Happy New Year - 2020

January 17, 2020

Well here we are one-fifth of the way through the 21st century. The “oldies” amongst us can clearly remember the global “panic” about the Y2K bug. Nobody knew whether the computerised clocks would click over to 1900 instead of 2000 at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999. Would the planes fall out of the sky? Would the electronic world as we then knew it come to a crashing halt? Well, as it turned out nothing happened other than the software companies sold billions of dollars’ worth of “new” software to governments and industry in the lead up to the biggest non-event in human history. You really had to be there to appreciate the impact of it.

So here we are entering into a new decade and we have to wonder – what will be our biggest challenges? Irrespective of whether you believe it is man-made or a natural phenomenon, global warming is happening. There is no question that it poses a massive threat to almost all of the global wine industry, whilst at the same time offering a huge opportunity to a few minnows on the world scene, such as the British, Dutch, Swedish and northern Canadian wine industries.

There is currently significant research going on into creating new grape varieties that are more tolerant/resistant to the impact of global warming. I have previously reported on the efforts of the Champagnois and Bordelaise on using previously banned varieties as a way of maintaining the character of their wines. Here in Australia there is a gradual shift towards growing the “Mediterranean” grape varieties which are more heat and drought resistant than the “classic” varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz, etc.

Thus over this decade the “face” of the wine industry will change and evolve at a much faster rate than ever before in its history, much like the way that technology has been doing for the last two decades. Stop and compare your “electronics” today to what you had used in 1999/2000. The simple analogue mobile phones, the cameras that you had to put film into, dial up internet (if you had internet at all), computers with less memory than what a $10 USB stick has today, etc., etc.

So the point is nobody knows what will happen and evolve over the next decade. Will the Trump tariffs cause major problems for the European wine industry? What about the effects of Brexit? Or, the impact that the USA-China tiff will have on the global economy and thus on the global wine industry. No one knows. BUT what we do know is that global warming is a fact of life and we have to proactively cope with and handle it if we still want much of the world to still be drinking quality wine by the end of this century.

Today more than ever before the wine industry needs “bright sparks” to “step up to the plate” and lead it in a sustainable direction so that it survives and thrives over the rest of this century. This is the decade where we have to seriously ramp up what we do to ensure that our industry is viable and sustainable for the long haul. Doing the “same old, same old” will just not cut it by 2030 and most of those who do this will no longer be in the wine industry as they are in effect, dinosaurs.

Hey, it is not all doom and gloom. The wine industry has made a good start with:

► the number of Organic and Bio-dynamic wineries growing rapidly,

► a growing number of electricity self-reliant wineries,

► lower water usage,

► a lower carbon footprint from shipping wine in bulk and bottling in-market,

► the development of new varieties that are more disease resistant – thus lowering the use of chemicals,

► with more recycling,

► planting of more appropriate varieties for the winery micro-climate and so on.

I look forward to seeing and reporting on the evolution of the wine industry over this next decade as we adapt to “A Brave New World”.

Along the way, please continue to enjoy excellent quality wines from wherever they are made (especially Australia) and of whatever varieties make them, i.e. don’t be afraid to try new wines even if they have virtually unpronounceable names.

Cheers and may 2020 be a sensational and safe year for you!

This Week's Wine Review:

Listening to the news of all the pre-Christmas winery/vineyard devastation in the Adelaide Hills, made me think back to February 2019. The gang at Topper’s Mountain in New England, NSW, were attacked by the Tingha bush fire roaring out of Topper’s Mountain State Forest on the very day that they were due to commence harvesting their grapes on their “Pick & Party” day – when club members and locals come along to help harvest the grapes and have a good party.

The end result being, no vintage 2019, the loss of most of their irrigation pipeline, quite a few of their vineyard posts and around 3,000 of their vines.

Straight after the fire they got to work replacing all the ruined irrigation pipes, then the burned posts and eventually the dead vines. A call went out to existing supporters and kind-hearted people to purchase their wines in order to help fund the massive repair costs. They then had a special sale of much of their museum stock. This gave supporters an opportunity to enjoy some of their older wines because as we know, very few people cellar wine these days. It is usually consumed shortly after purchase.

More recently and more creatively they have created the My Vine Club – a chance for supporters to help in the resurrection of the vineyard by investing in and nurturing the growth of a baby vine. The deal is that you adopt and name a newly planted vine cutting, for a once up fee of $300. Yes, you get to actually name the vine any non-obscene name you want to call it. You get an official Certificate of Adoption which includes the specific location of your vine in the vineyard. You also get two bottles of wine made from the variety you have adopted, plus unlimited, ongoing 5% discount from the winery. There will also be a bi-annual progress update sent to you and if passing by, one is welcome to come and visit their vine. Added to this, each year there will be a special My Vine event where you get the chance to buy a dozen bottles of wine from the same variety that you have adopted, but at a very special price (wholesale rather than the normal retail).

SO, if this sounds interesting, good deal to you, please to this link www.toppers.com.au/toppers-my-vine-club to adopt a baby vine!  I did! So after 32 years in the wine industry I am now the proud “parent” of a Tannat grape vine in New England, NSW. I am looking forward to monitoring/tracking its progress over the next few years as I am a HUGE fan of Tannat.

This is a very clever survival/marketing strategy that hopefully will mean that in a few years’ time Topper’s Mountain Wines will be back to thriving as it was before this natural disaster occurred.

By the way, the replanting of the destroyed Tempranillo, Tannat and Gewurztraminer vines started in December betwixt the heat waves.

Finally, whilst I have not reviewed any of the Topper’s Mountain wines for the last year (for obvious reasons), I can categorically state that I enjoyed and liked each and every one of their wines I reviewed over the previous few years. They are certainly not “mainstream” wines but they are sensational, interesting and bloody tasty wines that are really worth your attention. So go and order an interesting and enlightening wine experience today!! At www.toppers.com.au