Having some knowledge of the big wine themes increases the appreciation of what is in your glass and a good place to start is by understanding these two fundamental points of view. Why were wines referred to as Claret and Burgundy and why Australia cannot be a France down under?
Claret of course is the English term for Cabernet wines from the Bordeaux region while Burgundy is a general term derived from the French region where reds are made from Pinot Noir.
The two were seen as making different styles, Claret recognising a firmer, leaner, drier style with Burgundy being a softer, plump, rounded style.
These terms were used on bottles and wine casks and were not dependent on the varietal mix as in the 1950s Cabernet and Pinot Noir barely existed. Over time these terms were phased out and replaced with varietal names which has evolved into the variety being seen as offering a style when the differences between varieties are mostly marginal.
As the interest in table wines grew the search began to find locations which would reproduce the original French styles meaning a move away from the traditional settler warm districts to cooler locations. In this contest the favoured varieties of Cabernet and Pinot Noir would be judged on how close their reproductions were to the French originals.
This promoted the idea that the best wines would be produced where an approximation of the western continental European climate was found in Australia even though our geography is vastly different.
This European focus has not been helpful and continues a cultural cringe long past its use by date, one surprisingly still favoured by the industry promotional body Wine Australia.
I have run out of space to remind you of the late 2005 clash between the great expert American Robert Parker and local experts over the worth of cool climate Cabernets from the Yarra Valley producer Mount Mary which is relevant to this story.
And a reminder that Glug makes Australian wine that are not Clarets, Burgundies or any others being the full flavoured styles that only Australia makes and cannot be duplicated.