Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wine List Lust: Maha Melbourne

I recently visited Maha Restaurant in Melbourne to explore their new wine list. I perched myself at the bar, opposite the Enomatic machine, just as dinner service was beginning. The plan was to try as many wines as possible. Thankfully, the new wine list coincided with the installation of an Enomatic machine and wines poured by the half-glass.

First up was a 2010 Robert Weil 'kiedricher' German Riesling in honour of the commencement of #summerofriesling. I moved in to a 2010 Tapanappa 'tiers vineyard' Chardonnay and by the time I was on the 2007 Alluviale 'dada 1'  Sauvignan Blanc/Chenin Blanc blend I decided to order some eats.

All manner of muddling, shaking, stirring, popping and pouring was going on beside me and I was mostly oblivious- despite my splendid attendant Darcy exclaiming, "ooh, Turkish Delight Martini! It is going to be a good night!" (after some particularly vigorous muddling.)

With my veggie dish going down a treat, I made my way through a 2005 Le Cinciole Chianti Classico (makes a great Sangiovese moustache if you stick your nose in too far!), a 2006 Marsovin 'Grand Maitre' (Malta's pride and joy- grown on the site where the Maltese fought off the Turkish invasion), a 2009 Santa Duc 'Gigondas' and a 2009 Chateau Musar 'jeune'. That ticks off wines from Germany, New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Malta and Lebanon. Not a bad effort for one night in a single venue!

As my evening came to a close with a 2002 Domaine Des Baumard Coteaux du Layon 'clos st catherine' which is a butterscotch-y Chenin Blanc sweetie. {My notes say there were tastes of crème caramel and honey-soaked raisins.. but blonde raisins. Is there such a thing? Maybe that's what unicorns eat? Perhaps, more simply, all that wine was going to my head and I meant to scribe 'dried apples' instead.}
butterscotchy Chenin Blanc sweetie
I perused the remainder of Maha's wine list and decided that I had an extreme case of wine list lust. There were all manner of varietals that I have yet to try; real Prosecco from Italy plus sparkling from Malta. My absolute dream wine on my 2013 wishlist was there, a 1996 Salon Champagne. Wines from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal adorned the list as well as a cheeky little Moscato from Mornington Peninsula.

I was enjoying a 1909 Domaine Sainte Crouix Rivesaltes by the time I noted dessert wines on the list from South Africa and Israel among others. It was about that time that I decided to tell you about the Fortified wines another day. Have you been to Maha? What wines did you try? Comment below or email

Tears of Wine or Wine Legs

Last night I finally was able to grasp the term, 'Tears of Wine'. I am not talking about getting all melancholy when you drink either. What I have always known as wine legs, other people call tears of wine. A bit like eggplant and aubergine. I was at Maha Restaurant in Melbourne to celebrate and embrace the installation of a brand spanking new Enomatic machine. This is a device which helps open bottles of wine keep fresher for longer, enabling establishments greater flexibility with their wines by the glass.
Maha Restaurant, 21 Bond St Melbourne
As I am not a professional wine reviewer or critic, (my notes for the 2005 Le Cinciole Chianti Classico say "berries and bark"), I'd rather highlight a couple of Wine Appreciation 101 points. Firstly, the flavours that any one individual can taste in wines are based on previous experience and memories. I have never tasted gooseberries, nor fresh mulberries, so I would not be able to pick those flavours out of a wine.
Berries & Bark
Along with the memory triggers, come thoughts, feelings and emotions. Sometimes, wine critics say that a wine "moves them". When this happens to me, the wine goes straight to the top of my favourites list. I now have a new favourite thanks to the fabulously innovative technology of the Enomatic machine at Maha. I was able to sample a wine that you could normally only buy by the bottle, for $420. A half-glass goes for $45, a much more affordable way to try wish-list wines. The 1909 Domaine Sainte Croix Rivesaltes. 16%.
Yes, that is the year, 1909
Here's my blurb:
Bright red, with rust-coloured edges. A bright, fresh nose of understated Christmas plus alcohol- but in a good way, not the beer-soaked pub-carpet kind of way.) Smells of sugar and spice and all things nice. I detect ginger, allspice, cinnamon, clove, sultana, raisin, currants, warmth and hugs. It has rippa legs and a lighter mouth feel than I expected. It tastes warm, fruity, spicy and yum.
{yum is THE most advanced wine tasting jargon on the planet}
A late harvest grenache, partially fortified and aged in large oak tanks for 98 years.

