"I was writing a story for The Age in Melbourne and I wanted to interview Anthony Hanson, who is one of the leading experts on Burgundy. Len Evans, a very famous Australian wine promoter, was hosting him for a luncheon at a restaurant in Sydney, Catalina.
So I rang Evans and said, ‘I’ve heard that you’re catching up with Anthony Hanson for this lunch, and it would be wonderful if I could drop by afterwards for a coffee because I have to talk to him for this article about Burgundy.’ Evans said, ‘That’s the limpest excuse I’ve ever heard for someone to invite themselves to lunch. You’d better be at Catalina at 12.30. But you have to bring a great bottle of Australian wine.’
I knew that Evans didn’t like Giaconda, so I said, ‘I’ll bring along a 1992 Giaconda Pinot Noir.’ At the time, in Australia, [it] was probably the best pinot noir ever made here, or close to it. And he said, ‘Jeremy, that is not a great Australian wine. That is an interesting Australian wine. A great Australian wine is an old Grange, an old Hill of Grace, an old Penfolds special bin number. It is not a Giaconda pinot noir.’
I turned up that day with an old special bin number Penfolds, and then just towards the end of the lunch I pulled out this bottle of 1992 Giaconda Pinot Noir, which Anthony Hanson thought was absolutely unbelievable.
I could see [Evans] thinking, ‘I’ve got to say something really bad about this wine but I can’t think what.’ And then, out of total frustration, he said, ‘You know why that wine is no good, don’t you, Oliver?’ And I said, ‘No. To me it’s perfectly okay. It’s wonderful.’ He said, ‘It’s too plummy.’ He folded his hands, shut his mouth, and refused to say another word. And that was it. Then he had the bottle taken away. Before it was finished.
The complete difference in view was just lovely. Hanson thought it was sensational, I thought it was sensational, Evans thought it was too plummy. And he took ages to think of why he couldn’t like it."
As told to Erica Berenstein
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