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  • Top Tips to Boost your Sales this Christmas

    With the festive season fast approaching, now’s the time to start thinking about ways you can capitalise on the bustling trading period and boost your sales. Follow these eight tips to ensure you’ve got all your bases covered.

     

    1 Premiumisation

    If you don’t have it, you can’t sell it. Christmas is the best time to stretch your premium range and increase your price points for by-the-glass listings. Look at cash margin for premium wines to get them activated. Once you’ve selected your more premium offering, you can email this out to customers for group bookings, which allows you to plan for what you’ll be selling.  

     

    2 Staff

    Staff are your most important asset. During this peak period, ensure they’re energised and motivated, as this will keep them engaging with customers. Staff incentives and spot prizes are always a good start.

    Training is also key. Roll out training sessions with your team in October to ensure they’re all aligned with what the business wants to sell during the Christmas period. Remember to educate them on the full suite of wines and other beverages, and help them perfect the single-sentence up-sell/add-on – it will drive great sales at this time of year. “‘Can I get you a G&T/cocktail/glass of fizz whilst you look at the menu?” asked when seating a table is very effective.

     

    3 Packages

    Consider whether a drinks package at a set price would fit your venue. This can be fantastic way to encourage patrons to explore the breadth of your list, and branch out into things like fizz on arrival and apéritifs. For the consumer, it’s also appealing as it means the logistics and financials are already taken care of, meaning they can relax and enjoy the experience.

     

    4 What’s hot

    Tap into what’s hot in the world of wine. Consumer trends show that Sauvignon Blanc, Rioja, Malbec, Prosecco and Provençal Rosé have big followings in the UK market, so we’d recommend you have a least one option from each of these categories on the list. A couple we’d recommend include: 

     

    bottle lineup

    Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Yealands Estate

    La Garuma Sauvignon Blanc, Viña Leyda

    Grande Réserve Organic Rosé Cru Classé, Château Ste Marguerite Rosé

    El Mago Organic Rosé, Franck Massard

    Rioja Crianza, Sierra Cantabria

    Estate Malbec, El Esteco

    Archetipi Ribolla Gialla Natural Wine, Puiatti

    Large5 formats

    If you’ve got bigger groups of customers coming through the doors, ensure you’ve got a magnum list ready to go. Voluptuous large format bottles add theatre to any occasion, especially during the festive season when customers are looking for that extra special something.

     

    6 Apéritifs

    Customers will be looking at splashing out during the season, so having a couple of apéritif serves listed at the top of a food menu is a great way to appeal to these sensibilities. Having something like an Aperol Spritz, sparkling cocktail, or even Champagne and Prosecco listed will catch their eye, and increase the chances of a sale. Remember, anything bubbly is generally associated with good cheer and celebration.

     

    7 Digestifs

    If you have dessert wines and digestifs, ensure that they are presented at the same time as the dessert menu and good pairings are actively recommended. It’s also worth considering creating a bespoke rum or whiskey list – 12 days of Christmas, with 12 spirits on the list, for example. In particular, Dark Rum is a category in growth, and winter sees people naturally moving towards darker spirits.

     

    8 Weather

    In certain areas of the UK it’s important to be prepared for the weather, and make sure you’re stocked up for any transport issues that may arise because of it. It’s best to increase your par levels in November and run the stock through in December. There’s nothing worse than missing a sale because you’ve run out of something the customer’s ordered. 

  • All that bubbles

    wordpress banner top christmas 1 - all that bubbles

    Nothing quite says Christmas like a glass of effervescent fizz. But with so many styles on offer, it’s hard to know which to pick. We take you through the key styles, and pick out a selection that should make the cut on your Christmas order list.

    Champagne

    Tunnelled beneath the handsome architectural façades of Reims and Epernay is a subterranean world of work. Kilometre after kilometre of branching cellars, lined with millions of bottles stacked by hand and layered on top of one another, like logs in a woodpile. The still wine that enters these vaults is soon to become starred with bubbles, but the transformation that gives its nutritious, yeasty, dough-like aroma only emerges after years of cellaring.

