Welp. That's a wrap. Another year done and dusted. In fact another DECADE done and dusted - and for the wine world that we live in it's been a complete rollercoaster. It's been a fun ride though, because this is the decade that we actually started this whole thing in. We roll into our 7th vintage as Unico Zelo next year and it's always nice to look back and appreciate how we actually got here. We witnessed the rise of Natural Wine in Australia, with Rootstock and Natural Selection Theory. Pet-Nat's and Orange wine are the new norm. The acceptance and celebration of "alternative varieties" that will hopefully in the future no longer be "alternative". It's been an unpredictable shift of the entire established Australian wine industry, but on the whole we think it's made it more inclusive, exciting and overall just better - but there is work still to be done - which is why we keep doing it! SO - we've compiled a wish list of things we want to see more of next year, things that we want to see more of next year, and in the decade that it kicks off! Let's make wine fun again.
Brandy + Fortifieds
Let's not forget that these come from grapes too - it feels like we have. Wine and spirit go together like Pina and Colada, and we've seen the renaissance of aromatised wines, particularly vermouth alongside the spritz revolution that proves people are into it. But the higher ABV renditions have been left behind - or left in grandma's liqueur cabinet under appreciated. While we can no longer call it Port or Sherry (respect DOCG) we still have Tawny and, probably most excitingly, Apera. Let us make Australian takes on Fino and Olorosso and Maidera - the levels of creativity are endless! And to fortify it we need spirit - and that means brandy. Brandy has been resurging in the spirits underbelly whilst we've all been arguing what oak to out Australian made whiskey in - and it's been quietly killing it too. Sullivan's Cove Double Cask Brandy just took out the inaugural Drink Easy awards in the spirits category, so it's definitely got the critics attention! Of course grapes were here to solve the problem.
Low ABV Wines
In a complete contrast to the highest ABV of the wine spectrum (barring Grappa!), we're pretty excited to see the future of Low ABV wines in Australia. While the brand of Australian Wine was built on big, bold and oaky expressions of red wine - and credit where credit is due, and those styles of wine still have their place of course, of course! But we're excited of low wine will go. We've seen the fondness of mid range ABV wines rise quite dramatically - and there's heaps of wine to cater for that - chilled Reds for the win! But what about below 10%? Will we see a rise in Moscato - and I mean craft made, only slightly, naturally sweetened, frizzante Moscato? How about Txakoli - a Spanish aperitivo wine, bone dry and again frizzante - one we are particularly excited about! We're hearing and seeing rumblings of Piquette or Acqua Pazza - basically a wine seltzer made with spent grapes after pressing, around 5-9 ABV and fizzy - we're looking at you Lucy Margaux. Lot's of fizzy options of course, but we're excited to see a lot more good wine sub 10%!
This is what we REALLY want to dip our toes into: More outwards winemaker collaborations. This isn't a crazy, out there idea, there have been a few - even in our own back yard - Gentle Folk and Ochota Barrels with Fathers Milk, Yeti and the Kokonut (Geyer Wine Co and Bink Wine), Boomtown in Heathcote (Minum & Little Reddie) Brian Wine (Dr. Edge, Mike Bennie, Stony Rise). But how about even MORE, maybe the biggest west coast collab since Dr. Dre and TuPac - Dormilona and Brave New Wine? The Adelaide Hills Reining Champs of Old School and New School Sparkling wine - Deviation Road and The Other Right? Mac Forbes making Riesling in the Clare Valley with Grosset fruit? The possibilities are endless - let's hope they're jumped on.
There was an article recently in the New York Times that caused a bit of fuss in the wine community entitled 'Is Natural Wine Dead?'. While the short answer to that is no, the longer answer is that it's changing, that there are producers out there right now that are creating wine in their own ethical manner that doesn't fit under the "Natural" guidelines. Wineries that organically farmed without irrigation but don't use wild yeast. Or that use less than 50ppm of sulfur but acidify when necessary. While natural purists would never classify this as natural wine - it's still a hell of a lot better than wine made from vineyards chemically managed, made with buckets of sulphur. So we're calling for the celebration of Craft Wine. We've got Craft Beer and Craft Spirits - why can't we begin to champion this term for our favourite fermented grape beverage? Wine that's independently owned and responsibly made. Natural wine doesn't need to change and it really shouldn't - it's important and exciting. But more wine made that's better for the planet that more people can enjoy (let's not kid ourselves - the natural wine community is a small and tight nit one) - I can't see that as a bad thing. Let's just not call it natural wine.
Adaptation to Warming Climates
Sadly - the planet is getting warmer and warmer. Our wine regions temperatures are shifting outside their normal weather patterns. Places like the Yarra Valley valley which were traditionally viewed as cool climates are turning more Moderate. We can't keep chasing cold temperatures to make Pinot Noir forever - at a certain point they might just stop being cold enough. But fear not - we can adapt! There is great promise of championing other varieties in these regions. We've been yelling about Fiano for years and it's thriving pretty much everywhere - it's become basically the staple white grape of McLaren Vale. The Clare Valley shows great promise for Sangiovese. Luke Lambert is making near iconic Nebbiolo out of the Yarra Valley. There's still more to come. More Barbera, what about Aglianico? (as difficult to pronounce as it is). The grapes that we have grown here for centuries have their place, we cannot argue that and we're not. But we need to make sure that those places are the right places - and we have a great opportunity to create some world class wine in this country that is just more climate appropriate.