South African Wine-makers with French Souls by Emile Joubert

Published by Emile Joubert – Winegoggle 15 July 2012

http://www.winegoggle.co.za/index.php/2012/07/15/south-african-wine-makers-with-french-hearts/

Like the rich, the French are different. In what way? Well, going into detail cannot be done before proper broadband comes to South Africa as the reasoning is bound to be expansive.

Wine, for example, is one area in which the French are different from other nations.

Still the greatest wine country on earth. Has been and always will be. Blah.Blah. Agreed.

In the spirit of Bastille Day celebrations, thus, I’d like to take a look at five South African winemakers who to my mind have – knowingly or otherwise – been infected with French genes of vinous brilliance. Doubting Thomases can taste it in their wines.

 

Abrie Beeslaar, Kanonkop

The brief from Kanonkop-owner Johann Krige to Abrie on him becoming Kanonkop’s third winemaker was: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Keep it simple in the cellar and allow the Estate’s terroir pedigree to do the work. Manual punchdowns. New oak. Patience.

Abrie understands this ethos, and it is displayed in his wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon and the Paul Sauer blend have, however, under his stewardship shown a progression in fruit purity. Unlike Jan Boland Coetzee and Beyers Truter before him, Abrie uses a sorting system, resulting in opulent , unblemished fruit ending in the open-fermenters. This could easily result in over-extraction and excessively modish juiciness. However, Abrie’s understanding of the fruit and its reaction to the Kanonkop wine-making process, including the ability to handle two years in new wood, results in classical red wines that ooze real Old World excellence, character and purity.

Hannes Storm, Hamilton Russell Vineyards

The Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs now rank among the best South Africa has ever produced. Hannes does an incredible job in grasping his somewhat challenging windswept terrain and clay-strong soils so as to sculpt Burgundian wines in the truest sense of the world. The 2010 Chardonnay and 2009 Pinot Noir are terrific wines which deserve to be in any serious wino’s collection.

Pieter Ferreira, Graham Beck

The wines, the Blanc de Blancs being a personal favourite, say it all. But Pieter’s underlying commitment to living out the philosophy of a Champagne master not only give his wines the edge, but have and still do influence wine-makers taking the baton for Méthode Cap Classique. Arguably South Africa’s most successful wine category in terms of growth over the past 10 years, much of this has to do with the influence of Pieter, both on a skills and personal level.

Alwyn Liebenberg

He might be a specialist on the wines of Portugal, but when it comes down to the wire, Alwyn has a palate schooled in great Bordeaux and Rhône. His French flair comes in two ways: first, the Sauvignon Blanc he churns out under The Goose label. Floral, yet stony; fresh yet fleshy; zippy yet poised – Alwyn coaxes true character from a grape that does not really do very well in South Africa in terms of personality, individuality and expression.

Secondly, Alwyn’s generosity in terms of sharing great wines from his collection to add substance to conversation is a true French characteristic. For example, when talking Cabernet Franc, why not open an Angelus 1977 to help the thought processes along?

Jan Boland Coetzee

French wine-makers observe a similarity in their South African peers, I have been told at various Franco gatherings. “You see yourselves as farmers first and wine-makers second. You can’t be one without believing in the other.”

They must have been talking about Jan Boland Coetzee, first and foremost a farmer. A boer. A sun of the soil. Eternal student and meticulous recorder of climates. This guy is the real deal.

And it is there in his wines. The Vriesenhof Pinot Noir 2003 was a personal revelation as to what is possible in the local Pinot Noir narrative. The Vriesenhof Chardonnay exudes a piercing spear of elegant minerality I have not yet encountered outside the wines of Beaune. His way with words, people, ideas and his take on the wine-makers life make him a national treasure, one which the French would be proud to call their own.

Salút!

 

Monsieur Jan Boland Coetzee

 

Date of disgorgement on the label?

I read a great article http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/dining/reviews/champagnes-disgorgement-dates-provoke-debate.html? on whether producers should incorporate the disgorgement date on the label or not. I guess there are many answers as to do so or not to do and at least stirr some debate!

However I have been noticing that Champagne producers are starting to do so. Very few of the big Grand Marques have done so, although there has been an increase in many many small and midsize producers which includes Bruno Paillard and Philipponnat that have done so for years. Ayala does now. Most significant, perhaps, Krug this year added a code that, when entered on its web site, offers detailed information about its Non Vintage that goes well beyond the disgorgement date.

As far as I’m concerned the more information we can share with our final consumer on our Graham Beck Cap Classique’s is always better. Most consumers will not care or pay attention to label information but there is a small and growing group of wine lovers does care, and catering to the curiosity of wine lovers has proved to be the best marketing of all.

There is merrit in both “time on the lees” and that of “time on the cork” and the effect of these are quite different. Rule of thumb is the longer the lees contact period the quicker you can start drinking the wines after disgorgement and the shorter the period on the lees the longer you have to wait to start enjoying the wine after disgorgement.

At the end of the day it is all about  the authenticity and provenance of the product that will ensure sustainable brand recognition and follow. It is important that a Non Vintage style from a house making bottle fermented wines expresses the true essence of the house style. When it comes to Vintage it has more the expression of the intrinsic of that specific year.

I am sure that this is a debate that will continue for a while but at the end of the day the more you are informed the better choice you can make!

 

Research to be done: “Effect of yeast contact time on the flavour profile and quality of Méthode Cap Classique.”

Very exciting news is that Winetech has finally given priority on the following topic which will be funded for two years. Hopefully this will be accepted by the end of July 2012 and introduced in March 2013. The project leader for this work will be done by Dr Neil Jolly. We will kindly be inviting up to six wineries to participate. In consideration of one of the aims of the Association to eventually aim to have a two tier system I think this will help to substantiate the aim of this research, very exciting.  Please see below the extract of the study:

“Effect of yeast contact time on the flavour profile and quality of Méthode Cap Classique.”

A two tier system (twelve month and 24 month) is being implemented for South African bottled fermented sparkling wine (Méthode Cap Classique). However, very little scientific data is available to support this classification.  This research topic has been given a high priority (level 1) by the Winetech Vinification Technology Committee. The objective of the project will be to collaborate with the Cap Classique Producers Association and specific Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) producers e.g. Graham Beck, in microbial, chemical and sensory monitoring and analyses of Chardonnay and Pinot noir MCC wines to confirm anecdotal evidence and give scientific support to legislation.

 The following requirement and commitment will be needed to participate form a member.

Six batches of commercial MCC wines will be identified in collaboration with the CCPA, three Chardonnays and three Pinot noirs. The Chardonnay wine will be 100% Chardonnay, but the Pinot noir may be a blend. The blends (cultivar and percentage) will be the same for the three batches wines as very few 100% Pinot noir MCC are produced in South Africa. The statistical design for the project can accept three participating cellars, each providing a Chardonnay as well as a Pinot noir, or six cellars providing one wine each.  Each batch will comprise of 72 individual bottles (yeast intact). The yeast used in all the wines will be the same industry standard.

Analyses will take place at 12 intervals. The first will be at eight months after bottling to provide a base measurement. Thereafter analyses will take place at nine, ten, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18, 21, 23 24 and 25 months. At each analysis interval five bottles will be obtained from the participating cellars. Three will be used for microbial and chemical analyses, one for sensory analyses and the remaining bottle will serve as a back-up. Where logistically possible, the bottles will be removed in a randomised manner. A second vintage will be evaluated in a similar manner to reduce vintage effects.

Sensory analyses will be performed on the wines with an expert panel from industry (representatives and/or winemakers belonging to the CCPA). Two ARC project team members will also form part of the sensory panel. Analyses will be by descriptive sensory analyses, followed by a panel discussion.

Should any one of you be interested in being part of the project and research please let me know so I could let Neil Jolly have the details of the wineries/cellars that would like to be involved. An outline of his research will be discussed at our up and coming technical day. Remember that you are required to sponsor 72 bottles at no charge and be able to get the wines to Nietvoorbji in Stellenbosch.

More information will follow shortly or as it becomes available. Please let me know pieter@grahambeckwines.co.za if you are interested

QUALITY IS NON-NEGOTIABLE

As posted by Amorim Newsletter – June 2012

Amorim SA endeavours to offer quality   service that goes beyond the expectations of our customers. This ethos is   prevalent throughout our supply chain and at our unit in Stellenbosch. Here   Amorim goes beyond general cork industry norms.
Miguel Cabral,   head of Research and Development at Amorim in Portugal, will be visiting   South Africa in July this year to inform the wine industry of latest   developments in his field. The first presentation will be on 24 July where Dr   Cabral will present an update on Amorim’s technical advances in improving   natural cork performance and the latest research on wine closures.

