Sauvignon in Sytria, day 2
A very successful first day of the World Sauvignon Congress, held here in sunny Graz. 250 delegates are attending, representing 30 different countries. The proceedings began with an hour's opening ceremony, which contained several speeches, as well as some country dancing and a performance by a folk group, as well as an anthemic four-piece brass band. There were also appearances from the three 'princesses of wine', pretty Austrian girls selected for their attractiveness but also their knowledge of all things vinous. Pepe Schuller MW revealed that his wife is an ex-wine princess.
The folk group was led by Hans, who is the president of the local wine growers syndicate. He composed a piece titled 'from vine to wine', which he played. It's in 3/4 time, as it most Austrian music it seems. The dancing group were good, but had the rather alarming habit of letting out high pitched yells at seemingly random intervals. In one dance (pictured), the men systematically clapped the soles of their feet, their thighs and their hands in a complex sequence.
The sessions were very good, once they got underway. We learned from Ferdinand Regner that the parents of Sauvignon Blanc are Traminer and Chenin Blanc. Richard Smart told us why Tasmania is just as good as Marlborough for growing Sauvignon Blanc, and also spelled out the implications of global warming for the wine world. 'The world's wine sector is a canary in the coal mine for agriculture', he pointed out. 'It's an early warning signal'. The lucky regions set to suffer least are Chile, Argentina, China, New Zealand and northern Europe. And Tasmania.
Mike Trought gave a thorough overview of the amazing development of Marlborough over the last 20 years into New Zealand's top wine region. He also looked at the issue of regionality. Kobus Hunter explained why canopy management is key for quality in South African Sauvignon Blanc. Ulrich Pedri described his studies on looking for suitable sites for Sauvignon Blanc in the Sudtirol. And then it was my turn to chair the panel on Sauvignon Blanc clones, with three experts - Laurent Audeguin, Wolfgang Renner and Damian Martin - each making presentations.
Tonight is the conference dinner. More country dancing, folk songs and yodelling?