Dan's Blog


Friday, November 02, 2018

QUITE A SPLASH: For a small wine producing country (albeit with a very long wine history) Georgia is making quite a splash in the international wine scene. It has been the centre of attention at quite a number of international wine shows/exhibitions in the last few years.

As reported in Hvino News (the official news arm of the Georgian wine industry), is the Guest of Honour at EXPOVINA 2018 Switzerland, which is being held at the moment. This is a unique wine event in that it is conducted aboard dozens of boats docked at Burkliplatz on Lake Zurich.

The boats are moored alongside each other and the attendees move from one boat to another after tasting the wines on each boat. One could say that this is a good sobriety test/measure, as if one can’t clamber from one vessel to another, they could cause quite a splash (literally) and then wouldn’t be able to taste the wines on the next vessel.

The event brings together producers from over 25 countries. There are 20 Georgian producers currently involved, which is quite a number for a country where a large proportion of the population make their own wine, and there are very few medium to larger scale wineries.

The current Georgian clever and aggressive marketing activities are somewhat reminiscent of Australia in the 1980s and 1990s before we became more “mainstream & mundane.” Go Georgia!

SADLY:   On the 14th -15th of October there was a flash flood in the Languedoc region of France. The area around the town of Trebes near the walled city of Carcassonne (I was there in April) was hit with flood waters when the local river rose to seven metres deep (which is normally not much more than a stream) and burst its banks – the highest level in 127 years. Just stop and think as to how high seven metres actually is! The equivalent to four months of rain fell in just six hours – Can you really imagine that?

Ten people died, there was massive damage to houses, infrastructure and of course to vineyards. The Syndicat de Vignerons d L’Aude advised that around 50% of the region’s vineyards were affected by the floods. However, it will have little impact on vintage 2018 as the grapes had already been harvested. In one part of Trebes it “poured wine” after the flood waters damaged/destroyed wine storage tanks in a warehouse and red wine was seen pouring out under the warehouse’s roller door and blending in with the muddy waters. Quel bummer Mon Amie!

WHAT’S THE BUZZ:  In September, at a German wine festival in Weingarten near Karlsruhe, visitors heard an unusual and unexpected buzzing as they toured through a vineyard. The buzzing turned out to be a swarm of angry hornets that attacked the amblers, with eighteen people being stung, thirteen of whom were transported to the local hospital for treatment, fortunately, none of the reactions were life threatening.

That area was cordoned off and pest controllers brought in to move the hive. Hornets are appreciated around vineyards as they reduce the populations of caterpillars and green fly, which attack vines and grapes.

The local Council is now conducting a survey of nests in the local area with a view to relocate some of them so as to prevent another incident such as this from occurring.

Hmmm! Makes one think about what is lurking around the corner.

Well, on that note I am going to wish you a great week and buzz off! Cheers!


This week I am looking at one of my all-time favourite Cabernet Sauvignon wines. I first discovered St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet in the late 1980s when I joined the Orlando Wines Sydney team. It was a revelation to me who normally drank Hunter Valley reds. The depth and complexity displayed by the St Hugo was breath taking. I can’t remember the vintage – probably 1985. I know the 1986 vintage extremely well, as most years my wife and I open a bottle to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Alas, we only have one or two bottles left, but the wine is still sensational. Now a fully mature graceful wine with plenty of flavour and life still left in it. We have been exceptionally lucky with only two corked bottles along the way.

St Hugo was launched with the 1980 vintage, and since then every single vintage has won at least a gold medal. Along the way, some vintages were swathed in medals.

More recently Pernod Ricard Winemakers (owners of the brand) decided to broaden St Hugo’s reach and brought the brand to the Barossa Valley with a “brand new” winery in one of the region’s old iconic buildings. Thus while keeping the original Coonawarra Cabernet, the brand has been significantly broadened with a range of Barossa wines – back to where the Gramps originally started making outstanding wines.

Every St Hugo wine that I have tasted since the launch of the brand as a separate wine company, has been somewhere between excellent and superb. 

This latest offering the ST HUGO 2014 “THE UNBROKEN PROMISE” BAROSSA CABERNET SAUVIGNON is no exception. At four-years-old, it has brilliant, dense red colour with alluring purple hues, a big, bright, bold bouquet complete with elegant oak aromas. The palate is silky-smooth with masses of rich, ripe fruit (both red and black berries), fabulous texture, a hint of chocolate and lovely fine grained tannins. The finish lingers for an absolute eon making the palate ask/beg for more. TRULY MAGNIFICENT and it will age as gracefully as the Coonawarra St Hugo has always done.

Damn, I wish I had another bottle!!!