Dan's Blog


Friday, February 15, 2019

With vintage 2019 well underway in most regions of Australia, perhaps it is time to consider the future. Global warming has been bringing the onset of vintage further and further forward, to the point that it is not inconceivable that within a decade (plus or minus a year or two) we will be harvesting before the New Year. Thus we will end up with one year having two vintages – wow, won’t that cause some chaos and confusion!

So the big question is: What is being done by the wine industry to help it cope with global warming?

Here are some of the things being done:

AUSTRALIA:  More and more winemakers in Australia are planting Southern Mediterranean grape varieties which cope better with the heat. For example, in the last decade the number of wineries producing the Spanish native red variety, Tempranillo, has risen from well less than 100 to over 400. Tempranillo like most of the Iberian and Italian varieties lap up the sun. This makes them much more suitable for growing in Australia in the future, than the less heat tolerant French and Northern European varieties. Hey, recently we even started planting some of the Greek varieties which thrive in the hot Aegean climate. It won’t be long before you will be able to drink Aussie made, Assyrtiko, Malagousia, Robola, Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro. Keep an eye out for them in the Barossa and Clare Valleys.

This does not mean that the traditional varieties such as Cabernet and Shiraz will fade into the distance. It is just that they will gradually over time make up a smaller proportion of the total crop as more and more of the heat tolerant varieties are grown. So whilst say, Durif, will never replace Shiraz as our national grape, we will be seeing a lot more of it in the future, just like we are now starting to see much more Tempranillo.

FRANCE:  Amidst calls from the “old guard” that they are creating “Frankenstein” wines, the researchers at INRA (National Institute of Agronomical Research) have produced new grape varieties using a mix of genes “from around the world”. These are aimed at being “durably resistant” to the fungal diseases – Downy Mildew and Powdery Mildew.

This is an important development because mildew has always been a significant problem for French growers and with global warming causing more humid conditions in most of their grape growing regions, it will only lead to more mildew attacks in the future. As things are, grape growers are under enormous pressure to reduce the use of fungicides. There has been a spate of cancer cases among growers and court cases where neighbours, especially one school, are suing growers for contamination and/or illness from the overspray.

The new INRA grapes called Araban, Floreal, Voltis and Vindoc have recently received state authorisation so that there will be bottled wine available using these varieties by vintage 2020. INRA claims that they will reduce the use of fungicides by around 80-90 per cent. No detailed information is available about them as yet.

COLDER PLACES:  Many colder countries/states where grape growing was not possible or at least not viable in the past, are now busy planting vines. We have all heard about the explosion of vineyard in Great Britain, but did you know that vineyard expansion is also happening in places like The Netherlands, Sweden, Nova Scotia and most of the northern states of the USA? I am hoping to review some Dutch wines later this year when I am in Amsterdam, for the 11th World Bulk Wine Exhibition.

So one day our children’s children may be able to go and have a meal in say a Swedish or Dutch restaurant anywhere in the world and accompany that meal with a wine from the same country.

As they say, “Food for thought!”

Have a great week and enjoy fabulous wine from wherever, but preferably from Australia!!!


Well this week it isn’t so much about a wine as a wine show.

I am talking about Vinitaly which has been going since 1967 and is held in the UNESCO “World Heritage” city of Verona.

Vinitaly is the biggest wine show in the world where 4,400 wineries and suppliers from 35 countries fill 15 halls showing their wares – over 15,600 wines from April 7-10, 2019.

Last year Vinitaly was visited by 130,000 people of which 50,000 came from abroad. This included 30,000 accredited wine buyers from 132 countries. The event is tri-lingual with all official information being available in Italian, English and Chinese. There is a significant focus on “greenness” with three areas dedicated to this increasingly important aspect of winemaking and wine consumption.

Awesome statistics!

As part of showcasing the wines of Italy to the world this event includes a pavilion of “New World” wines where Australia has traditionally had a significant presence.

At this year’s Vinitaly “Tasting Express” one of the sessions will be a Masterclass presentation by Hunter Valley based winemakers, De Iuliis Wines, in conjunction with wine marketers, Designer Wines Australia. Joss De Iuliis will be presenting eight of their Hunter Valley Shiraz going back to 2009 including those from the famous “Steven” Vineyard.

The wines being shown are:

2017 Shiraz Touring LDR Vineyard              Hunter Valley / Lovedale

2014 Shiraz                                                     Hunter Valley / Pokolbin

2014 Shiraz Limited Release                          Hunter Valley

2011 Shiraz Limited Release                          Hunter Valley

2009 Shiraz Limited Release                          Hunter Valley

2014 Shiraz Steven Vineyard                         Hunter Valley / Pokolbin

2011 Shiraz Steven Vineyard                         Hunter Valley / Pokolbin

2009 Shiraz Steven Vineyard                         Hunter Valley / Pokolbin

This will be an excellent opportunity for Europeans (and others) to become acquainted with Australia’s signature variety, Shiraz, and its versatility of style, from soft and elegant, to rich and powerful.

Vinitaly is a brilliant event for both wineries to exhibit at and for the trade and consumers to visit.

Further information on this massive and amazing wine exhibition is available at: