Let’s start this week’s blog with a gentle reminder – tomorrow, February 29, is the annual, “OPEN THAT BOTTLE DAY”, when we should rummage around the cellar or cupboard and find an old bottle of wine that we have been putting off opening – and then open it. There are a number of reasons that we put off opening a particular bottle of wine, it could be that we don’t think it is quite “ready” yet, or that “it is probably well past it”, or “I am saving that for a special occasion” – which never seems to come.
Rummage, find an old bottle that you have been avoiding and bloody well open it. If by chance you can do this with some wine buddies, all the better, but just open it and enjoy!!!
You will be amazed at how well many wines can last if stored correctly. I have a few bottles going back to the 1960s and of the last 10 bottles I have opened, not one has been corked. Three were “a mere shadow of their former selves” but still drinkable as an old dry red.
I find that wines out of the latter half of the 1980s and all of the 1990s are much more likely to let you down that those made earlier.
So, “have a go, ya mug”! I will. Anyhow, the rummaging is half the fun.
LIGHTENING THE LOAD: For many years now wine bottles have been getting heavier and heavier, especially here in Australia as wineries pander to the Chinese market with its “bigger is better” mentality. We had a dalliance with lightweight bottles in the 1990s but they looked cheap and nasty due to their poor design so they didn’t last long.
However, as the world becomes much more “carbon footprint aware” there is the beginnings of a swing towards the more environmentally friendly, lighter bottles and alternative packaging. In Europe there is a growing trend towards 2.0 litre wine casks (Bag in Box). For example around 25% of all wine imported into Sweden arrives in bulk and is packaged into casks locally, thereby, generating the maximum possible reduction in carbon footprint. Thus, gradually more and more wine is being shipped around the world in bulk and packaged at its final destination. This is the main reason that the World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) had gone from strength to strength over the last decade – see the article, “Bulking Up”, in WBM Jan/Feb 2020.
As I reported in my blog, “Packaging News”, May 10, 2019, Garcon Wines has created ellipsoid shaped plastic bottles of which ten fit into a carton roughly the size of a “normal” six pack. The reduction in carbon footprint of this new packaging is very significant.
There is a growing movement in the UK towards “green bottles” which are lighter in weight and made at least in part from recycled glass.
Now from America we hear that there are a number of “recognized” wineries which are opting to “lighten the load” by using lighter but well-designed bottles.
One example is, Paso Robles’ Tablas Creek Vineyard, which have moved to a lighter weight bottle, not only for their varietal range, but also for their Reserve range. Based on their current sales, over the next ten years they will use 685 tonnes less glass.
In another example, France’s Cellier de Dauphines, which produce around 40 million bottles of wine have reduced the weight of their Prestige range bottles by 30% and have calculated that they will now be using approximately 500 tonnes less glass per year.
In these examples the saving to the planet is not only that of the fossil fuel energy used to make that glass but also the carbon footprint of the bottles all the way from the glass plant, via the winery, through the consumer to the recycling depot!
The environmental benefit of lighter packaging is twofold. Firstly, there is less energy consumed in making the lighter product, and also very importantly there is a smaller carbon footprint in shipping/transporting each bottle of wine.
So winemakers it is time to stop and think about your environmental responsibility, and consumers it is time to put more thought into what you buy.
If there are two similar quality wines on the store shelf, please seriously consider buying the one in the less ostentatious bottle, cause these days “bigger ain’t better”, like it used to be.
Cheers and enjoy a great wine in a lighter bottle.
THIS WEEK’S WINE REVIEW:
This week’s wine is a brilliant yet controversial wine, which comes from a brilliant, eccentric and controversial bloke.
The wine I am talking about is the stunning, d’Arenberg “The old Bloke & the three young blondes”. Chester Osborne’s superb creation that when it was first launched set the Twittersphere and the rest of social media alight with righteous indignation about how inappropriate the name of the wine was in these PC (politically correct) days.
I must say that I pissed myself laughing at this righteous indignation. I think the name is absolutely brilliant for a sensational wine made from very old vine Shiraz (the old bloke) to which has been added young vine Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne (three young blondes).
This wine, the 2015 is world-class. From its excellent packaging with the elegant five layer composite label, through to the wine itself. It is almost inky black in colour – so much depth. It has a rich, rounded, very complex bouquet with the palate bursting with divine, ubber rich flavours which are currently constrained by the tannins. Whilst making a great accompaniment to rich food now, with a few years of proper cellaring the fruit flavours will subdue the tannins and it will become a breathtakingly divine wine.
To sum up- the d’Arenberg 2015 “The old Bloke & the three young blondes” is fricking awesome!! And if you are still around and kicking in 2030, open a bottle on that years “Open that Bottle Day” – you’ll be the envy of everyone you know.
Cheers Chester for another superlative wine!