    Harvest comes to Champagne in September, just as summer begins to fade into Autumn. For three hectic weeks, Champagne’s population swells by 60,000 as legions of students, travelling workers, executives and cellar workers bear the strain of bringing in the grapes. At night, this transient workforce – full of food, wine, music and fatigue – loudly occupies the streets, creating the impression of a newly-formed, fecund, nocturnal world.

    Champagne is synonymous with luxury, but the soft warmth of the joie de vivre of these late summer nights also reminds us why it has become such a spirited monument to good French living.

    Rosés

    Rosé is the ultimate test of the blender’s art. Try and blend too much red wine into Champagne, or macerate the grapes for too long, and the elements never really combine, as with oil being dripped into water. At Jacquart, small additions of still Pinot Noir add extra dimensions of colour and flavour, without ever compromising the gentle impact of the underlying blend.

    Rosés

    NV Brut Mosaïque Rosé, Champagne Jacquart

    NV Cuvée Rosé , Laurent Perrier

     

    Les Apéritifs – Lighter Styles

    Champagne’s gentle, glimmering apéritif wines marvellously invert the region’s dour backdrop of hard rock and sullen light, like a photographic negative blazoned onto celluloid. Laurent-Perrier NV epitomises this style: delicate yet flavourful, its fine textural weave vigorously unspooling into filaments of tiny, brilliant bubbles.

    Les Apéritifs – Lighter Styles

    NV Ultra Brut, Laurent Perrier

    NV Grand Brut, Perrier-Jouët

    NV Ponsardin Yellow Label Brut, Veuve Clicquot

     

    Blanc de Blancs – 100% Chardonnay Wines

    The east-facing slopes of the Côtes des Blancs are Chardonnay’s home, and the source of the region’s prized and elegant Blanc de Blancs Champagnes. Chardonnay is the variety most sensitive to the return of light and warmth to the vineyards in spring, fattening its buds from early March. Without the easterly aspect, the new growth might perish to frost, but the gentle incline helps gather in the warmth of the morning sun and protects the emerging shoots as they tiptoe their way leaf by leaf into each new season.

    Blanc de Blancs – 100% Chardonnay Wines

    Blanc de Blancs, Jacquart Vintage

    NV Blanc de Blancs, Ruinart

     

    Fuller Styles

    Customarily, blends of grape varieties dutifully pull together, like suburban couples; but Champagne’s licit ménage à trois of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier is a much more combustible affair. Bollinger, Roederer and Taittinger are all familiar names, but each illustrates the extraordinary boost and energy of combination that blending brings to Champagne.

    Fuller Styles

    NV Special Cuvée, Bollinger

    NV Brut Réserve, Taittinger 

    NV Brut Mosaïque, Champagne Jacquart

     

    Vintage and Luxury Cuveés

    Although the majority of vintage wines are blended, it is the grandeur of Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims that persuades most producers to bottle cuveés from individual years. Wines from the mid to late 90s are now starting to peak, though a few such as Henriot’s Cuveé des Enchanteleurs and Bollinger’s Grande Année seemingly come with the gift of perpetual life.

    As for the strength of luxury brands such as Cristal and Dom Pérignon, consistency is everything, coupled with the ability to create and satisfy our appetite for luxury. For those looking for greater individuality, Laurent-Perrier’s Grand Siècle is full of surprises and subtleties, and Henriot’s 9-year matured Cuvée des Enchanteleurs is truly exceptional.

    Vintage and Luxury Cuveés

    La Grande Année, Bollinger

    Cristal, Louis Roederer

    Dom Pérignon

    NV Grand Siècle, Laurent Perrier

    Krug

    Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Taittinger 

     

    Sparkling

    Of course, if you’re after festive fizz, Champagne is not your only option – there’s a whole wide world of sparkling alternatives beyond the borders of Champagne from which to choose. With differing emphasis on fruitiness, bubble size and methods, each country is home to a distinct version of its own. Interestingly, the UK is the largest importer of all sparkling wines in the world – two of the most popular effervescent alternatives being Prosecco and Cava. These sparkling wines have filled a gap in the market – where Champagne was seen as too luxurious or unaffordable, Prosecco is now an option for those wanting to drink bubbles without the hefty price tag.

    Prosecco is made differently to Champagne and, because of this, the bubbles are lighter and less persistent. The taste of Prosecco comes from the local Glera grape, which gives the wine perfumed aromas of white peach, meyer lemon, honeysuckle, and creamy vanilla.

    Cava is Spain’s answer to Champagne. Most Cava comes from Catalonia in Northern Spain where the local grapes of Macabeo, Paralleda and Xarello are blended together using the same winemaking method as its French counterpart. The result is a dry, elegant and fruity sparkling wine with an attractive price point.

    Sparkling

    NV Classic Reserve, Hattingley Valley 

    Rosé, Hattingley Valley 

    NV Maximum Brut, Ferrari

  • Alternative Australia 

    heartland

    For years, Shiraz and Chardonnay have sat contently on their thrones as the King and Queen of the Australian wine growing scene. Back when the New World wine country was finding its feet in an industry dominated by Old World estates – with vines even older than Australia – it was the likes of Shiraz and Chardonnay grapes that made people sit up and take notice of the new kid on the block. However, the landscape has evolved in the past few years, and modern Australian wine is a far cry from where it first began. In Australia, it’s all about diversity – new wine regions are emerging, new winemakers are breaking through, and new styles are being pursued.

    But perhaps the biggest change of all is with grape varieties. At present, there are more than one hundred commercially planted grape varieties in Australia; however, a new wave of Mediterranean varieties are making a name for themselves Down Under. From Nero d’Avola to Vermentino, Australia is bursting with new arrivals and lesser-known grape varieties which are grabbing the attention of critics, sommeliers and wine drinkers around the world.

    There’s no doubt the Australian wine scene is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, but the reasons behind the varietal explosion are far more complex.

    For one, climate change has had a major impact. With many of Australia’s classic wine regions becoming warmer and drier – and growing seasons becoming shorter – winemakers have turned to vines that are better suited to their soils and conditions, as a means to future-proof the industry.

    australian_heartland

    Of course, commercial objectives are not missing from the equation, and investing in alternative varietals helps Australian producers find a new USP in an increasingly crowded market.

    The third piece of the puzzle boils down to the people behind the labels and their inherent pioneering spirit. Aussie winemakers are curious and willing to challenge convention, keen to try new things and discover how different varieties express themselves in Australia’s distinct terroir. However, many winemakers felt that such a hegemony of international varieties was squandering Australia’s potential and so, without laws restricting what can be planted and where, Australia has become a hotbed of innovation and experimentation.

    Under the care of our passionate Australian Buyer, Maggie Macpherson, Enotria&Coe’s portfolio has evolved over the years, and now reflects this new diversity in Australian wine, with producers such as Chalmers, Heartland, d’Arenberg and Henschke forging the path forward.

    At Heartland, Mediterranean varieties have always been on the radar, with vines planted with Fiano, Malbec, Dolcetto, Tempranillo, Lagrein and many more.

    heartland_1

    “All Australian wine regions remain young by international standards. Both Barossa and Langhorne Creek are well over a hundred years and running, but we’re not closing the gap on Burgundy any time soon. It takes a while to understand a terroir and work out what varieties work well in which soil, aspect and climate. As a nation, we have worked out that there are lots of varietal options for the thousands of different facets of our landscape,” says Ben Glaetzer.

    For Heartland, the pursuit of alternative varietals has a lot to do with flavour and, as Nick Keukenmeester says, the fact that “we like to make them, the journos like them, we get medals and they sell. Why argue?”

