Cask Wine. You could argue this is Australia’s greatest contribution the wine industry. Sure, amazing people like Ray Beckwith made the product itself better…but innovation? The Cask is up there. All jokes aside on the innovation front, the product contained inside the cask has been historically and presently derided and belittled.
Cheap plonk made from grape mega farms grown in hot dry areas reliant upon irrigation, usually from the Murray Darling river system, then produced in just as big wineries, a.k.a Tank Farms and thrown into shiny silver bladders, boxed up with shiny plastic feeling cardboard and dispensed with a thumb aching press button valve, and sold at ridiculously cheap prices that work out to be around $2 per 750ml bottle. Associated with low socio-economic wine drinkers and Uni students playing “Goon Of Fortune” in a share house backyard. You start to see the image problem with cask wine.
So what happens when one of the big wine companies in Australia, with access to some truly excellent fruit from those vineyard regions, re-enters the cask market? You get “The Winesmiths.”
Sure, the ownership on the box is tied to ‘Rafa Vineyards’ who are the makers of the well regarded ‘Running With Bulls’ Tempranillo, but you don’t need Ariadne’s thread to follow the maze back to Yalumba. This company vie with De Bortoli on a daily basis for arguably producing the best value wines in the country across all price points. Must be the family thing.
But back to the The Winesmiths. The ethos is definitely about low impact to the earth. So we get the press release on thick, obviously recycled paper. The cask itself is made from 75% recycled materials and only has 13% of a glass bottle’s carbon footprint in its production. 2 litres and proudly stamped with the vintage year. The packaging bright and attractive with motif by Swiss painter Celestino Piatti. Probably not created by him for the wine specifically, he died in 2007. None of that means anything however if the wine itself is complete piss.
The Winesmiths, Sauvignon Blanc, South Australia, 2014
Pale gold colour. Fresh, vibrant nose with plenty of soft exotic tropical fruits, green capsicum and white flowers. The palate equally fresh with lemon/lime juice citrus, subtle and bittersweet grapefruit and plenty of zing. Fresh is the catch cry, and why shouldn’t it be? No sickly, cloying overdone passionfruit and asparagus here: just pure fruit, light on its feet.
A lot of effort has gone into production and breathing fresh air into the ridiculed cask market. And when it retails for $18.95 and gives the equivalent of almost 3 bottles; stays good when opened for over a month and tastes perfectly serviceable, why reach for a ubiquitous, generic Sauv Blanc from across the ditch?
It’ll make you and your wallet feel good inside, in more ways than one.
Sample courtesy of The Winesmiths