I MAY NOT ALWAYS LOVE YOU
BUT LONG AS THERE ARE STARS ABOVE YOU
YOU NEVER NEED TO DOUBT IT
I'LL MAKE YOU SO SURE ABOUT IT
GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT I'D BE WITHOUT YOU
IF YOU SHOULD EVER LEAVE ME
WELL LIFE WOULD STILL GO ON BELIEVE ME
THE WORLD COULD SHOW NOTHING TO ME
SO WHAT GOOD WOULD LIVING DO ME
GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT I'D BE WITHOUT YOU
Don’t mess with the makeup artist.
The Week That Was is coming to you from the front bar of the Magpie & Stump Hotel in Mintaro. Gorgeous day. No one in the main street. So quiet! Not a sound. I just told the publican I'm in the Australian wine industry. I asked for a negroni. He told me to f**k off. Beer or nuffink, apparently. Australian winemakers are in love with the negroni – Campari, gin and sweet vermouth with three ice cubes and a slice of orange. This week WBM tweeted, “We are searching for the person who started the negroni craze in the wine industry.” About 50 replies later a picture began to emerge of how the negroni came to be so popular in our industry. Stuart Knox of Fix St James said he had been drinking negronis at his restaurant since it opened. Katrina Damberg said, “I discovered them when I worked in Le Marche in 2005.” Then we received a direct message from Wine Library saying they "listed at Buzo in 2001 as a house cocktail". We also asked, “Has it taken over from Coopers Sparkling Ale as the official drink of Australian winemakers?” Max Allen, never overly wordy, replied, “No.” At Pinot Noir New Zealand this year Nick Stock went to a bar with friends and ordered 28 of them. It wasn’t that long ago that winemakers claimed Coopers Sparkling Ale as their preferred drink. At one stage Coopers ran ads in magazines claiming it was winemakers’ preferred beer.
I would hate to see Coopers Sparkling Ale fall from grace as our drink. It represents all that is good about beer (makes you pissed easy). Be careful because at 5.8 percent it has a kick like Saverio Rocca. ‘Cloudy But Fine’ is still my favourite billboard of all time. I first tasted Sparkling Ale at one of the first Fringe Festivals in Adelaide. My brother told me I needed more culture in my life other than cricket and footy and so one night he drove me down from Port Pirie to Adelaide in Mum's Leyland P76 for a midnight performance of the Tokyo Shock Boys, who blew crackers out their arses. It was so dark in that joint. Everyone was smoking dope. Every single person was wearing black from head to toe – black hair with purple bits, black pants, black skivvies and black Doc Martins. My brother and I were wearing cream slacks and tropical shirts with palm trees and sunsets. And Max Allen-like sandals. We sat at the bar with Jimeoin, who was up to his ninth pint of the thick cloudy amber stuff and looked like Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion. He asked me if I was Brian Wilson. Negroni – God only knows what I'd be without you. – Ed.
• Are you drinking a negroni right at this minute? In Paris? Norwood? Mexico? In the saloon bar of the Magpie & Stump Hotel? Send us a photo. Tell us about your greatest ever Negroni experience. And tell us what you think is the official drink of Australian wine. Email email@example.com
RETAILER RAGE – SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM TYSON STELZER
This week Woolworths announced profit rises of 24 percent off the back of its growing supermarket, liquor store and fuel empire. Estimates suggest that Dan Murphy's and BWS stores now sell something approaching 50 percent of packaged wine in Australia. Yesterday I was privileged to an insight into Woolworths liquor during a day tasting a selection of exclusive imports. This triggering a Twitter explosion of 40 responses (and counting), with accusations that I was “taking sides”, that “these wines are ruining the Australian wine industry”, “supporting raving alcoholics on a budget”, “fake terroir”, “generic crap packaged a few different ways”, “awful guff”, “a clear attempt to deceive”, “mendacity”... The dominance of Woolworths and other chain liquor outlets is disconcerting and calls for caution, but the blanket boycotts that some in our industry would call us to would not be a balanced response for an independent commentator. A number of Australian wine writers have aligned themselves with Coles or Woolworths stores in recent years, others have allegiances to particular independent retail outlets, while others have chosen to represent certain wine brands.
The lines of objectivity and credibility are invariably blurred when commentators are employed by these companies. I respect those who have purposely shunned such partnerships, and this is a stance I have committed to myself. I know of small independent wineries who speak glowingly of their relationship with the chains and whose very existence depends upon their sales through these stores. Every year, I have readers thank me for highlighting the best buys in the chain stores because these are their only local outlets. Over the past two-and-a-half years my Wine Taste Weekly newsletter has recommended 120 independent retailers more than 1,300 times, eight chain store networks 460 times and hundreds of cellar doors some 200 times. These numbers are not by design, but represent the best deal at the time of my review. I take this as evidence that there are some wines best purchased from independents, some from chains and others direct from cellar doors, and this is a message that I will continue to share. Our industry is at its strongest when all three coexist in balance. – Tyson Stelzer
• Tomorrow is a big day for Philip White who is launching the first edition of a thing called The Daily Toper, featuring a collection of drawings by his mate George Aldridge, with words by White.
