#PouringforAustralia – British wine and hospitality trades offer support in wake of Australian bushfires

It is so huge, and we are so small. The loss of lives, habitat, wildlife. And wine is tiny and frivolous. But the Australians I know I know through wine, and all livings are valuable, and precious to those that making them.

My Australian friends had talked about bushfire season before. One vivid scene, told to me by a winemaker. They were packing up and leaving fast. Wildfire approaching. His little daughter could only find one of her shoes. Just wear odd shoes! he exploded. She cried, and left in the odd shoes. (They were all fine.) Trying not to scare your kids, but get the hell out in time. That stayed with me.

As Kate McIntyre, a Master of Wine who works at her family winery in Victoria, says: “our greatest fire danger is usually not until February so the greatest fear is that this is not the end of fires this summer.” These fires have started earlier and spread further than is usual. (Although, as another Aussie friend told me, these fires are, to date, slower and less deadly than in the last big fires of 2009, when 173 people died in one day. Improved communication and early warning is saving lives, although tragically, not every life.)

Another winemaker friend in New Zealand has shared photographs of their sky stained sepia by Australian fire smoke.

The estimable Jancis Robinson has published this post on ways to help.

And while the impact on affected wine regions and wineries can be huge, Australians, ever-positive, stress that their wine industry is strong and resilient. This release, from Wine Australia, puts the total area of affected vineyard at 1% of Australia’s total.

We have started this post in an attempt to list, in one place, the various initiatives and events from the UK wine and hospitality trades to support Australia, as best we – as #winelovers – can.

We love you Australia – so many of us in the wine trade have been blessed by the openness, generosity, guts, craftsmanship and sincerity of our Australian wine colleagues. I don’t think I’d have passed my MW without a seminal trip to Australia back in 2003. I was travelling on a tight budget and all it took was one introduction and winemakers opened their homes and spare rooms to me, answering every stupid question, and driving me what turned out to be enormous distances between wineries that had looked so close on the map.
Links to UK wine events and initiatives held in support of those affected by Australian bushfires follow below. We’ll be updating these as we have details confirmed.

10th to 12th January  – Online auction of some of the finest Australian Wine known to humanity, by Gus Gluck.

28th JanuaryLondon’s Portland Restaurant and Graft Wine are holding a fundraising dinner for Vinteloper estate and more broadly Adelaide Hills wine producers, several of whom were very badly affected by bushfires. Once in a lifetime wines and amazing food. Booking via email on hello@graftwine.co.uk.

From the newsletter of Graft Wine (importer of Vinteloper and other fine Australian wines) on 9th January:

Wander in Stoke Newington are doing a special flight of wines at the moment featuring Dal Zotto Prosecco and Vinteloper and holding dinners over the Australia Day weekend (24-26 January), with donations coming from glasses and bottles sold. Wander founder Alexis, who was in the Adelaide Hills at the time of the Cudlee Creek fire, has also been instrumental drumming up support from other restaurants and bars.

Ham restaurant in Hampstead are donating £1 from sales of Anzac biscuits and will are pouring Vinteloper this month. The Laughing Heart are also pouring Vinteloper and donating £1 from every glass and £5 from every bottle of Australian wine sold, plus all proceeds from sausage roll sales and £1 from every bill. Milk Beach Café is donating 30p from every flat white sold this month, plus additional fundraising events. Pidgin has a dinner on 27th January to raise funds for the Red Cross.

Winerama, part of London Union’s Dinerama in Shoreditch, is pouring a flight of Vinteloper wines starting today at 5.00pm and running through to Saturday to raise further funds.

The great guys at Chesters Wine Merchants in Abergavenny are hosting a Vinteloper fundraising dinner on 25th January. Please contact Lloyd for more details about this one.

13th January 2020 – another initiative from MWs Richard Kelley and Miles Corish (a gifted cricketer, as you may well guess from their chosen theme).

Australian Wildfires Fundraising Initiative

A Three Test Match Series – South Africa vs Australia Taste-Off Challenge

Cheshire – Yorkshire – London

March 2020

www.testmatchtasteoff.myportfolio.com  #testmatchtasteoff

The wildfire crisis in Australia has instigated various fund-raising efforts within the UK wine trade.  One such initiative is a series of three ‘Test Match’ challenges involving two Masters of Wine:

Miles Corish MW of Milestone Wines is a native of Australia

Richard Kelley MW of Dreyfus Ashby UK is most closely associated with the wines of South Africa

Richard Kelley MW comments: ‘The environmental impact of the wildfires has troubled me greatly. Talk of the extinction of certain species is beyond comprehension. Whilst I have no commercial interests in Australia, I wanted to see what I could do to help with some fundraising. Challenging my old friend (and ex-professional cricketer) Miles, to a ‘taste-off’ of the best wines of our respective countries, seemed a logical way to raise some funds to help with the relief efforts’.

Dates for the series are:

1ST TEST Wednesday 4th March – Cheshire

Facilitated by Jon Campbell at DeFine Food and Wine, Sandiway

2ND TEST Thursday 5th March – Yorkshire

Facilitated by Andy Langshaw at Harrogate Wines

3RD TEST Wednesday 11th March – London

at the Institute of Masters of Wine office in Battersea

moderated by Jancis Robinson OBE MW

Ticket prices for the Cheshire and Yorkshire events are £50 per person. Tickets for the London ‘test’ are set at £100.

