Posts in the Category: Australia

How the ANZACs saved New Zealand from Prohibition

Over the weekend many Australians and New Zealanders gave up a lie in to honour those who have served their country at one of the country’s many ANZAC Day dawn parades.

We have much to thank those who served their country. And they have also had played a large part in shaping the New Zealand …

Posted in - Australia & Hawkes Bay & New Zealand on April 27th 2014 0 Comments

Giving Consumers Blending Control

Auckland’s CBD played host to a pop-up winemaking experience in recent weeks. Blend was a Jacob’s Creek-inspired event, inviting the public to blend their own white or red, and take it home.

1,600 people assembled their own wines before it packed up and headed to Sydney. If it’s deemed a success, other cities will get an …

Posted in - Australia & Blog Posts & New Zealand & trends & wine on February 25th 2014 0 Comments

$168,000 wine gets snapped up

Going to show that people do have more money than sense, Australian wine firm Penfolds has announced it has sold all but one of the dozen A$168,000 glass ampoules it unveiled in June.

Containing 750ml of the 2004 Kalimna Black 42 cabernet sauvignon, which normally retails at $600-700, the wine comes packaged in a hand-blown glass ampoule which is suspended within a fancy Australian-wood cabinet.

The luxury product was launched in Moscow in June and raised a few eyebrows. Daylight robbery may also have been uttered sometime after receiving the press release. But Penfolds is having the last laugh, as people clearly do have money to burn. David Dearie, the chief executive of Treasury Wine Estates revealed that all but one of the ampoules had been sold at its annual results, Australia’s Herald Sun reported.

“If anyone is after one of these limited ampoules, you’ll have to move fast, because although launched only a month ago, we’ve sold all but one of these fantastic Penfolds sculptures,” said Dearie.

So, I’ve decided that I should probably source some wine, claim that it’s made in limited quantities and call it Moneyfolds. I’ll put it in a plywood cupboard and stick it up on ebay and see if I get any bids.

Posted in - Australia & Blog Posts & Cabernet Sauvignon & wine on August 21st 2012 0 Comments

Calling all aspiring wine writers

Applications for the 12th young wine writer of the year award have opened. It is six years since I won the award, which opened the door for me to enter the world of wine journalism and get my bottom pinched by Oz Clarke (he was reprimanded for that but has since tried his luck again on several occasions!).

All you have to do is write 1500 words on anything you want as long as it’s wine-related – oh, and you have to be under 30. Ah, youth.

Having spent the first half of 2006 in Australia working the harvest in Victoria’s Alpine Valleys, I travelled around Australia’s wine regions in a clapped out Mitsubishi (it gave up the ghost in Queensland, sadly), which inspired my winning article on the Mornington Peninsula. I had gone to Australia thinking that I might want to be a winemaker but the vintage experience soon knocked all romantic notions out of me and gave me the impetus to pursue writing. Thankfully I got my lucky break with the young wine writer competition. The prize has also opened doors for wine writers including Peter Richards MW and Stuart George.

There are two major prizes – £1000 to spend on a trip to a wine region of your choosing plus a 14-day all-expenses paid trip to Australia – that’s a better deal than you get as a journalist!!

Entries close on 30 September 2012 so get your thinking caps on and put pen to paper.

Posted in - Australia & awards & Blog Posts & Oz Clarke on June 13th 2012 0 Comments

Peter Dry’s varietal egalitarianism

Have you heard of Erbaluce? Or Manzoni Bianco? No? Nor me.

But Peter Dry, a viticulture expert at the AWRI, suggested that these two varieties should be considered by cool climate producers, instead of the usual suspects. Indeed international varieties have gained a rather superior status, and he is championing ‘varietal egalitarianism’. Let’s face it there are thousands of varieties out there and we are rather limiting consumers’ choices.

Dr Richard Smart added, “It’s rather insulting to consumers to limit varieties to half a dozen varieties.”

