Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cool, Single, and Sustainable by Mark Davidson and Ingo Grady

Lake Breeze Winery vines

Mark Davidson is from Wine Australia and Ingo Grady is Director of Wine Education at Mission Hill.

We've got two wines, one from a cool climate and one from a warm climate.

Mark: Australian wines tend to get tarred with the same brush, but they aren't all the same. There is a push towards cool climate wines in order to find wines with more restraint. Especially when you drink wine every day, you can't deal with big jammy wines every day.

Ingo: Most of the world's greatest wines come from areas that are considered cool to moderate. Cool climate = average climate in growing season is 60 degrees or below. Okanagan in 59 degrees. The climate ultimately is the cumulative averages over decades. Winemakers try not to screw up the fruit they've busted their butt to grow.

Two wines: BC Pinot Grigio ($15) is crisp, zesty, light, and refreshing. Australian Eden Valley Riesling ($25) grown at 400 m altitude, longer, cooler growing day, vineyard first planted in 1887, then replanted with Riesling in 1961. Dry, balanced, typical Australian Riesling.

Mark tells his wine education students that if they don't appreciate Riesing by the end of the six week program they'd fail the program and most likely fail in life!

Next wines: Two Chardonnays, from BC, Mission Hill Perpetua($32) (my favourite!) and from Australia Heggies Chardonnay ($27), also from the Eden Valley .

Ingo: There are no absolutes in the wine business, so there is something romantic and appealing about a single-vineyard wine, what expresses a specific place on earth. But there are some single vineyards that are bigger than all the vineyards in the Okanagan! Sometimes single vineyards are just one dimensional.

Ingo: Perpetua is a single vineyard wine that's the result of the accumulated lifetime expertise of a winemaker. The vineyard is just north of the US border. It delivers a completeness that none of our other vineyards do, and it's still developing.

Mark: In a 16 top wines competition in Australia, top California, top everywhere, Perpetua came up #5. (Informal poll -- most people here like Perpetua best.)

Ingo: As consumers we need to be careful of greenwashing. Okanagan doesn't have a universal sustainability code, but Australia does. To most of us, sustainability means to farm in a way that leaves value for future generations, but still is profitable now. Biodynamic is just organic with religious zeal.

Next wines: Yalumba Tri-Centenary Vine Vale Grenache ($44 and is going up to $70) and White Bear ($13) Sauvignon Blanc. Both wines reflecting responsible practices.

Me: Both lovely, these wines couldn't be more different. I adore Grenache, with its lovely violet scent and mild-mannered bloodiness. This Yalumba Grenache is brilliant. The Sauvignon Blanc is very approachable and fresh with tropical fruit.

Ingo: Sometimes the winemaking is the weak link in organic wines. The fruit is great, but it hasn't been well made.

Mark: The Yalumba Grenache was planted 1889, sustainably farmed, single vineyard, not cool climate as you can obviously taste. The winemaker views this as warm climate Pinot Noir. Turns out the oldest Grenache and Mourvedre vines on the planet are actually now in Australia.

Mark: I actually like the romance of knowing that I've been in the vineyard of the wine I'm drinking. I don't care if it's better or now, I just like it.

Ingo: Having witnessed the evolution of BC winemaking in the past 29 years, a wine like this Grenache is humbling.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Pinot Grigio is the mostly widely known of Italian grapes but most produced in the U.S is often tasteless. On first sip of the Raffaldini 2008 Pinot Grigio you can tell that the wine is made from young vines but it is off to a good start. This white wine has heavy tones of honey and melon on the nose. In the mouth it feels too thin, but still shows nice flavor of honey, apple and lemon. A light and refreshing summer wine that shows potential. A wine to follow over the next few years as the vines mature.I like this with Cuban cigars,the Best Cigarsin the world.