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Friday 1 November 2019

A pair of wines to tick the hipster boxes, but don't mention the MOG

Today is, one of my very alert public relations industry friends tells me, World Vegan Day.

And, with vegans happy to annex more than their fair share of days, the entire month of November is World Vegan Month with plant-based eaters from across the globe coming together to celebrate their 100% cruelty-free lifestyle.

Given the matter of MOG, the wine industry's dirty little secret, it is hard to see how any wine can be 100% Vegan friendly.

Anyone who has spent any time in a vineyard, or winery, can tell you about the number of bugs, insects, spiders, caterpillars, rats, mice and other Material other than Grapes (MOG) that makes its way into the crusher-destemmer.

Fortunately for Vegans, attentive producers are able to eliminate all but a tiny amount of protein from your bottle.

Vegan-friendly, preservative-free and low-intervention wines are all the rage right now and Hunter Valley winemaker Gwyn Olsen has just released a couple from Briar Ridge's vineyard in Wrattonbully in South Australia - just down the road from Coonawarra.

“These field blends are artistic expressions of my winemaking, and a great opportunity to showcase what we can do with the areas that we source fruit from,” she Olsen said. A field blend is a wine made from a melange of grapes grown in the same vineyard, and picked on the same day.

Olsen's red field blend (she recommends pairing it with a decidedly non-Vegan cheeseburger and chips) is a blend of merlot, malbec, aglianico and barbera grapes, while the white field blend is a mix of fiano, viognier, chardonnay and pinot gris (which she suggest pairing with soft cheeses).

“I wanted to create field blends because I believe they showcase the vineyard site irrespective of grape variety," she said. "They express the region and soils they are grown in without having to ‘be’ any one type of wine,” she said.

Both blends are preservative free (meaning they should ideally be drunk over the next couple of years and the white was wild fermented.

"Preservative-free is a new style of wine that has come into focus in the last couple of years, as people look for alternative and minimal interference drinks. PF wines do not contain any preservatives (primarily sulphur dioxide) in the wine whereas conventional wines do,” Olsen said.

“Preservative free wines are best enjoyed young. While the wine contains some natural preservatives like the alcohol itself, tannins and acidity, it’s not necessarily going to have the same longevity as a wine containing preservatives.”

Bentonite has been used as a fining agent rather than milk or fish products.

The wines are Gwyn Olsen 2019 Preservative-Free Wrattonbully Red Field Blend and Gwyn Olsen 2019 Preservative-Free Wrattonbully White Field Blend. Both are $16.99 per bottle in a case from Cellarmasters.

Both are fresh, crunchy and vibrant - and probably best enjoyed chilled. Quintessential summer drinking pleasure. 

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