July 31, 2020

This week covers a few interesting tit bits from around the wine world:-

CAN IT!:  Sales of wines in a can have been growing rapidly in Australia, Europe and the USA. However, in the USA they have grown so fast over the last few pandemic locked-down months, which coupled with supply chain bottlenecks, means that wineries are currently facing a shortage of cans. Not only are wineries suffering, but also brewers and soft drink makers as well.

The big companies across these three categories are receiving adequate supplies because of long-term contracts. Unfortunately, the smaller/newer producers are really struggling to obtain anywhere near sufficient supplies and thus are not able to maximise the opportunity to develop and expand their brands that are being presented to them by the current social circumstances.

BAG IT:  Well not really! Not a paper bag but rather a paper bottle. According to my dear friend, Subhash Arora, of the Indian Wine Academy, the first paper-based bottles (made from recycled card and having a food grade inner liner) have already been released by an Italian winery.

Read the full article at: https://www.indianwineacademy.com/item_5_850.aspx?fbclid=IwAR2NdWgyE5ipgwTTznS8zg4_RC8b8tMCWqraLPXsgFsdFhOpifSZo5tQRII

RIP IT:  Further to the French wine distillation program I wrote about recently (which will distil millions of litres of surplus wines into spirit alcohol, subsidised by the government), the powers that be in the Bordeaux region are considering the permanent removal of between 8,000-10,000 hectares of vines from the region, in order to reduce the over-supply of Bordeaux wine. This would represent around 9% of the region’s vineyards, as the region now has over two years’ worth of wine stockpiled – and growing. The mechanics of such a scheme have not been worked out as yet, with the initial proposal being for growers to be paid €5,000 per hectare. The biggest obstacle to the plan is sourcing funding in order to be able to carry it out. In typical French fashion, ideas and suggestions are coming in thick and fast but mainly focusing on getting somebody else to pay for the scheme. Some want the grubbed out areas to be conserved as “biodiversity reservoirs” whereas others are worried about the possible/likely encroachment of housing into rural land.

This is not the first time that France has had a “vine pull” scheme, however unlike the one here in the 1980s (which saw plenty of ancient, awesome vines ripped out of the ground), the value of vineyards with very old vines over there is such that the scheme will only be attractive to the more commercial growers and those with younger vines. Thus it will have no impact on the “Growth wines” or other well-known, Bordeaux wines, of which the current “en-premeur” prices have seen significant drops on the prior year’s prices.

HYPE IT:  Chilean winemakers these days are busy promoting “Super Chilean” Cabernet wines and claiming that they are as good as those coming out of Bordeaux. Mainly made from small, single vineyard parcels of Cabernet scattered in the lower reaches, of the Andes Mountains, they are having a “good old” tilt at the French. Whether this strategy works or not is yet to be seen. However, one wonders whether they would not be better off just extolling the virtues of their wines without the comparison and allow wine consumers to make up their own minds. That’s a strategy that seems to have worked pretty well for Australian wine, in most parts of the globe.

Well that‘s it for this week. Please stay safe and enjoy delicious wines – preferably from Australia!!  Cheers!

This Week's Wine Review:

This week I am talking about a trio of sensational Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley. I must admit that I am not a huge fan of Yarra Chardonnay as I find many of them too austere and sharp. However, I have fallen in love with the Chardy’s from SOUMAH of YARRA VALLEY - The strange name actually stands for South of Maroondah.

They produce three Chardonnay’s all of which are rippers! Part way between austere and exotic, they are perfectly composed and balanced, reflecting their cool-climate provenance superbly.

Starting with the:

SOUMAH 2019 YARRA VALLEY SELECT VINEYARD CHARDONNAY:  Appealing cool-climate Chardonnay aromas on the bouquet with citrus and stone fruit. Elegant rather than up-front, this civility continues on the palate which has excellent texture, great balance and attractive citrus and peach flavours all wrapped up in a zingy, refreshing, acidic finish, leaving the palate delighted with the experience. EXCELLENT!

SOUMAH 2019 YARRA VALLEY U.NGUMBY VINEYARD CHARDONNAY:  Again, elegance is the key word for the bouquet as it is beautifully fragrant with subtle citrus aromas and a hint of minerality. The palate is divine, svelte, delicious with lovely texture, lingering superb stone fruit flavours with some citrus and just a trace of vanillin oak, all rolled into a magnificent wine that sates the palate. This is an awesome cool-climate Chardonnay full of a special “natural life force”!!

SOUMAH 2019 YARRA VALLEY HEXHAM VINEYARD CHARDONNAY:  My personal favourite! Almost impossible to put the glass down!  This is a superstar Chardonnay, discrete yet redolent with cashews, peaches and even a hint of butterscotch. The complex bouquet even has a hint of freshly baked pastry, whilst the palate is a melange of lime, peaches, melon characters, a splash of vanillin oak with a divine creaminess and texture – not to mention the sublime, long, lingering finish that completes the seduction of the palate. This wine is truly mind-blowing as far as I am concerned.

So if you want to contemplate the concept of “terroir” these three wines are a great example – each from a different vineyard, made by the same team, in the same or similar fashion and the end results show three superb but different tasting wines.

Visit their website and check out the range of other excellent wines. To date I have loved each and every Soumah wine that I have tasted, which is quite an achievement.

But wait there’s more! They also sell a dozen different imported Italian wines including the exceptionally rare white variety, Nascetta, from the Langhe region. There are only about 20-30 hectares of this precious gem left – but it is starting to make a comeback.

Well that’s it from me for this week. Please keep experimenting with wine and try as many different wines and styles as you possibly can - it is great fun! Cheers!

Winery Link:  www.soumah.com.au