Monday, 5 December 2016

Like to know what's in Grange? Most years Penfolds has to break the law to tell you

Grange. Australia's most famous wine. The red that put our country on the world's quality wine map. Yet most years Penfolds has to break the law to tell people what's in it.
If you think that sounds like madness, well, yes, it is. Yet Wine Australia, the federal government body that controls how wine is labelled and promoted does, outlaw telling the truth about Grange and many other wines blended from different regions.
This is the idiotic bureaucratic regulation that defines the offence:

(Click to enlarge)
And the section of the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Act 2013 that the regulation refers to:


The problem arises because the grapes that end up in Grange regularly come from more than three regions as the company website explains.


So Penfolds is in breach of the law with this reference in its tasting note for the 2010 Grange:
VINEYARD REGION Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Magill Estate
Oh no! Five GIs mentioned when you are only allowed three.

I wonder if and when the regulatory bulldogs of Wine Australia will threaten Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago with jail like they have the proprietors of that little Baross winemaker glug.com.au?

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Tweeter-in-chief rewrites the media’s rule book

Tweeter-in-chief rewrites the media’s rule book: "Politicians should campaign in poetry and govern in prose, goes the adage. But Donald Trump has changed little in his shift from campaigner to president-in-waiting. He remains more polemic than poetic and is holding tight to his favourite tool for spreading bombast: Twitter. This week, it was as if the tweeter-in-chief was back on the campaign trail, the master communicator with smartphone in hand, setting the news agenda for a frustrated press forced into soul-searching over how to cover him. He used the messaging app to suggest that flag burners be thrown in jail; to moot scrapping the US-Cuba detente; to complain of fraud in an election he won; and to promote a gloating campaign-style rally where he mocked his vanquished opponents. “It’s genius and it’s frightening. It’s communications without the advantage of the frontal lobe. There’s no inhibition,” says Richard Levick, chairman of Levick, a veteran Washington communications guru who has advised multiple governments."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Even expert forecasters often treat a strong possibility as though it is a certainty.

Why forecasters failed to predict Trump’s victory: Tim Harford in London's Financial Times

"The truth is that once Trump had secured the nomination, a Trump presidency was always a strong possibility. The betting markets seemed to recognise this, offering odds of three-to-one a week or so before the poll. Three-to-one shots happen all the time — or at least, about a quarter of the time. A defeat for Hillary Clinton may be far more consequential than a defeat for Manchester City and, therefore, far more shocking but it shouldn’t be any more surprising. Favourites do not always win."
"... we have to keep an open mind that more than one outcome is possible. Too many people equated “Clinton is the favourite” with “Clinton will win”. That’s an obvious error, but it’s common. Even expert forecasters often treat a strong possibility as though it is a certainty. This tendency is one reason that dart-throwing chimps give the experts a run for their money. The chimps make lots of forecasting errors too, but at least they don’t systematically overrate their chances."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Keeping it in the family: Donald Trump and the New Jerey connection

Family comes first. That's one thing we now know about president elect Donald Trump.
This report by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow s a bottler as she tells of the Trump son in laws' revenge.
Watch it here.

Monday, 14 November 2016

What is the name of the Sparkling Wine from East of Paris - up around Epernay?

By David Farmer


I returned to Tasmania in 1970 after 5 years overseas and was by then very interested in wine. Enough to find out what was happening in Tasmania, so father, who knew everyone set up a meeting with the Department of Agriculture in Launceston.
I was told viticulture had no future as it was far too cold but a 'crack-pot' was planting a vineyard at Pipers Brook and the location was worth going to see. I did not meet the 'crack-pot' Andrew Pirie but I did meet his brother David who was propagating vine cuttings. I also went to the La Provence vineyard.
So naturally I have followed with great interest the growth of the Tasmanian wine industry.
The early to late 1980s were ........... years and over a six year period I led the pack that producers two award winners of the professional class of the Australian Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de ........... (C.I.V.C.), Chris Shanahan (1983) and Adrian Marsden Smedley (1986).
Thus I know a lot about sparkling wines and ..........., enough to tell you that the cheap French cooperative ........... which have been flooding the local market are not worth your money. These are the ones with oddly familiar but made up names and have the initials CM on the label.
Tasmania is the place where you should be looking and Wine Australia says: House of Arras, Delamere and Pirie. These are wines of breed and complexity: age-worthy wines that take the classic ........... blend…..that makes them unique……The wines are sough-after (sic)... and offer a value quotient that puts equivalent quality ........... or ........... in the shade.
As readers know this site is censored by Wine Australia and since what I have told you is advertising copy not wine writing, the words which will offend you must be dotted out and this is true even when I quote Wine Australia.
I thank customers who have sent in emails of support and report that this stupidity continues. Alas I have a fear Wine Australia want to dilute your interests as a consumer.
If you would like your views on this absurd censorship to be known by the federal government that supposedly control Wine Australia then click the Send Email bottom on the top right and let the relevant minister know.
And email richard@politicalowl.com with the censored name i.n the headline and you could win a $50 win voucher from David Farmer's glug.com.au business.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

James Halliday as Wine Australia would censor him

The repressive attack on freedom of speech by Wine Australia has not yet reached the level of stopping wine journalists giving sensible information to consumers. But should a wine maker or retailer dare to quote the words of James Halliday, the country's most famous wine writer, they would face two years in jail.
To give you an idea of just how ridiculously draconian Wine Australia's censorship powers are, we reproduce below how a recent Halliday column would need to be censored to conform with Wine Australia's law.
And if you think you know what the blacked out words are, enter Censored by Wine Australia's competition by sending your guess at what the illegal words are to:


richard@politicalowl.com. 

There are $50 wine voucher that can be redeemed at glug.com.au for correct and/or witty entries.
Click on the column to enlarge it.



Thursday, 10 November 2016

Wine Australia chairman's company breaking own law that carries a two year jail term


They might proudly call it Méthode Tasmanoise but the Hill-Smith family, who purchased Jansz in 1997, seem quite keen to stress a French connection. You will notice, for one thing, that their sparkling is made by the Méthode Tasmanoise rather than the Tasmanian method. But that's a minor dipping of the lid to proper champagne compared with other French references on the Jansz website.  References like this:
In 1986, esteemed Champagne house - Louis Roederer partnered with the owners of Heemskerk Wines to produce Tasmania’s first premium vintage sparkling wine. They saw the similarities between the climate here and the famous wine region of their homeland.
And this:
It could be argued we’re completely mad growing grapes in the wild and unforgivingly cold Tasmanian environment. But there’s méthode to our madness.
The climatic conditions of the Jansz vineyard rival the famed French wine region of Champagne. In fact, it was originally with French contribution that Jansz became Tasmania’s first sparkling made using the traditional Méthode Champenoise.
Today we call it, Méthode Tasmanoise. It’s the essence of a partnership between the environment and our winemaker. Just as the cool Tasmanian climate creates spectacular beauty in nature, it is also instrumental in the creation of art in bottles.
All that's quite accurate and reasonable in my opinion but that's no defence under the draconian laws administered by Wine Australia. The Hill-Smith family, whose wines usually carry the Yalumba label, have clearly breached what Rachel Triggs, Wine Australia's Legal Counsel, describes in this way:


Under the AGWA Act and Regulations, it is an offence to sell, import or export a wine with a false description and presentation, or with a misleading description and presentation (sections 40C and 40E respectively). This extends to advertising on a website and would extend to the use of third party material, such as articles by wine critics, used to present and describe your wine and subsequently to promote and sell your wine.
It is important to clarify the differences between ‘false’ and ‘misleading’ use, as the interaction between these two elements is often misunderstood. The AGWA Act clearly states that the description and presentation of wine is misleading if it includes a registered geographical indication and the wine is misleading as to the country, region or locality in which the wine originated. It is often argued that certain unauthorised use of a GI “could not possibly mislead anyone” and, therefore, should be permitted. The description “A Barossa version of a Cote-Rotie”, for example, makes it absolutely clear that the wine is from the Barossa, not from the GI protected for France.
However, the Act provides an addition level of protection where the use of a GI is false for the purposes of the Act. This places a blanket prohibition over the use of a registered GI in relation to a wine that did not originate in that GI, regardless of whether the use is misleading as to the origin of the wine (with some small exceptions).
Such exceptions include pre-existing trade mark rights, terms used as part of an individual’s name or winery address, and common English words. ...
This situation was clearly explained when the Act was introduced to Parliament, notwithstanding the example used was ‘Chablis’, rather than ‘Cote-Rotie’. A description such as ‘Australian Chablis, Product of Australia’ could not possibly mislead a reasonable person as to the true origin of the wine but is false use of the Chablis GI and constitutes an offence under our Act.
Penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment apply in relation to false or misleading statements or (or in addition to) $21,600 for an individual, and five times that for a company. Cancellation/suspension of export licences may also apply where the wine is being exported and any interested party, including AGWA, may make an application for an injunction restraining a person or a company from selling a wine that uses a GI contrary to the legislation.
If you want to read all of Ms Triggs's opinion you will find it HERE


This breach of the law should be highly embarrassing to Wine Australia's chairman Brian Walsh. As the Corporation's website notes, "Brian boasts a 24 year career at Yalumba, spanning roles of Chief Winemaker, Director of Production and Director of Strategy & Business Development as well as 20 years working in winemaking and management positions in McLaren Vale."

It suggests to me that Mr Walsh is unaware of the law he is charged with administering. He should be urging the federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce to change the Act so that consumers can be given information that helps them make sensible wine buying choices.