Friday 17 May 2024

How bats are playing a role in a new wine range

You don't see a lot field blend wines any more, with single varietals very much in fashion.

A field blend is a wine made up of two or more types of grapes, where the grapes are planted together in the same vineyard, brought in together at harvest and co-fermented in the winery.

Fowles Wine at Avenel, just 90 minutes north of Melbourne, has defied fashion with its new Fieldsong range, with a white blend and a red blend from the cool-climate Strathbogie Ranges.

Both wines are aromatic and bright with the red just edging my vote.

The White Field Blend is a true fruit salad with sauvignon blanc, riesling, arneis, pinot grigio and chardonnay coming together in delightful harmony. A vinous Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young with a guest appearance from James Taylor.

The Red Field Blend is s similar collection of talents that proved a very friendly partner for a Thai red duck curry.

Here mourvèdre is the unlikely band leader with pinot noir. merlot, shiraz and sangiovese adding the harmonies.

Owner Matt Fowles says his team is always looking at ways they can work with the power of nature to create exceptional wines and help restore and regenerate the environment as they go.

“Fieldsong is the outcome of the care we put into our environment and shows what can be produced with a nurturing and holistic approach to nature and winemaking,” he said.

“The range is inspired by the cacophony of sounds and variety of fauna that call our vines home, paired with the overwhelming sense of calm we feel when walking through our vineyard blocks.

“At Fowles, we aren’t just focused on making good wine, we strive to be at the forefront of environmental developments that help protect our ecosystem - leaving them in even better condition than when we started.”

With that in mind, the winery’s latest project is investigating the value of some of Fowles’ smallest inhabitants - the microbats that call the winery home.

The winery has partnered with the University of New England (UNE) for a ground-breaking study into insect-eating micro-bats as a means of vineyard pest control, which could ultimately save Australia’s wine industry $50 million per annum.

The joint study is focused on the potential utilisation of natural resources in the broader wine industry and harness nature’s powers to promote a regenerative environment.

There are 16 species of insect-eating microbats in Victoria, 12 of which call Fowles’ vineyards home. These small vineyard residents consume up to 100% of their body mass in insects each day. This means that a colony of 100 bats, weighing 10 grams each, could remove up to one kilo of insects every night.

“We are fostering a balanced farming system and seek to repurpose and utilise what is available on the property," says Fowles.

“This current project with UNE represents a leap forward - the most comprehensive study yet - aimed at unravelling bat diversity and their ecosystem contributions within vineyards.

“Our main priority is not yield, it’s about embracing the power of nature, surrendering to the chaos and seeing the incredible quality that it brings.”

Both the Fieldsong wines are food friendly, and offer excellent value at $30. 


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