When it comes to craft beer we still have a lot to learn never mind catch up with the US where the craft beer scene is slowly re-inventing itself to cope with the major brewers all trying to get in on the act. But as Katie Canfield and Matthew Gaughan report from San Francisco by staying local then the true craft brewers will always have the edge on the big corporate brewers.
It seems Australia’s wine scene has gone full circle. From bringing the world exciting new versions of classic grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Shiraz in the eighties and nineties, it is now re-inventing itself as the country best placed for so called alternative, Old World grape varieties, particularly from Italy and Spain, to grow and flourish as next week’s Wine Australia Alternative Varieties Tasting hopes to show.
Let’s face it can be hard to get some customers to switch away from Pinot Grigio or a safe bottle of South American Merlot, never mind take the plunge with a natural wine that may not even taste like wine at all. So it’s some achievement to get 100s of restaurants and bars serving 1000s of bottles of natural wine to customers all over the county as part of Real Wine Month. Event organiser, Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene, explains how it all comes together.
South Africa’s development as a country that looked first to copy the classic winemaking styles of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone, before finding its own voice, its own identity is perfectly illustrated in Creation Wines. Situated in the heart of the cooler climate region of Hemel-en-Aarde, close to Hermanus, it is one of the leading producers of what you might call South Africa’s modern Burgundian wines, says Greg Sherwood MW.
As the UK still struggles to get people to spend more than £5 a bottle of wine in a supermarket or £20 plus in restaurants and bars, on the other side of the world the average price for a bottle of wine can sell at double that on some wines. But then wine after all is just like any other good, service, or event where some people are prepare to spend so much more. Price is very much in the eye of the beholder.
The background buzz of conversation at last week’s London Wine Fair might have been around the big name distributors that weren’t there, but equally that left a lot more space for others, particularly, as Neville Blech of Wine Behind The Label discovered, wines from parts of the world not renown for their winemaking never mind trying to make it the most competitive marketplace in the world. It made for a far more diverse and interesting show.
Mike Turner applauds the efforts of Alliance Wine to showcase smaller scale wine producers trying to do things differently at a focussed trade tasting. There were Polish wines, top end Prosecco, Hungarian, Slovenian – all the usual suspects. With the prices of some wines a little higher than customers might expect from some regions, Mike also argues that this is a small price to pay for the level of quality and back-stories.
On paper Portugal has everything. Centuries of winemaking history and traditions, seemingly more indigenous grape varieties than actual people and a host of wines that pair beautifully with food. Yet it is in many markets outside its colonial past still to find its feet. Matthew Gaughan reports from San Francisco how it is finally beating its drum loudly in the US.
Away from Australia’s coast a group of winemakers are making idiosyncratic, cool climate wines in regions with high altitude. At a recent seminar at Australia House, Sarah Ahmed highlighted 12 wines from three regions to show the pluses and minuses of making wines in areas of higher altitude. But do these wines have a future in the UK on-trade? Nigel Floyd went to find out.
As the UK wine industry settles back in to normal life after the buzz of the London Wine Fair it is also time to reflect on some of the lessons that could be learnt there, and, in particular, how both wine producers and importers are having to cope and adapt to such a fast moving marketplace. At the front of those changes is Hallgarten Druitt which is putting new professional people and management skills at the top of its own change agenda.