Dan's Blog


Friday, November 17, 2017

Here are a few snippets of wine news you might find interesting: –

QVERVI:  You have heard of “qvervi” the Georgian clay urns that are buried in the ground and which are used to ferment their wine in. Well, as their natural way of making wines has grown in popularity around the world, somebody came up with a wooden qvervi called an “egg”. That’s great! Still a natural way of fermenting wines, although it’s not quite as eco-efficient but still pretty natural. However, now there are stainless steel ones.

I recently read where the Niagara College Teaching Winery in the USA has started using stainless steel qvervi or egg.

They are producing “orange” Sauvignon Blanc in these vessels, but the question is – Is it still “natural wine”? I am not sure, but I suspect that it is not really.


JAMES HALLIDAY:  Next, the Halliday Top 100 wines for 2017 was published at and it got me thinking!! I know that is scary! But I wondered out of how many wines were these top 100 selected.

In the article the Top 100 wines were selected as follows:

Reds under $25:  20 out of 239 wines

Whites under $20:  20 out of 96 wines

Best Australian Red wines over $25:  20 out of 387 wines

Best white over $20:  20 out of 270 wines

Best champagne:  12 out of 54 wines

Best sparkling:  8 out of 47 wines

So this means that they chose the 100 out of 1,093 wines (9%) of the candidates that they selected.

Apparently, Halliday and his crew review around 10,000 wines a year, which represents somewhere between one-third and half of the new wines released in Australia each year, let alone adding those wines that have been released previously and still available.

So what does this all mean? Well, it means that he/they chose the Top 100 out of the selected 10% of wines they see which is say at most 50% of the wines available in Australia at any one given point in time. Que? Well, what I am trying to say? It is after all one man’s opinion of which wines he prefers out of the plethora of wines his team review, which is part of what actually comes onto the market over the course of a year. So, despite the awe and reverence in which he is held in by the wine fraternity, it is only one man’s view of wine according to his particular palate, and not the vinous gospel.

JAPAN:  It is a long way from Burgundy in France, to Hokkaido Japan! But it is a distance that Etienne de Montille a Burgundian winemaker is planning to breach by building a winery there to produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I wonder if he would be allowed to appellate his new wines, when they are made, as “Burgundy de Sud”? After all they will be made from the approved Burgundy varieties, by a Burgundian, and Hokkaido is south of Burgundy. I don’t think so! Do you?

Speaking of Japan, at last week’s Hong Kong International Wine Show there were some very good Japanese wines present, as well as the plethora of Japanese Saké. Particularly impressive were the wines made from their native white variety, Koshu. It makes a flinty, steely wine with plenty of flavour and a crisp, lingering finish. It also makes bloody good sparkling wine as well.

Have a great week and enjoy fabulous wines wherever they come from and whether they have a Halliday 94+ (the new 90) rating or not!


A week ago I was at the sensational Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair (HKIWSF) tasting wines from around the world. As a result, this week the review is actually about a variety rather than a single wine – namely, the native Japanese white variety, KOSHU.

KOSHU makes a delightful, tight, dry, crisp, steely yet elegant white wine that is delicious on its own and equally tasty with seafood and entrée style dishes. It also, if well-handled, makes an exciting and tantalising sparkling wine.

I first came across KOSHU a few years ago in an independent Sydney bottleshop, which alas no longer exists – it is now just a Vintage Cellars store. The wine came from Japan’s Grace Vineyards and it was alluring and mesmerizing with a unique flavour. In 2015, I visited the Chateau Mercian winery (founded in 1877) in Katsunuma Japan and was spellbound by their ‘no Awa’ sparkling Koshu, a truly magnificent sparkling wine.

At this year’s HKIWSF the Japanese presence was vastly expanded with several additional wineries added to the raft of Saké and Plum wine producers.

The KOSHU wines I tasted were:

Alps Wine 2016 Koshu – minerally on the bouquet, crisp, dry and flinty on the palate.

Maruki Winery Yamanashi 2016 Koshu (Gold medal winner at the 2017 Japan Wine Challenge) – flinty, floral aromas, crisp but a tad softer and more rounded on the palate.

Marquis Winery La Feuille Taru 2016 Koshu (Sur Lie) – light yellow in colour, complex aromas with a hint of nuttiness and a rounder, richer, more complex palate. Very classy!


Marquis Winery Le Collier de Perles 2015 Blanc Mousseu (Sparkling Koshu) – Plentiful, delicate bead, gorgeous lime and green apple aromas and fresh, crisp flavours with a drying finish on the palate.

Chateau Mercian 2016 Khroka Koshu – interestingly packaged in a Riesling bottle – Lovely, crisp, fresh and clean, with a delightful aftertaste. A truly delightful and delicious wine!

Each and every example of Koshu that I have tasted thus far has been a very tasty and engaging wine and so I strongly recommend that if the opportunity to taste a Koshu wine arises, do your palate a favour and try it, you won’t be disappointed. Arigato!