    For influential wine writer, Matthew Jukes, who’s been working with Australia’s best wines for more than three decades now, the groundswell can be put down to sheer curiosity.

    matthew jukes_1

    “It is easy to sell the first bottle. But the more interesting thing is, do customers come back for a second glass, bottle or case? These wines are often part of a ‘diffusion brand’ within a winery’s range which, like in fashion, a second label can divert the eye for a while, before you return to the classics. We are riding a fashion wave at the moment and only the best versions of these wines will survive," he says.

    While the interest in alternative varieties is certainly picking up speed, Matthew warns that before we too quickly jump ship from the country’s tried and tasted grapes, it’s worth taking a step back and assessing the broader picture.

    A decade ago, when Matthew co-authored his third book on Australia, Taste Food & Wine 2009, he was decidedly nonplussed by the shortlist of 200 alternative reds. Ten years on, although he notes the situation has evolved slightly, we’re still not experiencing the avalanche of fascinating, great new wines everyone expected.

    “There are certainly some new wines, but few of them compare to the level of skill and flair shown by the Rieslings, Chardonnays, Semillon, Shirazes, Cabernets and so on.

    “Granted, a decade on, I have more wines in my 100 Best Australian Wines Report, which are made from alternatives, but they are window dressing on the main act – the founding varieties. My main issue is that wineries which grow alternatives are often looking for a quick fix or a trendy angle to get their wines in front of you.

    "There is however, a strong band of wineries making smart wines, but as Matthew points out, they’ve been at it for years. “They know that these wines are not the mainstay of their businesses, but they provide something a little different.”

    So where does all this leave us?

    Loading buckets of grapes onto the dray 1

    If we know one thing for certain, it’s that over the past few decades Australian winemakers have matured, and so too have their wines. No longer are wines from Down Under stereotyped as ‘sunshine in a bottle.’

    As for the future of Australian wine, Ben rightly points out that the industry’s survival and success has always hinged on innovation and so, moving forward, we should look for more of the same. By which he means not more of the same, but rather constant change.

    In contrast, while Matthew doesn’t foresee huge change in the industry in the coming years, he believes that “great wines will continue to capture hearts and palates, while the alternatives will surf the waves of fashion around the outside, bringing you into the vast ocean of choice which is the Australian wine world."

  • National Rum Day

    fresh mojito in the bar

    Words: Ben Gibbins

    It’s August, which means it’s nearly International Talk Like a Pirate Day [19th September if you’re interested] but more importantly it means that National Rum Day is almost upon us, with August 16th giving us an excuse to raise a glass to the spirits behemoth that is rum in all it’s forms.

    Bartenders will use Wednesday to pronounce that rum is the next big thing, which it is, but also has been for the last decade. Rum is still big – in 2015 the mojito was the most ordered cocktail in the UK – but specifically spiced rum is the next big thing, with growth up year on year whilst the rest of the rum world remains relatively flat. But more on that later.

    Rum has a long and interesting history mixing myths and truths dependent on who you talk to. Sugar as first discovered in South East Asia; brum (sugar wine) was noted in 14th century Iran; and later distillation became commonplace on the Caribbean sugar plantations in 17th century as the Western taste for the grass ‘that brought forth honey without the need for bees’ grew. The first taste of sugar spirits would have come in the Caribbean from molasses being cast aside in vats, they are produced as a by-product of sugar production, where it was watered down by rain and naturally fermented, creating a low-wine drunk by the workers. The Spanish were the first to distill this ‘wine’ into a spirit, nicknamed Kil Devil as it would ‘kill the devil inside you’! Rum’s big boom followed that of the sugar industry, growing in conjunction with the slave trade, a trade triangle being established between Africa, the Caribbean and the American Colonies exchanging sugar for rum, and rum for slaves. This currency value was hugely important, with rum used as legal tender across America and Europe for a number of years across all levels of society – in fact George Washington insisted on a barrel of Barbados rum at his inauguration.

    Rum became linked to naval tradition at the same time, with Lord Nelson’s body reportedly transported home in a rum barrel after Trafalgar, and the Royal Navy’s daily rum ration only coming to an end in 1970.

    Most rum is produced in sugar cane growing countries, with the Caribbean and South/Central America producing the most well-known brands, with most using molasses as their base ingredient. The production methods are generally similar, but the location plays a key part in the final taste, and this can crudely be defined along the lines of language and colonialism.

    Old rum distillery, factory in St.Lucia. Old rum distillery, factory in St.Lucia.

    English Speaking Island (Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica…): Tend to be distilled in a pot still and column still resulting in a darker rum with a fuller-bodied style.

    Spanish Speaking Islands and Latin America (Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela…): Usually column distilled for a lighter, more mixable rum ideal for cocktails.

    French Speaking Islands (Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique…): Produce a different product – rhum agricole – made from fresh sugar cane juice rather than molasses for a zesty, herbal note.

    The diversity of rum has spread the world over though with India producing a drier version, Cachaca made in Brazil, anise-infused Aquardiente from various points in South America, Tuzemak in the Czech Republic, Ron Miel from the Canary Islands and Stroh in Austria.

    Yeast, ageing and blending are vitally important in rum production having a profound impact on the taste profile and style of the final product. Producers of lighter rums use fast acting yeasts to keep the number of esters (flavours) lower, whilst fuller, richer rums use slower yeasts for added flavour. Ageing varies from one location to another, with many countries requiring at least a year. Bourbon casks are a popular choice but rum producers are now experimenting with ‘finishing’ in different casks to alter the flavour. There is a downside to long ageing though – the angel’s share in the tropics is usually 10% of the total volume a year (compared to 2% in Scotland) – meaning long-aged rums are incredibly expensive with only a fraction of the original liquid remaining. Blending is common in most rums, ensuring consistency and maintaining the quality of rums produced.

    High angle view of two glasses of rum-cola cocktail with ice served on the bar. Vintage colour look.

    This longer ageing has become increasingly popular with the use of aged rum on sipping and digestif menus across the country.

    Then there is spiced rum, which now sits as its own category and is almost solely accountable for the rise in rum sales in recent years, its popularity growing as a characterful base for cocktails and mixed drinks. The additional flavours of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger were once used to mask inferior spirits but now serve to enhance quality base spirits.

    Across all these categories and variants rum is a greatly versatile product working perfectly in classic mixed drinks such as a Cuba Libre or a Dark ‘n Stormy (a drink even trademarked by Goslings Rum); the eponymous Pina Colada – the national drink of Puerto Rico since 1978; in tiki drinks like a Mai Tai or a Beachcomber; and in re-worked classics like a rum old-fashioned.

    So this National Rum Day, why not try something summery and exciting, or revisit an old favourite, but swap in rum for a new take on the familiar? Agricole is a great alternative to tequila, light rums for vodka and gin, and darker, aged rums in place of bourbon and whisky.

  • The story of Chianti

    Landscape in Chianti region, Tuscany, Italy

    First things first

    Since the Middle Ages, Florence was the most powerful of the city-states, and the epicentre of commercial winemaking. In the 14th century, the Florentine Republic identified the hills between Florence and Siena as Chianti. Chianti was the first real delimited wine zon, when in 1716 Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici created what is believed to be the first legislation governing wine production.

    In the 1870s, following extensive research through France and Germany studying every possible way of growing vines, Baron Bettino Ricasoli narrowed down the Chianti formula to three Tuscan grape varieties: Sangioveto (Sangiovese) for its aromas; Canaiolo for its sweetness to balance the acidity of the latter; and Malvasia to give freshness. In Bordeaux terms, Canaiolo is to Sangiovese what Merlot is to Cabernet.

