Dan's Blog


Friday, August 11, 2017

This week I change my mind, dig up a bit of history, ponder about a beery future and comment on "pull a cork scam". I trust that you find all this interesting.

EMERGING VARIETIES:  Regular readers will be aware that I have been championing Alternative (non-mainstream) varieties for a long time. More recently I started calling these varieties Innovative, as I think Alternative is a bit derogatory as it can imply that it is a “lesser alternative”. However, just the other day I heard, from a colleague in Melbourne, what I think is the perfect description for alternative varieties and wines, Emerging varieties.

Thus, henceforth, I will be describing Alternative varieties as Emerging varieties, and would ask you to do so as well.  By doing so, we can over time change their moniker and the perception that they are in any way lesser.

So here is to the 100+ Emerging varieties that we are growing here in Australia.

ANCIENT HISTORY:  Archaeologists digging in Ramat Negev (south of Beersheba in Israel) have uncovered a stone wine press dating from around 300-400 AD.

The press appears to have been housed in a bigger building and has a 2.5 diameter by 2.0 metre deep, juice run-off pit which they estimate was capable of holding around 6,500 litres of wine. Roughly, in today’s terms, this is around 720 dozen bottles.

This represents wine production on a massive scale for the times, a bit like a Wolf Blass Bilyara winery today. It also signifies that at the time this “winery” was associated with a substantial Roman garrison and produced the soldier’s wine rations.

THE SLOW BYE-BYE TO BEER:  In the USA, Goldman Sachs has recently forecast for US beer sales, to drop by 0.7% over the next 12 months. Nielsen is forecasting a 0.6% drop over the next six months.

They are saying that there are two main reasons for these forecasts. Firstly, the world’s alcohol consumption rate is in overall terms reducing slightly, and secondly, that millennials (21-38 year-olds) are focusing more on wine than beer. Whilst this is good news for the wine industry, (not only in America, but for us as well, being massive exporters to the USA) the down-side is that they are focusing on a lower price point than their baby boomer forerunners.

Therefore, thanks to this and a number of other trends happening around the world, including the rise of around five million people into the middle-class each year in China, the outlook for the Australian wine industry over the next few years is sensational.

Providing that the unstable global political situation does not become unraveled, over the next few years, Australia could well face a grape and wine shortage – a far cry from the gluts of just a few years ago.

PUT A CORK IN IT:  In the July 26th edition of there was a “paid political propaganda” bulletin disguised as an article about how in the USA people prefer cork to screwcaps for their wine. It was based on the results of a survey done by The Portuguese Cork Association and the Cork Quality Council (CQC). What are the chances of there being any bias in that survey?

The article stated that 89% of The Spectator Magazine’s Top 100 wines were sealed by cork, and was written in such a way so as to sound like an endorsement of cork, rather than simply a fact that most of these wines came from Europe and the USA where winemakers have been slow to adopt screwcaps. They went on to quote members of CQC and to dismiss Australia and New Zealand’s use of screwcaps as an aberration. There was one quote in the article that really cracked me up, when a US sommelier and author said (when she was talking about Australian wines): “Of course they discovered through exporting their wines that Americans and other countries were not so excited about wines that aren’t corked.” Actually lady, nobody gets excited about wines that are corked! I think she meant to say, “sealed with a cork”, rather than “corked”, unless she was implying Americans can’t tell the difference?

One of the really interesting facts they quoted in this propaganda bulletin was that 83% of French wine drinkers preferred cork to screwcap. A decade ago that figure was 100%. So what will it be in a few years’ time – 50%?

I don’t mind the cork lobby desperately defending their untenable position, but it was the way the article was written so as to appear unbiased that narks me. However, the last word belongs to a guy called Malcolm (no surname posted on the site), who posted the comment below on the article – and I must say, it was perfectly said Malcolm:

To each their own

If you prefer to risk a faulty wine but one that opens with a pop… OK.

If you prefer to risk a fractured cork when you have carefully matured it… OK

If you want to have to use a tool to open a bottle… OK

If you want to risk an unacceptable aroma and taste in your wine… OK

The choice is yours but technology can and has provided great answers”

Have a great week and enjoy some great non-cork tainted wines. Cheers.


This week we are reviewing another winery rather than just one wine – Beach Road Wines, in McLaren Vale.

Located on the top of a hill with a panoramic vista of the Vales, Beach Road Wines is a small winery run by Briony and Toni Hoare, who make an eclectic range of emerging variety wines and have a delightful restaurant as well.


So to the wines:

BEACH ROAD 2016 PINOT GRIGIO:  True to name, this is a crisp, clean, clear easy drinking wine with just a hint of honey. A perfect summer wine.

BEACH ROAD 2015 PINOT GRIS:  This is a funky ‘Pet Nat’ wine made with oxidative, natural fermentation with the pressings, flor aged. Much deeper colour, slightly spritzig, funky complex aromas and richer, broader flavours. Perfect with good aged Parmesan.

BEACH ROAD 2015 FIANO:  Aged on lees for 12 months before bottling, then cellared for 12 months before being released. This is a drop-dead gorgeous, stunning Fiano that is smooth, crisp and with just a hint of the variety’s waxiness on the palate. Ever so drinkable and moreish.


BEACH ROAD 2016 BONNIE HOARE:  This wine is totally out of left field! A light, bright red wine to be served chilled in summer or at room temperature in winter. Made from Nero d’Avola and Aglianico it has masses of cherry flavours on the front palate and tight grippy tannins on the finish. It is an awesome food wine.

BEACH ROAD N/V SHIRAZ:  A melange of three vintages from four regions including Nankita. This wine has been built (engineered) to a specific flavour profile, which is drop-dead gorgeous! By making this wine they have overcome the vagaries of differing vintage conditions/grape ripeness and regional eccentricities. OUTSTANDING!

BEACH ROAD 2015 LANGHORNE CREEK/NANKITA PRIMITIVO: A very elegant wine with alluring aromas and jubbie-juicy smooth flavours. Ever so easy to drink.


BEACH ROAD 2015 LANGHORNE CREEK AGLIANICO: A great Aussie expression of this delightful Italian emerging variety. Starts off lovely and smooth and ends with a tight, grippy, acidic finish that lingers for eons – just like the younger Italian ones do. Bellissimo!!

BEACH ROAD BOLLE ROSSE N/V SPARKLING RED: OH YUM! Made from a blend of Primitivo, Montepulciano and Nero d’Avola, it has absolutely brilliant red colour, a superb mouthfeel (lovely and sweet) with a crisp finish. Dangerously easy to drink and OH, SO MOREISH!


The last wine was a real tease, as their 2015 Grenache is not yet in bottle. Talk about “save the best till last”! This is a fabulous, full-bodied, gutsy Grenache with a BIG, mouthful of flavour and fabulous depth. None of the odious “early-pick” skinny green characters that seem to be prevalent in so many of the “Vales” Grenaches over the last 2-3 vintages. I intensely dislike those “new-style”, piss-weak Grenache. This wine is a fabulous example of what Grenache should taste like!!

So if you are looking for interesting, quality wines from emerging varieties check out their website – you won’t be disappointed. Cheers!