Our pick of the best wine movies to enjoy during lockdown

Films and documentaries involving wine are a genre worth checking out for wine lovers. From road trip movies to serious films, there are plenty to choose from, and some you may not even have heard of.

As everyone is spending rather more time than normal at home, movies and online entertainment have become more important. Now seems a good time for the team at Ideal Wine Company to recommend our favourites to enjoy during lockdown – preferably with a nice glass of chilled white!

9 of the best wine movies and documentaries ever made

  1. A Good Year

This 2006 movie was directed by Ridley Scott and based on a book by the author of bestseller A Year in Provence (Peter Mayle). Starring Russell Crowe, this light-hearted movie follows his character’s plight as he decides whether to sell the winery he’s just inherited. As the winery in question is located in Provence, there is a lot of gorgeous scenery and flashes of the picturesque French countryside. Available on Hulu,.

  1. A Year in Burgundy

This documentary came out in 2013 and concentrates on seven winemakers in France. The film follows them throughout the 2011 winemaking season in Burgundy. Made by veteran documentary director David Kennard, it gives a great insight into the process behind your favourite glass of wine. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

  1. Bottle Shock

A 2008 movie starring Chris Pine, Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman, its plot centres on the true story of the 1976 US v France blind tasting. This infamous event put Californian wines directly up against the best French wines in a public forum. It’s a light recreation of the event with a stellar cast and is very much worth a view.

  1. Sideways

Possibly the most famous movie based on wine, Sideways stars Paul Giamatti as the anti-hero wine snob Miles Raymond. Directed by Alexander Payne, it was a commercial and critical success when it was released in 2004 and is just as enjoyable today.

  1. Mondovino

This documentary came out in the same year as Sideways but is far more obscure. Split into ten parts, it covers every aspect of winemaking. With a slightly unpolished feel, it’s not as glossy as some other wine documentaries but it’s extremely informative and gives a brilliant overview of what goes into making wine behind the scenes.

  1. Sour Grapes

Another fascinating documentary, this film was released in 2016 and covers a criminal network of counterfeit wine. A major enterprise created thousands of bottles of counterfeit versions of rare and expensive fine wines and sold many of them at auction. The fraud was uncovered by a dedicated team of wine collectors, a French winemaker and federal investigators. Well worth a watch.

  1. You Will Be My Son

This is our second favourite movie about wine after Sideways and tells the story of a fictional wine making family in the Bordeaux region of France. The film centres on the drama of who will take on the role of head winemaker and is a compelling, entertaining yet believable film. It helps to know some background information on wine to truly enjoy this movie, which makes it ideal for wine buffs to enjoy during lockdown.

  1. The Wine Guys

Another documentary, this came out in 2019. Split into six parts, it focuses on three friends and wine importers who are searching for amazing wines to sell back in North America. Each of the three wine guys in the documentary are passionate, knowledgeable and make for an infectious, light-hearted documentary.

  1. Back to Burgundy

This movie was released in 2018 and is about a fictional wine making family based in Burgundy, France. Three battling siblings take the family vineyard and winery through two harvest and four seasons, and as it stars an actual winemaker in the form of Jean-Marc Roulot, it’s true to life and ideal for wine lovers.

 

A look at the Chinese wine market and why rare wine is increasingly popular

During March 2020, sales of rare wines to Chinese investors boosted Asia sales by 25%, according to industry figures. Chinese investors are benefiting from a stronger dollar and the fact that UK sales of fine wine have managed to stay resilient despite the coronavirus pandemic. This shows a generally increase in consumer confidence in China, which was the first country to be massively impacted by the virus.
Fine wine continues to have little in common with other asset classes during difficult economic times. This is helping to boost a new wave of interest in fine wine investment.
China continues to boost fine and rare wine sales
China is also beginning to make more of its own wine, with the popularity of ‘Made in China’ rising slightly. Vintners are growing vines on the high-altitude slopes in Ningzia and the more coastal area of Shandong. And this has attracted the attention of some of Europe’s most well-respected wine makers. In Autumn 2019, the Rothschilds released their very first China produced vintage.

