Friday, June 4, 2021

The Two Dilemmas of the Australian Wine Industry

 The first dilemma has to do with our professional wine writers and influencers. Many of them are Masters of Wine or Master Sommeliers. In order to achieve these accolades, you have to taste widely, which means mainly northern hemisphere wines. There is nothing wrong with that, but it means these palates are geared towards such wines. As a result, they do not value higher alcohol, higher fruit weight wines as highly. As an example,they love Syrah, but not Shiraz - you know what I mean. However, the sun kissed South Australian wines are unique in the world. The low alcohol wines, by contrast, get lost in similar wines from all over the world. The issue here is drinkability. In the same way in which grand cru Burgundy is about power and elegance at the same time, South Australian wines need to aim for the same. But let's not give up on the unique positioning some of our wines can enjoy.

The second issue is about climate change. No doubt it happens. Cooler regions, such as Tasmania, the Macedon Ranges and the Southern Highlands in NSW are now attractive new locations. More controversial is the switch to varieties which can deal better with hot climate, for example Southern Italian varieties such as Montepulciano and Aglianico. They can produce decent wine, but there is no evidence in Europe that they can reach the heights of Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz. Touriga Nacional from Portugal would be my pick in this context So what about the adaptability of key varieties, such as Shiraz and Chardonnay? They grow in many different environments. Would earlier picking prevent overripeness and still deliver complex wines?

So let's hope people do not forget where our competitive advantage lies, and let's be open to different approaches to climate change.       


Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

MWs and MSs are exposed to more Northern Hemisphere wines as well as the food matching traditions of many of the regions from where these wines come from. The perception (which I side with) is that high alcohol and fruit SA shiraz not a great wine for the table - overpowering, too much sweet fruit, lacks finesse. Especially given that a lot of meals are now trending in a lighter direction, less red meats etc.

In any case, SA shiraz remains the benchmark/ front of mind option for the general public, and it is the minority that bother with the rest of Australia's wine regions.

(References to SA shiraz are generally directed towards hot regions like Barossa)

Anonymous said...

Would also add that there is also a lot of interest from a historic, romance and "terroir" perspective for Northern Hemisphere wines that adds so much to the the enjoyment of these wines...and all this would appeal greatly to the MW/MS types.