The Hybrid Class Proposition

Written by Greg Martin
Saturday, 22 May 2010 12:59

Greg Martin has been the managing director of Liquid Assets Wine Storage based in Tullamarine, for the last 8 years. In this role he assesses and recommends wines to domestic collectors and oversees buyers, educates, conducts premium wine tastings and writes about wine. Qualifications include: the wine judging program at the Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide, Grad. Dip. Wine and Wine Appreciation at La Trobe University, WSET Level 3 and has completed a Masters degree in Wine at the University of Melbourne.

The Guild is grateful for his continuing advice and valuable assistance.

To the Honourable Harry Gilham, the Senior Judge and Master Country Winemaker, Mr President, Mr Secretary and the Distinguished Committee, Misters Hart, Myers and Woods from the Frankston Wine Guild Realm, Madam Winemaker of the Year Myrna, our perennial champion Vinko, Mr Nettles George, Mr Feijoa Henri, Ms Burnt Orange Helen, Mr Plum Wally and distinguished elders Berries Helmet, Rhubarb Tim, Quince Neil, Malted Barley John O’Cal & Roma and that other bloke that I have forgotten in this moment and all Guild members (you know who you are) please consider my most humble proposition for your rumination.

The Proposition:
Solemnly, Solemnly I say to you that a new Hybrid Class be trialled for the next two wine shows. This class will combine Country-fruit material with Grapes and be forever more be known as the Hybrid Class.

Implementation Option 1:
I have include some characters that are sought after in the below varieties. These could be fermented together directly or blended at a later stage.

• Shiraz
• Cabernet
• Merlot
• Riesling
• Sauvignon Blanc
• Pinot
• Pinot Gris
• Chenin Blanc
• Chardonnay
+ Plum + Spices.
+ Blackcurrant + Plum + Blackberry + Tobacco Leaf.
+ Mulberry (Italy) + Plum.
+ Lemon + Lime + Flowers.
+ Gooseberry + Flowers.
+ Strawberry + Raspberry + Spices.
+ Pears.
+ Apple.
+ Melon + Feijoa.

Implementation Option 2:
Make up your own.
Seek the glory of the Guild naming a style in your name.

I give you the following reasons in the affirmative.

Argument No. 1: Make Something Spectacular.
Given life’s short embrace, one should always begin a winemaking session with a trembling hand with the thought that one is about to make the most extraordinary wine, the wine of a lifetime, a most illumination sensory experience that will stun the wine world; a cause for great celebration and reason for dear ones to raise their expectation of your potential. Once this wine is inhaled and partaken, the world will know you are something special, a cut above, a lofty personage, you are … a hybrid winemaker. I put it to you all that the beauty of Country Wine can elevate grape wine to this Spectacular Place.

Argument No. 2: Combat the Forces Against the Amateur Winemaker.
When watching the wine judges at the Shiraz and Cabernet tables I get the distinct impression that they yearn(yes yearn) to give more medals but alas find it very difficult to do so and I believe the cause is twofold. Firstly, the Amateur does not have the timeliness nor the equipment to do the various chemical tests to ensure optimal results (because we are working for our daily bread) plus we are scrounge for grapes that are not overly flavourful, we get good cheap deals from struggling wine areas. If for instance, Cabernet grapes will not yield flavours of blackcurrant, blackberries, plums and spices you only have to “cross the wine guild floor” and talk to the Country Wine people to add directly into the wine these fruits and spices. Add these flavours directly, pump up our tired wines with country base material, go for the spectacular, go for Gold, go for the Hybrid Class.

Argument No. 3: Because We Can. We have the Technology.
Its strange that we haven’t tried this yet, aren’t we conventional … Let’s not try to “ape” the professional shows by always feeling like the poor wine show relations, let’s take control of our own fate and create something new, something that is distinctly “ours”. This Hybrid Class could be a good platform from which to experiment and who knows, we may discover some important styles.

Argument No. 4: Rescuing a Bad Wine.
This year I have a problematic batch of Nero d’Avola red wine, the grapes came from a hot region through a third party and we paid for breaking the first law of winemaking which is to check the quality of your fruit before you consider making wine from it. The sugars where down, acid was high and the seeds and stalk were a distinct, bright green. My thoughts of rescuing it wandered into the fields of country winemaking rather than conventional grape theory. I am thinking of sultanas and orange-blossom honey for more sugar and flavour, bananas as a fining agent and the addition of weight to the mid palate and a “teabag” of some spices which may include a touch of jasmine. This Hybrid Class could be the last chance for wines that are problematic or lets face it, really awful. A Hybrid Class is the last chance for the ordinary wine.

Argument No. 5: Do Something Different.
Be the first to discover a new style. It could be your signature wine, the wine style we put your name too, a wine which the Guild can credit to you for all time. Henri has brought Feijoa to the Guild and he will always be known as “the” Mr Feijoa and can be seen in Altona spraying neighbours with his hose as they attempt to take his fruit from his nature-strip, trees that he planted 35 years ago. Yes … greatness beckons.

Argument No. 6: There are Precedents for the Meek and Fearful.

I never liked this “because someone else does it” argument but here we go anyway. Celeste brought to my attention that Mulberries and Merlot are often combined in the Northern areas of Italy because they tend to ripen at the same time. Honey is combined with Grapes to form a Grape Melomel otherwise known as a Pyment Mead blend. What other precedent examples are out there?

Argument No. 7: It can be Fun.
At last year’s wine show two entries really tested the status quo, they were the Sardine Liqueur and the Wine Jelly. The Sardine tested the boundaries of a beverage as derived from plant derived sugar and the Wine Jelly tested the boundaries of texture of a drink, the twilight zone of an “eat” and a “drink”. Reactions of alarm, interest and giggles ensued from these entries. I am pro-experimentation and pro-giggles when it comes to these types of entries. It would be really fun to experiment with say, Blood Plums and Shiraz and Vanilla Pods. A Hybrid Class = Fun.

A Caution:
I would refrain from using those expensive wine barrels and potentially …. wrecking them since the chemistry of these combinations are unknown. Best to experiment on a small scale with the use of glass carboys.
Beware of toxic base material for country wine. Old country wine books record toxic English plants but we are in the dark with Australian natives so I would avoid these in their entirety until knowledge of their safe use becomes available.

The Action Plan:

Perhaps to post on the website, give members time to digest and perhaps discuss at a meeting. For those opposed to the proposition show yourselves now g_d damn you! (lol)

Your Most Sincere and Obedient Servant,
Greg Martin
Country Wine Committee.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 May 2010 22:56 

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