Dan's Blog

A Grape By Any Other Name...

Friday, July 05, 2019

This week we are looking at some potential changes in grape growing that are occurring in other parts of the world.

In what can only be described as, “World shattering news!”: It was recently revealed that the French government has allowed the appellations of Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superior, to use “non-permitted” varieties in their wines as from 2021, in order to combat climate change. Of course as with everything vinous in France, there are strict rules, for instance they can’t use “signature varieties” from other regions e.g. Chardonnay which is Burgundy’s signature white variety. Additionally, the “new” varieties when planted cannot constitute more than 5% of the grower’s vineyard – I could quite imagine growers being burned at the stake or being carted off to jail if they planted 6% or 7% of their vineyard with these new “interloper” varieties! Furthermore, the maximum total amount of all of these “new” varieties allowed in their wine is only 10%. Which makes one wonder “at a mere 10% of the wine, how is this really managing climate change?”

At present the varieties being “considered for approval” are the: French Petit Manseng and the Spanish Albarino in the whites, and in the reds, the French Marselan (French cross of Cabernet and Grenache) which the Chinese are enamoured with, Touriga Nacional and Vinaho from Portugal, as well as Castets (an obscure Southern French variety) and the hard to say (or find) Arinarnoa (a Bordeaux created cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat). Now there is a variety that should, like Marselan have global potential. Maybe some of the more experimentacious of Aussie winemakers should have a look at these two varieties because they should thrive in our warmer climate, and at least Marselan has been proven to make really good wine.

I can’t wait to try these radical new French wines after 2021!!!

PICARDAN: Is an almost extinct Rhône white variety, with only one to two hectares planted worldwide until recently. It is now rapidly gaining favour with American grapegrowers as a substitute/replacement for Chardonnay.

Even though it is one of the thirteen “certified” varieties permitted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhône, Picardan was expected to become extinct until recently when wineries in Texas, California and Oregon started to plant it.  Today, there are some seven hectares of the variety planted in the USA – where growers are excited by its taste and also its novelty in a world constantly looking for new experiences.

California’s, Tablas Creek Vineyard, first imported the variety into the USA as part of a project to grow all thirteen Châteauneuf-du-Pape allowed varieties and got so excited by their early trials that they just produced a varietal wine from Picardan.

Apart from having plenty of flavour, Picardan is noted for its ability to survive extreme heat – SO, maybe Aussie grapegrowers in the warmer climates should investigate this “survivor” variety?

Hey maybe, just maybe, the Bordelaise should consider it as one of their new “to be allowed” varieties instead of interlopers like the Spanish Albarino, so as to maintain their “Frenchness” – Sacré bleu!!!

While we wait (don’t hold your breath) for these game changing wines to appear, please enjoy some great Aussie wines made from emerging varieties such as Grüner Veltliner, Vermentino, Albarino, Tannat, Saperavi, Durif, and one of my favourites, Cabernet Franc. Cheers!


Last month I had the pleasure of attending the launch of a new RED ART wine by the Barossa’s, ROJOMOMA, the dynamic duo of Bernadette Kaeding and Sam Kurtz. I have been impressed by their wines since I first came across them a few years ago at the Adelaide Cellar Door Festival held at the Adelaide Convention Centre. The standout wine on that occasion was the Red Art Petit Verdot 2004, which was their first vintage and their current release at an age of either 10 or 11 years old. That is, they didn’t release it until it was ready to be spectacular drinking, and it was. Probably the best Australia Petit Verdot that I have ever tasted!

Well this time they “blew my socks off” with their launch of a wine that has been twelve years in the making: RED ART AMPLIFY SHIRAZ – CUVEE 1.

The AMPLIFY is a blend of their Shiraz from ten of the last twelve vintages, selected in order to create a specific flavour profile.

It is a classy, very limited release single vineyard wine which is elegantly packaged with personally signed and individually numbered labels printed on Japanese rice paper. 

The wine is massively deep in colour like dark cherries; the appealing bouquet is somewhat reminiscent of custard, quite complex and of course after all this time, has no primary fruit aromas. The palate is magnificent, huge, uber-rich, fantastic structure and layer, upon layer of flavour with incredible complexity. This is truly a stunning, breathtaking wine and was the highlight of a magnificent dinner in the winery, complete with a string quartet.

Their current release Petit Verdot the 2015 sold out in no time flat, so they have released the 2011 at eight-years-old. The rules here are that wines are released when the dynamic duo decide they are ready, rather than in any specific order. The 2008 Petit Verdot, which is an absolute cracker is the current “cellar release”, so you have to choose between an eight-year-old OR an eleven-year-old wine – tough choice!! Other current cellar releases are the Red Art Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Red Art Shiraz 2006 and the divine, Red Art Grenache Shiraz 2006 – made from Grenache vine planted in 1886.

So whether you are looking for a super, super premium wine to impress somebody or looking for great Barossa wines that are delicious and ready to drink, I suggest that you check out because Bernie and Sam deliver the goods - as all of their wines, young and fresh OR beautifully matured, are ready to wow you! Cheers!