First published in Costa News SL, December 2010

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

YES, IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN!

           Granted, there are more important things about which to make some enduring(?) resolutions than wine matters, e.g. recycling; using less power; making choices that don’t endanger any more precious species. But, in fact my wine resolutions this year reflect most of the above anyway.

 My first New Year Resolution, though perhaps not the most important, is to continue to advise wine departments in supermarkets (these are the worst offenders) and the occasional wine shop which forgets its duty to the consumer, to make sure that they keep their wines in the best conditions and, sin of sins, to stop selling wines that are clearly too old! I’ll do the same in restaurants too.

 My voice in the wilderness might help our cause but, the combined voices of readers in a united, voluble front will surely cause wine retailers to re-think their buying and selling policies. Order fewer wines each time then you won’t be stuck with bottles that are too old at the end of the year – it’s really quite simple.

 I’m certain that as I write this there will be retailers ordering, receiving and selling-on rosados vintage 2009, for example, which by the time you are reading this will already be past their best! Nobody wins – the bodega that makes the wine, the distributor, the retail outlet (including restaurants) and ultimately the consumer, are all losers!

 I’m also going to buy more wines closed with corks than with synthetic and screw-top stoppers. Yes, I am aware that with cork the percentage of ‘corked’ wines will at best remain constant and may well increase, until the scientists finally solve the problem, that is. However, for me the cost of the impact of all these synthetic closures on the environment far outweighs the disappointment of opening a damp-cardboard-smelling wine!

 And linked to the above – on those occasions when I do buy (or, more likely, receive through the post, lucky guy that I am) bottles that have synthetic closures, I’m going to make sure that they are deposited in the correct re-cycling bins. I don’t want our children to wake up one morning to view billions of brightly coloured plastic ‘corks’ floating on the Mediterranean alongside shoals of dead fish, whilst the bottom of the ocean is littered with metal bottle tops and land-fill sites are producing toxic gasses and polluting the soil. Cork is natural, let’s stick with it!

 Whilst I’m on an environmentally and socially aware trip there’s another related resolution I’d like to put forward – one which we can all follow, for our mutual benefit. I’m sure that, built-in to more and more bodegas’ development plans there is a financial incentive for them as well, but I’m equally sure (mostly!) that these plans are also born of a genuine concern for our earth and our social responsibilities.

 I’m referring to the increasing numbers of bodegas which are now changing their methods to help protect what we have. Many bodegas (and wineries world-wide) are signing-up to sustainable farming principles lessening the damaging impact of their industry and gradually ensuring that future generations will continue to reap the benefits of the Earth’s soil.

 Natural fertilisers are preferred to man-made chemicals (it’s obvious to me!); natural pest control methods are clearly better than chemical sprays; oak casks, so crucial to top-class winemaking, are being made from oak that is part of re-planting schemes – fell a tree, plant two or more in it’s place.

 It goes further than this too – wineries are seeking to reduce their CO2 emissions and thus reduce the wine industry’s carbon footprint. The saving that Codorniu is making with their new bottle, for example, is staggering – more on this in ‘Cork Talk’ soon!

 I’m going to support those bodegas that are making such efforts.

 Happy New Year!

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