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News posted on Friday, 17 February 2017

Sustainability requires a united approach
Matt Pooley went looking for a sustainability ‘silver bullet’, but came back with a much better idea of how to do without one. And the key is a common approach and sense of purpose. As the 2013 Wine Australia Nuffield Scholar, the viticulturist for Tasmania’s Pooley Wines spent a year examining sustainability programs in Australia, the United States and New Zealand, assessing the value of environmental assurance to small wine producers, and identifying emerging technologies and practices Australia could and should embrace. He was largely heartened by what he saw and heard.

SA Riverland: Half way there
It was way back in January of 2010; a discussion paper was tabled for consideration by the Riverland Winegrape Growers Association. The members liked it. They set about spreading the word. The paper was written to encourage thoughtfulness about how the region could pull itself up by the bootstraps. The challenges of markets and climate had taken a toll. Major producers were in ‘withdrawal mode’. Gross margins were increasingly hard to find at all levels. Spirits were low and some had no option but to grab an exit and bail-out before ‘losing the lot’. Things were grim for sure. BUT the region had been down there before. Collectively, the growers and value adders knew that if they could find the energy to pull hard on the bootstraps and to do so in unison they would prevail.

Vintage 2017: Mia Mia sparkles
Innovation has always been at the heart of Pamela and Norbert Baumgartner’s success. They change their Mia Valley Estate wines and styles every year to suit the way their grapes have performed. “There are no boundaries really — you just have to keep experimenting,” Norbert said. “We like to try alternative things with the grapes we’ve got.” Last year they decided to make the Heathcote wine ­region’s first sparkling Riesling — one of only a few such wines in the country. Using the methode tra­ditionnelle winemaking practice used for Champagne, the wine is hand-made from picking to pressing and bottling.

True believers in Sagrantino
Trevor March, from Heathvale Wines in the Eden Valley, first came across Sagrantino at a tasting in 1986. It’s a variety that hails from Umbria in central Italy, primarily round the village of Montefalco. Sourcing cuttings from those great champions of ‘appropriate’ grape varieties, the Chalmers family in Merbein, it was 13 years until the first vintage was released in 2010 (due to quarantine restrictions and restriction of only being able to import two vines from Umbria).

New website for Canberra District wines
There is a new website for information on the 48 wineries and attractions in the Canberra Wine District, packed full of all the information visitors need to visit the regions’ vineyards, restaurants and events. The new site is the initiative of the Canberra District Wine Industry Association, and showcases their members and partners. The site targets visitors to the region from Canberra and further afield and aims to educate, inspire and provide information in a user-friendly format.

Mealybugs and under vine management
Mealybugs have quickly become the bane of grape growers throughout much of New Zealand. The ability of this insect group to transmit leafroll virus from one vine to another has resulted in a large number of vines having to be removed due to this non-curable infection. Within New Zealand Winegrowers’ Vineyard Ecosystems Program, scientists are determined to discover if ground cover plants can help to reduce the adverse economic influence of grapevine leafroll virus.

NZ explores ‘acoustic’ style of Sauvignon
An increasing number of winemakers experimenting with oak, bottle age and wild ferments, bringing another layer to the region’s offer, evolving away from the one-dimensional model of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. “People are starting to play with bottle ferment and extended lees contact. You like to keep the wines in tank and in bottle for an extended period of time. Some people play with wild ferment,” said Jean-Charles Van Hove, of Clos Marguerite in Marlborough. "We are getting much more interesting Sauvignon now than we had 20 years ago by far, but the undertone is always Marlborough Sauvignon, you can’t miss it.”

Does South Africa have a signature red grape?
It might not have been that clear cut 20 years ago but Chenin Blanc is now pretty much established as South Africa’s signature white grape. When it comes to the signature red variety, matters are more complicated. For a long while, there was a certain faction that argued vociferously that it should be Pinotage... but most view it as regional curiosity rather than the single key to unlocking global markets. This might seem to leave Cabernet Sauvignon pitted against Shiraz.

Swartland wine producers lose battle to stop sandmining
Swartland wine producers appear to have lost their legal battle to stop sandmining in Paardeberg, a move which Eben Sadie says threatens to undermine 20 years’ worth of work to establish Swartland as a prized winemaking region. Sadie, who is widely credited with having put the Swartland region on the wine map, and whose Sadie Family Wines business is based in Paardeberg, said he was “gobsmacked” at the Swartland Municipality’s decision to grant two new licences for sandmining operations.

Napa County delays proposed Calistoga winery
Transforming a rural Napa Valley property with such features as warehouses and a former PG&E equipment yard into a hoped-for wine country gem is proving difficult. The proposed Flynnville winery south of Calistoga has drastically changed since a 2013 version that one critic called an “industrialisation of the ag preserve”. However, the Napa County Planning Commission voted unanimously to postpone the matter until April 5 to allow the applicant to make further refinements.

High tunnels extend vineyard growing season
Mari Vineyards typically begins setting up the high tunnels over its vines in late April, as soon as vineyard manager Sean Noell thinks the last “really cold night” has passed. With the heavy plastic sheeting of the sidewalls extended fully to the ground, and the end doors open, the high-tunnel temperature can be 20 degrees warmer than the outdoor temperature. The tunnel plastic stays up until about the beginning of November and is then removed so the vines can go into hibernation.

Bayer


Flavourtech


New Holland


Braud


Kauri


WID 2017