Vin – extraordinaire!

PUBLISHED: 14:00 03 April 2009 | UPDATED: 15:54 20 February 2013

Francis Peel looks at the ghosts of wines past, present and future

Francis Peel looks at the ghosts of wines past, present and future

Francis Peel looks at the ghosts of wines past, present and future

The past

'A lot of people in this country pooh-pooh Australian table wines. This is a pity as many fine Australian wines appeal not only to the Australian palate but also to the cognoscenti of Great Britain. Of the sparkling wines, the most famous is Perth Pink. This is a bottle with a message in, and the message is 'beware'. This is not a wine for drinking; this is a wine for laying down and avoiding. Real emetic fans will also go for a Hobart Muddy, and a prize winning Cuvee Reserve Château Bottled Nuits Saint Wogga Wogga, which has a bouquet like an aborigine's armpit.' When Eric Idle performed Monty Python's sublime Aussie Wine Sketch in 1972, few could have imagined that by 2000 Australia would be the leading imported wine into the UK.

As I come to the end of 25 years in the wine trade, it is hard to believe that the wine world has changed so fundamentally. My first wine list in 1983 didn't have a single Australian Wine on it. It was all France, Italy and Germany - with Spain the new kid on the block. At the budget end, we all drank Bulgarian Cabernet and Chardonnay produced in the Soviet Block and ultra competitive because of huge government subsidies.
Then in the late eighties wine started to flood in from Australia, Chile, and Argentina as new wine making techniques meant that regions previously too hot for quality wine making could, with temperature-controlled fermentation, produce decent and affordable wines. South Africa joined the fray after the fall of Apartheid in 1992 and New Zealand found that it could make stunning Sauvignon Blanc.

The present

Today wine is part of life for a huge number of people in this country, no longer the domain of the privileged few. We have an astonishing array of choice as England is the epicentre of the world's wine trade. Despite recent increases, wine has never been better value for money. But there is a shadow on the horizon as an increasingly nannying government looks to interfere with what we drink, Hardly a week goes by without some minister telling us that opening a bottle of wine after a hard day's work it morally reprehensible. This is all the more confusing as many reports are published extolling the salubrious virtues of moderate wine consumption.

The future?

Two alternative views:

2019 'At Stafford Crown Court this afternoon, Francis Peel was convicted of drinking three glasses of wine of an evening. Judge Killjoy said that Mr Peel's plea that it had been in celebration of his 60th birthday was not a mitigating circumstance. Sentence will be passed tomorrow but in light of his being three times over the Government's legal daily limit it was likely that a custodial sentence would be appropriate.'

2019 'The Government today issued a statement that as from 1st August, red wine would be available on prescription for people suffering from high cholesterol. Government adviser, Dr Hart, said: 'The proven benefit of moderate consumption of red wine among heart attack sufferers has caused us to take this step. We believe many lives will be saved as a consequence.'


The Unusual Grape Alphabet

J & K are for:

Jaen - A rustic and common red grape found extensively in the central and western regions of Spain. Also found in the Dão region of Portugal, wines from the Jaen are often pale in colour, have very low levels of acidity, and can be quite bland. Best suited as a blending varietal for lightening tannic reds. Thought to be a clone of the Spanish Mencía.

Kerner - This is an aromatic white grape that was created in 1929 as a cross between the Riesling and the Trollinger. Although waning in popularity it is still the eighth most planted grape in Germany and is also found in Australia, Switzerland and Northern Italy.

Kadarka - A rich red grape that is the main variety in the once popular Bull's Blood of Hungary. It can also be found in Bulgaria where it is commonly known as the Gamza. It makes wines with a cherry and spicy flavour but its tendency for rot has meant that it has fallen out of favour.

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