So, why should we be considering the likes of Erbaluce and other so-called alternative varieties?

“These varieties may be better suited to climatic conditions including drought tolerance,” said Dry. “There are cool climate areas with low growing season rainfall and high aridity.

“During times of drought our cool climate areas have sufered because they rely on water stored in dams and the dams are empty.”

As well as it being more suitable to increasing temperatures and lower rainfall, people might actually prefer to drink something other than Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. “They may provide a greater range of flavours suited to the Asian palate.  According to a CSIRO study, alternative varieties including Lagrein and Fiano may be better suited and may offer a competitive advantage.” said Dry

So, what is Erbaluce? An Italian white variety, that reaches maturity relatively early, is tolerant of botrytis, has good acidity and elegance. Manzoni Bianco, another Italian grape provides “good wine quality with structure and floral characters,” he added.

Posted in - Australia & Blog Posts & Italy & Research & wine on February 12th 2012 0 Comments

Ladybirds in our wine

Is that rancid peanut butter in my wine?

No, it’s ladybird taint.

But ladybirds are so cute. How can they taste so bad?

These cheeky things love a damaged grape to feed upon and with cool climates getting warmer, these pests are moving into regions previously too cool for them. Kevin Ker of Brock University told the International Cool Climate Symposium, “It’s a hitch hiker that we really don’t like but it will find a way to spread.”

It has been found in the US, Argentina, the UK, Czech Republic, Italy and Denmark, and it is thought it is more widespread but no-one’s owning up.

When the ladybirds inadvertently get harvested along with the grapes they emit a methoxypyrazine that smells of rancid peanut butter or bell pepper. Not something you’d want in your glass.

What’s worse, it’s pretty potent – as little as 1200 beetles per tonne can taint the batch. The sensory threshold is just 1 part per trillion.

“One the wine has been made, cleaning up the wine is virtually impossible,” said Ker.

So what to do about these pesky ladybirds?

Brock University researchers have discovered that potassium metabisulphite, which is used as an antioxidant in the winery has been found to be relatively successful.

Ker added, “If used pre-harvest, the wines made from vines treated with potassium metabisulphite seemed to be fairly successful. It can be used pre harvest to reduce the number of lady beetles below the sensory threshhold levels.”

However, anything that’s added to the grapes so close to harvest could be an issue.

Posted in - Australia & Blog Posts & blogging & Organic & Research on February 8th 2012 0 Comments

What carbon taxes mean for the wine industry

Carbon taxes will be imposed on the biggest Australian companies in July 2012. Large emittors will have to pay $23 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted. But what does this mean for the wine industry?

It’s unlikely to make a massive impact immediately, as the majority of companies that will have to pay the tax are energy and mining companies, for example. However, electricity prices are likely to rise as the new tax is passed on by those companies affected by the new legislation. Airfare travel will also increase, with Qantas announcing it would impose fare increases.

Karl Forsyth, senior engineer for the Australian Wine and Research Institute told delegates at the International Cool Climate Symposium, “The government has a carbon cap and they will continually lower that bar, and there may come a point when smaller companies are included.”

With increasing scrutiny on carbon emission coming from the top down, grape growers and wine producers are advised to start making changes if they have not already done so.

The first change for wineries is to improve the efficiency of cooling systems or move to electrodialysis, which can cold stabilise the wine without the need for refrigeration. Without cold stabilisation, tartrates will precipitate out and look like crystals in the wine, so it’s an aesthetic measure but necessary for consumer acceptance.

“”If you move toward electrodialysis or different cold stabilisation techniques, 10% of a wineries emissions could be saved potentially,” said Forsyth

In the vineyard, the addition of nitrogen fertiliser is the only direct source of greenhouse gas emissions. The ‘nitrification’ process turns nitrogen fertiliser into nitrous oxide.

Forsyth added: “It’s not clear how much nitrous oxide is produced in the vineyard so we are trying to work on that by trialling inhibitors of nitrification”

For more information, go to the www.awri.com.au website.

