Like many wine drinkers of my generation, I cut my teeth on Australian wine. That makes it sound painful. In fact, it was the suave texture of my favourite Rosemount Shiraz that marked it out in the early 1990s, at a time when the rough-house tannins and wild acidity of the cheaper end of European wine really did taste like (and in some cases actually was) a health hazard.
These figures would have come as no surprise to Oatley, whose post-Rosemount business, Robert Oatley Vineyards, was quick to see the potential of China and made a point of having a web page in Chinese, enabling drinkers from the country to buy its wines direct. It was all part of a philosophy that now looks like a roadmap for the future of Australian wine, a legacy passed down by a key figure of its remarkable recent past.