Roll out the barrel
It was a good move by Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) to announce the release for sale of special barrels of Penfolds wine just before Vinexpo. From July 1 consumers can buy a barrel for $198,000. They then form a bond with the brand, choosing how they want the wine bottled, and can visit Magill Estate and be treated royally. No doubt this will be profitable as a wine sale, but the publicity generated will be huge, with the bragging rights among rich customers enormous. In a way it’s elitist and pompous, but, heck, if the money is there, take it.
Another good move is Aldi’s latest whisky release. Causing the biggest stir in the media is the Glen Marnoch 18-year-old Highland single malt, selling for $70 a bottle. This seems to have induced some snobbery, with people saying it’s too cheap to be good.
I’m no whisky expert but it’s good enough for me: orange marmalade nose, soft and gentle on entry and a smooth journey across the palate with warm, ripe, plum-influenced flavours released on the journey. It lacks the depth of some 18-year whiskies but it’s damn good value.
Also released, but not getting the media attention, is the Glen Marnoch Islay Blended Whisky, which picked up a Spirits Business Global Scotch Whisky Masters 2015 Gold Medal. It has the classic Islay smoky/peat nose. It’s a touch tart on entry but the flavours win out, especially if it’s taken with a little water to tame the 40 per cent alcohol. For $45 it’s a bargain, as is the Glen Orrin 5yo Blended Malt, which can be found in stores for $35.
The third of this year’s release is the Glen Marnoch ‘Bourbon Cask’ Speyside Single Malt. As with some bourbons, the sweet vanilla American oak is on the nose, but in the mouth it’s a beauty. The flavours stretch across the palate and once again can be approached better with a small addition of good water. At $40 it’s a bargain.
There are a lot of wine folk in Australia who are not only concerned but confused about the wine equalisation tax (WET) situation. In truth it is in limbo. Without a government it can be in no other situation.
Not that everyone is idle. The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) is holding talks with state and regional wine associations and winemakers around the country. But it appears the WFA is not able to pour soothing balm far and wide. In fact, little of worth has been heard from the WFA since budget night.
Meanwhile, social media is rife with chatter about what might or might not be. William Downie, the noted Victoria-based pinot noir maker, put out a fictional story via Instagram (full story) He ends:
“Make no mistake, the current WET reforms are about big companies protecting market share with the supermarkets. The loss of the next generation of Australian wine is just collateral damage.”
The fiction is simply that: fiction. His conclusion shows that he is not only concerned, as he should be, but also confused. Following Downie’s post the string of comments continues in the usual way of backslapping and the predictable bashing of the devil’s duo of supermarkets. One says:
“The big issue is the supermarket domination, it’s a disgrace. Instead of thousands of retailers that we could engage with and sell to, there are two big ones who basically make their own booze anyway.”
I do not question the supermarkets’ dominance, or the fact they make their own wine, but I do question if there would be thousands of retailers otherwise. It’s fantasy, and if young winemakers are going to survive they will have to learn to deal with what is, not what they fantasize what should be. This is a time of need. The WFA has a duty to step up and keep the industry informed. TKR spoke with Tony Battaglene acting CEO of WFA he said the survey requesting industry input had been distributed far and wide and were now being collated. The WFA board will meet next week to discuss what the next move will be.
As some of you have said, the 100th Monkey is all about a group of Riverland winemakers/growers who want to show there is more to the region than bland brand going out under the non-existent South Eastern Australia GI. More news will be forthcoming and I look forward to reporting it.
Drink well this coming week.