News Flash from Europe

Friday, October 15, 2021

This week I cover a little bit of European wine news.

FRENCH INNOVATION:  Those devil-may-care Frenchmen from Provence, who recently “created” Rosé wine that looks clear or slightly yellow instead of pink, are now “experimenting” with new drought and disease resistant grape varieties.

Their overlords (makers of all their rules) have allowed the introduction to the region (in limited quantities) the red grape variety, Caladoc (Wow, what a creative and catchy name!) which is a recent cross between Grenache and Malbec, as well as the ancient, almost extinct, Rousseli, in the making of their insipid looking Rosé wines.

They are now preparing to conduct trials with the wonderful Spanish white variety, Verdejo, the Greek whites, Agiorgitiko and Moschofilero, along with the superb Greek red, Xinomavro, and the Italian, Nero d’Avola.

If the trials are successful we could, in the 2030s, see limited amounts of these varieties blended into (buried in) the regional blends.

Wow, such swift progress from the ‘daring-do’ French wine industry! Maybe by 2056 you might see blends in which these varieties are the lead variety.

Vive le règles bureaucratie!

ENGLISH PRIDE:  The British can be justifiably proud that per capita they drank twice as much wine last year as the Yanks. Whilst the USA is No.1 in total volume of wine consumed, and the UK is No.5 after USA, Portugal, Italy and France, yet they quaff twice as much as the average American wine drinker. In 2020, the Poms drank 1.7 billion bottles of wine as compared to us Aussies who drank 760 million bottles – or roughly 30 bottles per person per year (somebody DEFINITELY isn’t pulling their weight as that is about 1-2 month’s wine consumption).

Another interesting fact is that the UK now has over 700 vineyards (and growing fast) and in 2020 exported wine (mainly sparkling and white) to over 100 different countries, amounting to around $500 million’s worth of sales. It’s a bit early to say, “Watchout Australia, here come the Poms!”, but they are now genuine “players” in the global wine market.

I look forward to being able to try some Pommy wines here in Australia.

ITALIAN ANGER: The villagers of the little town of Miane (population 3,000), in the Treviso region of Italy, are up in arms and spitting chips. Only a few weeks after UNESCO declared the surrounding hills a World Heritage site due to its Prosecco history, chainsaws were seen being used to chop down nearby forests, especially on the designated hilltops, in order to plant more vineyards to grow more Prosecco vines – which they Italians now call, Glera, in order to try and stop Australia from calling it’s wine Prosecco.

The locals in the fifteen villages around the “UNESCO hills” are demonstrating at this vinous “gold rush” as not only is it destroying the long standing local forest lands, but also at the potential health risk to themselves and their families when the growers start to spray their new vineyards which in many cases butt up against the village houses.

It seems like it is a losing battle because as one of the regional Councillor’s advised, only a few weeks earlier approval had been given for the planting of another 6,000 hectares of Prosecco. Some of which will be existing farmers converting their farms over to Prosecco vineyards but much of it will be clearing forest/land to turn it into vineyard.

One wonders what will happen in ten years’ time or so when the drinking public has developed a taste for Aussie and other countries Prosecco and many drinkers will have moved on from Prosecco. Will these environmental vandals be seeking compensation from the Italian and EU government for the loss of income/livelihood which they should never have got involved in, in the first place?

Well that’s it for another week. Have a great week, stay safe and remember to #chooseaustralianwine and drink #emergingvarieties whenever you can.  Cheers!

This Week's Wine Review:

This week I am talking about an exciting and vivacious white wine variety called, FIANO.

Over the last few years this Italian white variety has started to take off here in Australia. Centred around Campania in Southern Italy, and on the island of Sicily, this native Italian produces intensely flavoured aromatic wines with honey notes. They age well developing spicy, nutty characters. Since the turn of the century FIANO has flown the coop to both Argentina and Australia. Here there already are 128 growers spread across the country with the highest concentrations being in the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Hunter Valley. McLaren Vale has even gone as far as creating a (at this stage unofficial) group called the, Fiano Fellowship, where all the local producers get together (pre-COVID-19) and benchmark their wines and discuss all aspects of this exciting Italian white variety.

Today’s wine is the D’ARENBERG 2021 McLAREN VALE ‘THE SENSORIAL SURFER’ BIODYNAMIC FIANO. As always the name given to the wine by Chester Osborne is challenging for the wine consumer to remember, however, the delightful flavour is most memorable.

This wine has a vibrant, lively bouquet of fresh citrus, florals and a smidge of spices. It has masses of yummy flavours with a hint of honey notes and a crisp, refreshing finish. FABULOUS now and will continue to evolve and become a richer, creamier wine filled with more soul and character.

Very enjoyable on its own or accompanying an entrée or antipasto platter. Oh, and it is Vegan friendly as well!

This is a real class act and it will help in pushing FIANO into becoming a much better recognised variety, eventually bordering on being “mainstream”.

Cheers – enjoy and always #chooseaustralianwine and where possible enjoy #emergingvarieties.

Winery Link:  www.darenberg.com.au