Dan's Blog

Current Wine News

Friday, May 12, 2017

This week I’ll be covering some current wine news from the UK, USA and also some interesting items from around Australia.

UK:  Aldi is the fastest growing wine retailer in the UK. With an increase in overall sales of 11.2% over the last year, this has taken its wine share of the crowded UK market from 5.5% to 6.0%. Today, Aldi has just over 700 stores across the UK and is planning on opening another 70 within 12 months. One of the factors in Aldi’s success is that it’s buying staff become involved with the suppliers and therefore they have an input into the wine styles that the suppliers make for Aldi to sell, rather than just buying finished product from the supplier. It seems to work.

The website which was launched fairly recently, now accounts for the sale of two million bottles of wine across the UK. A unique feature of the site is that it has a “meet our suppliers” page which showcases to consumers key supply partners such as Wakefield Wines (called Taylors Wines) here. Taylors are also supplying Aldi with two of the wines for its new ‘Organic’ section, with the Wakefield 80 Acres ‘carbon neutral’ Shiraz Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon.

As part of Aldi’s constant drive to be innovative, they are launching a new range of £4.99 French wines cleverly called – “Pardon my French”.


USA – Virginia:  Petit Verdot is rapidly becoming the main red grape variety of the State of Virginia. First planted experimentally in the 1980s and by the mid-1990s it was outperforming Cabernet Sauvignon and on a par with Cabernet Franc thanks to its cold resistance. At present there are 71 wineries in Virginia growing PV and it is the State’s sixth most grown grape variety.  However, there is a ground swell of support for making it the State’s primary/focus variety. This drive is bolstered by its ability to add colour and body to “Bordeaux” blends when the Cabernet Sauvignon does not perform at its optimum.

USA – Texas: Target stores have just announced that its new ‘concept’ store in Richmond (near Houston) will have a dedicated wine and beer section within the store. This section will be positioned just before the self-service check outs and carry a wide range of products. It will act as the test model prior to the roll out of revamping 500 of its stores globally.

USA – New York:  What a dynamic winegrowing area this has become – what with their outstanding website at and their great logo, Uncork New York! Also an excellent newsletter, that has just been renamed to “The Press Deck” by new boss Sam Filler, who has taken over from the longstanding (30+years), irrepressible and awesome Riesling freak, Jim Trezise. This newsletter is definitely worth a read and subscribing to.  However, the main reason I mention it here is that I think that most Aussie regional/state wine bodies would do well to check it out and lift their game from what they are currently serving up as “news & information”. Most of the ones I have seen are insipid, boring, tedious and not very informative to consumers, who after all are the people who actually pay the wages by buying and drinking wine. Time to lift the game!

AUSTRALIA – Hunter Valley:  Just under 57% of the wine exported by Hunter Valley winemakers last year went to China. That is much higher than the national average wine exports to China, which is 23% by value.

AUSTRALIA – Organic:  Angove’s Wines which operates out of Renmark in the Riverland and McLaren Vale has recently confirmed that it is in the process of converting all of its vineyards to being organic.

AUSTRALIA – Trivia  AKA  Did you know?:

The oldest vineyard in Australia is Langmiel’s Freedom Vineyard in the Barossa which was planted in 1843.

Chardonnay and Shiraz are grown in every one of Australia’s 65 wine growing regions.

At present only four Australian wineries make a wine from the superb Spanish red variety, Mencia.

The first grape vines planted in Australia were planted in 1788 near the Tank Stream in what is now down town Sydney CBD. The Tank Stream still flows but today it flows underground in pipes, below office blocks and skyscrapers.

Grüner Veltliner, the awesome Austrian white variety has gone from having two growers in Australia, in 2010, to 36 growers today. Makes one wonder how many growers will there be by 2025?

The French red grape variety, Cot, has more than 50 pseudonyms including Malbec, which is how it is known here and in most parts of the world.

That May is “Aussie wine month”? I only heard about it recently, but apparently it is all about promoting Aussie wine to Aussies during May. I also found out that it was “Powered by Wine Australia”, this is the sixth year that it has been on, and that they have only made two official media releases this year in order to drive it.

The website is  and it suggests that this promotion gives the opportunity “for wine enthusiasts to complete novices..  Aussie Wine Month gives everyone across the country the chance to learn more and get excited about Australian wine, experience new and legendary Australia wines and discover the stories that make them unique”.

The suggested Aussie Wine Month activities include:

Food and wine pairings

Wine tastings

Food and wine festivals

Focusing on the latest wine trends

Focusing on Innovative (alternative) varieties

Meet the Maker events

Workshops and masterclasses

Aussie “wine of the day”

All Aussie wine lists

Special Aussie wine promotions

Excuse me, but apart from maybe the last three items, all the others seem to me to already be a part of the everyday, on-going effort to promote our sensational wines.

They either need to get serious about making Aussie Wine Month work or let it fade into oblivion, because it seems to me that as it is, it isn’t working.

AUSTRALIA – Adelaide: If you happen to be in Adelaide on the evening of May 25th and are looking for a special food and wine experience? Well, there is a unique opportunity of enjoying an intimate evening of great food paired with the divine wines of Champagne Jeeper. This event will be held at Cos Restaurant, 18 Leigh Street in the Adelaide CBD. Each delectable course will be accompanied by a different Champagne.

Champagne Jeeper is a boutique Champagne house that produces small volumes of sensational Champagnes and is named after the jeep the US military donated to the war crippled, French Secret Service owner of the estate at the end of the war so that he could continue to manage his vineyards.

You can book directly by visiting this website:

Have a great week and drink great wines


This week’s wine review is all about the Italian variety of LAGREIN.

I fell in love with this variety from the very first time I tasted it when a good mate of mine, David Barnett, introduced me to his Hartzbarn 2005 Moculta Lagrein followed by his Sparkling Lagrein – sensational!!  I was so impressed with this variety that I wrote an article about it which appeared in the March 2013 issue of WBM.

Recently, at the opening of Salena Estate’s new Adelaide cellar door, I got the chance to re-visit this exciting, deep-coloured, big-flavoured variety.

Originally from the cooler regions of Italy, Lagrein thrives under the Aussie sun, and produces an inky, ubber tasty wine which is not as acidic as most Italian native varietals are.

The Salena Estate 2013 Ink Series Riverland Lagrein has masses of red/purple colour, a big, aromatic, complex nose and a big mouthful of flavour with hints of mulberries and just a smidge of green characters on the palate. It is a big, “ever so” drinkable wine which is equally at home on its own or with bigger style food. BLOODY DELICIOUS!