The wine and jazz appreciation society news, vol 5, no 1, 1/2/99

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Part of Loftus’ sense of occasion involves having a Nebuchadnezzar filled with “spurgle”, and ceremoniously carried through the crowd, last year preceded by a piper - and this year by a trumpeter. None other than Bob Sedergreen accompanied the monster on an instrument he is less known for playing than his trusty piano. Don’t give up your day job, Bob - Scott Tinkler you ain’t!
The Nebuchadnezzar is the largest of the Old Testament-inspired bottle names (such as Jereboam, Methuselah), and holds 20 normal bottles, or, sadly in this case, 20 bottles of corked wine! What a disaster. Last year, the McLaren Vale Tattachilla had the honour, and this year the Victorian Garden Gully the unfortunate dishonour. South Australia has been our nemesis since we pinched the Grand Prix - basketball, football, and now “spurgle”. I’m for returning the race to SA late one night when they’re all in bed, say 9pm.
Down the road for some yummy Japanese - Yamabuki in Ferguson Rd - gyoza, sushi, sashimi - with tea and Kirin beer. Time enough to drop into Bennetts to catch the second set of the Lisa Young Quartet. I’m not a fan of Lisa’s, but have only heard her a few times with Morgana. This time, some musos I particularly enjoy hearing in trio format Colin Hopkins (piano), Ben Robertson (bass), Dave Beck (drums) are accompanying Lisa. Having spent some time in India, she is fascinated by their music and particularly by vocal improvisation. Her attempts to blend the rhythms of Indian music with jazz are bold and her voice is strong and flexible, but it doesn’t do the trick for me. Meanwhile the trio is in fine fettle, Colin jerking around like a marionette, Ben coolly, imperturbably supportive, and Dave, rock solid, no frills. How come they concluded at 11.40pm? Is Lisa from SA, too?

Trophy Winning Wines from Wine Planet merchants: freecall 1800 112 111  freefax 1800 112 444
Rosemount Show Reserve Semillon 1996 Hunter Valley. George Wyndham Memorial Trophy for Premium Vintage Dry White Wine, Hunter Valley Show 1998, 1 Gold Medal RRP: $20.85 Our Price: $17.85
Rosemount G.S.M. Grenache Syrah Mourvedre 1996 McLaren Vale

Griffith x-Servicemen's Club Trophy for Best Dry Red (Class 37), Griffith 1998: Commonwealth Bank Trophy, McLaren Vale 1998, 2 Gold Medals RRP: $25.00 Our Price: $21.45

Seppelt DP 90 Show Tawny Winner of 11 Trophies at '97 Royal National Wine Show + 41 Gold Medals at Australian Wine Shows

RRP: $95.50 Our Price: $78.50

Brands Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Coonawarra Winner of 1 Trophy & 3 Gold medals at Australian Wine Shows

RRP: $18.99 Our Price: $14.99

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 1996 Riverina. Winner of 1 Trophy & 3 Gold medals at Australian Wine Shows

RRP: $50.50 Our Price: $36.95

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Chardonnay 1997 Yarra Valley Winner of 1 Trophy & 1 Gold medals at Australian Wine Shows

RRP: $27.50 Our Price: $17.50

Hill Smith Sauvignon Blanc 1998 Ê J.B. MacMahon Trophy for the Best Sauvignon Blanc (Classes 7 & 42)

RRP: $18.50 Our Price: $15.50

Lindemans Sauvignon Blanc 1998 Padthaway Winner of Trophy at '97 Brisbane Wine Show + 1 Gold Medal at Australian Wine Shows RRP: $12.99 Our Price: $12.50
McWilliams Vintage Port 1974 Riverina. Winner of 1 Trophy & 6 Gold medals at Australian Wine Shows RRP: $59.90 Our Price: $49.95
McWilliams Centenary Vintage Port 375ml 1977 Riverina Winner of 5 Trophies & 14 Gold medals at Australian Wine Shows

