Bits & Pieces Of News

Friday, July 23, 2021

This week we have a few snippets of news which you may find interesting.

BULK WINE EXPORTS:  Remembering that ‘bulk wine’ doesn’t just cover wine that will be packaged in casks, but rather all wine that is shipped in bulk and packaged in the importing country. When it comes to Europe, most cask wine is packaged into quality 1.0, 1.5 or 2.0 litre casks, rather than the 4.0L or 5.0L ‘goon sacks’ that we think of over here.

The good folk at WBWE (World Bulk Wine Exhibition) who conduct the world’s largest bulk wine exhibition in Amsterdam each November and are the font of knowledge on bulk wine recently advised that over the last few years Belgium has shifted significantly from European bulk wine imports to New World bulk wine imports. France which used to be the largest supplier of bulk wine, has seen its sales slip by 60% (a drop of 17 million litres), whilst Spain has lost 54%, Germany 34% and Italy 31%. These are significant volumes.

Now, South Africa leads in terms of volume and the USA in terms of value, with Australia in third place. The USA has doubled its volume in that time frame, going from No.6 volume supplier to No.2.

So come on Australia, what are we doing to usurp the South Africans and Americans and become No.1?  We are currently sitting in fifth spot, so there is plenty of room to move up the ladder, especially as the imports of European wines are still falling.

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CHERRY WOOD:  In Valpolicella wine cellars over the centuries, they used whatever wood was at hand at the time in order to make their wine barrels. This was usually cherry, chestnut, redwood or acacia, with cherry being the preferred timber to use. In the latter half of last century a growing number of producers switched to the internationally accepted oak, and their wine’s character changed slightly. This is because oak is tighter grained than cherry and therefore less prone to oxidising the wine as well as providing the wine with softer, less aggressive tannins.

Some producers such as the renowned, Serego Alighieri, stuck with the cherry barrels and have over time noticed a growing difference between their wines and those of the “modernists’. Recently, there has been a small but growing swing back to cherry wood, especially amongst small producers. This has led to the suggestion that oak may be just a passing fad in the region.

LIGHTWEIGHT:  I have written plenty about the new concepts and development in wine packaging, from the Garçon oval bottle, through the experimental paper based bottles, to the rise & rise of premium wine casks around the world. Well, here is another small step forward in reducing wine packaging’s carbon footprint and making it more environmentally sound.

The Endeavour Group (used to be Woollies before they were floated off onto the stock exchange) has just announced that its, Vinpac Bottling operation, in conjunction with, Orora glass, has developed a “lightweight” sparkling wine bottle. Well, it is really a “lighter weight” bottle as it is 100 grams lighter than the existing bottle but still weighs in at 580gms.

This Week's Wine Review:

Recently, I got a very pleasant surprise when a courier delivered a couple of six packs of wine to my front door. Ordinarily this would not be an exciting event, as I receive lots of wines to review over the course of the year, however, these were unexpected and were most impressively presented.

They were the “Artisans of the Barossa” Six Origins Shiraz and the “Artisans of the Barossa” Grenache Project. Two very elegantly presented six packs of wines.

OK, let’s start with the fact that the “Artisans of the Barossa” constitutes eight premium boutique wineries which got together in 2005 to “protect and promote the art of small batch Barossa winemaking”. Comprising of: Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, John Duval Wines, Lienert Vineyards, Purple Hands Wines, Schwarz Wine Co, Sons of Eden, Spinifex Wines, and The Chaffey Bros Wine Company. Their aim is to maintain and enhance craftsmanship in these days of mass production and homogeneousness, i.e. to highlight being “an indi-bloody-vidual”.

Today, I will cover the Grenache wines and cover the Shiraz next time. The Artisans “Barossa Grenache Project” creates six Grenache wines from the vintage, in this case 2020, with all the grapes being harvested on March 16 from the one old vineyard planted in 1976, in the Lights Pass area of the Barossa Valley floor. The wines are made by different Artisans whose names appear on the bottles.

This is a brilliant exercise in demonstrating the influence the winemaker has on the final taste of a wine. The “terroirist” always rant that it is the location/soil type/climate that define the flavours of a wine, i.e. the terroir. Whilst this is so, in part, the impact and effect of the myriad of choices/decisions the winemaker makes cannot and should not be underestimated, and is amply demonstrated by the differences in these six wines. Differences in depth of colour, aromas on the bouquet and flavours in the mouth, all made from the same grapes.

I am not going to review and rate each wine individually as they are all exceptional Barossa Grenache and therefore the ranking would come down to individual preference as to whether one prefers the more open, richer style, the tighter, more reserved style of Grenache, or somewhere in between – thus ranking one wine 96 points and another 95 is meaningless, as your flavour preferences are different to mine. The point and the beauty of this project is to try six different outstanding wines side by side, to see the difference made by the winemaker’s craftsmanship on wines made from grapes from the same vineyard, at which point you make a decision as to which one is your favourite.

Incidentally on October 1, 2021, Artisans of the Barossa will be opening their wine and food hotspot on Vine Vale Road, Tanunda. The menu will focus on fresh local flavours that complement the wines.

Wow! What an exciting time it is in the mighty Barossa Valley.

Go to the website below where you can also check out the full range of wines from all of the participating wineries – and there are some very exciting wines amongst them.

Have a great week, stay safe and experiment with Aussie wines. #chooseaustralianwine

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