New Year's Blog 2022

Friday, January 14, 2022

Welcome to 2022! May it be a much better year for all of us, except for maybe those people who made billions out of last year’s misfortune – may they rot in hell!!

Kicking off on a positive note:

FRANCE:  For several years I have been promoting/pushing the Riesling sweetness scale devised by the American Riesling Society (free to download), which has been adapted and used by a handful of Australian white wine producers such as Mesh – Grosset, Hill (Eden Valley), Parish Vineyard (Adelaide Hills) and Robert Stein Wines (Mudgee).

Well now in a most progressive move, the wine region of Alsace in France has enacted legislation so that as from vintage 2021 their wines will need to include the sweetness scale shown below on all their PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) wines. In typical French understatement, the scale not only needs to be on the wine labels, but also in all advertisements, leaflets/flyers, invoices, including consumer invoices – Bureaucracy rules again!!!

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS:  I can remember in the 1980s when I joined the wine industry there were three types of bottles (Burgundy, Claret & Riesling) in two colours – green or brown – that was it! The bottle shape/image played almost no part in the marketing of the wine. Grange came in the same type of bottle as Jacob’s Creek. Somewhere along the way people became besotted with big, chunky, heavy wine bottles.

Please, please, please, in 2022 let us all shy away from monstrously heavy wine bottles – especially as most were expensive attempts to impress the Chinese. Every little bit helps towards battling/mitigating global warming.

We have made some progress towards reducing our carbon footprint, as the World Buk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) promote and explain, more and more wine is being exported in bulk and bottled at destination, thereby reducing its carbon footprint by not lugging heavy glass bottles half way around the world. At the same time more and more wineries are switching to solar power and a few so far have even achieved Zero Carbon Emission status. There is also a significant shift around the viticultural world toward the much more eco-friendly Organic and Bio-Dynamic viticulture. Each year thousands of hectares of vineyards commence the process of converting to Organic. Last year alone over 3,000 hectares of vineyards in Bordeaux (one of the most ultra conservative regions) were certified as Organic.

Added to this there has been significant advancements in non-glass wine bottles, which are not only significantly lighter (lower transport carbon footprint) but also require significantly less energy to produce (as glass needs a lot of heat to produce it). I have previously mentioned the ingenious light weight oval bottles of Garçon Wines which fit 10 bottles of wine into a current six pack sized carton (as recently launched in the UK by Accolade), the paper bottles with the film lining being trialled in Europe and of course wine casks (bag-in-box). Well here is a new one – 100% plant based bottle. This is currently being trialled by Japan’s Suntory on soft drinks but with a view to roll it out across the categories – check it out at the link below.

Article Link:

So every little bit helps, and as time moves on you will find more and more people will become environmentally friendly and aware. They will lean (with their wallets) towards those wineries which are better, more responsible environmental citizens. So as this subtle but inevitable tsunami approaches the wine world, will you be a forward thinking leader and benefit accordingly or a reluctant “me too” follower and suffer the consequences in the market place?

You don’t have to make radical changes. Start by reducing the weight of your bottles by 50-100 grams each (thereby slightly reducing your carbon footprint), consider going back to a paper label instead of plastic and then in due course consider using the newer, more environmentally friendly wine “bottles”.

Make a big song and dance about any changes you make to your consumers, they will understand and appreciate your efforts and probably buy more of your wine as a result.

As a small start I am not going to review or buy any vintage 2021 (or onwards) wines in heavy, fat bottles.

Come on let’s do our part for the environment and our children’s, children’s children.

Have a great week, may V22 be sensational for you and stay safe while enjoying #chooseaustralianwine and where possible drink #emergingvarieties.


This Week's Wine Review:

I am kicking-off the New Year with a cracking Durif. As some of you are aware, I have been a huge Durif fan since I first tried the Morris of Rutherglen wine while working for Orlando Wines in the 1980s. I have a fair whack of Durif in my cellar going way back to the late 1970s.

There is an unwritten rule that every young Durif needs time to settle down and soften off from the broodish monster that it is as a whelp, however, today’s wine is an exception to this rule.

The wine is the superb, 919 WINES RIVERLAND 2018 ORGANIC DURIF.

This wine is deep, inky-purple in colour with a gorgeous bouquet redolent with cigar box cedar, mulberries and black pepper – very attractive. The palate is beautiful, uber rich, with lashings of dark chocolate and mulberry flavours leading to a long, lingering, big, tight finish.

Not only is this wine bloody brilliant, but it is also raring to go (smooth enough that it does not need to be cellared before being enjoyed)!  Mind you it is big enough and so well structured that it will live comfortably for at least a decade or probably much longer.

Eric Semmler has been making outstanding wines since he started 919 Wines many years ago, but this wine really “takes the biscuit” as being the best of both worlds – big, bold and rich whilst being eminently drinkable as a youngster, making it the most drinkable young Durif I have ever tasted.

I trust that you have a good week in these difficult times and that you enjoy some excellent wines. Remember to #chooseaustralianwine and when possible drink #emergingvarieties.

Winery Link:

PS: This afternoon my tasting panel and I will be test driving some twenty Pinot Blanc wines for an article to go in WBM Magazine. Pinot Blanc is a fairly new (to Australia) emerging white grape variety that is an old mutation of Pinot Noir and different to Pinot Gris/Grigio. Should be an interesting session.