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The new, correct, Coney meaning of handcrafted.

Posted on April 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm in News & Updates

Leaf Plucking at Coney WinesAs we all become older and wiser it is important that widely held misconceptions and delusions are exploded, exposed and corrected. The term handcrafted as applied to wine produced by small, typically family operated dynasties is a prime example of such sloppy thinking.

Every latte-infused city dweller thinks that premium wine crafted in the boutique tradition, makes its way, without human intervention by magic directly into the bottle on their table.  Untrue!  Handcrafted means handcrafted.  Just inspect the gnarled digits and furrowed philanges of any winemaker or viticultural serf and you will immediately know the truth.

Of course we also croon tenderly to each vine as we tend its tendrils, but this is incidental.  Mostly it’s about the triumph of perspiration and idiocy over reason.  A good example appears alongside.  Popular scientific convention has it that the developing berries respond nicely to direct sunlight – in addition to the ripening that occurs with photosynthesis.  This means leaf removal around the fruit zone.  There are 3 ways to remove these pesky leaves that the pesky plant has produced.

  1. Use a machine which is fast, cheap and damages the fruit
  2. Engage some sheep of suitable dimensions.  To ensure a nice result their molars need to reach, but not exceed, the fruit zone.  For Romneys of short stature this can be remedied by fitting them with stiletto heels.  While the berries are small pea-size and green the animals show no interest and just attack the foliage.
  3. Pluck the leaves by, yes,handcrafted hand.  This is what we at Coneys do, trudging along, hour after therapeutic hour, with our minds in neutral and our backs in rigor mortis.

If you inspect the picture closely you’ll notice that Coney has, momentarily, been driven to his knees, suggesting that a new definition of handcrafted could now be adopted – kneecrafted. This is different from kneecapped but the discomfort is rather similar.

So, all the Coney wines, meticulously produced in the small and beautiful tradition, have been kneecrafted.

We hope you enjoy them.

Here, Coney begins his holiday study of maceration carbonique

Posted on October 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm in News & Updates

Dharma -1

Random holiday musings from a Coney

Posted on October 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm in News & Updates

In August/September if there’s something in the kitty we try to vamoose.  With pruning done and mulched, and the 2013 vintage tucked away safely in tank or bottled, it’s high time to break out the “Gone fishin’” sign.  Which means we’ve metaphorically gone fishing.  This year it was not far afield – the east coast of Australia, Brisbane – Port Douglas.  Not a winery in sight – just sugar cane, bananas and a few bold coffee growers.  Part of the pleasure of this annual escape (separate from the more prosaic aim of sanity retention) is the chance to read a few books on the beach while keeping an elderly eye on any passing nubile forms.  One such (a book!) was what probably sounds a bit highbrow for holidays –‘Strange Meetings” – the lives of the poets of the great war.  Now, for a blessed generation that escaped scot free from participating in such carnage, reading about the lives and sometimes fortuitous meetings (and trench deaths) of twenty-something year olds like Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen et al is a great privilege.  And it struck me that there is a very loose parallel with one aspect of the wine game we’re in.  Sassoon, who had little time for any contemporary poet glorifying courage, patriotism, solidarity of purpose etc.  took a firm swipe at all the civilian non-soldiers who could not, by definition, get anywhere near an accurate understanding “of the terror and consequences of shelling and trench warfare” i.e. the british public, politicians, journalists etc.  In his poem “Fight to the Finish” he knobbled all the “stay at home journalists” who line the streets to welcome returning soldiers and complacently imagine that “of all the thrills and ardours war has brought, this moment is the finest”.  At which , the infuriated soldiers fix their bayonets, “charge the mob” and make the “yellow- pressmen grunt and squeal”.  This is reasonably serious stuff and the wine analogy comparatively trivial.  However it put me in mind of a rather amusing article appearing in the Auckland Herald a while ago.  In it an American winemaker who also happened to be a statistician tested and was struck by what he saw as the randomness of professional winetasting results – i.e. when the same wine appears before a different set of judges the medals instead of having a tidy, expected similarity are all over the place.  The same wine that gets a gold gong in one competition doesn’t rate a mention in despatches in another.  He concluded that collectively they are a bunch of charlatans, hoodwinking the wine-buying public.  “What”, as a sceptical winemaker might say “do the judges pretentious palates really know about my wine!  I bloody made it!”.   Here’s a sample of what the American wrote –“The result of my analysis is disturbing.  Only 10% of judges are consistent and those judges who were consistent one year were ordinary the next year.  Chance has a great deal to do with the awards that wines win.” Well, the article which was syndicated didn’t go unnoticed – surprise, surprise, the following day a nettled MW whose income, let it not be overlooked, comes from the presumption of his exquisitely honed senses.  Here’s what he said – “Wine tasting is a skill.  Some people have greater or lesser natural abilities, but anyone can learn how to do it to a professional level of competence.  The more you practise, the better you get.  To say that such a skill doesn’t exist is nonsense.”  Who knows?  I’ve certainly attended blind tastings where the barometer of some participants is unerring.  But that is usually limited to varietal, year of vintage and winegrowing origin not the relative merits of each wine.  Wine judges go much further, ranking and horsetrading their way through a multitude of wines each day, handing out the gongs and thereby influencing the kudos and prices appearing on bottles offered for sale.  A disproportionate influence?Maybe.  But as we know with wine there is no obvious relationship between price and quality.  At the end of the day we may not be able to get much further (which is not very far!) than the comment  we get endlessly from the passing punter at Trio restaurant “I don’t know much about wine mate, but I know what I like” and of course there’s nothing wrong with this and it’s what you would expect.

The other book I’m on is a biography of Beatle Paul McCartney – rather lighter and racier as you can imagine.  In it there’s a reference to what was regarded by the nouveau riche (and everyone else in 1962!) as a sophisticated brew – the ubiquitous Portuguese Mateus Rosé.  Whatever you say about this rather bland wine it can only be regarded as a triumph of marketing; the distinctive round bottle combining perfectly with the tastebuds of the majority.

With the onset of spring and the new shoots growing like triffids all reading at Coney Wines has now been suspended.

Look forward to seeing you at the cellar door and café over the summer.

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