Your Questions

Q

Why are ‘single vineyard’ wines so revered when blends containing grapes from two or more areas are often also widely sought?

Kyle Chapple, Bendigo, NSW

Single vineyard wines allow the winemaker to best express the notion of terroir or sense of place as each site has its own unique set of characteristics and a wine from a specific site cannot be replicated. This transparency of origin is what many Australia and NZ winemakers find fascinating and want to explore further. For example, Hunter Valley winemaker Andrew Thomas has just released nine different 2018 shiraz, six of which are single vineyard wines. The disadvantage is if a vineyard suffers damage such as hail or drought then there is no fall back position and it may be untenable for a producer to release a wine in a particular year.

But some winemakers prefer to source from a number of vineyards or even regions. Australia’s most famous red, Penfolds Grange is one such wine, the 2015 vintage coming from areas as diverse as Barossa and the Clare.

Andrew Thomas  has released six single vineyard  2018 shiraz wines.
Andrew Thomas has released six single vineyard 2018 shiraz wines.
Q

Is it worth buying low-intervention imported wines from Europe, or do they not travel very well?

Jeff Fidler, Newcastle, NSW

Although there will always be small amounts sulphur dioxide in a finished wine, the philosophy of ‘lo-fi ‘winemakers is to leave the wine in as natural a state as possible, so their wines are made and bottled without any addition of SO2. But SO2 guards against oxidation and spoilage, so lo-fi wines are more susceptible when being transported. Importers of this style tend to be passionate about their products so I would expect them to be careful with shipping. Refrigerated containers are best, but if this isn’t possible, the wine merchant can request their container is placed in as insulated a space on the ship as possible. The optimum time to ship is spring or autumn as once the containers are landed, there will inevitably be some distance travelled before the wine reaches its final destination and wine will be irreparably damaged if it sits inside a hot lorry or van. The best merchants should be happy to share that information with you.

Q

I noticed in an article that the grape variety Fer is being grown in Western Australia. Can you tell me more about it?

Duncan Andrews, Gold Coast, Qld  

According to Wine Grapes, Fer is related to carmènere and produces wines that are “untamed and tannic”. But the WA Department of Primary Industries lists it as dark, spicy and with soft tannins so maybe Australian winemakers are more adept at ripening and managing the tannins than those in its native home of Marcillac, France. Fer ripens late in the season so this could be why winemakers are keen to give it a go. With climate change bringing forward the timing of harvests, having a variety that needs hang time is useful.

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Photography courtesy of Thomas Wines.