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October 15, 2009

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Fine wines go the extra mile

IT was fitting reward for the 30 Shanghai wine industry identities to sit down for dinner at the glamorous Kee Club premises after the rigorous couple of hours they'd spent tasting some of the world's best wines.

They supped on a deer fillet entre, wagyu beef mains and a Valrhona Chocolate flan with ice cream as the finale to their afternoon master class under the tutelage of specialist Australian fine wine auctioneer Andrew Caillard.

The group, consisting of leading sommeliers, wine trade identities and media, were guided through comprehensive tastings of 14 of Australia's equivalent wines to France's first growth classics.

The master class late last month went longer than expected because of extensive interest in the wines and Caillard, a member of the world's rare Master of Wine fraternity, was delighted with their involvement.

"I am hopeful that this was genuine intrigue and interest in our greatest wines. Certainly many tasters seemed surprised and thrilled about the quality," he says.

"Shanghai must be one of the most exciting cities in the world. The opportunities in wine are clearly drawing talent from both within and outside China."

The tasting included some of the world renowned champions from "Down Under" such as 2004 Henschke Hill of Grace, 2004 Penfold's Grange Hermitage, 1999 Tyrrell's Vat 1, 2006 Mount Mary Cabernet Sauvignon and 2004 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon and was capped off with the 1909 Seppeltsfield 100-Year-Old Tawny.

"I was impressed by the level of wine knowledge and enthusiasm. Many wine professionals appear to be on a quest for more knowledge and I felt there was a real hunger for learning," Caillard says.?"China is on its way to becoming a hugely important market and the wine community has an opportunity to lead the way in redefining the international fine wine genre.

"I can imagine that Shanghai, which through its heritage is a wonderful confluence of the Occident and the Orient, will be one of the world's important centers of culinary innovation and a fine wine capital in its own right."

All wines in the tasting are included in Langton's Classification of Australian Wines, a benchmark listing of top collectible wines through which Caillard is associated as a founder and auctioneer. The event was sponsored by Wine Australia.

"I felt energized and excited for both ultra-fine Australian wine and Shanghai's appetite for wine knowledge," Caillard says.

"Fine wine is meant to be evocative and ethereal, meant to carry people away into a happy and beautiful place. Ultimately this is what I hope these great Australian wines were able to achieve with this audience."


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