great Aussie wines that we have, you would be as well. Make no mistake we love all good wine no matter where it's from. This last year we attended a couple great Aussie wine tastings courtesy of Wine Australia and was reminded of all the great wines we have been missing. Our selfish motive is to help in any way we can get more Aussie wine into the USA so we can get it for ourselves.
The following media release that was sent to us is some good news and also a wake up perhaps that some folks still do not know what they are missing and better get their share fast.  

Washington D.C., Wednesday 13 July 2016
Continued growth for Australian wine exports to the US
Wine Australia’s Export Report shows that Australian wine exports to the United States (US) rose in value in the 12 months to the end of June 2016.
From July 2015 to June 2016, exports to the US continued to grow with an 8 per cent increase in value to US$341 million.
Bottled exports increased by 9 per cent to US$300 million and the average value of bottled exports grew by 15 per cent to US$2.95 per litre.
The trend towards Australia’s premium wines in the US continued with exports priced A$10 and above per litre FOB increasing by 16 per cent to US$26.6 million. This reflects the improved perceptions of Australian wine among the US trade, with a growing number of importers taking on more premium Australian brands.
Looking closer at the A$10 per litre and above FOB segment:
·         A$10.00–19.99 increased by 28 per cent to US$16.7 million
·         A$20.00–49.99 declined by 13 per cent to US$7.6 million, and
·         A$50.00 and over increased by 77 per cent to US$2.7 million
Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark, said, ‘It’s pleasing to see continued growth in our most valuable export market, particularly in the premium price points. There is still much work to do in increasing the awareness and availability of premium Australian wine in the US. To continue sustainable growth in our most valuable market requires a long-term approach and a focus on re-establishing relationships and confidence in the category, supported by significant, consistent investment to drive the Australian fine wine message.’
Mr Clark also congratulated Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, importer and long-time supporter of Australian wine, which recently celebrated an Australian wine milestone.
‘We value all of our trade partnerships, they’re critical to our long-term success in the US. To that end I’d like to congratulate Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits on recently importing their 100 millionth case of Australian wine, a significant milestone and a strong indication of the support for Australian wine by the US trade.’
Casella Family Brands Managing Director, John Casella, said, ‘I’d like to congratulate our long standing partner in the US, Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits, for achieving such an impressive milestone. We are thrilled to continue our already strong relationship with the Deutsch team with the relaunch of Peter Lehmann Wines and strengthening our shared vision of promoting provenance, quality, diversity and craftsmanship of Australian premium wines within the US market.
‘It’s exciting to see such reinvigorated interest in Australian wine which is a testament to the hard work that Wine Australia has been doing in the US to promote the quality and diversity of Australian wine.’
The seven biggest US states for Australian wine were all in value growth:
·         California by 7 per cent to US$101 million
·         New York by 30 per cent to US$44 million
·         Florida by 19 per cent to US$32.6 million
·         Texas by 8 per cent to US$21.3 million
·         Massachusetts by 56 per cent to US$16.7 million
·         Pennsylvania by 83 per cent to US$14.4 million, and
·         Georgia by 82 per cent to US$13.7 million.
Global exports of Australian wines A$10 and over FOB hit record value
The total value of Australian wine exports to all markets grew by 11 per cent to US$1.6 billion, driven by bottled exports, particularly at higher price points.
Exports of Australia’s finest wines contributed to almost half of the total value growth in the last 12 months, with exports priced at A$10 and over per litre FOB up 26 percent to a record US$379 million.
Bottled wine exports grew by 15 per cent to US$1.2 billion and the average value of bottled exports increased by 9 per cent to US$4.06 per litre, the highest since October 2003.

Jul 2, 2016

24th Winemaker Celebration Carmel by the Sea

It was overcast and rain threatened, but suspect weather did nothing to subdue the enthusiastic crown from enjoying another great wine and food event. The Monterey 24th Winemaker Celebration was a great success.
There was music, food and of course wine and there was also the wonderful setting that is Carmel by the Sea. We love going to Carmel by the Sea to enjoy the ambience, restaurants and wine tasting.

When the streets close for the Winemaker Celebration you get a view of the beautiful buildings that you normally don't get to see. Standing in the street while casually sipping lovely wine you get to truly appreciate just how beautiful this little town is.

.Setting and ambience aside, some of the wines and food were exceptional. With about 35 wineries pouring and 20 of the Monterey Peninsulas best culinary operations preparing small bites and delights it was a great day.

There were a few wines and bites that stood out from the rest, not necessarily because they were that much better but maybe a great surprise or a good version of a favourite or rarely tasted style.

The only somewhat negative comment is that not all the food was compatible with the wine. Not that this is entirely bad as my designated driver took advantage of some of those, but for the wine drinker it created a problematic choice. Enjoy all the food and mess with your palate or skip some food and totally enjoy the wine.

I stuck with the wine and have no regrets although I do understand some of the desserts were brilliant.

This is an event that mixes a great setting with some great wine and food and we recommend it as one event not to miss.

Happy Wine Adventures,