The launch last month of Mercure Queensland hotels “Grand Vins” – great wine selection – is a real achievement for this big state.

I recently tasted the dozen wines served at the Mercure Brisbane’s Quay restaurant, greeting me as – Pure Pleasures – Autumn-Winter 2010 Collection.

All by-the-glass and reasonably priced – USD 5.40-6.60, I discovered wines grouped both by colour and snappy names.

In the bottles with green tags (TANGY AND TANTALISING) are a racy, tight pinot gris (Symphony Hill Reserve 09) USD 33 (88), cut grass, pea pod sauvignon (Tobin 09) USD 33 (87), and a bacony, buttery chardonnay (Witches Falls Wild Ferment 08) USD 29 (88).

The bottles with orange tags (FRUITY AND LIGHT), in demand today were a semi-mature, low alc semillon (Clovely Left Field 06) USD 27 (90), an appealing, crunchy, savoury sylvaner (Felsberg 09) USD 27 (91) and a melony, minerally verdelho (Sirromet 820 Above 09) USD 27 (88).

Next came maroon tags (BALANCED AND ELEGANT) for a merlot (Heritage Estate School Block 08) USD 31 (92) and a very snappy shiraz cabernet (Mt Tamborine Vineyards 07) USD 33 (91).

And the last group, russet tags (SPICY AND FULL BODIED) held a spicy shiraz (Ballandean Estate Family Reserve 07) USD 27.50 (87), a leafy, cut-grass cabernet (O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley 08) USD 27 (88), a juicy, lip-smacking tempranillo (Golden Grove 08) USD 30 (91) and an earthy, herbal cabernet franc (Rimfire 06) USD 31.50 (88).

These Queenslanders represent the Darling Downs, Granite Belt and South Burnett growing regions in true locovore fashion within 250 km of Brisbane.

Mercure hotels in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns Harbourside stock these drops – sold from a standalone wine menu. And two badged Mercures-Mercure Clear Mountain Lodge and Mercure TreeTops Port Douglas dig into the selection to take a Queensland range.

The best aspect of this hotel group’s interest in focussing local was the obligatory training given to staff with wine diaries, food matching and theoretical wine assessment with on-line testing.

I’d think my wine was in good hands with these hotel restaurants pushing out such wares by a very clever, simple and unambiguous means.

The wine booklet cover bears the word “l’echanson”, an old French word for a butler or person you can trust with what you put in your mouth.

So I guess I put myself in the hands of the “l’echanseuses” at the Mercures.

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