Dan's Blog


Friday, April 03, 2020

This week is mainly about some wine related facts and figures which may be of interest to you and a peak at a new concept which has become popular at a London wine bar.

IMAGINE THAT:  In a recent newsletter from the venerable Indian Wine Academy (07-03-2020) there was an item that said that the Chandigarh Union Territory (State) was unlikely to lower the drinking age from the current 25 to 21 as petitioned. Can you imagine that? How would Australians cope with that? Most currently struggle to cope with reaching 18 before imbibing!!

EUROPEAN WINE CONSUMPTION:  Below is a 2018 map showing the per capita wine consumption across Europe. The first surprise is that the Portuguese are the biggest drinkers, just ahead of the French. Both of whom consume approximately double what we drink here in Australia at around 28-29 litres per person – (I want to know who isn’t doing their “bit” here – cause I drink that in less than a quarter!!)

The next big surprise is how little the Italians drink considering they are amongst the top three wine producing countries. Hey, the Greek’s out-drink the Italians by three litres per person. My Greek father-in-law would have been very proud of this fact.

Both the Greeks and the Italians are out-drunk by a raft of other European countries including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Croatia and Slovenia. Whereas the Swedes and the Romanians drink almost as much as the Italians.

If we were part of Europe (like with Eurovision) we would be ranked 13th just behind the poms.

WHAT PERCENTAGE?:  The 2017 chart below shows what percentage wine makes up out of a country’s exports. It is interesting to see how much more dependent New Zealand and Chile are than the “biggies” of wine exporting. Some of the countries listed there don’t actually produce wine, and their stats cover the re-exporting of wine imported into that country. For example #36 Hong Kong, which has been a wine hub for the region since the abolition of import duty on wine in 2008. They re-ship wine to China, India, Myanmar and several other countries.

THE MOST PLANTED VARIETIES:  Whilst the figures in the chart below are from ten years ago, they are still of general interest in seeing how different grape varieties are tracking, in this constantly changing world.

A good example of the change is #3 Airen, a fairly bland Spanish white variety that in the early 1990s was the No.1 most planted grape variety. By now it has probably slipped to No.5 or even No.6 as growers in Spain keep ripping it out while other folk are busily planting Chardonnay and Syrah (Shiraz) around the world.

By the way, Monastrell is also known as Mourvèdre or Mataro, whilst Cot as it is called by the French is known by the rest of the world as Malbec. 

ABM’s ARRIVE:  As Monty Python used to say, “And now for something completely different” –

A Vagabond, a wine bar in London, located in an old bank building, set up an ABM machine out the front of its premises – “Automated Bubbles Machine” – in the space where the ATM used to be. Armed with loaded Wine Bar cards, consumers could receive a five ounce pour from the ABM (just under 148mL). It was successful not only with hundreds of “selfies” taken, but also in generating sales with the patrons.

However, the initially labelled APM (Automated Prosecco Machine) was noticed by the ‘Prosecco Police’ in Italy, who initiated an action against the venue. Thus, they changed the name to ABM and more recently they have moved the ABM to inside the premises, where it is still proving popular with the punters. The Prosecco consortium of Italy (the same people who changed the variety’s name from Prosecco to Glara to stop Australian winemakers) is now enacting a law that says to be called Prosecco it must also be sold in bottles – thus rendering the ABM illegal. Ironically, as it is so popular the establishment is planning to put like machines into its other 10 venues, but they will probably end up selling other sparkling than Prosecco (maybe even Aussie bubbles?) and then who will be the losers? – The Prissy Prigs of the Prosecco Police.

Well that’s it for another week. Stay safe, Corona free and enjoy great quality wines – other than Italian Prosecco!!



This week I am talking about the smashing Tinta Barroca from Cirami Estate. I have previously written about Cirami Estate a number of times as I think they do a brilliant job. Cirami Estate is the wine arm of the Riverland Vine Improvement Committee who grow over a million cuttings of grape varieties and rootstocks for grape growers.

At the turn of the century they started to make small batches of wines from some of the “new” Emerging varieties that they had planted. The idea was to show potential growers the style and quality that these varieties could produce. Since then their wines have gone on to win plenty of gold medals at the AAVWS (Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show) and their 2015 Saperavi  won the initial, SapPrize award, run by the Georgian Wine Industry, for the Best Saperavi in the World (outside of Georgia). So they are no slouches at turning out small batches of absolutely cracking wines.

Today’s wine is a recent addition to their line-up, it is the first Cirami Estate Tinta Barroca. Tinta Barroca is a Portuguese native red variety that is predominantly used in Port blends. Outside of Portugal there is a small amount of varietal wine being made in South Africa, and now there are six wineries producing it as a varietal wine here in Australia.

The Cirami Estate Tinta Barroca is a blend of the first two, low yield vintages. It is a cracking wine, with medium-density purple colour. An appealing, brambly red fruit bouquet with just a splash of herbs present and a delightfully tasty, beautifully balanced palate with a tight, slightly steely finish that lingers well. Right now it is superb with medium-bodied food such as tapas or tacos. However, it will evolve over the next 2-3 years and round out to be truly sensational and well worth enjoying on its own with good friends.

Cheers and keep on trying new varieties, after all, as they say, “Variety is the Spice of Life”!