Sustainable AUS Shiraz from Yalumba, Wirra Wirra, and Two Hands for #EarthDay

With tasting rooms around the world closed, wineries are struggling. While alcohol consumption may be up, if people are buying wine, they are getting it at the grocery store, not directly from a winery from visiting a tasting room –which means that many organic, biodynamic, and sustainable smaller wineries with a smaller footprint may get lost in the shuffle.

April is Earth Month, so now more than ever purchasing wines that pay attention to the triple bottom line matters. And if you can’t get to the tasting room, because it is closed or too far away, it will be much harder to do so.

“We are very much a wine business that focuses on selling wine directly to our customers and the cellar door is our lifeblood — that is where they first meet us,” said Hugh Hamilton CEO Mary Hamilton here.

In Australia, 30% of wineries could close permanently, according to wine industry group which is more bad news following the horrendous fires in late 2019 and early 2020 which we wrote about in January. According to an April 16, 2020 article,

“We’ve got 2,600 wineries at the moment,” said Tony Battaglene, chief executive of Australian Grape and Wine in the article. “That’s anything up to 700 or 800 businesses.”

It may seem like we do not have much to celebrate, but I would argue we do. We can still find and buy Australian wines, and we should.

Here are three AUS Shiraz that we’d like to recommend that are also Earth Month earth friendly — ideal for making a toast this April to the resilience of the human spirit, the wine industry, and the planet. Yes, it’s all about the triple bottom line!

WINES

  • Yalumba Organic Shiraz 2018 ($19)
  • Wirra Wirra Catapult Shiraz 2017 ($23)
  • 2018 Two Hands “Angels’ Share” McLaren Vale ($33)

MENU:
our focus on this menu is on Earth friendly foods 

  • Organic and vegan cheeses
  • Beet salad on arugula with spiced pecans
  • Eggplant Parmigiana
  • Rack of lamb

2018 – Yalumba – Shiraz – South Australia
13.5% alcohol SRP $19
Made with organic grapes
imported/distributed by Winebow

“Apart from economic viability and social equity, for us, sustainability is about biodiversity in our vineyards,” says Winemaker Louisa Rose. “To encourage it, we’ve done a number of things: we’ve reduced the amount of chemicals we use, incorporated an integrated pest management system, and encouraged biodiversity of vegetation in our vineyards”.

Yalumba’s philosophy? Respect the natural environment that surrounds the property and work sustainably. Vegan-friendly since 2011, this organic winery sets aside hundreds of hectares of land for conservation management. For every hectare of vineyard they own, they have at least one hectare of natural vegetation. Yalumba is also a signatory of the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC), an initiative that aims to increase sustainable packaging, increase recycling, and reduce package litter. Yalumba is the first wine company in the world to receive the Climate Protection Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency, 2007.

Yalumba’s been around since 1849, and we bet they will make it through this challenge as well– even thought they lost vineyards in the 2019-2020 fires (read more here). We first tasted Yalumba in January, and were impressed by the quality for the price. Check them out!

Color: Ruby red, bing cherries, fuchsia rim, translucent with a deep rich color.

Nose: Very fruity with eucalyptus, and sage. Sue found the nose very inviting. Violets and rose, dry brush. I got a lot of blueberry. There is a bit of alcohol on the nose.

Palate: 
Blue fruit, blueberry in the front of the palate, mulberry, and plum and clay toward the back, acidity, nice soft tannins, licorice.

This affordable Shiraz will help to improve the reputation of not so great Australian Shiraz.

Pairing:
The wine works very well with cranberry stilton cheese. It loves the tangy sharpness and is harmonious with the cranberry fruit. Also very nice with the eggplant parmigiana as well. Beet and blue cheese, topped with great basin nuts salads are also a great dish. The butter and spices in the nuts, add such a wonderful richness to the meal when paired with the win.  With the Yaulumba, the flavors brighten each other, bring out the fruit and the richness together. The elements of the flavors are enhanced by each other.

2017 Wirra Wirra “Catapult” Shiraz Elevated Vineyards McLaren Vale
14.5 SRP $23

McLaren Vale is recognized as Australia’s most sustainable wine region, so if you’re not sure which wine to get, consider one from that area of South Australia like Wirra Wirra which has vineyards that have been certified biodynamic since 2014.

While not sporting a Demeter certification on the label of this bottle because it is not from one of those select vineyards, the winery does take a holistic approach to vineyard management and uses alternative crops mid-row, insectaries, native vegetation, sheep, chickens and bees to improve vineyard health naturally.

As a founding member of Sustainable Growing Australia (SGA), an organization designed to help growers continuously improve their environmental practices, Wirra Wirra has also planted 5,200 new trees since 2011.

Originally established in 1894 by South Australian eccentric and cricketer Robert Strangways Wigley, Wirra Wirra prospered in its early days until his death in 1926 when the winery fell into disrepair and abandoned. In 1969 the late Greg Trott and his cousin Roger, got it going again.

“Never give misery an even break, nor bad wine a second sip.
You must be serious about quality, dedicated to your task in life,
especially winemaking, but this should all be fun.” Greg Trott

Cisco, my AUS cattle dog, would love a catapult.

Why is this wine called “Catapult”? According to the label, Greg Trott had always dreamed of making a “trebuchet” which would catapult neighboring wineries with bottles of fine wine.

Having seen trebuchets in action at Burning Man many times including seeing pianos launched, I can testify that this would NOT be a great idea.

While Greg Trott passed on before his dream came true, his team built a trebuchet in 2010 to honor his dream and as a testimony to his spirit– which this wine does as well. PS They launch watermelons not wine bottles.

Color:  Garnet with a coral rim.

Nose: Very fruity! Super ripe fresh picked blueberry with some raspberry. Fruit punch. Alcohol. Black pepper.

Palate: Very peppery! Full of black pepper along with the blue fruit. Tangy. Did I say super peppery?

Pairing: Super yummy with the rosemary, garlic marinate in the lamb. The savory richness of the marinade, mixed with the fruit in the wine was spectacular. There is so much tart fruit in the Catapult, that it can cut through all of the yummy richness in the eggplant parmigiana, even embracing the yummy richness in the dish. The salad with the Catapult is so spectacular. The rosemary in the nuts shines with the wine bringing out the earthiness in the wine. It brings out fabulous peppery notes in the eggplant parmesan.

Now to try some of the certified biodynamic bottles! Learn more about Wirra Wirra here.

 

2018 Two Hands “Angels’ Share” McLaren Vale
14.2 alcohol SRP $33

“Winemaking for me is a labour of love, a passion, and a craft. I have walked every vineyard, made every picking decision and tasted every individual barrel of each wine we’ve ever produced. I can’t imagine there are too many winery owners around the world that take the pursuit of quality that personally.” MICHAEL TWELFTREE

Founded in 1999, by November 2012, Two Hands was named in the Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 for the 10th consecutive year.

We’ve been fans of Two Hands wines for years, ever since we participated in a #WineStudio program that featured them. They offer everything from entry level wines to very special, and very expensive wines. While we could definitely taste the difference, we appreciate that there’s a range of price points but all with the same expressive labels on the outside and wine on the inside. Check out their website here.

While not organic or biodynamic, with regards to SUSTAINABLE VITICULTURE  Two Hands says:

  • We employ ‘Massale Selection’ with new planting material: the old art of sourcing vine material from the best vines within the best vineyards, rather than sourcing clones from nurseries.
  • Our estate vineyards are pruned, trained and picked by hand to minimise tractor movements and avoid soil compaction.
  • In winter, cover crops are grown between the rows to promote soil vitality.
  • Each year we use 540 bails of straw mulch under our vines to keep the soil temperature and surface roots cool as well as retain valuable moisture in the soil. The mulch also promotes earthworm and soil microbe activity in our soil and also sees a reduction in weed growth (which in turn, lowers herbicide use).
  • Our Scottish Highland cattle and 100% of the grape must post vintage both contribute to the 300 tonnes of organic compost we add back into our vineyards each year, in order to support the natural balance within our vines.
  • We encourage biodiversity within our estate vineyards: We’ve reduced the amount of chemicals used and house insectariums throughout our Holy Grail Vineyard to enhance the vitality of our vineyard sites.

While they do irrigate, they “recycle waste water used at the winery, all of the storm water and associated run off from the winery buildings is also harvested.”

The name of this wine refers to the Angels’ Share, the small amount of wine that evaporates from oak barrels:

“Medieval winemakers assumed that angels watched over the wines, and that they took their share. Selected from parcels of exceptional McLaren Vale fruit, this wine is made in a true Australian style and will appeal to both angels and mortals alike.

Color: Garnet, very colorful hot pink rim, or possibly a slightly lighter version of what is in the glass

Nose: 
Dry dirt, clay, a bit of sulphuric funk, mint, eucalyptus,

Palate: 
Very mild, elegant, subtle, subtle tannins, gentle acidity.

Gentle like an Angel’s kiss…

Earthy tannins. Down to earth.  After going back to this wine it is rich, yummy, musky.

Pairing:
Able to enjoy on its own, enough flavor to make it interesting but not so much that it makes you salivate for food. Loves the rich fattiness and the herbal rub of the lamb. Yummy with the eggplant parmigiana. The fruit in the wine, loves the fruit and the creamy flavor of the roasted garlic in the marinara sauce. Fantastic with the arugula, beet and blue cheese salad, picking up and dancing with the spicy characteristics of the Great Basin nuts.

“The two hands work and toil to produce the wonderful flavors in this bottle of wine,” remarked Sue.

Sue’s two hands take note of Two Hands “Angels’ Share” Shiraz

Happy Earth Month! Happy 50th anniversary to Earth Day 2020!

 

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