Logically Speaking

Friday, August 6, 2021

This week I hop on my soap box to rant about a couple of issues that do not make sense in this day and age.

COMPARE THE PAIR:  Our business, Wine Assist, which started in July 2001 has held a South Australian Wholesale Liquor Licence since early 2002. We sold our own brand of wine, Fifth Element, from 2004 until the GFC in 2008. Since then we kept the licence and each year got a reduced fee of around $100-$120 as we only kept the licence as a service to our clients, in case they wanted to sell some of their wine in bulk. On average we made a few hundred dollars commission a year on such sales.

In 2019, Liquor & Gaming SA conducted a review of the liquor licencing system which came into force this year. It actually came into force last year but the government forwent the 2020 fees as part of its Covid-19 incentives.

So we got this year’s notice advising that our licence fee was $816 as our premises had the capacity of 206 people (our office would fit 6 people at a pinch). This was a generated number that their computer must have applied across the board, as when we lodged a reduction application we got an email back saying that due to the number of applications received it would not be processed prior to July 1 (when it was due) and for me to wait patiently for the review result.

We finally got a response with the fee being lowered to $408 – roughly four times what we had being paying before. So after much deliberation we cancelled our licence and can no longer provide that service to any of our clients. It was a difficult decision as it had cost us over $2,000 to obtain our licence in the first place.

In comparison when our Wine Export Licence of $700 a year with Wine Australia fell due, they kindly advised that we could allow it to lapse and renew as and when we received an export order. Again this was/is a service we provide, so that first time exporters can “test the waters” before obtaining their own export licence, which we can organise for them.

Like I said, “Compare the Pair”, the business acumen and flexibility of Wine Australia vs the inflexibility of the South Australian Liquor Licencing. South Australia whilst being the core of the Australian wine industry, has the most anachronistic liquor laws – even after the “review”. Foodland and Aldi are prevented from selling liquor in this state as we would all turn into raging alcoholics (as has obviously happened along the eastern sea board), whilst Coles and Woollies (Sorry, now Endeavour Drinks) can have bottle shops right next door to its supermarkets. Ironically the whole liquor range in an Aldi store is about the same as that in just the chilled section of a Dan Murphy’s. Great logic – go figure!

Well I’ll hop off my soap box to wish you a great week, may you stay safe and enjoy great Aussie wines. Remember #chooseaustralianwine and where possible #emergingvarieties.

This Week's Wine Review:

Back on July 23, amidst a Covid-19 lockdown, I wrote about the sensational “Grenache Project” from Artisans of Barossa – where some of their group members each made a Grenache from grapes picked on the same day, from the same paddock, so that the differences in the wines were strictly down to the craftsmanship of the winemaker. A fascinating exercise.

Well today is about the other half of their project, the “Six Origins” by Artisans of Barossa. It is a different concept to the Grenache project, in that in this case the grapes do not all come from the one single vineyard as they did in the Grenache Project. In this case the grapes come from six different zones within the Barossa so that the final wines showcase a combination of primarily the terroir and also the maker’s artisanship.

The Barossa’s Shiraz history spans nearly 200 years. The region is home to some of the world’s oldest living Shiraz vines and some of the world’s finest Shiraz wines.

The superb wines in this project are:

2018 High Eden Shiraz by Peter Schell (Spinifex Wines): A deep brooding cooler climate wine, with deep, dark colour, subtle aromas and a good dose of vanillin oak. A tight restrained palate that needs time to blossom and show its best.

2018 Light Pass Barossa Shiraz by Jason Schwarz (Schwarz Wine Co.): Almost black in colour, aromas of stewed plums and a hint of meatiness. A very rich palate full of very ripe fruit flavours.

2018 Keyneton Barossa Shiraz by Greg and Alison Hobbs (Hobbs of Barossa Ranges): Uber dark in colour, very fruity bouquet with a good dose of spice, nutmeg, to go with the red berries and ripe cherries on the bouquet. Oodles of flavour, with just a smidge of eucalypt on the palate and a superb, long, lingering finish.

2018 Angaston Barossa Shiraz by Corey Ryan and Simon Cowham (Sons of Eden): Very big bouquet with masses of blackberries and red berries, spices, nutmeg, plus a hint of vanillin oak. Absolute lashings of fruit on the rich, generous palate with several layers of flavour, beautifully balanced.

2018 Gomersal Barossa Shiraz by John Lienert (Jack West Wines): Almost black, earthy, lusty nose with beautiful fruit notes. A rich fruit driven wine with truckloads of flavour, well rounded with a tight, grippy, lingering finish.

2018 Ebenezer Barossa Shiraz by John Duval (John Duval Wines): Almost black in colour, powerful aromas including a smidge of brown sugar and hint of spice. A rich, round palate with masses of flavour and a tight, grippy, lingering finish making it seriously good.

They are all outstanding Shiraz, different in style, depth and flavour, with personal preference dictating which is ones favourite – as proven when each of the four members of the tasting panel, had a different favourite. Each and every one of these wines is a world-class example of what the mighty Shiraz grape is capable of producing when grown in the Barossa and given the right degree of TLC (tender loving care).

What a brilliant and fascinating project this really is.

Congratulations Artisans of Barossa – bloody well done!!

Have great week and remember #chooseaustralianwine