Some popular (and less popular) wine posts

As Grape Observer passes its second year, and approaches 700 posts, I thought I’d ask some questions.  Specifically, I wondered, looking back over the last couple of months, which posts were of most and least interest?  Are there any observable trends of note?  And there were some interesting finds.  Not as controversial perhaps as the law suits brewing in the northern hemisphere over certain Spanish wine reviews, but interesting nonetheless.

Popular posts

I’ll start with the so-called popular posts (on the basis of what Google tells me has been read the most), which are as follows:

9. Cirillo 1850s Old Vine Grenache 2007, Barossa Valley; and

10. Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2006, Umbria IGT.

That articles on wine, rather than wine reviews, should occupy positions number one and two, does not surprise me.  I thought as much.  These are the types of pieces that I like writing (and reading) most, but inevitably are the hardest and take the longest to write.  I am somewhat pleased therefore that the hardest pieces are also, apparently, the most read.  I have quite a few more pieces planned for the new year.

What though about the wine reviews which have proven better read than others?  Are there some common themes?  I think there probably are.  Many of the most read reviews relate to wines that feature a well known brand, benefit from wide and deep Australian retail and restaurant distribution, are from well established and recognised wine regions (read the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale) and are mostly in the $12 to $25 price bracket.  This is perhaps not remarkable, except that it probably adds to the already long list of issues that face lesser known wine regions and producers.  Another observation is that wines with very high scores appeared to have attracted some interest of themselves.  I refer here to the Antinori Cervaro della Sala, an Italian chardonnay which I would hardly describe as freely available, and the glorious Sandalford Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from 2007 that, in my opinion, is worth double its asking price.  Perhaps most interestingly though, there is not a French wine on the list, yet a couple of wines from Spain and Italy have appeared.  A look back over earlier reviews confirms this trend.  So, as much as I like Bordeaux and other French regional wines, it is perhaps not an interest that is widely shared in Australia, with the possible exception of Burgundy, which has probably deep rather than wide interest.  I would also suggest that there is another eminently practical reason for this apparent lack of interest – French wine (other than Champagne) is audaciously priced (and taxed) in Australia compared with, I think, conservatively, anywhere else I have ever travelled in the world.

Less popular posts

And then what about the less popular posts?  In order, we have:
3. Delgado Zuleta La Goya Manzanilla, Sanlucar de Barrameda
8. Petaluma Merlot 2005, Coonawarra
10. Brumfield Pinot Noir 2006, Yarra Valley

As can be seen this is a somewhat eclectic collection of wine reviews.  The common factor among many of them is their obscurity from an Australian point of view.  We have a dry white version of a Sauternes (albeit from a famous producer – Chateau Guiraud), a Spanish manzanilla sherry (sherry was last seen, I think, in 1979 in Australia), a semillon from the Clare Valley (rather than the better known (for this variety) Hunter Valley), a largely unknown rosé and pinot noir producer and a gewurtztraminer from Alsace (no matter how great I happened to find it …).  That a couple of well known Coonawarra labels feature is perhaps a surprise.  Or is it?  Coonawarra perhaps still does not attract the interest that it once did in the 1970s and 1980s.  In my view, as a region, its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness: that is, Coonawarra produces very reliable wines at a good price to value ratio.  If you pay $20 or more, the wine will be acceptable, nearly always.  Yet, you sense with its unique soils that so much more could be done (to my palate, Coonawarra cabernet is rarely Bordeaux, but rather and gloriously sui generis).  The region would perhaps benefit from a few more souls trying to produce some high-end terroir driven wines.  But that is another story (or opportunity).

As always, any feedback is appreciated.

2 thoughts on “Some popular (and less popular) wine posts”

  1. Very interesting blog Sean. Of particular interest to me were your comments on French wine. I agree that perhaps there is a general perception that they can be too expensive or not value for money. I think though tin the past there has ben alot of French wine imported to oz either at the expensive/elite end or the very cheap end of the market. Our company like severel others has started to bring in good value/ middle range wines and are trying to educate and demystify the appelation system. There is a vast array of good value for money wine- wine that we all can enjoy and learn from. I hope that you will still find some time and some space in your blog to write about a broad variety of wines.


  2. Craig, thank you, and I think you make some good points. The types of mid-range French wines that you are importing are exactly the sort of wines that I like to drink, and perhaps what the Australian market has lacked to date, particularly in Bordeaux. And rest assured there is absolutely no chance that I will be limiting my reviews of French wine or lesser known wines for any reason: these are exactly the wines that interest me most, and form a large part of what I enjoy, despite my observations as to what has been most popular recently. And I've just noticed you import Les Tourelles de Longueville, a long time favourite of mine that has been very hard to get hold of in Australia, so that almost proves the point. Now, if only someone started importing some well priced Chinon and Saumur-Champigny too 😉


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