Slightly More Clean & Green

Friday, November 20, 2020

This week I am talking about how the wine industry is slowly and carefully taking steps to improve its environmental credentials.

SOLAR:  The move towards solar powered wineries is gaining momentum, with more wineries converting to solar. By far the most significant achievement so far in Australia has been that of Pernod Ricard, which late last year achieved 100% solar power for all its winemaking facilities in the country.

WATER:  We all know that making wine requires a lot of water to grow the vines, to clean the gear and keep the winery hygienic. Over the last few years many wineries have taken steps to reduce their water consumption, both in the vineyard and in the winery, without compromising quality. Another effort has been to harvest the rain that falls on the winery over the course of the year. For example, several years ago contract winemakers, Wine Wise, installed 2 x 160,000 litre storage tanks to collect the rain from their building roofs making them 100% water self-sufficient in the processing of around 140 batches of wine totalling 500 tonnes of grapes. The winery is also 50% self-sufficient in terms of electricity from their solar panels.

ORGANIC WINE:  Another step to help the planet is organic wine which has been around for decades. Most of you have probably tried some and noticed that there is no significant difference (unless the organic wine is preservative free) other than the fact that the organic wines are better for the environment and for sustainability.

It is interesting how some wineries make a big thing about their wines being organic – blowing their trumpets, bells and whistles, whilst others just mention it sort of “in passing” on their labels matter-of-factly.

As always with wine, “the proof is in the drinking” irrespective of whether it is organic, biodynamic or conventionally made. It is the flavour and quality of the wine that sells it on an ongoing basis. Some wineries such as Lark Hill (Canberra), Tamburlaine (Hunter and Orange), 919 Wines (Riverland) and Yangarra (McLaren Vale) have been Organic and some even Biodynamic for eons, whilst others like d’Arenberg (McLaren Vale) and Salena Estate (Riverland) are part organic, part conventional.

Organic wine has become (unofficially) mainstream now that the Coles branch of the evil duopoly has recently recognised organic wine and is launching an organic wine range across its range of stores. The initial participants are Jacobs Creek, Paxton Wines (McLaren Vale) and Marron Creek (Franklin River). The success of the category will be dependent on the effort they make to promote these organic wines. If they push them hard, soon the concept of organic wines will become much more mainstream, which hopefully will encourage more wineries to venture down that path and aid the environment.

CARBON FOOTPRINT: As I have mentioned several times before, packaging and distribution comprise a significant component of a wine’s footprint. In recent times there have been a number of developments which in time will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the wines involved.

Firstly, as I have reported before, Garçon Wines in the UK has developed an oval/flat pack bottle which can fit 10 x 750ml bottles in the same space as a conventional six-pack of bottles. Made from 100% recyclable plastic it weighs a mere fraction of what 10 x ordinary bottles would. Banrock Station (Accolade) has just launched with this bottle in the UK.

Casks – some European countries, like Sweden are switching over from bottles to 1.0 and 2.0 litre casks which are bottled over there from imported bulk wine. Currently 25% (and rising) of Sweden’s wine consumption is from casks (bag-in-box).

Paper Bottles – Frugal Pack has created a paper bottle that is 94% made from recycled paperboard, with the balance being the special lining which prevents leakage and stops the paper from going soggy. They claim that this bottle has a carbon footprint 84% lower than that of a glass bottle, as well as having a “water footprint” that is four times lower than that of a comparable glass bottle. The first wine using Frugal Pack has just been released in Italy.

Thus as you can see, little by little, step by step, the wine industry is taking action to improve its environmental citizenship in this ever changing world.

So when the opportunity arises to try “environmentally responsible” wines, have a go and in a small way help us to avoid an environmental catastrophe – which is where we are headed IF nobody changes the current environmentally vandalistic packaging and production practices.

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This Week's Wine Review:

This week I am reacquainting myself with a friend from the past.

I was working for Orlando Wyndham in the 1990s when it launched its flagship Cabernet the JACARANDA RIDGE COONAWARRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON. In those days Coonawarra was very much in the spotlight as Australia’s premium red wine growing area. However, over the years since then Coonawarra seems to have stood still while everywhere else progressed, so that today it is nowhere near as prominent in wine consumer’s minds as it used to be. Which is sad because the top Coonawarra wines are still brilliant and magnificent. It would appear to be the marketing that lets the region down. After winning a raft of Jimmy Watson Trophies in the 1980s and 1990s the last Coonawarra winner was in 2001, Pepper Tree Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet.

The 2015 JACARANDA RIDGE COONAWARRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON (current release) is a sensational wine with masses of raspberries and a splash of plums on the very attractive bouquet, a divine palate with lashings of flavours of plums, raspberries and a hint of appealing vanillin oak. It is big, rich, well rounded and perfectly balanced with a fabulously appealing, long, lingering finish. As one of the tasting panel said, “Best five-year-old Cabernet I have tasted”. Also, the judges at this year’s Royal Adelaide Wine Show awarded it a gold medal.

Oh YUM, what a ripper wine!  I now remember why it used to be my favourite Orlando wine – after the incomparable, Lawson’s Padthaway Shiraz.

Hey, if you haven’t had a Coonawarra wine in a while, give one a go, they do make outstanding wines. So, CRACK OPEN A COONAWARRA! Cheers!