RRP: $18.95 Our Price: $15.95

Montrose Black Shiraz 1996 Mudgee Winner of 2 Trophies + 2 Gold Medals at Australian Wine Shows RRP: $21.50 Last Price: $17.50
Morris Semillon 1996 Rutherglen Winner of 1 Trophy + 2 Gold Medals at Australian Wine Shows RRP: $13.95 Our Price: $11.50
Orlando St Hilary Chardonnay 1997 Padthaway Winner of 4 Trophies + 5 Gold Medals at Australian Wine Shows RRP: $18.5 Our Price: $12.95
Penfolds Grandfather Fine Old Liqueur Port Winner of Trophy at '96 Barossa Wine Show + 11 Gold Medals at Australian Wine Shows RRP: $88.95 Our Price: $73.50
Rosemount Show Reserve Cabernet 1996 Coonawarra The Stodart Trophy, Best One Year Old Dry Red, Brisbane 1997: The Lachlan Trophy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cowra 1997: The Vine Lodge Trophy, Best One Year Old Red, Cowra 1997, 2 Gold Medals RRP: $29.90 Last Price: $23.95
Rosemount Shiraz Cabernet 1998 Collotype Trophy, Best Dry Red Early Drinking Table Wine Class 32, Perth 1998, 3 Gold Medals RRP: $11.95 Last Price: $8.95
Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz 1986 Winner of Trophy at '96 Ballarat Wine Show + Trophy at '97 Sydney Wine Show + 20 Gold Medals at Australian Wine Shows RRP: $65.95 Last Price: $53.99
Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz 1997 Winner of Trophy at '97 Adelaide Wine Show + Trophy at '97 Royal National Wine Show + 4 Gold Medals at Australian Wine Shows RRP: $19.50 Last Price: $15.95


The heart which grief hath cankered

Hath one unfailing remedy - the Tankard. C.S. Calverley (1831-1884).
“Tankard, please!” was the order at The Rainbow on Monday evening - this little pub, a triumph of chicanery (in-joke) has been a mecca of nightly music in Melbourne for quite some years. Whereas, many side-street pubs were forced to abandon their vitreous porcelain urinals, rip out their vomit-friendly bar-room tiles, send their stained glass windows to trendy mud-brick homes in Healesville - The Rainbow not only survived, but has began to procreate. Were Darwin alive today, he would be fascinated by this example of natural selection at work. He would surely want to study the St David St, Fitzroy Rainbow, and check out the sounds at the offspring Sydney Rd, Brunswick Rainbow too. Hence, the anthropological and evolutionary fervour with which a pint of Guinness was ordered.
As if an excuse were required to spend another Monday night at the Rainbow - Geoff Achison, fresh from a tour of Britain, was the guest member. The Paul Williamson Hammond Combo has been described many times in these pages - it comprises Paul providing vocals, tenor and baritone sax; Tim Neal on Hammond B3 organ (with the wonderful whizzy Leslie revolving speakers), and Mike Jordan (drums). Geoff is considered by many as the best blues guitarist in Melbourne, so it is always a treat to hear his collaboration with such a classy outfit as the Combo. Despite his reputation, Geoff confessed to being intimidated in the past by the musicianship of the band - “They’re jazz, I’m blues”. This diffidence is no longer evident, as he has played in the group often enough now to feel accepted and hence to be at ease. It is not, he said, that he can predict where a given tune will go - it’s simply that he is no longer uncomfortable at being unsure what will happen next! “They play a tune I’ve done with them before, but it’s always different to the last time”.
Geoff also appears to have become more adept at providing thoughtful accompaniment, and not simply blistering guitar solos. This added considerable interest to the overall sound of the band - his “comping” being different (bluesy) to that expected from a jazz guitarist on the more straight-jazz numbers. Plying his trusty Gibson 1968 Les Paul electric guitar, there was no shortage of cracking solos - with perhaps more light and shade than I remember in his playing over the years. Not that there was any shortage of incendiary solos - Geoff producing two in the Sack o’ Woe - Hook, Line and Boatshed segued numbers. The second occurred after an astonishingly impassioned tenor solo from Paul. Having concluded this tour de force, and with a house full of gaping mouths, he mischievously passed the reins to Geoff. “Ok, son, see where you you can take this!” he may have been intimating. Left holding the baby, and wondering how on earth to follow such a display of high energy and feeling, Geoff bravely elected to maintain the pace and structure of the concluding bars - and took off on his own flight! Wow! What a fabulous pairing of numbers, and fascinating also to see how musicians can provoke each other to produce moments of wonderment.
Speaking of provocation, Mike Jordan, too has his moments of stirring the pot rhythmically; in fact he even explained to me some of the intricacies of using brushes - the stirring or sweeping movement of the left hand while the right provides a variety of effects to complement or enhance the sweep. I think I’ve mastered it now, thanks Mike. A couple of blistering solos from him were far from perfunctory - it was a high energy night, all round, come to think of it. Tim was laid-back as usual, his eyes shifting from the thousand-yard stare to the pain in the back-of-the-eyelids grimace, to the boyish grin at one of Mike’s rhythmical pieces of humour. And all the time he is extracting sounds both weird and wonderful from the Hammond, his unshod feet are caressing the staves to produce the bass rhythm - how does he do it?
The playlist? Mellow Gravy; Times Getting’ Tougher than Tough; Passion Fruit (a Summertime fruit); Cry To Me; Hard Times; Sack O’ Woe; My heart is Mended, Sick and Tired, Mother Earth. Have you noticed a certain theme running through this selection? Well, even the obligatory romantic ballad has a marvellously bleak and squeam-making allusion in the lines “Like a sewer, you and I, it all went down the drain!” That’s the blues for you.

James Halliday's latest tasting notes

Value special

Tollana Eden Valley Riesling 1997 Rating: 91 Best drinking: 1999–2004 Price: $11.00 Drink with: Seafood salad

Background. For the better part of two decades, the Tollana Riesling has been one of Australia's better-kept secrets, particularly under its prior ownerships. It ages well, and has not infrequently collected trophies at national wine shows as a mature wine. Invariably released with several years bottle age.

Tasting note. Light to medium yellow-green; an aromatic bouquet with herb, nettle and lime aromas leads into a wine with lots of sweet lime/citrus fruit running right through the mid palate. Persistent and attractive.
Up to you

Wa De Lock Pinot Noir 1998. Rating: 85 Best drinking: 1999–2000. Price: $17.50 Drink with: Risotto

Background. There is no question that the Gippsland region can and does produce pinot noir with good varietal character and considerable weight and substance in the drier vintages. Over the years, Wa De Lock has gradually come to terms with this most temperamental of grape varieties.

Tasting note. Light to medium red; the bouquet is light, with a mix of strawberry and mint aromas; the palate has surprising length and strength; you feel it on the tip and middle of the tongue in particular. One of those Pinots that sneaks up on you.
Brown Brothers Family Reserve Chardonnay 1995. Rating: 87 Best drinking: 1999–2005. Price: $30.00Drink with: Veal terrine

Background. The Family Reserve range sits at the top of the Brown Brothers tree, the white wines held back for at least three years bottle age, the Cabernet-based reds for eight years. The Chardonnay is a vineyard selection from the King Valley, barrel-fermented in a mix of new and used French oak barriques, with 70% being matured in oak for eight months prior to bottling.

Tasting note. Medium yellow-green; there is abundant, smooth peachy fruit on both the bouquet and palate, with the appropriate amount of oak in smooth support.
Armstrong Vineyards Shiraz 1996 Rating: 90 Best drinking: 2000–2005 Price: $39.00 Drink with: Yearling steak

Background. The 1996 Shiraz is the initial release from Armstrong, with the 97 following in August 1999. The wine was made with a four-day prefermentation cold-soak, and is then fermented in small open fermenters which are hand-plunged. Fermentation is completed in French oak (70% new, 30% one-year-old, Seguin Moreau, of course) where it spends a little under two years.