The presentation will be held during the 3rd Cap Classique   Technical Seminar on 25th July, held at Joostenberg Conference   Centre and will focus on research on corks for sparkling wines. The topic of   Dr Miguel Cabral will be:

 

The Studies on Sparkling Wine Cork Stoppers   – The presentation will have 3 parts:

  1. Technical   specifications on Sparkling corks: Results of a study made in collaboration   with Moët & Chandon.
  2. Technical   performance of the product.
  3. Sensorial neutrality

                                                                                                   

Cape Winemakers Guild takes on three new Protégés for 2012

The Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme, a mentorship initiative which gives talented graduates the rare opportunity to work side by side with some of the country’s finest winemakers, now boasts a total of six protégés after three new candidates were recruited into the programme this year.

The Guild’s three new protégés are Heinrich Kulsen and Chandré Petersen, hailing from Paarl in the Western Cape and Philani Shongwe from Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal.

Heinrich Kulsen who completed his degree in Cellar Technology at Elsenburg last year, joins Ernie Els under the mentorship of Louis Strydom. Thrilled to become a protégé Heinrich said: “It is an absolute privilege to be a part of the most noble wine organisation in the country.”

Completing her degree in Viticulture and Oenology also at Elsenburg, Chandré Petersen will be put through her paces under the watchful eye of winemaker Bernhard Veller at Nitida. With dreams of becoming a phenomenal winemaker, Chandré says: “I believe in building a solid practical and theoretical foundation to reach my goals and believe the Protégé programme will allow me to hone my skills and put into practice the theoretical background I have gained so far.”

Philani Shongwe, a proud graduate in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Stellenbosch, shares Heinrich and Chandré’s sentiments at being selected as a protégé. “Completing this internship successfully is like gaining a treasure that no one can take away from me,” says Philani, interning at Paul Cluver where he will be learning his craft from winemaker Andries Burger.

The Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme was launched in 2006 under the auspices of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Trust with the goal of bringing about transformation in the wine industry by cultivating, nurturing and empowering promising individuals to become winemakers of excellence.

Guild members are responsible for mentoring their Protégés for a minimum of six months and providing them with essential hands-on skills and experience.

For more information on the Guild, contact Tel: 021-852 0408 or send an email to info@capewinemakersguild.com. Students interested in applying for the Protégé Programme can visit the Guild’s website at http://www.capewinemakersguild.com.

Issued by: GC Communications Contact: Gudrun Clark
Tel: +27 +21-462 0520 Email: gudrun@gc-com.co.za

On behalf of: Cape Winemakers Guild Contact: Kate Jonker
Tel: +27 +21-852 0408 E-mail: kate@capewinemakersguild.com

The Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme

The Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme was launched in 2006 with the goal of bringing about transformation in the wine industry through cultivating and nurturing winemakers from previously disadvantaged groups to become winemakers of excellence. It is the long-term vision that some of these Protégés could in time be invited to become members of the Cape Winemakers Guild.

Through the Protégé Programme passionate young winemakers have the opportunity to hone their skills and knowledge under the guidance of some of the country’s top winemakers. The Protégé Programme comprises a 3 year internship and only final third and fourth year students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds who have studied Viticulture and Oenology at either the University of Stellenbosch or Elsenburg Agricultural College, can apply for the Programme.

With the assistance of AGRI-Seta, the Guild also offers bursaries to cover the study fees of final-year winemaking students at Elsenburg and Stellenbosch University.

Those wanting to apply to become a CWG Protégé or apply for a final year bursary, should contact Protégé Programme Facilitator, Magda Vorster, on protege@capewinemakersguild.com.

Objectives of the Protégé Programme
•To identify young winemakers with potential for excellence through a detailed selection process.
•To inspire young winemakers to excellence through involvement with Guild functions and other industry events.
•To offer an opportunity to young winemakers to learn and acquire skills through working for, working alongside and being mentored by Guild winemakers.
•To encourage young winemakers to reach their full potential in winemaking through participating in a personal coaching programme.
•To expose the young winemakers to a wide range of wineries, wine types, roles in the winery and skills for a winemaker through a paid internship over three years.
•To prepare young winemakers of colour for a career in winemaking through facilitating interactions and networks within the industry.

Selection Criteria
•Must be from a previously disadvantaged group
•Must be enrolled for a BSc. or B. Viticulture & Oenology
•Must intend to become a winemaker
•Must be obtaining an academic aggregate of 60%
•Must be in third year or fourth year of studies
•Must have no employment contracts or obligations post graduation
•Must have an aptitude for winemaking

Selection Process
•Fill in an application form
•Submit recommendations from academic lecturers & supervisors
•Sit for a psychometric evaluation
•Panel interview
•Possible Appointment

Programme Content

During the internship, programme participants receive:
•Job security for 3 years *
•Mentoring from the best winemakers
•Coaching and life skills mentorship
•Attendance of selected Cape Winemakers Guild functions
•Industry networking opportunities
•A certificate of completion at the end of the 3 years

* Note: The first year in the programme is probationary and should the intern not meet the requirements after this initial year, he or she will be released from the programme.

Duration

The programme comprises of a 3 year paid internship.

Placement

Each internship placement is of a minimum 6 months to 1 year duration All placements are with Guild winemakers

Graduation

After the 3 year period, the intern is free to find employment in the industry

Internship will only begin on successful graduation with a degree or diploma in Viticulture and Oenology.

Programme Sponsorship

The programme is funded by the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust.

Nedbank and the Cape Winemakers Guild are committed to assisting in the development of individuals from previously disadvantaged groups and provide bursary assistance for numerous high school learners.

How export approval can cause problems for natural wines

Originally sent to me by Ken Forresster 28 February 2012

How export approval can hinder the sales of natural wines in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, some natural wine growers have been prevented from exporting their wines, even though they have buyers waiting: but this could be about to change

Imagine the situation. You’ve made a wine. Because you work more naturally, the wine is a little unconventional, but you have a loyal customer list who love your style. And you’ve just landed an export order. But there’s a problem: in order to sell your wines abroad, you need export approval. And that’s contingent on the wine passing a tasting panel. They don’t ‘get’ your wine, and they refuse export permission.
This is just what happened to Jamsheed, a small (2500 case) producer in Australia’s Yarra Valley, last year, with their single-vineyard Cabernet Franc, called ‘Mon Petite Francine’. Weighing in at just 12% alcohol, this is ever so slightly cloudy, but has lovely fresh, sappy cherry fruit with lovely perfume and a textured palate with a bit of spicy bite. It’s deliciously drinkable, and full of interest. But while this wine had been selling well locally, it was refused an export licence by Wine Australia, and so couldn’t leave the country.
It turns out that Jamsheed’s Cabernet Franc is just one of a number of interesting wines in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa that have been refused export permission, even though there are customers waiting.
Gary Mills, who owns Jamsheed, recounted this experience. ‘The 2011 Mon Petite Francine is a new label, born from a love of Loire-style reds. The wine is presented as a nouveau-style red for early consumption and has been selling very well in Melbourne.’ Mills has recently started exporting to Japan, and has an agent in Tokyo called Jeroboam. He sent samples to Tokyo which were tasted by the Jeroboam crew, Ned Goodwin MW and Kenichi Ohashi of the Somersault group. ‘They requested a five dozen allocation of the franc to be added to the larger shipment,’ reports Mills. ‘Export laws state that any shipment over 100 litres and or $2000 value must attain export approval. So my five dozen $11.50 AUS$ FOB wine—total value $690—was sent for export analysis. This cost $200, was couriered to the AWBC (Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation) for $67, and was tasted and rejected, and therefore pulled from the pallet at the docks at my expense and shipped back to me at my expense—yet to be determined.’
But the wine was rejected by the AWBC on the grounds that is was cloudy/turbid and mouldy. ‘Yes, the wine is unfiltered and unfined,’ says Mills, ‘but it is not mouldy. There is a mushroom/forest floor tone that would not be out of place in a Yarra Pinot Noir. It is not a perfect wine by any means—that being half the point—I’m not interested in producing technically correct wines but rather a unique site/terrior-driven tasting experience. The wine shows freshness, vitality and has piqued the interest of everyone who has tasted it.’
But all has not turned out badly for Mills, at least this time. The story of this export approval has led to a lot of discussion on social media. ‘The unexpected bonanza for me was the outpouring of support, both on social media and local physical purchases, from that moment,’ he says. ‘In the proceeding days I sold almost 20 dozen of the wine alone on sympathetic purchases and a further large amount to existing customers. As a result the wine will sell out before the end of September!’
James Erskine is another Australian winegrower who has hit a roadblock trying to gain Wine Australia export approval. Like Mills, he has made wines that have export orders, but isn’t allowed to ship them. His project, Natural Selection Theory, is a group of four winegrowers looking to make natural wines produced with a minimal level of electricity and no additions bar sulfur dioxide at bottling.
One of the wines they have made is called the ‘egg’ project, which is a full skin-fermented white from Semillon grown in the famous Hunter Valley Brokeback vineyard. ‘Since Hunter Semillon is the only true wine style Australia can call its own, we thought this the best place to start on our anti-terroir project,’ says Erskine. He explains that this project allows the group to experiment with the effect that fermentation vessels, skin contact and external energies (such as poetry and sound!) can have on a wine. Each wine comes ‘bottled’ in a one litre egg-shaped clay vessel (a smaller scale version of the clay vessel used to ferment the wine).
‘The long and the short of it is that we sold most of these eggs in Australia,’ says Erskine, ‘but we saved some for Caves de Pyrene [UK importer of natural wines] as Eric Nairoo had expressed interest after trying an egg with us last year.’ Erskine’s egg wine was rejected by Wine Australia’s tasting expert panel and deemed ‘out of condition’. ‘It was not fined or filtered and as you know many full-skin white ferments precipitate a haze,’ says Erskine. ‘The wine was also said to be oxidised even though it has a brilliant electric green hue (with golden mid-centre) and has 20 parts free sulfur on its export analysis.’
The export approval process has caused these natural winemakers problems, but the good news is that Wine Australia seems to be listening. As of today (31 Jan 2012), the tasting panel has been disbanded. Previously, all wines had to pass a panel of qualified wine inspectors who worked in pairs on a roster basis. Their brief was to be sure that a wine was ‘sound and merchantable’ in order for it to be exported. If a wine failed this test, it was tasted the next day by new inspectors who don’t know that the wine failed the day before. If the wine was rejected a second time, the winery had the option to have the wine reviewed independently. Approval lasts for 18 months, after which the wine had to be resubmitted. In 2010/11, just 43 out of 14 569 wines were refused export approval, which implies that lots of poor commercial wines got through and some of these interesting, unconventional natural wines didn’t.
‘The standards required for Australian wines have not changed, nor have the laws and regulations underpinning the quality and integrity of Australian wine, but our approach to administering these standards will move from reliance on pre-export product inspections to a risk-based approach,’ says Wine Australia’s Chief Executive, Andrew Cheesman. ‘When the current export controls were first introduced four decades ago, Australian table wine was hardly known overseas and there was a risk that even one faulty wine could hurt our reputation. Today we are an established and respected global producer and the market leader in some countries. We have a strong culture of compliance and our risk profile has changed considerably.’
This is a welcome change, but in other countries export panels continue to cause problems for unconventional winemakers.

Problems in New Zealand
New Zealand also has a similar system, and one high-end producer who has fallen foul of the system is Pyramid Valley Vineyards, in the north Canterbury Hills. Winegrower Mike Weersing explains how one of his wines, the 2009 Earth Smoke Pinot Noir, failed to get export permission because it has a very low titratable acidity (TA) level of <3.5g/l. ‘The acidities were low this year and pHs high,’ says Weersing. ‘In a season which combined a cool summer with a warm fall, in order to achieve full physiological maturity and greater hang time, higher than typical sugars and lower TAs were inevitable; our inclusion of 15% whole cluster, for aromatic interest, also of course pushed the pH. Finally, and most tellingly, we never make any tartaric acidic additions.’ He adds that, ‘I'm told that the original reason for the minimum TA stipulation was to prevent the importation of wines that had been watered down. A brief glance at the other figures on the wine—e.g. dry extract, yield and overall production—makes very clear that no water could have been added. What burns my ass is that if I were to open all bottles, and to add acid, then reclose and ship, the bureaucrats would be appeased.’

The South African perspective
Craig Hawkins, winemaker at Lammershoek in South Africa’s Swartland region, also explains some of the problems he has encountered. ‘Pretty much every wine that you make needs to be exported at some time or another and for this to happen it needs to be certified,’ says Hawkins. ‘The process of certification is a maximum three-strike step procedure. The wines are tasted blind before separate panels, and three strikes and you’re out, and then it is your choice to go before the Wine and Spirit Board (WSB) and pledge your case as to why the wine should be certified/ultimately exported overseas.’
Hawkins has consistently run into problems, both with the Lammershoek wines, and his own wines, Testalonga, which push the boundaries of naturalness a bit further. ‘My wines for Lammershoek always get a few strikes before eventually being pushed through, but my Testalonga wines have so far both gone the full three strikes, and this is where it gets quite frustrating, because you already have an export order in place, and the people overseas love the wine and want it, and the only thing holding it back is the individual tasters from South Africa.’
However, Hawkins is sympathetic to the tasters who refuse his wines export licences. ‘In all fairness, they have not tasted many skin macerated/long lees contact/no added sulfur dioxide white wines and thus anything different is immediately put down as a fault, and failed.’ So he had to go before the WSB and argue his case. ‘I have heard from numerous wine growers who have had similar problems of how backward and narrow minded the WSB were,’ says Hawkins, ‘but things are changing and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of them were very open minded.’
‘I had to go in front of the Board with letters from people like Doug Wregg (Les Caves de Pyrene), Dirk Niepoort and my importer in Norway (Vinarius). This is your last chance: if you are rejected here then that’s it, you cannot export the wine in any way, and the wine is basically lost to anyone outside of the country. The board consisted of mainly wine makers themselves, my old university professor—pretty much “the old guard”—and you have to sit down around a table and discuss the wines, the winemaking method, and what you are trying to achieve. No one has tried to export or make skin macerated white wines commercially here, so it was something new for them. The panel accepted the wine, and I was extremely impressed with the way they were open to accept new things. I think this bodes well for the future of the South African wine industry.’ But Hawkins is honest enough to admit that if his wines had been rejected, he might be ‘singing a different tune now.’
Tom Lubbe, who makes the Observatory wines, had a less pleasant experience at the hands of the WSB. ‘In South Africa you have to get a wine passed by the WSB once a year, so even if we did get a wine passed the first time it would usually fail the second year (or vice versa),’ he explains. ‘The wines were often failed for being “oxidised” and then at the next tasting “reduced” (a month later). Lack of sulfur dioxide was also a formidable danger to Brand South Africa I was frequently told, as was a dangerous lack of filtration and fining. One time an Observatory wine was turned down for the crushing reason of not “tasting like a South African wine”. In the end I was submitting wines for full microbial analyses with 2 week and 4 week incubations before submitting to the WSB. No problem was ever detected in these analyses and the wines were always pronounced strangely stable but this did not seem to help.’
Lubbe adds, ‘As far as I could tell the main goal of the WSB was to supply endless rivers of £4.99 “trouble-free” plonk to English supermarkets, or any other supermarkets willing to go big,’ but he also admits that he might be biased by his bad experiences.

Conclusions
It seems that while these export panels are well intentioned, they can have the undesired effect of stifling creativity, and something needs to be done about this. ‘Surely a purchase from an importer is enough to satisfy that the wine is “saleable”!’ says Gary Mills, and he has a good point. ‘My beef is not with the process as a whole. The approval process is quite streamlined and accessible as a procedure. The tasting panel is where it gets a little murky.’ He thinks that the exclusive use of winemakers with show judging experience might work against wines that are a bit out of the ordinary. ‘What is their reference? Why should an export sale be derailed by a single subjective opinion?’
James Erskine made two suggestions to Wine Australia as to how they might improve their processes. ‘First, wines submitted to the expert tasting panel should be offered the option of providing a written introduction so that the tasters can be aware if the wine is produced in an unusual fashion and what they might expect to see. Second, we would be happy to organise a tasting together with ourselves and one of Australia’s top sommeliers to showcase some of the more unusual styles of wine that are produced and revered today as Aussie winemakers are travelling more and more and bringing home ideas and beliefs.’
Erskine thinks that with the natural wine revolution gaining traction, that ‘there will be many more challenges to come for the tasting panel of Wine Australia.’ He also thinks that these new, interesting and diverse wine styles could be good for Australia’s image abroad, if they can get past the export panels. ‘As we all know, “Brand Australia” could not be any more deflated right now and shutting down wines which don’t fit “the” mould will not allow Australia to move forward as a great producer of unique wines which should sit comfortably on the table against any great producer. We just have to break away from the homogenous mentality and national cellar palate for acidification and clean wines which we have.’
Fortunately, in Australia, people seemed to have listened, and the demise of the tasting panel is unlikely to unleash a tidal wave of bad Australian wine across the world. Perhaps New Zealand and South Africa should follow suit?

a New dimension of Berry Sorting!

The Pellenc Harvester at Graham Beck

South African Wine | wine news | Cap Classique harvest draws to a close for 22nd time at Graham Beck Wines

South African Wine | wine news | Cap Classique harvest draws to a close for 22nd time at Graham Beck Wines.

South African Wine | wine news | De Wetshof mid-harvest report

South African Wine | wine news | De Wetshof mid-harvest report.