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Clare producers split on GI issue

Published:  23 July, 2008

Clare Valley producers are divided by the possibility of subdividing the region.

The Clare Valley is a number of valleys ranging in altitude from 300 to 500 metres, each with distinct microclimates and soil types, which create very different wine styles.

Paul Smith, winemaker at Knappstein, would be prepared to back a sub-regionality programme being pushed by a group of grape growers in Watervale but believes the time and effort involved might not be worth it. He said: We are a small region but there are clear differences between valleys: grapes at Watervale are picked at 12 Baum, and they already have tropical aromas, whereas two weeks later grapes might still be green and lean higher up the valley.'

However, Peter Barry of Jim Barry wines feels a movement towards sub-regionality would be a negative step. He is concerned that growers would abuse a smaller Geographical Indication (GI) and charge inflated prices for grapes, and estate agents would demand a premium for land, inflating prices further. He added: The best wines - the cream - should float to the top without an appellation. The producer's label should be the assurance of quality, not the GI.'

Tim Adams is divided: The idea doesn't have legs internationally, but on a domestic scale, Riesling drinkers are ready for the next level. The best thing for Clare to do on the international stage is promote the district as a whole.'

Neil Pike of Pikes has already considered submitting a formal proposal. He was initially put off by the amount of paperwork but has not ruled out the possibility of a future submission.