Dan's Blog


Friday, January 25, 2019

As we gear up to celebrate Australia Day tomorrow with some great Aussie wines, let’s look at a couple of interesting things happening in the wonderful world of wine.

CAN THE CAN?:  California wine company, Sterling Vineyards, is about to launch three wines in stylish, resealable aluminium (or as the yanks say, aluminum) bottles. The fully recyclable, elegant bottles are of 375mL capacity with a colour coded (to the variety), cap and strip across the bottom of the bottle. The launch varieties are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rosé. The wines will sell for US$7.99 a bottle. The company is expecting these classy bottles to be popular for convenience consumption such as at events and impromptu gatherings, as well as with millennials.

Given that the popularity in the USA of 375mL bottles has grown by 54% in dollar terms in the last 12 months, and the rapidly rising interest in wines in a can, this move is looking pretty much like a sure thing.

Over the longer term (assuming initial success) the question will be, whether metal bottles will eat into and pose a threat to the rapidly growing “wine in a can” scene. After all they are aimed at the same market segment and the aluminium bottle looks much classier that a can.

Meanwhile, British wine brand, “The Uncommon”, released the first English wine in a can last summer. The Surrey-made wine is spritzig (lightly sparkling) and is made from Bacchus grapes (hybrid). To attract the millennials the can comes complete with an illustration of a top-hat-wearing giraffe surrounded by butterflies and blooms. 

Interesting times!!!

BUBBLING ALONG:  ALDI UK had an absolute ripper of a Christmas season, reaching total sales of just under GBP1 billion across its 827 stores in the UK. In the week before Christmas they sold the equivalent of 3.2 million glasses of Prosecco and Champagne A DAY!!! They lowered the price of their house Champagne, Veuve Monsigny (available from ALDI Australia for the bargain price of $19.99 a bottle), by GBP2 and launched an English Sparkling wine produced by Denbies Wine Estate for GBP14.99 – GBP4.00 less expensive that the one being sold by Waitrose.

Looks like the future for both sparkling wine and ALDI is pretty bright in the UK.

So how are you going to celebrate Australia Day? And more importantly, what will you be drinking (bugger dry January)?

For us (with apologies to Sam Kekovich and the Lamb Board), we will be having roast pork (lamb is just too fricking expensive these days) with crackling, accompanied by sweet potato wedges and corn and washed down with a glass or two of our own 2004 Fifth Element Padthaway Riesling. This will be followed by a wonderful old 1980s Morris Durif and a sip or two of 45-year-old, Pirramimma 1974 Vintage Port. A tough gig – but somebody has to do it!!

Cheers and let’s celebrate Australia Day as we live in a bloody brilliant multi-cultural country where one in every four of us was born overseas and yet we get along with one another and enjoy awesome wines.


Having just done a tasting of Tannat from both Australia and Uruguay for the article I am writing for WBM Magazine, I think that it is appropriate that this week’s wine of the week be a Tannat.

There were some excellent Tannat in the tasting, which you will be able to read about when the article is published – but, the one that stood out (by way of being able to see how it goes maturing) was the PIRRAMIMMA ‘WHITE LABEL’ TANNAT. We tried the current release 2015, the previous release 2012 and then out of my cellar, a bottle of their 2004 first release (one of the first Aussie Tannat to be released). The 2004 is a gorgeous BIG wine that is magnificent right now. As one of the judges said: “OMG that is gorgeous, heavenly.” I can’t wait to try it on its 20th birthday in 2024.

The 2012 was PIRRAMIMMA’S only 3rd varietal release (I missed the one in between) with the grapes from the other vintages going into their KATUNGA GTS (GRENACHE TANNAT SHIRAZ) another fabulous wine.

The 2012 TANNAT has absolute masses of deep, dark purple colour, strong aromas and a huge mouthful of flavour, with an acidic/tannic finish. This wine, whilst soft in comparison to the Tannat wines of Madiran (France), still needs plenty of time to soften off and round out. In a few years’ time it will be a ripper, probably even better than what the 2004 is right now.

The youngster 2015 is massively deep in colour, almost black, brooding with aromas of blueberries and olives. There is just a suggestion of fruit sweetness on the front palate before the trademark tannins brush it aside as the flavours explode onto the mid and back palate, leading to an ever so tight, grippy finish.

So if you have the patience or love monster wines, try a Tannat. Any Aussie Tannat as they are all good, but more specifically IF you have patience, grab hold of some PIRRAMIMMA TANNAT and tuck it away for a while – you will be amply rewarded.