All proceeds from the events will be donated equally between environmental and social appeals.

For more information on the Test Matches please contact:

1ST TEST: Jon Campbell, DeFine Food and Wine – office@definefoodandwine.com

2ND TEST: Andy Langshaw, Harrogate Wines – andy@harrogatewines.com

3RD TEST: Richard Kelley MW – sales@dreyfus-ashby.co.uk

General enquiries should be addressed to Richard Kelley MW.   Further updates will also be available via the website.

www.testmatchtasteoff.myportfolio.com #testmatchtasteoff

13th January – fundraising promotion from Alliance Wine, a noted importer and maker of fine Australian wine:

Giles Cooke MW of Alliance Wine tells me: “as of next week and for all of January and February, Alliance Wine will be donating £10 for every case of Thistledown sold to help those affected by the Adelaide Hills fires.”
See Alliance Wine’s website for information on Thistledown Wine: https://www.alliancewine.com/our-wine/our-world-of-wine/australia/thistledown-new/

Hot Dinners are compiling a good list of everything that’s happening in London here.

Winemaking in a crazy climate

, ,

Video: Koshu and beyond. A tipping point for Japanese Wine.

On the 23rd October 2019 we presented two fully-subscribed Masterclasses on New Wave Japanese Wines. The first session was held at 67 Pall Mall, London’s renowned private members’ club for wine lovers, and was followed by a walk-around tasting. The second Masterclass was held at Trade Soho member’s club for the hospitality community.

The masterclass showcased a selection of wines, with a focus on Koshu, with diverse wines chosen to highlight Japan as an emerging and thrilling cool-climate wine producer. Koshu is Japan’s calling card – an indigenous variety of increasingly diverse and always elegant character with amazing food-matching power.

For a quick briefing on how the UK trade is responding to contemporary Koshu, and other Japanese Wines, watch our video here.

And for details of the event, wines and menus, see our Event Report.



2019 Vintage Report from Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG

A harvest of “exceptional quality” for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Prosecco Hills of Conegliano Valdobbiadene.

Wines from this vintage will be the first to be made in line with new production regulations that allow for dryer styles of wine.

Solighetto, 17th October 2019 – An exceptionally high quality harvest for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. has just come to an end. The 2019 harvest, the first after receiving the new recognition from UNESCO, began about ten days later than in recent years. 2019 was a welcome return to a more typical, classic, climatic pattern.

Harvesting took place in ideal conditions. The weather in spring and summer had been ideal for grapes optimum ripeness, composition and balance. We registered an average pH of 3.30 (3.26 in 2018) and acidity of 6.55 (5.92 in 2018), values that are ideal for the production of elegant sparkling wines.

This month we have just spent on the Rive vineyards has been one of intense work; for us vine-growers this is the most important time of the year. The outstanding quality of the 2019 harvest rewards us for the fatigue of the entire year, consisting of difficulties and dedication but also of successes that have resonated around the world: starting off with the accolade from UNESCO, but also including the fiftieth anniversary of the Denomination and our ban on glyphosate, which has made us the largest wine zone in Europe to forbid the use of this well-known herbicide,states Innocente Nardi, President of the Producers’ Consortium for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco.

Quantity is down in 2019, with a reduced yield of of 3- 5% on the previous year.

After a typically cold winter, spring was cooler and rainier than usual, causing a delay in budbreak and subsequently in the ongoing phenological stages of the vines. This was followed by a summer with typically hot temperatures, which partly allowed the vines to catch up on the phenological development that had been slowed back in May. Critically, the weather was fine during the period of the harvest, allowing growers to deliver particularly healthy grapes to the wineries.

Given the characteristics of the region, whose steep slopes and hilly terrain are difficult to access with machinery, in Conegliano Valdobbiadene 600-700 hours of manual work are necessary per hectare each year. This compares to an average of 150-200 hours on the plain, where mechanization is much more common. As a result, our heroic harvest represents the period when the growers in the region must demonstrate the most ingenuity.

The harvest, as usual, commenced in the most easterly zone and on slopes with the most exposure to sunlight, such as the vineyards at San Pietro di Feletto. This was followed by the more central zone of the Denomination (Refrontolo, Pieve di Soligo, Col San Martino and also the premium-quality Cartizze area) and finally the vineyards of Valdobbiadene.

The high quality harvest rounds off an exceptional year for the denomination, whose “Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene” have been awarded UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site due to their unique and ancient cultivation and landscape.

The wines made from this 2019 will be the first to take advantage of new production regulations passed in August, which, in addition to current permitted styles, allow for:

Sui Lieviti” (“On the Lees/Yeasts”), sparkling wines that have been refermented in bottle. This style pays tribute to a traditional type of product for the zone and to the long history of making sparkling wines in the area.

Extra Brut”, (residual sugar between 0 and 6 gr/lt.). This style is becoming more popular as it highlights the mineral elegance of our top wines, and also appeals to those looking for a more gastronomic style of Prosecco Superiore DOCG.

For more information, and to find out about our sampling program of top quality wines from Conegliano Valdobbiadene, please contact us.