WINES entered by coal seam gas explorer AGL won a gold and four bronze medals at last week’s 2012 Hunter Valley Wine Show, prompting a blistering attack yesterday from Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association president Andrew Margan.
Mr Margan, the chief of Margan Family Wines at Broke, said AGL’s wine show participation was an attempt to put a pleasant façade on coal seam gas developments that threatened the beauty, tourism and agriculture of the Hunter.
AGL has said its vineyard purchases have been made to demonstrate that gas exploration can successfully coexist with vineyards, however Mr Margan said the Hunter wine show entries were a diversion and not a serious participation in the wine industry.
AGL entered eight 2012-vintage wines under the Spring Mountain label in the Hunter show and caused a stir at Friday’s presentation lunch when a semillon made under contract at the Australian Vintage winery won a gold medal.
Wine show committee member Bruce Tyrrell, the managing director of Tyrrell’s Vineyards and a member of the anti-coal seam Hunter Valley Protection Alliance, expressed grave fears about the impact of gas exploration, but said there was nothing to stop AGL entering wines made from its vineyards’ grapes in Hunter and other shows.
Adelaide-based wine consultant Dan Traucki, who has been engaged to develop AGL’s wine operations, said yesterday the company had very strong winegrowing plans.
It had commissioned four Hunter winemakers to make 2012 semillon and chardonnay wines from Spring Mountain grapes and had offered them participation in a winemakers’ challenge for which the prize would be an overseas trip.
The trip would be awarded to the winemaker whose Spring Mountain wines achieved the best results in four major wine shows, including the Hunter Valley and Adelaide judgings.
Australian Vintage senior Hunter winemaker Peter Hall said the company had produced wine for AGL on a commercial basis with the proviso that Australian Vintage’s name be not used in the wine’s promotion and Australian Vintage would not be a participant in the winemaker challenge.