TWE, NZ, Casella in the Vale & the Burch family

Two large articles this week: one on the Treasury Wine Estates year end, which can be found in the Australian Wine News section, and the other on the latest export figures for New Zealand wines, which is in International Wine News.

News on the street is that Casella is sniffing around McLaren Vale with the intention of acquiring a winery/brand. This makes sense, as it recently invested in 400 acres of vineyard in the region. An established brand, especially one that has a presence in the US, would fit neatly.

From an article in The Australian by Rowan Callick on August 22:

“He recalled a Shenzhen mayor taking a cruise during which a particular Australian wine label was drunk. The mayor’s endorsement encouraged the local Chinese agent to bid for 30 per cent of the winemaker, which was accepted. ‘This in turn encouraged the agent into greater efforts to promote the product. That’s a good example of how business could and should be conducted between our countries.’”

Callick is The Australian’s China correspondent and is pointing out that the Chinese are getting annoyed at Australia’s attitude to them investing in this country. Free trade agreements work both ways. Australia cannot expect to be the sole beneficiary. It’s obvious if a Chinese businessperson sees Australian wine doing well in their country they might want a slice of the action. It’s time to grow up, Australia, and join the global community.  Full article

View More: was privileged this week to attend the 30th anniversary celebrations of what started out as Howard Park winery but has morphed in to Burch Family Wines. It’s a true family wine company headed by Jeff and Amy Burch (pictured). The next generation are involved via Natalie, Richard and David.

They are a good gang, passionate about the wines they make and the wines of others. What separates them from some other wine folk is their view that wine is part of life, not life itself. They offer no sycophantic wine drivel, just honest comment.

The tasting I attended was held at Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art. The space was big enough to allow freedom of movement and find a quiet spot for deeper contemplation or conversation.

View More: arrival there was a glass of Howard Park Grand Jeté 2011 and a spoonful or two of caviar. The tasting was held in two rooms, with chardonnay and riesling in one and a range of reds in the other.

Jeff said a few words about the history, family, vineyards and wines in each room and a short video was shown. It was absolutely the right note.

The 1995 Howard Park riesling served from magnum was stunning, and the 2005 under screwcap was advancing in the same direction, but more slowly. It will be a marvellous 20-to-25-year-old. The Allingham chardonnays 2011 and 2013 were a delight, and beautifully crafted.

IMG_0155Among plenty of wonderful wines in the red room, four took my interest: three under the Abercrombie name and one predating the change, when it was simply Howard Park. The wines were interesting for two reasons: because of the wine, and because they showed the evolution of winemaking over three decades and four winemakers.

The 1995 Howard Park was made by John Wade. Served from magnum, it was drinking beautifully, silk and satin all the way with a lingering perfume that continued long after the wine was swallowed. Most notable was the oak, or lack of it. Possibly because Wade didn’t have the finances for it. Little would he have known at the time that it was to do him a favour 20 years later.

The 2005 was made by Michael Kerrigan. It was the era of new oak and lashings of it. Unfortunately, oak still dominates the fruit of the wine and I’m wondering if it will ever dissipate and let the fruit shine.

The 2008 was made by Tony Davis and still in the period when there was a passion for oak. It’s more approachable than the 2005 and may come into balance given time.

Current winemaker Janice McDonald was responsible for the 2013. It’s a beautifully crafted wine with a linear flow of flavour hitting all the right points on the journey.

Whatever journey you are on this week, I hope it’s as smooth as Ms McDonald’s wine.


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