Dan's Blog


Friday, December 07, 2018

I have just got back from attending the 2018 World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) in Amsterdam and whilst I am writing an article for WBM magazine about the exhibition, I thought I would mention here some of the interesting highlights, as this was a sensational event.

It kicked off on the Sunday mid-morning with twenty-five wine industry professionals for eighteen different countries judging the entries into the competition. We were divided into five groups of five. The group I was in consisted of a Frenchman (oenologist), two Dutch ladies (a viticulturist and a journalist), an Argentine lady (wine consultant) and myself. For the first time we used iPads to score the wines, with the results going through to the panel Chairperson’s iPad for collation. At first it was a bit of a struggle, until we got accustomed to using the iPad and then it became simpler, more accurate and faster than the old manual system.  Who says that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

The next day, on the Monday the exhibition itself kicked off with the presentation of medals for the wines that we had judged the day before.

There were a number of seminars over the two days of the event as well as wine blending workshops which showed what steps can be taken to enhance bulk wine by blending prior to bottling.

For me, one of the most interesting things was the fact that our judging panel’s Chairperson had established her own vineyard, using only three hybrid grape varieties (which names I can’t recall) so as to produce sparkling wine from 2020 onwards. In the ensuing discussions I found out that there is a small but growing/thriving wine industry in the Netherlands. (I can feel a future article coming on!) She very kindly organised to get some samples brought in the next day, but unfortunately we did not manage to hook up and so I missed out trying them.

With so many wines available to taste at the WBWE, I decided to start by tasting the wines of Uruguay and they were excellent! I had also organised for the representative of INAVI (Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura, Uruguay) to bring three sample bottles of Tannat to Amsterdam, so that I could include them in the Tannat tasting I will be doing for an article in WBM. Alas, he said that the bottles got broken in transit. Maybe next time!

Next, at the urging of my friend, Wanda Augustyn, editor of South Africa’s Wineland Magazine, I visited some of the eleven South African stands. Their wines were very good and the one that really stood out for me was the “Eagles Cliff” Arendskloof 2016 Petit Syrah (Durif) which had deservedly won a double-gold. This was a world-class wine with plenty of oomph and yet was silky-smooth and sophisticated.

In the limited time available between seminars I checked out the wines of Moldova, Romania and Macedonia, as their wines are not really available here in Australia. My general comments are that their wines made from “mainstream” varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, are nothing to get excited about. However, their wines made from “native” varieties such as Rkatsiteli, Feteasca Alba and Feteasca Neagra are a lot more interesting as they have some attractive individual characters.

Australia was represented by nine exhibitors (well, eight really, as the Ciatti stand was world-wide but included Aussie wines). This was up from the five exhibitors that were there last year. Our lot consisted of Austwine, CW wines, Kingston Estate, LCW (their Chardonnay and Sav Blanc both won gold medals – I think Australia’s first for white wine in the 10 years of WBWE), Qualia Wines, Salena Estate, South Australian Wine Group and Winegrapes Australia.

Another great feature of the WBWE is that it has a “silent tasting room” available to the attendees, where all the wines being exhibited are lined up by variety so that attendees can taste the wines without any salesmen being there to cajole/pester them. It is a great way to see the differences in the same variety being produced in different regions and countries.

In exciting news, the organisers announced that WBWE is coming to China at the end of May 2019, which should be massive and so much closer to home.

Have a great week and keep on trying new wines from all over the world. Cheers!