Newsy Stuff Update

Friday, November 26, 2021

This week I cover some wine-world newsy stuff which you may find interesting.

BOTTLES:  Whilst our wine industry is facing long shipping delays due to a lack of containers, ships and union industrial action, winemakers in America are facing Covid-19 created bottle shortages. This shortage is impacting not only US winemakers, but also South American winemakers, especially in Argentina.

A considerable number of wineries are reporting that they are having to keep their wines on oak past the optimal time due to being unable to secure bottles when required. This may cause the 2019/2020 and possibly 2021 vintages to be quite a bit more oaky than normal. Some wineries are investigating/contemplating alternative packaging arrangements such as tins, pouches or 1.0 litre casks. However, it is not possible to switch over on the spur of the moment and there is a considerable change over cost. This issue may well expedite the emergence of new forms of wine packaging.

Ironically it wasn’t that long ago that winemakers were complaining about the lack of access to new barrels – also due to Covid-19 disruptions to logistics.

Wineries which mature their reds in stainless steel tanks using oak staves (I have been advocating this for maturing under $100 a bottle wines for a decade) are not as affected, because whilst they can’t bottle their wines, they can and have removed the oak staves so the wine is not getting woodier while it waits to be bottled.

It will be interesting to see the outcome when these wines are eventually bottled and released. Will we be facing quite a few lumps of 4x2 type wines (massively wooded) or will they be just a smidge oakier than normal?

BUBBLES:  The whizz bang forecasters are suggesting that in a decade’s time the world bubbly wine market will be worth US$85 billion as compared to the current US$43 billion while overall wine sales will stagnate or recede slightly. These figures include all forms of sparkling wine from cheap bubbles, through to Asti (Italy), Crémant de Loire (France), Prosecco (Italy), Sekt (Germany) and Cava (Spain), up to Champagne.

As part of the ‘emergence’ of their sparkling wine Austria has just officially designated their sparkling wines from now on to be known as, “Sekt Austria”. More and more British sparkling wine is being called “British Fizz” by the trade, so all that is really missing is a moniker for Australian Sparkling Wine. It is well past time for the Australian Wine industry to come up with a unique name for the sensational sparkling wines that are being produced here in Australia – especially in Tasmania by outstanding producers such as The House of Arras, Apogee, Clover Hill, Jansz, Pirie, Bream Creek, Josef Chromy, as well mainland based Domaine Chandon and Petaluma, not to mention the wide variety of cracking sparkling reds produced here by a number of wineries.

Speaking of the ever improving British Fizz (which well and truly rivals Champagne in quality these days), Champagne Pommery has just harvested its first crop from their Hampshire (UK) vineyard which they planted in 2017 – which will no doubt make a top quality drop.

RUNNING OUT?:  Pundits are predicting that France could run out of white wine from vintage 2021 due to the severe frosts, hail, mildew and heat waves. They are predicting a shortfall of around 1.3 billion litres of wine – 80% white and 20% red. They are very concerned about the possibility of unsustainable price rises, a lower quality vintage and losing market share to countries like Australia across the globe.

Well that’s it for another week. Put your thinking cap on as it would be great if we could come up with an industry name for Aussie bubbles that can be used in the same way other countries do.

Have a great week and remember to #chooseaustralianwine and where possible drink #emergingvarieties. Cheers!

This Week's Wine Review:

Back in the Riverland again, this time near the township of Cadell checking out the outstanding, SPOOK HILL WINES. They are outstanding not only for producing sixteen different wines of which eleven involve emerging varieties, as well as for the quality of their wines, but also for the fact that they do not release their wines until they are at their peak. Current releases range from the 2020 Gun Alley Alicante Bouschet through to the 2009 Silent Partner Shiraz! Yes indeed, an eleven-year-old current release wine!

Each and every one of their wines is excellent, however I was blown away by their SPOOK HILL NOR’WEST BLEND 2016, named after the Nor’West Bend heritage listed property which is directly across the river from Spook Hill. Incidentally the property was so named because it is on the bend where the mighty Murray River first turns southwards towards the Ocean.

SPOOK HILL NOR’WEST BLEND 2016 is a unique blend of Mourvèdre, Durif and Petit Verdot. I have never come across a wine with both Durif and Petit Verdot in it, as they are both big, powerful, muscular varieties, which are much more likely to compete against each other than collaborate. Whilst Mourvèdre is “lighter’ in style compared to these two heavy weight dudes, it is no delicate flower blossom itself, it’s capable of making some excellent, deep, rich, big wines.

So imagine putting together one middle-weight and two heavy-weights all in the one package – it should be an undrinkable monstrosity. Well it is not! Far from it.

The colour was deep, as expected and surprisingly youthful for a five-year-old red wine. The bouquet was quite restrained with attractive aromas of florals, a splash of red berries and a degree of maturation complexity, all rolled into one delightful package. The palate was magnificent, lashings of big, rich, silky-smooth flavours which were so delightful and lingered for an eon on the finish. All one could say upon tasting it was, “OH YUM!!” Not very scientific but 100% accurate.

One could quite imagine this wine as being angry and sharp in its youth with three big reds all roped into the one blend, however if so, then time has weaved its magic and it is now a stunning, big, yet extremely elegant, uber delicious wine that is equally at home on its own or with all but the spiciest of food dishes. Bloody Magnificent!

This is but one of the excellent wines in the SPOOK HILL range which are all released when they are fully developed and ready to enjoy straight away.

Check them out on the link below.

Have a great week, #chooseaustralianwine to enjoy and where possible try #emergingvarieties. Cheers!

Winery Link: