WhisperKOOL prides itself on being a source of information about wine storage and wine industry trends. To that end, this is our wine bulletin (early April). We will be bringing you these wine bulletins and many other useful wine-related posts in 2019. Please read the wine news for early April 2019 and enjoy!
Trials Begin in Australia for Bird-Scaring Vineyard Drone
Birds cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage to vineyards worldwide every year. Australia is no exception. But Zi Wang, an engineering student at the Sydney University School of Aerospace, thinks he’s got a solution for that. It’s a small “hexacopter” drone, a dummy crow slung beneath. It emits simulated bird distress calls as it flies over vineyards. Like many such UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) of its type, the drone also has a global positioning system.
The coordinates from the GPS system and a laptop operated by Zi Wang allow the team to fly the drone over vineyards in Australia’s Hilltops and Orange winegrowing regions, as well as the Hunter Valley. The mimicked distress calls and dummy crow, combined with the drone’s realistic flight patterns, combine to give marauding birds the impression that a crow has just caught one of their number and the rest are in danger. Or so Zi Wang hopes. After he completes his trials, he’ll compare the data he’s collected with results from Australia’s more common bird deterrents, like netting and propane “bird cannons.”
Drones, those versatile flying machines, are beginning to make inroads into the wine industry. A US company called Precision Hawk developed a bird-scaring drone in 2014 called the Lancaster Mark III. Precision Hawk designed it to look, from below, like a circling hawk. And, since it’s a drone and comes with the latest technological advancements, it’s also capable of collecting vital data on wine production.
Low-Alcohol Wines Rise in Popularity
With the explosion of craft beer over the past decade, alcohol consumers have grown accustomed to sipping low-alcohol beverages. Wine lovers are now looking for something similar in the wine scene. The growing popularity of low-alcohol wines was nowhere more obvious than at ProWein, one of the world’s largest wine trade shows, held in Düsseldorf, Germany in March.
“Demand for lower-alcohol wines is strong,” said Olivier Bourdet-Pees, the managing director of Plaimont Producteurs, a winegrowers’ cooperative based in Gascony in southwest France. “They work well outside meals.”
At ProWein 2019, Plaimont released its “Voici mon Secret” label, a Côte de Gascogne just 9% alcohol by volume (ABV)—lower than some types of craft beer.
“We produce this from plots that tended to be downgraded or even uprooted because they produce wines that need to be sweetened,” Bourdet-Pees explained. “By controlling acidity and leaving seven to eight grams of residual sugar, we can produce wines with the Côte de Gascogne character but with an ABV of around 9%.”
“There is increased pressure from the authorities to prevent alcoholism,” said Claude Vialade, of Les Domaines Auriol, creator of the 9% ABV Belles du Sud. “We recognize that yes, there is a problem with alcoholism and we are providing a product to address the issue.”
Have You Tried These Obscure and Underappreciated Italian Wines?
Brunello di Montalcino. Amarone della Valpolicella. Barolo. What do these names have in common? They’re all world-famous Italian wines. But few people know that Italy has twenty regions in total, and every single one of them produces wine. Needless to say, there are dozens of little-known but incredible Italian wines (and wine producers) that you should try out. They include:
- Greco di Tufo. Outside of Campania, the white wine known as Greco di Tufo isn’t as popular as Fiano di Avellino. Inside of Campania (in southwestern Italy), Greco di Tufo is the hometown favorite, with its “sublime minerality” and full-bodied fruitiness.
- Chianti Rufina. The Classico region is where the world’s most famous Chianti originates. But the Chianti Rufina district (east of Florence) produces red wines that are a breed apart. Chianti Rufina wines are rich in character and superbly acidic, wonderfully complex and perfect for aging.
- Soave. Before it was eclipsed by chardonnay and pinot grigio, the wine known as Soave (produced mostly from Garganega grapes) was one of the most popular white wines of the 70s and 80s.
Carignan is the Best Wine You (Probably) Never Heard of
To finish off our wine bulletin (early April), let’s talk about a wine called Carignan. The story of Carignan is the story of a good wine foiled by extenuating circumstances. With its overtones of fruit and spice, medium tannins, and tart acidity, Carignan varietal wine was a winner. But its fecundity was its undoing. A series of high-yield harvests, not to mention a few nasty bouts with mildew, created a surplus of poor-tasting Carignan wines. Many French vintners today usually blend it with red wines.
Despite its previous setbacks, Carignan is gaining ground in the viticultural world. Sounder vineyard management practices and the use of lower-yielding vines have allowed vintners to move beyond blending Carignan with other reds. Vineyards around the world are producing world-class Carignan varietals. The grape produces wines that are tart and fruity, with notes of smoke and baking spices.
Notable Carignan varietal wines are coming out of Mendocino County, California. The Maule region of Chile has 16 wineries now dedicated to producing old-vine Carignan wines redolent of cherry, with robust tannins and mild acidity. Two other unexpected players in the Carignan game are Croatia and Mexico, with Carignan plantings in the regions of Dalmatia and Baja California respectively.
This concludes WhisperKOOL’s first-ever wine bulletin (early April). Thank you for reading and following! Stay tuned for further updates in April. For more wine industry news (and wine storage tips), please check our blog frequently. We recently posted our first wine pairing: chardonnay and chicken piccata. And don’t forget to stop by our main site (www.whisperkool.com) to see the latest cooling products and accessories we offer.