The World She Is A-Changin

Friday, March 4, 2022

Things normally move very slowly in the world of wine as new trends take ages to catch on, etc. However, in recent times the speed of change has accelerated. It started with China imposing punitive taxes on Australia wine, creating a significant shift in world wine dynamics – especially for the Aussie wine industry, but also across the world, as smaller wine producing countries started to target China, in their export efforts. At the same time as Australia licked its wounds, we began to target a few new nations that it hadn’t focused on before, as well as ramping up efforts in the existing markets.

Well the next paradigm shift may just be happening right now in Europe.

In December the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) recommended treating alcohol in the same way as tobacco. This is now before the European Parliament and IF they adopt this recommendation, there will be significant impacts on wine right across the world. The most damning thing in the report is that it states that there is no such thing as a “safe level” of alcohol consumption. The main consequence of this report being adopted is that they will then be duty-bound to reduce or eradicate alcohol consumption.

How would this play out?

►The first step would be cancer warnings on wine bottles, like those on cigarette packets. This will have little to no impact on regular wine drinkers, but it may act as a deterrent to young up-and-coming drinkers, thus significantly reducing the next generation of wine drinkers. This is especially the case as more and more jurisdictions around the world go legalising cannabis consumption in various forms.

►The second step would be that the European Government and many member state governments would withdraw all funding to wine. The EU government currently spends a fortune each year in promoting wine across the globe and subsidising marginal wine producers within the EU.

The latter would be no great loss to the wine world, but the former would cause a significant shift in the wine world. Most journalist visits (such as some I have been on), are significantly funded by the EU government, so the spread of wine knowledge around the world would be curtailed, which in the long-run would help to reduce global wine consumption, through lack of exploration and adventure by people. Almost nobody would have heard of Grüner Veltliner (spreading like wildfire) but for various trips organised by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (with I am sure EU subsidy).

In the short-term this move would be to Australia’s advantage as there would be significantly less European visibility and competition in some markets, especially the developing ones. However, that would be a very short-term advantage.

As we saw with tobacco, ultimately once one major jurisdiction adopts a significant measure, others around the world do as well.

A step along the way would be to ban all forms of alcohol advertising – ask Turkish winemakers what impact that measure has had on their businesses. Today, they sell around 90% of their wine overseas because it is extremely difficult, to almost downright impossible, to sell wine in Turkey.

The world already has a significant wowser/prohibitionist population and once these measures start coming into play they will crank up to fever pitch in trying to ban wine completely. The fact that around 99% of all wine drinkers do not become alcoholics will not even be mentioned or considered IF this insanity takes off. The outcome would be ban alcohol rather than help the 1% (if that) that do become alcoholics.

Could you imagine Prohibition like the USA had 100-years-ago? Don’t laugh – whilst very unlikely, it is not impossible! IF in the 1970s (when I was smoking) you came out and explained how cigarettes are treated today, you would have been laughed at.

Even if this does not go ahead, we need to promote common sense and fight against the temperance wowsers at every opportunity possible.

So drink up and enjoy your favourite tipple before the wowsers stop us from drinking.

Cheers, #chooseaustralianwine and where possible enjoy #emergingvarieties.

**STOP PRESS**: The European Parliament has just acknowledged a difference between moderate and harmful alcohol consumption in its proposal, removing the statement that there is “no safe level of alcohol consumption”, which means that wine has dodged a bullet.

However, the need to promote safe moderate wine drinking has never been greater than what it is now and into the near future.

This Week's Wine Review:

Today I am talking about one of my favourite, old-world, yet very challenging varieties – Chardonnay. These days Chardonnay is made in a wide range of styles, from imitation Sav Blanc (fiercely acidic), through to massively oaked versions which remind one of a piece of 4x2 timber. I love a middle-of-the-road version – well, maybe a smidge towards the oaky end of the sphere. A Chardonnay that has just sufficient oak to be rich and creamy without being OTT. Over the years some of my favourites have included Giaconda, Bass Philip, Lakes Folly, Orlando St Hillary and a few others.

Recently, I popped down to McLaren Vale to visit my friend, Diana Genders, and had the opportunity to taste her 2018 and 2019 Chardonnay.

Genders Wines is a one “man” show with the wonderful Di Genders doing the plurry lot around the place, with the exception of having a few casuals in for pruning and again at harvesting time – other than that, Di does everything from viticulture through to vending. It is an amazing effort in this day and age!!

The vineyard was first planted in 1948 by her father Keith and has had the occasional re-graft since then.

2018 was the first Chardonnay that Di had made for a decade, with the grapes having been sold in the meantime, in fact most of the 2018 Chardonnay grapes were sold and Di just kept a small amount to “experiment” with. She had so much fun making the wine that she hung on to quite a lot more grapes from the 2019 vintage – also the barrel samples I tasted of the 2021 are showing great promise of things to come.

So to the wines:

GENDERS ROSEMARY 2018 MCLAREN VALE CHARDONNAY: This wine has a delightful Burgundian bouquet, elegant and refined. The palate is sophisticated with some steely characters while having a modicum of creaminess, gorgeously balanced between the two, with a tight, lingering and refreshing finish – BLOODY GORGEOUS!!!

GENDERS ROSEMARY 2019 MCLAREN VALE CHARDONNAY:  Gorgeous stone fruit aromas with just a hint of vanillin oak – quite a complex bouquet. OMG, what a divine palate – just the way I adore it – rich, smooth and enchanting with depth, complexity and a crystal clear finish. IF I was only allowed to drink one Chardonnay for the rest of my life I would choose this one!!! TRULY AWESOME & DIVINE!!

Super Chardonnay from a super woman!!!

Well, I hope that you have a great week, stay safe and remember to #chooseaustralianwine and when possible enjoy #emergingvarieties.

Cheers!

Winery Link (new website coming soon): www.genderswines.com.au