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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

Australia has missed the point, according to David Duck' Anderson, maverick producer of cult, high Parker-point wines at his 4,500 case Wild Duck Creek Estate in Heathcote, Victoria. Speaking in London last week, at a Seckford tasting of nine of his wines, and three made by his 16-year-old daughter Bridie, he criticised most Australian wine as homogenised', the product of a hundred thousand tankers crisscrossing the country at a rate of knots'. He admitted that blending - both regional and varietal - has contributed to Australia's success in export markets, but argued that there is now less reason for such smudging', especially where there are surpluses. The emphasis on Brand Australia' is so great, he suggested, that it's almost as if we're ashamed of any one part of it'. Anderson blamed what he regards as growing standardisation on cross-pollination' among graduates of Australia's best-known wine schools. A self-taught grower and winemaker, who has never read a book on his craft and only ever wanted to be a farmer', he said too much Australian winemaking was governed by ritual'. He now dispenses with many practices which others still regard as essential. As well as apeing each other, winemakers are now attempting to copy him, Anderson said, following a 100-point score from Parker for his 1997 Duck Muck Shiraz and high resale values worldwide. (He was asking less than 10 a bottle when the American critic he had never heard of thrust him onto the world stage, and still charges a comparatively modest 35 or so to his shippers for the 200-case production.) Most such attempts, however, will fail, he warned, as it is only the exceptional nature of his cool-climate vineyards which allows him to produce such powerful wines (often picked at 17.5% ABV) still with balancing acidity (often 8.5g/l). Anderson is equally confident about high-altitude vineyards in Razorback Hills, north of Heathcote, the production of which will all be exported when it comes on-stream in a few years' time. A few years after that, he predicted, his might be the only independent winery in Australia.