Wine News

Friday, September 24, 2021

This week a few interesting facts from the busy and complex world of wine.

A FEW MORE GONGS:  Starting with the 2021 Melbourne International Wine Competition which recognised the quality of Aldi’s wines with the following awards:

Brut Champagne of the Year: Monsigny – Brut Champagne NV $22.99

Sauvignon Blanc Winery of the Year:  Grands Les Maurins Sauvignon Blanc 2020 $6.99

►Double Gold Medals:

● Grands Les Maurins Sauvignon Blanc 2020 $6.99

● South Point Estate Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV $4.99

● Villa Elsa Pinot Grigio 2020 $6.99

Gold Medals:

● Blackstone Paddock Barossa Shiraz 2019 $17.99

● El Toro Macho Reserva 2016 $8.99

● One Road Cabernet Merlot 2019 $7.49

● Monsigny – Brut Champagne NV $22.99

COMMON SENSE PREVAILS:  I was delighted to read recently that Adelaide Hills Bird in Hand Winery had announced that patrons need to be COVID-19 vaccinated in order to visit its cellar door.  I think given the events interstate and overseas, vaccination should be mandatory at all wine venues in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of not only the patrons but also the staff at the wineries. Unlike other social venues, one cannot remain masked up the whole time while tasting wine, therefore I strongly believe that vaccination should be a must.

Come on wineries – take a stand and announce that as of XX date all visitors must be vaccinated!

Minor inconvenience vs Major social benefit.

Winery Link: www.birdinhand.com.au

GRÜNER GROWING:  Austria’s super hero native grape variety, Grüner Veltliner, has gone from obscurity to international fame over the last two decades as drinkers around the world have been smitten by its charm and fabulous flavours. Most recently it has started to be grown in the USA, where a number of wineries along the east coast have been planting this exciting emerging variety. Most notably in the Finger Lakes District of New York where there are currently a dozen wineries producing a Grüner. In New Jersey there are four or five growers, as well as a couple in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The US experience with Grüner pales into insignificance with that of here in Australia, where the Adelaide Hills alone currently has gone from one to forty growers in the last decade – and still rising. There are also producers in Canberra, the Granite Belt and Tasmania and soon to be in other cool climate regions I am sure.

The Adelaide Hills has become the Southern Hemisphere’s “spiritual home” for Grüner Veltliner, like Chile has for Carménère, and Argentina for Malbec. This is not only due to the meteoric rise in production, but also due to the fact that many of the local wines have been rated and feted alongside their Austrian counterparts at wine judging’s both here and in Europe.

FRANCE: According to a recent report from the French Ministry of Agriculture, the number of “winegrowers” (wineries & growers) in France has declined by 41% – around 36,000 so far this century, down to 52,330 in 2020. It is expected that this trend will continue as fewer people in France drink wine, and those that still do, drink less wine. Another contributing factor is the increasing competition in export markets from an array of countries and more specifically, Australia and Chile.

Winegrowing accounts for roughly one-third of agricultural employment in France, thus the decline has a considerable impact. The worst affected region being the Loire Valley and the least affected being Champagne.

Well that’s it for another week. Please stay safe, have a great week and remember to #chooseaustralianwine when drinking and when possible enjoy #emergingvarieties.

This Week's Wine Review:

As I champion Australian wine, especially the emerging varieties, I rarely review imported wine. However, this week I am making an exception for a sensational wine, from its homeland in Austria, where I visited in 2018 for VieVinum.

The winery is the Domäne Wachau (DW) in the Wachau region of Austria. It is a co-operative with over 300 members/owners, however, it is very different from most co-ops that produce masses of ‘ho-hum’, commercial wine. For a start DW’s General Manager and Chief Winemaker is a Master of Wine (MW). Secondly they determine when the grapes are ready to be harvested rather than the grower just harvesting when it is convenient. Thirdly whilst they produce around 70 different wines, many of the premium ones (such as this one) are site specific, i.e. single vineyard and treated with lots of TLC and a smaller quantity of commercial wine.

The wine is the DOMÄNE WACHAU 2019 GRÜNER VELTLINER ‘FEDERSPIEL’. The name evokes fantastic memories of sitting in a boat, drifting down the Danube and being served both Riesling and Grüner wines as we drifted past the vineyards where the grapes had come from. Our host telling us, “the grapes for wine you are now tasting were grown here, half way up this hill”, as he points to a vineyard clambering up the steep hillside on the banks of the river. A truly magic experience, which was followed by a tour of underground cellars – still in use today that were dug around 25 years before Captain Cook “discovered” Australia.

The DOMÄNE WACHAU 2019 GRÜNER VELTLINER ‘FEDERSPIEL’ is a brilliant wine, restrained yet expressive it is still quite lean, needing more time to fully blossom – Grüner wines can live a very long time, just like Riesling. It has a subtle citrus bouquet and the palate is crisp, tight, with some minerality, loads of scrumptious flavours and a delightful, zingy, refreshing, finish. Truly an outstanding wine!

The great news is that this smashing wine is available here in Oz at Uncle Dan’s (Dan Murphy’s) and at The Wine Collective. So reach out and grab a bottle to see what I have been ranting about. It is really worth the effort.

Well, have a great week, remember to #chooseaustralianwine (or Austrian if you can get it) and where possible drink #emergingvarieties.