The state of Australian wine – and Landmark Australia

kangaroo_vinesOver the past couple of decades, Australian wine has seen two tremendous, parallel booms, one at the low end and one at the high end. But now the industry is now suffering through a bust, particularly acute at the higher end.

This epic tale has received attention from other wine journalists recently including Jay Miller’s February article in the Wine Advocate (“Australia: Into the Abyss”), Jancis Robinson in the FT (“How Australia went down under“), and Mike Steinberger in Slate (whose memorable line was “Foster’s may be Australian for beer (mate); it appears that screwed is now Australian for wine.”).

While all three pieces acknowledged that Australian wines have suffered a sharp reversal of fortune over the past year, they varied somewhat in the cause of the collapse. Miller ascribed it to the rise of look-alike wines. Robinson saw they UK supermarket buyers playing the big Australian wine corporations off of one another turning it into a “duel by discount” and that “Australian wine became synonymous with cheap wine.” Steinberger noted some retailers having difficulties selling the expensive shiraz that is all too often high in alcohol, overoaked, from grapes harvested at the extremes of ripeness. He elaborated on the causality: “It is a rendering of shiraz that Robert Parker happens to adore, and the huge scores that his publication, the Wine Advocate, awarded many of the wines made them wildly popular, which encouraged producers to pump out more and more of these purple people-eaters (the ever-decorous Australians refer to them as “leg spreaders”) and retailers and importers to load up on them.”

The case of Australia offers a fascinating example for other countries that seek to enter the global market. If anything the country came to have too little diversity at the top, especially in the American market, and came to be known for the high alcohol, fruit bomb shiraz to the detriment of anything else (a cautionary tale for Argentina and Malbec and New Zealand with Sauvignon Blanc, perhaps). And since most of the fruit bombs deteriorate rather than improve with age, there’s no real claim to making a wine that can mature, generally a benchmark of an outstanding wine.

Do the non-fruit bomb wines age? Does Australia have a middle ground between the choose-your-critter supermarket wine and an emperor-has-no-clothes shiraz?

Yes, and apparently they are keeping them to themselves. Consider the experience of comedian Lewis Black. He recently related to wine writer Robert Simonson: “I actually went to Australia, and, you know what? They’re cheating! When I was in Australia, it was like “You guys are keeping the good stuff!” You try their wines down there and you say, “Really? THAT’S a Shiraz. Screw you! That is not what you’re selling us!” That was an eye-opener.”

If it was the best of times just a few years ago, it is now the worst of times. Through pop culture, we all know that Australians have to deal with such horrors as baby-eating dingos and man-wrestling crocodiles. But Australian winemakers have had to confront the serious calamities of drought and bush fires that have ravaged vineyard areas this year. In this light, Australia, a largely arid land to begin with, is also at the forefront of climate change.

I’m in Australia right now and hope to find some of those wines that aren’t making it to our shores and more about the story of the rise and recent pullback. Late last year, I was selected from 130 applicants to be one of the dozen participants in an educational conference called Landmark Australia, The Tutorial (see Jancis Robinson’s announcement from December and my previous mention). The group of participants is composed of sommeliers and wine writers from ten countries ranging from China to Finland to Germany; half the group is a Master of Wine or a Master Sommelier. The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, a government organization, has organized (and paid for) the event. We will spend the next five days in the Barossa Valley tasting through three sessions a day with leading wine makers from throughout Australia including Jeffrey Grosset and Brian Croser among many others. You can see the whole list of seminar leaders here and the complete schedule here as a pdf.

It should be a fun week and I plan to learn a lot. Stay tuned.

photo: Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation

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44 Responses to “The state of Australian wine – and Landmark Australia”

  1. Given your recent criticisms of Dr. Jay Miller’s Australian junkets, it would be nice to have full disclosure on this event.

    Are you paying anything?

    If not, how much is the tab for the conference.

    Jamie Goode is also on this promotional tour. On his blog, he describes the beauties of 1st Class travel to get to this event. Were you also flown first class?

    You’re being put up at the Landmark, which describes itself as:

    “The Louise vineyard retreat is South Australia’s finest five-star accommodation and is the current national tourism award winner for best luxury accommodation. Surrounded by hundreds of acres of vines overlooking the world renowned Barossa Valley, The Louise’s fifteen suites offer absolute luxury and inspired design.