Posted in - Australia & Blog Posts on February 6th 2012 0 Comments

One vineyard, many expressions

Welcome to day one at the eighth International Cool Climate Symposium in Hobart, Tasmania.

My brain hurts after today’s seminars, which have focused on many technical issues relevant to vineyard managers and winemakers. I have to admit ‘applied geometrics’, and ‘spatial and temporal changes in fruit composition and juice in the vineyard’ had me pretty bamboozled.

Dr Richard Smart presented the results of a study into Pinot Noir at Tamar Valley winery, which was at times confusing, particularly when he started recommending a book about Antarctica that he’d just read, but we soon got back on track!

The main tenets of his seminar were that two bunches from the same vine can produce wines that are totally different in composition.

By vinifying each bunch separately the research found a wide range of different colours and tannin levels. It also revealed that exposure of bunches to UV light reduced botrytis infections and also increased colour and tannins.

Going as far as the berry level, shrivelled berries produced wine that was 40% higher in phenolics than its non-shrivelled equivalent and tannin increased 120% despite just a 10% increase in sugar levels. Weirdly, berry size had no impact on wine colour or phenolics, which goes against what I had always believed…

Smart concluded, “Bunch variability is the most important thing for Pinot Noir”.

So, it seems you can have one vineyard, one vine or even one bunch and the resulting wines are different beasts.

What does this mean for our notion of terroir and single vineyard wines when there is such enormous variability within those sites? I’m not sure my head hurts too much but it does raise some questions to contemplate.

In the meantime maybe I’ll go and read that Antarctica book. It might be a bit easier on the brain.

Posted in - Australia & Blog Posts on February 1st 2012 0 Comments

Wine: made in the vineyard or winery?

Most wine producers will tell you wine is made in the vineyard (alongside overdelivering on quality and other such wank phrases). But what if it isn’t?

Ok, so you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and your fruit does need to be good for starters – but a tasting at Frogmore Creek in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley today put the influence of the winemaker back in the limelight.

Winemaker Nick Glaetzer, of the renowned Glaetzer family, says, “Terroir is important but the winemaker can also play a role in making a wine more exciting.”

His team have been experimenting in the winery to see what they can do with its Pinot Noir fruit.

And with most vineyards in Tasmania still lacking old vines, winemaking techniques seem to be crucial to create more interesting wines. “I thought that because we were not getting the complexity from old vines we had to be something about it,” adds Glaetzer.

This experimentation breaks the current mould of winemakers telling us that their wines are made in the vineyard with minimal intervention.

Glaetzer showed us nine wines from the 2007 vintage. The Pinot Noir grapes were picked at the same time from the same block but were fermented differently. Kicking off with a ‘control’ wine, the flight included everything from a 100% carboic maceration ferment to a co-ferment with Chardonnay. Interestingly the Chardonnay addition seemed to make the wine more supple and velvety with a pronounced nutty character.

Curiously, there was an Amarone style wine that had been produced from riper grapes. Compared to the control wine it produced a richer style of wine, fuller in body with heaps of black cherry and raisin-like flavours not seen in the control wine. The tannins were more abundant too. It shared the fleshy mid palate of the control wine but little else. If I hadn’t been told it was the same wine, I would never have guessed.

The ninth wine was the final blend, which includes 25% of the Amarone style wine with the other components each representing 5-8%.

This process is followed every year with components of the 2011 Pinot blend including a splash of a Pinot Gris-Pinot Noir blend “which looks a bit baggy,” admits Nick, and a Gewurztraminer-Pinot Noir batch, displaying a weird combination of Pinot red fruit flavours alongside orange and exotic spice.

The tasting messed with my brain, combining some techniques and blends that my palate had never experienced. It is also interesting to see the many expressions of one terroir, and that the winemaker’s decisions from minimalist to interventionist do impact on that expression.

Posted in - Australia & Blog Posts on January 31st 2012 0 Comments