I have a friend called Brett, who lives in Adelaide, South Australia, near some of the very best wine producing areas in this country.
Several months ago, Brett contacted me because he was in a bit of a bind with a purchase of a second hand guitar that he had made over the Internet. The guitar was an Epiphone Explorer bass that didn’t come with a case and it was sold on the condition that it was to be picked up by the purchaser. Trouble was, Brett lives in Adelaide and the guitar was in Sydney so he rang me up to ask me to go and have a look at it, to inspect its condition; pick it up, and then wrap it up for shipment by air to him.
The guitar was in the excellent condition that it was advertised and so I picked it up. Being a bass guitar meant that it had an extra long neck and to be honest, it was huge. Another thing that caused me concern was that the headstock bent back further back than the very back of the body of the guitar so that when it was laid down, the headstock was supporting the weight of the guitar. I just didn’t think that wrapping it in bubble wrap and cardboard was going to get it to Adelaide in one piece, so I rang Brett and told him about my fears for his new guitar. Unfortunately, because the guitar was so big, the carry cases for them quite rare, and therefore they cost quite a bit more than normal cases, so I offered to make him a wooden carry case for it.
Brett’s father owns an upholstery business, and as such, Brett has access to the materials to cover the case with, and the hardware to hold it together.
In the meantime, my friend Mark was going back to his home town of Adelaide (Mark and Brett grew up together) for a short trip, so he offered to take the guitar in its case to Brett.
Brett was very happy with the job that I did for him and he rang me up to thank me and to see if there was anything he could do for me.
I know that Brett has a large wine collection of very high quality Australian wines, so I said to him, half jokingly, just bring around a bottle of “Hill of Grace” (one of very the best wines made in Australia, at any price, which I know he has quite a bit of) next time he is in Sydney, knowing full well that probably wouldn’t happen for quite a while and that would let him off the hook feeling obliged.
Brett surprised me by replying that he would be coming to Sydney at the end of October for Mark’s upcoming wedding and that he would be bringing a few bottles of wine with him.
As a rule, I don’t really have that much time for the whole wine wanker scene. I consider myself a bit of a wine philistine in that I don’t believe that one should spend a lot of money on things that one probably wouldn’t appreciate anyway, just for a pose. Having said that, I have three friends who have extensive knowledge about wine and large collections who have patiently dragged me, kicking and screaming like the low class trailer trash that I am, into a better understanding of oenophilia.
Over the last couple of years, my friend Peter (who collects wines), has been generous enough to share his knowledge and wine with me. So it was with great pleasure I was able to invite him to a barbecue at my place on this coming Sunday with Brett and his wife to enjoy the wine that was coming.
Last night, Brett sent me an e-mail with a photograph of the wines that he is bringing, so I looked them up on the Internet to find out a bit more about them, to try and gauge what I should cook to go with such wines.
I got the shock of my life when I found out more about the wines that Brett is going to be bringing along.
The wine is worth at least twice as much as the guitar and one of the bottles, the 1992 Wendoree Shiraz Malbec is quite rare, and is considered by many to be a spectacular wine.
The 1994 Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz is of such quality and fame that puts it in a price range that I thought I would never ever get to taste.
The 1993 Turkey Flat Shiraz is made from some of the oldest shiraz vines in the world. Apparently, the original Shiraz vines in France were wiped out by phyloxia (a nematode) , and that modern French shiraz vines have been grafted to the root stock of a native American variety of grape from the Mississippi region. Which is ironic because the nematodes were first brought to Europe from America. It seems that the French had to import their current shiraz vines from here in Australia, South Africa and South America.
As I write this, it makes me think about the famous Australian bush walker, Paddy Pallin, who once said, something along the lines of, “if you know the names of a few trees, when you look at the bush, it’s not just bush any more”. I’m starting to feel that way about wine, in that the more I know about it, the more interested I become in it and therefore, the more I enjoy and think about it when I drink it.
So to make sure that I do justice to Brett’s generosity in sharing his fabulous wines (that I don’t deserve), I will be going out and buying the absolute best piece of meat to barbecue for us this Sunday. Probably the best meat to barbecue (I have a kettle style Webber barbecue that burns charcoal) that you can buy here in Sydney would be a whole Scotch fillet of organically grown, aged Angus beef.
I can’t wait, and pictures of our bacchanalia will follow!
Here’s a video of the band (The Smokin’ Crocs) that Brett plays bass in.