This week we look at a couple of innovative technological advancements in the world of wine and also cover Wine Australia’s new initiative to help combat wine fraud.
CASHLESS: China’s retailing giant Alibaba has just introduced cashless bottle shops. Every bottle on the shelves has a special tracking microchip so that when the bottle is picked up by a customer all the relevant data on that wine and its winery are shown on a nearby screen. Obviously the amount of data available is dependent on the information supplied by the winery. The data can include not only tasting notes (including medals awarded) but also winery images (which these days are more and more being filmed by drones), as well as regional data and a discussion/presentation by the winemaker. Customers use a facial recognition system which is linked to their Alipay account.
Chinese are “early adopters” of new technology and as such mobile payment is widely used. In this case once the wine selection has been made by the scanned customer, the purchase is automatically charged to their Alipay account.
Other large retailers in China are now scrambling to introduce this technology to their stores.
SPECTRO-WHAT?: Optical spectroscopy may well be used in the future, to not only determine whether a bottle of wine is corked (despite the cork industry telling us that is “all in the past”) but also to determine if the wine is a fake. This will be done without having to open the bottle, if physicist Dr Cecilia Muldoon and her team at VeriVin succeed in their plan to use optical spectroscopy to identify molecules of TCA – cork taint.
Whilst it sounds a bit farfetched at the moment, the idea is sound enough that they have been granted an Innovate UK Quantum Technology Grant to pursue their research. If they succeed it will be possible to scan bottles for cork taint as they come off the production line, so then there really would be no more corked wine out in the world.
Taken a step further auction houses would be able to scan each bottle submitted for auction to verify that it is not a fake.
WINE WATCH: Wine Australia has launched, Wine Watch, a vinous version of Neighbourhood Watch to help reduce the incidence of wine fraud.
Wine Australia General Counsel, Rachel Triggs, says that this will allow people to make anonymous reports of potential breaches of the regulations for WA to investigate.
She went on to say: ‘Wine Australia takes our responsibility to protect the sector’s reputation domestically and internationally very seriously….”
Unfortunately for us they did not take it seriously enough to maintain the previous system of examining the wines before they left the country, which had worked so well for many, many years. Instead now we have “flying auditors” doing spot checks around the globe.
When they ceased using the proven, albeit logistically challenging system of pre-export tasting, we lost the biggest competitive marketing advantage we had. Prior to the change, we could go to potential customers around the world, but especially in China and Asia and say to them “we are the only country in the world, where the wines are effectively checked by the government before they leave the country.”
Now we can’t, but we can anonymously dob in potential cheats or rivals we don’t much like.
There is always something interesting going on in the world of wine so there will be more next week.
In the meantime have a great week and enjoy superb wines. Cheers!
THIS WEEKS WINE REVIEW:
It is not often that a rave on about a Cabernet based wine. Yes, there are lots of good ones. But there are so many more exciting emerging variety wines and Shiraz around that it is hard to find space for Cabernet Sauvignon and its blends, UNLESS it comes from a renowned Cabernet area like Coonawarra.
This week is an exception in that I have found an absolute cracker of a CABERNET MERLOT that really appeals. The wine is the PARACOMBE 2013 ADELAIDE HILLS CELLAR RESERVE.
Firstly, it is great to see a current release wine with five years of age on it instead of the “norm” these days of 18 months to two years. Hey, today even Grange is no longer five years old when released, its only four years old.
So here we have an understated, elegantly packaged Adelaide Hills CABERNET MERLOT that is inky dark in colour, has a sophisticated and complex bouquet, with a hint of cigar box aromas, herbs and a tinge of spice.
On the palate it is bloody gorgeous, mouth-filling and flavoursome with an appealing finish that is still tight and grippy at five years old. The tannins are just starting to become soft enough to make this wine a joy to drink on its own, as well as with a rich hearty meal like a beef stew. Whilst delightful now, this classy wine will continue to age and evolve over the next few years to become exquisite.
This is but one of the range of excellent wines produced by PARACOMBE WINES, including the rare Pinot Blanc and the Austrian superstar, Grüner Veltliner, which you can check out at www.paracombewines.com