• Good luck to all the dads out there for Sunday. Two words: Bunnings Warehouse.
• Brokenwood winemaker Iain Riggs, the unofficial chairman of the Australian wine industry, contacted us this week asking us to remind you that applications for the Len Evans Tutorial are closing very soon. On 6 September, in fact. Those who have done the tutorial can’t speak highly enough of it. Enter now – www.lenevanstutorial.com.au
• Gotta say there’s a bit of a buzz about Savour Australia, which is happening in Adelaide from 15 to 18 September.
• Check out the swish new Magill Estate Restaurant! It has lots of ball-shit hanging from the ceiling. The balls are very expensive and that's why the top-shelf dining option will set you back more than $400. Looks like something you'd find in a graph in the AWRI Technical Review. What do you think: shit or chic? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
BEAUTIFUL THING OF THE WEEK
Max Allen tweeted this photograph of a beautiful wine label. There's a bit of negroni about it.
POSTCARD FROM LONDON
The beer garden of the Exeter Hotel during Savour Australia.
Greetings from a sunny bank holiday in London. It's all kicking off round here, there's a rave festival on Clapham Common and it's the weekend of the infamous Notting Hill Carnival. You'd love it, Ed – traditional activities include eating jerk chicken, rice and peas all washed down with rum and Red Stripe lager, middle aged accountants dad-dancing to reggae and trying not to get mugged. Or, as I like to call it, basic training for Savour in Adelaide. I'm a little worried about Savour, to be honest, as I'm not really that piss-fit (a handy phrase I borrowed from Louise Hemsley Smith). So you've got to ease me in gently with a few of those Botanical wines I've read about before sending me out on the town with Mike Bennie. Just quietly, I'm crapping myself about chairing the UK debate on the Tuesday, with half the Australian wine industry with their fingers on their phones ready to broadcast the slightest slip. I'm suffering from the usual anxieties. Will I forget to put on my trousers? Will I pronounce Mourvédre properly (shit, I can't even spell it). Will I drop more F bombs than Andre Eikmeier? I'm no pro like old Wolfy; what if I mix up my animal metaphors and accuse someone of being a poodle when I meant to say parasite?
The title of our discussion is ‘UK: Re-booting a mature market’, and we're looking forward to providing a stimulating and hopefully useful debate. There may even be some controversial opinions. After all, we wouldn't be doing our job if we came all that way just to piss in your pockets. We're even hoping to leave some time for Q&As at the end, so if you've got a strong opinion about the UK market, go for it. We might even be able to harness the mighty power of Twitter to have your questions on a big screen, but that's still with the technical department. After the event I'm on the coast-to-coast regional trip that takes in the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Margaret River. According to the itinerary we'll be squidding off Port Willunga on the Sunday morning, which has always been a big hit on the last few James Busby Travel trips. Please don't go getting all fancy on us, McLaren Vale, just because there's a few overseas VIPs in the tinnies. I still expect my breakfast of Mars Bars and Bundy and Coke. Right, I'm off to pull a few corks (remember those?) to celebrate the last bank holiday of the year. See you at Savour! – Tim Wildman, UK
You needn’t think you’re coming to Adelaide to drink negronis. TWTW has named Coopers Sparkling Ale as the official drink of Savour Australia. The best place to get a big fresh pint is at the Exeter, Philip White’s old haunt. And if you're in Nuriootpa, try the AP Hotel in the main drag; always fresh and delicious there. Just wish these bastards would advertise.
• Congratulations to Coopers Sparkling Ale boy Max Allen who has picked up a gig writing on Jancis Robinson’s website. Cream rises to the top. Quiet achiever, young Max. Jancis meanwhile races ahead with 190,000 Twitter followers. She welcomed Max with some nice words, describing him as “a teensy bit beard-and-sandles".
• The long-awaited industry review was released in Sydney this week. Lots of graphs and shit. How many different ways can you say we’re in the shit? But what is very interesting is the action involving the WET Rebate – there is going to be a BIG shake-up – and the bit in there about the duopoly and the competition watchdog. The Australian wine industry is going on the front foot. Love it.
• WBM and TWTW are sponsoring more things than Red Bull including Dan Sims’ new event Wine Day Out. Make sure you get along to it. Quality speakers! For details visit www.pinotpalooza.com.au
YET ANOTHER KISS PHOTO WITH A WINE CONNECTION
KISS and the girls with Christian Canute of Rusden. The big guy on the left looks like Gene Simmons' mum. It's not Gene is it? Rock and roll all night and sleep every day.
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