Proctor : May 2018
57 PROCTOR | May 2018 Wine in a can is starting to pop up on the shelves of the local bottle shop, with major retailers embracing this new form of packaging. Wine in a can owes more to the culture of ready-to-drink, pre-mix spirits than our usual practices in wine consumption, and is more of an attempt to bring wine to a new generation of consumers. The challenge in making fair comment about this canned nectar is dealing with our prejudices head on. Wine, and its consumption, is heavy on ritual. Everything we learn about wine conventions is designed to enhance and extend the experience. Cracking a can of wine and sipping it like a Milton Mango or Bacardi Breezer is surely a very different experience. But why must it be so? Australia has a proud history of inventing new and disruptive wine packaging. Wine casks were proudly South Australian1 and the wine in a can packaging system comes to us from Victorian inventors Anthony Barics and Gregory Stokes. The story starts when enterprising winemakers Barics and Stokes “committed over a decade of research and development (since 1996) to create a purpose-built product for the global wine market”. 2 Wine in a can was the result. Evidently the trouble with traditional aluminium canning methods was that the acidic wine would react with the metal and spoil the wine within six months of canning. The inventors found something marvellous; they invented a filling system and a membrane inside the can which prevented the usual reductive reaction. Trials showed this new system would keep the wine fresh for at least five years. Barics and Stokes formed a company to exploit their invention, Barokes Pty Ltd (a title derived by blending their names), and patented their proud new invention as ‘Vinsafe’. For the IP lawyers, Australian patent 2002304976 with an earliest priority date of 28 September 2001 is romantically called “Process for packaging wines in aluminium cans”. Barokes now has patents covering 41 countries for its inventions.3 All went well until Barokes ran into trouble with its Japanese supplier-turned-partner and bouts of litigation broke out in the Victorian Supreme Court. 4 The disputes featured Japanese and Chinese patent infringement actions, applications for winding up Barokes and removing Stokes as a director, and parties failing to provide additional funding for Barokes operations. King & Wood Mallesons’ IP Whiteboard has an excellent summation of the patents, claims and counter-claims for the curious reader.5 Despite the legal drama behind the scenes, wine in a can has started making inroads, and Vogue Australia has called rose in a can its drink of choice for the summer.6 The first was the Mascareri NV Prosecco which was pale yellow, had a good bead and was lime and coconut on the nose. The palate was light with a line of zesty lime and bright acid and sugar. The second was the Crafters Union 2017 Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris which was yellow with a hint of blush. The nose was passionfruit and citrus, and the palate lime and tropical fruit with some granite on the finish. Classy cold from a tin. The third was the Elephant in the Room 2017 Limestone Coast Chardonnay which was pale straw. The nose was buttery oak and peach. The palate was white peach with a familiar hint of Lindemans Bin 65. The fourth was the Elephant in the Room 2017 Pinot Noir (no origin) which was deep ruby red. The nose was liquorice and nutmeg spice. The palate was approachable with red fruits, tannin but little that seemed familiar in a pinot noir. The fifth was the Take it to the Grave 2017 Pinot Noir (no origin) which was a strawberry red colour. The palate was light with pepper, strawberry and funky forest floor. The last was the Take it to the Grave 2016 Langhorne Creek / Barossa Shiraz which was black red purple. The nose was dusty black pepper and currants. The palate was white pepper, chocolate and five spice. A better wine than almost all the others. Verdict: In the end, the Crafters Union and the Take it to the Grave Shiraz showed that the can need not be inferior to the bottle. But, in the heady rush to a youthful RTD market, I suspect the temptation will be to concentrate on the allure of the graphics on the can rather than the depth of its contents. The tasting Matt Dunn is Queensland Law Society government relations principal advisor. Wine The trouble with tinnies with Matthew Dunn A number of tinned treats were tasted to see where this wave might take us. Notes 1 Thomas Angrove invented the wine bladder in 1935. The familiar plastic tap came later in 1967 in association with Penfolds wines. 2 wineinacan.com/about. 3 Colour copies of international certificates are available at wineinacan.com/vinsafe/patents. 4  VSC 502,  VSC 601,  VSC 296 &  VSC 737. 5 ipwhiteboard.com.au/stuck-wine-hard-case- lessons-barokes-wine-can-saga. 6 vogue.com.au/culture/lifestyle/ros-in-a-can-is- officially-our-drink-of-choice-this-summer/news- story/a1f7e602b4db59f7c3d326da89437e7a.