Tasting note. Medium to full red-purple; the bouquet offers a mix of spicy/earthy Shiraz and a deft touch of charry oak, while the palate has deliciously spicy varietal fruit without losing that Great Western silky finesse; clever oak handling throughout.
Cullen Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 1998 . Rating: 94 Best drinking: 1999–2004. Price: $24.00Drink with: Margaret River marron

Background An extremely complex wine, a blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Semillon and 5% Chardonnay, the Chardonnay having been taken through malolactic fermentation in oak. A little over 40% is barrel-fermented, 15% utilising wild (or natural) yeast initiation of fermentation. This approach deliberately softens primary varietal characters.

Tasting note. Light to medium yellow-green; the bouquet is moderately intense, with a nice mineral cut offset by just a touch of oak. The palate has exceptional length and intensity, with herb and lemon flavours but its texture is its strongest point.

mended wine list.

In addition to the wines for which full tasting notes are provided, I inevitably taste a large number of additional wines which are either not of the same quality or of the same interest. For the sake of completeness, I list these (and publish the points) under the heading 'Also tasted'. Typically, these will be wines which receive 80 points or less, but there is no hard and fast rule about this. Lower-pointed wines which are inexpensive may well get reviewed; conversely, more expensive wines which just scrape past 80 points may not be reviewed.

Vintage Wine Rating

1997 Antinori Argiano Rosso di Montalcino 80

1998 Bullers Beverford Chenin Colombard 77

1998 Bullers Beverford Spatlese Lexia 78

1998 Bullers Beverford Shiraz Grenache 74

1996 La Perouse Chardonnay Viognier 77

1996 La Perouse Shiraz Cabernet 81

1998 Lindemans Limestone Coast Shiraz 81

1998 Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz 79

1998 Mitchelton Preece Chardonnay 79

NV Moondah Brook Maritime Dry White 81

1998 Nepenthe Vineyards Semillon 84

1998 Penfolds Rawsons Retreat 83

1998 Peregrine Wines Riesling 82

1998 Peregrine Wines Gewurztraminer 84

1998 Peregrine Wines Pinot Gris 85

1998 Peregrine Wines Pinot Noir 84

1998 Seppelt Mornington Peninsula Pinot Gris 85

1997 Te Mata Estate Awatea Cabernet Merlot 85

1996 Wolf Blass Barossa Shiraz 84

1997 Wolf Blass Adelaide Hills Cabernet Merlot 84

Please note: All wines are rated out of 100 points, corked wines are marked accordingly and have not been rated.


One of the important causes of body degeneration, ageing and cancer is the presence in our bodies of molecules called free radicals, produced as part of the body's waste mechanism systems. One of the most effective counter-agents to free radicals is resverastrol, which is present in high quantities in red wines, and lesser quantities in white. Resverastrol pills are now available in the United States as dietary supplements (with obvious implications for the wine industry's health awareness strategy). Fear not, research by Professor Creasy at Cornell has found that one bottle of wine (a Fleur de Pinot Noir from the American Finger Lakes) contains the same amount of resverastrol as 17,000 capsules of commercial pills, which would cost $8500.


He was a great patriot, a humanitarian, a loyal friend - provided of course that he really is dead.” Voltaire (1694-1778) giving an oration.

