Dan's Blog


Friday, November 15, 2019

THE TRAIN IN SPAIN IS MAINLY ON THE PLAIN:  In a great new Spanish wine initiative, there is now a new one day wine tourism trip from Madrid to Valladolid. You can visit the vineyards of Rueda (home to Verdejo – see my article in the Sept/Oct 2016 edition of Winestate Magazine) and Ribera del Duero on these high-speed trains which takes just over one hour to cover the 200 plus kilometres.

It is an all-inclusive tour which encompasses visits to wineries, cultural heritage sites and a luncheon feast of the local cuisine. Upon boarding the wine train, the visitors are entertained by talks about wine and the region’s history. When they arrive at Valladolid they then travel by bus to see castles, monuments and vineyards in the surrounding district. The five different trips which are available will take them to the regions of Rueda, Ribera del Duero, Toro, Cigales or Tierra de León. The train then gets back to Madrid in time for an evening supper.

A SLEIGHT OF HAND or NOT SO ROSY ROSÉ:  Around 4.6 million bottles of Spanish Rosé have been discovered to be labelled as French wine and sold in hotels, restaurants and cafes. This was the outcome of a two year investigation by the French Anti-Fraud Directorate. They checked producers, traders, distributors and importers and found that around 3.45 million litres of Spanish wine was disguised as French wine and sold in France. The labels involved were either deceptive or false, with many of them having had a French tricolour stuck on the bottle often over the original label where it said “Produce of Spain”.

The investigators are in the process of laying charges against a number of people and companies – a case of “A ROSÉ, BY ANY OTHER NAME!!”

BLOSSOMING BELGIAN BOOZE:   Wine production in Belgium has grown fourfold since 2005, facilitated by global warming. The acreage has grown from 72 hectares to 343 hectares in that period. While this area is still miniscule one must bear in mind the growth and rise of British wine over the last 30 years as an example of what dedication and clever planning can achieve.

Not only is the Belgian volume on the increase, but also the taste is improving. According to local experts, with the wines (mainly whites), shifting from flavours of green apples and sharp citrus more towards the more appealing flavours of pineapple, lychee and stone fruit. The depth and complexity of their wines has also been increasing/improving.

The VUB University in Brussels state that it is part of the global trend of viticulture migrating further north (in the northern hemisphere) in order to combat/neutralise the effects of global warming. They also suggest that some of the Europe’s most southern viticultural areas will become unviable and unsustainable in the next decade or so.

The Belgians like the Dutch, the British and even to some extent (in red wines) the Germans, see global warming as a vinous opportunity as opposed to their long established southern cousins (such as the Bordelaise) who see it as a significant threat. – More on that another time.

In the meantime, from wherever your wine comes from, drink and enjoy quality wine. Cheers!


This week I am talking about WARRABILLA WINES in Rutherglen where Andrew Sutherland Smith has been making BIG wines since 1991.

I say BIG wines because they are (almost) all  large, rich, high in alcohol with the zenith having been reached with the WARRABILLA 2009 PAROLA’S RESERVE DURIF which came in at 18.0% unfortified alcohol. Having said that, it was a magnificent, uber-rich, divine wine that was my “Wine of the Year” – no alcohol “heat”, no lack of balance – just a bloody brilliant, smooth, huge, rich wine.

The current releases I have just tasted were:

WARRABILLA 2018 RESERVE MALBEC:  A lovely, bright-purple red wine, gentle aromas with a hint of mulberries. A smooth, svelte palate with great balance.  A CLASSY BIG WINE!

WARRABILLA 2018 RESERVE GRENACHE:  A big, old fashioned Grenache with 15.8% Alc/Vol, some fruit sweetness on the front palate followed by round, rich flavours and a delightful finish. OH YUM!!

WARRABILLA 2018 RESERVE SHIRAZ:  Big at 15.8% Alc/Vol but yet silky-smooth with lashings of rich, ripe, concentrated flavours and elegant, refined tannins. A REAL BOTTLER!

WARRABILLA 2018 PAROLA’S LIMITED RELEASE SHIRAZ:  Dense inky colour and a soft, subtle bouquet with huge, rich, complex, delicious flavours and a tight, tannic finish. Needs 2-5 years to be truly AWESOME.

WARRABILLA 2018 RESERVE DURIF:  Almost impenetrably black in colour, soft rich bouquet, mouth-filling flavours, well-structured and rounded with a grippy, tannic finish. This wine will evolve magnificently –SUPERB!

WARRABILLA 2018 PAROLA’S LIMITED RELEASE DURIF:  Densely black in colour with a massive, rich bouquet. A huge, rich palate, with masses and masses of flavour, beautifully round, balanced and structured (at 16.5% Alc/Vol) with a long, lingering finish – HEAVENLY!!

Every wine that I have tasted from WARRABILLA (other than their Riesling) have been high alcohol wines but it is not noticeable on the palate as they are rich, smooth and round.

Thus, while many people seem to be perturbed these days by high alcohol wines, personally, I don’t give a damn as too how much alcohol is in a wine. I drink wine for the flavour, balance, structure and depth. I have enjoyed awesome German Rieslings that were around or under 8% Alc/Vol and I have enjoyed the WARRABILLA PAROLA’S DURIF at 16+% Alc/Vol.  

So if you like big, rich, silky-smooth wines with stacks of flavour, and aren’t hung up on higher alcohol levels, I would strongly urge you check out the WARRABILLA website and find some awesome wines –