This originated from the identification of a gap in the Australian wine market – the blind spot – for wines around the £10 mark which were high quality and thus great value. Either side of this price was a plethora of wines, both cheap and cheerful at one end and serious high quality at the other.
Forming an association with Mac Forbes, a winemaker in Yarra Valley, Australia, the range of Blind Spot wines was born, with Mac sourcing interesting parcels of wines for the society, before they were blended into obscurity by the bigger wine producers. However, in recent years, it has become more and more difficult to source interesting wines of great quality at the right price. The answer therefore was to buy grapes directly from the producers rather than wines to blend.
This is the first time in the society’s nearly 150-year history that it has bought wine grapes and it is designed to ensure supply of grapes at the best possible quality/price ratio. It also allows both greater flexibility and traceability in producing wines for the range. In a special new agreement, the society will fund Mac to buy grapes from across Australia, working with fruit he finds exciting and which inspires his full confidence. Wine Society members will benefit from an eclectic range of wines, which are even more delicious, as well as fantastic value.
Freddy Bulmer, the society’s buyer for Australia, explained: “We have homed in on the more cutting-edge styles being produced in Australia and in my opinion no one is better placed to do this for us than Mac, one of the most exciting and pioneering winemakers Down Under.”
Reflecting this bold new move and perhaps playing to the younger wine audience of 30- to 50-year-olds, the labelling has been completely redesigned, with a very modern, contemporary look. The new range is more concise with just four wines available from this month, with others being added later in the year with the 2022 vintage. Two of these are from Italian grape varieties, underpinning the general move away from the stalwart chardonnay and shiraz. Although these latter varieties still produce some stunning Australian wines, more and more different grape varieties are now being successfully grown in this country, producing interesting and characterful wines. The white garganega variety is not one generally associated with Australia, being more commonly found in north-east Italy. The Blind Spot Garganega 2021 comes from the King Valley region in the foothills of the mountainous Alpine National Park in north-east Victoria. A deliciously crisp and refreshing white, with more fruit character than its Italian counterpart. Zippy, zesty, juicy fruit, with citrus and lemongrass notes on aroma and flavour (£11.50 per bottle).
Another succulent, modern-style Australian is the red Blind Spot Dolcetto 2020 from the interesting Adelaide Hills region. Originating from the Piemonte area of north-west Italy, this Australian incarnation is wonderfully balanced between fruit, body and acidity. Deep cherry red in colour, it has sour red cherry and loganberry fruit, soft, mellow and juicy with hints of fresh fig on the finish (£11.50 per bottle).
Two great examples of ‘new wave’ Australian wines, with freshness, individuality and subtlety.
Richard Esling is a wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. He runs agency and consultancy WineWyse, is founder and principal of Sussex Wine Academy and is chairman of Arundel Wine Society