    The acclaimed on-site restaurant, Appellation, is widely regarded as one of Australia’s finest regional dining experiences, offering superb seasonal cuisine.”

    My goodness, how Dr. Jay Miller would have been attacked if he participated in such a junket!

    The sponsoring organization is a government organization which promotes Australian wines. Unlike America, most nations have such a promotional body. They are simply an extension of the wine industry.

    They have preselected what you will be tasted and have organized your days. It is a promotional event, no holds barred, to help the Australian wine trade recover for its recent losses.

    For more information, see:

    Tyler: you want to participate, that’s your business. Not everyone has strong ethics. But at least you owe your readers transparency.

  2. Sorry for a factual error. You are being put at the luxury Louise Hotel.

  3. unless the post was updated, it says its being paid for by the Organization. That being said no one is going to fly to aussie taste 100? wines on their on expense. This is where we as a reading public don’t take everything they say as true, that and the fact that all our palattes are different, I don’t like Green Pepper in my wine *cough* NZ under riped Sauv Blanc *cough*

    That being said On to the Lewis Black Comment

    In the Okanagan here the good stuff you can’t find out side of the province let alone in the provence some of the top stuff is 1 day sellout (during a recession). I’ve seem some BC stuff in Ontario / USA and its either the “Crap” or really expensive.

    I think I need to stop drinking more Barossa Shiraz anyways I havn’t drank Aussie wine mostly the french.

    Have Fun Dr.

  4. The post says the government paid for the event. It does not say it paid for Jay’s first-class fare, hotels, etc. I don’t care if Jay attends an event paid for the government. No harm in that.

    I do object to Jay being paid to go and apparently under extravagant conditions.

    The sponsoring organization is a type of government association that does not exist in America. America does not have a government trade association for wine. Almost every other foreign country does. The one in Australia represents the Australian Wine Industry and is “neutral.”

    Essentially, the promotional body organizing the event charges mandatory fees on all producers.

    It’s charter reads:

    “Federal legislation requires the payment of levies by wine producers and exporters to help fund the activities of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation and the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation. ”

    They have made a choice of which wines they will be promoting:

    “Monday 1st June marks the wine industry’s most significant investment to date in telling Australia’s fine wine story to an international audience. Aimed at celebrating Australian excellence not just in wine, but also in terms of food, hospitality and tourism, 12 of the world’s most influential wine media and educators will be hosted by Wine Australia in the Barossa Valley for five days, before travelling further afield on regional tours across South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia.”

    This is a total junket and promotional event, the type that Jay’s readers criticized Mark Squires and Jay Miller for attending.

  5. I think it is funny that DR JAY MILLER comments on the downfall of the Aussie wine industry in the US when he is one of the primary causes of it! The wines that he favors are simple and overdone and the same regardless of the grape! 90 wines by one importer that average 92 pts????????

  6. @Joe,

    I think it is a gross generalization to state that readers were criticizing Squires and Miller for taking this kind of trip. What WAS BEING CRITICIZED was the lack of transparency around the trips and how the wines were tasted and the double standard that exists between Parker and his “contractors” (a term i despise btw). THAT IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

    It’s great that you object to Miller going on a paid trip but personally I could care less as long as I the reader know the circumstances so that I the buyer can make an informed decision about my purchases.

  7. Re: “full disclosure” — By posting this, I think Tyler has already given us far more disclosure than any print publication — Wine Advocate or otherwise — ever would.

    And actually, congratulations are in order: If 130 people applied, and only 10 were selected, that’s quite the honor. Reading Jancis Robinson’s congratulatory post — — I think this was quite the recognition of, frankly.

    Have fun, thanks for your transparency, and I hope you learn something!

  8. I don’t see any disclosure. Are they paying for luxury hotels and first-class airlines?

    The only “disclosure” is who paid for the event itself. I have no objection to Jay attending a Bordeaux event in New York, organized by the Bordeaux producers.

    I would object to them flying Jay to Bordeaux and helicoptering him around and putting him up in luxury hotels and stuffing him with luxury meals.

    I don’t care if that bribery is “disclosed” or not “disclosed.” Disclosure that you took a bribe does that excuse you for taking a bribe.

