Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top of the Pop's in the Naughties - the best of wine for me 2000-2009

Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it? Yesterday when I ended my Top 10 wines of 2009 saying that I would be posting my top 10 wine moments of the naughties (or noughties I have since been informed), the thought that it would be as big as it is was not as obvious as it is now.

The last 10 years has really been about me finding my place within the wine industry; from sommelier to retail wine sales to studying wine and viticulture at university to working vintage and finally finishing the decade working for a Champagne house in Brand development. Since arriving back from Europe in February 2000, I have immersed myself in all things wine, so coming up with a list of wine moments for the naughties has been tougher than first expected, but after much thought I have come up with the ten moments and events that have defined the past ten years with wine. So in no particular order, here they are.

1. Four amazing Champagnes; Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1959, Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1990, Krug 1998 and Krug NV.
2. Penfolds Grange robbery at Como Wine & Spirits, 2002.
3. Domaine de la Romanée Conti 2005 vertical tasting, 2008.
4. Vintage at Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley 2008.
5. Working at Bindi Wine Growers, Macedon Ranges 2005-2009.
6. Sommelier work.
7. Viticulture/Wine Science degree 2003-2008.
8. Re-discovering Chardonnay.
9. Working for Vranken Pommery Monopole.
10. The rise of cool climate Shiraz.

Now it’s a big list with each one being a lengthy story, so like many other posts, this one will be a series over the next few weeks, with the first instalment on my Champagne moments with Dom Perignon and Krug.

Four amazing Champagnes – I have always loved champagne, with it all starting in Champagne while doing vintage with Jean-Marie Etienne in 1997. During my time there I was able to taste some amazing wine, and not just from Jean-Marie Etienne but from other producers in the Valle de Marne, yet it wasn’t until 2002 that Champagne really meant something to me.

The first was back in 2002 when the three assailants responsible for the Grange Robbery at Como Wine & Spirits were charged and sentenced to lengthy gaol time (I will get to the Grange incident in another post). It was a pretty big moment for me filled with relief, anger and pity for the three idiots who did it to pay off a heroin debt. With the help of a good mate, we polished off a bottle of Krug NV in quick time and were left with the common thought that we could never go back to boring old sparkling wine – a bit like flying first class the first time and knowing how tough it’s going to be in coach the next time!

My next Champagne moment came in 2005 with the birth of Imogen. Having the kind of taste for wine that I do, Erin and me were never going to toast the arrival of Imogen with a mere bottle of Aussie sparkling, or even something like a Bollinger or Veuve Clicquot NV; we needed something grand, and that was the Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1990 – an amazing moment celebrated with an amazing wine.

I did not have to wait too long for my next Champagne moment, with this one still being the most amazing wine I have ever tasted – the Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1959. This happened when I was a sommelier at Vue de monde in 2005 when David, the head sommelier, and I enjoyed a half a glass each of this wine that was left by a customer who BYO’d it. I can fair dinkum still smell the truffle and earthy notes of this wine.

Finally, there is the Krug 1998, another wine that Erin and I had to welcome our second child, Henry, in to the world. Having only had it 11 months ago, this wine displayed everything good about a young vintage Champagne with mouth watering citrus and brioche, and also the lament of finishing the bottle just knowing how good this wine will taste in 20 years. Still, the wine lived up to the occasion.

There you have it, four wines that meant, and still do, quite a bit to me; relief, amazement and wonderment.

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