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Wine Report

Geography is a wonderful thing. In the last issue of Take Stock we looked at predictions for 2014 European wines, but when it comes to the Southern Hemisphere, we already know!

That’s because long before Europe’s winemakers were picking their grapes, producers south of the equator were tasting their 2014 vintages.

Australia

One has only to overlay a map of Europe on Australia to see how enormous this country is. Australia: 7,706,168 sq km Europe: 3,483,066 sq km. Small wonder then that Australia produces such a wonderful range of great tasting wines – many of which are firm favourites with UK drinkers. Jo Burnett of wine specialists Negociants (www.negociants.com) has good news for these fans, reporting that 2014 quality is excellent.

“We specialise in Australian wines, and across the country there are some really fabulous wines to add to your lists,” Jo explains. “From where Australian wine really started – the Barossa Valley – look no further than Yalumba’s Patchwork Barossa Shiraz or Bush Vine Grenache. Then, for those wanting a superb Riesling, I’d recommend Yalumba’s Eden Valley Viognier or our Pewsey Vale Riesling. We’ve also got some excellent value wines from award winning Jim Barry Wines, including their Lodge Hill Riesling and Shiraz’s. The Riverland area of Western Australia produces their equivalent to Bordeaux, and I’d strongly recommend looking at the Vasse Felix Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon wines we have.

“And last, but by no means least, there are South Australian / Murray River wines. This is the home of our Oxford Landing range, wines that offer great value for money and instant customer recognition – Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc being the UK’s best selling Australian Sauvignon Blanc. It’s also where Yalumba Y Series Shiraz is produced– a big mouthful of Australia with soft juicy tannins and a moreish finish. Delicious!”

And all this positive news is echoed by Darren Mackay of Treasury Wine Estates. “2014 was a great year for our growers. Just try either the Bilyara Chardonnay or Bilyara Shiraz from our award winning Wolf Blass range to see what I mean!”

New Zealand

Growers in the Nelson, Central Otago, Marlborough and Waipara regions saw a bumper 2014 harvest of good quality fruit, thanks to mild spring and summer weather. So prolific was growth that many producers had to thin bunches to allow ripening, but this rigorous attention to detail paid off with resulting wines showing fantastic fruit flavours.

Accolade Wines New Zealand expert Deborah Zbinden confirms this good news.

“We had a good year resulting in high quality wines across a number of aromatic whites such as Pinot Gris and Riesling as well as our core Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines. “On-trade customers looking for great quality New Zealand wines need look no further than our Waipara Hills range with the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay being particular standouts from the 2014 vintage as well as some delicious lifted tropical fruit flavours for our best-selling Sauvignon Blanc. In addition our Mud House wines have benefitted from Vintage 2014’s early flavour development with resulting wine showing balanced fruit acids and intense mouth-watering flavours thanks to plenty of sunshine hours. Our popular Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Central Otago Pinot Noir are particular highlights from 2014.”

“The growing season for Sauvignon Blanc has been fantastic, the Lower Wairau Valley in Marlborough held its acidity with good intensity and salty structure” commented Ben Glover, Mud House Group Winemaker.

South Africa

South African vintners must be happy at the moment, as their 2014 wines are being described as ‘remarkable’ and ‘exceptional’.

A cold wet winter and early season rain saw ground-level moisture levels high – helping growth, and a warm dry February aided grape ripening, especially with white wine grapes. Red wine producers had to rush to get the harvest in before heavy rain in late March – but have been rewarded with an outstanding harvest. Accolade Wines have been supplying South African wines to the on-trade for years and their expert Bryonie Grieveson is upbeat about the burgeoning demand for South African wines.

“Our on-trade customers have long been supporters of our Kumala range, especially Colombard Chardonnay and Cabernet Shiraz.

“What we’re now seeing is a move to wider listings of South African wines – Fish Hoek Chenin Blanc and Pinotage being examples. We’re also thrilled with the interest in our Flagstone range, where we have the ‘Free Run’ Sauvignon Blanc and ‘Dark Horse’ Shiraz, plus the ‘Noon Gun’ blend of Chenin, Sauvignon and Viognier, and ‘Longitude’s Cabernet, Shiraz and Malbec blend.” Some great tasting wines!

South America & Chile

Faith Knight of Chilean wine producers Concha y Toro, waxes lyrical.

“Chile is a country of remarkable features. With the Atacama Desert in the north, the Andes Mountains in the east, glaciers in the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west, its landscape is breathtakingly beautiful and truly unique. Just as Chile’s geography is diverse, so are its wines and whatever your preference, Chile boasts a lip-smackingly great selection of styles ranging from easy drinking to fine wines. “Chilean wines to watch in 2015 include the excellent quality and great value ranges from Casillero del Diablo and Sunrise. Add Concha y Toro’s Trivento Reserve Malbec to your wine list too – a wonderful wine from Malbec’s heartland Mendoza.”

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