With Telstra upgrading, the internet was no fun, so I wandered into the Nuriootpa library, local history section and opened, The Personal Letterbooks of Professor A. J. Perkins, Government Viticulturist in South Australia, 1890-1901 (Roseworthy, SA, 1982).
Letters from growers and winemakers pleading for help. Sooty coloured moulds are consuming the grapes, the wines have picked up a sickness, we are facing ruin, what does the Professor advise. So much to solve, so many things not known, so much to do.
It took till the 1980s to conquer these problems and then the ‘flying winemakers’ left our shores to teach others.
Soon enough this created fresh problems as with this technical edge gone, we saw last week the anger of growers in Renmark, on the Murray River, using tractors to block roads as there are no buyers for their perfect fruit.
What a mess the elite at Wine Australia have made of marketing this perfect land. With the bad there is a tiny good as Glug is picking up some nice overstocks and I recommend the Vine to Glass Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 and Square Mile Padthaway Shiraz 2021 which are ‘one offs’.
You have been taught for 40 years that tasting experts should guide your selections and more recently that it is worthwhile paying for this advice. I ask you to see this as a giant con as with minimal, pleasurable effort, you can teach yourself how to buy by tasting. Your palate is the same as the experts so tune it up.
Each week I read of another winemaker being a new messiah. Again, all any advance can be is marginal and the big difference these days, normally reflected in price, is from marketing and fashion.
Genealogists line up pictures of the dead and now show them talking so let me introduce you to some of the wine heroes that did make a difference. My list includes, Prof. Arthur James Perkins, Dr Allan Callaghan, John Williams, Alan Hickinbotham, John Fornachon, and Bryce Rankine, and I expect we will hear from them one day.
In summary once science solved the technical issues others arrived to create the rest of the yarn. In the guise of offering respectable consumer guides, they created a grading system that increased prices. They also gave subscribers an inferiority complex by explaining why the best would always elude them as each yearly edition again has them priced just out of reach.
So, Drink Widely Drink Well
P.S. Last year we purchased a terrific sub $10 Rose from a local winery. The new vintage is outstanding and will be listed soon.