Dan's Blog

WBWE 2019

Friday, September 13, 2019

On December 2, the World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) in Amsterdam at the RAI calls out to buyers and sellers from across the globe, as it is the most vital Bulk Wine market of the year.

In its 11th year, and following on from the highly successful inaugural WBWE Asia (held in Yantai China back in May), this year’s WBWE is crucial to both buyers and sellers of bulk wine, which today accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s wine sales. There will be 250 producers from 22 countries exhibiting, including several from Australia (last year there were five Aussie exhibitors) and they are expecting 6,500 buyers from 60 countries to attend. It is here that private label sellers such as supermarkets and wine clubs, along with wine blenders and businesses seeking value for money commercial wines come to source their wines.

In addition to being able to taste and trade wine at the exhibition, there are a series of seminars and workshops on how to enhance bulk wine.

The 2019 Conference program includes three sessions on separate aspects of climate change, in addition to which the following sessions will be held:

“The Bulk Wine Business In The USA – New Ways Of Commercialization”

“Tannat & Other Grape Varieties From Uruguay – An Exporting Nation”

“Fashions, Trends & New Wines In Italy”

“Macedonian Wines In The International Trade”

► “African Wines”

“New Climate Change-Resistant Grape Varieties” – including a tasting.

“Trends, New Wines & New Consumers” – panel

To cap off the standing of the event, on Sunday December 1 (the day before the event starts) there is the International Bulk Wine Competition. This is the event where twenty-five judges from around the world, including myself (representing Australia) and my great friend, Subhash Arora (representing India), judge bulk wines under standard wine judging conditions. Last year for the first time the judging was done using iPads. After some initial challenges (with the operators) the system worked magnificently and sped up the whole process. The standard of wines submitted to the judging, has over the last few years been outstanding, with a considerable number of medals being awarded. For me, the Tannat wines of Uruguay have been the most impressive.

Wineries making at least 10,000 litres of a wine in bulk can enter this competition and the standard is very high. Of course the judging criteria is slightly different from normal wine shows as these are not finished “bottle ready” wines, but rather tank samples. However having said that, the gold medal winning wines from this event are of fantastic quality and would be quite at home in bottles of wine retailing for between $20 and $50. Last year Australian wines won gold medals in both the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc classes.

The 2019 WBWE will be even more important than normal for buyers looking to source wines for the next year, as it has recently been advised that extreme weather in France will lead to a reduction of around 12% in volume for their 2019 vintage. This reduction has come about due to severe spring frosts, which killed off the young grape clusters. It was particularly bad in the west of France. This was followed by summer heatwaves in July when temperatures reached an almost unheard of 40oC in places, especially in the south. The heat shut down the vines and withered the grapes. July 2019 was the hottest month ever on record in Europe. The reduction is expected to be in the order of around 600 million litres of wine. Added to this, Greece’s wine output is 50% down on the levels reached in 2017.

This will make the sourcing of bulk wine somewhat more challenging than “normal”.

The WBWE is held at the centrally located RAI in Amsterdam. So, if you are going to be in Europe around that time, it would be well worth making a visit to see how the world of bulk wine operates.

Check this awesome event out at


It is an absolute crying shame that dessert wines are so underappreciated here in Australia. We make some of the best dessert wines in the world, from the De Bortoli Noble One (Botrytis Semillon) via a raft of sensational Tawny and Vintage fortifieds (including the Seppeltsfield 100-year-old – the only one in the world), through to the stunning Muscat and Topaque of Rutherglen from Morris, Chambers, Stanton & Killeen, et al.

Well, here is another one to add to that honour roll, the De Bortoli Black Noble – Barrel Aged 10 Years Old. As it says on the bottle, “Blended by Darren De Bortoli from barrel aged Botrytis Semillon”. Quite possibly a unique wine that is made from the same Botrytis Semillon that is used for the Noble One, but in this case after a short time the fermentation is stopped by the addition of pure grape spirit. The wine is then matured for an average of ten years in old Noble One oak barrels, so as to produce this awesome dessert wine.

What a smashing wine! It is almost black in colour, has an amazing array of aromas – raisins, coffee, chocolate, Christmas pudding and toffee. Oh yum! Some of my all-time, favouritest things!! On the palate it explodes with a multitude of delightful flavours with lovely rancio characters, a hint of anise, plenty of dark chocolate and toffee. It has great depth, structure and balance with perfect acidity so that while sweet it does not cloy and leaves the palate pleading for more.

While I prefer to sip it on its own, it would go superbly with either aged, crumbly cheese or quality chocolate.

This wine is one of life’s great treats and I think that you owe it to yourself to experience it. Go to and check it out or ask your favourite retailer if they have it. You will not be disappointed. Cheers!