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Your Questions

Q

What do you think the next big grape varieties are going to be? I have noticed a fair bit of grenache around lately. Are there any new white varieties on the rise?

Anna Otto, Glenelg, SA

Climate change will surely play a big part in future varietal selection – look at how Bordeaux has just authorised seven new varieties for its basic appellations. Who would have thought Portugal’s red wine grape, touriga nacional – highly regarded in the Douro – would play a part in Bordeaux AOC.

Perhaps we should now start to look to Mediterranean countries for inspiration and to varieties that can cope in warmer climates where water may be in short supply?

White varieties such as assyrtiko, fiano and vermentino have already enjoyed much success, but countries such as Italy, Greece and Turkey have a wealth of indigenous grape varieties that may find favour in the future. Perhaps you will fancy a glass of Cretan dafni?

Q

Could you explain exactly what a field blend is? I’ve heard varying explanations.

Jeremy Smith, Marrickville, NSW  

A field blend refers to the practice of harvesting a vineyard, planted to a number of different varieties, at the same time and co-fermenting the grapes together. This practice was much more widespread in the past but has fallen out of favour as producers look for evenness of ripening and uniformity. Nonetheless there are some exemplary field blends still made; look for Deiss Altenberg de Bergheim Grand, a single-vineyard wine made from pinot blanc, pinot gris, pinot noir, sylvaner, muscat d’Alsace, muscat à petits grain, riesling, gewürztraminer, chasselas and chasselas rosé. Despite all these grapes ripening at different times, when picked as a whole they make a very compelling wine.

Q

If a wine is awarded the rare score of 100 points, what do reviewers do if a subsequent vintage of that wine is even better?

David Craig, Beecroft, NSW

Do you believe in perfection? I certainly don’t and although I’ve drunk some of the world’s greatest wines, I’d struggle to score a wine as perfect. But wine critics seem keen to create a name for themselves and so rampant score inflation has created a world where almost every wine seems to score 90/100 or upwards.

Long gone are the days when Harry Waugh, one of the truly great wine writers, described the 1945 Château Haut-Brion as “really good, heavenly wine”. A simple four-word narrative for a wine reputed to be the finest ever made by the Château.

It could then be argued that critics have backed themselves into a corner, so perhaps it won’t be long before we see wines scored out of 110.

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