    In the 20th century, a series of unfortunate events occurred in Chianti. First, the original zone (now referred to as the classic zone) expanded to include huge parts of central Tuscany; then in 1967, the Ricasoli formula became doctrine allowing for up to 30% white varieties in the blend. Finally, the mass exodus that started in the 1950s from the Tuscan countryside prompted the Italian Government and EU to finance large-scale replanting of the Tuscan vineyards, with a focus on mass production.

    The mouth puckering, brown-at-the edge red in a straw-covered fiasco is the cheap image of Chianti that still haunts the industry. Piero Antinori acknowledged that “for so long, our wine culture was based on quantity, not quality”. He also concedes that “in the past, Italy produced mass quantities of wine because we were an agricultural economy and people used wine to quench thirst. After WW2, consumption dropped as we became more industrialised. But our mentality toward winemaking did not change”.

    The times they are a changin’

    Today, Chianti is not the wine it once was. It has undergone more profound changes in the past 30 years than any other wine in Italy, and now Chianti Classico is a source of world class reds. In 1984, Chianti and Chianti Classico were upgraded to DOCG, adjusting the formula with a minimum of only 2% white varieties, and allowing 105 foreign varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

    It changed again in 1996, eliminating the minimum of white grapes and allowing up to 15% foreign varieties. Yields were restricted, and new technologies were implemented in the cellar such as controlled temperature in stainless steel, and ageing in smaller barrels instead of the big chestnut botti. The Classico area was restricted to the original 7000ha, with lower yields and higher minimum Sangiovese (80%).

    In 1989, the Chianti Classico Consorzio started a research programme called Chianti Classico 2000. The main aim of the programme was to identify new clones of Sangiovese with thicker skin and sparser grape bunches. Parallel to this, some producers started their own clonal selection, replanting vineyards more densely, producing smaller quantities of fruit per vine. The mini revolution ignited by top estates prompted the change from 2000-5000 vines/ha, producing only one-two kilosper plant. The vintages from 1997 to 2000 were fantastic for Chianti Classico, due not only to the weather, but also to a refinement of the ingredients.

    Grape Harvest. Color Image

    The grape

    Although the variety is anything but easy, Sangiovese is Italy’s most abundant red variety, with over 70,000ha and 11% of all grape varieties in Italy. The origin of the name is debated, with some pointing to the mythological reference to the blood of Jupiter (Sanguis Jovis), and others to that of Saint John (di Giovanni).

    Its origins are unclear. It is thought to have originated in the Apennines between Emilia Romagna and Tuscany, with the first written reference dating back to 1590. In 2004, researchers determined through DNA testing that Sangiovese descends from Ciliegiolo.

    Sangiovese is very vigorous and has to be closely pruned. It’s sensitive to its environment and difficult to get fully ripe, which can also contribute to its high acidity. The variety tends to contain low levels of anthocyanins in its skin, giving less intense colour. For this reason, Canoiolo and especially Cororino are added to the Chianti blend. This is also the reason why Cabernet and Merlot became important in Tuscany. Clonal selection research efforts led to the development of looser bunches and less productive, early ripening and deeper hued clones of Sangiovese.

    The weather

    In Chianti the climate is overall very mild hotter in the valleys and cooler with more rainfall in the hillside areas.

    IMG_3113

    The soil

    The best soils for growing Sangiovese are not very fertile, well drained, with minimal water retention. The poor soils of Chianti galestro (friable marl with layers of sandstone/limestone) are probably the best of all. The optimal planting of vines is at a density of 5,000-7,000 plants per ha, with yields of 1.5kg per plant. In the cool Chianti Classico area the best results are in south/southwest facing slopes at 250/500m.

    From the heights of Gaiole, Greve, Castellina, Radda and Panzano the wines show perfume and power, with sour red cherries, red berries, liquorice, violet, tea leaf, and leather and tobacco with age. Often the wines have a sheen of new oak and are sweetened with Merlot and Cabernet. They are dense, dark and age-worthy, but still angular compared to the new world styles. The best Chianti Classico has a certain grace that does not fade with age.