  9. I for one think that there is an issue here worth discussing more than rehashing the disclosure issue, we all know about that, and frankly most of us knew or could have taken a pretty educated guess before. But Joe, to say that you don’t care if they’re comped by the AUS government, but you care if the conditions are luxe just sounds kind of stupid, especially since the whole concept seems to be that of Australia reaching out to the world’s wine voices for some help in gaining direction, rebranding, and attempting a market repositioning. Where would you expect a government asking their advice to put them up, Motel 6? And what is the difference between a flight to AUS and a first class flight to AUS? I guess not much. Does Quantus even have coach? But the biggest thing is that this is an educational exchange, not a tasting package for scoring in a magazine. You keep jumping on Tyler about this one over and over (beating the dead horse into a bloody pulp as it were) and the thing is that Tyler’s site has very little in the way of brand endorsement, and what it does have tends to be in the value category, and tends towards wines that are sometimes off the beaten, and sometimes downright esoteric. So I don’t think we need an itemized receipt with each post, and I don’t think that I’m alone here.

    Joe, I think that your distribution outfit is well-respected, and we all -totally – get your position on this disclosure deal, but just let it go maybe.

    As for the substance…

    Of course AUS needs rebranding, of course they need a new direction, of course they need a lot of things if they are to regain some of that lost prestige at the high-end and some of the lost tonnage sold at the low, but how will they do it? Well, probably there needs to be a consideration of maybe other varietals to gain more prominence, and frankly a lot of wine growing area will probably have to be lost because it is just too hot, especially in times of drought, to grow good wine. And frankly I believe that a wine drinking public lured in by Yellow Tail eventually progressed to pricier wines and found that the Tail just wasn’t for them anymore. And often they progressed to higher end Aus shiraz, as well as international wines of the same stripe, but just so, they also progressed from there to more classically styled wines. So those drinkers may be lost. At the same time drought and heat waves made already ripe and highly alcoholic wines extremely moreso. And many areas lost vineyards altogether as drought management required what will probably be permanent vineyard closings.

    So the AUS wine industry is essentially up the proverbial creek. Any image rebuild is like to be slow and cumbersome. But there is still quality there. We need to see more inexpensive dry riesling here in the states, I believe it can sell. Riesling has lost in popularity over the years, but I think that it can bounce back with a drier image, as the German vintners have already realized and as the Austrians always knew. As for Shiraz, I think there are still good wines, but maybe some have been overpriced and will need to drop, even at the expense of looking cheap. Deliver proper quality at the right price point and people will drink it I think.

    I wish them all the luck in the world, and I await the next act in this play. Australia helped push the whole world’s wine styles for awhile. That is some serious muscle. I hope now we’ll see more substance under the style.

  10. Never drink Australian Shiraz, other than the few bottles of Dead Arm I have left.

    I’ll leave the Yellowtail saga for those who enjoy this stuff.

    As was mentioned above the state of the wines is very problematic. High alcohol, gobs of ripe lush fruit. Just awful. Can’t drink alone and can’t pair with food. Don’t know how RP enjoys this stuff.

    Until the Aussies start sending of some balanced, good acidity, lower alcohol wines I’m out.

    Even many of the SBs have just become clones of one another and just have a grassy taste and not much of anything else.

    It’s a shame. This problem as you say has now spread to Argentina, Chile, and unfortuately Spain. It is just getting more and more difficult to find old world style wines which are great with food.

    Until the winemakers stop making the wines for the points it won’t end. I don’t know about the US consumer. My fear is that most people are drinking wine without food, so they continue to buy into this stuff.

    I’ve seen magnums of yellowtail brought by people to really good restaurants.

    What more can I say.

  11. Weston wrote in his comment above:

    “That being said no one is going to fly to aussie taste 100? wines on their on expense.”

    As the wine buyer for The Jug Shop in San Francisco, I have done exactly that probably close to fifteen times during the past dozen years or so. And when I got a girlfriend, I paid for her flight too!! Not only that, my boss has never paid for any tickets and I have had to use my vacation time for what was essentially a business trip that benefitted the store. Why? So I could learn more about a fascinating country and its wines. It’s that simple and I would expect any one in the biz with a passion for wine to do the same. It’s the passion that drives you to do it, not just because it’s business.

