Sydney on My Mind

如果杭州是我精神上的第二故鄉, Sydney 可以說是我實實在在的第二故鄉。

原因是﹕ Sydney 是我兩個兄長的家。

我二哥在父親去世後不久便隻身闖蕩南大洋,他用血汗掙來的錢支撐著大半個家。兄弟姐妹中,他的長相最像早逝的父親,所以見他如見父親。

經過多少年的辛勞,二哥把幼女也送上大學了,實在值得喜上眉梢

 

我大哥的女兒是我這一輩的第一個孩子,我們視之如親女兒,她隨父母移民到澳洲時才六歲,到今天我還記得二十多年前與她離別時的苦戚。

大哥的長女今天的微笑仍讓我們想起她兒時可愛的臉蛋

 

以前我們去旅行,總愛跑比較有文化、有歷史的地方。當時我們想﹕澳大利亞有什麼歷史可言?

到如今,我們年紀漸大,才猛然發現家族本身便是文化和歷史。所以花了四分之一個世紀跑遍天下之後,我們終于歸根落地,最近七、八年,我們去得最多的,是杭州與 Sydney 這兩個故鄉。

回家是不用計劃的,這點連我兩位哥哥好像也不大搞得懂。

Sydney 除了熾熱的親情,還有無盡的陽光,與無染的山水。

還有無論多少金錢也買不到的一個「閑」字

要批評的話,只有一樣﹕澳洲不是意大利,他們最突出的 Shiraz ,借我的啟蒙老師的一句話﹕是很 one-dimensional 的酒。

不然的話,我們可能早已移居澳大利亞!

為了挑戰 one-dimensional 的宿命,我們這次在 Sydney 的一個星期,找來了四種不同葡萄品種的酒品試,倒也增添了莫大的樂趣。

最有趣的,是讓我很偶然的踫到一瓶 Sangiovese 和兩瓶 Nebbiolo 。這兩種最高貴的意大利葡萄品種,在澳大利亞會否長得像 Shiraz

Greenstone Vineyard 2007 Sangiovese 產自氣候比較涼的 Victoria Heathcote 地區 ,三位合伙人分別來自澳洲 Mark Walpole 、意大利 Alberto Antonini 與英國 David Gleave MW)。深紫色,酸梅和略帶泥土的氣味,出奇地有 Tuscan feel ;味道是很鮮的果子味,圓潤、平衡,幾分優雅。難怪 Alberto Antonini 說酒像年青的 Brunello 多于 Chianti

我們也曾經嘗過產自 Heathcote 地區 Heathcote Estate 2006 Shiraz ,是典型的漿糊型 Shiraz ,濃得一塌糊塗,像一瓶加了酒精的葡萄汁多于葡萄酒。這瓶 Sangiovese 卻完全沒有半分 Shiraz 的蹤影,很好的意外驚喜!

至于兩瓶 Nebbiolo ,則比較差強人意。

產自南澳 Adelaide Hills S.C. Pannell Nebbiolo 2005 造得較好,是比較粗豪的風格,氣味是花香為主,一點點的招牌玫瑰花瓣,丹寧也較粗糙。如果 Barolo 仿效 Burgundy 的分級辦法,這應該是一瓶中規中矩的鄉村級 Barolo

另一瓶 Luke Lambert 2008 Nebbiolo 來自 Heathcote ,只造了641瓶,酒標設計好像很有品味,豈料從氣味到味道,是瓶十足的 cranberry juice Luke Lambert 這頑皮小子跟我們開了個玩笑!

聽說西澳的 Cabernet Sauvignon 造得比較好,但我們總覺得脂粉味太重,這次找到一瓶 Mount Mary 1999 Quintet 來踫踫運氣。Mount Mary Bordeaux blend cult wine ,產自 Victoria 省的 Yarra Valley ,用五種葡萄混合而成,主要是 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot   Cabernet Franc ,另加小量的 Petit Verdot Malbec 。現在喝已開始成熟,完全讓你想不起是澳洲的酒,閉上眼來,你只會想到 St Julien ,難得的是木桶用得還算有分寸。這瓶酒充分證明了澳洲有能力造出好的 Bordeaux 風格酒, but where is the terroir ?而且值這個價錢嗎?