No reviews from me this week, as I’m off to Fremantle for a week’s carousing (sorry, conferencing). I may be able to sneak away for a quiet Matilda Bay, or a drop of wine from Mt Barker, or some music if there’s any obtainable so far west. Mostly, it will be head-down, note-taking, presenting a paper, earnestly forging academic links, seeking research opportunities (Oh, stop it - who’s going to believe that!). OK, see ya’ soon.
My comments (News, No 21) about Lisa Young (singer with the Lisa Young Quartet and with Morgana) provoked a welcome reply offering a different perspective.
“I can shed light on one question that you asked: (Why the early finish?) Lisa Young is pregnant and, being sensible, won't work too late. (She may be from SA as well, I have no idea.).
I found this out by going to Bennetts on Friday night. Unlike you, Lisa's scat does it for me and I think the rest of the band are OK although a bit frail. (Just as well our tastes are not identical. That would be boring.) When they finished I had a short chat with Sonja (drummer), hence the news about Lisa. Sonja was explaining why Lisa and Sue took off so quickly after the gig - Sue has a very young baby - but the thought that entered my mind was 'so that's why Lisa's top trouser button was undone'.
Morgana were followed by Jex Saarelaht, Philip Rex (Bass) and Niko Schauble (drums). And they gave perspective - robust vs. frail. Jex and Niko were as good as always and therefore as expected. But Philip Rex was an order of magnitude better than I've heard him in the past. This was confirmed on Saturday night when I saw him again, and again his playing was inspired. The setting was with Bernie McGann (sax) and John Pochee (drums) at Dizzy's in Swan St, Richmond. The advertised Paul Grabowski was ill so Jex replaced him. When I asked Bernie, before the start, what difference the substitution would make to the planned set (because I think of Paul G and Jex S as being almost on opposite ends of the spectrum), he replied that "we will do a few more Thelonius Monk numbers". An excellent evening. I rather liked the Dizzy's; definitely the architecture (it is in the old Swan St post office) but you must listen from the music room - the bar has an acoustic barrier; I also liked the service; also the ambiance; also the crowd. Their shiraz is nicer than Bennetts Lane's but $1 dearer; offset by coffee which is $1 cheaper. As I usually have a couple of each, it balanced out. Some of the 'same faces' were there - the Jackson brothers, Stewart (SBS sound), people I don't know by name. Trevor Marmalade turned up which buzzed the people I was chatting with at the time.
A good time to visit Dizzy’s might be Friday night when Julie O'Hara (remember her at Paul Williamson’s's birthday party) is singing, with Steve Sedergreen on piano. Steve sat in with Paul on Monday night at the Rainbow, and was positively glowing with his Chicago experience. Not sure that I'll make it there myself - there are a lot of choices - eg., I understand that Tim Neal (Paul’s Hammond player) will be back from Noumea for the Ruby Reds (Johnston St, Fitzroy) gig on Friday night.”

An interesting recent Healesville Wine Club meeting was faced with the hurdle of tasting 14 French wines from the Loire Valley area. Most of the wines were from the Beaulieu area, 150km from the sea - between the Loire River and the Beaulieu forest, and more specifically from Domaine d’Ambinos. The vineyard covers 24 hectares in various parcels or paddocks known as “clos”. The production of botrytis-infected (or noble rot) chenin blanc wines is its main claim to fame, and we were treated to a cavalcade of vintages from various “clos”. On the labels - Coteaux du Layon Beaulieu identifies the overall vineyard name or “appelation’, and, Selection de Grains Noble indicates that the wine meets the rigorous noble rot quality requirements of the authorities enabling the use of that classification or “cepage”. We tasted the 1997, 1996, 1995, 1990, 1989, 1985, 1976, 1970, 1969, 1966. The 1995, 1996, 1997 each were entitled to the Selection de Grains Noble classification and were characterised very strongly by the “orange peel”, intense sweetness imbued in a wine by the wonderful fungus. The effect of noble rot is to shrivel the grapes without breaking the skins, thus reducing water content and intensifying flavours, with the addition of some chemical reactions that produce the characteristic orange peel sweetness. The wine is expected to have sufficient acid to balance the sweetness, and to preclude a cloying finish. They tend to have a long life if well balanced, as the tasting demonstrated. Even the wines up to an age of 33 years were in very good condition. In the finish, I found myself wishing for a hearty shiraz to balance all that sweetness; however, it was a fine and educational experience, and one that earned from me new respect for wine judges expected to taste (sometimes) hundreds of wines in a single class.

July Playlist '99

Bennetts Lane....