  • New Zealand’s Green Team: Part One

    Angus&Cows CMYK

    In the first instalment in our series uncovering the green winemaking scene in New Zealand, we chat to Angus Thomson, owner of Urlar Estate, a family-owned winery producing outstanding single-vineyard wines following organic and biodynamic principles. Meaning ‘The Earth’ in Gaelic, the team’s desire is to bring an abundance of life back to their ancient soils so they can discover the purity of flavour inherent in the land.

    On Urlar’s winemaking philosophy…Our wine making philosophy is to let the Earth talk naturally. With minimal intervention in the vineyard and winery you will in every glass smell and taste our unique land.

    On taking a vineyard into organic production…The steps to go organic are simple. Firstly, get yourself certified. Anyone can say they are organic but the certification proves it. The next stage is to remove ALL synthetic fertilisers, weed sprays, fungicides and insecticides from use on the vineyard.  After three long years, you then remove all synthetic yeasts and winemaking aids from the winemaking process.

    Biodynamics is exactly the same as organics, but the process has more of a holistic approach. The use of the biodynamic calendar and making the compost preps is essential – biodynamics really tests who wants to do it and who doesn’t.

    Vineyard&Sheep

    On how the outcomes of organic production stack up against conventional growing methods…For me personally, the outcomes are massive and it goes far beyond what we’re just trying to do here at Urlar. This to me shows that you understand that there’s change in the world’s weather, and we need to look after the land for the next generation. Forget about now and the outcomes (OF course we want them to be better) but for me this is our small way of looking after the planet for the generations to come.

    On the characteristics of organic wine…I think that organically made wines have a far greater balance to them for a start. Biodynamic agriculture is about balancing your soil and from there everything that grows in it should be balanced. I also think you get more flavour in the grapes with lower sugar levels at picking, which means the alcohols are generally lower. Organic wines are more moody around the change of the seasons – they have really big highs but close up more when they go into a quiet patch. It is difficult to explain but I think organic/biodynamic wines have a certain soul to them and more energy when they’re drunk.

    Shaker_Table

    On lessons learnt from organic viniculture…The most interesting thing we’ve learnt is that you do not need all these crappy sprays to grow great grapes. We have no more powdery Mildew or Botrytis problems that conventional people have; in fact, a lot of the time we have far less.

    On the biggest barriers to organic viniculture… At the end of the day you have to want to be organic. If you want to just do it for marketing or money then you will give up. Cost wise it’s pretty similar – what we have found out is that we spend miles less on fancy sprays and fungicides, but we spend a lot more on weed control. So by the time you add the two together they balance each other out. Apart from that there are no real barriers to organic grape growing. Volume wise, because we’re aiming for premium wines, the crops are naturally lower anyway so we don’t see the drop in crop level that you may see if you are a big commercial grower.

    On the rising popularity of sustainable wines with consumers…Sustainable wine growing is just conventional grape growing, dressed up with a fancy name. In New Zealand, we have the Sustainable Wine Growing body that all wineries must belong to in order to export. However, in this group sustainable winegrowers are still allowed to use Roundup, fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides – is this really sustainable? The answer is yes it is because there are controls around when and how much.  But really sustainable viticulture is just a myth. However, if you truly want to be green and talk about organic and biodynamic winegrowing, then yes we’re definitely seeing growth in this category.

    Wild Flowers2

    On why they’re gaining in popularity…People really want to know that what they’re eating and drinking is good for them. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a young hipster or an older person, it’s all about health and doing something good for the environment.

    On the future of organic wine…The more the planet goes backwards, the we’re going to see a demand for this type of wine; the future is huge and will only keep growing. In NZ, we have an immediate head start as the world sees this country as being clean and green. Organic and biodynamic winemaking is certainly growing. The reason being I believe is multifold, but includes the benefits for the environment, better taste, that it’s nicer to work with in the vineyard, and that our confidence is growing in terms of what can be achieved without the use of nasty chemicals.

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