October 2, 2020

Whilst most people are “introspectively navel gazing” during the pandemic, there are plenty of things happening out in the wine world – here are a couple of them…

CHANGING HABITS:   In their latest report, Wine Intelligence (WI), reported that when the pandemic started wine drinkers obviously began drinking more at home as on-premise venues were closed. However, interestingly they found that the overall consumption of wine remained fairly constant.

WI also found that more and more people were drinking wine on its own rather than just an adjunct to a meal. Whereas before home drinkers would drink with their meal (usually dinner), in the first few months of the pandemic WI found that people working from home were more likely to open a bottle well before their evening meal, i.e. more stand-alone drinking.

However the most recent data shows that not only are people more likely to have wine on its own, but now they are also more likely to consume wine with their evening meal as well. So that in the most recent survey (July) people are now consuming noticeably more wine at home both on its own and with food.

The interesting question is whether this trend will continue post-pandemic or whether people will revert to consuming most of their wine at an on-premise venue with a meal.

This may have significant effects on the future sales of wine in retail, direct to customer or on-premise.

Link for the full article:  www.wineintelligence.com/new-normal-is-wine-without-food

CLEAN WINE:   There is a very spurious phenomena sweeping the northern hemisphere called, “Clean Wine”, whereby shonky marketers tout their wine as being clean (safe and free of dangerous chemicals) and all “commercial” wine as being dangerous (because they are made with pesticides and additives). This dubious marketing is aimed at Millennials who are for the most quite concerned about what they consume.

The ad below is typical of the misinformation used in “clean” wine advertising, in that it infers that commercial wines (all wines other than theirs) are loaded with sugar, when in reality at least 90% of red wines are fermented dry. Also, they don’t actually make their own wine, they say “we only source fully fermented wines” – smoke & mirrors as they source their wines from companies which also have their own labels available in retail!

Another company, The Wonderful Wine Co, labels its wine as “paleo-friendly”, whereas in fact almost all dry wines would qualify as low-carb and low sugar, in any case.

They go on to say, “On top of being low sugar and low carb, our wines are crafted using minimal intervention winemaking practices. It’s basically what a caveman would do – if that caveman had a degree in viticulture.”

Wow! This sort of “clever dick” marketing reminds me of a local butcher who when the GST was introduced back in 2000 put a huge sign in his front window saying, “GST FREE SHOPPING”, and was swamped by new customers who didn’t realise that meat was GST exempt everywhere.

So how can wineries prevent these shonky, snake-oil salesmen from stealing a part of their business? Quite easily really – by doing something that we should have already been doing by now (as some wineries in the USA are doing), i.e. by listing the ingredients of their wine on the back label. This way the Millennials can see for themselves that there are no “nasties” in the wine you are trying to “con” them into drinking. Just like every food we consume has a list of ingredients on its packaging, so why not wine?

For most wines the list would be: grapes, yeast and preservatives (with the preservatives already being mandatory on existing labels) – so no big deal.

No big deal, EXCEPT that it is a big deal for your future and potential customers – the Millennials. Us Baby Boomers and Gen X basically “don’t give a rats” about what’s in our wine so long as it tastes great, hasn’t used slave labour and doesn’t trigger any allergic reactions. BUT the younger drinkers (the future of the industry) do, so why not be proactive and start telling them what you have put into your wine. This is a “no brainer” for Organic and Biodynamic producers – you almost say it all now, just a few extra words would help secure your sales in the tougher more stringent times ahead.

Think about it and then decide what to do – bury your head in the sand until it is made compulsory by governments OR, grasp the mettle and declare your ingredients!!

This Week's Wine Review:

This week we are going up to the Clare Valley for a sensational wine.

The Clare Valley’s main reputation is for its brilliant Rieslings but it also does exceptionally well with its Cabernet’s and to a lesser extent with Shiraz and some of the newer emerging varieties.

It is Clare Shiraz that we are talking about today. Usually it sits in the shadows of Shiraz from the Barossa and McLaren Vale, but it shouldn’t! It is just a different style, more restrained and less opulent, closer to a cool-climate style than the big, opulent styles from the other two regions.

It should come as no surprise to know that the only Clare wine to have ever won a Jimmy Watson Trophy (JWT) so far was a Shiraz – the Leasingham “Classic Clare” Shiraz 1994 which won the JWT in 1995.

Today’s wine is the REILLYS 2017 CLARE VALLEY “STOLEN BLOCK” SHIRAZ. This drop dead gorgeous wine is made with handpicked grapes from dry grown, 1926 planted vines. By the way, in six vintage’s time this will be the second wine that Reillys Wines will be able to label, “made from 100-year-old vines” as the first, the Grenache vineyard was planted in 1919 by a returned Digger.

The wine has a deep, dense purple colour, smashing aromas of ripe, red and black berries with an attractive hint of earthiness and just a smidge of dried herbs. The palate is superbly smooth, rich with great depth of complex flavours leading to a crisp, drying finish. This Shiraz is a real “keeper” with excellent aging potential which currently needs decanting and to accompany rich food dishes, be they vegetarian or meat based to show at its best. It truly is a classic Clare Shiraz that is well worth seeking out.

This fabulous wine and the rest of Reillys attractive wines can be found on their website and if you are heading up to the Clare, they also have a great restaurant and delightful accommodation cottages – Well worth checking out! Cheers!

Winery Link: www.reillyswines.com.au