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Monday, January 20, 2003
I composed this posting well before Christmas and either I or the system 'mislaid' it. It's rather out-of-date but probably still relevant.

Wine tasting 1

It’s great to be out on the road tasting, again. Australia has an extraordinarily large number of wineries. My guess is that most of them are within a day or two from Melbourne. I am still only going to be able to scratch the surface.

On Thursday 12th December, I visited McIvor’s Creek winery. There was a limited amount of wine to taste because the area has been afflicted by drought. Much of the current wine production is made with bought-in grapes. These are my comments on the wines tasted.
Chardonnay 2001. This chardonnay is oaked in a mixture of new French and old American oak. I felt that the oak rather overpowered the fruit, but that’s very much a personal thing.

Shiraz 2001. A beautifully balanced shiraz. There are lovely undertones of vanilla and fruit. There is a delightful tannin backbone, neither too hard not too soft. It is no wonder that its immediate predecessor - the 2000 - won awards. Winestate gold medals are worth having.

Tawny port. From a twenty-year-old starting point, this is a smooth and rounded product that I would be happy to drink with (or without) my coffee, any time.

Bulk port*. This is a quite delightful and absurdly cheap ($5.25 for 2 litres if you bring your own container) no nonsense drink. Perfect if you are hard up or want to get hammered very cheaply. In many ways, I preferred it to the tawny, so I bought a sample. It was not entirely because Josh is a cheapskate, either…
The big problem with the area is water - drought is an ever present problem. Next winter, I understand, the vineyards will be replanted using more drought resistant stock.

Flag burning

There has been some discussion of the sale of flag-burning kits in Australia. For your $20 or so, you get a flag: stars & stripes, of course, and a cigarette lighter engraved with the legend ‘Jihad’. The kit carries a warning that possession or use may get the owner arrested and detained by the security services. Many voices feel that these kits are inflammatory (unintentional pun but very appropriate).

No-one has yet claimed that the kits are deeply ironical. It seems to me that the kit simultaneously makes fun of over-zealous attachment to national symbols and of terrorists who want to wage their own form of ‘personal struggle’ against people with different ideas. To sum up, it ridicules both the US’s absurd nationalism and the hideous war being waged on the West by narrow minded bigots.

However, it seems to affront both your ordinary American and the Moslem on the 59 tram. [Ho hum, my ‘English’ spellchecker doesn’t like the word combination ’59 tram’. You’d better get used to it, moosh; there’ll be a lot more examples and I won’t always be using quotation marks.] Generations of legislators have tried to have flag-burning made illegal but they always come up against the ‘free speech’ response. I suggest that all camps are being unnecessarily oversensitive.

This reminds me of one of my observations about flag waving. I had always thought that people who have flagpoles in their gardens, flying the national flag were either members of a far right political organisation (UK) or asserting their patriotism which might otherwise be in doubt (US), but I have yet to see a ‘private’ Australian flag, here. Perhaps it’s because the Aussies are ashamed of the inset Union jack. Or have they, perhaps got the balance right? ‘My country, right or wrong’ is certainly not the universal feeling here. I wish that all nationalities would follow the Aussie lead in this respect.

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