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Friday, October 11, 2019

Hi, today I am in the Hunter Valley attending the “Wine Media Conference” (formerly known as the “Wine Bloggers Conference”) –which is very exciting, as this is the first time in its 12 year history that it has been held outside of North America. It has a high speed, power packed agenda which will have kicked off with the inaugural speech by the iconic James Halliday.

More about this awesome event soon, plus an article in Winestate Magazine in due course.

In the meantime, here are a couple snippets of information that you may not have seen.

BEER vs WINE:  Since 1999 (last century), Australian beer consumption has dropped by 25% while at the same time, wine consumption has risen by 8%. The latest statistics (2018) show that beer made up 39% of all alcohol purchased in Australia and that wine made up38.6% - It is strongly suspected that the 2019 statistics will show their positions reversed and that for the very first time in Australia’s history we will have bought/consumed more alcohol as wine than as beer!! I say it that way because the stats are measured by the volume of alcohol rather than the volume of the product. In other words we are still buying more litres of beer than wine BUT more alcohol as wine than as beer. Clear??

Wow, what an achievement!! Especially when you consider the fact that back in the 1970s beer constituted 67-70% of all alcohol consumed here.

While the wine industry can give themselves a big “pat on the back”, it is also worth noting that at the turn of this century the volume of imported wine was only 5% of total wine sales, where as in 2016 it constituted around 20-25% of all wine sales. So, the foreigners have been making significant inroad into our market, which I think is great (so long as our exports are growing) as it further diversifies what we are drinking.

CONTAINING THE CELLAR DOOR:  Running Horse Vineyard in the Broke-Fordwich area of the Hunter Valley have a very unusual structure on their property, in that their cellar door is constructed out of six shipping containers – two 20 footers and four 40 footers.


They have created a two storey cellar door and office with stunning views over their vineyards and on to the renowned Yellow Rock escarpment.

This has proven to be not only a cost effective construction technique, but also an eye-catcher that is driving a considerable increase in visitors, as they are just off the “beaten track” to Pokolbin and easily reached.

Their vineyard which was planted in 2000, covers 15 acres and is planted to the classic Hunter varieties of Semillon, Verdelho and Shiraz.  As an added attraction, they keep some of their wines back for several years, so that today you can still buy their 2005 Semillon and 2006 Verdelho, as well as the 2017 current releases.  www.runninghorsewines.com

I hope that you have a great weekend enjoying wonderful Aussie wines and spare a thought for me slaving away at seminar after seminar and tasting heaps of wines - as they say, “It’s a tough life BUT somebody has to do it!”  Cheers!


THIS WEEK’S WINE REVIEW:

Ever since my first visit to the USA over 30 years ago, I have been enamoured with Zinfandel. Along the way I have been delighted by some of best that the US has to offer, like the stunning wines of California’s Ridge Winery, which produce 13 different Zin’s from a series of different vineyards – many of which have just a smidge of one or two other varieties in them so as to differentiate and highlight the vineyard’s uniqueness. Alas, Ridge Zins are almost impossible to get here in Australia.

This century I have also been blown away by the top Aussie Zin’s like those that my dear friend Jo Irvine makes – originally under the Irvine label and more recently under the Lévrier by Jo Irvine label. Incidentally, the 2001 Irvine Zinfandel is drinking superbly at the moment, with plenty of life left in it.

Well, here is another brilliant Aussie Zin the, CARGO ROAD WINES 2015 ZINFANDEL from Orange. At four-years-old this current release reflects the fact that Zin needs a little bit of time to settle down and hit its straps.


This wine has a big, blowsy aromatic bouquet with a good dollop of stewed apples, fruit cake, herbs and just a hint of forest floor aromas. It is a big, rich wine, with lashings of smooth yet powerful flavours followed by a tight, grippy finish that augurs well for its longer term development. To sum it up, it is BLOODY GORGEOUS and will continue to evolve over quite a few years to become a classic, sensational Aussie Zinfandel, IF you have the patience to wait and watch it develop. TOP MARKS!

CARGO ROAD VINEYARD was established in 1983 on the northern slopes of Mount Canobolas close to the town of Orange. The vineyard is at around 860 metres above sea level. It was set up with sustainability in mind, and today the 16 hectare vineyard is run under Holistic Management practices. They are a little “out of left field” as their flagship varieties are Zinfandel and Gewürztraminer.

Check them and their delightful wines at www.cargoroadwines.com

PS: They also have a Sparkling Zinfandel, something that I have never tried, and a sweet dessert Zinfandel, which should also be heavenly.