At an instore wine tasting Saturday, I tasted through some of the wines of Skillogalee, a winery in the Clare Valley in SA. I thought their 2010 Gewurztraminer was a good wine and grabbed a bottle of it to purchase, whereupon a fellow taster clued me in to this article, published in The Weekend Australian that same day.
To summarise: A federal body called Wine Australia has to approve all Australian wines for export, rejecting any that they feel will bring the Australian wine “brand” into disrepute. A UK importer who had tasted this wine was very keen to import it, but Wine Australia decided to reject it as having too much volatile acidity, an excess of which is considered a wine fault, even though it tested well under the legal limit. So it was just their subjective opinion that the wine was faulty, an opinion not shared by the importer, myself, or the sommelier at some two-bit restaurant called Tetsuya’s, where the wine has been on the by-the-glass list. The wine has also been on the list at high-end Melbourne restaurants Flower Drum and Rockpool.
At a time when sales of Australian wine have declined worldwide (in no small part because of a perception that it is bland, industrial and undifferentiated) I think there’s an argument to be made that we don’t need a bureaucracy telling paying overseas customers that they aren’t allowed to buy our wine. But then again, if we didn’t have Wine Australia, terrible things might happen. You know, like overseas consumers being exposed to wines not fitting into a range of government-approved flavours.