然後我們回到 Shiraz 。幾年前我去 Sydney 待的時間較長,有機會品試很多出名的 Shiraz ,包括 Grange Hill of Grace 。給我留下很深印象的,是南澳 McLaren Vale Noon 酒莊。這是個典型的 garage winery ,葡萄主要依賴長期合作的酒農供應(像 Bruno Giacosa 與八十年代以前很多意大利釀酒師的做法)。現任莊主 Drew Noon 是澳洲僅有的幾個 Masters of Wine 之一,亦曾接受嚴格的釀酒訓練。Rhone 專家 Robert Parker Noon Winery 有極高的評價﹕

The Noons are part of the young, open-minded generation that is guided by one goal: to produce the most uncompromising product possible … With their incredible perfume and extraordinary purity and layers of fruit … there is a restraint, balance, and complexity that is remarkable.

我們四年前喝過他們的 2000 年和2003 Shiraz Reserve ,當時我已被他們的 purity elegance 征服,但酒還是太年青了,果味如同夜空一樣漆黑一片。

這次有機會試了 1997 2003 兩個年份。

2003 還是不能踫,但 1997 讓我第一次領教到澳洲最好的 Shiraz 與世界上最好的酒絕對可以平起平坐! A paragon of purity of fruit ,而且層次出來了。以前喝澳洲的 Shiraz ,都是 fruit bomb 風格,但這瓶 1997 有一種由 restraint 帶來的優雅。

無怪乎 Robert Parker 說過﹕

Life is too short not to be drinking the wines of Noon.

(見﹕ The World’s Greatest Wine Estates

年產四千餘瓶的 Noon Shiraz Reserve 應該是澳洲的 Grand Cru 之一。現在不去搜購,難道要二十年後跟其他人一起後悔嗎?

從此以後,澳洲讓我記掛的,不只是家人,還有那獨樹一幟的陳年  Shiraz 。

8 thoughts on “Sydney on My Mind

  1. What a coincidence, I also had a Mount Mary not long ago!
    [版主回覆05/05/2010 10:26:00]
    But you were not too happy with it?  It's a well made wine, though Robert Parker was so pissed off by the winemaker that he wrote five years ago about the 2001 Quintet that you had:
     
    The proprietor of Mount Mary has never wanted me to taste his wines, which are revered by segments of the Australian press, but with some stealth work, I was able to secure a few vintages. In addition to the 2001 Quintet, I was able to taste the 1998, 1997, 1995, and 1994. For my taste, only the 2001 merited a score higher than 80 points. The attempt appears to be to emulate a Bordeaux petit chateau, but none were as fine, being lean, high in acid, austere, and meagerly endowed. They will not improve with age. The 2001 has slightly more to it than the older vintages. It is difficult to understand what merit these wines possess.
     
    Would you go as far as Parker in condemning the 2001 the way he did?

  2. What a happy trip
    閑打太極, 在海邊, 好呀!
    你們也應在西湖边打过太極吧!
    吾兄好似比嫂嫂打快了少 少,(是否攬雀尾? )
    嫂嫂還是左掤!
    [版主回覆05/05/2010 10:21:00]好厲害的眼睛!We were just posing for our nieces. 
    西湖旁打太極很享受,但太太不小心便著涼了。

  3. thanks for sharing ……. must try try Noon
    [版主回覆05/05/2010 11:40:00]Noon also produces a very elegant Grenache/Shiraz blend called "Eclipse".  There is also a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, but I'll go for the Shiraz Reserve and Eclipse. 

  4. I don't know how much it costs but definitely not a wine that I would want to have in my cellar. There is something that annoys me, it cannot describe but surely not in the same league as Grange or Hill of Grace.
    Perhaps not as far as R P's, but I would not recommend it to anyone.
    [版主回覆05/05/2010 15:19:00]Grange or Hill of Grace should be compared with Cote Rotie or Hermitage, both Syrah or Shiraz based.  Quintet should be compared with Bordeaux, more left bank than right, as it's mainly Cab/Merlot.  I'm not a fan of Bordeaux, or for that matter any Cab/Merlot, but I think Mount Mary deserves its rightful place as a very good expression of Cab/Merlot.

