From China to Middle-Europe

Friday, November 5, 2021

As you read this Blog I am in Launceston, Tasmania, for the stunning EFFERVESCENCE TASMANIA, thanks to Wine Tasmania – a full report on all the stunning Tassie sparkling wines in due course.

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In the meantime, here is a bit of news from China and Middle-Earth – Sorry! I mean Middle-Europe. Up first, China...

FAKE CHINESE:  Ah, the joys of being in the Chinese wine market! Police in Shandong Province have recently busted a Bordeaux counterfeit ring which had around 13,000 cases of counterfeit Bordeaux wines in their warehouse. The haul included a considerable number of fakes of the First Growths. Police estimate that the haul had a “street value” of around US$45 million.

The scam came to light when suspicious guests at a wedding questioned the quality/authenticity of the Bordeaux wine that was served at the reception. Ten cases of the wine had been bought via WeChat for roughly US$465.

The extreme effort that the producers of one of the fake wines went to was amazing. They even generated fake history that the Estate was founded in 1758 after a battle with the Lafite Rothschild in 1755. The label on the wine (made by Shandong Shunyi Wine Company) says it is 16.8% alcohol – impossible in Bordeaux, and thought to be shown as that in order to attract Baijiu (Chinese rice spirit) drinkers who prefer high alcohol. The QR code takes the scanner to a website which shows that the wine is priced at US$1,050 a bottle BUT after special and deep discounts the scanner can obtain it for US$7.50 a bottle – WHAT A BARGAIN!!!

One imagines that there will be less counterfeit Penfolds Grange around these days thanks to the punitive taxes imposed by the Communist Government. I wonder whether the “Benfolds” wine producers have had to find somebody else to counterfeit.

Ah, the joys of wine in China! The Bordelaise estimate that there is twice as much first growth wine in China than what the five estates ever produce in total.

THE FIGHTING ITALIANS:  Little old Croatia is trying to have the term, “Prosek”, protected again by the EU and surprise, surprise, the mighty Italian wine industry is up in arms fighting against it.

Prosek is an ancient name given to the sweet wine made on the island of Hvar (in Croatia) from dehydrated grapes. The wine has been called by this name for hundreds of years BUT in 2013 the Italians had Prosek removed from the EU register on the basis that it would denigrate their Prosecco. However, the Croats have not given up and are battling the Italians – with the argument that a still sweet wine from Croatia does not confuse people with a sparkling wine from Italy. They have just won a round of this battle in the EU courts and the Italians are really frothy about it.

These are the same Italians who changed the name of the grape from Prosecco to Glara so that in 2009 they could get the region protected by the World Heritage Council thus claiming that Prosecco only referred to the area where these grapes were grown. This was done in order to stop Australian winemakers from being able to sell Prosecco, as they were being too successful. That matter is still before the courts. By sheer coincidence the “Prosecco” area has grown quite considerably in recent years as the global demand for the wine has skyrocketed. One wonders whether it is just a case of, “Sacred Site Swelling”, as is also happening in Champagne France.

Interestingly, the Italians have just this year, for the first time ever, approved the production of a Rosé Prosecco which was previously banned.

Then they wonder why they get accused of rank commercialism!!!

All I can say is: “GO, CROATIA, GO!!”

Well that’s it for another week. Please stay safe and always #chooseaustralianwine and where possible try wines from #emergingvarieties   Cheers!

This Week's Wine Review:

This week we are going to have a CRFT-y look at “terroir”- which is defined as, “the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography and climate”.

Each year CFRT WINES produce three excellent GRÜNER VELTINER – the superstar, native, Austrian white variety that is about to take Australia by storm. GRÜNER (as it is known) is a cracking variety that is comparable to Riesling that has been “working out”, in that it has a bit more depth of flavour, greater concentration and more “drinkability”.

Since the first Aussie GRÜNER was released in 2009, the number of growers has blossomed to 43, of whom 34 are in the Adelaide Hills.

While it is still early days for this divine white variety, the signs are looking good. For starters, unlike other emerging varieties where the wines from different wineries can differ dramatically, GRÜNER is very similar in its inherent characters no matter who makes it, thus the difference in the wines is down to terroir and winemaker choices. The choices start with maturity at picking, how the fruit is handled (skin contact or not), yeast used and continue right up to when the wine is bottled. This consistency makes it easier for new converts to stick with the variety as whichever brand they buy, they will get a similar style of flavour, without confusion.

Today, as all three wines were made by the same winemaker in the same style, with fruit sourced from three different vineyards, the comparison between the wines is one of terroir.

All three were:

►50% whole bunch pressed, with the balance of the grapes left on skin contact for a short time before pressing.

►Then blended together and fermented with wild yeast on full solids.

►Fermented slowly at cool temperatures.

►Part way through fermentation a portion was transferred to older French oak barrels (neutral) to finish fermentation and spend time on lees, with occasional lees stirring and partial malolactic fermentation.

That is all three wines were effectively handled exactly the same way.

So the wines are:

CRFT GRÜNER VELTLINER 2021 – THE LONGVIEW VINEYARD – Macclesfield, Adelaide Hills: Bright lime and citrus aromas, tight, crisp palate with very attractive flavours and a zingy finish with just a hint of sourness on the refreshing finish.

CRFT GRÜNER VELTLINER 2021 – THE K1 VINEYARD – Kuitpo, Adelaide Hills: Softer more subtle on the bouquet department with an attractive hint of florals. On the palate it is again just a smidge softer, more elegant with lovely florals and slight hint of nuttiness on the finish.

CRFT GRÜNER VELTLINER 2021 – THE ARRANMORE VINEYARD –Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills: The bouquet is similar to the K1 but slightly less floral and a bit more concentration of the citrus characters. On the palate it is marginally more austere, slightly steelier and flinty than the other two.

All three are excellent examples of what an exciting and delightful variety GRÜNER VELTLINER is, and are eminently drinkable, delightful wines.

So does this prove the concept of terroir, with each wine being a reflection of exactly where the grapes were grown? I don’t know, but I can tell you that these are three excellent Aussie examples of the sensational Austrian variety GRÜNER VELTLINER, and well worth checking out for yourself, with or without food. By the way if you are having them with food, they are Vegan friendly.

Cheers, have a great week and stay safe.

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