Free Wine Tour to Australia!

Wine Australia has organised an interesting and very welcome event in Dublin. They call it an Immersion Training Day.

The invite email read as follows:

I am writing to send you details of the Australian Immersion Training day which will   take place in Dublin on Tues 31st May 2016.
This is an all-day course which will be presented by Laura Jewell MW and John McDonnell.
The target audience is key press, on and off trade and of course importers who are directly involved in selling Australian Wine.
We would like to invite you to attend, those attending will be entered into a draw and one person from Ireland will win a trip to Australia. 

Events like these are top class and allow us to get to grips with up to date info in a very real way. Well done Wine Australia. I hope it goes well for you and everyone who can attend.


 Now for the criticism – and it’s a genuine one. Why on earth are they offering an educational package by way of a raffle? What’s that all about? Let’s look at this in the real world.

Only those who can afford a full day can attend. So, everyone tied into school runs, difficult employers etc are out! No educational tour for you.

Some poor fella or gal might really, REALLY want this (and deserve it), turn up at every event like this forever – and never win. On the flip side randomness might mean that the same attendee could win this again and again!! That would be just plain stupid.

The actual invite read as follows:

this informative programme is aimed at those with some basic wine knowledge who will benefit from a deeper understanding of the Australian wine sector

Well, how can that possibly include key press? I’d have thought most of these already have a deep understanding as most have already been bought to Australia already. So, some poor fella or gal might very well take the day of work and watch as some press hack who has already been brought to the Land of Sunshine Down Under wins the prize to travel all over again.


 It might even be worse! Imagine the penniless wine student dreaming of a ten-day wine tour of Australia watching the owner of his main competitor winning the prize. Yes, that would be worse. It can be easily argued that importers should not be allowed to win.

 I could go on. The point is that Wine Australia have not thought the prize element out. Indeed, educational packages should not be doled out as prizes at all. They should be part of a strategy where the deserving and the most useful are granted the privilege.

Useful to Australia.

Deserving in Ireland

Right now Australia is in danger of hosting someone who attended just to get out of a days’ work   –   and has no interest in Australia or its wines at all!!!!

Want to win the Barossa Sunset – Immerse yourself

Beaujolais Tasting in Dublin next Week – Are you going?

‘Beaujolais’ will be in town next week. We have been kindly invited to a Masterclass and


a 150 wine tasting. Sounds great and I’ll be there. I hyphenated Beaujolais because, over the years, it has taken on a variety of definitions and very often this means we are not entirely sure what we will experience on the day or, indeed, any time we open one of its bottles.

Many commentators and industry professionals include Beaujolais as the most southerly expression of the Bourgogne appellations. For its part Burgundy doesn’t agree and does not include Beaujolais in its educational platform. While a small amount of the Beaujolais grape, Gamay, is allowed in Burgundy (eg Maconnais and Bourgogne Passetoutgrains) it does not in any way define Burgundy. It does, however, define Beaujolais. The main soil type that Gamay prefers is acidic and in the case of Beaujolais this is granitic in origin. This

also has very little to do with Burgundy. Finally, Burgundy is not a ‘go to’ place to look for regular and very large quantities of nouveau wine.

So, there we are, we are invited to taste Beaujolais next week. Not Burgundy.

Beaujolais is hit and miss with regards to quality and style. Quality over the years has been compromised by the regions’ impressive ability to fill its tanks for early consumption – most notably in the form of Beaujolais Nouveau. This does not lend itself to innovation, research or indeed the need to develop a quality higher than the previous years’ Nouveau!  That’s a shame as the real aspiration should be to harness the regions’ capability to make the best wine possible.

Our invite to next week’s event promises us that, ‘The 2015 vintage promises to exceed the excellent 2009 vintage. Bertrand Chatelet, Technical Manager of Sicarex, the research institute devoted to the study of Beaujolais vineyards, comments, “In terms of colour and structure, 2015 reminds us of 2009 and 1947, two exceptional vintages of proven ageing potential.”’ (I wonder how they know what the colour of the 1947 was?!) This comment unwittingly says it all. 1947 to 2009 and then 2009 to 2015 – what happened in all the intervening years when other regions of the world had outstanding vintages?

We all tasted the excellent 2009

There is a relative simplicity to Beaujolais. Most of the wine (98%) is red and made from the one grape – Gamay. Ten Cru village sites are recognised (easy to remember as there are ten letters in Beaujolais). Each of these has the potential to differ based on aspect, soil and microclimate and they are all based in the Haut Beaujolais where the soil is light granite to schist based.  Thus a Fleurie is said to whiff of violets as opposed to a Saint Amour peach or a Brouilly grapiness. I did say ‘potential’. Very often the differences are really hard to detect – I often wonder have I been sold a pup and would I have been just as well off buying into the more basic, and less expensive, Village appellation instead?


Two further features of the regions need to mentioned. The first is the fact that most of the Gamay is planted and grown as stand-alone bushes. This allows them protection from fierce annual Mistral winds. This also means a lot of hand picking. In addition, a lot of Beaujolais is made by fermenting whole bunches (also needs hand picking) in a semi or, indeed, a full maceration carbonique process. This softens the grape and by intercellular chemistry encourages a fermentation to begin before full-on alcoholic fermentation kicks in. If this is poorly done or overdone the result will be spoilt banana bouquets and yucky jammy flavour profiles. If properly done it fleshes out the fruit into a silky voluptuousness that no other grape can compare to!


So. Are you going to the tasting? I am. I have a lot of questions!

If you qualify then RSVP Jean Smullen    RSVP to Jean Smullen
Tel: (086) 816 8468