  5.  dont get me wrong, of course I know these wines should be compared base on the same grape.
    I find Australian wines something just on its own. Particualry with Shiraz. There is nothing like it. It may be relatively easier to draw a comparison between Bordeaux and Aussie cab/merlot but I find it very hard to compare Rhone with Aussie Shiraz.
    So when it comes to (buying/drinking) Australian wines, I will choose a wine that has a strong expression of personality which imho is Shiraz. That's why I say Mount Mary is not in the same league as HoG and Grange.
    [版主回覆05/06/2010 13:50:00]You are certainly right.  Even if you don't like the overblown style of Aussie Shiraz, they are one of its kind.  Wine connoisseurs are sometimes unfairly critical of Australian Shiraz as we seldom have a chance to taste a well developed wine.  The 1997 Noon Shiraz Reserve is a proof that it can stand with the best. 
     
    And I can never forget Clarendon Hills' Astralis, which is for me the most extreme expression of the pitch-black character of Shiraz when young.   

  6. Mount Mary now has an reputation in the wine world and has accrued a somewhat cult following may mean nothing to some. I wish to share the following: all wines gave adequate fruit as manifested from a vertical tasting of the older vintages from 1982 to 1994; all gives sort of Bordeaux(st. Julien) palate; fruit profile was special. The maritime influence of Port Philip Bay creates summer sea breezes which bring moisture stressed vines and generally lower temperatures during the maturation process does have a significant bearing on the taste profile. If yo uconsider that as terroir, then hopefully you might begin to like them. I thought of Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto Gentilhombre- classical written, fine tones, firework finish.
    [版主回覆05/09/2010 16:28:00]Port Philip Bay?  I went there once as a tourist watching the small penguins groping their way to their home after a hard working day.  It sure was as cold as hell to me!
     
    I've been thru' the Gentilhombre Fantasia twice before writing this.  I like your analogy, but I read it also in another way: there's Rodrigo besides Mozart and Haydn, just as there's Yarra Valley besides Medoc!  Guess I was blinded by centuries of successful Bordeaux branding.  Quintet does have its terroir: its price is a product of supply and demand, nothing to do with its quality.
     
    But if you press me hard, I'd rather have a Brunello than a Bordeaux or Yarra Valley Cab/Merlot.  This is however taste, not terroir. 
     
    Thanks Kevin for the enlightenment!

  7. Mt Mary has created so much controversies! I don't have enough sample to judge it. The 1994 MM I had tasted was restrained, well made but too earthy or should I say lacking some flair to make it outstanding. But that's only one bottle.
    Although, Oz wines are no longer my favorite wine region, but there's still some nice wines that I had tasted at mid price range. I still have some 02 Hytesbury from Vasse Felix which I think is every bit as tasty and without overblowing itself. Kay Brothers 's wine are surprisingly good! Torbreck's are not bad either despite I would not pay that much for their top wines.
    There are always some gems behind the vast sea of mediocrity and overextraction!
     
    [版主回覆05/15/2010 22:20:00]Mount Mary taught me that Shiraz's preeminence in Australia over all other varietals could well be a market driven choice rather than a result of its terroir.  Shiraz is a niche, and they play it very well. 

  8. Glad to learn that your were happy with everything in Sydney – our home = your home.
    Thank you very much for your coming over to make me another celebrating to my 60th birthday of which the party looks like endless in April. What a nice surprise and happy memory you have done for me. Thank you!
    Well, your beautiful and selected 1975 French  red is waitng for your return home one day in the nearest future. Cheers!
    [版主回覆05/16/2010 15:49:00]Just came back from Shanghai and Hangzhou with two of my best friends from the last decade of my work life: Jim from Florida and Mr Wang from Shanghai.  Still filled with the warmth of friendship and the laughter that never left us.  We must take you to Hangzhou, best in March.  Now get your calendar out!
     
    Mr Wang is thankful for the regards you sent, and Jim is looking forward to visit Australia after many years. 
     
    Better toast the 1975 Palmer to Sue on your Big Day.  We'll come again, but there are always some other good wines to share. 

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