You know that I will start with a comment on the weather. It’s a farmer’s thing to start with a moan about the weather but it is a serious comment in the context of climate change.
Like most of the East coast of Australia, we had generous rainfall in Winter and Spring. This was disruptive to working in the vineyard and caused some delays to vine growth but I would rather a wet start than dryness as we don’t irrigate the vines. Low bunch numbers and high winds at flowering will guarantee low yields but high quality fruit may be coming if the rest of Summer and Autumn has some heat to finish off the ripening.
At this point I feel a need to contrast the reporting on Climate change in the media. Just before Christmas the East coast of Australia experienced a cold spell of weather, not record breaking but chilly. This made The Australian website depict a cartoon implying that there is no global warming. Today the Guardian reports that records were set over New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day in France, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic for the warmest days on record (long, back to the 18th century) with temperatures (in mid- winter) around 24 C. Then again, a severe winter storm has hit large parts of the USA. This is where we rely on science and mainstream scientists to give a more measured appraisal of Climate change.
We recently read an interesting article by the wine writer, Dan Traucki who observed the trend in young ‘drinkers’ toward zero alcohol wines or no wine, with increased uptake of mixer drinks and made a link to the major changes in the 60’s and 70’s when fortified wines and brandy saw their market share collapse. His warning was that without reaching out and communicating with Gen X,Y,Z a major downturn in wine sales will occur. I wonder if the wine industry itself has brought this upon itself by dumbing down the appreciation of wine, with wine mixers, canned wine and even the prevailing business model of releasing wines within 12 months of ‘manufacture’, as if the product has some kind of ‘use by’ date implied.
If wine, real wine, seems mysterious and the subject daunting, then so be it.
The customers need to be encouraged to embark on the long and pleasurable journey of wine exploration and understanding, rather than simplifying the product to compete with mindless alcoholic brews made to hit the shelves and be guzzled down with no appreciation.
Returning to the ‘weather’, the 3 years of ‘La Nina’ we have experienced, has coincided very nicely with our expansion program of new plantings to increase our volumes of the Byzantine and Romanesque blends and a new blend featuring the variety Carmenere. Also in our little nursery we have some Primitivo and Barbera which will find their way into the Romanesque. Beyond that, I have plans for a blend of Spanish and Portuguese varieties… well why not! ‘To infinity and beyond!’, to quote the great influencer, Buzz Lightyear.
Now to the state of play with our wine. We recently tasted through our 2022 wines in barrel and can confidently say that there are some top wines in the pipeline from that vintage. While the reds from the 2021 vintage were somewhat modest from a cooler wet vintage, the 2022 vintage will deliver some truly age-worthy red wines.
A wine we have released before Christmas that has been attracting some comments from tasters, is the 2021 Rose. This is a blend of Shiraz and late red varieties that normally go into our Romanesque blend. It has an exciting, exotic set of aromas and a freshness of palate that sets it apart from the mainstream of Roses on the market. Once tried, not easily forgotten. As our volumes rise of the Romanesque varieties, I hope we can make this wine an ongoing part of our line- up.