Tasting wine for a living brings both joy and pain. Pain due to the physical and mental demands, yes, but also because of the tsunami of anodyne and over-manipulated styles of wine we need to try.
That said, there is also exposure to myriad wines previously unknown: fine new estates, creative stylistic expressions, wines more marked by a sense of place than ever before and a palpable vibe that, finally, Australia is growing the right grape varieties in the most suitable places. These are all reasons I enjoy what I do, and I hope that what I write serves to encourage more of these positives.
We are an adaptable mob in this country, brimming with confidence that is, at times, misbegotten. And yet the irrigated swathes of flat, fecund vineyards that parch our waterways while fuelling supermarket aisles of yore are finally giving way to sustainable wines with interesting stories to tell.
Less is becoming more, as environmental ethics and high labour costs manifest as more premium Australian wine and less swill. By reviewing wine, I hope to communicate this.
In warmer zones, less thirsty Mediterranean grapes are making their mark. Italianate expressions, too, are exciting. The time will come when these are all commonplace, rather than categorised by the throwaway ‘alternative’ moniker.
Shiraz and cabernet will, perhaps, eventually become the alternative options to those varieties that are better suited here.
I try to remember these positives as nerves in my incisors scream at high acidity and sugar levels, my teeth grow a mottled dull yellow, and I mistakenly chew on a fragment of my tooth, fallen into my glass, as I did last year.