From cask wine to Barolo Riserva with John Blackwood

John Blackwood is a retired law academic and proud member of the First Wednesday Wine Club, an eclectic group of wine makers and distributers, writers and enthusiasts, which started 40 years ago in Hobart, Tasmania. He’s also Claire’s Dad, so we managed to convince him to pack up some of his favourite Australian and Old World wines and host a tasting on our New Years Eve adventure. 

We were lucky enough to join him for an Aperol Spritz and a meander through his longstanding relationship with the mighty drop. Fill up your glass below... 

Would you tell us about the First Wednesday Wine Club?
“The group consists of 14 people who like tasting great wines, particularly in combination with interesting food. Early on, we met on the first Wednesday of every month to taste and evaluate Australian wines with a view to building cellars. Over 40 years we’ve moved on to wines from France and Italy but still assesses wine for collection. It is an eclectic group that includes wine makers and distributors, wine writers and enthusiastic amateurs, all with a passion for great wine both red and white.”

What do you have in store for New Years Eve? 
“A matched pairing of red, white and sparkling wines from the best years and vintages from Australia and the Old World. The emphasis will be on looking at the same grape varieties from different regions to see how they differ. For example, is a Grand Cru Chablis (Chardonnay) as good as or better than a top Australian wine of the same grape variety?”

Why do you love wine so much?
“I was introduced to fine wine in the early 1970s and have been collecting and enjoying wine from around the world ever since. I love the bouquet, structure, balance and flavour of serious wine.”

What was your first experience with wine?
“I’m sorry to say it was drinking copious quantities of cask wine, and cheap Australian reds and port during the 60s.”

What is your favourite wine right now and what would you pair it with?
“That’s a hard choice: either a Grand Cru burgundy from a great vintage and a serious producer, teamed with confit duck; or a Barolo Riserva from Italy with porcini risotto.”

Can you name an excellent wine for under $20?
“The best value cheaper wines are always white, so an Italian prosecco under $20 is fabulous value; so is the Dr Loosen Riesling Kabinett from Mosel, Germany.”

What do you drink when you are celebrating?
“Vintage Champagne or if in party mode, an Aperol Spritz.”

What wine do you splurge on?
“Burgundy, Barolo and Barbaresco. It used to be Bordeaux but prices have risen insanely and my palate has  changed to a more refined and balanced style.”

A wine that has blown you away, and why?
“Two wines can't be separated. First, a 1970 Chateau Latour, one of the great wines and vintages of Bordeaux, and a 1999 La Tache from Domaine de Romanee Conti, the most exclusive and exquisite burgundy you can buy. Now beyond the reach of mere mortals.”