The book starts with a brief history of Australian viticulture and wine where we encounter such pioneers as Penfold, Hardy and Angas whose names are familiar to today’s wine drinkers. Copp looks deeper into the industry, reporting on the reasons for its export success, and recent researches by the Australian Wine Research Institute. Then he’s off to the regions of South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and New South Wales. Copp climbs Henschke’s Hill of Grace “to walk amongst 150 year old vines with their branches trained upwards like hands raised in prayer” and gazes at the pebble strewn Jacob’s Creek before trying his hand at blending a cuvee.
Along the way Copp focuses on grape varieties including Riesling Chardonnay, Grenache, Pinot Noir and Shiraz, looking at their performance in Australia and meeting their greatest exponents, such as Steffano Lubiano in Tasmania whose “richly robed 2005 Pinot Noir Sasso” impressed.
In 1956 Copp started his career in wine in Bordeaux working for a négotiant. Trained in the classic wine regions he knew nothing of Australian wines until the 1970’s when the company he was then working for company UK agent for Mitchelton Wines. Since then he has travelled to Australia several times and met many leading figures in the industry.
Copp has an easy conversational style and anywhere you dip in this delightful book you find an interesting nugget such as Shiraz’s affinity for American oak or an anecdote about sheep shearing. And, since wine is best with food, he describes accompanying meals, Morton Bay Bugs included.
This is a not a dull text book but a chatty lively look at Australian wine and the characters who make it written by a consummate expert with an inquiring mind. An ideal present for the wine lover you love.
Australian Wine Walkabout: Notes on Visits to Australian Fine Wine Makers
By David Copp
Paperback: 260 pages
$16.00 / £9.99
(Disclaimer: I gave David some practical assistance in preparing this book for publication and I didn't pay for my copy.)
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Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape, also available for the Kindle.