    (In the new trendy effort to be transparent, I did crash at the pads of a few winemakers, ate well on some expense accounts, and have had some other trips paid for. But I always insisted that we go out for late night cleansers and bought the first round at the bar.)

  12. The point I’m making is that I’m not asking monastic purity. Tyler lives in New York. If some Australian trade group has a tasting in New York than I couldn’t care less if he went. Nothing wrong with it.

    But accepting luxury junkets to Australian is another matter. How can a journalist remain distant from their subject if they are being paid for their services by the people they are profiling.

    Being comped is a new concept. But it is just plain old bribery, dressed up as a marketing symposium.

    Tyler never disclosed his arrangements for the Australian gala. At lease Jamie Goode, who brazenly brags about junkets he goes on, talks on his blog about travelling in first class and staying at great hotels on someone else’s largese.

    You’re right. I’ve made my point. I find it shocking that journalist standards have sunken so low. That the same guy goes after Parker and then goes on a junket himself.

    Its disgraceful, I’m sorry.

  13. By the way, when I go to Australia, I fully expect that I will drink more than 100 wines, even if I go for just a long weekend… I mean, come on!!

  14. Guys can we get over this who was paid and who wasn’t and who was holier than thou. At the end of the day you need to answer one question -are these people being unduly influenced by the paid treatment they receive. Any wine writer worth his salt would be agonized by this issue and would almost certainly try to be as objective as they can. Over time they would simply be found out.

    Now to the article which many of the posters seem to ignore. How many of you have tried an Australian Zin or Viognier or Riesling or Semillon or Verdelho. We drink a lot of that stuff in Oz and leave all those fruit bombs to the auction markets and export markets. And let us not forget a major factor (perhaps the major factor) in the decline in wine export from Australia – our exchange rate which has gone through the roof against the US$. The simple fact is the old value story is no longer applicable. This is the major factor in the decline, not some fickle wine buyer or newly savvy buyers who discovered their Molly Dooker wines don’t last the decade out.

  15. The key word in all this is disclosure. Dr. Vino never had a policy against taking trips. Why shouldn’t he take a trip? Everyone now knows he’s taking it, as consumers we can now evaluate that fact when reading any recommendations he makes as a result of that trip. That is the difference between his actions and those of others, he says “hey I’m going on this cool trip sponsored by the Australian Gov’t” not “I went on a trip”. By disclosing the fact he is going on a free trip we as consumers can better evaluate his work.

  16. @ Joe – I did not fly first class. But, frankly, I don’t care what class of service it took to get here and although the hotel is lovely, it could well be Motel 6 and they could serve us gruel the whole time–I’d sill have made the journey. The reason I am here is to learn more about the story of Australian wine, taste interesting examples of Australian wine, and meet Australian winemakers and to share this with my readers. I have an ethics policy and I haven’t violated it.

    @ Weston, Gene, Mark, Michael, and Max — thanks!! The folks here are a very interesting group and I’ve already tasted some very good, gob-free wines.

    @ Chuck – thanks for stopping by!

    For those interested in continuing the discussion about Australian wine, here’s some trivia I learned last night: what do you think is the best selling wine here in Australia?



  17. Tyler,

    Isn’t it Oyster Bay (NZ) Sauvignon Blanc? Last I heard it was over a million cases and rising.


  18. […] […]

  19. Jay:

    Jamie Goode reports he has a suite of rooms. Is that also the case with you?

    Your policies section has nothing about junkets, but you did write in some of your threads condemning Robert Parker that you accept government trips. But this is a ridiculous qualified….the Australian wine trade is organized into a governmental body. This is common all over the world. It is the Australian Wine trade that is paying your bill, putting you up and feeding you.

    You were certainly free to organize such a trip on your own dime in the past, but didn’t bother.

    The event you are attending is not a critical event but a promotional showcase. You’re flattered you got picked and you’re going to promote, promote and promote because they’ve organized an event for exactly those purposes. They’re fairly smart about these things.

    By accepting their money you’ve already indicated a suspension of independence.

    Lastly, how come Jamie Goode got first class and you didn’t?

  20. I see that my newest good friend (will we still be friends after I disagree with you in print), Joe Dressner, is up on his favorite hobby horse again.