The next thing I tasted was boiled pineapple fruitcake which made me squeal on the inside. My most treasured recipe from my Grandfather- who was taken from this life far too soon, is for his boiled pineapple fruitcake. We used to make it together in the lead up to Christmas. As this truly fond memory came to me I held up the glass. I noticed that the wine legs were moving incredibly slowly. So slowly that the beginning of each leg formed the shape of a tear and then rolled off the Maha logo. I had to check that it wasn't me who was crying, then looked at the glass again. The tears of wine were forming and rolling steadily now. I finally understood where the term came from.

For interest's sake, Jancis Robinson, MW says the 1909 is one of the few wines that happily partners chocolate. [ Purple Pages] I would enjoy this with a mild to medium flavoured hard cheese or even some pressed pork belly!
Enomatic machine, top left of photo.

Monday, January 7, 2013

About Me

New World adventurer, boutique wineries advocate and personal wine shopper. May 'talk wine' at length with others.
I have a rather grand passion for wine, travel and writing. I am good at writing, better at travelling and best at wine tasting! For me, the wine industry is about people, places and stories. Drinking wine should be fun. It brings people together and is a key ingredient for laughter.

I do not wish to ever be a wine critic however I do like to find out the reasons why I like some wines more than others. I love Champagne. I believe every wine has a time and place. My biggest wish is to be able to share the world of wine with others in a fun and enjoyable way.

To fund my passions I act as a Private Wine Buyer, or Wine Valet, buying interesting wines in smallish quantities for a select few. Occasionally I am requested to put together wine lists or act a wine region tour guide. To keep my finger on the pulse of the Australian wine industry, I also moonlight as a Sales Agent for Australian Wine Selectors.

Feel free to join me on my adventures, comment on my ramblings or just drop an email to say G’Day.
Catherine A, aka Lady Oenotria

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Wine Century Club

A couple of years ago I attended my first Fed Square Wine Showcase, right in the city of Melbourne. Apart from being fortunate enough to try some 40+ quality Victorian wines, I happened to meet Darby Higgs from Vinodiversity. Darby has a passion for new and alternative grape varieties and wines, in Australia. I was awed by the knowledge that Darby had and sought to purchase his book:
click to purchase
I also learned that Darby Higgs is a Wine Centurion. The Wine Century Club is "the club for adventurous wine drinkers who've tried one hundred grape varieties or more." Being quite the adventurous type myself, I saw this as a challenge to accept. "The first fifty will be easy", Darby commented. I thought that he must be joking. Turns out, he was right. 50-55 really started to become tricky. So I went and bought myself a De Long's Wine Varietal Table to adorn my office wall.
click to purchase
De Long's Table showcases 184 wine grape varieties, really just the tip of the iceberg in drinkable grape variety land. I haven't been able to tick off 100 different tastes just yet, but I am sure the wait will not be too long. Each new variety is tasted and relished with a little sniff of victory.
Slowly, but surely!
Most recently I was able to try a Mac Forbes (Yarra Valley) Blaufränkisch and a Judge Rock (Central Otago) St Laurent to inch closer to my target. Once I reach the magical 100, I am sure something really special will be 'popped' open and enjoyed!

~Please note: I have not received payment nor compensation from suppliers of the above products, I simply intended to share wine tools that I have come across in my own personal wine journey.

I would love to hear about interesting, new or alternative grape varieties that you may have tried, post a comment below or send an email to

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Here in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday was January 1st. Just like last year, I was house- and dog-sitting merely blocks from the beach. I like to greet the new year with a 5 day break from work, household duties and all other commitments. This way, I find that I can clear my mind fully and consider all that was good from the closing year. Then I start to contemplate how much better the coming year will be.
The stuff of dreams :-)
Successful people are quite often prepared, organised, diarists and great thinkers. They set goals, manage the processes required to achieve them and then evaluate reaching or completing them. 2012 was the first year that I had a genuine, grown-up attempt of goal-setting, monitoring and achievement. My natural tendencies of NOT keeping a diary, calendar or journal, coupled with my displeasure of anything that resembles paper work were challenged and overcome.

For a first 'real' attempt~ I achieved a lot in 2012. Almost all that I set out to. I lost 15kg of the 20kg I wanted to. I had no plan in the beginning, just liked the sound of 'twenty'. I started off well, then plateaued during Winter. As Spring came around I learned that the only way I was really going to reach my goal was with a very specific plan. The old me thought that specific plans were boring and tiresome. The new me realises that they are a foundation which fosters greatness.

My current BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) will require more than one year to achieve. A component of that BHAG is to communicate more with like-minded others. So even though it is the 2nd of Jan here today, I plan to post 365 times this year. I hope that you enjoy the read!