Spot News

Friday, May 5, 2022

This week includes a smattering of news from around the place starting with:

Variety is the Spice of Life: Over the last twelve months I have advised about the addition of Pecorino (various growers) and Sauvignon Gris (George’s Folly) to the growing list of grape varieties produced in Australia, which currently stands at 160 varieties.

Well, Dell’Uva Wines, in the Barossa are hell bent on lifting that number even further. Wayne Farquhar recently advised that they have planted Rabosco Piave, Canaiola Nero, Tinta Cadia and Inzolia to add to the dizzying array of varieties they already grow.

In addition, they are conducting vineyard trials on Raboso Veronese, Grinolino, Ancellotta, Azal, Mammolo, Parellada and Incrocio Bianco. Awesome!!

Meanwhile, Paulmara Estate, also in the Barossa, have planted the native Cypriot varieties Xynisteri and Maratheftiko – watch this space!!

It will be interesting to see, in due course, what these wines taste like. The Australian wine industry’s batting average of late has been excellent with some exciting early wines being made from Prieto Picudo (Spain), Fernão Pires (Portugal), Sauvignon Gris (France), Grenache Blanc (France), Pecorino (Italy) and Boğazkere (Turkey) in recent times.

So when you come across these strange and exotic sounding wines, have a go, try it and see what you think – it will probably expand your drinking repertoire and your enjoyment of wine.

Recognised:  The venerable family producer, McWilliams, that has been around for 140 years and was recently acquired by Calabria Family Wines, has just been listed in the “World’s 50 Most Admired Wine Brands”, for the first time. This listing is decided by top retailers, Sommeliers, Buyers and Masters of Wine, from across the globe.

McWilliams entered at #45, joining Penfolds #2 (Wow, awesome!), 19 Crimes #18, Henschke #21, Yellow Tail #24 and Yalumba at #33.

A great achievement indeed and let’s hope that other Aussie wineries join this group over the next few years and that the current ones keep on moving up the ladder.

Skyrocketing:   It has just been announced that Chile’s wine exports have skyrocketed by 94% – mainly to China. Hmm, I wonder if that could have anything to do with Australia’s former 40% of the Chinese market going begging!

Hopefully, the Chileans will focus on the China market (as we did) and put less focus on other markets where we can compete against them. Then we can boost out exports to countries like Japan, Korea and Taiwan where Chile have been running rings around us over the last few years as we focused almost entirely on China.

Prohibitionism?:  In an ongoing anti-wine/alcohol movement in China, the city of Puyang (3.7 million people) has issued a decree banning the consumption of alcohol by all civil servants, party members and associated peoples for the five days of the working week. This ban not only applies to work and functions, but also to these people’s private lives outside of work.

Is this a test case/second step by the central government to control the consumption of alcohol and wine in particular within China? The first step being the railing of the President for domestic wine and against imported wines.

I strongly suspect that things are going to keep on getting tougher for exporting wine to China, i.e. the heydays are over!!

Well that’s it for another week, please stay safe #chooseaustralianwine and where possible drink #emergingvarieties.  Cheers, Dan T.

This Week's Wine Review:

As you probably know the famous French Champagne House of Chandon spread its wings last century and now produces excellent sparkling wines in several countries across the planet. Starting in Argentina in 1959, they now make great sparkling wine in the USA, Argentina, Brazil, China, India and Australia.

It is one of their Aussie’s that I am talking about this week, and a new one at that. Over recent years I have reviewed and raved about the wines of Domaine Chandon in Victoria’s Yarra Valley.  The range starts with the Brut, Brut Vintage, Rosé and Blanc de Blanc, all of which are delightful and affordable with their prices being under $30 a bottle. This followed – or should I say led by their Cuvée Riche at $35 a bottle.

Recently, they created the superb Chandon Garden Spritz which is an outstanding blend of bubbly with their own unique bitters – navel and blood oranges macerated with carefully selected herbs, spices and dried orange peels. This a divine, refreshing aperitif that is very appealing and easy to drink.

Well, now they have outdone themselves by creating the “CHANDON FIELD BLEND 2017” – this week’s wine of the week! This “Méthode Traditionelle” wine incorporates not only the classic champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but also the extremely rare and almost forgotten variety, Petit Meslier. Used by only a handful of champagne producers, mainly as a filler, this very rare variety has been produced as a straight varietal sparkling wine, here in Australia –  initially by Jim Irvine of Irvine Wines, and more recently by Lévrier by Jo Irvine whose NV Sparkling Meslier Brut Rosé is superb.

The CHANDON YARRA VALLEY FIELD BLEND 2017 – WINEMAKER EXPLORATION, made by the “Méthode Traditionelle” has aromas of lemons, a splash of green apples and fresh fruit. It has a lovely mousse, the palate is complex with well integrated flavours including a smidge of vanilla custard. It is beautifully balanced with a crisp, refreshing finish, making it DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!!!

This is one of the best Yarra sparklers I have ever tasted!!!

Check it and the rest of the excellent range of Chandon sparklers out at their website.

Winery Website: