Grape Pickers Party
Climate change, sustainability and the pride taken in recycling are ever prevelant on the minds of drinkers. Climate change is already having a profound effect on wine production in many of our favourite regions and it is being driven by human behaviour.
In the UK we often like to consider our sustainability box ticked when we declare in assured tones, “Yes, we recycle everything!” In my short interview with Mark Calver from Hatch Mansfield, he makes the point very clearly that Britain recycles more glass than we actually need. Considering there are over 30 million plus monthly wine drinkers in the UK, and that we import 20 million cases from Australia alone, our mountains of empty wine bottles must be bigger than the space our imaginations could attempt to afford them!
1 Keg with 40 bottles
The wine itself is kept within an aluminium bag within a plastic keg with a gas between the keg and the bag so that when wine is poured, the gas increases the pressure against it. At no time does the gas come into contact with the wine meaning that it remains as pristine as when it was shipped from source.
As Mark himself says: “The idea here is to launch premium wines on draught because the customer deserves to get what they paid for. The way to do that is to ensure that it is served at the right temperature, it’s fresh, it’s clean, it’s crisp and it’s always perfect.”
Sustainable wine drinking or just another gimmick?
Looking around the super elegant M Wine Store on Victoria Street, I am sure that I will not be walking in 12 months from now and see Krug or any of the other bluechip wines from the world over on tap. However, for the wines we consume on a more general and daily basis, there is no reason why, if there is no compromise in quality, we could not do away with millions of tonnes of unwanted glass waste.
I asked Mark about the real benefits of switching from individual bottles to kegs:
“The keg weighs 1 kilo and it contains 40 bottles of wine. The average bottle of wine empty weighs 500g, so 40 bottles is a 20 kilo-ish saving of moving glass around the world.
Not only that but the issue with glass is that it is a very high consumer of energy in creation so when you don’t have to actually create glass you are also saving in energy use at the source.
Thirdly, with glass in the UK we actually recycle more than we need and therefore we are actually destroying something that had a high energy value to start with."
So are we looking at a change in how wine is packaged that could have really positive impact?
Mark: "Ultimately it would have a huge impact. If you think of New Zealand, or Australia actually, there’s 20 million cases of Australian wine coming over in glass bottles mainly. It is a huge volume of glass that is shipping around the world when all it is doing is protecting the wine."
"But there is one final really important point. When a bottle of wine is shipped across the equator, because there is only 75 centilitres in it, the ability for it to have temperature proliferation is far greater than something that has 30 litres in it. The mass of the liquid is much more stable from a temperature point of view. So qualitatively it could also be much better in the long run as well.”
So what are we drinking?
Thornbury’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc - nervously holding the glass of wine poured from a tap to my nostrils, I am relieved to receive the alluring aromas of a hint of citrus, a little tropical, a wild grassy meadow… Lovely mouth coating texture and super fresh ripe fruit. Most importantly, plenty of “one more glass syndrome” going on. Faultless.
Pascal Clement’s Fleurie - lovely red translucent colour, really pleasant mouthful of red fruits, just enough presence of the silky tannins and great length make this a very ample choice for a night of good chat, music, maybe even some roasted vegetables and partridge, or whatever this time of year might call to your plate.
M Wine are serving these wines in take away bottles that can be reused. If you are passing then it is worth going in and checking them out. You can also have your own bottle engraved to avoid home squabbles as to who’s drinking what out of whose supply!
As for the M Restaurant, we were given a tour by the affable and hospitable founder and CEO, Martin Williams. M is a fabulous concept for very stylish epicurean delights. I am looking forward to returning to sample more. One tip is that you can take a bottle from the ground-level store downstairs to the restuarant on a Monday night and pay no corkage fee. That could be one of the tap wines or maybe something else - either way, get it engraved… just for fun.
M Wine - 3 Zig Zag Building, 70 Victoria St, Westminster, London SW1E 6SQ
Tel. 0207 3327 7776