Dan's Blog


Friday, April 06, 2018

This week we cover a few lesser known wine places on this earth that are currently showing some promise in their wines.

NOVA SCOTIA:  I while ago I reviewed two exciting wines from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The JOST “Tidal Bay” white and the controversially named, JOST “4 Skins” (named from four hybrid varieties that it is made from). Both very good wines.

Well, in news just to hand, their Minister of Agriculture has announced that over the last four years, since the government announced its $12 million “Vineyard & Wineries Investment Program” the province has increased the area under vine by some 40% to 360 hectares. There are now 16 wineries in the province and more are expected over the next few years.

So like just about everywhere else in the “New” wine world, production keeps on growing. It might be a while though before we see Canadian wines (other than Icewine) listed in our local bottle shops.

HUNGARY:  Few people would be aware that Hungary makes excellent wines, and those who are, would only think in terms of Tokaji Azu or Tokay (as we say it) – the sensational sweet dessert wines that are rated by the number of Puttoynos from 3-6 (degree of sweetness). Even fewer people would be aware of Bikaver (Blood Blood), the traditional Hungarian red wine made from the native Kekfrancos variety.

Hungary has quite a number of indigenous varieties, both white and red, however, most of them are unheard of outside the country. Like other former Soviet states, during the Soviet era production volume was paramount, rather than quality. These days the focus is on quality and to some extent in the revival of native varieties, such as Kekfrancos, Cardarca, the rare white variety Juhfark and their white super-star, Furmint.

Wine production in Hungary is around 60% white wine – both dry and sweet. Furmint is used for both styles as it is very versatile.

Dry Furmint is the rising star of Hungary’s wine firmament and likely to become “the next big thing” in London and trendier wine bars across the UK. This style of wine is a fairly recent innovation as a result of experimentation in the 1990s. It has proven itself to be a very versatile variety capable of producing very high quality wines. So much so, that the Hungarians have launched a “FURMINT DAY” which was on February 1st this year.

So, while it will take some time to achieve, one day you will see Furmint as a globally visible wine variety, just as Grüner Veltliner is currently becoming one.

ISRAEL:  Whilst wine was made in Israel in ancient times, their current wine industry dates back to 1882 when Baron de Rothschild started Carmel Winery. Around the 1980s the industry started to take off with an American influx of investment and personnel.

In that time wine has gone from being used mainly for the altar to becoming a part of mainstream life. Much of the wine produced there is Kosher, however that does not mean that the rest of us should avoid it, any more than we should avoid Halal meat or Vegan vegetables. A majority of the wines are produced in the north where the altitude is higher and therefore the climate is cooler. There are around 60 wineries operating at present. The vast majority of wine exports are to the USA, but there is a concerted effort being made to broaden their exports to other countries.

Most of the wines made in Israel are made from “international” varieties. However, over the last few years a great deal of research has been done into ancient native varieties including the propagation of vines from ancient grape seeds found at archaeological  digs.

So here is yet another land where winemaking is showing great promise.

Wine selecting is going to be a lot more complicated in the future than what it is now – but also a lot more exciting!

Enjoy wines from around the world. Cheers!


Having tasted and enjoyed the 1997 Katnook Estate Shiraz that won the Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1998 (in fact I still have one bottle left in my cellar), I have known for over two decades how good the KATNOOK ESTATE wines can be.

Recently after a long hiatus, I was re-acquainted with some of their wines and my recollections were confirmed – they make bloody good wine!

The first wine that impressed me was the KATNOOK 2017 FOUNDER’S BLOCK SAUVIGNON BLANC. Unlike many Aussie and New Zealand Sav Blanc’s whose pyrazines (passionfruit and capsicum aromas) are OTT (over the top), in this wine they were elegant and restrained, with the addition of some snow peas to further complex the bouquet. The palate has oodles of zippy, crisp flavours, with a great acid balance and a lovely, lingering finish. This wine is OH SO DRINKABLE!

However, the piece de resistance was the KATNOOK 2016 FOUNDER’S BLOCK COONAWARRA SHIRAZ. OMG what a smashing wine! Starting with the beautiful hues of purple and red in the colour – through the bright peppery and spice aromas which enhance the lively plummy bouquet – to the divine palate, where the rich but elegant flavours are sooo smooth and appealing. The balance and finish make the wine perfect for current drinking, but with enough structure and backbone that it will evolve into being even more awesome over the next few years.

All I can say is – FABULOUS & SUPERB!