April 12, 2007

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Got milk?

Futures in a bottle
Australian wine prices are on the climb
By Tim Protzman tprotzman@sbcglobal.net

If March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, then March 27 is St. Andrew’s Day, because that’s the one day I call my Scottish friend John Emmett.

He travels the world with a job in sports marketing spreading his Ayrshire charms, drinking wine, meeting girls and staying in the Holiday Inn.

“How was Kashmir?” I ask.

“No hamburger at the hotel,” he replies.

“What’s Quito, Ecuador, like?”

“They have the only miniature golf course in the Andes.”

With a Scottish father and a New Jersey mother this guy has one purpose — soccer, or futbol, as he calls it. That and a passing knowledge of 12 languages gain him acceptance everywhere. Even in Burkina Faso, where he refused to eat monkey meat.

I call him every year on his birthday, March 27. This year he was just back from visiting his cousin Angus in New Zealand. When I first met Angus 30 years ago he was a wee lad from Greenock. Then the family immigrated to New Zealand. The father was in banking. Today, Angus is a giant man who could lift a wine cask in one hand, even though he lost most of his hair. John’s little cousin grew up. And the whole wacky cast from Ayr, the ones that John brought over every summer to use as ringers on his summer league soccer team, grew up too.

Andy Richards is married with four kids and wants to be assistant manager of a hyper market. Angus has two kids and 25 sheep. He works for Air New Zealand and once arm-wrestled one of the lead Hobbits from Lord of the Rings in an Auckland pub. Slopper the Human Funnel (a.k.a. David Ross) hasn’t had a dram in decades. And Liz the fiery red-haired girlfriend is a grandmother of two.

You probably know someone like John. Besides the main job, he’s an agent for up-and-coming soccer players. Not kids but men who play on the smaller regional teams. And he’s one of those “anything for a buck” people. Not that he’s greedy; he just wants to turn a quick dollar. This is not something I can do easily, so I was envious. Then I saw the house he owned and the three partially intact cars parked on the lawn — the BMW, the VW Thing and the Aston Martin. More complete was the vintage Chris-Craft with wood paneling. But he came bearing interesting news.

“Protz, you like wine? Right?”

“Yeah, I like wine.”

“Well this wasn’t a great harvest for Australia, and the yields are down.”

I had heard that, but with his newfound wine knowledge and his networking skills he had gotten a group of small vineyard owners to let him represent his wine. He was trying to put some kind of wine future group together that would allow the right people to buy next year’s wine, when it came out in the fall of 2008. And he was happy and enthusiastic even though getting new wines to market is a huge task. Export and import licenses. FDA quality controls. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms tax duties. But he had it covered. If all those things fell through he’d just invite everyone to the little vineyards to pick up their wine on their own. Thankfully, he didn’t ask me to do anything. When we were teenagers he once tricked me into changing his flat tire by claiming he didn’t know how. But he was right about one thing. Australian and New Zealand wine prices are going up.

Here are some Australian wines that may go up in price and value next year when the wine from this year’s harvest with 35 percent less grapes is released.
• Brokenwood Hunter Valley Shiraz, $79
• Henschke, Barossa Valley, South Australia Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, $66
• Kay Brothers Amery Vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia Block 6 Shiraz, $122
• Moss Wood Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, $44
• Wild Duck Creek Estate Duck Muck Shiraz, Victoria, Australia, $560
• Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, $20
• Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz, $16
• Three Rivers Barossa Valley Shiraz, from $278 to $844 depending on the vintage.
• Petaluma Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay, $111

These wines are highly rated, tasty and culty. Cellar them now before the price goes up. Personally I’ve only tried the Henschke, Moss Wood and the Wynns but if you can find them at these prices go for it.

This week we tasted:
• 2005 Rex Hill Pinot Noir ($21.99). Good but not French enough for me. But the wine was fruity and very genuine and in classical American Pinot style.
• 2004 King Estate Pinot Gris ($15.99). I’ve been hearing lots about Oregon Pinot Gris, which is the same grape as pinot grigio, but this was a little sweeter on the finish, but alas, a bit watery. Should have tried the Adelsheim Pinot Gris, $16.99. Both are from Oregon.
• 2003 Chateau Caronne St. Gemme, Haut Medoc ($20). This was a fun wine ’cause it was very approachable and good, even though it was soft around the edges without the race horse sleekness of great Bordeaux. From the hot, hot summer of 2003. Deep, concentrated with grape, cranberry and violet flavors and aromas.


3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring

3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Gin
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
Mondovino
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce