This is a subject the importance of which cannot be over estimated. And it is one markedly calling for consideration, as there hare been, and still are, grounds for complaint in this direction. It will be advisable, therefore, to look well into the question, because it will amply repay the trouble bestowed upon it. First of all, then, let us refer to the remarks of Mr. Francois de Castella, the author of the Handbook on Viticulture for Victoria. He points out that in each district there will be one class of wine which will surpass all others in excellence, and that this is the type which the grower should produce. All the vine-growers in any one district should endeavour to make their wines of the type specially adapted for that particular district; and of course the type will vary in different districts. In this way, and only in this way, will it be possible for the public to obtain an unvarying article.
At the present time there are in each district a number of wines possessing various names, such as Hermitage, Shiraz, Carbenet, Burgundy, Chasselas, Riesling, Tokay, etc, but these names actually mean nothing. Each district should produce a different type of wine. A Riesling from the Yarra and a Riesling from the Murray are as distinct as Hock and Sherry. Mr. de Castella further advises that each vine-grower should join the Vine-Growers' Association in his locality. In this way the members of each district can agree amongst themselves to produce one class of wine, or at most two - say one white and one red. Instead of the same names being applied to entirely different wines, the wine will come to be known by the name of the district in which it is produced. One will then be able to have some idea of the contents of a bottle, from the label upon it. At present the name on the bottle is no indication whatever of the wine within; indeed, the same name is on the outside of many totally distinct wines. This change must assuredly come, and the sooner it does the better for Australian wines.
Mr. Pownall, in the course of his evidence before the Royal Commission on Vegetable Products in Victoria, also drew attention to this same want of uniformity. He believed that each vineyard ought to aim at making a standard quality of wine, so that wine-merchants might know what to expect from that vineyard. The wines throughout Australia should likewise, as far as possible, bear uniform names. He stated that he had met wines in various vineyards grown from the same grape, and called by different names; and though this might seem a trivial matter, yet it led to endless confusion. Moreover, it should not be permitted to continue, especially as it could be so easily rectified.
It must be said, however, that at the Great Western district, in Victoria, a start has been made in the right direction. A report on the vineyards of that locality referred to the gratifying fact that a marked tendency existed towards the adoption of a rational nomenclature of wines. Many of the leading growers were confining themselves to one red and one white wine. Some of them called their wine by the name of the vineyard, adding the words Hock, Chablis, Claret, etc. after them. This is unquestionably so far an improvement, and it is to be hoped that before long the wine will be known by the name of the vineyard or district, and by nothing else.
Mr. James Smith has also strongly insisted upon the supreme importance of this uniformity, especially as regards the quality of the wine. And this is perfectly true. The quality of any particular wine is solely dependent upon the season, but the produce of any given vineyard should surely possess, as he remarks, a distinctive cachet, by which the palate is enabled to recognise it. For instance, an expert would not fail to distinguish between a Chateau Margaux and a Chateau Lafitte, nor between a Chateau Latour and a Hant Brion. Notwithstanding the different vintages, there is always a uniformity and continuity of flavour maintained through all these great growths. But in the case of our Australian wines there is a lamentable difference. Wines of the same denomination and from the same grower differ so materially one year from those bearing a similar name, and coming from the same cellar, in another, that it is difficult to believe they are the same. As Mr. Smith justly observes, this is an unpardonable defect in the estimation of connoisseurs; more especially such as attach themselves to a particular kind of wine, and naturally drink it by preference. Constancy of type should be unremittingly aimed at by the vigneron. And this can only be possible by continuous attention to each individual factor concerned in vine-growing and wine-making.