Welcome to 2015, Wine Idealists!
I trust you all had an excellent Christmas and New Year break, filled with the company of many family and friends and lots of deliciously drinkable and exceptionally edible food and fare! To those of you who were still greasing the gears of our sovereign economy, allowing folks to dine out for breakfast, lunch and tea, or filling up XL5’s and the like, with free samples of something nice, or indeed, attending to your vineyards – especially those of you in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia, fighting those bastard fires ravaging your homes and livelihood – in these final few moments before harvest begins again… thank you!
It’s always been my intention with The Wine Idealist to contribute something positive and something new. My aim in 2015 is to continue to bring you many more insights into the world of natural, organic and biodynamic wines from Australia and New Zealand, by having people who live, love and work with these types of wines, from all across the world, contribute their own ideas and insights to the weekly editions of The Wine Idealist. If you are interested in contributing something, a story, a perspective or insight into how you engage with these types of wines – whether you’re a viticulturist, a winemaker, a sommelier, a writer, or maybe just a drinker – if you have something to say, please get in touch with me via email.
I’ve also made a commitment to record many more episodes of The Wine Idealist Podcast, where I read past editions of The Wine Idealist and then stream them online or download them for listening to later, for those people who claim they’re just too busy to remember to read the weekly publications (even if they can have it sent directly to them via email!). These podcasts will be released fortnightly, so keep an eye on the side bar of The Wine Idealist blog page, or check out soundcloud.com/thewineidealist to listen to recent and past episodes.
As well as some new and, now, audible voices, I’ve also established a small start-up based on The Wine Idealist’s guiding philosophies and principals – to be an advocate for authentic taste and environmental sustainability by supporting and promoting all those who live, love and work with natural organic and biodynamic wines in Australia and New Zealand – in order to give wine lovers and novices alike, the chance to experience, what I’ve come to call, ‘wine idealism’ for themselves.
In addition to the Newcastle based inGRAPESweTRUST and What’s In Your Glass? events, I am now offering a twice seasonal, exclusive private tour of the Hunter Valley’s vineyards and winegrowers who are growing their grapes organically and biodynamically, and making their wines naturally. Wine Idealist TOURS is a chance for you to learn and understand, first hand, about organic and biodynamic viticulture, natural winemaking, and discover, taste and experience the Hunter Valley’s sustainable future of wine.
Adding to TOURS, I have partnered with pioneering organic winegrowers Ross and Derice McDonald from Macquariedale Organic Wines, to offer wine idealists the chance to take part in the excitement and energy of a Hunter Valley harvest, and actually make your own wine! VINTAGE::2015 offers you the chance to learn how wine is grown first, out in the vineyard, and then made, back in the winery, by actually picking, crushing, fermenting and eventually bottling your own wine during the Hunter Valley vintage in 2015. You cannot get any closer to wine idealism, in fact, I’m pretty sure that you can’t do this type of thing anywhere else in the world, unless you’re a grower or maker yourself! For more information on how you can participate, click the links above, or below.
The intent of VINTAGE::2015 is, first and foremost, about education and offering people a chance to gain a deeper appreciation of wine, beyond the final stages of swirl, sniff and sip. It’s a chance to see wine as a privilege and a challenge, and that a whole lot more goes into it than just deciding what the label should look like. It’s not a winemaking course, per se, but an insight into the amazing and challenging world of wine, while having a whole lot of fun along the way!
The Wine Idealist has grown over the last 2 years. It’s changed, morphed, failed sometimes, and succeeded other times, in trying to attempt many new and exciting ideas. These ideas have enabled me, as someone who is enamoured with wine, to learn and grow, and be inspired, by the many and varied, and seemingly infinite, goings on in the wonderful wide world of wine. There is still a long way to go, and my goal is to be an advocate for change in the Australian and New Zealand wine industry by writing, talking, and most importantly, contributing to discussions about natural, organic, and biodynamic wines that have a positive effect on people’s palates. I want to encourage wine lovers to think beyond the glass, and cast their thoughts out into the vineyards, where the wine ultimately comes from. I want wine lovers to think about the processes and practices involved in getting a wine to transform from a bunch of humble grapes on the vine into a beguiling bottle of wine. I want people to understand that wine is, can, and should be, seen as something special, a privilege, or ‘a gift’, as Dirk Meure so eloquently puts it.
To that end, it exasperates me to continue to read the odd stories, quips and articles from some ‘established’ (meaning regularly paid) wine and food writers throughout the world, who write of natural, organic and biodynamic wines as (still) just a trend, or fad. Especially natural, as it’s, for some reason, seen as an easy target (although, more likely a threat). Natural, organic and biodynamic winegrowers and makers are doing something new, not to mention sustainable. They are the pioneers of the 21st Century, reacting to the mired and stagnant status quo that the world wide wine industry (and it is an industry) seems to still be sinking into.
Consumers of these types of wines are actually reviving the ‘industry’. They demand to know where their food and wine comes from, and how it was made. It’s just sheer coincidence that some of them have beards, eat kale and read Bukowski. Most, however, do not. They just like to drink things that taste good and don’t poison the environment, or their bodies in the process. It’s up to the industry to meet the demands of this burgeoning market. Critics of natural, organic and biodynamic wine need to remember that time in Australia when table wines were once seen as a trendy fad, and that, if it wasn’t for the bolshy and skilful talents of people like Maurice O’Shea or Max Schubert, or wines like the Barossa Pearl or Angoves bag-in-the-box wine, we might, very well, still be drinking flagons of brown muscat.
Anton Ego, the food critic in Pixar’s movie Ratatouille gets it right when he says…
“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgement. We thrive on negative criticisms, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defence of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”
So, to all those growers and makers, creators and innovators who make positive contributions to the wonderful and wide world of wine in the 21st Century, keep going. You are all doing amazing and valuable things that might, one day, be regarded on the same level as those pioneers who came before you. Indeed, some of those same pioneers, now considered old-timers, may have forgotten where they came from, with all their strange and pesky ideas about how to improve the wine industry in their own time. Today, there are new kids on the block (age not withstanding), who are building on the successes and innovations of the old timers, and the many more who’ve gone before them. So long as you’re intentions are good, you’re respectful and you are contributing something positive to wine, then, keep going!
Be a friend of the new, and have a pioneering 2015!
D// – The Wine Idealist
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