21st Century Vino
In 2015 Chalmers instigated and drove the extraordinary 21st Century Vino events in both Melbourne and London. These forums and tastings showcased Australian grown Italian variety wines and discussed the history, importance and relevance of working with these varieties in many of Australia’s wine growing regions, but especially looking at Mediterranean grapes in the warmer drier areas.
21st Century Vino tracks and encourages Australian wine’s evolution beyond an homogeneous approach that focuses on merely a handful of mostly French varieties with ubiquitous plantings, to a more regional, thoughtful one. 21st Century Vino takes into account climate, topography, soils and a sense of place resulting in the idea that suitable site + variety matching = original wine.
The producers and advocates behind 21st Century Vino are a diverse and passionate bunch. Their focus is on quality wines made from Italian varieties. 21st Century Vino events have featured up to 50 producers showcasing more than 100 wines from dozens unique Australian wine regions.
For more than a decade, the Chalmers have imported, grown and made wine from Italian grape varieties and eagerly shared their vines, fruit and knowledge with other Australian producers. So they created the 21st Century Vino concept to find out how everyone else was faring. They wanted to organise a casual forum to taste each other’s wines, to talk about the trials, tribulations and joys producers faced in different regions, climates and ultimately to gauge the success of wines made from these grapes. It morphed into something much more than that – a successful day-long event held on May 17, 2015 at Federation Square, in the heart of the Victorian capital.
The energy and enthusiasm in the room at this inaugural event was palpable. Producers and attendees were engaged for hours and the room was abuzz with a strong sense of optimism and fun. The question on everyone’s lips – when is the next 21st Century Vino?
Thanks to Walter Speller championing the Australian-Italian variety cause in London and Jane Faulkner’s commitment to join the Chalmers in planning and implementing the program, the next 21st Century Vino event with Wine Australia in London was held in September 2015 and was a huge eye opened in the UK trade and media. This event spurred Wine Australia to include an annual Alternative Variety tasting in the UK calendar of events and drew comments from trade like “didn’t you get London excited!” The uptake of Australian wines from Italian varieties has swollen significantly since 2015 and Chalmers are super proud that 21st Century Vino has played an important role in that upward trend.