Dan's Blog


Friday, June 16, 2017
This week I’m featuring a few interesting snippets, starting with – IS THE VICTORIAN WINE INDUSTRY GOING TO THE DOGS?: It may well be that it is, if the trials being conducted by Agriculture Victoria (AV) are successful.

AV are currently trialling the use of sniffer dogs to detect phylloxera in vineyards. Phylloxera is a tiny little insect louse that sucks the life out of grape vines. So far it has been successfully prevented from reaching South Australia. Whereas it devastated the Victorian wine industry in the late 1890s at a time when Victoria was the largest wine producing state in Australia. Today, it is still present in the Yarra Valley and King Valley.

The plan is to use dogs to sniff out the louse, just like they use dogs to sniff out drugs on airline passengers arriving in Australia. It’s early days yet, but it could be a winner for the Vic’s.

BLOODY TOURISTS:  Some wineries treat tourists as a bit of a nuisance or an inconvenience. Make sure that your winery isn’t one of these narrow minded ones.

If you have the right attractions to engage with the tourists passing through your area, you can reap significant rewards.

These attractions can range from a restaurant, through to platters of local produce, art exhibitions for local artists, music fairs, being part of local festivals or participating/conducting events in your capital city.

Yes, it is a lot of effort, but it does work!  A recent report from California  showed that last year, 3.5 million tourists spent almost $2 BILLION  in the region – including accommodation, food, etc. Sure, the USA has lots of people and Napa is a pretty big, well-known, wine growing region (probably the best known in the USA), but even so, consider what tourists are capable of doing/injecting into your winery and wine region?

IS IT GETTING CHILE OUT THERE? :  Believe it or not, Chile outguns us in wine exports to being the largest wine exporting country in the southern hemisphere according to a recent Wine Australia report (Market Bulletin Issue 57).

OK, so here are the facts:

We both produce around the same amount of wine depending on the vintage yield – a smidge under 1.2 billion litres.

Chile has almost double our hectares under vines with their main varieties (in order of importance) being: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Carménère. [By the way I am currently working on an article about Carménère, a variety that almost disappeared but is now making a huge comeback.]

In Chile, they do very little experimentation with other innovative varieties, whereas Australia currently grows just over 150 different grape varieties.

Chile exports over 75% of the wine it produces whereas currently Australia is exporting around 65%.

In Chile they hardly drink any imported wine – just 1% of local consumption as opposed to around 12.5% here in Australia.

Chile is one spot ahead of us in world wine exports. The leading country here is France, followed by Italy, Spain, then comes Chile at around 900 million litres a year and in fifth spot, Australia, at around 770 million litres exported last year.

One of the reasons that they out do us is that Chile signed Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with Korea, Japan and China several years ahead of us due to our previous Federal Government fart-arsing around for so long (the FTA with Japan took seven years to finalise!). To give you an example of the impact of the FTA with Japan, Chile was No.6 for imported wine before signing the FTA around five years ago (with Australia at No.7).  Whereas today, Chile is now No.1 having just nudged the French out of that spot – which no other country has ever, ever done before! Australia is now at No.6 as our FTA starts to kick in.

The difference between No.1 and No.6 is a heck of a lot of wine. Chile last year exported more than double what we did to Japan. So we have a long, long way to go in Japan.

If ever there was an advertisement to push FTA’s with as many countries as possible, this is it!!

In 2016 those rotten Chileans exported nearly a million litres of their wines to us BUT only imported 12,000 litres of our wines into their country. So we need to stop buying their wines until either they buy more of ours OR we outsell them on the global stage to take the No.4 spot from them – Just kidding!!  I love Chilean Carménère – it is almost as good as Aussie Carménère. Saludos mis amigos!


LONGVIEW VINEYARD 2016 ADELAIDE HILLS ‘EPITOME’ LATE HARVEST RIESLING (375mL):  In the days where botrytised wines “ruled” the dessert wine category it is fantastic to come across a non-botrytis, late picked, dessert wine. In the old days it would probably have been labelled as an “Auslese”.  This is what dessert wines tasted like when I joined the industry nearly 30 years ago. Yes, we had heard of botrytis wines, but given that the first ever made in Australia was in 1982 – most people had not tasted them.

This is a classical, high-quality, late picked wine. It has a lovely light, bright, yellow colour, which will deepen over time IF you can keep your hands off this divine wine.

On the bouquet there is a melange of sweet citrus, apricots and even a hint of orange peel.

The wine explodes sweetly onto the palate, awakening and invigorating it. It is very sweet on the front palate but this is balanced by its silky texture and smoothness – bloody gorgeous!!

It finishes a lot drier than it starts, thanks to the beautifully balanced acidity and leaves the palate pleading for more sensory overload. Oh, Lord, it is sublime!

Whilst I have not tasted other wines from their portfolio in quite a while, on the basis of this wine alone, they are well and truly worth checking out.