For an original gift for dad, here are three books to combine with the top drops
PAIRING: Cabernet Sauvignon Stone Dwellers 2019 [Strathbogie Ranges]
The Strathbogie Ranges in central Victoria may not have the reputation of the Yarra Valley or Coonawarra when it comes to producing top quality Cabernet Sauvignon, but this example, by Matt Fowles, is a classic expression of the grape, grown in cool, tall and robust conditions. country. Lovely purity of juicy black cassis that runs down the tongue, framed by a dusting of powdery tannin and hints of iodine and bay leaf and even a distant echo of eucalyptus. If you like elegant Cabernet that will age gracefully for a decade, this is excellent value. $30 fowleswine.com
To fall in love, drink this
by Alice Feiring, Scribner, $44
I spent a few days with New York wine writer Alice Feiring almost a decade ago when she visited Australia. We toured Victoria visiting vineyards and talking and tasting with winemakers. She told me remarkable stories from her youth on this trip, including a narrow teenage escape from a man who was later convicted of gruesome serial murders. At the time, she was talking about putting these and other moments of her life into a memoir. This is the result.
As the title suggests, there’s a lot of wine in this book, too: special, meaningful bottles that span moments in her life – including, incredibly, a conversation with the serial killer when she visits him in San Quentin prison in California.
But above all it is Feiring’s vivid stories of people and events – including an extraordinary encounter with Nina Simone and tender but unyielding portrayals of his family and his upbringing in an Orthodox Jewish family – that make this book so captivating and rewarding.
His relationship with his mother, Ethel, is extremely well if painfully drawn. In one chapter, Feiring, fed up with the sweet kosher wines her mother serves at Passover, buys a bottle of one of her favorite French reds and, using a black pen, draws a kosher certification logo on it. the label, then Ethel will think the wine is safe to drink. The plus: his mother doesn’t even notice and ends up mixing the fine, dry red with sweet kosher wine anyway.
AGREEMENT WITH: Bénédicte 2018 & Stéphane Tissot Singular Trousseau [Arbois]
I share Alice Feiring’s love for Tissot du Jura wines. These are great examples of the region’s strengths: chalky, textured whites made from Chardonnay and Savagnin; fine, airy and lively reds based on Poulsard and Trousseau. She says of this wine: “The last time I drank it, my brain went off like a pinball machine…the wine got me energized, then it finished me off sensually”. According wine-searcher.coma few vintages are available in different wine shops at the moment, including the 2018, at randalls.net.auwhich is the vintage pictured in his book, with fake kosher certification. $110 Imported by heartandsoil.com.au
The Life and Wines of Hugh Johnson
Wine Academy, $60
This is a reissue of the 2005 memoir by veteran wine writer Hugh Johnson, Wine, an uncorked life, but it’s been updated, includes a new chapter, and has been redesigned, so it’s worth buying even if you’ve read the original. And if you haven’t read Johnson on wine – a topic he’s written about extensively since the early 1960s – then this might be a good place to start because it’s not just a memoir but deep immersion in the subject.
Johnson’s prose is airy and graceful. He comes from another era, when a solid private school and Oxbridge education instilled not only love and fluency with language, but also a deep appreciation for the finer things in life, wine (all better bottles were then much more affordable at the time) to horticulture to antiquities. And he has an almost unrivaled ability to distil the essence of a thing into a finely-wrought, succinct sentence.
Johnson lived most of his life in a Tudor mansion, with extensive cellars. He uses the stories of different wines from this winery as a jumping-off point to embark on the recollections of his life – and, almost without the reader realizing it, also provides useful information and great insight. Effortless education.
AGREEMENT WITH: Louis Michel 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2019 [Chablis]
With Bordeaux commanding his affections when it comes to red wines, it is Chablis that Hugh Johnson singles out as his favorite white. “Chablis”, he says, “was sent down to earth as a model for all winemakers to emulate”. Top Chablis producer Louis Michel is quoted in the book, and of Michel’s 2000 vintage, Montée de Tonnerre, Johnson writes: “Pretty much a benchmark for fine, very light green, high intensity Chablis . Even better not cool and open at the end of dinner than crispy and pebbly at the start. The same could be said of the 2019: that seductive flashing pale green color so typical of Chablis, aromas of white flowers and a hint of honey, and a stunning balance of luscious grapey smoothness and pebble-sucking dryness on the tongue. . $105 Imported by cellierhand.com.au