Saturday, February 27, 2010


Wine drinkers today are really spoiled for choice. There has never been as many companies, labels and varietals on offer at any one time before. But... are they really being given options or, is what is put in front of them just  variations of the same few themes? I suspect the latter.
I love  digging out older wines from the cellar and being surprised at the quality and longevity of the selection. All too often in recent years though the surprise has not been a pleasant one. Even old reliable stalwarts like Australian  big-reputation Shiraz have disappointed in that they have been 'engineered' to drink earlier than their older cousins used to.
Tonight my faith in the wine world has been restored as I selected an Italian classic - Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro 2001. This is bloody good Chianti that very rarely fails to deliver. At 9 years old (8 if we remember it is European), it still is fresh, developing and with a restrained power that we expect from Riservas (they are left in vats for a while before bottling and the raw edges are knocked off giving them a subtle rather than punchy expression of fruit and weight). It has rich fruit flavours,deep, lurking wine cellar aromas with hints of the smells that come from the coffee, tea and spice cupboard. The overall impression is one of weight and as yet impenetrable denseness but even and balanced. I quite frankly don't know how long this wine will last. I really enjoyed drinking it now but wish that I had a lot more bottles to watch its development over the next few years. I'm sure that this 2001 will be one of the best Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro vintages ever released.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


On the weekend we attended Jan's 60th birthday in Auckland. This was a truly great event, held in a local tennis club and suberbly set up and catered by Tom and Janny's family and friends. Its nice to see warmth and conviviality (ably helped by a great selection of wines) with no tension or hassles. Parties and events with alcohol don't have to involve argument and unruly behaviour. This one was rich and rewarding. The family spoke very nicely about Jan - the sons wrote and performed a hilarious homage in song - and Jan gave a really funny and nice thank you speech. This was one to remember.