And some experts say that now is the time for China itself to move into fine wine production. They cite the massive potential of the huge population of middle-class wine lovers in China just waiting for the opportunity to buy some home-grown fine vintages. The demand for fine wine in China is expected to grow to be worth $17.3 billion by next year, according to Bloomberg.

China has a rapidly growing wine market

The sheer size of the consumer market in China suggests that there could be a promising market for China-made fine wine, but it’s likely to be a difficult new market to establish. Wine made in China is generally regarded as inferior in quality to that made overseas. And while the Chinese market loves a good wine, they generally only want to buy it from Europe or the New World. Demand has increased hugely over the last 20 years, which led to Chinese investors essentially propping up European wine producers during the financial crisis of 2008. This also led to an uptick in investment in vineyards across France by Chinese investors and businesses.

All of this contributed to China becoming the second biggest wine market in the world, after the US, according to IWSR Drinks Analysis. And the potential for this market is enormous. According to the Julius Baer Wealth Report 2018 for Asia, there were around 48 million millennial wine drinkers in China in 2015. The growth rate of drinkers grows by 25% every year.

And while Chinese made wine has an inferior reputation to that from Europe, it still makes up the bulk of what’s consumed in China itself. However, domestic wine consumption is expected to drop to 71.2 million cases by 2021. This is from around 105 million cases five years previously.

Chinese consumers prefer wine from overseas makers

However, the Rothschild estate is hoping to increase the perceptions of Chinese wine drinkers in favour of drinking more domestic wine from its vineyards. Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite bought land for vines back in 2009. The land lies on the east coast of China in Shandong and is now home to a vast number of imported vines. They are growing grapes including Marselan, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2017 vintage Long Dai hit high-end restaurants in Shanghai and Beijing last year.

And while brands like Lafite are sure to sell in China itself, it remains to be seen whether this will boost the chances of smaller, local winemakers in the country. It appears firmly entrenched in Chinese society that wine is one of the goods they just prefer to buy from overseas. According to a consumer survey by McKinsey, wine is the second product that Chinese people prefer to buy from abroad, just behind infant milk powder.

How the postponement of its en primeur event is affecting the Bordeaux market

Bordeaux is usually a hotbed of wine merchants, buyers and investors at this time of year at the annual ‘en primeur’ event. This is where wine aficionados and the media from all around the world get a taster of the very best Chateaux from 2019.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020’s Bordeaux en primeur event has been postponed, and possibly cancelled altogether.

Should the Bordeaux en primeur event go ahead at all this year?

The industry is now asking whether it will be postponed until June or should be held off until September. Given the uncertainty surrounding the trajectory of COVID-19, the best move is not yet clear. Some argue that it should be cancelled entirely and postponed until 2021, as it is just one part of the French wine industry.

En primeur gives wine critics the first taste of the latest vintages. It’s such an early taste that the wine is still in the barrels tucked away in Chateau cellars. Wine sellers and investors ask to taste wines that will be bottled up to two years from now. Most growers in the Bordeaux region want the event moved until June or September.

Armelle Cruse is the owner of Chateau du Taillan, and vice president of a group of Bordeaux producers called the Crus Bourgeois du Medoc. She says that the event must not be forgotten in 2020, as chateaus need to increase their treasury during this particularly challenging time.

However, other growers and those in the industry say that en primeur should be scrapped for this year and restarted in 2021. This is so that the event is not watered down or compromised by making it smaller. For example, if some kind of scaled down en primeur was held during the summer, only a very few people could attend. Similarly, if a September tasting was held, there would be limitations for growers who would be busy with their harvest and bottling the previous vintage.

