Rush down to your cellar and see if you have any French from The Bourgogne region or The Bordeaux region with an emphasis on the 1945 vintage, this could be your lotto win or even lotto wine. Sotheby’s auction house has just sold a bottle of Romanee- Conti 1945 vintage for an astonishing $558,000 or approx. $140,000 per glass, in 2007 a bottle of 1945 Mouton Rothschild sold at auction for a mere $310,000 which proves that in the right hands a fine bottle of wine makes for a very shrewd investment.

To think thirty years ago when I was working for Penfolds we sold Mouton Rothschild and so that we could talk to our customers about the wines tried the wines on a fairly regular basis, ah those were the days. The Rothschild Winery also produces a couple of more affordable wines which are available in many liquor outlets, that is The Mouton Cadet Rouge (red $16.00), The Mouton Cadet Select (red $33.00) The Mouton Cadet Sauvignon Blanc (white $11.00) and The Mouton Cadet rose ($10.00) these wines are all very approachable and if you are looking for something different with a unique story I would give them a go.

Back in 1935, a fellow by the name of Jimmy Watson opened the doors of J.C. Watson Wine Merchants in Carlton Melbourne which at that time was a risk as most men drank beer and women rarely drank at all in public. The most common drinks were ‘threepenny dark’ port and sweet sherry and Jim knew he had his work cut out to introduce table wine to the Australian drinkers. He persevered and the business grew and was successful. In the 1940’s he started to organise trips to vineyards to purchase wine and started to educate his customers and he selected hogsheads of his favourite wine styles, dry whites, young reds and great fortified wines to be taken back to his bar for sale.

He marked these hogsheads with a lion roaring over the barrel a feature still found on the labels of Jimmy Watson wines today. In 1960 Jimmy decided to redesign the existing wine bar layout to better incorporate the three shops on the current site, an important aspect of the renovation was that the building must have atmosphere. The renovations were completed by mid-1963 and were acclaimed a success by architects and regular customers who came to sit and admire the space and intimacy.

After his sudden death in 1962 a group of friends decided at his funeral to honour the name Jimmy Watson and they established the perpetual Jimmy Watson Trophy. The Jimmy Watson Trophy is now part of the Royal Melbourne Wine Show and at first was awarded to the producer of the best one-year-old red presented at the show, this has now been extended to the best one or two-year dry , any winery winning this trophy is guaranteed to pretty well sell every bottle of the winning wine.

This year’s winner is The Turkey Flat Vineyard Barossa Grenache, past winners have included The Deepwoods Reserve 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, The SC Pannell Adelaide Hills 2013 Syrah (Shiraz), Bests Great Western Bin 1 2011 Shiraz and a couple of my favourites The Scarpantoni Brothers Block 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and The Shingleback ‘D’ Block Reserve McLaren Vale 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. If you want to treat someone special with a bottle of wine then The Shingleback ‘D’ Block Wines are always outstanding. If you are interested in the latest news in the world of wine there is a bi-monthly journal available at your local newsagent called “Winestate”.

The magazine reviews wines from all over the world and judges them using teams comprising of winemakers, wine judges and wine writers from all over Australia and New Zealand. The September/ October edition concentrated on “The Mainfreight” World’s greatest Syrah and Shiraz challenge” which comprised of over 420 wines submitted from around the globe and broken down into various price points.

What I like most of all about this tasting is that no winery submits the wines, Winestate actually go and buy the wines and the panel taste them ‘blind’ so if they receive five stars that’s how they come across, they also judge around 400 wines so it’s not a question of buying what’s perceived to be the best. The final top 10 Australian wines were: 1. Penfolds 2013 Grange 2. Gumpara Hexen 2014 Barossa Valley Shiraz 3. Z Wines Julius Single Vineyard Barossa 2016 Shiraz 4. Reilly’s RCV Epitaph Clare Valley 2014 Shiraz 5. Tenafeate Creek Wines Museum Release One Tree 2010 Shiraz 6.

Gumpara Victor’s Old Vine Barossa 2016 Shiraz 7. Patritti Merchant McLaren Vale 2016 Shiraz 8. 1847 Wines First Pick Barossa Valley 2016 Shiraz 9. Fox Creek Short Row McLaren Vale 2016 Shiraz 10. Domaine Asmara Reserve Heathcote 2016 Shiraz. Several of these wines are readily available at reasonable prices others will raise a few eyebrows. The 2016 vintage in South Australia is regarded by many as the best vintage in South Australia of the century so seek out Shiraz wines from The Barossa, McLaren Vale and The Clare valley before the next vintage arrives in the stores.

Abraham Lincoln “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like” As drinking alcohol declines cast your minds back to the times when noblemen weren’t health conscious. The days are past when a noble lord could be congratulated on having consumed three bottles of port. When the nobleman in question was asked if it were true that he had drunk them all without assistance, he replied “ Not quite, I had help from a bottle of Madeira”!

Cheers, Philip Arlidge arlidge@bigpond.com.au

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