Dan's Blog


Friday, July 12, 2019

“WARNING! WARNING! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!”:  Those of us who are old enough will remember that was what the robot in the 1960s TV series, “Lost in Space”, would cry out every time danger approached. Invariably they would overcome the danger after many trials and tribulations.

In my “CHINA BLUES” blog of February 8 this year, I warned of the danger of putting too many eggs in the one basket called, China, and suggested that wineries start focusing on other countries in Asia. It seems that it may have been timely advice.

Recently, I read that Wine Australia announced that our wine sales to China have dropped by 15% in volume. They effectively dismissed this alarm bell because the value of our sales rose by 7% at the same time. Meanwhile, our wine exports to China exceeded France’s in terms of value for the very first time during the first quarter of 2019. In volume terms we hit 34.4% of the market while France dropped to 28.8%.

Ok, so here is the “skinny” as they used to say on TV. China imported wine sales had been growing at 26% in the period of 2014-2016 which has now slowed to 7% during 2016-2019. The per capita wine consumption actually went backwards last year for the first time ever, down by 0.1 Litres per head. From 1.3L to 1.2L – No biggie, right?

Well, “Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!” In the first four months of 2019 according to the China Association for Imports and Exports of Wine & Spirits (CAWS), the volume of wine imports declined by 20.56% and the value went down by 21.14%. France dropped 30.3% in imports over this period, while the USA lost (not surprisingly) 58.73% thanks to the Trumpian Trade War.

SO, we did relatively well at the expense of our rivals. BUT what does this mean for the future? Are the Chinese starting to turn more towards their own domestic wines as has happened in every wine producing country (just look at Britain at the moment)? OR, are they generally losing interest in wine?

So the real question in relation to our sales of wine to China is: Are we, and Wine Australia, steering the ship away from the iceberg OR, are we merely shuffling the deck chairs, like on the Titanic? Time will tell but I would suggest that we be prepared to, “Brace for impact!”

NEWS FLASH:  For those living in Adelaide, next weekend – Friday 19th & Saturday 20th the annual “Cellar Door Fest- Winter Edition” is on at the Adelaide Convention Centre on North Terrace. Go to the website page to check it out. The site includes a list of the exhibitors with all of South Australia’s wine regions being represented by such great wineries as: Chateau Yaldara ~ Greenock Estate ~ Eldredge Vineyards ~ Koonara ~ Bremerton ~ Heartland ~ Lake Breeze ~ Handcrafted by Geoff Hardy ~ Riot Wines (wine in cans) ~ Salena Estate ~ Whistling Kite ~ Bassham Wines ~ 919 Wines.

Tickets can also be pre-bought from this website.

Come on down!! I’ll be there Friday afternoon/evening checking out new producers as well as all the great wines from “the usual suspects”. Cheers!


For many years I have been a big fan of Cabernet Franc and whilst I have yet to have the opportunity to taste, Château Cheval Blanc (recognized as the best Cab Franc in the world), I have enjoyed some fabulous Australian and French Cab Franc, such as the, Marjico “Blarney Block” Coonawarra 2016, from 84-year-old (at the time) Merlot Magician, Jim Irvine.

So it should come as no surprise that the latest Cab Franc I have tasted led to this review.

This time the wine is the ever so elegant, LEABROOK ESTATE 2018 BAROSSA OLD VINE CABERNET FRANC. What a cracking wine! Deep and densely coloured for the variety with enticing aromas blackberries, a smidge of violets and a hint of fine vanillin oak. It has great depth of silky smooth flavours and a sophisticated finish – Oh Yum! It is BLOODY DELICIOUS! 

This wine is very enjoyable now but will continue to evolve and round out over the next 2-3 years.