Australian wine is at a crossroads?

Australian wine is at a crossroads?

I am a great believer and supporter of Australian wines and wine makers and have been for years, so despite the fact that I am an importer and supplier of anything hut Australian wines they will always have a special place at our table.

I was fortunate enough to attend the RAS/WCA Wine Communicators Of Australia 2014 Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine show on Friday at the Four Seasons here in Sydney.

A special highlight to me was able to hear what some the wine worlds leading thinkers have to say about the current and future state of the Australian wine industry and I must admit I loved the openness and honesty that was expressed.

Of special intérest to me was the insights that Ian Riggs the Chairman of Judges for the RAS.

 Ian was very definitive in is belief that “Australia now produced some of the best technically made wines in the world, they are clean, with few faults and consistent”, which at the high end of the market I would agree this takes place

He went onto to say that in achieving this lofty goal Australian wines have become less stylistic, lacking any clear profile or character resulting in many of our wine all looking and tasting the same.

Ian suggested that we needed to ” get some faults back in our wines” so as to create so uniqueness to give consumers something a little extra and to remove the uniformity that has been occurring.

I must admit I had not thought about these comments to much in the past but I would agree to many Australian wines today are looking and tasting pretty much one another which is really quiet sad, it seems like their character and the things that made them in the words of Lisa Perotti-Brown national treasures have simply disappeared

Sadly I proved this very point on Friday night when I shared one of Australia’s most iconic South Australian Rieslings with my wife Kate for dinner, hyped up on anticpation as it has been some years since we last tried this wine to be only very sadly disappointed with what was now an under weight, generic tasting riesling that commanded an above $50.00 price tag

I am not sure whay this come about, lack of innovation, a need to create a consistent product for the consumer, playing it safe or technical excellence as Ina  Riggs described- I am sure there a myriad of reasons why this is happening.

But what ever the reason many of the great brands of this country have taken this ” low road approach ” to their wine making and as such these once great wines are now confined the shelves amongst the masses, neither standing or deserving to stand out

What ever it is it has to stop, its enough to make poor Len Evans roll over run his grave.

Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, the Editor in Chief for eRobert Parker carried the theme of  Ian’s discussion forward asserting that many winemakers Australian wine makers included have resorted to and have been guilty of making nothing more than large batches of ” industrialised grape juice which is made consistently to a formula and this has resulted in many wines can only be differentiated only by the price that they are sold at and the label that has been created for them”

She went onto say “ that wine cannot be made by or to a formula. clever marketing and large channels of distribution will only get you so far” .

Wine is an organic product, it has expression and is one of only a few things in this world that people can and are polarised in their opinion about, just check out some of the wine reviews and you will see this for yourself.

Wine is is the blend of art and science but it appears that there is more science than art occurring here in Australia today.

Lisa was very critical of those Australian wine makers who were simply competing on price alone.

This she said “was a mugs game” and indeed a very dangerous game play for both the maker and the consumer as what we are ending up with is a situation where no one really knows that the real value or cost of a wine maybe, the deep discounting, inflated prices and slick branding are all going to come back and bite the industry on the bum.

Lisa rightly argued that many international consumers are starting to become jaded in their opinion of  Australian wines , tired and very dated both in style and offer  especially if their first experience with our wines is through the lower end bulk wines that are readily available in  the US and Great Britain I am sure that as a result we have set the bar for our wines at an incredibly low benchmark.

We have seen this time and time again, put it this way when we lived in the US our American friends would proudly bring us a bottle of Yellowtail as they felt that this was a great and iconic Australian wine, I rest my case and that of Lisa’s as well.

Australia, Australian wines and their makers have so much more to offer, this is as Lisa described ”the time for us to embrace our national treasures” and also to look to develop new national treasures as they are out there.

We need to be supporting our small wine makers more and more, Tim Kirk from Clonkilla is a great example of a true artisan and a bloke that really cares about what his wines looks and taste like and that his customers really enjoy what he produces- there are many others out there big and small who care in the same way.

I was heartened by the quality and style of the medal award winning wines we tried at the lunch, three cheers to my old mates from Brown Bros and their 2013 Brown Bros Cellar Door Release Montepulciano, the 2012 Lobethal Shiraz, 201`3 Montalto Vineyard Olive Grove ” Pennon Hill” Pinot Grigio and last but no least what a way to finish a meal but with a real Australian classic a NV Morris Wines Old Premium Liqueur Muscat- now this is what I call an impressive selection of wines.

There were a whole lot more on offer on the day but these ones stood out for me but I would suggest that you go and check out the fill results of all the classes from the Macquaire Group Sydney Royal Wines Show (http//:www.sydneyroyal.com.au/wine)

As a closing thought, before you go into a liquor store or order a wine with your meal do yourself a favour and make sure that you have done your homework on what you are looking to drink, most good restaurants readily share their wines list if not give them a call as I am sure that they would be happy to share.

If you do not know or do not feel confident to select then ask for help as the serving teams especially here in Sydney really know their stuff and they will not try and stitch you up with the most expensive bottle from their list.

Australian wines maybe at crossroads but it is also on the cusp of greatness yet again – there is that glass half full and empty again, its up to you the consumer as much it is our winemakers to choose the future direction.

Wine is a wonderful landscape we should all take time to explore fully , it is intertwined with the terrior that is grown upon, the grapes that are grown, where they are grown and their human interface, it is not just something that is a process where a grape is converted into a juice and then into a wine.

Happy drinking one and all.

 

Cheers

 

Leigh