Friday, August 20, 2021

This week we are talking about the Champagne region of France.

Over the past few months I have reported that they are in the process of allowing seven new grape varieties to be used in the making of their famous wine. I have also reported that they have allowed some northerly sites, previously deemed to be too cold, to be included in the official Champagne region. This was due to global warming, but at the same time they have not excluded any of the southernmost vineyards, which are in the process of becoming too warm to make “traditional” or “proper” champagne. So in effect they are increasing the number of varieties of grapes that they can make champagne from and at the same time they are increasing the area in which it can be grown.

On the other hand, if a recent move by the controlling body, to reduce the number of vines that can be planted per hectare is successful, it will to some extent redress the current ever expanding production from within the region.

The Cahier des Charges (which lays down the appellation rules and regulations) specifies a minimum of 6,700 vines per hectare, with many vineyards being planted at up to 11,000 vines per hectare.

In the mid-1980s Moet Hennessy and Champagne Roederer started pushing for much lower planting density, with trial vineyards being planted in 1986 at a density of around 3,000 vines per hectare. Part of the reason for seeking to do this was in order to be able to reduce the amount of pesticides used, eliminate the use of herbicides and in more times recent times to help the region become carbon neutral, which they are supposed to be achieving by 2025.

There were a few issues with the trial plots and several changes were made so that by 2006 a density of 3,800 was adopted and a 25 year study commenced (you can’t rush these things).

This year (the 15th year of the trial) all four of the acronymed bodies involved (SGV, CdC, CIVC and INRA) have signed off on the proposal, which has just been voted on (after this was written, but before you read it) and is expected to pass. After it has passed the INAO still has to approve the change (all going well this will happen in 2023), BUT if as expected there are objections, the whole process could take several more years or the proposal may even be rejected outright.

What does this all mean? Well, in a few years’ time you could be buying “champagne” that is environmentally irresponsible, has been made in the Deep South (which is now too hot) or the untried new northern areas, with none of the three classic varieties in the wine – i.e. Will it really be champagne?

Imagine what the Australian wine industry would look like IF we had all the rules and regulations that the “Old World” have, instead of being free to do whatever we want, where we want and when we want. We do have a simple set of rules, make good wine and have good marketing and you will succeed. Make poor wine and/or have poor marketing and you will fail. As the “Compare the Market” meerkats say: “SIMPLES!”

We will follow the Champagne saga with interest as they “rush” to enter the twenty-first century wine reality.

Have a great week, stay safe and enjoy great Aussie wine despite our lack of rules and regulations!! And please remember to #chooseaustralianwine and #emergingvarieties

This Week's Wine Review:

Not many Australian wine drinkers have heard of the Italian white grape variety, GRILLO. Well, I think that it is time to be an “early adopter” and get acquainted with this exciting emerging variety.

At present there are five producers here, three in the Adelaide Hills, one in the Barossa and LINO RAMBLE, in McLaren Vale. But mark my words, it won’t be long before there are a whole bunch more wineries producing this sensational variety, not only because it produces exciting wine, but also because it withstands high temperatures, which is a great advantage in these times of global warming. Additionally, the name is easy to pronounce and remember – which is a great bonus in ensuring that consumers are aware of the wine. So I think we will soon see more producers in McLaren Vale, Barossa and the Riverland.

In its native Sicily, it has been used mainly in the making of the fortified wine, Marsala, but recently some producers have started making attractive varietal wines with it.

The LINO RAMBLE ‘SOLITAIRE’ McLAREN VALE 2020 GRILLO, has lovely lemon aromas with a dash of almonds. The palate offers a gorgeous mouthful of unctuous flavours with just a hint of sea saltiness and a superb, refreshing finish, making it ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!

This wine is delightful on its own and becomes blissful when accompanied by either seafood or lighter style chicken dishes.

So guys, contact Andy Coppard at the LINO RAMBLE link below, or if in Adelaide, mosey on down to their new(ish) Cellar Door at 148 McMurtrie Road, McLaren Vale, and see for yourselves what I am rabbiting on about.

PS: the rest of the LINO RAMBLE wines are pretty bloody good too!

Winery Link:

Have a great week, stay safe, enjoy great Aussie wines and where possible drink, #emergingvarieties #chooseaustralianwine