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Wine

Talking wine with Jancis Robinson

You are known for you comprehensive tomes such as the Oxford Companion to Wine, so this 112-page book is a very different offering from you. How did this come about?

It started with our 24-year-old daughter, who was always being asked by her friends about wines... ‘How should I store this? Should I buy this wine? Your mother is a wine writer so you must know.’ So at one stage, she thought she would write a guide to wine for her friends. She got a whole load of them around and did a bit of a focus group to see what they wanted to know and what puzzled them. Then she got a great job and she gave up on that idea. But I thought it was a great idea, so I used her checklist and put together this book.

So who is the book for?

The 24-Hour Wine Expert is for people who drink wine, but aren’t too serious about it. They want to know the basics, the short cuts to the important things about the wine.

What are the things that people want to know?

I think they want to know the practicalities. They want to know how to taste, how to get the most out of every bottle. For instance, they want to know why you should only fill your wine glass half full. They want to know how to choose a bottle of wine off the shelf, they want to be able to look at a wine label and understand what it is telling them. They want to be able to choose wine from a wine list at a restaurant...People want to know what the heck that business of giving a taste of wine in restaurants is all about.

Can someone become a wine expert in 24 hours?

The book is written in a way that you could easily read it in 24 hours and after which you’d have all the essentials for understanding wine.

Having said that, I have been writing about wine for 40 years and I am a Master of Wine, but I never call myself a wine expert because I don’t know it all. There was one short time in my life when I thought I knew everything about wine and that was when I came top of my wine education course. Then I wrote my first book and realised I didn’t know much about wine at all. The world of wine is constantly changing and I learn something every day.

The title could also have another meaning, because you are the expert (despite what you’ve just said) and you probably think about wine 24/7. Are there times when you don’t think about wine?

That’s a good question, because I have to admit my dreams are often about wine. I write about wine and my husband writes about restaurants and so we are pretty ‘wine and foodie’. But once the family comes into play, that takes over.

Watch our exclusive video with Jancis below: 

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A bounty of bling
“The Royal Queensland Wine Show is one of the first in the series for the year and it’s a real honour judging alongside some of our industry leaders,” says Nicole. Over 4 days, 26 judges, including new chief judge David Bicknell, tasted over 1,801 entries from 243 wineries from across Australia. “Yes, that is a lot of wine,” says Nicole. “With my fellow panellists I judged everything from Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Sparkling to Muscat, Cabernet and red blends, but I was especially impressed by the 2014 Shiraz, 2015 Semillon and 2015 Pinot Noir brackets.” “What is really exciting is that the House of Arras 2007 Grand Vintage from Tasmania made history by becoming the first Sparkling to take out Grand Champion Wine of Show,” says Nicole. “And to further reinforce its consistency and the excellence of Tasmanian Sparkling, the same wine was named Best Wine of Show at Sydney. And again, this was the first time a Sparking had won the major award since the show’s inception.” Royal Brisbane Wine Show 2016 Trophy winners include: Brokenwood Wines 2009 ILR Reserve Semillon – Best Semillon of Show, Best Mature White of Show, Best Single Vineyard White of Show and RNA Best White of Show. Yabby Lake 2015 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir – Best Pinot of Show, RNA best Red of Show, Best Single Vineyard Red of Show and Best Young Red of Show. Norfolk Rise Vineyard 2015 Shiraz – Best Shiraz of Show While the House of Arras took out the top prize at the 2016 KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show, the other big winner was the Chalkers Crossing CC2 Shiraz 2014 with Trophies for Best Shiraz, Best Value Red, Best Single Vineyard Wine, Best Red and Best Small Producer Wine. The Hunter Valley maintained its reputation as the nation’s top Semillon producer with Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 2005 taking out the Trophy for Best NSW Wine. Brokenwood Wines 2009 ILR Reserve Semillon won Best Semillon and Best Mature White, while Best Value White was awarded to De Iuliis Wines for their 2016 Semillon. Nicole Gow and fellow Tasting Panellist Adam Walls attended the trade tasting, which allowed them the opportunity to taste the entire range of wines. “It’s always exciting to taste the entries of the Sydney Royal Wine Show and this year was no exception,” says Adam. “For me, the thing that really stood out, and was a common thread through all of the wines I tasted, was that they had great vibrancy and acidity that made them immensely drinkable. From the biggest, richest reds to the lightest whites, they were all mouth-watering, vibrant and full of energy.” “So many of the wines were a mid-weight style which really reflects the way people are enjoying their wines, “ Nicole says. “ There were some smart alternative and food-friendly whites, and a great diversity of elegant Chardonnays showing a lot more experimentation and refinement from all of the regions.” Enjoy exclusive access to some of the Gold medal winners from the KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show for just $17 a bottle.
Wine
Preserving the truth on sulphates in wine
Recently, one of our members, Penny Bamford, got in touch to ask about preservative 220, which you might have seen listed on the back label of bottle of wine. She wanted to know whether it can cause allergic reactions and whether it’s used in organic and biodynamic wine. Tasting Panellist Dave Mavor came to the rescue with an explanation. The main preservative used in wine is sulphur dioxide, which you’ll see on the label as ‘preservative 220’, ‘minimal sulphur dioxide added’ or ‘contains sulphites’. Sulphur dioxide is added in the winemaking process to protect the wine from oxidation and bacterial spoilage. I can tell you that the sulphur dioxide used in winemaking is less than many other products (e.g., dried fruits, some beer, meat, etc.) that we consume every day. It has been used as a preservative in wine since Roman times. And don’t be fooled into thinking that because preservatives aren’t listed on European wines that they’re not present, it’s just that they don’t have the same strict labelling laws as Australia. The amount of sulphur dioxide winemakers are allowed to add is strictly controlled to a limit of 250 milligrams per litre. With such low levels it is unlikely to cause any health issues, however, some people feel they are quite sensitive to it. If that is you, here are some tips: There tends to be higher levels of sulphur dioxide added to white wines as they are more susceptible to oxidation, whereas the tannins in red wines act as a natural preservative. If you have symptoms from drinking red wine, it’s more likely to be from the histamines. Age also affects the sulphur dioxide levels in a wine, as it dissipates over time, so if you’re sensitive to sulphur dioxide, go for older wines. There is less sulphur dioxide used in organic and biodynamic wines. Certification allows 50 per cent of what can be used under conventional standards. Preservative-free wines don’t have sulphur dioxide added, however, it can also be a natural product of fermentation and is therefore often present even if it hasn’t been deliberately added. Also, without added preservatives, the wine will be very susceptible to spoilage by oxidation, so it needs to be consumed straightaway – which is not a bad thing. You might have noticed the recent emergence of products that claim to remove the sulphur dioxide from your wine. Dave explains that these are simply made up of diluted hydrogen peroxide. While this is a chemical sometimes used in the winery when too much sulphur has been accidently added to a wine, it’s extremely controlled by winemakers with a thorough understanding of the chemical process. Remember that if you add too much hydrogen peroxide to a wine it will go off and you will have spoilt all the winemaker’s hard work!
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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