Two awesome (new world) wines we tasted at Alice’s

Tracie P and I had a short but delightful visit chez Alice on Sunday afternoon and what visit with Alice would be complete without a proper wine tasting?

I was entirely geeked to taste the 2002 Vat 1 Semillon by Tyrell’s and I was blown away by how good the La Clarine Farm’s 2008 was — especially considering how long the wine had been open…

But, more than anything else, I was entirely blown away by the fact that we tasted two new world wines at her house! And they were both delicious… (Note her tasting notes on the label of the La Clarine Farms… Okay, so I admit, I was STAR STRUCK!)

Thanks again, Alice!

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.