    When anyone of this guys starts posting questionable reviews of wines they tasted on the trip or of Aussie wine in general, then I think they will be open to criticism. So far, they have not pimped us on wines that we know they should have disliked nor engaged in tasting 200 wines per day with the labels showing and then charging us to read their reviews of those wines.

    So, I for one, am not yet worried.

    Now, on to Chuck Heyward. NO better guy around. Makes me smile just to be in his presence. He has made himself into one of North America’s leading experts on wines from down under. No need for me to like everything he likes, but the man knows his onions and he learned them by working hard and studying the topic.

    But let’s remember. Chuck is a retailer. When he buys wine, it is for the account of Jug Shop in San Francisco. He is personally on the hook for those wines, and if they turn out to be swill, his trips to Australia will stop because his employer will have dumped him out on Polk Street with no visible means of supports. I don’t care what does or does not get lavished on Chuck or on Joe Dressner or on anyone whose money is tied up in product. Ultimaately, the product speaks. That is the standard that I believe in.

    This business of criticizing folks for learning is misplaced in my view.

    OK, Joe. Sock it to me.


  21. Maybe I’ve been working too hard this morning, and staring at the computer screen too intensely, but I think my occasional sparring partner Joe D just referred to Tyler as “Jay.” I nearly shorted out the keyboard when I spit my coffee.

  22. Dr Vino

    In your opinion, does the latest statements / clarifications regarding WA policies & practices posted by Mr Parker satisfy you to the point that you are ready to move on?


  23. Dear Mr. Estaban:

    Thank you for the correction. I mistakenly wrote Jay rather than Tyler.

    Charles: I’m sorry if defending journalistic ethics is a personal “hobby horse.”

    Chuck from the Jug Shop will sleep on a floor to get to Australia because he has some passion and doesn’t want to depend on industry freebies.

    Tyler: Your policy page on the web site says nothing about junkets, but don’t you think it is a bit crazy that you attacked the Parker staffers for taking freebies if you think freebies are a good thing. You should have congratulated Parker and his staffers and asked Parker to embrace and update his ethics statement rather than name a scandal out of something you readily do.

    Your Australian junket is no different than the Jay Miller junkets in Argentina or Australia.

    I believe you said in one of the comments sections about Parker that you would accept trips but not from a producer, or a group of producers. Right now though, you have accepted one big giant junket being run by the Australian wine industry.

    I sincerely hope you rethink your politics.

  24. Is it possible that you went to Oz just to escape the comments of Joe D? Didn’t work.

  25. Here’s what Paul Henry of Wine Australia wrote in the May edition of their e-newsletter:

    This titanic game of digital ping-pong has been going on among members of the fourth estate in the US, with much angst over the declared (and otherwise) interests of wine reviewers. Recently Dr Vino posed no less an authority than Robert Parker some pretty awkward questions, squarely pointing out the apparent ‘drift’ between the Wine Advocates declared ethics and practices, and a number of trips, visits and events recently undertaken for that publication. Suffice to say that there are inconsistencies that remain unclarified, and a parre/riposte ensued from journalists; importers; agents and publishers from around the world. Journalistic integrity is now formally in the dock, and the jury is looking decidedly ‘hung’…
    At a time when print wine journalism is receding on a daily basis, TV wine coverage is almost non-existent, and the reality of retail consolidation means an invisible but impermeable wall between shelf-brand and consumer, access to informed opinion and end-users is key. The protocols behind what is appropriate for reviewers and bloggers to accept is an important issue that relates directly to the veracity and credibility of what they write. However, if we really expect wine journalists not to be able to accept approaches from appointed industry and regional bodies (e.g. Wine Australia), or invitations to dinners when on said trips, then we are going to end up with a remote system of trial by sample that informs no-one’s process, and arguably only benefits couriers and post-masters.
    We are constantly told that consumers are interested in experiential wine education. Are we really going to press-gang (intentional pun) our media into tasting in isolation and only when they have paid for the opportunity themselves? The issue is surely not one of offer and acceptance, but rather the importance of declaration and clarity of interest. Let’s get on with responsible engagement and agree that transparent and accurate information for consumers is the big picture.
    I’ll leave the last words to Oscar Wilde: “I never watch a play before reviewing it for fear it will influence my opinion.” Perfect!

    edited at the request of the commenter

  26. Wow. I found this page after getting a link to the article in “The Australian” about this current Aussie tasting event which until this morning I was not even aware of despite being in the wine industry.
    I’m a little too scared to have an opinion other than to say that I hope the trip is worth it, on all counts. And for the record, I hope Chuck can meet up with us on one of his future trips. I am happy to supply a bed and breakfast for you but cannot help with the airfare I’m afraid:)
    Cheers and here’s to the Aussie wine industry getting back on its feet.

