Home' National Liquor News : NLN MAY 2018 Contents 36 | MAY 2018 NATIONAL LIQUOR NEWS
NSW COOL CLIMATE
helping NSW wine producers market and sell their wines. Cumming has
very much been ‘at the coal face’ of NSW wine for years, and believes
that it’s not just been a shift in consumer taste, but a shift in wine quality.
“Ten years ago, you’d have to cherry pick the quality wines from many
brands. But now the quality is there,” he said.
That change is reflected within the regions too.
“Producers are understanding that experience marketing is important to
communicate the brand proposition and create brand champions,” he said.
“Cellar doors are much improved, (with standouts) such as Lowe
Wines, Swinging Bridge, Philip Shaw... The benchmark for these is
Indeed the push towards ‘cool’ has even seen other wineries rebrand to
embrace a cooler climate identity.
Orange’s Cumulus Wines is a perfect example. Back in 2015 a merger
between Cumulus and Beelgara saw a change in identity, the entity then
known as Wine Insights.
But in early April the business went back to being Cumulus again, largely
due to a realisation of just how attractive ‘Brand Orange’ has become.
Amanda Darnell from Cumulus explains more.
“In the last few years we’ve noticed a greater willingness for wine
drinkers, especially 25-35 year-olds to explore new regions and styles,”
“I think when you couple the wine story with the experience of
visiting the region (great landscape and a foodies dream), the result is
ambassadors that have something they want to share with friends.”
Speaking of Orange, you only need look towards Tom Ward from
Swinging Bridge to see the pointy end of NSW cool climate wine. Here,
the future lies in wines that are proudly pushing the boundaries and are,
well, cooler than anything NSW has previously produced.
Ward famously released one of Orange’s first skin contact white wines
in the #003 ‘Amber’ and has two more contemporary wines styles to
come – including the ‘#007’ whole bunch Pinot that sat on skins in barrel
for months, or the lively #008 Cabernet Franc, that includes 60 per cent
whole berries in the ferment.
What producers like Ward enjoy, as cool climate NSW wine producers,
is a freedom to experiment that isn’t confounded by a need for classic
styles. The lack of a fixed, regional paradigm allows a ‘blank page’
freedom of expression and no shortage of experimentation.
For Hamish Young of Canberra-based Mada Wines this license to
experiment has meant different, unique wines every year.
“Every vintage I have a Sui Generis wine (that is) an exploration of
a new site, variety, of wine style. It’s so hard to contain myself and not
produce multiple wines in this vein each year as they are always exciting
wines to make, with considerable personality,” he said.
“In 2016 it was a Riesling Pet Nat from a very high site in Canberra,
V17 was a parcel of Sagrantino from the Hilltops which, bound by its
tannins, is making for some great autumn drinking, and V18 is a parcel
of Grenache from a warmer site in Canberra.
“This is the beauty of being a young, new, and evolving brand. I still feel
I have the freedom to explore new sites, and tweak my ‘core’ wine styles.”
It’s not just alternative varieties and unusual styles that are enjoying
this increased attention either.
At De Salis in Orange, arguably one of the coldest of the cool climate
wineries, it is classic Burgundian varieties that are proving popular, as
Charlie Svenson explains.
“The post-modern minimalist winemakers are getting their heads
around the funky end of Pinot and Chardonnay without going down the
trendy hipster natural wines path,” he said.
“This seems to be translating to an increase in high end restaurants
picking up NSW wines directly from the small producers – we are seeing
a lot more sommeliers coming to the region and to De Salis.”
Don’t be fooled into thinking De Salis is a conservative producer –
Svenson is one of the most restless winemakers you can imagine, with a
winery full of blends in all shapes and sizes.
After the purchase of the renowned Forest Edge Vineyard (which has
long supplied Brokenwood) three years ago, the future for De Salis is
anything but typical Orange either.
“We are currently preparing to plant Gamay in 2mx1m spacing. Then
Grüner Veltliner and possibly some Blaufränkisch...”
Speaking of truly cold climate vineyards, another chilly NSW wine
region on the up is the Southern Highlands. While it is still a small
player in terms of NSW cool climate wine production, there’s a core of
producers that are making truly high-class wines too.
Centennial Vineyards is one of the front-runners, with their sparklings
McWilliam’s Wine Group at Hanwood Estate.
Harvest at McWilliam’s Wines Group Vineyards, Griffith.
McWilliam’s Wines Group Vineyards, Griffith.
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