I’m sure enough people have already responded to this man’s take on the Sydney food and, especially, Hunter Valley wine, but I just can’t resist adding my bit to the list.

It’s the following passage that mostly interests us oenophiles.

There was a passable lunch thrown in and I got to sample enough wines to give even my jaundiced liver a bit of a buzz. But therein lies the problem. The wines were just not any good – awful, in fact. By 4pm I had tasted enough over-oaked chardonnay and figgy semillon to last any number of lifetimes and if one more person had offered me a “fruity red”, my trip would have ended in ignominy there and then as I drowned them in a barrel of reprehensible 15 per cent alcohol slop. What can I tell you? I still think Australian wines are lousy.

As a point of interest, the other night we accompanied a Chinese meal with a bottle of 2002 Tyrrells Vat 1 Semillon; and guess what – yep!, not a fig in sight. I’ll let James Halliday put it to words – ‘Pale straw-green; a very fresh and tingling wine, with exeptional thrust to the juicy lemony palate and finish.’ I could add that the alcohol is 10% and the wine is a thing of startling beauty. We also noted the amazing acid on the tongue, almost salty; a nervy tingle of oyster shells and a rich, smooth and endless finish – with each mouthful hoping the bottle would never end. This will live in the cellar for many years and is still a baby. How can all this happen in a wine of 10%v alcohol? Well don’t ask Simon because I fear he will never get it!

I also think that if Simon had been serious about his tasting trip to the Hunter then he would have been spitting the wines and saving his liver, and us, from any more of his ill informed rubbish.

As to the 15% fruity red wines, I’m not sure I could actully find one if I tried, although I must admit the levels have crept up to the 14% to 14.5% level in many of the sharazes. I am still drinking the last of my 2000 Mount Pleasant Rosehill Shiraz, and my last notes were as follows:

‘NOSE: spice, cigar box, tea, earth, leather, savoury/forest floor notes, even funky; loses some funk as it opens up.

PALATE: pepper and spice and all things nice. Still plenty of rich fruit and that Hunter savoury earth. Medium bodied (despite 14.5%) and still complex and mouthfilling. Some dusty oak and super fine and persistent tannins. Finish is long and savoury.

This wine is now reflecting what aged Hunter reds can be like – WOW! The slightly suspect corks may cause some bottle variation down the track.’
There – I feel better already; I think I might try the Maurice O’Shea next!