New product launches aren’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination, and, sometimes you wonder what the company bosses were thinking…
Treasury Wine Estates, Foster’s wine arm, has launched a new product specifically for women. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s already hard enough selling wine at the moment without cutting out half of the market before you start.
The press release to accompany the launch does it no favours. Most press releases are fluffy but this really is candy floss, so I’ve given you an excerpt…
“Distinctively feminine with a crisp, fresh and fruity flavour, Everwild is a new premium sparkling wine created especially for women to share when they feel like embracing a sense of freedom from the pressures of everyday life. (A $20 wine really does all that?!)
“...Inspired by the natural beauty of New Zealand’s rugged wild shores and untamed coastlines, Senior winemaker, Sasha Grayson, says her quest was to create a wine that captured a true New Zealand ‘sense of freedom’ but with a strong sense of femininity, at the same time.” (Pass me the sick bucket)
“Everwild is aimed at women to remind them that it is okay to take time out of our daily hectic schedule, relax and enjoy life’s pleasures, like our amazing beaches and coastline, which are never really that far away.”
“It is different to other traditional sparkling wines in taste and feel and we believe women will recognise this instantly. It really is the perfect wine to share with friends as there’s a variant to suit all taste buds”.
And so to the wines.
For $19.99 they look pretty classy but it’s what inside the bottle that counts, and will no doubt appeal to the customer.
The sparkling Sauvingon Blanc tastes, well, like a frothy Savvy. It shows the classic passionfruit, gooseberry and green capsicum but is simple and short. Don’t rush to the shops. In fact, don’t rush to the shops for any sparkling Savvy.
The Brut NV, is once again simple and short with ripe peach fruits, and a very gently fizz. There are no technical notes in the press pack so I can’t tell you the RS but it’s certainly off-dry.
And then there’s the Cuvee Riche NV. This has a little more concentration of fruit with a slightly creamy texture. It tastes like peaches and lemon sherbet and has short length.
Apparently these wines will “appeal directly to women”, but not this one. Everwild perhaps hopes there are plenty of women in NZ who will guzzle it, “embracing a sense of freedom” in the midst of a drunken haze.
I once dropped a jar of beetroot on a friend of a friend’s floor, and have never been allowed to forget it.
Spilling red wine can be equally calamitous, and the latest red wine spill has turned into a You’ve Been Framed slick. A liquor store in Wisconsin was left trying to stem a red wine tide when a 78ft long shelving unit, holding a total of 6,810 bottles of wine and champagne smashed to the floor.
Unfortunately it’s not enough to get rid of the world’s oversupply: excess production stands at 30 million hectolitres each year (OIV, 2008) but every little helps!
Perhaps the crash had something to do with the shelves, which were more than 30 years old, showing they don’t improve with age.
Journalists, me included, are told by our editors to provide readers with wine recommendations. What about telling our readers what not to drink, a la Trinny and Susannah’s What Not to Wear.
Over the past two weeks, I have been judging Metro magazine’s top 100 wines for summer with various industry members. While we hear a lot about award-winning New Zealand wines, there is certainly a lot of crap that has to be weeded out.
Our panel tasted more than 120 wines on day one and found just five worthy of anything as high as a silver medal. There were a lot of poorly made wines, and some of our panels’ notes read, ‘smells like a raw potato’, ‘really? Why did they bother?’, ‘alcoholic lolly water’ and ‘a bit ratty’, as in it smelled like a dead rat.
Surely readers should be warned of such dross to avoid having to drink raw potatoes and dead rat wines? I reckon more people would read the column too, instead of getting bored with the same old ‘these wines are great’ every week.
After rains all week in the Napa, the sun finally came out to dry out the fruit and hopefully ensure the 2011 crop isn’t riddled with rot. It was a particularly unseasonable week when I visited but the rains seem to follow me wherever I go. Perhaps drought-ridden areas should call me in…
So, a seminar on climate change between downpours seemed relevant. What is going on with the weather?
Napa Valley Vintners supported a study published this year breezily entitled ‘Climate and Phenology in Napa Valley: A Compilation and Analysis of Historical Data’ (!) in response to growing concerns about climate change.
Rex Stultz, industry relations director a the NVV, explains, “We started to see reports on USA today and NBC tying climate change to agriculture, saying that if the climate continued to change we might not be able to grow grapes in the Napa Valley.
“It created a bit of a stir in the community, asking if it was true.”
A two-year project followed to study the historical weather trends in Napa, and how this change affected wine grape growing.
Using 12,000 data collection points through the county, the study found that the Napa Valley had experienced warming but not to the degree that had been originally suggested.
Perhaps the problem was that the previous studies had been based on just two temperature collection stations. The first at the Napa state hospital, a facility for the criminally insane (not that that had any effect on the study but it’s a piece of trivia), which was positioned next to a road. The other station, in St Helena, was on the top of a fire station roof – not exactly representative of the county.
After studying some complicated-looking graphs, the results show that the average temperatures in Napa Valley have increased 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past several decades, but considerably less warming than the fire station and mad house station had suggested.
Christopher Howell of Cain Vineyard & Winery said “Globally, the years 1998, 2005, 2006 and now 2010 were the warmest years on record, but they were some of the coolest for the Napa Valley. There is a suggestion by some climate scientists that, as the interior areas warm in the future, Napa temperatures may actually remain relatively moderate, or even cool as maritime air gets drawn further up the valley.”
But this doesn’t explain why so many wineries have alcohols into the high 14s and 15s. Winemakers claimed canopy management, lower hanging fruit, more efficient yeasts in the winery, rootstock selection and lower yields have resulted in higher alcohols.
However, in my opinion, late picking seems to be the main factor in these higher alcohol styles in Napa. There’s a bunch of producers that don’t have these high alcohols like Clos du Val and Corison, who pick a little earlier than most, proving that top Napa Cabernet doesn’t have to be horribly high in alcohol, and these producers are making some of the most attractive wines. So it’s not the climate; it’s all to often a human decision.
A tour of winery barrel halls is about as exciting as watching paint dry. And when winemakers tell you which brand of barrels they use, it doesn’t mean much to most of us non-winemaking mortals.
But suddenly it makes much more sense after sitting in on a barrel trial tasting session with Chris Carpenter, winemaker for Cardinale, La Jota and Lokoya in Napa.
We sat down in front of five dense 2009 Napa Cabernet Sauvignons from the sub-region of Mount Veeder, which is destined for the Lokoya brand. They were the same wine but had been put into different types of oak. They had been in barrel for the same length of time, the toast was the same on each barrel, and the age of the barrels was also the same - but the wines tasted dramatically different.
Carpenter explained, “Mt Veeder has big fruit and giant tannins so we need to fill in the middle. We try to do that in the winery but oak also helps.”
We each marked the wines on that basis with the coopers Bel Air and Taransaud coming out joint favourite. Other coopers’ barrels flattened the smell of the wine while others overpowered the fruit. It was interesting to see Carpenter and his assistant winemaker completely disagree on the Bernard-made barrel, showing wine is totally subjective even when you know what you’re doing.
However these barrel test results are specific to each wine so while our favourites for this wine were Taransaud and Bel Air, this test doesn’t apply to the other Cabernets or Merlots Carpenter makes.
It is also interesting to note that most of us were non-plussed with the World Cooperage Barrels. These barrels just overpowered the fruit, giving an unpleasant coffee, mocha and vinyl character to the wine. However, Lakoya’s parent company, Jackson Family Wines, is a partner in World Cooperage Barrels.
Carpenter added, “We are going to France this year to try to figure out why they are like this. Is it how they are cutting the staves in France or is it the cooper in Missouri? These barrels do work with out Merlot but not with our Cabernet.”
Inevitably, with consolidation one of the key trends in the wine industry at the moment, there is some pressure from accountants to use this oak, as it is up to 50% cheaper.