Investor demand for Bordeaux en primeur falling

An advocate for cancelling the tasting this year entirely is a Bordeaux producer called Gavin Quinney. He points out that the wine won’t come to any harm aging in the barrels, so it’s better to postpone. Furthermore, he proposes that Bordeaux start a totally new tasting tradition of holding en primeur when the barrel aging is over, which is 12 months later than normal. He says this would mean the wine wold be closer to the bottled result without losing the en primeur vibe.

Some in the industry have questioned whether en primeur has a place anymore in the modern wine world. It’s no longer a guarantee that wine investors that by wine two years before it’s bottled will get better prices anyway. In 2011, there was a price change for the 2010 vintage that upended the traditional en primeur pricing process.

Prices for the 2010 vintage leapt due to continued strong Chinese demand. Back then, Bordeaux trading accounted for 95% of the secondary market. Today, it’s just over half, according to global marketplace Liv-ex.

Decision not yet made as to whether Bordeaux en primeur will go ahead in 2020

In 2020, wine investors see less reason to buy wine en primeur. While ten years ago, wine investors would include between 30% and 40% Bordeaux en primeur events in their wine portfolios, it’s now down to between 1% and 2%.

Wines from the 2019 Bordeaux vintage are expected to be relatively high quality due to the growing conditions. Early reports say that they’re not as powerful as those from 2018, but still “a really attractive vintage.” However, given that Bordeaux has had a string of good vintages (2015 and 2016 in particular), the market is currently flooded with wines perfect for Bordeaux lovers.

Other factors that have affected the Bordeaux market this year include a sharp drop in demand from China due to the political problems in Hong Kong, swiftly followed by the first wave of COVID-19. Added to these was the uncertainty of the British pound due to Brexit, and the US tariffs on French wine.

All of these political and economic factors hit Bordeaux particularly hard. In a recent report, Liv-ex says that postponing the en primeur event could “tip vulnerable players over the edge”. The smaller Chateaux and those who sell wine to consumers and wine merchants are the most likely to be badly affected by no early tasting event this year.

Look out for New Zealand red wines when shopping for something new

When you think of New Zealand wines, you’ll more than likely picture its fine sauvignon blancs. But it’s worth knowing that New Zealand also makes some fabulous red wines, particularly pinot noirs.

Look out for pinot noir from regions including Marlborough, Nelson, Martinborough and Central Otago in New Zealand. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Central Otago is at the heart of this premium wine producing region.

New Zealand red wines are becoming more popular


So great is the love for the region’s pinot noirs, there is even a dedicated pinot celebration in Central every year. It regularly attracts lovers of red wine from all around the world. Wineries within the region that produce pinots include Gibbston Valley, Felton Road and Rippon.

New Zealand pinot noir is modelled on burgundy, although the wines are different. Young vines gave off lighter, red berry fruits, but as they’ve bedded in there is more natural flavour and less processing needed to extract it.

Over in Marlborough there has been a corresponding shift in the pinots produced. While they used to be rather pale and weaker, they have improved hugely since independent wineries shifted their vine planting. For example, Dog Point began planting vines on the slopes of the Southern Valleys, which are cooler than the flat planes.

Four New Zealand red wines worth checking out

Full-bodied red wines from New Zealand are now more syrah than cabernet sauvignon. New Zealand syrahs are more like the spicy styles from the Rhone in France, rather than the rich Barossa shiraz. From Marlborough, there are great examples including Te Whare Ra and Fromm.

Red wine from New Zealand is more expensive than sauvignon blanc from the same region. But it’s worth paying a bit extra. Give them a go if you’re looking for something different. Here are four worth sampling.

  1. Land Made Pinot Noir from Yealands Estate

From the Marlborough region of New Zealand this is a medium bodied, elegant Pinot. The wine is made using sustainable grape growing practices, leading to a finished product that is fresh, acidic and fruity with a finish of soft tannin flavour. Goes well with lamb dishes.

  1. Organic Pinot Noir Urlar 2018

Also from the Marlborough region, this organic red wine is a combination of dark. The wine mixes sweet plum flavours with ripe red fruits, exotic spices and a savoury flavour.  Refined and elegant, it also packs a flavour punch.

