Dan's Blog

OTT - Over The Top

Friday, March 29, 2019

Recently I read an excellent article in Just Drinks by Chris Losh entitled, “Why is wine getting more complicated in an age of simplicity?” – for full article, see:  - A great article, well worth the read.

This got me focusing again on the subject, because for a very long time I have felt that some/many winemakers and wine marketers get all too hung up on the technical details they put on labels for the vast majority of wine consumers. While on the other hand many others fill the label with drivel.

So here goes – the technical data on a particular wine is of interest to probably only 1-2% of the people who actually buy and drink the wine as opposed to those who judge it, evaluate it and review it.

How often have you heard a discussion around the dinner table (without a gaggle of winemakers or marketers present) where somebody has said, “I would have said that the pH on this wine is 2.96 rather than 2.79”.  OR, “I find it hard to believe that these grapes were harvested on the 28th of February, they should have been harvested at least three days earlier”.

Most of us are not that interested in knowing that your vineyard is on “friable reddish clay” or that it has “limestone pebbles” in it. We are much more interested in what we can expect the contents of the bottle to taste like than what dirt the grapes were grown in, or the exact measure of acidity in the wine.

SO, my message to winemakers and marketers is: “By all means include all your techno speak on the Tasting Notes (printed or electronic), but please, please, use the limited space on the back label to convey something that drinkers give a toss about rather than unwanted babble that adorns so many bottles these days.”

Talk to us (on your label) first and foremost about what we can expect the wine to taste like. It doesn’t have to be very flowery and artistic, just simple understandable terms about aromas, flavour, balance/structure and finish. Please! No references to sweaty saddles or tar! If you go around tasting this stuff please keep it to yourself. We don’t want to know that you are a weirdo.

On the other hand, you would be surprised at the number of bottles I see each year with NO description of the wine on the label at all. So that picking up one of these wines feels a bit like playing “Russian Roulette.”

In addition to flavour, there are a few other things that are of interest to drinkers, such as ~ if the vines were bush vines ~ were the grapes fermented in open fermenters ~ or macerated in whole bunches ~ as these things affect the flavour of the wine that they are buying.

Another aspect that is of interest to us in the wine drinking masses is the oak regime, as this has a direct and tangible effect on the taste of the wine. So we would like to hear if you use American or French oak as there is a notable difference.

If you have space left on the label then you can talk about your sense of place, or even (if you must) the family history. I don’t need to know (on my wine label) that “our vineyards are situated 36.59 Km North, North-East of Woop Woop” – If I am interested in locating/finding you I have this marvellous gizmo called Google to help me. Just say “we are near Woop Woop” and use the space you just saved to tell me more about your wine that I am thinking of buying.

It ain’t rocket science but it seems that so many people these days are trying to make it so. 

K.I.S.Keep It Simple!

Cheers and enjoy really delicious wines!


This week I am talking about FIANO, a lively, zippy, Italian white variety that is just starting to make a big name for itself here in Australia.

In the Jan-Feb edition of WBM, I wrote an article on FIANO as a result of going to a meeting of the McLaren Vale “Fiano Fellowship”. There was one wine that was missing from the line-up and that was the CORIOLE FIANO.

Way back in the early 2000s I first tasted a FIANO wine in Mildura at the AAVWS when the then Coriole winemaker brought out a sample of their first trial wine to try over dinner. As far as I am aware, it was the first ever FIANO produced here. We were all impressed and forecasted a big future for the variety here in Australia.

The good folk at CORIOLE recently sent me two samples of their FIANO, the 2018 version and a new trial version called FIANO RUBATO,  which was made from fruit that was picked later, spent longer on skins and was fully oak fermented.

The 2018 CORIOLE FIANO has lovely, elegant, floral aromas. Delightful texture, great depth for an Italian white and a crisp, refreshing finish making it ABSOLUTELY SUPERB.

The 2018 CORIOLE FIANO RUBATO was made from grapes that were picked later and was oak fermented giving it richer, more complex aromas than its sibling. It is fuller bodied with greater depth and complexity of flavour. Being barrel fermented it is softer and rounder with a gentler finish – A VERY INTERESTING WINE.

Whilst it is still early days for the variety here in Australia, the future for FIANO is looking very healthy and positive indeed. I encourage you to find an excuse to try the CORIOLE FIANO soon so that you can see what I am prattling on about. Cheers!