Monthly Report - May 2021

Rest and Relaxation…

 

I am in New Zealand.  It is absolutely glorious outside with the sun beating at the windows of my brother’s house at the beach of Matarangi.  I did a walk along the length of the beach this morning, had a few dogs run up to meet a new face (everyone else walking seems to know each other), and could hear nothing but the ripple of the waves lapping against this shallow sand bar when I made it to the Whangapoua Harbour entrance which terminates the wander.  It is a shame my partner Marjory is not here – but my mother has come with me to enjoy some days away and we can take advantage of a few days of clear sunny weather.

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Sunset on Matarangi Beach – Coromandel, June 2021

 

During my childhood we spent every summer at the “beach” which was Whangapoua – not too far from this house.  It was pretty amazing looking back – we lived in tents for 5 weeks and ate pretty much seafood from the harbour every day.  We always joked if you did not eat mussels, cockles or pipis you would basically starve if you were staying with us.  With a crazy year just been and a number of personal tasks to complete in the coming months – I took an opportunity to drop across to Auckland and on to the Waikato for a fortnight and I am glad I did as I am having a chance to recharge before work in its many forms begins once more.

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View across Te Aroha from Bald Spur – Waikato, May 2021

 

A big thanks must go out to Christelle and Ron at the warehouse who have been sending out most of the orders over this past fortnight.  Very grateful for their help, but I am back next week and I have a list of deliveries waiting for me to send off as well – so if you are waiting on wines they will in the post very soon.

 

 

Allouran News

 

First up a mighty big thanks to all the Blue Poles comrades that took up an opportunity to purchase the recently released 2018 Allouran.  This was the biggest amount of wine we have ever sold in a single release, and it has meant Tim and I spent many days completing all the sales entries and then packing away pallets of wine to everyone.  I spent three full days in the warehouse preparing AusPost crate after crate – it was a list that never seemed to get shorter for a while there.  We did have a large volume (for us) of this wine, but it has been cut by 75% already and I have a feeling once some re-orders come through from our excellent retail partners, it will be sold out.

 

Outstanding.

 

We will wait for a few more months before the 2019 Reserve Merlot and Cabernet Franc will be released and then we wait for the 2021 Chardonnay and 2019 Shiraz.  All are in limited quantities and are not expected to last long – especially the Reserves which have such exceptional length and character.  No “Deux Écus” from 2019 as the vintage did not carry the “weight” of the 2018 wines – but I am beginning to wonder if I did the right thing after having a tasting of the Reserves.  The 2019 Allouran will be middle of next year – closed and petulant currently which is almost a constant with this wine for the first 12-18 months in the bottle.

 

 

Variant Pandemic Alert…

 

I had intended to drop into Melbourne before heading on to New Zealand.  That would have made me officially sad as I would have been locked in, and as Tim messaged me “Bullet Dodged” which was his way of saying I was likely to have driven him and his family (and dog!) to distraction if placed in a forced lockdown with them at their house.  These “variants” as we now collectively call them are a bit of a worry – it may also drag out this process of isolation even longer and frustrate the bejeezus out of us all.  Had my 1st vaccine shot in May and all went well – it would be nice to see the vaccine roll out speed up a bit in Australia, but delays in the New Zealand roll out is also ongoing and that may simply be that both countries felt a tad more secure and had more restrictive policies in place.  Let us hope it gets moving soon.

 

 

Wine Valuation…

 

What to talk about, what to do?  As you can imagine with the vineyard in recess and the wine sales going ballistic prior to heading off for a holiday – I have not had much “wine musing” time apart from the drinking bit.  I did have a bit of an online conversation with a blogger in regards to an article he had forwarded on to me for comment and it was quite intriguing.  He had written of his perception of the timing of expensive bottles being released by wineries of Margaret River – linking it back to Cloudburst and their expensive wines (predominantly sold in America as little was sold in Australia), which was “copied” for a word by everyone else.  It is not really as simple as that and it is a piece of string as a topic, but it does raise the question of what actually is “value”?

 

I have no idea.

 

Such an interesting topic as there can be no answer that can be put to two of the readers of this report and have an agreed stance.  It is so individual that I doubt that anyone could discuss the topic without making a complete hash of it – so this is my calling.

 

If I was professional, I would now provide a quote from the Oxford Dictionary on the meaning of value.  Spend 5 paragraphs allocating discussion to income, level of interest in wine, perception of costs, scarcity, branding and psychological influences.  Finish with a quote from Warren Buffet.  Too easy.  But totally obvious and not what we are after here – we insist on a car crash.

 

Value comes in so many sizes that it becomes meaningless, but it is critical to understand if you are selling or buying anything – be it essential or optional.  Our biggest driver for value is often assumed to be what we pay, but in almost 99% of your decisions it actually takes a back seat to another component of the Rubik’s Cube of options.  Now I see you are shaking your head in disbelief – “What a fool you are!” – stop ye naysayers and doubters of the word.

