Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza, Argentina

Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza, Argentina

A first look at vintage quality in South America, with eyewitness reports from growers and winemakers

Ready to taste the first wines of 2013? While vines are just flowering in Europe and North America, the Southern Hemisphere has picked, crushed and fermented this year’s crop. Argentina and Chile experienced a cool growing season, which left vintners waiting for grapes to fully ripen. That wasn’t a problem for big reds like Argentina’s Malbecs and Chile’s Cabernet Sauvignon, but it could be trouble for Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

Here’s a sneak peek at the upcoming vintage. Check out Wednesday’s report on Australia and New Zealand and come back Friday for details on South Africa.

Argentina
The good news: A long, cool growing season produced what many winemakers are calling fresh wines

The bad news: Up and down temperatures tested winemakers’ patience and required long hang times for grapes to reach full maturation

Read on …

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Harvest at Spier, Stellenbosch.

Harvest at Spier, Stellenbosch.

A first look at vintage quality, with eyewitness reports from growers and winemakers

Ready to taste the first wines of 2013? While vines are just flowering in Europe and North America, the Southern Hemisphere has picked, crushed and fermented this year’s crop. South African grapegrowers enjoyed a wet winter, meaning healthy yields, followed by a dry, warm summer. But rain during harvest made picking anxious at times.

Here’s a sneak peek at the upcoming vintage. Check out Wednesday’s report on Australia and New Zealand and Thursday’s on Argentina and Chile.

South Africa
The good news: South Africa’s 2013 harvest has drawn praise from most producers, with a strong start and finish to the growing season

The bad news: A bit of rain and humidity mid-harvest forced some producers to scramble for proper canopy management and gamble, successfully, on better weather late

Read on …

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Scores 100 points!!!

Scores 100 points!!!

 

A price war is raging among retailers in Australia over the 2008 vintage of Penfolds Grange, which received a perfect 100-point score from The Wine Advocate.

In a bid to lure buyers with the lowest retail price, Australian liquor chain Dan Murphy’s cut its price from AU$669 to AU$645 (£423) in order to go lower than US supermarket chain Costco as the cheapest place to buy the prized new release.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Costco responded to Dan Murphy’s discounting yesterday by knocking a further $5 off its price to bring it down to $645.

Sydney-based independent wine merchant Kemenys is also selling the wine for $645, despite it carrying a recommended retail price of AU$785 (£515).

Meanwhile, UK-based fine wine merchant Farr Vintners has waded into the pricing war, matching Dan Murphy’s and Costco’s price, selling the wine at £350 in bond, which, with VAT and duty added, works out at £422.40 a bottle.

Having put 78 bottles on sale yesterday, the wine was already moving quickly at Costco’s Melbourne store, with assistant manager Nick Weller reporting “fantastic” sales.
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Australian Vintage is proving its determination to overcome challenges posed by a strong domestic currency with the announcement of a flurry of new product launches for the UK this year.

 

Julian Dyer, general manager for the UK & Europe at Australian Vintage, highlighted McGuigan’s position as “one of the fastest growing Australian brands” in the UK at the moment.

Despite acknowledging that, with the strong Australian dollar, “you have to be really lean to stay competitive” – the European office now bottles “over half” of all its wines in the UK – Dyer insisted: “The UK is a great market and we shouldn’t talk it down.”

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Get rid of your bad wine!

Get rid of your bad wine!

 

Think your Christmas wine is only fit for cooking? An Australian winery has the answer.

For wine lovers, the holiday season is a tricky one. While wine gifts may be gladly received, all too often the bottles presented are best suited to making risotto. But in Australia, marketers have come up with a positive solution.

Fifth Leg, a Western Australian brand owned by Treasury Wine Estates, is organizing a “Bad Taste Amnesty” for later this month. Under the one-day scheme, any Australian who wants to get rid of an unwanted wine can trade it for a bottle of Fifth Leg wine.

Whether the boss has handed over a basic table red, or a dinner guest has brought a bargain-bin pinot grigio that resembles vinegar, those bottles in the back of the cupboard can be exchanged for a more palatable wine.
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You devil, you!

You devil, you!

 

 

We consider the fast-growing interest and investment in Tasmania in our second of ten installments on Australia’s evolving wine industry.

In keeping with Australia’s continued search for yet cooler regions and leaner wine styles, its southernmost state, Tasmania, is becoming one of the most fashionable sources for grapes.

The fact the so-called Apple Isle exhibits a similar climate to New Zealand – both North and South Islands – is a further incentive for Australian winemakers, particularly those attempting to produce Down Under’s best Pinot Noir.

While plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay may be nothing new to Tasmania, grapes once exclusively destined for sparkling wine – the island’s most famous export – are increasingly being used to make still wines.

And proof of the island’s quality potential has been powerful in recent times: for example, Penfold’s Yattarna 2008 was crowned best Chardonnay in the inaugural James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge in September, and the famous producer had sourced 89% of its grapes from Tasmania in this vintage.

As Peter Gago admitted in a meeting with the drinks business at the end of last year, “If there is a trend in Yattarna Chardonnay, it’s that there’s more and more Tasmanian fruit in it” – pointing out that 96% of the Chardonnay in the more recent 2010 vintage had come from the island.

However, with the other 4% from the Adelaide Hills, he added, “Tasmania is more important but not all important”.

Meanwhile, Australia’s prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy was won by the Glaetzer Dixon Family’s Mon Père Shiraz 2010, which was made exclusively from grapes grown on the Apple Isle.

Read on …

 

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The third of our 10-part analysis on Australian wine trends considers the country’s embrace of Italian grapes and newfound success with the Moscato wine style.

Although the planting of Mediterranean varieties from Greece, Spain and Portugal is in vogue, it’s the potential of those from Italy that really seems to be exciting winemakers Down Under.

Historically, as André Bondar, at McLaren Vale’s Mitolo, records: “Australia used to plant French varieties regardless,” but today growers are realising that many Italian grapes are more suitable to certain climates in Australia.

For Corrina Wright, director at McLaren Vale grower and producer Oliver’s Taranga: “Italian varieties in general are gaining traction because they have high natural acidity and a lovely texture and they are well adapted to heat spikes.”

Notably she has planted five acres of Sagrantino. “We’ve had it for 12 years and it’s hard to grow and low cropping, but produces wines with fabulous tannins.” She would like to plant white grape Greco too, she says, but has run out of vineyard space.

For many, Sangiovese elicits excitement. Coriole’s Mark Lloyd points out that he was the first to grow Sangiovese in the country, having planted it in 1985 in the McLaren Vale because, he recalls: “It was going to be the antithesis of big, sweet Shiraz.”

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Penfolds_logo

 

Penfolds has announced its most expensive collector’s item to date – a complete vertical for £1.2m.
The centrepiece of the one-off ‘Penfolds Collection’ is a complete vertical of Grange from its first experimental vintage in 1951 (pictured) through to the current 2007.

It comes hot on the heels of its controversial £100,000 Ampoule launch earlier this year,

Each bottle of Grange has been authenticated and signed by one of Penfolds’ Chief winemakers including the late founder Max Schubert, John Duval and current incumbent Peter Gago.

The deep-pocketed purchaser of the collection will also receive a set of 13 magnum cases which include both the ultra-rare 2004 Bin 60A and the 2008 Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet-Shiraz. They will also be sent a case of Penfolds icon and luxury wines for the next ten years.

That’s not all. An additional part of the package is £50,000 to spend on acquiring other older Penfolds wines to add to the collection. Also included are two business class tickets to Adelaide, followed by a VIP tour and tasting at Penfolds Magill Estate. This comes with two nights’ accommodation and dinner at the Magill Estate Restaurant.

Gago believes this is probably the finest set of Penfolds wines ever to be… read on

A distinctive eucalypt smell makes Australian reds easy to spot in a blind tasting. But how does it get into the wines?

 

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Would you like some mint in your cabernet? Or perhaps a dash of eucalypt in your shiraz? If so, you’ll need a vineyard near eucalyptus trees and Australia has plenty of those on offer, endowing the country’s red wines with a distinctly minty character.

The aromatic compound that causes this character is called 1,8-cineole. First identified by a German scientist in 1884, it is the main component found in the oil from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree. But to this day, nobody has quite fathomed out its journey from tree to bottle.

There have been conflicting theories. A French study suggested that the compound originated in eucalyptus trees surrounding vineyards and was airborne, while an Italian group proposed that aromatic compounds in grapes, known as terpenes, were the creators of 1,8-cineole.

In an attempt to get to the heart of the issue, the Australian Wine and Research Institute (AWRI) in Adelaide set out to confirm just why so many of the country’s cabernet sauvignon and shiraz-based wines are affected. In a study of 190 wines, it found that the existence of eucalyptus trees near grapevines can influence the concentration of the compound. The closer the trees, the higher the concentration of the minty smell.

Digging deeper, the AWRI then discovered that the machine harvesting of rows close to eucalyptus trees was likely to result in leaves from the trees being mixed in with the bins of grapes. Among their key findings, the scientists reported that even hand harvesting could “result in a surprising number of eucalyptus leaves in the picking bins.” From their experiments, they concluded that the “presence of eucalyptus leaves and, to a lesser extent, grape-vine leaves and stems in the harvested grapes” were the “main contributor to 1,8-cineole concentrations in the wine.”

But that didn’t explain how even meticulous producers, who remove the eucalyptus leaves from their grapes before processing the fruit, still end up with a minty smell in their cabernets. The answer, it appears, can be found in the… read on

The Complete Guide: Wines of the Southern Hemisphere is an amazing gift. To have this book for my wine library is a tremendous resource; and, making the time to read it delivered even more gifts.

 

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Written by Mike Desimone & Jeff Jenssen, two very savvy World Wine Guys who are wine, spirits, food, and travel writers, have gone around the world and are now sharing those adventures. Their gathered stories are warm and very informative, sharing much of what they learned in this very thorough book. Representing each region well, they also present it in such a way that the only thing left to satisfy is your own personal curiosity through adventures you need to start planning….

Much of the Southern Hemisphere has escaped me because I’ve never physically made it over the equator. I’ve been to the South Pacific, to the Caribbean, Canada, most of the US states (40+ states), and to Europe… but not gone over the equator.

My favorite section was Chile. Perhaps it’s because I was part of the Wines of Chile Blogger Tasting led by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, and enjoying those wine immensely. It was very enlightening about this wine grape growing country, with the book connecting me on a much deeper level with that recent wine exposure.
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