Happy New Year and may the 2019 vintage be absolutely sensational for you in every respect.
Here are a few things that have been happening around the world whilst we have been celebrating.
JAPAN: Japan’s leading winery, Château Mercian (founded in 1877), which I visited in 2015, is planning on doubling its production capacity to around one million bottles of wine over the next few years. They produce wines from the Japanese native white variety, Koshu, the hybrid Muscat Bailey A, as well as the classical “Bordeaux” varieties. Their aim is to not only increase domestic sales in Japan’s booming wine market, but also to export their wines to Hong Kong which has strong Japanese cultural influences.
This initiative is in part a result of the Japanese Government’s tightening of the rules as to what can be called, “Japanese wine”. Since October 2018 wine can only be called, Japanese wine, if the grapes were grown in Japan. Prior to this bulk wine could be imported and blended into locally made wine and still be called Japanese wine so long as 20% of the blend had been grown/made in Japan.
Also, the prefecture of Hokkaido has just been granted its own appellation, becoming the second district to achieve this status after Yamanashi.
Step by step Japan is becoming a serious wine producing nation.
CHINA: Sales of Australian wine to China (including Hong Kong) are tipped to reach the 20 million cases (12 bottle/case) per annum mark in 2019! This is an amazing achievement in growth from the small volumes sold to China at the start of this century. It wasn’t until 2003-2004 that sales first reached one million cases.
PORTUGAL: In 2018, Portugal’s wine production was the lowest for over 20 years. This was due to severe heat waves in August, which was then followed by torrential rains and flash floods disrupting the harvest in October.
Ironically at the same time exports of Portuguese bulk wines soared by 24% in volume and 35% in value – good news for those that have surplus wines as the tanks won’t be quite so full over this coming winter.
FRANCE: Well known (and delicious) Sauterne house, Château Guiraud, recently advised that it will not be making any of its 1st Grade Sauterne from vintage 2018 after hail storms in July destroyed 95% of its crops. Production will be reduced to only making a small amount of dry white. One has to wonder how most wineries in the world would cope with such a cataclysmic event as the loss of 95% of ones vintage. Could you cope?
BRITAIN: Hampshire based British sparkling wine producer, Hattingley Valley, has become the first British winery to achieve widespread distribution in the USA, with their “Classic Reserve” bubbles being available in 420 Whole Food supermarkets in 40 states. Rumour has it that it will soon be available in Coles Vintage Cellar stores.
AUSTRALIA: The North America based “Wine Bloggers Conference” has re-named itself as the “Wine Media Conference”. The 2019 event will be held in the Hunter Valley, NSW, during 10-12 October, 2019.
It is the first time in its 11 year history, that the event has been held outside of North America. Usually the event attracts around 200 wine bloggers/writers, but by conducting it here in the southern hemisphere, they are aiming to attract a much larger attendance including some of the ever growing Asian wine media, especially from China.
Organiser Allan Wright, of Zephyr Conferences, was in Adelaide late last year and along with Wine Communicators Australia boss, Lynda Schenk, was exploring the potential for post-conference visits to South Australian wineries by overseas delegates.
Having already registered, I can tell you that the details can be found at this website along with the registration form and that there are discounts for early registration: www.winemediaconference.org (They already have over 50 registrations from the USA alone.)
Well, here’s to a great 2019! May you enjoy good health, happiness and especially enjoy many fabulous wines. Cheers!
THIS WEEK’S WINE REVIEW:
Welcome to vintage 2019! Hopefully it will be a great year for all of us.
Mine kicked off in grand style with a very elegant parcel arriving from Kalleske Wines, in the Barossa.
Over the last two to three years I have been most impressed by the Kalleske wines that I have tasted. Especially most recently with the 2017 CCCLXV Durif which spent 365 days on skins, hence the Roman numerals in the name. No oak maturation, no filtering, etc. So natural. It is a classy, powerful, yet elegant Durif that ranks up there with the Rutherglen ones.
This time inside the “Biodynamic Barrel Project” three-bottle presentation pack there were three bottles of Kalleske “Biodynamic Barrel Project” 2016 Barossa Valley Shiraz. One labelled as “Flower”, the second labelled as “Fruit” and the third labelled as “Root”.
What does it all mean? Well, it means that Troy and his crew at KALLESKE WINES made a batch of superb Shiraz and split it into three parcels – each of which went into a different oak barrel, for the exact same amount of time, 18 months. Each resultant wine was then bottled and presented in the three pack so that one can see the difference that the oak makes to a wine. The label even tells you that the oak came from the Châteauroux Forest in France; the harvest number and the date on which the oak was harvested (9th January 2010), as well as when the wine was put into the barrel and when it was taken out for bottling.
Thus effectively it is a research project on oak, which, brilliantly, they have made available for consumers to buy and taste for themselves.
And the result is, that whilst the core attributes of each wine were the same, the flavours differed somewhat as one would expect.
►Starting with the FLOWER version: It was aptly named as it had the most floral and fragrant bouquet of the three, with hints of rose petals supporting the floral aromas. It had the lightest, most elegant palate, is ready to drink right now and makes a great aperitif wine. The tannins are not really noticeable on this wine. Their effect is there but the grippiness isn’t.
It has all the core attributes of a great Barossa Shiraz except that it is in a lighter style, closer to a cool-climate Shiraz.
►FRUIT: This one is the all-rounder of the trio. It has fruitier aromas, plums and dark berries with just a smidge of herbs. The flavours are a bit deeper, richer and slightly more complex with noticeable fine grain tannins on the finish. It has slightly more depth and structure than the Flower version. Enjoyable with or without food.
►ROOT: This is the “biggie” of the group. Staring with earthier/forest floor aromas, it has no appreciable florals or distinct berry aromas. On the palate there is considerably more depth, structure and body, with complex flavours and almost no discernible berry flavours. The tannins are significantly more noticeable, textural and firmer.
It is the noticeably the biggest and richest of the three wines and at this stage of its development it needs solid food to accompany it.
What a brilliant exercise, to show the effect of oak treatment on wine. The only difference between the three wines is the preparation/treatment of the same oak used and yet they are three very different wines.
Thank you Troy for this brilliant, mind challenging and enlightening experience.
There were only 400 bottles of each wine made (one barrel) and they are available directly from KALLESKE WINES in the presentation box for AU$150 a set. Very educational. Hmm, I wonder if it can be claimed as “educational expenses.”
To check out any/all the great wines made by KALLESKE WINES, go to: www.kalleske.com
Cheers and enjoy some great wines this week (bugger dry January!!!)