Hooked on Wine

Huon Hooke's Thoughts on Wine

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New Tasting Notes: Pinot Parade


Jeffrey Grosset’s 2012 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir (tasting) heads the list of stellar performers among the 83 new release pinot noirs uploaded this month. It is a truly sublime pinot and worth the $80 asking price. The latest lot of pinot reviews are mostly from Australia and New Zealand. As I’ve said before, the 2012 Australian pinot vintage is very strong.

There are many more goodies. The latest releases from Seville Estate (tasting), Eldridge Estate (tastings), Neudorf (tasting), Spy Valley (tasting) and Spy Valley Envoy (tasting) are all very good, and the best value for money trophy (if I had one to give) would go - not for the first time - to Hoddles Creek Estate for its trio of $17 Wickhams Road pinots: Yarra Valley, Mornington and Gippsland (tastings). They’re amazing value.

Mud House (tastings), Cloudy Bay (tasting), Maude (tasting), Forrest (tasting), Shaky Bridge (tasting), Grasshopper Rock (tasting), Big Sky (tasting) and others from New Zealand impressed. So did Crittenden Estate (tasting), Tarrawarra Estate (tastings), Hardys Eileen (tasting), and Devil’s Corner Mt Amos (tasting), from Tasmania’s Tamar Ridge winery, is a real surprise package. Why not pan-fry a duck breast, or grab a Chinese Peking Duck takeaway, and settle down with a bottle of fine pinot. 

Filed under New tasting notes hhnews pinot noir Jeffrey Grosset Seville Estate Eldridge Estate Neudorf Spy Valley Hoddles Creek Estate Wickhams Road Mud House Cloudy Bay Maude Forrest Shaky Bridge Grasshopper Rock Big Sky Crittenden Estate Tarrawarra Estate Hardys Eileen Devil’s Corner

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Vale Neville Wran

Vale Neville Wran, a great man and a great leader, the likes of whom we rarely see these days.

What an irony that he passed away a few days after Barry O’Farrell threw away his short-lived Premiership over a bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange (tasting). Wran was Premier for 10 years. As a cadet reporter in Leeton, central NSW, I met Wran when he came to town to launch our local member’s campaign in the election that installed him as NSW’s first Labor Premier in 11 years. Yes, I was young and impressionable in 1976, but I thought ‘What an impressive guy!’

Wine also played a part in the Neville Wran story. When he was being pressured to switch to federal politics in the early 1980s, he confessed publicly that a bottle of Rosemount chardonnay had helped him make up his mind not to stand. I’m not sure what that says about Rosemount chardonnay (I’d love to have seen Nifty in federal politics) but it certainly did a lot for the wine. Rosemount (tastings) got a lot of mileage out of the quote, and reckoned it boosted their sales.

Filed under hhnews news neville wran NSW Premier Rosemount Wines

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2014 Sydney Biennale - Art or Fashion?

The 2014 Sydney Biennale has received a drubbing in the press, but as always you should go along and make up your own mind.

From what I’ve seen to date, the usual truism for these kinds of contemporary art events rings true: about 10% of the work is great, another 10 to 20% is okay, and the rest is junk. The thing is, not everybody agrees on what’s great and what’s junk. That’s why you need to go.

My gripe with today’s biennales, indeed all contemporary exhibitions, is the amount of space given to enormous installations, especially videos. These are the tyrants of the art world, hogging the space that multiple other artists could have made better use of. You go away thinking, well, that was a waste of space, and imagine how many pictures could have been hung in that room.

The monopolizing nature of videos especially irks me: you have to spend 5 or 10 minutes watching the thing in a portentously darkened room, before you can legitimately judge whether it’s worth seeing or not, and more often than not you walk out feeling robbed, because in that time you could have seen a lot of good art. Video artists not only demand a chunk of your time, they also demand 100% of your attention.

I don’t have anything against video art, but surely to justify that much space it needs to be an exceptional work. And they seldom are.

Curators, like fashion-setters in most areas of life, are obsessed by the new and neglect the established. For instance, there are very few paintings in the Biennale, but it seems to me there are more artists making paintings than ever. Don’t they deserve a place in a Biennale?

After seeing the Biennale show at the Art Gallery of NSW, I went downstairs to the Kaldor galleries and spent more time enjoying the Sol LeWitt show, which really was fascinating. In this, maybe 25% was great, especially the wall drawings. Most of it was worth seeing, although rainbow coloured cubby-houses don’t move me. Recommended!  

Filed under hhnews news 2014 Sydney Biennale art contemporary exhibitions Video artists Art Gallery of NSW Kaldor galleries Sol LeWitt

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Wine Of The Week

Mount Pleasant Cellar Aged Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley 2007 $24


Hunter semillon is one of the world’s greatest aging white wines. Elizabeth is always released after some ageing (the 2012 and ’11 vintages are also available), but the proof of the pudding is in the cellar-aged releases, this one seven years old and extraordinary value at $24. With a full buttercup-yellow colour, it has toasty, straw, citrus and resin-like aromas of great complexity and allure. It’s very dry and savoury in the mouth and cries out for food. There’s a parade of lemon-butter, beeswax and toast aromas and flavours, all of which extend to a very long finish and aftertaste. Drink now to 2018. 11 per cent alcohol. 95/100 - Huon’s Wine 360

Food: marinated fish; grilled fish; pasta with clams; mussels mariniere.

Stockists: Costco Auburn; Fishermans Fine Wines, Sydney Fish Market; Wine Culture Roseville

Web: mcwilliamscellar.com.au

Ranked #7 of 44 2007 Semillon tasted from the Lower Hunter

Winery Rating: 95.2

Weighted average of their top 5 recently tasted wines

Price Rating Map & Vintage Chart:
How does this wine fit into the winery’s range?

Filed under wine of the week McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2007 hunter valley marinated fish grilled fish pasta with clams mussels mariniere Costco Auburn Fishermans Fine Wines Sydney Fish Market Wine Culture Roseville

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Indulge Yourself

Grosset Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills 2012 $69

This is one of the finest Aussie pinots I’ve tasted for a long time. Excellent deep red-purple colour and abundant bright, fresh, ripe cherry fruit aromas which translate to mouthfilling flavour backed by ample soft, fine tannins. A compete pinot, with superb extract, ripeness, structure and persistence. Now to 2024. 13.5 per cent alcohol. 96/100 - Huon’s Wine 360

Food: pan-roasted duck breast

Stockist: North Sydney Cellars

Filed under cellar talk indulge yourself Grosset pinot noir adelaide hills 2012 pan-roasted duck breast North Sydney Cellars