Dan's Blog


Friday, October 13, 2017

The ninth World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) will be held in Amsterdam on November 20-21 this year. This is a very important event for the Australian Wine Industry as many countries will be present looking for bulk wine to bolster the supply in their country, especially given the lower than usual yields in many countries this vintage.

Some of the more notable visitors will be the Chinese who last year flocked to the Australian stand and ended up (during the course of the year) buying 415 million litres of bulk wine from Australia, for around AUD425 million – making it an average price of just on AUD1.05 per litre.

This year the Chinese buyers will be back in force! The demand for affordable wine continues to grow considerably in China, with more and more people joining the ‘middle-class’ and seeking a ‘western-lifestyle’ which in many cases includes wine. The Chinese contingent will include some of that country’s largest wine buying companies such as Cofco (No.1) and Ninecoast (No.8) and with quite a few others also planning to be present.

In the last 16 years the sales of Australian bulk wine to China has risen from 0.1% of wine exports in 2000, to 13.0% in 2016. Interestingly, the total dollar value of bulk shipments to China is rising faster than the total volume of bulk wine shipped, which means that gradually the Chinese are paying more per litre for the bulk wine they purchase from Australia.

They have become our 4th largest customer in terms of volume, but third in terms of $value. This augurs well for the future as more and more people join the middle-class in China and start drinking wine, whereas in more established markets such as Great Britain, wine sales are static if not decreasing slightly.

Australia’s five biggest bulk wine customers in order are:

Great Britain



China and Netherlands (equal in volumes)

The Australian participation confirmed so far for this year’s WBWE consists of:

From the Riverland: Kingston Estate Wines and the Growers Wine Group, from Sunraysia Victoria – Qualia Wines.

From McLaren Vale: Winegrapes Australia as well as the Adelaide-based, South Australian Wine Group.

The main purpose of the World Bulk Wine Exhibition is to put quality bulk wine producers in contact with the growing number of bulk wine buyers from around the world, by showcasing their wines at the exhibition.

The requirement for bulk wine continues to grow as more businesses in the wine industry around the world, seek to lower their ‘carbon footprint’.  So, instead of buying bottled wine from across the world, they buy bulk wine and bottle it in their own country – thereby, significantly reducing that wine’s carbon footprint, by not having lugged glass bottles half-way around the globe.

In addition, the day before the exhibition opens there will be a wine judging competition of these bulk wines from around the world. The judging panel includes independent wine judges from a number of the countries involved in the Exhibition. This year I have been invited to be part of the judging panel as a wine journalist for WBM magazine. Also on this year’s panel is long-term Chinese wine journalist, Aileen Lee, currently head of the International Department of Yunjiu Media Beijing (the largest government owned wine newsletter in China). Aileen will become the event’s ambassador in China, promoting its benefits to both those involved in wine procurement and to wineries wishing to also sell bulk wine on the world’s stage.

I am looking forward to attending WBWE on behalf of WBM and will be writing an article on the Exhibition for the magazine.

STOP PRESS: CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES As of yesterday (Thursday) the toll in the California fires tragedy is five wineries destroyed and a further nine damaged. Thankfully none of these involved any fatalities.


When I began to get interested in wine in Sydney during the early 1980s, Griffith in the Riverina was considered by most wine drinkers to be just the source of cask wine. There has been a massive shift in this perception over the last decade or so, as a number of Griffith wineries have not only made excellent wines from the region, but have also broadened their horizons to other areas as well. The most famous of these is of course, Casella Wines – which bought Peter Lehmann Wines in the Barossa, Shaw Family Vineyards in Currency Creek and most importantly to me and the thousands of Muscat aficionado’s around the world, Morris Wines.

Today’s review is about another family winery diversifying into fruit from other regions such as the Barossa, Hill Tops, King Valley and Tumbarumba. CALABRIA FAMILY WINES has been “marching to the beat of a different drum”, for a long time. They have been producing premium Riverina wines, rather than bulk wines for many years. The most notable example of this is the 3 BRIDGES DURIF, which year after year is sensational and comparable in quality to many of Rutherglen’s Durif. The 2015 vintage just won a bronze medal at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show (RAWS). It is massively tight and subdued and will blossom in time to be a superb Durif. Their other new Durif the 2016 “THE BOXER”, which is much less subdued or tight (i.e. much more open), won a silver medal at the RAWS.

Their current release Emerging (Alternative) Variety wines include:

CALABRIA PRIVATE BIN 2016 VERMENTINO:  Floral fragrances, great texture with tropical fruit flavours and a hint of lime. Very refreshing. YUMMY & ZIPPY!


CALABRIA PRIVATE BIN – 2016 NERO D’AVOLA:  Light, bright red colour with aromas of herbs and red berries. Gentle, elegant flavours with a tight finish. A great food wine. Dare I say it? – Will go well with Italian food!! BELLISIMO!


CALABRIA PRIVATE BIN – 2015 AGLIANICO:  Subtle aromas of herbs and spices, juicy flavours, great texture, with the typical varietal tight, acidic finish. A SERIOUS FOOD WINE!


CALABRIA PRIVATE BIN – 2016 MONTEPULCIANO:  Deep, dense purple in colour, very appealing plum, cherry and spice aromas. Great structure with layers of red fruit flavours and fine grained tannins. Enjoy with food now or cellar for a while. SENSATIONALLY GOOD!


CALABRIA PRIVATE BIN – 2015 SAINT MACAIRE:  This is a unique wine! It is the only varietal Saint Macaire produced outside of France (if not in the whole world), from this extremely rare grape variety. UNIQUE & DIVINE!


It has medium-depth purple colour, a spicy, earthy aroma with a hint of violets. On the palate it has masses of complex layered flavours and fine grained tannins, with a delightful lingering finish. It just needs a bit more time to blossom.

P.S: The 2016 (which is even tighter at this stage) won a bronze medal at RAWS.

Tasting these wines amply demonstrated why CALABRIA FAMILY WINES have been amassing a raft of medals and trophies over the last few years, as they produce a range of outstanding wines. Really worth trying.