  1. Lake Chalice ‘The Nest’ Pinot Noir 2018

This Pinot is a lighter and juicier wine with hints of ripe strawberry sweetness, red cherries and dried herbs. Expect aromatic flavours and a silky yet fresh finish.

  1. Clos De Ste Anne Pinot Noir 2014

From an artisan winegrower near Manutuke, this Pinot is packed with black forest fruit flavours, with an overlayer of wildflowers and fennel. On the palate you can expect rich dark fruit flavours and a refined finish.

Why slightly sour wine is a delicious way to try something different

Wine lovers usually have a favourite kind of wine. Whether yours is sweet, dry, white or red, don’t always stick to the same one. For example, have you tried a sour wine? We don’t mean a vinegary wine that’s gone off, but a perfectly blended bottle with a hint of tang.

Sour flavours are becoming more commonly accepted, with the popularity of products like kimchi and sourdough increasing all the time. Adding sourness to your food can add another element to the overall flavour profile and can turn something good into something great. But when it comes to sour wine, traditional perceptions have been against it.

Sour wine wasn’t always popular

Not long ago, if someone said their wine was sour this would be seen as a defective bottle. But today, fine wine aficionados know that calling a wine sour can be a sign of praise. It’s all about balance. Wines with a hint of sourness are delicious, as long as the sour flavour doesn’t override everything else.

As with every other flavour combination, the sourness in wine must be balanced with other elements, whether sweet, minerally or fruity. The Basque country produces some very good sour wines, such as Gorka Izagirre Txakoli 2018, which is a dry white wine with a bracing mix of grapefruit, saltiness, crisp apples and sourness. This is a refined version of the plentiful sour Txacoli wines available in this region of Spain, all of which pair nicely with fresh seafood dishes.

Here are two other sour wines that are worth trying if you like this kind of flavour profile. And if you’ve never tried a sour wine before, give them a go anyway! It’s always good to expand your wine collection and try something new.

  1. Simpsons Chalklands Classic Cuvee, Kent, 2016

Perhaps unsurprisingly another wine region known for its tangy wine is England. Thanks to a traditionally cold and wet growing climate, grapes have sometimes struggled to ripen leading to some distinctly tangy English wine. This results in a wine that tastes like a very sharp gooseberry and can only be an acquired taste.

But even with warmer growing seasons, even the most refined English white wine tends to have an acidic tingle not found in warmer climes. As with all other wines with a sour tint, this is only enjoyable when it’s balanced out by other flavours. With UK wines, it’s just one element of some truly wonderful sparkling white wines. This sparkling wine from Kent has a distinctly energetic tanginess balanced with the flavours of ripe apples.

  1. Burlotto Dolectto d’Alba, Italy 2018

Some of the best red wines with added sourness come from Italy. Winemakers in Italy understand that sourness can work well to freshen the mouthfeel of a wine, and as a base for all the other elements of the wine to circulate. This is why many Italian red wines have that slightly sour tang to them, which is often reminiscent of cherries that are just ripening.

This dolcetto from Burlotto is packed with the sweet and sour flavours of black cherries, which give it a lovely vibrant quality. Other excellent Italian red wines that come with a tang include barbera wines from Piedmont, such as the Barbera d’Astu 2016 and Barbera d’Alba 2017.

Why India’s wine industry is growing fast

India’s wine industry is still small, but it’s one of the most interesting emerging markets at the moment. Traditionally, beer and spirits have always sold better than wine in India, with wine accounting for just a 2% market share. But over the last two decades, there has been a resurgence in wine making for domestic consumption, and for exports.

What’s the history of India’s wine industry?

Wine making in India goes back thousands of years, when it was introduced by traders from Persia (modern day Iran). And while viticulture has always happened in India, it was particularly popular during he British and Portuguese colonisation in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the wine industry went into decline thanks to public opinion changing. After India became independent from the British empire, vineyards were used to make table grapes and raisins, rather than wine grapes. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a firm revival in the wine making industry in India and demand started to increase.

