Dan's Blog


Friday, February 23, 2018

I read an item in the December edition of Grapegrower & Winemaker Magazine saying: that the SA Government in conjunction with the South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA) are setting up a two-year wine education program to be delivered in New Delhi and Mumbai, India.

That sounds like a great idea at first, but when you consider that we sell almost as much wine to Fiji as we do to India, you have to ask: “Why is this so?” Are we lousy sales people, or are there some underlying or inherent problems in the market?

With a population almost as large as that of China, India should be drinking absolutely heaps of wine. But, the reality is that they only drink a thimble full. There are a number of reasons for this, including logistics, lack of temperature controlled storage, etc., but the real underlying reason is the Indian Government.

We start with import duties of 148% (in China this will soon be zero thanks to the FTA – Free Trade Agreement). Then you have to register each label, in each state that you are going to sell the wine (there are several states that are “dry” where wine can’t be sold). The registration fee is around USD100 per label and they have to be re-registered if ANY detail on the label (like vintage) changes. There are also a limited number of licenced importers, and most importantly, the Government seems to be under the “influence/thumb” of the spirits industry’s lobby.

India drinks more whisky (mainly Indian) than what Scotland produces whisky. For the last fourteen years (since I visited India with the then Premier of South Australia to sell wine) there have been rumours and whispers of the Indian Federal Government cutting the duty, but nothing has actually changed. In fact, over that time they have also made life harder for Indian wineries. It is almost as though they wished wine would disappear. While at the same time the younger generation, especially the ladies, would like to see their partners drinking wine rather than whisky.

To compound and complicate the situation even further, the Indian Government allows 5-star hotels to import alcohol directly from overseas WITHOUT paying any duty up to the value of the foreign currency they have earned in the previous year. This is the reason why hotels always ask you to pay in Aussie or US dollars, rather than rupees.

So, if you can afford it you can enjoy world-class wines at many, if not most 5-star hotels, but it is very scarce and very expensive elsewhere in India.

From the vague statistics I have found, Jacobs Creek, with all the resources of Pernod Ricard, is the largest selling wine brand in India, and it sells about 50,000 cases a year in a country of 1.1 billion people.

It is going to take heaps more than a two-year wine education program to change things in India and improve our exports to them!

What’s the old adage about “peeing your money up against a brick wall”? This, to me seems like an excellent case in point. What will it achieve in practical terms?

Why not conduct wine education in any one of a raft of other Asian countries where we can actually grow our sales significantly – Must be more South Australian Government dinosaur politics at work!!

2018 CELLAR DOOR FEST: On a more positive note, especially for South Australians, next weekend is the Cellar Door Fest. This festival gives you a unique opportunity to taste the wines of 180 different wineries from across every wine growing region of South Australia. There will be a mass of emerging variety wines there on taste so that you can try varieties that you have never tasted before or compare wines made from the same variety in different regions. The opportunities are almost endless!

Additionally, this year there will be microbrewery cellar doors and artisan distillery cellar doors as well so that all your drinking requirements are now covered under the one roof.

Check it out at  I’ll be there. Will you avail yourself of this amazing opportunity?


STOP PRESS:  Just announced in Georgia, the GRAND GOLD AWARD at the SapPrize Awards (judging of non-Georgian Saperavi from around the world), was awarded to the CIRAMI ESTATE 2015 SAPERAVI. – Beating contenders from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Kazakhstan, Armenia and other former Soviet Union countries. Making it the BEST NON-GEORGIAN SAPERAVI in the world!!!!!


Cirami Estate is the brand of the RIVERLAND VINE IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE (RVIC) which is a not-for profit viticultural organisation. In order to interest growers in the emerging varieties that it propagates, it makes wine from some of these varieties so that people can see what potential the wine has.

A brilliant concept and a brilliant result! Well done to the world beating crew at RVIC.


This week we are looking at a winery rather than an individual wine.

The winery in question is CHATEAU YALDARA, which was started by German migrant, Herman Thumm, in 1947 at the ruins of an old flax mill just outside the township of Lyndoch. In 1999 it was bought by publicly listed Simeon Wines and renamed YALDARA WINES. They in turn, sold it to McGuigan Wines in 2001. They promptly stripped out all the existing brands other than the “Port” and filled the cellar door with McGuigan wines. Thus for all intents and purposes, the Yaldara brands/wines ceased to exist (other than the huge selling port), until recently when Chinese-backed, 1847 Wines, bought it.

This week is about CHATEAU YALDARA’S resurrection.

The first wines I came across from the resurrected Chateau Yaldara were the RETRO range which consists of a smashing BAROSSA RETRO CABERNET FRANC, ADELAIDE HILLS RETRO SHIRAZ and BAROSSA RETRO MERLOT, in the reds. Then the RETRO CLASSIC DRY WHITE, in the whites. They are all very good wines BUT the Cab Franc is truly sensational – packed with oodles of flavour and a lip-smackingly good finish.

I have just tasted the CHATEAU YALDARA CY range of South Australia appellated wines – these labels really stand out in a crowd as do the wines. This range consists of:

CHATEAU YALDARA CY 2015 CHARDONNAY:  Heaps of citrus, stone fruit and melons on the bouquet. A bright, lively palate with plenty of flavour and a fresh, crisp finish. A brilliant summer wine to be enjoyed chilled with friends.

CHATEAU YALDARA CY 2015 CABERNET SAUVIGNON: Lovely purpley/red colour, alluring aromas of red and black berries, with just a hint of earthiness. It has a great depth of flavour with fine grain tannins on the finish, making it a very elegant wine. This is a delightful food wine.

CHATEAU YALDARA CY 2015 SHIRAZ: Deep red/purple colour with big plum aromas and some red berries. It has a big, tasty, round mouthful of flavour that delights the palate and lingers for eons on the finish. It is beautifully balanced and very moreish. A true bargain at RRP of $17 a bottle.

The renaissance of CHATEAU YALDARA, is by no means complete, as they have some big plans to enhance the site for visitors (more on that after they get council approval) but the wines are already there, with every wine I have tasted so far being scrumptious and excellent value for money.

Cheers and have a great week!