Friday, November 25, 2016
Last week I wrote the first part about my visit to the Hong Kong International Wine Fair (HKIWF) and mentioned some of the European countries that we do not normally associate with wine. This time we will be looking at Asian countries that, surprisingly, make wine – some of which are pretty darn good!
Starting with JAPAN, this year there were less grape wines and more rice wines – Saké on show from Japan. However, my friends from Chateau Mercian, which I visited mid-last year (see Winestate Magazine Sept-Oct 2015 edition) were there with their sensational Koshu (an excellent Japanese native white variety) as well as their “classical” European varietal wines. Alas due to limited supply and significant demand their absolutely stunning, world-class, Sparkling Koshu, was not present.
Next, was INDIA which this year was represented by both Grover Zampa Wines and York Wines. Whilst I have tried the wines of Grover Zampa on previous occasions, I had not come across York Wines before. I found out that the name did not have any English connection (as I had presumed), but rather were the initials of the siblings involved in the venture. Their York Sparkling Cuvee Brut, a “methode traditional” sparkling wine is made from Chenin Blanc, a variety that is very misappreciated and underrated here in Australia. It was very refined, delicious and classy, having spent 18 months on lees and with 50% having undergone malolactic fermentation. The York 2016 Chenin Blanc which was partially barrel aged, was much more like a Loire wine – svelte with great balance and more complexity than an Aussie-style of Chenin. Their flagship ARROS 2013 Shiraz/Cabernet was a classy, rich wine that would not be out of place in a lineup of similar Aussie wines. It was also interesting to see another country’s winemakers making the traditional Australian blend of Shiraz and Cabernet.
Likewise, the Grover Zampa wines were pretty classy. The Zampa Soiree Brut 2014, made from 100% Chenin Blanc filled the mouth with lovely zesty flavours. Then the Zampa La Reserve 2015 white, with 90% Viognier and 10% Sauvignon Blanc and barrel fermented, was awesomely creamy and moreish. The Vijay Amritraj (named after the famous Indian cricketer) Reserve Red 2014, a Cabernet Sauvignon with 3% Viognier included was superb and a wine that will cellar well for quite some time.
THAILAND was again represented by the charming crew from GranMonte, of whose Adelaide Uni taught winemaker, Nikki Lohitnavy, makes very impressive wines at her family winery. The GranMonte 2015 Verdelho was a scrumptious, full-bodied Verdelho that could give quite a few Hunter Verdelho’s a run for their money. Likewise, the GranMonte 2014 The Orient Syrah was a very appealing, medium-bodied, wine with hints of spice and pepper, made from their oldest vines. The grapes are macerated for one and a half months, fermented and then matured in 80% new oak barrels. So yummy, truly outstanding!
However, their crowning glory was the GranMonte 2014 Durif – Yes, Durif grown in Thailand! It was an excellent medium-bodied wine which was oozing Durif varietal flavour and was similar
in style to the De Bortoli Deen Vat 1 Durif – eminently drinkable! So if you go holidaying/travelling in Thailand, seek out the wines of GranMonte www.granmonte.com – you will be rewarded.
At the BALI stand I met James Kalleske from Hatten Wines who kicked-off with their medal-winning (CWSA & Decanter Asia) Hatten Tunjung N/V “methode traditionelle” sparkling wine, which is made from a variety called probolingo biru. It has lovely floral and citrus peel characters and is slightly reminiscent of a traminer but more gentle and elegant. The Hatten AGA White is a delicious dry white that has fruity, citrus flavours. Their “just because we can” awesome gold medal and trophy wining wine is the Hatten “Pino de Bali” fortified, made in the “Pineau des Charentes” style, from both white and rosé grapes. This wine is fortified with brandy and matured for five years in a solera system before bottling – Bloody Brilliant is all I can say. So when heading to Bali check out www.hattenwines.com
Finally, let’s conclude this quick whip around the world with a country on the cusp of the old wine world and the new world wine, TURKEY, which straddles Europe and Asia. Since I wrote the article about Turkish wines (“Turkish Delight” – WBM August 2013), the increasingly anti-secular government of President Recep Erdogan, has made it very difficult for Turkey’s winemakers to promote their wines, by making it illegal to advertise wine in any shape or form. It is illegal to put up a road-side sign showing where your cellar door is, as it is to promote any medal wins that your wines have scored. The only form of advertising that they can’t stop is, “word of mouth”. Which is why it was so pleasing to see the wines of Kutman Winery & Vineyards at the HKIWF. Their Adnan Kutman Kalecik Karasi 2013 was a very elegant, lighter to medium-bodied red that was delicious and reminiscent of a Pinot Noir. Likewise with their Adnan Kutman Okuzgozu & Bogaskere 2013 which had slightly bigger body and a bit more depth. They also had an interesting range of fruit infused wines.
There you have it, a quick whip around some of the lesser known wine producing countries. There are tens of thousands of wineries across the planet and many of the wines are best described as “ordinary”. However, as a general rule these days, if somebody makes the effort to import a wine into the country, it is quite likely to be tasty and interesting and therefore worth a try – such as for example, the Brazilian Chardonnay I tried in Canberra a couple of years ago. This is the main role of the HKIWF, to connect quality wineries with inquisitive and interested buyers from around the globe.
So if you are contemplating selling your wines in Asia, there is no better forum to expose them in than the Hong Kong International Wine Fair. Maybe I’ll see you there next year!
In the meantime I say: please do not discount wines just because they come from a country that you didn’t know made wine. Try them and judge for yourself. Yes, you will come across the occasional “dud” but you will also experience some really interesting wines that will broaden your vinous
Dan Traucki- J.P., MWCC
Freelance Wine Journalist
Wine Assist Pty Ltd
P.O. Box 1050
Morphett Vale S.A.5162
Ph/Fax: +61 8 8382 4920
Mob/Cell: +61408 801 795
Justice of the Peace in the State of South Australia
MWCC- Pentavini (500) Member Wine Century Club.