Friday, July 31, 2009


Just thought I'd make an addition to my Drawing a Blanc post, a post which may well never end.

Recently I walked into a local, South Australian owned bottle shop (a chain mind you, not a 'true' independent) looking for a bottle of chardonnay. To be more specific, I was after a Margaret River Chardonnay around the $20 mark. To be more specific again, I had Brookland Valley's Verse 1 in mind (it was a chain which tends to stock mass market wines).

Upon entering the aforementioned retail store I quickly noticed chardonnay was by no means their specialty, in fact, they only seemed to stock about 4 or 5 (from memory; Taylor's, Peter Lehmann, Jacob's Creek, you get the idea).

At this point the shop assistant (who was about 15-20 years my senior) approached me. He remarked; "G'day buddy, may I help you?" Even though I'd already noticed they didn't stock what I was after I queried anyway; "Yeah, g'day mate, I was after a decent chardonnay for around $20".

To my comment he replied; "Aw don't worry about chardonnay mate, what you want is sauvignon blanc. It's light, fruity and fresh. In fact, we've got a great range of Kiwi wines over here. Here, let me show you." He was right about the great range of Kiwi savvys, they seemed to stock about 40 or so.

But before he could start pointing out to me how much he loved drinking Secret Stone, Montana or something like that, I quipped; "Well, actually mate, I was looking for a chardonnay. Something with a bit of oak present, you know? A fraction more complexity, texture, something a bit more interesting, know what I mean?".

At this point the shop assistant looked at me with a blank stare (it appeared he'd never considered wine as something with texture); apologised he didn't have the wine style I was after (after pointing out to me the initial 4 or 5 chardonnays I had seen when I walked in) and left me alone, moving as far away from me as he could.

Sometimes not just being young, but looking younger (most people assume I'm 19), has its benefits in wine. People always seem to have the balls to tell me their theories, or impressions (which they wouldn't normally tell a more 'mature' person), because they automatically assume they can educate the shit out of me with their vast knowledge of wine.

I actually appreciate people telling me these novel facts. I find it gives me a unique point of view on the industry, from the bottom up.

I'll be posting some of the more interesting (straight-up bullshit) things I've been told by people working in the wine industry, in the near future. Stay posted.

Oh yeah, back to that shop assistant; and I wondered why Marlborough sauvignon blanc is the biggest selling wine style in Australia.


  1. Training of non-independent bottle shop staff is a severe problem for Australain wine and wine in general. Either nice with no knowledge, OR think they know everything already and what to train you, the consumer OR don't even know they have storeroom (which you, the customer, has to tell them to check for a wine) OR, and this the worst OR, they are complete elitist wankers (Hello staff at VC Indooroopilly QLD, bar one top bloke). Nice range, great tastings all ruined by astonishing amount of attitude.

    It does not help the industry, it hurts the industry & that's why I'm naming names.



  2. Good to hear there are similarities between the Queensland wine industry and South Australia's.... ;)

  3. Nice picture Chris :-P
    Maybe you should get into graphic design lol lol :-D

  4. Hey Chris

    I've been unfair in generalising about Indooroopilly VC and I need to flag it. It's only one person their who is really the way I've represented them. The other staff are very good and work under stressful conditions.

    This has been a bad mistake on my part. Please do not let my ill-considered comments bias you against that store or VC in general. I have a good relationship with VC, I love the manager and staff at Chapel Hill and there are many good people working for VC, just trying to earn a living in wine. It's a tough gig for anyone who tries.

    My bad. And my unreserved apologies to Indooroopilly VC. I was angry and re-acted in a generalised and inapropriate way. It would be wrong of me not to say so. They haven't complained, I've come to my senses.