Home' National Liquor News : NLN JULY 2016 Contents 36 | JULY 2016 NATIONAL LIQUOR NEWS
The Southern Highlands is a unique example
perhaps, as its proximity to Sydney means that
it is in high demand for city folk keen for a
little slice of the countryside. But, with urban
areas expanding in Canberra and Orange, in
particular, it will remain an issue for NSW
Intriguingly, the other traditional stumbling
block to the popularity of NSW wines is a
lack of popularity within the state itself (in
restaurants at least).
Research by Wine Business Solutions showed
that, in 2013, NSW and ACT wines make
up only 15 per cent of wine lists in NSW and
ACT. Compare that to South Australia where a
massive 63 per cent of wines on lists were from
South Australia. Or Western Australia, where
43 per cent of wines on wine lists come from
within Western Australia.
What is even worse is that listings of NSW
and ACT wines within NSW and ACT actually
fell 18.5 per cent between 2012 and 2013.
That trend has now reversed, however, and
listings jumped six per cent from 2014 to 2015,
with NSW the only state to show growth in the
most recent results. One of the regions enjoying
the greatest upswing in listings was Orange,
with white wines the focal point.
James Robson, proprietor of Ross Hill Wines
in Orange, has certainly noticed the rumblings
over the last three years.
"The number of people travelling to the
region and our cellar door has doubled," he
said. "The interest in both independent retail
and on-premise has helped Orange go from a
fringe region to a 'must have' on shelves and
wine lists," he said.
Robson attributes this pickup to three factors.
"Firstly, wines from Orange have improved.
Plus the 'buy local' factor is increasing, and
Sydneysiders are becoming interested in wines
from their own state. Also, Orange has become
the 'cool' region for cool climate wines."
One of the strongest varieties at Ross Hill
has proven to be the unique Cabernet Franc,
with a brand-new, just-released $95 super-
premium red (that includes Cabernet Franc)
called 'The Griffin' that is drawn from their
Griffin Road vineyard.
Ross Hill has also become the first and only
certified carbon neutral winery in Australia, a
green credential that they're particularly proud of.
Back at Swinging Bridge, Ward is also
pushing the boundaries with what Orange can
produce, with another skin contact white to
go alongside the unusual '#003' from last year.
Ward is also working on a barrel fermented
Pinot Noir Rosé that he's particularly excited
about, with both of these wines out to the
market just before spring.
Despite this boundary pushing by Ward and
others, the coolest of the cool climate regions is
Canberra, according to Hollings at least.
"Canberra is the cool climate NSW region
I'm most excited about," he said. "Thanks
to winemaking superstars like Tim Kirk at
Clonakilla, Ken Helm and Nick Spencer at
Eden Road, Canberra has become synonymous
with beautifully perfumed Shiraz and incredibly
pure Riesling, and both sit amongst the best
examples in the country," said Hollings.
Hollings believes that it's not just the
mainstream styles that are gaining attention either.
"You've got guys like Ravensworth, Lark
Hill and Mt Majura looking to mix things up
and explore alternative grape varieties -- like
Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Grüner Veltliner --
with some of the wines being made just stunning."
Bryan Martin at Ravensworth has a unique
perspective on Canberran wine, as he runs
Ravensworth and is an assistant winemaker
Martin has seen Canberra 'take off' for local
produce, and believes that it wouldn't be hard
for many makers to sell most of their wine just
in Canberra. But it's not just locally that the
demand has increased either.
"What seemed like a big slog, say selling
wine into Melbourne is now much easier, with
knowledge of our region growing all the time,"
Martin is another maker dabbling in fruit
from other cool climate wine regions, using
Hilltops fruit for Mediterranean varieties and
Tumbarumba for Chardonnay and other whites
to complement his Canberra District wines.
He has some very exciting wines in the
pipeline too, with a new Tumbarumba Gamay
in the works, plus a vintage of the 'Petnat'
(Pétillant Naturel, the ancient style of natural,
lightly sparkling wine) Canberra Riesling that
has proven ultra popular.
This year Martin took in an astonishing 18
different varieties from three different regions
and he is very excited -- though there is a catch.
"The biggest problem is how great the 2015
vintage was and then how you convince everyone
that '16, on its own, was terrific, very strong," he
said. "But you know how we winemakers think
the best is the current vintage."
Another Canberra producer making waves
is Lark Hill. Based at Bungendore -- one of
the higher vineyard locations in the region --
Lark Hill was one of Australia's first certified
Owner Chris Carpenter has noticed the
change in the focus of visitors to cellar door
over the last few years too, with many now
noting that they have come to Canberra for the
food and wine scene rather than it being "an
Carpenter thinks that one of the appealing
things about Canberra is that it is still evolving.
"I think we're seeing a second evolution of
grape growing (and winemaking) in Canberra
with the recently established king and queen
varieties (Riesling and Shiraz, or Shiraz and
Riesling, depending on your preference) giving
way to new and different varieties (like Grüner
Veltliner)," he said.
According to Carpenter, 2016 was one of
the driest years on record at Lark Hill, with
harvesting 45-60 days earlier than normal.
While that resulted in higher power bills to
keep everything cool (which isn't a problem
for the solar-powered Lark Hill winery), the
resulting wines show an impressive density and
ripeness that will appeal to even those used to
richer-style South Australian reds.
Maybe this really could be the vintage that
puts cool climate NSW wine on the map?
As Malcolm Turnbull, said, it is an exciting
time to be alive -- although I'll leave the final
words about the new world of NSW cool
climate wine to Bryan Martin.
"There's nowhere else I'd rather be to tell
you the truth. Who'd of thought Canberra
would be like this? If there is one region that is
seen as the 'coolest' of the NSW cool climate
wine regions, it is Canberra."
Swinging Bridge vineyard in winter.
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