You have free articles remaining this month.
Subscribe now for 50c a week. Subscribe
Login

Your Questions

Q

I am coming across more and more wines described as ‘piquette’. Could you clarify what piquette is and why this style of wine is suddenly becoming so popular?

Luka Rhodes, Cairns, Qld

The growing consumer awareness of sustainability – and the desire to not waste raw materials to mitigate an adverse effect on the environment – has had wine producers, especially those focused on making low/no intervention wines, exploring how to make the most of their harvest.

One path to this is to produce piquette, which is made by fermenting freshly pressed grape skins, (left over from making wine) with additional water, to create a light, fresh drink.  

This isn’t a new method but a revival of a centuries-old technique. The Roman scholar Varro wrote in 37 BC: “Pressed grape skins have water added; this liquid is called lora, and it is issued to the labourers instead of wine.”

Producers regard piquette as a good way of creating a naturally low alcohol drink, made with minimal, if any, additions. Hunter Valley producer Vinden Wines describes its 2021 Piquette as “dry, refreshing, and extremely smashable” and the wine sold out almost immediately on release. Judging by the amount of interest in the style, no doubt we’ll see a growing number of these wines on retailers’ shelves.

Worth noting is that in the EU, piquette can only be consumed by a producer’s family or else it has to be sent for distillation.

Q

I understand that wines made in the joven style are meant to be drunk young, but what exactly is done (or is not done) to them to make them this way, and exactly what effect does age have on them?

Michael Cheung, Melbourne, Vic

Joven (‘young’ in Spanish) tells the consumer that it is a fresh, juicy style of wine, almost certainly made without any oak influence and intended to drunk within the year. Many of Spain’s great age-worthy wines are matured for an extended period in barrel and bottle prior to release, which creates more complex, layered flavours and textures. But if you are after a glass of something uncomplicated, a joven is a great choice.

Q

Do you think we’ll ever see warmer climate Mediterranean grape varieties, such as grenache or sangiovese, being grown in New Zealand?

Kristen Bracken, Geraldton, WA

Both already are; Villa Maria has grenache in its Gimblett Gravels Ngakirikiri Vineyard while sangiovese grows in Matakana (Heron’s Flight). Having championed and excelled at cool climate varieties, many Kiwi winemakers are already looking ahead and planning for the inevitable impacts of climate change. Planting new varieties is a risk, as we don’t know what the climate will look like 5 or 10 years from now, but there is interest in these varieties, hence the new plantings of albariño for example. However, with the dominance of sauvignon blanc, many producers are looking for ways to refine and adapt New Zealand’s flagship variety instead. Maybe altered canopy management and new clones that are more heat tolerant is a safer path?

Got a wine-related question?
Readers published (18+ years eligible only) will receive a bottle of wine.
Email wine@gourmettravellerwine.com.