Dan's Blog


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Here are a few interesting bits and pieces that would otherwise have probably slipped through “to the keeper”. I trust that you find them interesting.

HARD COKE:  According to COCA-COLA is planning to/has just launched its first ever alcoholic drink in Japan. Called Chu-Hi it is made from a traditional distilled beverage called shōchū, with sparkling water and flavourings. There is significant global interest in seeing how this experiment works. If successful it could lead to a flurry of alcoholic beverages from soft drink companies, as they seek to grow their sales, as the soft drink market stagnates.

HILLS HEIST:  On May 8, the Adelaide Hills winemakers are taking over Surry Hills in Sydney. Around 20 wineries from the Hills will be showing their wares at Winebar One at Ford Sherrington House, 119 Kippax Street, Surry Hills, from 6:00-9:00pm.

The HILLS HEIST event is a great opportunity for Sydney-siders to see how the Adelaide Hills are progressing and especially to see why the area has become the “Grüner Veltliner capital of the southern hemisphere” with regards to this Austrian native white wine “super star”. At the time of writing the wineries confirmed included – Shaw & Smith, Bird in Hand, Golding, The Pawn Wine Co, Deviation Road, Scott & La Prova, The Lane and Howard Vineyard, and awaiting confirmation from a few others. Quite a line-up!

Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite

PHYLLOXERA:  Phylloxera is a minute creature/bug that lives in the ground and slowly sucks the life out of the roots of a vine. There is no remedy other than to rip out the vines and replant with new vines grafted onto phylloxera resistant rootstock.

Alas, for the poor growers in Martinborough New Zealand, phylloxera has struck there with two older Riesling vineyards being grubbed out last year due to the deterioration of phylloxera infected vines. Both of these patches of vines were grown on their own rootstocks rather than being grafted onto phylloxera resistant rootstock.

Here in Australia, while some parts of Victoria have had phylloxera for more than 100 years, so far, South Australia has managed, through strict management practices, to avoid having the louse in the state.

CPTPP:  Yet another acronym! This one is for the “Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership” – Wow, what a mouthful!

This is TPP-11, the replacement for TPP-10 after Trump withdrew the USA from the partnership.

But what does it mean? Well, it is still a bit nebulous but the gist of it is that all the signatories – most of the Pacific Rim countries other than China and the USA – will reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers in trading within the partnership.

Specifically for us it means that there will be a range of tariff reductions on wine across the group and more importantly it will address specific wine-related technical barriers to trading via a specific wine and spirits annex. The wine annex is a means by which to address wine trade barriers and the Australian Government has advised that it will be pushing hard in this area, in all trade negotiations with fellow partners.

So, I guess unlike FTA’s (Free Trade Agreements) where the exact level of wine duty is prescribed, the CPTPP provides a framework to negotiate on the question of wine. Therefore, it seems likely that this will mean a longer term solution to wine trade barriers rather than having an immediate effect. However, it is certainly a step in the right direction. All the countries involved should be applauded for proceeding with it after the increasingly isolationist USA walked away from it.

Well that’s it for another week. I hope that you have a good week and drink some superb wines thereby enhancing the quality of your life. Cheers!


Today more than ever we live in an instant society, where everything has to be accessible immediately and be totally ready to be used – the “Drink Now Society”.

This is inherently contradictory to the world of red wine, where patience is needed to allow the wine sufficient time to transform from an angry young thing into a smoother, more subtle adult.

In the latter half of last century good reds took 10 years+ to mature, in fact many of the 1960s Aussie reds were almost undrinkable at under five years old. Today, most quality reds need two to five years to show at their best, thanks to the advances in wine maturation technology and techniques, mainly driven by consumer demand.

This week I have found a wine that is well and truly ready to go upon release. You are probably thinking: “Wow, what is so amazing about that?” Well, it is because the wine is a three-year-old DURIF.

Those of you who know DURIF, know that it is a huge, usually ungainly wine in its youth. As one of the guys in the Beefsteak & Burgundy Club that I used to belong too described it: “a liquid steak in every glass”.

The recently released, ST LEONARDS VINEYARD ‘THE DOCTOR’ 2015 WAHGUNYAH DURIF, is absolutely perfect for today’s “instant” market. It is rearing to go, complete with the traditional deep, dark, brooding inky colour. Big pungent typical Durif aromas and a big mouthful of rich Durif flavours, including a good dollop of rich Christmas cake. BUT unlike the ‘monsters’, it has an ubber smooth finish without the chunky tannins usually seen in youngsters.

This divine wine is super elegant, ready to drink and a brilliant DURIF to introduce the “drink now society” to this sensational variety without having to wait a decade or two as I have been doing with the classic DURIF that are in my cellar.

Bloody well done ST LEONARDS VINEYARD!