Friday, December 31, 2010

Wine Australia – What’s in a Name?

The meaning of Wine Australia has morphed once again. When I was chairman of Wine Australia from 1998-2004 it referred to the biennial all-industry promotional event. Thereafter it became the name of the Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation overseas activities. Now it has been adopted as the name of the Corporation itself. A+ Australian Wine is to become the bi-line for the overseas and domestic promotional work by Wine Australia. The A+ business to one side, it makes life a whole lot simpler.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is the rain ever going to stop?

I've been in Vietnam and Cambodia for the past two weeks, and emptied an incredible amount of water out of the rain gauge on my return, and in the two days since. But on the way to the airport for my departure I stopped to take three photographs from the right side of the Melba Highway leading towards Yering Station and Chateau Yering. Stringybark Creek is normally a tiny trickle at best, but not that day.

All grapegrowers across Southeast Australia are having to be extremely vigilant about the development of downy mildew (unsightly but not terminal) and powdery mildew (far more damaging as it actually attacks the grapes rather than the leaves). Nonetheless, hopes are high for a top quality vintage taking place in the usual March/April period.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NZ Riesling ChallengeNew Zealand has recently come up with an interesting competition for Riesling. Called the NZ Riesling Challenge, it involved 12

New Zealand has recently come up with an interesting competition for Riesling. Called the NZ Riesling Challenge, it involved 12 winemakers pre-selected to each make a riesling using grapes picked from the same vineyard at the same time in 2010. The initiative was that of Mud House Wines, which provided the four tonnes of hand-picked grapes to each winemaker. They were encouraged to use whatever method they considered most appropriate, and the winner was Matt Donaldson of the Pegasus Bay winery. He commented, ‘The fruit was in perfect condition but picked a little earlier than we do for our Pegasus Bay Riesling, so we thought we would have a little experimental fun and froze the bunches before gently pressing. This raised the degree Brix from 22 to 25. Fermentation was clean and cool and stopped according to taste to give a luscious classic style.’

The wines were judged by the participating winemakers under the direction of Chairman of Judges, Bob Campbell MW. All of the wines have now been bottled, and 2000 cases containing one bottle of each of the 12 wines made will be available for public purchase through the participating wineries, the Mud House Wine Group, and a dedicated NZ Riesling Challenge website. For more information on the background of Mud House Wine and its director, Neil Charles-Jones, contact Mark Devlin,

For the record, second place went to Matt Dicey of Mt Difficulty Wines and third place to Mike Brown from Golden Hills Estates.


The Orange wine region has two advantages: it has consistently produced a series of very good wines in recent years, and has an active PR business supporting it (David Cumming of Define Wine,

In a recent release he points out that its 1500 hectares of vines represents less than 1% of the national total. Its two most successful varieties, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, respectively represent 0.7% and 1.6% of the national plantings. Taste Orange Executive Office Kim Currie is understandably very pleased with the track record of Orange in the 2010 calendar year (coming, as it did, on the back of prior years with similar success). Five wines were in the Top 40 of the 2010 New South Wales Wine Awards, two of those respectively winning trophies for Best Young Sauvignon Blanc and Best Young Red Blend (with a cabernet merlot).

Further trophies at the 2010 New South Wales Small Winemakers Wine Show followed for Best Sauvignon Blanc; trophy for Best Pinot Gris at the 2010 Cowra Wine Show; trophy for Other White Varieties (Pinot Gris) at the 2010 Winewise Small Vignerons Awards; trophies for Best Shiraz Award and Best Red Wine Award at the Shanghai International Wine Challenge 2010; two wines ranked equal fifth with gold medals at the 2010 Great Australian Shiraz Challenge; and a gold medal for a Pinot Noir at the 2010 New Zealand International Wine Show.

A region for all seasons, it would seem.