  27. I lived in Australia for many years and fell head over heels for the wines of Victoria and Tasmania. These are cooler climes and produce more subtle flavors than there counterparts from the Barossa. I believe the Australians need to educate the wine drinker about all of the various and diverse winemaking regions of Australia.
    Most wine lovers are only familiar with the fruit bombs from Barossa, etc.
    Sounds like they keep beating the dead horse though since they are sponsoring your visit to….Barossa.

  28. mydailywine – While the Landmark Tutorial is being held in the Barossa Valley, wines from regions around Australia will be tasted. You can follow the tutorial, and wines tasted, on twitter ( or via the blog:

  29. Amy,
    I was lucky enough to taste through the wines tried in the shiraz and historic perspective masterclasses yesterday and the wines came from all regions of Australia….the Barossa is the venue, not the focus.

  30. Joe:

    Starting last fall and then resuming in April, you have posted almost 100 comments on this site. I have not deleted or edited anything you have posted. Of the comments, only one has been vaguely helpful, the one in which you drew on your success as a wine importer to help shed light on the pricing of wine in this country. The rest of your involvement here has been a constant stream heckling (or worse), often factually incorrect or based on deliberately false assumptions. You have directed most of this at me but have also targeted other commenters; in fact, most threads in which you intervene swiftly devolve into a toxic asset that federal funds couldn’t even rescue. I devote a lot of time and energy to making this site a fun and informative discussion about wine, a beverage that brings a lot of joy to many people. If you want to contribute your industry insight and opinion in a balanced, non-accusatory way, that’s fine. But otherwise I respectfully ask you to go about your business and let me go about mine.

  31. @ Chris, thanks for mentioning the foreign exchange rates, which are in important part of the story.

    @ Grant, you’re right! The number one wine in Australia is Oyster Bay Suavignon Blanc. Whoda thunk?

    @ mydailywine – the irony of the location wasn’t lost on me either. But it’s more of a conference than it is local vineyard tours and the event organizers have done a superb job highlighting wines and winemakers from regions throughout the country.

  32. I’m intrigued by the idea that they “have been keeping the good stuff.” If that is true, I’m sure you will tell us all about it. I’m looking forward to the results from your trip.

  33. Mark? Is that you?

    I also played a constructive role when you called for a boycott of the Beaujolais Nouveau because of the carbon footprint of the air shipment. In fact, as I pointed out at the time, the French government had advanced the day for the Beaujolais Nouveau release so that everything could leave on boat. Thusly, a bottle of Californian wine would have a higher carbon footprint than a wine from Lancié.

    I also think my comments about Parker have been constructive. I’ve never liked Parker’s taste but you threw a lot of mud at him, some true, some untrue, to see what would stick and to make your name. It was not responsible.

    I also disagree with you and think it is shameful that you went after Parker for doing the same thing you are doing in Australia.

    I also think that promoting local wines as the be all and end all is just plain silly. This is something you do endlessly, except when you win junkets to Australian, which certainly is not local wine to readership.

    I also think your emphasis on carton wine is just plain silly. Are you asking for Grange Hermitage to bottle in self-pouring cartons?

    I think you’re a nice guy but too involved in self-promotion and factual sloppiness. I have no hesitation about participating here. I’ve not said anything slanderous or untrue about you.

  34. Christ on a bike Joe. You can’t see a distinction between the Jay Miller thing and what Tyler has openly outlined? A reticent admission vs. open disclosure. That is, as we say down here, crackers.

    Also, I think it’s a mistake to think of this as a pure promo trip. It’s not like giving someone 55 Grange is going make any more of it available. And I should add that the Australian Wine Research Institute is a pretty well regarded institution and not exactly one you just drop by whilst Fosters is trying to flog you Rosemount.

    I should add that I’d like to see all the writers I like get invited to such seminars not just here in Australia, but all over the wine world.

