Sydney, Day 1

This is an outstanding country. I have a simple, straightforward means of determining my own appreciation for any new place:
Sunshine? Check.
Outdoor cafes? Check.
Abundance of good food and drink? Check.
Friendly locals? Check.

I had high expectations about Australia, and thus far they have been highly surpassed.

Below pic: The Sydney Harbor and Opera House. Beautiful!

At this point in my early blogging experience it's tempting to digress away from wine and relate stories of interesting European travellers, beautiful Aboriginal art-filled museums, and boisterous and often unintelligible locals. But I think it's important to retain direction and stay focused on the juice. So in the spirit of this grapey adventure, I'll expound on my recent wine experiences and share some tasting notes.

I had a tremendous first day in Sydney. The harbor, opera house, and city gardens are gorgeous. An old high school friend of mine and her Aussie husband (Mel and Shaun) showed me around town and were infinitely hospitable. They happen to live right around the corner from a promising looking wine store "Ultimo." Mel and I wandered in and instantly my spirits were lifted. It had been a hell of a great day already, and it kept getting better. There was a central table in the room with about half a dozen Premier Cru white burgs and some empty glasses, and we were invited to help ourselves. Mmm white burgundy:

I introduced myself to some of the staff, explaining that I was a California winemaker and it was my first day in their fine country, and I was in need of a deliciously unique Aussie white wine for dinner that evening. Immediately I was pointed to an 02 Semillon from Hunter Valley (my notes below). My new friend James described it as slightly honeyed and rich from bottle maturation, with a distinctive "wet sheep wool" character. Clearly this was a positive descriptor for James, and I made a mental note to keep an eye out for sheep the next time it rained in order to develop some perspective. After we selected the Semillon I struck up a great chat with one of the store clerks "Alex," who in addition to the retail work is a Barossa shiraz producer.

His label, "Head Wines" is a small production shiraz producer that focuses on specific soil sites with the different bottlings. Alex and I proceeded to have a tremendous wine conversation. We share a preference for "old world" style wines (I recognize I'm neck deep in the "new world":), and it was both surprising and refreshing to discover these sentiments down under. I had been concerned that the Barossa especially would be dominated by a homogenous style of over-ripe, over-extracted wines. I was thrilled to see some stylistic diversity. We continued chatting for a while, and by the time I left Ultimo I was more excited than ever to get out to Barossa and start the vintage.

Alex is eager to try some of the Jaffurs wines I brought out, and hopefully we'll get together shortly and continue out conversation over a nice bottle of Jaffurs Grenache.

Note the classy wine glasses below...

02 Semillon 10.5% alc
Meerea Park
Alexander Munro
Hunter Valley

Very dry, citrus, melon, honey, real "stony" great minerality, good weight on palate, sheep wool? Quite enjoyable.

The trip started out with a bang, and the next day I was off to Adelaide, South Australia...

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