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2009 A Year in Wine

By: Darren Gall Posted: January-07-2010 in
Darren Gall

As the year draws to a close and we look to the promise and uncertainty of the new we celebrate, and we celebrate and then we celebrate some more. We celebrate many things at this time of year but I tend to think that, for most of us, it is life itself we are celebrating. On the cusp of the span between one year and another, for a few short weeks, we can live in the moment, pausing to rejoice in the simple yet miraculous fact that we are alive.

So for me, at this time of such profound joy, I find it is only fitting to imbue the spirit of the occasion with some very decent booze; a few short weeks to toss my researchers cap at the hat-stand and revisit my most memorable and enjoyable haunts and bottles from a year now in its twilight, a few crowded moments of bright shining light before it is snuffed out completely and we begin anew.

“The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to.”
P. J. O'Rourke

Champagne Moments: It was definitely a year of being ‘in the pink’ for Champagne this year with fond memories, (and appropriate morning after headaches) of the Devaux Champagne evening at Le Royal Hotel, where considerable quantities of their very excellent Rose Champagnes were on free pour and of the Chef’s Table dinner with master chef Jakob Angerer at Le Gourmet Restaurant, where the evening kicked off with Iberia ham off the bone and Champagne de Saint Gall Grand Cru Rose.

“Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.”
William Faulkner

Sunday Brunch: Hmmm, more fizzy drinks with two very good Sunday Brunches in town; what better way to pause in the space between the weeks than to lose yourself in a three hour orgy of gourmet grazing and frothy free pour. The Sunday Champagne and Buffet Brunch at the Intercontinental Hotel: with a newly appointed international chef, a welcome and major menu upgrade and authentic ‘Premier Cru’ French Champagne ‘the intercon’ has seriously raised the bar on Sunday degustation, get there. The Prosecco Brunch at Romana Restaurant transports me to my upbringing in the inner suburbs of Melbourne’s ‘Little Italy’, this was my first real introduction to the wonders of food and the sacred right of social intercourse over a sprawling, fine repast, Sundays at Romana are always pure joy.

“For disappearing acts, it's hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight of sleep and eight of work.”
Doug Larson

After work wine drinks: Friday nights at the food pantry in 105 Street were always a nice way to at least begin to take the edge off the week, as were the regular tastings at Red Apron. Rubies Wine Bar is a good early kick off on a Friday evening or, more often than not, I would head to ‘Talking to a Stanger’ where, under the gracious hospitality of Derek and Wendy, the strange and stranger gather for end of the week post mortems and new week prognostications. If the remainder of my Friday evening tended to go downhill and get all blurry from there at least I remembered that is started out promisingly.

“Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present.”
Roger Babson

Spare Ribs: Yves Picant, owner of Chateau Hostens Picant in Bordeaux came to town last month. My old friend arrived full of his usual excitement and mischief, only to slip in his hotel bathroom on the very first night and crack two ribs, confining him to bed for the rest of his journey. Yves heroically dragged himself up on the very last day for a memorable lunch at Bai Thong with friends and colleagues, chef Richard Gillet’s excellent provincial French cuisine and a few of the last remaining bottles of Yves' outstanding Lucullus Reserve Bordeaux rouge, from the already legendary 2005 vintage.

“The clock talked loud. I threw it away, it scared me what it talked.”
Tillie Olsen

The Bloom of Youth: I find myself looking at emerging young talent -be it young winemakers, new wineries or emerging wine regions- with something akin to awe lately and not without occasional posturing as to what the hell I’ve been doing with my life for the past decade or so! Ludivine Griveau is a young Burgundian winemaker of just 34 who is now overseeing winemaking operations at Pierre Andre in Aloxe Corton. In just a few short years she has transformed an iconic but traditionally under-achieving label into a world beating, benchmark producer of inexpensive, super quality Burgundy that is well worth seeking out.

“The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.”
Paul Valery

Millennials: (Sometimes referred to as Gen Y or Echo Boomers) are the new wine drinkers of today, born from 1970 through to the early nineties, they are the ‘next generation’ that has arrived at adulthood and they are already having a profound influence on the way wine is marketed and sold. As the United States becomes the world’s largest wine consumer, (The French and the Italians are drinking less), much of the growth in US wine consumption is being driven by these so called Millennials, with their facebook wine clubs and live ‘twitter tastings’ online, they are discovering wine in record numbers. China and Russia have also arrived in the top ten wine consuming countries in the world. In 2010 I hope these young upstarts leave a few decent bottles for me.

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