A Cautionary Tale

Friday, February 25, 2022

A CAUTIONARY TALE: A water company in the UK has just got pinged by the authorities for claiming that their bottle was “100% recycled and recyclable with an eco-friendly cap”.  However, the authorities deemed that neither the label (polypropylene) nor the cap (High-Density Polyethylene) were recyclable, so it was deemed misleading.

In this day and age, any claims a producer makes will be looked at very closely by somebody or other, be it government, corporate watchdog or internet busybody. Therefore, it is now critical to be 100% sure that the claim can be substantiated.

I raise this because I have serious reservations about wines that claim to be, “Natural Wine”, or even worse, “Clean Wine”. There is no formal definition (that I am aware of) of what is natural wine (Does that make everybody else’s wine “Unnatural”?) and in my opinion, clean wine is a crock of shit!  All the claims of “clean wine” I have seen so far from the USA and Europe, have been fluffy marketing drivel such as “free from added sugar and artificial colours” or “our wines contain less than a teaspoon of sugar per bottle” especially in these days where most wines have nigh on zero sugar in any case. It reminds me of a local butcher who when the GST was first introduced filled his whole front window with a sign that said “GST-Free Shopping” and people rushed in, even though there wasn’t any GST on meat to start with.  

One such “clean wine” is, Avaline, a Cameron Diaz brand, that uses the motto “When wine comes clean” and states that it is “transparently produced, full of natural goodness and free of unnecessary extras”. WOW! We will have to get all other winemakers to stop putting unnecessary extras into their wines if they want to sell to gullible millennials!  Sounds like they are trying to subtly say that drinking their wine is part of or compatible with healthy living.

Another more obvious brand the “Good Clean Wine”, states that it “pairs with a healthy lifestyle” – So if your lifestyle isn’t healthy you can’t buy their wine?

Whereas the modestly named, “Wonderful Wine Company”, says it offers “wellness without deprivation”. Does this mean that because I drink “unclean” wine I am depraved? – What nonsense!!!

On the other hand I am a strong supporter of both Organic and Biodynamic wines. Nowadays, more and more vineyards around the world are adopting these long-term sustainable practices, while others have been doing so for many years.

Neither of these tags guarantee the quality of the wine – that is down to the individual winemaker. I have tasted some exceptional, world-class Organic and Biodynamic wines and a few real shockers. But unlike the marketing fluffery of Clean Wine and Natural wine, they tell you that the winemakers care and consider as to how they produce their wines.

AUSTRIA:  As the Austrian wine industry goes from strength to strength, in recent times, the beautiful region of Wagram, has just received DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus) status – like our GI (Geographical Indicator) but typically European, with more rules.

I had the pleasure of visiting Wagram a few years ago as part of an Austrian Wine Marketing journalist tour. It is very scenic and produces delightful wines. The majority of their wines are white, with Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Chardonnay leading the charge. Their reds consist of Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir) St. Laurent and Zweigelt.

Back home, Adelaide Hills winery, Hahndorf Hill, which is renowned for its Grüner Veltliner, produces an excellent Zweigelt and will be releasing Australia’s first St. Laurent wine later this year.

Well that’s it for another week. Have a great week, stay safe and #chooseaustralianwine and where possible drink #emergingvarieties. Cheers!

This Week's Wine Review:

This week I am reviewing a cracking MATARO from the Clare Valley.

MATARO has had a bad rap here in Australia and is often associated with cheap wine. This came about as the sales of fortified wines slumped in the 1970s and table wine sales took off, resulting in lots of MATARO that had been used for making port being turned into poor quality table wine.

As a result of this winemakers who produced high quality MATARO wines, usually called them Mourvèdre (it’s French name). Hard to say, hard to pronounce and hard to remember! It is a shame that they did not call it by its proper/original name, Monastrell – Yep, MATARO originates from Spain and should be called Monastrell which is so much easier to say than, Mourvèdre!

Anyhow, Australia is blessed with some very old MATARO vines, which have the capacity to produce exceptional wines, such as the KILIKANOON  2020 CLARE VALLEY ASHTON 1920 MATARO – The vines were planted in 1920 making this vintage its Centenary. Unusually, this wine is bottled in a Riesling shaped bottle, which really makes it stand out from the crowd.

The grapes off the 100-year-old vines were open fermented and produced a glorious wine with a vibrant purple colour, elegant complex bouquet of red fruits and florals with a hint dried herbs. The palate offers a gorgeous mouthful of seamless red and black fruit flavours with excellent depth and a superb, silky, lingering finish. Quite amazing in such a young wine, yet at the same time has the potential to age well.

This wine is a truly outstanding of what a well-made MATARO can achieve.  

I might add that all of the other Kilikanoon wines that I have tasted so far are “none too dusty” either, especially the Kilikanoon 2018 “Covenant” Shiraz.

Cheers, have a really good and safe week enjoying great Australian wines!

Winery Link:  www.kilikanoon.com.au