Thurs 1 Dave Rex Quartet $8/5

Fri 2 Nichaud Fitzgibbon Quartet *

late Fiona Burnett * $12/9

Sat 3 Matt Kirsch Quartet*

late Yvette Johannasson Quartet $12/9

Sun 4 Chris Cody (Syd) $8/6J

Mon 5 Browne, Haywood & Stevens Trio* $8/5

Tues 6 STIR (Syd/Adelaide) $8/5J

Wed 7 Bourke, Gould Quartet $8/5

Thu 8 Dave Rex Quartet $8/5

Fri 9 Nichaud Fitzgibbon Quartet *

late Mark Fitzgibbon Quartet $12/9

Sat 10 Matt Kirsch Quartet*

late Sam Keevers Trio $12/9

Sun 11 AtmaSphere (Syd) $8/6J

Mon 12 Browne, Costello & Rex Trio $8/5

Tues 13 James Sherlock Trio (cd launch) $8/5J

Wed 14 Bourke, Gould Quartet $8/5

Thu 15 Dave Rex Quartet $8/5

Fri 16 Nichaud Fitzgibbon Quartet *

late Mark Fitzgibbon Quartet $12/9

Sat 17 Matt Kirsch Quartet*

late Sam Keevers Trio $12/9

Sun 18 Rob Mc Williams Quartet $8/6J

Mon 19 Browne, Haywood & Stevens Trio* $8/5

Tues 20 Sam Keevers Trio $8/5J

Wed 21 Bourke, Gould Quartet $8/5

Thu 22 Dave Rex Quartet $8/5

Fri 23 Nichaud Fitzgibbon Quartet *

late Mark Fitzgibbon Quartet $12/9

Sat 24 Matt Kirsch Quartet*

late DONUT $12/9

Sun 25 Peter Jones Trio $8/6J

Mon 26 Browne, Haywood & Stevens Trio* $8/5

Tue 27 Morgana* $8/5J

Wed 28 Bourke, Gould Quartet $8/5

Thu 29 Dave Rex Quartet $8/5

Fri 30 Nichaud Fitzgibbon Quartet *

late Mark Fitzgibbon Quartet $12/9

Sat 31 Christine Sullivan Quintet* $12/9
J Denotes Melbourne Jazz Co-op gigs

The Dedicated Jazz Club-Open Every Night

Hours Sun-Thurs 9pm-1am, Fri & Sat 9pm-3am.
Tasmanian Wines Show 1999 Trophy Winners
Bream Creek Pinot Noir 1997. (Progressive Corks Trophy for Best Pinot Noir) (Arthur Busby Trophy for Best Wine of Show)

Rating: 95. Best drinking:1999–2003. Drink with: Braised duck

Background. Bream Creek has two vineyards, one established many years ago on the east coast of Tasmania, the other more recently in the Tamar Valley. This wine comes entirely from the often temperamental East Coast vineyard.

Tasting note. Strong red-purple; a veritable cascade of aromas on the bouquet, powerful and complex, running through spice, briar, berry and dark plum. The palate does not disappoint, with rich and powerful fruit (rather than oak) doing the work. The intensity and complexity of the fruit is reminiscent of the best Paringa Estate wines from the Mornington Peninsula.

Availability. Commercially available in Tasmania at around $17 per bottle, mainland purchasers can mail order at $204 per case plus freight. (GPO Box 2020, Hobart, Tas 7001, telephone (03) 6231 4646, fax (03) 6231 4646, email
Stefano Lubiana Vintage Brut 1995. (Lallemand Yeast Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine Methode Champenoise)

Rating: 94. Best drinking:1999–2000. Drink with: Shellfish

Background. Produced from estate-grown chardonnay and pinot noir, and given appropriately long (at least three years) time on lees prior to disgorgement. A wine which shows why Stefano Lubiana has such a large sparkling wine contract-making business for other Tasmanian producers.

Tasting note. Light straw-gold; the bouquet is complex and tangy, with notes of bread and brioche attesting to the prolonged time on lees. The palate is exceptionally harmonious and rich, with perfectly balanced acidity on a long, clean, lingering finish. Gold medal and trophy 1999 Tasmanian Wines Show.

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