Laugh or cry? Your call.

(by peter)

Continuing the theme of our ‘And finally…’ compilations, three news items have caught my eye over the last few days.

With two of them, I didn’t know whether the appropriate response should be raucous mirth or head-in-hands bewilderment.

And with one, there was both laughter and tears – but the latter were a direct result of the former. (If you’re in need of a really good wine-related belly laugh, fast-forward to the end of this piece for the link.)

First up, then, is the news that a tasting of top Pinot Noirs by a panel of wine experts and collectors in Singapore firmly established the best producing area as – not Vosne-Romanée, not Sonoma, not Martinborough – but Austria.

This a trick that Austria has pulled on a few occasions lately, and works as a brilliant PR stunt.

Supposedly iconic wine producers are pitted against Austria’s best in a blind taste-off with wine savvy judges. And, more often than not, Austria comes out smelling of roses.

They’ve done it when comparing Grüner Veltliners with top Chardonnays from around the world. Then it was Sauvignon Blancs. Now Pinot Noir.

The latter strikes a chord because Pinot is THE wine lover’s grape. Reaction to the result has been a mixture of incredulity and renewed interest and admiration for Austrian Pinot – tempered with a healthy dose of cynicism regarding Austria’s form with giant-killing exercises.

The Singapore tasting took place on 4th August; judges included local press, sommeliers, wine collectors and importers.

By way of summary, 12 of the top 20 wines (34 were judged in total) were Austrian. The top-rated wine of the tasting was Wieninger’s Pinot Noir Grand Select 2004, with open water between it and the 2nd best wine: the altogether more celebrated (and pricey) name of Comte Georges de Vogüe’s Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru 2005.

For more details, click on this link. The top 10 rated wines (lifted from the web page) were as below:

1 Wieninger, Pinot Noir Grand Select 2004, Wien (Vienna), Austria

2 Comte Georges de Vogüè: Chambolle-Musigny, 1er Cru 2005, Burgundy

3 JR Reinisch, Pinot Noir “Holzspur” Grand Reserve 2007, Thermenregion, Austria

4 Markowitsch, Pinot Noir Reserve 2004, Carnuntum, Austria

5 Felton Road: Pinot Noir, Block 5, 2006, New Zealand

6 Schloss Halbturn, Pinot Noir 2004, Burgenland, Austria

7 Schneider, Pinot Noir Reserve 2004, Thermenregion, Austria

8 DRC Vosne-Romanée, 1er Cru 2006, Burgundy

9 Paul Achs, Pinot Noir 2004, Burgenland, Austria

10 Georges Roumier: Chambolle-Musigny “Les Cras”, 1er 2006, Burgundy

Incredulity was also the order of the day when I was reading the morning news and happened to stumble across a story of Winchester’s answer to Robin Hood.

I was in town yesterday and had heard there’d been a robbery at Barclay’s bank, and locals at the nearby pubs had been somehow involved.

The Guardian filled me in on the hilarious missing links.

Apparently, a bank robber (claiming – falsely – to be armed) had lifted £1,600 in cash from Barclay’s bank in Winchester, before heading outside and scattering the swag in the breeze.

Local booze-hounds enjoying a crafty mid-morning pint rushed to pounce on the spoils.

Police are currently ‘appealing to the better nature of Winchester residents’ to return the loot as ‘evidence’.

Currently the estimated amount of cash recovered stands at…£300.

Might the police have been better off searching the coffers of the quiz machines and pork scratching vendors in the area..?

Finally, here’s another inspired video which utterly disproves the myth that wine and hilarity don’t make easy bedfellows.

It’s a bit wine-centric (and the language is mildly fruity, so be prepared) but the concept and delivery is top class. We genuflect in homage.