On the vine: less is more

Loss of land a good thing

The amount of land devoted to vineyards nationally is decreasing at a rate of about 10,000 hectares every two years. The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the area under vine fell from 166,000 hectares in 2008 to 145,000 in 2012. The Winemakers' Federation of Australia welcomed the news, saying it had been urging the wine industry to reassess the size and mix of its vineyards. Surpluses of grapes and wine have damaged the industry by leading to entrenched discounting, the WFA says.

Five becomes six

The US will join the Five Nations Wine Challenge next year to make it a six-nation affair. The announcement was made last week at the presentation of awards for the 2012 challenge between South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and Australia. Australia won the aggregate points this year, while South Africa won wine of show with a sparkling, the Villiera Wines Monro Cap Classique 2007. New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa all won more trophies (for best wine in class) than Australia, with four each; Australia won three and Chile one. White wine of show was Xanadu Margaret River Reserve Chardonnay 2010 and red of show was Akarua Pinot Noir 2010, from Central Otago. See boutiquewines.com.au.

Better by the half-dozen

In the wake of Best's Great Western winning the inaugural Trevor Mast Trophy for shiraz at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show, a mixed half-dozen of Grampians wines is being offered by Mount Langi Ghiran Vineyards and Best's to raise money for the Lovell Foundation. The foundation funds research into younger-onset dementia, which is what cost Mast his life early this year. Each Trevor Mast Tribute half-dozen contains three bottles of Best's 2012 House Block Riesling and three 2005 Mount Langi Ghiran Nowhere Creek Shiraz, at a cost of $200. It's available from both wineries. Phone Best's on (03) 5356 2250 and Langi on (03) 5354 3207.

Barossa's Chinese lesson

A Barossa wine school is set to open in China. The Barossa Grape & Wine Association school, which will teach Chinese students only about Barossa wine, is to open by the end of this year in Hong Kong and mainland China. Partners in the project are likely to be Hong Kong's Asia Wine Service & Education Centre and a Beijing-based company called Ease Scent - a leading registered wine educator in China. Advising the project for Australia are Lucy Anderson and Paul Henry from Winehero, an organisation specialising in strategic planning, brand development and promotion of Australian wines.