WOES & WINGS

Friday, December 10, 2021

This week I cover some interesting bits of news from the world of wine both here and abroad.

CHINA SPITE?: Each year China customs rejects a number of wine shipments due to being “unqualified” or breaching wine or labelling laws. In 2019 Australia was the least rejected country with eight shipments being rejected and or destroyed out of the forty-eight shipments rejected. This was out of several thousand shipments of Australian wine to China.

Despite the almost 100% drop in Australian wine imports into China due to the punitive import duty solely on Australian wines, Australia was the most rejected country in the first nine months of 2021. Out of the 38 batches rejected by Customs, 26 were wines from Australia – including one shipment from Penfolds, for label irregularities.

Given that there have probably only been around 200 shipments from Australia to China, we have gone from eight out of over a 1,000 to 26 out of 200. Is it a case of Australian export standards collapsing OR China Customs specifically picking on Australian wines?

What do you think? I know what I think!

SPREADING WINGS:  Last month the gang at Adelaide Hills icon winery, Shaw + Smith (S+S), acquired the MMAD vineyard in Blewitt Springs. The vineyard consists of 18 hectares with old vines – Grenache planted in 1939, Shiraz in 1941 and Chenin Blanc in 1964.

The first S+S wines from this vineyard will be the 2021s released next year.

ACHIEVING NEUTRALITY:  Victoria’s historic, Tahbilk Winery, at Nagambie Lakes, which was established in 1860 and has appeared in a number of TV shows and movies over the years, as well as being the spiritual home of Marsanne in the southern Hemisphere, has several years ago been certified carbon neutral in its vineyard operations.

It is now aiming to be totally carbon neutral (without the current carbon credit offsets) by 2025. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

SPANISH WOES:  Spain currently the world’s third largest wine producer (it fluctuated between Spain, France & Italy depending on the vintage) has a serious problem in getting enough wine bottled in order to meet the expected post-Covid-19 Christmas boom in demand. Firstly, the country is being gripped by the highest inflation in 29 years making everything much more costly. But even worse there is a significant shortage of wine bottles, which means that much of their wine will not be able to be bottled until the New Year. One smallish Rioja winery was told that their current bottle requirements will not be delivered from France until April next year – a tad late for the Christmas rush!

A senior official in Rioja said that the bottle shortage probably won’t impact domestic Christmas supply too much but will have a significant impact on exports, just at a time when Spain is trying to increase its market share of wine in China as a result of Australia having being evicted.

UNBOTTLED:  The word is out that Argentina is also having significant bottle shortage issues. Although Chile’s supply is better, their exports to China are growing rapidly which could cause more supply problems.

I have not heard of any supply issues here in Australia, for locally produced wine bottles (the majority) but there are very long lead times for the fancy/heavy imported bottles, especially from France.

Just in case this escalates, it might pay you to buy your Christmas cheer a bit earlier this year, i.e. stock up on wine rather than loo paper!

I am thankful that I have more than sufficient wine in my cellar to see me through this crisis.

Cheers, remember to #chooseaustralianwine and where possible drink #emergingvarieties.

This Week's Wine Review:

This week I am talking about a couple of the wines that Aldi recently sent me from their Spring/Summer range, which are superb.

Unfortunately the dinosaur era liquor laws in South Australia prevent both Aldi and Foodland from selling alcohol, because IF they did we would all become alcoholics like the people in NSW, ACT and Victoria are, where they are allowed to sell wine in their supermarkets.

The total in-store range of wines at an Aldi supermarket is roughly about the same number of SKU’s (Stock Keeping Units) as the fridge section in Dan Murphy’s. So you can see what a threat that creates to the sobriety of the citizens of South Australia – can’t you!! By the way pre-Covid, one of my mates who did occasional work in Mildura would take orders and fill his station wagon with wine from Aldi Mildura and smuggle it across the border for us. Ah I miss those days!!

Anyhow I’ll hop off my soap box and tell you about a couple of sensational wines that the lucky folk on the east coast can buy.

The first being a French wine, L’EXPRESSION DU PINOT GRIS 2020 that won a gold medal in the 2021 Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge. This wine has an attractive floral bouquet with just a dash of lychee and citrus. It has a gorgeous, tasty palate with a smidge of ginger and white pepper making it a tad exotic, and it finishes with a crisp, refreshing finish making it EVER SO DRINKABLE!

Guess what? It is only $8.99 a bottle – AWESOME  BARGAIN!!

The second wine is even more interesting as it is the NERISSIMO VERDECA 2020 from Puglia Italy. VERDECA is now a very rare native Italian white variety where it is usually used as a blender. Previously it was used widely and especially in the making of Vermouth, but has being fading away and being pulled out for quite some time now, so that there is very little left.

However this varietal version is a cracker! It has steely flinty aromas with citrus and a hint of freshly mown grass. The palate is flinty/crisp with delightful flavours including a smidge of lemon and it has gentle acidity on the very pleasant finish. It is VERY DRINKABLE & OH, SO MOREISH!!

Another bargain at $9.99 a bottle!!!

So there you have it, a couple of wines “out of left field” that are excellent and amazing bargains at the same time. Go out and grab some and try them for yourself, if you live in a civilized part of Australia. Cheers!