  35. I think that the Landmark Australia ‘junket’ is an inspired bit of PR by a fairly desperate generic body. However dispassionate, neutral, unbiased a journalist may think themselves to be, how are they *not* going to return home feeling a little better disposed towards Aussie wine having tasted or drunk $$$$ thousands worth of the very finest wines which that country has ever made? Imagine a similar week long event in France featuring DRC, Leflaive, all the top 5 Bordeaux 1er Crus, Le Pin, Petrus, Beaucastel, Yquem, Rostaing etc etc. Genius. They’re wine writers… what do they like best? Fantastic wine.

  36. It’s not even about disclosure. It’s about policy. The wine advocate has a public policy that it pays for all trips, when in fact it doesn’t. If it didn’t have that public policy then there wouldn’t be an issue. Wine media personnel all over the world take trips that have been paid for them all the time, and no one really cares, or asks for disclosure, because they don’t go grand-standing about who paid for lunch.

    Now if Dr Vino doesn’t have such a public policy, then who is paying for his Australia trip (and god help us, whether or not it’s luxurious) is 100% irrelevant.


  37. This American ex-pat, allowed to bicycle the McLaren Vale to the Southern fingers of the Fleurieu Peninsula, commuting to work/home, loving yet longing for the fine acids and earthen textures of distant lands, and now committed to this land for a time by marriage–knows that gorgeous, natural wines are made, and will be made, hopefully enjoyed…

    I do enjoy making wine in Australia. Alarming some with use of stems, skins on whites, but whatever, …

    Facades and egos abound, on this forum, in a cellar, at the table…as does wine. In the end, we all share it, right?

  38. “Starting last fall and then resuming in April, you have posted almost 100 comments on this site. I have not deleted or edited anything you have posted. Of the comments, only one has been vaguely helpful”

    To whom? To you? I think that an irrelevant concern. Is not the goal of this site to edify the reader? I have found many, if not most of Joe’s posts interesting and valuable. At a time when the Internet seems poised to replace print media as the main source of in-depth journalism, the questions of what standards will be set and how they will be policed very germane. As this becomes the medium of record, one must welcome being held to the utmost scrutiny and accountability, especially in terms of disclosure and sourcing, or the supposedly illuminated will become a confederacy of dunces, and the burden of journalism to bring all things into the light will be tragically unmet for the whole culture. It starts with every one of us.

    I must, therefore, thank you for allowing Joe his soapbox. In the interest of your own credibility, please do not take it away.

  39. Joe

    It is unfortunate that you think your comments have been constructive, because I do not think anyone here would agree. Naturally, you are entitled to your opinion, but why not just take issue on your own blog rather than interfering with Tyler’s.

    You wrote…”Being comped is a new concept.”

    Completely false.

    How many people do you take on free trips to your wineries per year?

    No one cares about the free trips…except you…so save it.

  40. Daniel:

    Journalists being comped as an acceptable practice is a new concept.

    No credible journalist has ever asked me for a comped trip in 20 years in the wine trade.

    You cared about free trips when it involves Jay Miller and Mark Squires. Tyler is also a journalist, why are his standards different. Because he admits to being comped?

  41. Joe

    I cared about full disclosure. Tyler has disclosed his trip and the important details of it, other than where he took his last dump in Southeastern Australia, which I do not wish to know about.

    I, along with many others, want honest reviews, with full disclosure. Is Tyler on vacation with his best friend in Australia? No, he is not.

    Was Jay Miller on a vacation with his best friend in Australia, yes he was. Did Jay Miller constantly promote his best friend as the savior of Australian wine importing in the United States? Yes he did. Did Jay Miller post a 100 point score without a Tasting Note about a wine being imported by his best friend? yes he did. Until just this past month, did Jay Miller ever disclose that he and Dan Philips were best friends? No, he did not.

    Big differences. Big differences.

  42. Most Australian wine makers I know have taken note of all of the common critisism such as fruit bomb etc and are adapting.

    Watch this space in the next 24 months to see what is exported.

  43. BTW – regarding keeping all the quality wine in Australia it is quite true

    Giving quality wine to Americans, would be like feeding strawberries to pigs


  44. […] Australians call their high-alcohol, fruity style of Shiraz “leg spreaders”. […]


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