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Dan's Blog

2018 THE YEAR THAT WAS

Friday, December 14, 2018

What a busy and exciting year this has been. I hope it was a good year for you. For me it was my 30th year in the wine industry, starting as the NSW admin manager for Orlando and progressing from there to doing just about everything there is to do in the wine industry other than to actually make wine.

Vintage 2018 was an awesome year for me – four overseas trips trying new and exciting wines from around the world as well as re-acquainting myself with some of my old favourite wines.

►In April I went to Languedoc Roussillon in France for Winestate Magazine and saw how their wines have improved and are progressing.

►In June I was in Vienna for Vievinum and saw the best wines that Austria makes.

►In early November I went to the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair and tasted a myriad of wines from around the world and caught up with friends from other wine countries.

►In late November I was in Amsterdam on behalf of WBM for the 10th World Bulk Wine Exhibition, which incidentally is coming to China in 2019.

Unlike here where “bulk” is synonymous with cask wine, to the rest of the world, bulk wine means quality wine that does not have a label/brand. For example to co-op that we visited in Languedoc produces superb, lively, bright-red wines, but with 350 owners, the co-op management would find it impossible to get agreement on any marketing decision. So, they sell their excellent wine in bulk to several customers, one of whom has been winning medals with these wines under his label.

At the time of writing this, I have tried a total of 2,556 wines for the year, made from all sorts of different grape varieties, from countries right across the globe.

I tried wines from Austria, France, Italy, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Japan, Slovenia, Moldova, Slovakia, Portugal, Romania, Thailand, Korea (first time), China, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Indonesia (Bali), Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, USA, Canada and Mexico as well as stack of great wines from Australia!!!

Some of these wines were mundane, but most of them were good and a few, were sensational. It proves to me that almost every wine growing country produces a few exceptional world-class wines, a number of good wines and then a raft of ordinary 'commercial' wines. This of course includes Australia.

My greatest achievement for 2018 was to be partly instrumental in the creation and organisation of the EVAs (Emerging Varietal Awards) with Winestate Magazine. This is the first consumer focused judging of emerging (alternative) varieties in Australia. The inaugural event received 399 entries across 72 grape varieties and the 3-Star or higher rated wines were showcased to consumers at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide and the luxurious RACV Club in Melbourne. In 2019, it is planned to have significantly more entries and for the road show to include Sydney as well, and possibly even Brisbane.

In 2019 I strongly recommend that  you seek out new tasting experiences by both trying wines from different parts of the world (especially the newer wine producing countries) and by trying Aussie wines made from emerging varieties that you have either not tasted or heard of before. Examples of the Emerging varieties such as: Verdejo (Spain), Carménère (Chile), Assyrtiko (Greece), Saperavi (Georgia), Tannat (France), Koshu (Japan), Lagrein (Italy), and so on. This way not only will you broaden your drinking horizons, but also discover some stunning wines as well.

As this is my last Blog for the year, I wish you and your family a fabulous and safe festive season and all the best on your wine adventure in 2019, be it as a producer or as an experimentatious consumer. Cheers, Dan.

PS: MY FAVOURITE 25 WINES OF 2018 (not in any specific order) were:

Tyrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay – Hunter Valley (multiple vintages)

ALDI Veuve Monsigny Premier Cru N/V Champagne – France

Dell’uva 2014 Touriga National – Barossa

jb Wines 2017 Pinot Blanc – Barossa

Topper’s Mountain 2013 Wild Ferment Tannat – New England

Bonny Doon Clos de Gilroy 2011 Grenache – California

GranMonte 2016 Durif – Asoke Valley, Thailand

Mount Majura 2017 Mondeuse – Canberra

Cirami Estate 2015 Saperavi – Riverland (winner of the World “SapPrize” Award in Georgia)

Penny’s Hill 2016 Skeleton Key Shiraz – McLaren Vale

Paulmara Estates 2017 Crossed Paths Robola – Greece

Atze’s Corner 2016 The Giant Durif – Barossa

Huntington Estate 2016 Tim Stevens Signature Shiraz – Mudgee

Levrier by Jo Irvine 2017 Cabernet Franc – Barossa

Hickinbotham 2016 ‘The Peake’ Cabernet Shiraz – McLaren Vale

Kalleske 2017 CCCLXV Durif – Barossa

Cuatro Rayas 2015 Amador Diez – Rueda, Spain

Anderson 2006 Sparkling Durif – Rutherglen

Segura Viudas – N/V Brut Reserva Heredad (Cava) – Spain

Turkey Flat 2017 ‘Butchers Block’ Shiraz/Grenache Mataro – Barossa

St Hugo 2014 ‘The Unspoken Promise’ Cabernet – Barossa

Hahndorf Hill 2017 GRU Grüner Veltliner – Adelaide Hills

Hand Crafted by Geoff Hardy 2018 Grüner Veltliner – Adelaide Hills

Shaw + Smith 2016 Shiraz – Adelaide Hills

Gartelmann Wines 2018 ‘Jessica’ Verdelho – Hunter Valley