At the start of the 21st century, demand for Indian made wine increased at the rate of about 30% every year. And by 2020, the city of Nashik, which is found in Maharashtra state is known as the ‘wine capital of India’.

Climate diversity means different challenges for Indian winemakers

India boasts a hugely diverse climate and geology, meaning some regions do not work at all for winemaking, and others are ideal. Lots of the successful wine regions are found within an area that has a tropical climate, and are generally planted at altitudes of between 660ft and 3,300 ft.

Because of the intense heat in the wine regions, various production methods are used. These include training vines off the ground to help them avoid fungal diseases. Using canopies, grapes are shielded from sunburn, and the high temperatures usually mean high yields and multiple harvests.

Sula Vineyards is the biggest wine producer in India

Sula Vineyards is the leading producer of wine in India, and recently announced the addition of Australia to its list of export countries. It’s now found in more than 30 countries around the world, after adding China to the list in 2019. Australia is particularly important as a market for Indian wine as it is one of the highest consumers of wine in the world.

Partnering with Kismet Trading as distributors, Indian wine from Sula will start out in Adelaide, before moving to Sydney and Melbourne. Sula intends to export wines including Dindori Reserve Shiraz and Riesling to Australia.

Wines from Sula vineyards in Nashik account for more almost two-thirds of the market share in India. They’re sold in countries including Austria, Holland, Spain, France, Italy, the US, Germany, Norway, Japan, Nepal, South Korea and China among others. And at home in India, Sula has released the first canned Indian wine with the Dia Sparkler.

Canned wine is a huge market in the US, worth $70 million according to Nielsen. The market share has also increased by 125% in the UK to more than £3.6 million. Sula Vineyards is the only Indian wine maker to offer products within this market sector.

The Indian wine market as a whole is growing by compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20-25% since 2015. The overall market can be split into imported and domestic, which stand at 30% and 70% respectively.

Should the English wine industry do more to become sustainable?

Some English wine producers believe the industry should be doing more to become sustainable. Daniel Ham is a winemaker who left Dorset’s Langham Wine Estate to found Offbeat Wines, which concentrates on biodynamic and organic wines.

Offbeat Wines is an independent sustainable winery housed on a Wiltshire biodynamic farm. Daniel spoke to the drinks business magazine about how the industry needs a better approach to sustainability.

English wine industry could take its lead from Champagne region

By following the lead of industry bodies in other regions, such as Comite Champagne in France, English wine could be more sustainable. Some people within the English wine industry say that sustainability is more of a challenge in this country, as there are different pressures in this country compared with others.

In the Champagne region of France, there is a general consensus that everyone should work towards sustainability. But according to Mr Ham, in the UK individual producers tend to work alone. However, he praised the launch of the Sustainable Wines of GB initiative, which got off the ground in 2019. Led by the WineGB Environmental Sustainability Group, Sustainable Wines aims to support winemakers in the UK in their efforts to go green.

Part of the reason why the UK lags behind other wine-producing regions in this area is its relative newness. But Mr Ham believes that attitudes must change right from the start. While there is plenty of investment in the UK’s burgeoning wine industry, he says that growing grapes is where winemakers should start looking at sustainability. He says in his interview with the drinks business that there should be “some degree of responsibility [taken by UK winemakers].”

Biodynamic and organic wines are the next big thing

At the end of 2019, Champagne released the first 100% biodynamic version of its iconic Cristal brand. This is the lead that the UK should follow, with major brands creating biodynamic wine on a large scale.

Mr Ham also believes that winemakers in the UK should retain more unfashionable hybrid grapes, rather than digging them up to replace with Champagne. He points out that there are many older vineyards in the country that are already planted with hybrid grapes, that are disease resistant.

Therefore, he thinks that marketing existing grapes is the way forward. He says: “There are older vines with disease resistant fruit that’s often half the price of Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay. The fruit is often a lot riper, but year after year it remains hanging because no-one will buy it.”

According to WineGB, there are about 30 wine producers in the UK already making organic wine, including Bridewell, Laverstoke Park, Forty Hall, Sunnyhill vineyard, Ancre Hill, Oxney, Davenport and Albury.

Many of these winemakers are focusing on using fewer chemicals. Others are experimenting with wild fermentation, no filtration or fining and minimal use of sulphides. As the English wine industry expands, we’ll see more winemakers turning to sustainable practices in future.

French wine hit record high export numbers in 2019

Despite concerns over the impact of Brexit, and the impact of US tariffs, exports of French wine and spirits reached a record high in 2019. Exporters from all over the country recorded an increase in overseas sales of spirits and wine to a record $15.3 billion. This is an increase of 5.9% on figures from 2019, according to the Federation of French Wines and Spirits Exporters (FWSE).

US and UK biggest markets for French wine exports

The United States is the biggest export market for French wine and spirits, and this increased to $3.9 billion in 2019. The industry group says that this 16% increase in exports to the US was because of heightened trade tensions. A 25% tariff was imposed on a swathe of European products, including French still wine by the US Government. This was in response to subsidies in the aviation industry.

Following the imposition of the 25% tariff, the wine industry began to prepare for the threat of another round of duties, this time because of French taxes on digital services. These haven’t yet happened, but there is still the chance that they might, which increases pressure on the sector.  US tariffs led to a decrease in French still wine exports during Q4 2019 or 17.5%. This equates to a 40 million Euro loss in turnover.

And US tariffs aren’t the only geopolitical uncertainty to cause problems for the French wine industry. Brexit negotiations also affected exports to the UK, with sales rising by 4.4% to about $1.5 billion. The UK is the second biggest export market for French wine and spirits.

Export increase must be taken in context says trade body

Despite these increases in 2019, due as they are to geopolitical uncertainty, the president of the FESW warns that 2020 could be a difficult year for the sector. In the report Antoine Leccia warns that the higher figures from last year should be interpreted against the backdrop of trade tensions and international political wrangling. He calls the sanctions ‘arbitrary’ and warns that they will have a “heavy impact on exporting companies and, more broadly, on the 500,000 players in the wine sector.”

The Champagne region, which remains one of the most popular and successful French wine regions, recorded a drop in exports during 2019. Exports dropped from 301.9 million bottles of Champagne in 2018 to 297.5 million in 2019, say the latest figures published by the Comite Champagne.

This trade group says that the economic complications in both the US and the UK has affected export numbers. As these are the two biggest export markets for Champagne, any geopolitical and macroeconomic issues affect the sector. Despite this drop in exports, the region sold $5.4 billion worth of Champagne in 2019.

Are US wine tariffs on European produce the new normal?

Despite media speculation over the past few weeks over whether the US would impose its threat of 100% tariffs on European wine, it hasn’t happened. The US says it won’t be expanding the existing tariffs already in place against European wines at the moment.

Wine tariffs already in place on European wine

There is already a 25% tariff from the US on some Spanish, German and French still wines. However, the US trade representative has said that, after a review, no more will be added, and existing tariffs won’t be raised.

While it’s good news that the 100% tariff threat has reduced, it’s also likely that the existing 25% tariffs will stay. This is also likely to be the case even if Mr Trump loses the Presidential election in November 2020. This means that European wine producers, wine importers and consumers will have to get used to the higher prices.

This is because these tariffs are a result of a long-running trade dispute over European subsidies to American company Airbus. The dispute goes all the way back to 2004, and it’s also worth remembering that the US had to get permission from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to impose the 25% tariffs. In other words, it wasn’t a unilateral decision.

Given all of these factors, it was unlikely that the 100% tariff threatened by the President would ever become a reality. This would have pushed tariffs way beyond the numbers that the WTO approves, meaning that the US would forfeit international approval for its position.

Could a new President reverse tariffs?

And while a new President could change many US policies introduced over recent years and would likely do so very quickly after taking office, this could stay regardless of who comes not office.

Results so far show that the tariffs have caused problems in France, with exports to the US dropping by almost half in 2019, according to Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, the deputy French Foreign Minister. The vice president of the French national syndicate of independent winemakers, Cedric Coubris, told Wine Spectator that 600 of its members showed loses equating to almost $22 million in 2019. The loss is expected to be around $110 million in 2020, forcing some wine producers in France to shut down.

The US market has always been exceptionally important to French wine makers, due to the value led sales. Other countries such as the UK and Germany bought more in volume than the US, but always cheaper wines. The US traditionally spend more than three times more than China on French wine, although far fewer bottles. This makes the US the most important global market for premium and fine wine.

French producers are trying other avenues to sell more premium wine, but the outbreak of the coronavirus in China has complicated this plan. According to a story in Wine Spectator on 10 February, French winemakers and merchants are demanding $327 million compensation from the EU and the French Government. They say that the damage inflicted on their industry by the tariffs is a result of a political dispute between the US and France, because of the French Government’s decision to subsidise Airbus. And it can be speculated that this is what the USTR wants – the EU to cease the subsidisation of Airbus. Whatever happens, it’s likely that everyone in the US wine industry, and consumers who love drinking wine, will have to adjust to higher prices for German, Spanish and French wines.

Counting the cost of the fires on the Australian wine industry

Since September 2019, catastrophic and widespread Australian bushfires have raged. Fires are still burning in some regions, while others are giving way to extreme flooding. And while much of the media coverage has understandably focused on the human lives affected, and the animal species now at risk of extinction, the Australian wine industry has also been badly affected.

How are the fires affecting the Australian wine industry?

South Australia’s Adelaide Hills wine region has been particularly badly impacted. It is estimated that a third of all wine producers from this region have been affected in some way.

For example, Vinteloper’s David Bowley has seen his whole business, home and all of his vineyards go up in smoke. This has increased sales of Bowley’s product in the short term, with buyers wanting to help in any way they can. Other producers badly hit include Henschke, which has seen severe damage inflicted on its vineyard in Lenswood.

The other main wine region that has been very badly affected is Hunter Valley in New South Wales. This region makes excellent shiraz and a much-loved and unique style of Semillon.

Smoke taint could be a problem for years to come

And it’s not just the loss of vines that are causing problems for Australia’s winemakers. Smoke taint is also a huge problem, due to the widespread and persistent layer of smoke hovering over the vineyards. This tainted flavour can stick to wines as they age. This is why Tyrell, one of the most popular wine makers in the Hunter Valley region, says it will make 80% less wine this year.

There are many Australian wines that haven’t been affected at all or affected only slightly. It’s definitely worthwhile for wine lovers to head out to Australia and seek out less famous winemakers. There are loads of small producers all over the country that aren’t on UK shelves, but are very much worth trying.

Visitors to Sydney, for example, will find lots of wines they’ve never heard of, but will almost certainly enjoy. For example, the Field Blend Rouge from Tasmania, which has a lovely fresh flavour. Or the lush and decadent Bluebird Botrytis Viognier, from the Rylstone Estate in New South Wales, which is the ideal dessert wine.

Here are 4 Australian wines worth checking out

  1. Tyrell’s Hunter Valley Semillon 2017

The 2020 vintage may be small, but you should still buy am older Semillon. It’s really fresh, light and has lots of citrussy notes. It’s also quite light on the alcohol at 11%, making it perfect for a lunchtime treat at the weekend.

  1. Exquisite Clare Valley Riesling

This is also very citrusy, with lots of lime flavours. Fresh, light and delightful with Thai or Japanese food.

  1. Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir

This sparkling rose is the perfect treat for Valentine’s Day. It’s from a vineyard in the Adelaide Hills that has been hit by the bush fires, but not too badly.

  1. Ebenezer & Seppeltsfield Shiraz 2018

This is a deep, rich Barossa that’s worth storing for up to six years before cracking open for that special dinner party.