News Stuff

February 22, 2020

Over the summer recess there were a number of things happening in the wine industry across the world, in addition to the crippling bushfires which burned so many vineyards here in Australia.

Here is just a snippet of what happened:

VENICE:  Late last year as we all saw on the news, Venice was hit by one of its worst floods ever. The famous Mazzorbo island vineyard, which is home to the very last surviving native Dorona grape was flooded by over two metres of salt water. As the water receded and evaporated, some of the salt from this seawater remained, and it will be months before they will know if these extremely rare vines will survive or succumb to the ravages of the salt. Last time they had such an ‘acqua alta’ in 1966 it destroyed most on Venice’s agriculture.

IRELAND:  Irish fruit grower, David Llewellyn, from Lusk near Dublin has just produced Ireland’s first Sparkling wine. He planted an experimental vine plot in 1999, of which most of the varieties did not survive the cold humid climate of the region. Eventually a handful of red varieties did struggle through and as the climate has warmed they have thrived. David’s first wine is a Blanc de Noir 2018, made in the “Method Traditional”, which he hasn’t named or labelled as yet. Apparently it tastes, “quite vibrant, full of fruit and delicious”.

WOOLWORTHS:  Alcohol behemoth, Woolworths, through its Endeavour Group controls the single largest share of Australian alcohol sales and has now added yet another business to its – Langton’s Wine Auctions, Vinpac, Cellarmasters, Dan Murphy’s, BWS First Estate, as well as a plethora of pubs. It has added, Shorty’s Liquor, to its massive alcohol portfolio. Shorty’s (started by and until now owned by David Short) is the leading supplier of liquor to corporate customers and on-premise venues in Sydney. They are planning to expand the B2B sales into Melbourne, then Brisbane and possibly other major cities.

Soon the only way to be able to buy wine that is not from the “evil Duopoly”, will be from Aldi, winery cellar doors or the extremely rare, independent bottle shop (of which there are now just a handful in each major city).

Given that Woolworths produces millions of litres of wine for itself at its Dorrien Estate tank farm in the Barossa, this is yet another sad day for the Australian wine industry.

VEGAN UK:  British supermarkets, Marks & Spencer and SPAR, have both announced that witin the next three years all of its own brand wines will be vegan friendly – as the demand for vegan friendly wine continues to grow rapidly within the UK. Majestic Wines currently has 167 vegan friendly wines in its range of 1,000 wines whilst Tesco has 190 out of the 650 wines in its range and Sainsbury has 240 out of 670. BUT, the leaders are Waitrose which has 540 out of its range of 1,050 – this is an amazing 51% of its wine range.

So, given these figures and the way vegan friendly is trending, it is probably a good idea for Australian wineries to start thinking/considering making their wines vegan friendly.

Well that’s it for another week. Stay safe in this uncertain world and enjoy great wines.

This Week's Wine Review:

This week I am talking about the aromatic white native Spanish variety called, VERDEJO. It originates from a beautiful region in Spain called Rueda, which is about 200km north-west of the capital Madrid. At an altitude of around 700-800 metres above sea level the region grows mainly VERDEJO, along with a small amount of superb Sauvignon Blanc and a splash of Chardonnay.

Verdejo is a very versatile variety that is made into six different types of wine in Rueda:

►Firstly, it makes a pretty smart sparkling wine, then

►Joven – a crisp, tight, stainless steel tank version put on the market straight away, followed by

►Crianza – a slightly softer, more aged style, then the

►Reserva – with a richer, fuller (absolutely gorgeous), barrel fermented uber creamy style. Next there is the

►Dulce – the sweet dessert wine, and lastly the

►Dorado – a most unusual fortified yet oxidized wine that is matured outside in glass demijohns – very unusual.

Here in Australia there are now six producers of Verdejo. Today’s wine comes from Bassham Wines – leaders in organic viticulture in the Riverland.

This is a cracking wine which reminds me so much of some of the delightful Joven style Verdejo which I tasted in Rueda a couple of years ago. The BASSHAM VERDEJO 2019 has vibrant, citrus aromas with a classical, crisp, zingy citrus palate and great, refreshing acidity making it a perfect accompaniment for tapas or antipasto. It can also be enjoyed chilled on a warm day.

Well worth seeking out – Saludos, as they say in Spain!