2019 Wrap Up

December 13, 2019

This is the last Blog for the year so we would like to wish you and yours a very Merry and safe Christmas. We hope that 2020 (the Year of the Rat) will be a fabulous year for you, both personally and in the wine business, full of joy with a minimum of disappointments. Although that might be a bit more challenging than usual with most of the “world leaders” behaving like spoilt children/brats.

2019 was a mixed year for us, flat out in parts and almost idle at other times, the old “feast or famine” scenario.

Amongst the positives for the year is that:

►We have now added Vietnam to the list of countries that we have shipped client’s wines to.

►Along the way, I visited the Loire Valley in April, and tried many of their excellent wines.

►Then in May, I attended the first World Bulk Wine Exhibition Asia (WBWEA) in Yantai, China, which was an eye-opening experience.

►And just recently I was one of the 25 international judges at the 11th WBWE in Amsterdam, where I got to taste some sensational wines that are all sold in bulk.

►Incidentally, this is my 500th Wine Blog!!

So far this year (with only a couple of weeks to go), I have tasted/reviewed 1,921 wines, out of which, as in past years, here are my Top 20 wines tasted over the course of the year.

My favourite (No question!) was the Morris of Rutherglen 1969 Durif. At 50-years-old it was still powering along with masses of brilliant, complex flavours and heaps of life still in it. Such a shame it was the last bottle!

From here on in they are in no particular order:

►Monsigny NV Champagne (France) – Aldi

►Patritti Wines 2008 Saperavi (Barossa) – The first vintage released.

►Bream Creek 2017 Chardonnay (Tasmania) – Always a cracker!

►Gapsted Wines NV Sparkling Saperavi (Alpine Valley) – Sensational!

►Rouge Homme 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra) – Unbelievably good at 34-years-old and with years to go!

►Kalleske CCCLXV 2018 Durif (Barossa) – A no oak head spinner –Awesome!

►D’Arenberg 2018 ‘The Hunjee Heartstring’ Montepulciano (McLaren Vale) – Bloody brilliant Aussie Monte!

►Bodegas Garzon 2018 Albarino Reserva (Uruguay) – Very classy!

►Robert Stein 2016 Riesling (Mudgee) – Multi-trophy winning stunner!

►Chateau Montus 2001 Madiran (France) – Just peaking now.

►Pirramimma 2004 Tannat (McLaren Vale) – Silky-smooth.

►Yangarra 2016 ‘High Sands’ Grenache (McLaren Vale) – Truly awesome!

►Landaire 2017 Chardonnay (Padthaway) – Divine!

►Warrabilla 2018 Parolas Limited Release Durif (Rutherglen) – HUGE & divine!

►Chateau Latour 1973 1st Growth Bordeaux (in Magnum)

►Humis Vineyard 2017 Shiraz (Heathcote) – So cool!

►Cargo Road 2015 Zinfandel (Orange) – A ripper!

►Michelini 2016 Teroldego (Alpine Valley) – Exemplary!

►Seppelts 1939 Parra Port (Barossa) – An amazing 80-year-old!

We wish you all the best for the festive season and for 2020 (One-fifth of the way through this century – I can remember the countdown + the Y2K bug stress!! Can you?)  The Blog will recommence mid-January, providing I don’t OD on Christmas festivities.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all. Hope you enjoy some sensational wines over the festive season, from wherever they come from (but preferably Australia)! Cheers!

This Week's Wine Review:

This week I am ending the year’s postings with a tribute to Georgia’s heroic and historic red variety, Saperavi. I have been a fan of Saperavi since I first tasted it around a decade ago when I tried the Patritti Wines Saperavi 2008 – their first commercial release. At the time there were only a handful of producers making it here in Australia. I have since tasted a raft of Georgian Saperavi and even some Moldova ones and they have all been good wines.

The great thing about this BIG, BOLD, red variety is the inherent consistency in the structure and flavour of the wines. The Georgians are lighter bodied and more elegant as they use little or no oak, whereas some of the Aussies use plenty of rich vanillin oak. However, that aside the basic characters of the wines are very comparable making it a reliable, trustworthy variety for those who like it.

On November 2nd, the first Australian Saperavi Festival was held in McLaren Vale at Hugh Hamilton Wines. The wineries represented at the Festival were:

►Anderson Winery from Rutherglen Victoria, showcasing there “Cellar Block” Saperavi 2014, resplendent with a trophy, three gold medals and a silver medal – it was a magnificent, super smooth, rich Saperavi.

The other wine that was on taste was their current release Anderson Verrier Basket Press Saperavi 2015, with a gold and two silver medals – Whilst tighter and more restrained than its elder brother it was a great expression of the variety which will evolve magnificently.

►Billy Button wines from Alpine Valleys, Victoria, who had their 2018 “The Squid” Saperavi on taste – Smashing, softer and more elegant in style, this wine was closer to the Georgian style than the Aussie Saperavi.

►Clay pot Wines from Heathcote Victoria with their Pandora’s Amphora Saperavi 2014 – This is the other side to the Billy Button operation and was also made in an amphora, in the traditional Georgian style. A bit “out of left field” yet a very interesting wine.

►Clovely Estate from South Burnett, Queensland – CLOVELY ESTATE SAPERAVI 2016 – This classy wine was open fermented, basket pressed, then matured in 40/60 new/old oak- not fined, a very elegant and svelte expression of the variety. Evolving superbly.

►Ridgemill Estate from Granite Belt, Queensland – ‘The Csar’ Saperavi 2017 – A complex, dark, big Aussie style of Saperavi with years of life ahead of it.

►Berg Herring Wines in McLaren Vale, with their 2018 Saperavi / Barbera blend – Probably the only such blend in the world, but one that should be encouraged as it works bloody brilliantly – such an exciting wine!!

►Hugh Hamilton Wines from McLaren Vale – The hosts were showing their “Oddball” Saperavi 2016 – rated at 94 by Halliday and also their 2017 ‘Black Ops’ which is a Shiraz / Saperavi blend where the Saperavi is used to add a bit of oomph, to the Shiraz and make it a bigger, bolder, brighter wine.

►Patritti Wines, Barossa Saperavi 2017 – Not quite as humungous as the early vintages (2008 & 2009) as they have backed off the oak a tad – still huge, smooth, round and superbly tasty – A cracker wine!

Thank you for this great exercise Hugh Hamilton Wines! It allowed us to see the progress of this exciting variety here in Australia. Each and every wine was excellent, had its own unique character but still had the underlying structure and flavour profile that is inherent in SaperavI. Proving that this is a very consistent variety which will please consumers, after the, ‘hit & miss’, in style of many other emerging varieties, such as Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio.

I sincerely hope that this becomes an annual event and that more producers participate in it, as these wines show cased that Saperavi is an exciting, big, red variety with an enormous potential future in front of it.

Do yourself a favour and try a Saperavi soon! Very soon!!