Winefuture 2009 - where were the future wine leaders?
Winefuture moves to Hong Kong in November 2011
I sincerely hope the second edition of this conference is better than the first, as I would have been seriously pissed off if I had spent more than 700 euro on a ticket to Winefuture in Rioja.
I also hope that the conference addresses the future rather than having allowing speakers to unabashedly promote their company – Xavier Pages, CEO at Codorniu told us about his grandfather and the history of the company for the first ten minutes before he actually got to something interesting. And while I like Stephen Spurrier his speech on the future of wine writing was a Decanter advertorial. Nevertheless he has been invited to speak again.
Similarly Mel Dick of Southern Wine and Spirits stood up and told us about a wine event in Florida experiencing great weather. Strike me down, he’s been invited back to speak too.
If Winefuture is to be a success this time, it must run on time, those speaking should have their speeches checked before they start doing a personal PR campaign, there should be some speakers who represent the future of the wine industry, and wi-fi access must be available. It’s not much to ask. Let’s hope they can get it right second time around.
Drinker of the world unite! We are on the eve of a rosé revolution. As you can see, I have started early.
Ok, it just so happens I’m writing a piece for this week’s Herald on Sunday on rosé but I’m all for becoming a member of the pink proletariat, rising up against the red classes.
The rosé effort has been half-hearted for far too long. Many producers only started making pink as a by-product in a bid to make their reds more concentrated. By ‘bleeding off’ a proportion of the juice from the tank, this leaves a greater proportion of skins to juice. As skins are responsible for the colour and tannin, this meant great tannin and colour of the juice remaining in tank. The stuff that is bled off, ends up fermenting without any skins and thus remains pale.
Producers in Provence are a little more passionate about their pink growing grapes and vinifying them specifically for rosé. In fact, 80% of production in Provence is rosé and their pinks are the envy of the world.
There are already more than 800 people signed up to the revolution’s facebook page. There are ‘meet-ups’ planned from Adelaide to Santiago. The live tweet up takes place tomorrow at 1900 AEST – so if you’re in the UK it’ll be an early start on the bottle. If you want to join in the pink uprising, go to the Rose Wine Revolution site
I’m still not sure about these tweet-ups: people drinking wine and then discussing their tasting on the live-feed doesn’t excite me, perhaps because I find reading tasting notes as interesting as watching paint dry. However, getting people to think about rosé, attend a rosé event and view it as a category in its own right can only be a good thing. Producers should also take full opportunity to use it to raise the profile of their rosés, particularly with summer coming. So well done to Leanne de Bortoli and Steve Webber of De Bortoli wines for standing up for the pink proletariat. We have nothing to lose but our chains…or should that be livers?
Delicious food. When it came. I was almost ready to eat my hand by the time we got fed at the Air New Zealand Awards on Saturday night. 9 p.m and still no entree. I should have brought a sausage roll or bag of crisps in my handbag. It was a great event and opera singer, Aivale Cole’s, performance was spine tingling but was it a looooong night.
I have never been to a wine awards where the winners are allowed to make a speech. Is this a good idea? We know you want to thank your viticulturist, marketing team and Aunty Ethel but geez did they go on, and on. And the presenter, Petra somebody, a TV presenter so famous I’d never heard of her insisted on reading out all the tasting notes for the winning wines. Thanks, but we can read.
By the time dinner was finally finished, somewhere around midnight, I had lost my impetus. And my dancing shoes had walked off.
And the winner is
Anyway, now I’ve had a moan, Pinot Noir was the big winner of the night with 31 golds. For all the winners, click here.
And the champion trophy winner was also a Pinot Noir from Peregrine in Central Otago.
Steve Smith of Craggy Range and chair of judges, admitted: “There will no doubt be a bit of bleating about the 31 Pinot Noir gold winners.”
He then made a rousing speech on getting behind the fickle red variety: “I now wish to lay down the gauntlet to the evangelists who believe in our Pinot Noir,” he said.
“It’s time to throw off the shroud of conservatism. We should unite in our parochialism.”
“New Zealand Pinot Noir will take all the wines of New Zealand with it…and we must continue to invest in our most successful style - Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.”
Smith urged his fellow Kiwi producers to take a bit of the Australian out of the Australians, and shout about how great New Zealand wine is rather than being so modest. And I have to agree. Less of the shrinking wallflower, please.
Don’t drink too much
Stuart Smith, chair of NZ Winegrowers, also made some interesting points at the start of the night, no doubt with the NZ government’s impending liquor reform on his mind - and making sure the wine industry didn’t get too pissed that night and embarrass itself.
“Up to 1961 it was illegal to serve wine and food together to preserve our moral fibre,” he began. “And it delivered some of the worst service standards in the world”. There may even have been a mention of New Zealand being the inspiration for Fawlty Towers.
“In 2011 our industry and our world class tourist industry will be under the microscope like never before when we host the Rugby World Cup.”
“We are all about being world class. It is always about quality not quantity,” he added.
“We need to be clear what we stand for. Responsible drinking is about good food, sociability and enjoyment. It is not about drunkenness.”
Still, there were probably some sore heads on Sunday morning and walking through Auckland city centre afterwards, it was clear that more needs to be done to tackle irresponsible drinking than a liquor reform.
Entries for the Air New Zealand Awards were down from 1665 in 2009 to 1586 this year. Why the fall in entries? Is it the economy? Or is it the new sustainability rule that came into force this year?
One disgruntled producer complained it was not able to enter its new release 2010 wines along with a number of other wineries as the organisers had introduced a stipulation that all 2010 wines must be ‘sustainable’.
“Post harvest they decided you had to sustainable if we wanted to enter our 2010 wines. So there’s a number of wineries that could not enter even if the vineyard was certified sustainable,” the producer said.
So, I gave Chris Yorke, global marketing manager at generic body New Zealand Winegrowers a call and asked him what had happened. “We set out the policy that we wanted to be sustainable by 2012 back in 2007. What is happening is that we are being quite strict - I think 93% of vineyards and 85% of production are already sustainable,” he said
“It’s a very ambitious goal and it’s amazing how the industry has responded. Some may not have made it this year,” he added.
While I’d got Yorke on the phone, it was a chance to ask him if sustainability is as fluffy as it sounds. Funny I should mention it, New Zealand Winegrowers has just commissioned research to find out what people think sustainability is in its main markets – Australia, the US and the UK.
Yorke said: “We want to understand how they rate what we are doing in terms of sustainability. It’s quite a complex thing and it’s difficult to communicate it and in different countries sustainability means different things.” The research won’t be ready until the next Exporters Forum – which is July 2011 – so I guess we’ll have to wait to find out if the consumer thinks it’s all fur coat no knickers.