Australian Wine Expert Mr. James Halliday Opens Your Mind to Australian Wine
By Scott Moses
Translated by Ann Lee
Photos by Andy Lin
The Australian Commerce and Industry Office invited wine expert James Halliday to Taiwan to share some of his tremendous knowledge. Truly a wine industry jack of all trades, Halliday is a wine judge, former winemaker and a writer who has published over 60 books about wine. His vast experience has given him interesting perspectives on wine and makes him an invaluable resource for Australian wine development in particular.
According to Halliday, underlining reasons for Australian wine development include the continent's climate and vastness, which offers perfect conditions to produce practically any type of wine. Even its smallest state, Tasmania, boasts more wine-producing areas than most other wine-producing countries. Halliday recounts a helicopter tour of South Africa's wine regions which, he said, was very interesting but only took 90 minutes. By contrast, a similar tour in Australia's Victoria state would take at least 10 hours. If this were possible for the entire country, not including travel time between states, it probably take about 60 hours.
Australia's wines are carefully engineered and Halliday even spoke extensively on the development of and differences between corks, noting that Australian screw-top caps are also now offering aging possibilities for a number of different wines that were simply not available in the past. Education also plays a large role, as a growing number of local universities are offering a variety of wine-development curriculums, helping give Australians knowledge to match their wonderful winemaking conditions.
Halliday believes that the future of wine lies in Asia, where its popularity continues to grow. In fact, Taiwan is currently the world's 10th-largest importer of Australian wine. In recent years, he visited Japan, Singapore, China and Hong Kong many times before finally making it to Taiwan. He noted that he was extremely impressed with the availability of wines here and pointed out that Chinese food often is a great pairing for wine.
During this conference, we were lucky enough to taste two Australian wines. A red Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot, notably has a 14.5% alcohol level. The second was an absolutely fantastic Tyrrell's Lost Block Semillon. This has fresh fruit driven flavors, which are balanced by persistent velvety tannins. Whether you are a wine connoisseur or just looking for a satisfying drink, both wines are certainly gratifying and worth looking into.
To say the least, meeting with Halliday was very educational, as he seemed to provide an endless stream of wine-related knowledge. For those interested in learning more about wine, notably Australian wines, he is certainly a great resource.