Dan's Blog


Friday, August 04, 2017

This week’s Blog covers a one of a kind, new and exciting wine show. More on cork vs screwcap effects overseas in Germany and France. But more topically, the issue of wine tourism in Australia and the need for wineries to get on board.

SAPERAVI:  Regular readers of my blog will know that for some time now I have been banging on about what a great Emerging (alternative) variety Saperavi is. Check out my article Saperavi the Sensational in the March/April 2017 edition of WBM. Well it turns out that Hvino News, the official publication on Georgian Wines (the home of Saperavi) has become interested in what the rest of the world is doing with their variety.

Therefore, they have launched a global Saperavi competition called “SapPrize” – short for “Saperavi World Prize”, in which they encourage Saperavi producers from around the world to enter (for free). These wines will be judged in Georgia, against other non-Georgian Saperavi by a panel of five international wine judges. How clever is that! They get to see what winemakers around the world are doing with their variety, whilst the winemakers get to benchmark themselves against all the other ‘newbies’ in Saperaviland. 

They have received entries from Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, the USA, New Zealand and of course Australia. From what I understand, every Saperavi producer in this country has entered this competition. It will be very interesting to see, in due course, how they fare.


ALMOST TOTALLY SCREWED:  Franconia is a region in Germany, to the north of Bavaria. Eighty percent of the wines they produce in the area are white wines, and almost all of them are sealed under screwcap. Around the same proportion of their red wines are under screwcap as well.

Like us, they had terrible trouble with crappy (tainted) corks at the turn of the century. So, for the next few years much of their wine was sealed under synthetic corks, before they adopted screwcaps.

Most of their wine is consumed locally and so the local wine industry conducted a campaign, including brochures, informing their customers of the failings of cork. As a result their consumers accepted the change and now their wines are almost totally screwed.

ALSACE:  Is another area in Europe where some producers are turning to screwcaps for many of their white wines, with the aromatic and textural Gewürztraminer seeming to be an exception.

At the same time their production of red wine (10% of the region’s output) is slowly rising thanks to global warming. As the climate starts to warm up, more growers are considering increasing their plantings of Pinot Noir and some are considering planting it for the first time.

FRANCE:  The French output of wine is tipped to drop by 850 million litres of wine due to their spate of bad weather (especially hail) which has battered many of their famous wine growing areas such as Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Can you imagine how much wine that actually is? Well, it turns out that this loss is equivalent to around 60-65% of Australia’s annual production.

The numbers are mind blowing! Their loss of 20% (roughly) of their production is the same as 65% of our total production. A scary thought. Some pundits are labelling it a “historically low vintage” which to me seems very unlikely given how far back French wine records go.  But it is certainly disastrous for those affected, especially with some vineyards recording almost 100% loss of fruit.

WINE TOURISM:  I recently read somewhere that on average 40% of all wine is consumed outside of the country it was made in. The impact of this is that now more than ever, having a focus on tourism is becoming vital for successful wineries.

The days when “wine tourists” meant people from your capital city plus a few from interstate are well and truly gone. Today, you are just as likely to get somebody visiting from overseas as you are to get somebody visiting from interstate.

Think about it for a minute and then ask yourself: How foreigner-friendly is my cellar door/winery?

Given the massive and growing influx of Chinese tourists, can you name a winery, let alone a wine district, that has signs and information in Chinese? Sorry, but I can't think of any. Not even the ones that are within easy reach of our capital cities. Please drop me a line if you know of any, as I would be very interested.

Imagine if you were travelling to a wine region overseas and nobody (well almost nobody) spoke English and there were no signs in English. How hard would it be to get around and have an enjoyable stay?

Come on people! If we want to participate in the massive expansion of Chinese tourism, we need to lift our game and make it easier for them to visit and spend their money. Consider this: If there are 50 cellar doors in your region and only five to eight have signs in Chinese, and then say only one or two have Chinese speaking staff, who do you think is going to get the lion’s share of the tourism trade?

In 2003, people laughed at me when I enthused about selling wine to China – having just sold three containers over there. How much wine do we sell to China today?

So the Chinese are coming. You can lead and reap the rewards or you can have a chuckle now that this is a silly notion and miss out, whilst others in your district act. So what’s it to be?


As happens from time to time, this week’s review is about a winery rather than a single wine. In this case the Adelaide Hill’s, Shaw + Smith Wines.

Recently, I attended the launch of the Shaw + Smith 2017 Sauvignon Blanc at the sensational Concubine Chinese Restaurant just near the Adelaide Central Markets.

Listening to Martin Shaw explain the vintage conditions, the fact that vintage was 4-6 weeks later than usual, the multiple crop thinning so as to ensure  ripeness and quality, made me reflect on exactly how much more effort is involved in making premium wines, as opposed to commercial wines.

The wine itself was excellent, with great aromatics that weren’t OTT (as are so many Southern Hemisphere Sav Blanc), some passionfruit but not too much, with hints of snow peas. On the palate it had lovely crispness and great balance with a bright, crisp finish.  A very classy wine indeed!

The other wines which accompanied the delightful meal were:

Shaw + Smith MC5 Chardonnay 2015:  This was their 16th vintage from one of the best vintages that they have experienced so far, and it showed in this cracker of a wine. It was the epitome of a cool-climate chardonnay – crisp, smooth, rich, mouth-filling and thoroughly divine. A superstar Chardy!


Shaw + Smith Pinot Noir 2015:  This is a sexy and alluring Pinot, with a delicate perfume that lures you in, and a flavour that beguiles the senses, before a crisp, tight finish that readies the palate for more sensual delight. Outstanding!


Shaw + Smith Shiraz 2015:  Again from the outstanding 2015 vintage, this wine benefited from the long, cool vintage and the 50% whole bunch ferment it underwent. Dainty is not a word one usually uses in relation to Shiraz, but this wine is dainty, elegant and svelte. It has teasing aromas, a divine palate full of bright, smooth flavours with just a smidge of spice and a tight, grippy finish that demands food as an accompaniment, or patience while it sits in the bottle and rounds out over time.


Thanks Martin and Co for a smashing lunch, and the opportunity to try your classy Adelaide Hills wines.

If you would like to learn more about these wines, please take the opportunity to visit: