Doco throws up a great tale
The tele-documentary Chateau Chunder: A Wine Revolution, recently shown on ABC1, was immensely entertaining. Writer-director Stephen Oliver deserves praise for telling the story of Australian wine's success on the world stage so fairly and amusingly. It was great fun watching the old footage, advertising and so on that Oliver managed to dig up. We saw Len Evans, Murray Tyrrell and other key wine people in their prime - even Samuel Wynn. The obligatory surly look of French disdain was provided by Rhone winemaker Jean-Luc Colombo. Jancis Robinson played a part, her props being a bottle of Grange and some enormous spectacles. That great Pommy friend of Australian wine Oz Clarke stole the show, he and his bottle of 1978 Kanga Rouge, and it's not the first time I've wondered what he and his screen-mate Jilly Goolden were on. They made wine seem so much more than just a drink. The narrative charts the progress of Australia from a minor and widely mocked player in the wine trade of the 1960s to a hugely successful exporter to the world in the '90s. The DVD of Chateau Chunder can be bought for $29.95 from the EP Independent store at www.epindependent.com.
The screw cap tightens
Hot on the heels of the screw-cap initiative winning the 2012 Maurice O'Shea Award comes the news that Italy has conceded some ground in the alternative-closure debate. The Italian Ministry of Agriculture has amended its decree of July 1993 to permit some DOCG wines to be bottled under screw cap - but, crucially, not all. Wines that have the name of a vineyard or sub-zone on their label do not receive the benefit of the amendment. This tallies with higher-priced and higher-quality wines: in other words, as we already see with so many foreign wines, the highest-quality wines of a given estate will not benefit from the concession. According to English wine importer David Gleave, who has been a leading agitator for change - as reported on decanter.com - the amendment means regional consorzios can apply to Rome for approval to change their local laws. Gleave says wineries in Chianti, Gavi, Barolo and Barbaresco have applied to their consorzios to implement the change. A majority of members of the consorzio must vote for the change before it can go to the next step. Thus far, the law prohibits Italian wines with DOCG names from using anything but cork. Those with the less-stringent DOC, such as the Pieropan Soave by my elbow as I write, can already use screw caps if they wish.