What future for Wine Future?
Thursday 10 November
Wine Future is over for another two years.
Did things improve after the car crash first day?
Well, it didn’t get any worse. And there were some interesting insights worthy of a news story from Prosecco estimating it will quintuple in size by 2035 to one billion bottles plus some revealing statistics: Wine Intelligence’s Lulie Halstead revealed social media was relevant to just 13% of regular wine drinkers in the UK but 62% in China. Food for thought
On the last afternoon, I did a tour of the conference, getting folks’ opinions. The main benefit of the conference? Networking. How often do you get Jancis Robinson, Robert Parker and co. in the same room? It was a great opportunity to reconnect with contacts and old friends and meet new ones.
I am also much more knowledgeable about the Asian markets thanks to Jeannie Cho Lee, sommelier Yang Lu from the Peninsula, Shanghai and Don St Pierre Jnr of ASC.
The conference finished with a final debate on the ‘future of wine’ with an illustrious panel. Yet it failed to deliver any excitement. The conference should have gone out with a bang with the high profile names on stage but instead ended with a fizzle, with many shuffling out before the conclusion.
If there is to be a future for Wine Future (and there’s plans for Brazil 2013), exhibitors and other delegates have to speak out about the issues they had, not just confide that they agreed with what I said in my blog in a private moment (although thanks for the support)!
I want more debate, smaller break off seminars and less time allowing the biggest players in the industry to tell us about their company. What do you want?
Save us from wine ‘plonkers’
Wednesday 5 January
I hope you had a good Christmas and new year break tolerating your extended family admirably? There was plenty of food and wine consumed over the festive period and I am now nursing a rather large belly for it.
At the out-laws’ house, I was rifling through the book selection over Christmas, and came across Grumpy Old Wit by Rosemarie Jarski. I’m sure it’s not meant to appeal to the under 30s but I loved it.
However, in the food and drink section, I came across a rather sad but true assessment of wine presenters by British satirist Victor Lewis-Smith.
He said: ‘I recently disovered the appropriate work for the modern brand of telly wine bores. You know, the ones who insist on telling us that “I can smell wet nappies in there and burned toast and newly mown grass and creosote and Sunday newspapers.” What better name for such a pretentious group of plonk experts than plonkers?’
Harsh but fair. Are we really this boring and out of touch with the common man? Er, yes. I guess the old cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush is a load of bollocks to most normal people. And tasting notes on twitter…please can you save me from them? There is one individual who shall remain nameless that tastes wine regularly for a New Zealand retailer and I have had to unfollow them for their boastful, boring tasting notes. Who wants to read them? Certainly not the consumer. And this is the problem…social media has opened great opportunities for the wine world but it has also uncovered yet more of Lewis-Smith’s plonkers.
Pink proletariat unite!
Sunday 28 November
The beginnings of the revolution
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?
Air NZ Wine Awards: highlights and lowlights
Sunday 21 November
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.
New era for The Observer
Sunday 16 May
Congratulations to the lovely David Williams. Not to be confused with David Walliams of Little Britain (I’m a la-dy), this young gentleman is the new wine writer at The Observer.
The former editor of the now-defunct Wine & Spirit, deputy editor of World of Fine Wine magazine, and general all-round nice guy, has been handed the column following Tim Atkin MW’s move to The Times.
You’ll remember the Save the Wine Column campaign we set up to get Tim’s full column reinstated in The Observer, after having it slashed to a shopping list. Sadly, David’s column is only a list of tasting notes, which seems a shame as he’s such an eloquent writer. Nevertheless, you wouldn’t turn down a national column, would you? (I wouldn’t!)
Perhaps, the Observer editor will finally realise that David – like Tim – is worthy of a full, entertaining and informative wine column. Until then, David, well done on your first national column. Click here to read David’s first column. Some nice wines in there: I particularly like the M&S Manzanilla and the Wine Soc’s Moscato d’Asti. Quinta de Azevedo’s Vinho Verde is also a cheeky wine.
Finally, happy 59th birthday to my dad, John, and happy Norwegian national day!