Eating crow: Australian wine that I truly loved


Above: No trip to San Diego is complete without a Jaynes Burger at Jaynes Gastropub.

It was the white wine that first intrigued me and lured me in. And then it was the red — gritty and tannic but just old and wise enough — that seduced me.

For many years it seemed inconceivable to me that I would even approach Australian wine, let alone like it. When my band Nous Non Plus played in Germany last year at a Green party conference, I even tried to talk some young attendees out of drinking the famed critter wine, telling them that its consumption was diametrically opposed to their ideals.

But as some of the exchanges of the last few months have taught me, the extremes of extremism go the way of the historical avant-garde and Yale school deconstruction: after you kill the author (or the winemaker), you ultimately are left with nothing, n’est-ce pas?


Above: Chef Daniel made a wonderful yellow tomato coulis vinaigrette with his seared scallops. The pairing with the 1986 Semillon was off-the-charts good.

Well, it’s time for me to come clean: on Saturday night I hosted a wine dinner in San Diego at Jaynes Gastropub where I poured 6 Australian wines that I truly loved. Three bottlings of older Semillon, including Mt. Pleasant 1986 Lovedale Semillon, and three bottles of older Shiraz, including Hardy’s Eileen Hardy 1998.

The whites — including the 23-year-old — showed beautiful acidity and white fruit and all were at about 11% alcohol. The Tyrell 95 and 96 were still babies in the glass but opened up beautifully as they arrived at room temperature and aerated: they drink more like red wines than white.

The reds were gritty and tannic, with integrated wood, but with approachable berry fruit and woodsy flavors. The only wine that seemed a little bit “slutty,” as we sometimes say in the business, was the crowd-pleasing 2001 Tower Barossa Shiraz. But I have to say that I liked it. It wasn’t overly jammy and although it lacked the structure of the Hardy, it was fun and easy to drink and not offensive in the way that some of the commercially produced wine that I’ve seen from Australia.

So, there! Do I have to write a recipe for eating crow? What would you pair with crow anyway?

All I do know is that the 1999 Hardy’s that I discreetly opened and paired with the Jaynes burger the night before was decadently brilliant.

6 thoughts on “Eating crow: Australian wine that I truly loved

  1. great burger, and good choice of wine, too.

    for some great v-blog reviews of moderately priced wines (from somebody who uses simple, non-stuffy language), check out Chris Riccobono’s site:

    I’m sure you’ll see some good wines there that you may have tried, too. I love it and visit regularly.

    Best, Donnie

  2. I just checked out….that is one of the best wine review websites in a long time. I guess he is going to S. Africa to taste wines. That should be interesting.

  3. Oh yes. The Aussies do semillon right. I drank many over the years I lived there. Doesn’t even have to be an older vintage. Rieslings from Clare and Eden valleys can be eye-openers too.
    Good on you for avoiding stridency.

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