 

When you buy anything, you consider price solely on that product’s suitability for the task you have set it.  If you want plain salt, your first thought is that you are not seeking anything more special than the product is salt and you will buy to a price but that is not the case when you look at the Coles shelf – what do you actually buy?  You buy the one in the dispenser or the bag due to your kitchen requirements, you buy the iodised or the non-iodised as you have specific requirements in its use when cooking, you buy the fine or the coarse, and on and on it goes.  Heck, the cheapest was a kilogram of plain fine salt in a bag for 70 cents – you bought the non-iodised 500 gram container of fine salt for $1.50 and yet you bought the product seeking value.

 

So, when you get to grips with the fact that price is secondary when doing your value calculation, you can only begin to consider the ramifications for us selling wine.  Value is just a construct from a million wonderfully complex minds and when you announce just how much prices have risen, or how much good wine you can buy for under $25 etc – it surprisingly is pretty meaningless.  Value in the wine anyone buys, regardless of price, is how the purchase fills the need set.  And oh how those needs are wide and varied.

 

Most wine purchased is simply as an “alcohol dispenser”.  We can get all uppity here, but that is the case as the bulk volume of wine sold is at values under $10 a bottle equivalent.  Value in this realm is when the “alcohol dispenser” of your choice is on special and for most people reading this missive that is not what they think as a value choice.

 

On the other end of the wine spectrum, let us get all ritzy.  If I was to tell you that we have on special at our local store Chateau Margaux for $100 a bottle – how long would it last?  What a bargain we would all scream and $100 would be incredible “value”, but it is not to anyone who does not have $100 – and on and on we go around this circle of this vs that, up vs down.

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We had a lot of comments about the statement made by Gary “Withnail” Walsh in his review of the 2018 Allouran.  He noted “As an aside, I prefer this to the 2018 Moss Wood Cabernet, even though they are quite different wines. But still…” – fantastic for us of course, we have this direct comparison for our wine that is a quarter of the price of an iconic Margaret River red.  Super happy.  But always remember that the buyers of 2018 Moss Wood Cabernet would actually still be pretty damn happy and even consider their purchase a good value due to their own perceptions and needs.

 

And if we go back to the start when we were all discussing how Cloudburst wines started a stampede of expensive bottlings in the region – could it not be argued that all the wineries already knew their value and went ahead and matched those assumptions to their prices and that Cloudburst was merely an early adopter rather than class leader?  We did release the Deux Écus at $90 – crazy I know – but it is a wine that was exceptional, and we believed warranted the price and could equate to “value”.  We have the 2018 Allouran now at $30 and we maintained a price which we consider to be “value” based on how it rates amongst all of its peers, and we believe that this will aid in its sales and further widening of it (and our), popularity.  Value provides some many aspects of advantage and disadvantage that you are always fiddling at the edges of it.

 

So dear comrade, I hope that you can find solace in the “valuation” you have made with regards to your wine choices and drink wines that make you happy.

 

 

Seasonal Activity...

 

The change of seasons in the southwest of Australia is most noted when the region starts having major “frontal” systems roll on through and causing trees to fall over and water tanks to overflow.  And this was the case as the end of May had two major weather systems rise up from the Indian Ocean and give us a jolly good washing.  I missed some of the rainfalls due to trying to find some warmth in cold old New Zealand – so hopefully the house and my plants are not to bashed about on my return.

 

The numbers for this month and last year’s figures are provided below:

 

May 2021:        

Avg Maximum Temp          19.6°C

Daily Max recorded            23.5°C

 

Avg Minimum Temp           11.2°C

Daily Min recorded               6.8°C

 

Rainfall:                               140.5mm

The maximum was similar to 2020 with the minimum being a little higher.  Rainfall total for 2021 was a bit lower than last year, but last year was really stormy with a number of black outs and frontal systems striking the coast.

May 2020:        

Avg Maximum Temp           18.9°C

Daily Max recorded             25.8°C

 

Avg Minimum Temp            9.2°C

Daily Min recorded                4.3°C

 

Rainfall:                                179.4mm

Chip, chop…

 

And so it begins.  Pruning.  Out into the Chardonnay block for me before moving across to the Merlot.  Quite looking forward to it to be honest – I have had a lot of “screen time” with my geology work and this “vine time” will help clear the mind and reset the senses.  Hopefully Victoria can resolve the covid outbreak and I can get a short trip across – fingers crossed.  Take care everyone.

As always if you have any queries about what’s been written or about wine in general, do not hesitate to contact us either by email and we’ll do our very best to answer any question.

Cheers

 

 

Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard