Dan's Blog


Friday, November 24, 2017
It is always great to receive good news in these difficult and trying times. There have been quite a few snippets of good news recently in the wine industry, so I thought I would mention a few of them today.

Turkey Flat Vineyards: wow, brilliant news! They won the 2017 Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Melbourne Wine Show. The first JWT win for the Barossa since 2003 and the FIRST EVER JWT win for a Grenache.  All this in the year where Turkey Flat Vineyards are celebrating their 170th anniversary – OUTSTANDING!

Wines by Geoff Hardy: was named “Exporter of the Year” at the Optus My Business Awards (the longest-standing business awards program in Australia). In the five years to the 2016 financial year the group’s exports have risen by 885%. CEO Richard Dolan said: “This is a remarkable achievement by our organisation and we are of course honoured to be included in such great company..” Onya guys!

Dudley Wines (Kangaroo Island): won the South Australian Tourism Awards for 2017 in the “Wineries, Distilleries & Breweries” category, beating out some stiff opposition from the mainland. Their cellar door is really something to behold and a truly worthy winner of this award. No visit to KI would be complete without visiting this great establishment.

Josef Chromy, OAM: a giant of the Tasmanian wine industry was honoured recently by being made “Tasmanian Tourism Champion” as recognition for his contribution to the state’s tourism industry. If you ever get to Launceston, you really have to go and visit his sensational winery and cellar door – it is a real class act with stunning views, great food and delicious wines.

MOORES HILL WINERY: This beautiful winery in the Tamar Valley has become Tasmania’s first fully solar powered winery. We need more wineries to do this for the environment.

James Halliday’s 2017 Top 100 Wines: this year for the first time includes two wines from my friends at Adelaide’s, Patritti Wines. The Patritti McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 was nominated as one of the “Best Reds Under $25” and the Patritti Section 181 Single Vineyard McLaren Vale Grenache 2015 was included in the “Best Red Wines Over $25”. An outstanding achievement for this long established, but up and coming winery.

TOPPER’S MOUNTAIN (NEW ENGLAND, NSW): whilst not decided at the time of writing, it is pleasing to hear that Topper’s Mountain winemaker, Mike Hayes, is one of four contenders for the ASVO Winemaker of the Year (Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology). Mike has been making unusual/intriguing and fabulous blends and varietals at Topper’s Mountain since 2009.

LEVRIER BY JO IRVINE: lastly but by no means least, that “Wonder Woman” of wine and Baron of the Barossa, Jo Irvine, has released her own range of wines branded as “Levrier by Jo Irvine”.  The range consists of a NV Sparkling Meslier Brut Rosé and 2014 Zinfandel (that I have had the pleasure of reviewing and both are sensational wines), as well as a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Shiraz and a Mistelle NV Fortified Semillon (375ml) – which I have yet to taste, but I am confident will be absolute cracker wines from this outstanding winemaker.

I am sure that there are plenty of other good news stories happening in the Aussie wine industry at the moment. If you know of some, please let me know because I delight in spreading good news.

And now from this week’s good news stories, “The Winner Is”: The wine drinkers who get to enjoy the fruits of these hard working people’s labour of love!

Cheers! Have a great week and enjoy fabulous wines.

*STOP PRESS*: I have just found out that Mike Hayes of Topper’s Mountain has won the ASVO Winemaker of the Year!!! Outstanding! Congratulations Mike.


This week we have something completely different.

Heaps of Aussies travel to Thailand to holiday as it is one of our more popular destinations. However, I wonder how many know that wine is made in Thailand and that some of it is bloody good?

Well, there are in fact over half a dozen wineries in Thailand. I have tasted wines from two of these, SILVERLAKES and GRANMONTE.

It is the latter, GRANMONTE that I am reviewing this week. Located in the Asoke Valley some 350 metres above sea level and about two hours north-east of Bangkok, this winery is also a beautiful holiday resort. Set up in 1999 by Visooth and Sakuna Lohitnavy, whose two daughters make the wine (Nikki – Adelaide Uni trained) and market it (Mimmi).

All told the estate produces some 16 different wines, made from a range of “classical” European varieties.

The GRANMONTE 2017 VERDELHO at 13.5% alcohol, is a fuller-style than the typical low alcohol, austere, Hunter Valley Verdelho and is rich with tropical fruit aromas and flavours, perfectly balanced and delicious. I actually prefer this style to drink as a younger wine, rather than the Hunter style.

To prove its quality and appeal, it just won the trophy for the “Best Wine of South East Asia” at the recent Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair.


However, my absolute favourite is the GRANMONTE 2014 DURIF – yes, I did say Durif!! It is an absolute cracker of a wine, with masses of colour, alluring aromas and a big dollop of rich, yummy flavours (It is very reminiscent of either the De Bortoli Vat 1 Dean Durif or the Three Bridges Durif in depth and flavour). An outstanding, consistent wine – vintage after vintage. I have tasted the last three vintages of this wine and they are all equally as attractive and delicious. It would stand up well in a blind tasting of Aussie Durif.

GRANMONTE also make a pretty darn good “Method Traditionelle” Extra Brut Cremant and an alluring Syrah Viognier that is pretty swish. So next time you are in Thailand, try the local wines and expand your wine repertoire.

I can certainly recommend those of GRANMONTE and SILVERLAKE, and I hear that the others aren’t bad either.