Dan's Blog


Friday, April 13, 2018

This week’s blog is a bit of an update as to what is happening that can impact us, in other parts of the wine world.

PERU:  PAFTA was signed on February 19. PAFTA? What the heck is PATFA I hear you ask? Well, PAFTA is the PERU-AUSTRALIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. Big deal huh! Well it might be if you are pro-active on the matter. Right now Peru imports most of its wine from Chile and Argentina and like most South Americans they don’t have any great love for their neighbours. So with duty rates going down to zero over the next five years we will have an opportunity to get our wines into one of the fastest growing economies in the world. According to the Australian government the Peruvian economy has averaged growth of 5.9% over the last decade.

So no need to rush out and book a flight to Lima BUT keep an eye out on this one as over the next few years it could potentially become a very viable marketplace for your wines – just like China, Korea and Japan have become since we signed FTAs with them.

CHINA:  The China Customs office has produced the import figures for 2017 (see below) and they make interesting reading.

China imported 746 million litres of wine valued at USD2.789 billion. We are in second place behind France but growing at an appreciably faster rate than them.

In terms of litres we sell nearly 50% of what the French do (and rising).

We were the second fastest growing importing country with a volume growth of a massive 33%.

Georgia (fastest growing at 44%) now sells more wine to China than what Argentina does, which produces around 50 times as much wine as what Georgia does. Somebody has dropped the ball!

Our “$ per litre” price to China is continuing to rise, and is now the highest of all the countries that we export wine to.

Our interaction with China on wine will continue to grow, not only as they buy more and more of our wine to slake their growing thirst, but also as they increase their investment in our wine industry. They already own a number of wineries and wine companies, and this number will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.  

USA:  According to a report in The Drinks Business recently, that quoted SVB Wine Division wine sales in America are plateauing after 20 years of constantly rising. The gist of the report is that “Baby Boomers” who lead the sales of fine and super premium wines are gradually drinking less and down pricing their wines, as they age and their resources reduce through retirement. At the same time Millennials have not engaged in wine to the same extent as their predecessors. They consume wine but it is more likely to be at the value for money end of the scale, and they are significantly more interested in boutique beers, and micro-distilled spirits than super premium wines. 

Therefore, the US market will probably become more challenging for Australian wines over the next few years, especially for new entrants without a US track record.  As I have been saying for quite a while, unless you have a very strong lead or enquiry from the USA, I suggest you focus your efforts in the rapidly growing Asian markets – not only China but many of the other Asian countries too. The American “three tier system” for wine sales is antiquated and a severe challenge for Australian wineries to understand and navigate. 

Good luck and enjoy drinking great wines this week! 

Also a quick reminder that as I will be travelling to Languedoc in France to try out some of their wines, on behalf of Winestate Magazine, the next Blog will be on Friday, April 27.


I spent Easter this year in Canberra visiting my daughter, and quite spontaneously we decided to go for a drive on the Saturday.

We ended up going to Murrumbateman and decided to stop in at Shaw Vineyard Estate for lunch, which turned out to be a wonderful experience. The meal at the vineyard restaurant, Olleyville, was excellent.  But more importantly the wines were superb! Which is why Shaw Vineyard Estate is the winery of the week.

By sheer chance the affable owner, Graeme Shaw, was on hand to show us around. He explained that the massive new building going up just down the hill from their beautiful cellar door and restaurant will become the new cellar door, whilst the existing one will be an enlarged restaurant. The new cellar door will have several different tasting rooms designed to cater for different sized groups of visitors without the congestion that can often be found at of the busier cellar doors.

So now onto some of their wines.

SHAW VINEYARD ESTATE RESERVE SEMILLON 2015:  Gorgeous is the word that best describes this wine! It is like a classic Hunter‑style Semillon but with more flavour and slightly less acidity due to the grapes being picked a just bit riper. It is crisp and zingy with beautiful flavours and a lively, lingering finish. Scored a 94 from Mr Halliday.


SHAW VINEYARD ESTATE CABERNET SHIRAZ 2015:  Lovely red/purple in colour, this one has beautiful aromas of plums and vanillin oak. The palate has masses of delightful, rich, mouth-filling flavours which are still tight enough to show that while this wine is brilliant for current consumption, it has the oomph to continue pleasing for many a year yet. It has won a trophy and two gold medals. SENSATIONAL!


SHAW VINEYARD ESTATE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015:  Also having won a trophy and two gold medals, this gorgeous wine has a lovely Cabernet bouquet with a hint of cedar/cigar box aromas. It is richly flavoured, smooth and well-rounded but a bit tighter on the finish than the blend. This suggests that it would be more enjoyable now with rich food, or could be cellared for a while so that it can reward you at its very best in the next few years.


SHAW VINEYARD ESTATE MERRIMAN MERLOT 2013:  The MERRIMAN name is used for the best single parcel of wine from the estate each year. 2013 was the first time that a MERLOT was assigned the MERRIMAN name. The 2014 MERRIMAN is a SHIRAZ, while the 2015 is a CABERNET SAUVIGNON.


This is one of the best Australian Merlot I have tasted in a while. It is so rich and smooth, redolent with lovely aromas of blueberries and a hint of violets, and is so velvety, yet with a solid spine and a nice, tight finish. OH YUM!

Upon release this wine garnered a number of accolades, including: a gold medal and trophy in Vienna, a gold medal at the China Wines & Spirits Awards, a number of other medals and 95 points from Mr Halliday.  

So, if you are going to the ACT anytime soon, I would strongly urge you to find the time to head out to Murrumbateman to visit some of the district’s excellent wineries and in particular to definitely visit SHAW VINEYARD ESTATE, for a fabulous experience of enjoying great wines and superb food.