Dan's Blog

The Times They Are a Changin

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Times They Are a-Changin’ and this week’s Blog covers some of these changes in the wine scene both here in Australia and overseas.

GERMANY: In Germany, according to information issued at a recent conference held in conjunction with the annual ProWein (International Trade Fair for Wines and Spirits held annually in Düsseldorf), for the first time there are more women buying wine than men – with the ratio being 56% to 44%. Whilst the men are overall still paying slightly higher prices for their wine than the women, the average gap is down to €0.25 per bottle – which is really neither here nor there.

BORDEAUX:  The Bordelaise are going “batty”! As part of the global wine push to become more environmentally friendly, growers in Bordeaux are welcoming bats into their vineyards because they eat moths such as, Eudemis, which feed on grapes. The CIVB (the bureau that controls things) in Bordeaux says that each bat can consume up to 2,000 moths in a single night. As elsewhere bats have a bad reputation in the region and people are scared of them, the CIVB has set up an online bat observatory and is assuring the growers that “bats are allies, when you have bats, it’s a good thing”.

NSW LEADS THE WAY: Well known and respected winery, Keith Tulloch Wines (makes a cracking Verdelho) has become the first Hunter Valley winery to be certified officially, “carbon neutral”, by the Australian Government. Thus, so far there are now only two wineries that have been certified as carbon neutral by the Government, the other being the Ross Hill Winery in Orange, NSW.

There are a small number of other wineries working towards this achievement and a much larger number that are “doing something” about their environmental footprint, such as becoming or already being Organic or Biodynamic certified.  An example of this is, Wine Wise, the consulting winery in the Barossa where Jo Irvine has engineered the property to be self-sufficient in water supply (drought’s excepted) which is a significant achievement for a contract winemaker.

RESPONSIBLE RIVERLAND:  Despite its tag as the “engine room of the Australian wine industry” and being seen as a bulk wine producing area, the Riverland is aiming to be more environmentally responsible. So recently they conducted a two day Biodynamics workshop in Loxton, which included some property inspections to support the knowledge learnt in the workshop.

The region already has quite a few Organic and/or Biodynamic producers such as, 919 Wines, Angoves, Bassham Wines, Byrne Vineyards, Salena Estate and Whistling Kite Wines – Onya guys!!

Finally, a bit of advice for wineries – GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER: As direct marketing or B2C (as the gurus call it) becomes more and more prevalent, it is vital to keep your records of customers updated and accurate. I am on the mailing list of quite a few wineries so that I can keep up to date with what they are doing and also because quite a number of them send me samples of their new releases for review. Last week I received calls from three different people on three different days from the same Barossa winery trying to sell me wine. I explained politely that I am on their mailing list as a wine journalist in case they are interested in sending me new releases for review (which they haven’t done for quite a while) rather than for me to buy their wines. The last person that I spoke to said, “..oh, it looks like you are on two different lists”. REALLY! Then she said, “ colleague, XXXX, is scheduled to ring you back tomorrow.” ARGH!!!!

The other aspect that seriously needs attention for some wineries is the email address shown on their website. Roughly 10% of emails I send to wineries (asking if they would be interested in submitting samples of specific wines for articles I am writing) bounce back! This is because the email shown on their website is not correct. They have changed it and forgotten to update their website. How can you get new customers if they can’t contact you??? If they bounce (and I always double-check that it wasn’t my big fat fingers at fault) I simply remove that winery from my data base.

These people lose out on the opportunity (if the wine is good enough) to get a mention in a national wine magazine (circulation somewhere between 50,000 to 110,000) for the cost of one bottle of wine plus the postage cost. How much would they have to pay, to get that amount of publicity?

I don’t know what you think, but to me it seems crazy. So the lesson is double-check the data for all your methods of contacting your customers and for potential customers to contact you, otherwise you are just losing business.

Cheers and enjoy some great Aussie wines during the week!


During a recent trip to the Clare Valley, one of the wineries I visited was the excellent, SUSSEX SQUIRE WINES, on Spring Gully Road. Owners, Skye and Mark Bollen, are very welcoming and enthusiastic about their young, family-driven enterprise which had its first vintage in 2014.

Their primary focus is on SHIRAZ with three quite different wines being made:

SUSSEX SQUIRE “THE WINDMILL BLOCK” 2017 SHIRAZ (from the lower down, cooler block): Still tight and young but with great structure and rich flavours.

SUSSEX SQUIRE “THOMAS BLOCK” 2017 SHIRAZ (Dry Grown): Darker, deeper, more complex aromas with a hint of herbs and a smidge of menthol character. This wine will evolve awesomely over the next few years.

JRS “THE SUSSEX SQUIRE” BARREL SELECTION 2016 SHIRAZ (Dry Grown): A big, rich, luscious wine which has had 100% new oak and needs plenty of time to blossom out into its best, but has massive potential now if you double decant it and enjoy it with rich food. By the way, this wine won a double-gold medal at the Melbourne International Wine Competition.

Then there is the iconic Australian red blend – SHIRAZ CABERNET:

SUSSEX SQUIRE “THE BLOODLINE” 2017 SHIRAZ CABERNET: A cracker of a wine which amply demonstrates why this blend works so well here in Australia. Delicious and delightful!

Of course, being situated in the Clare there has to be CABERNET in the vineyard, from which they produce:

SUSSEX SQUIRE “SAMUEL BLOCK” 2017 CABERNET SAUVIGNON: Truly superb, rich with vibrant aromas including a smidge of spices. The palate is lovely, round, smooth, with a divine hint of chocolate. Bloody Brilliant!

JRS “THE SUSSEX SQUIRE” BARREL SELECTION 2016 CABERNET SAUVIGNON: OMG, what a stunning Cab! Masses of deep colour and lively aromas that almost leap out of the glass, with heaps of fruit and a hint of subtle spice. The palate is rich, well rounded with masses of great flavours and a tight, slightly grippy finish that really lingers.

Their range of delightful wines also includes a few, very smart, emerging varieties:

The delicious, SUSSEX SQUIRE “POACHER’S RUN” 2017 PINOT GRIGIO, which is true to style (unlike many others who confuse and mislabel Gris and Grigio).

SUSSEX SQUIRE “THE DARTING HARE” 2017 SANGIOVESE – a vibrant, exciting food wine.

SUSSEX SQUIRE “THE SLY FOX” 2017 SANGIOVESE (with 5% Shiraz) – an unusual combo that works exceptional well making it a very appealing wine which is perfect for pasta and pizza.

SUSSEX SQUIRE “THE RAGING BULL” MALBEC and SUSSEX SQUIRE “THE HUNGRY SHEEP” MATARO, both of which had sold out of the 2016 vintage.

All their wines are a class act, mostly dry grown, all basket pressed and hand-crafted. They are all definitely worth checking out, so go the website and see. OR better still, when in the Clare drop in and visit this lovely family team and maybe you can even feed the lawn mowers (sheep). In any case, whichever, find a way and try their wines – you won’t be disappointed! Cheers!