News items from Asian based people and organisations
Early days with Frank making the first Protero Wines for China
Highbank just back from China touring with the ‘Savour Australia’ Wine Australia Grand Tasting Roadshow to the cities of Xi’an, Dalian, Nanjing, and Guangzhou. Only 8 of 22 wineries from Coonawarra participated in presenting a special regional showing of our unique quality of Cabernet Sauvignon to the Chinese enthusiast. Highbank was definitely a STAR.
On a recent marketing trip through Asia, I conducted a tasting at the residence of Dr NK Yong, doyen of the Singapore wine scene and wine columnist for the Singapore Business Times. He is largely responsible for inspiring thirst and the evolution of the fine wine market in Singapore.
Also at the tasting was wine, food and travel writer and commentator, Curtis Marsh aka The Wandering Palate, who is also Singapore-based but with a global reach. Here is a link to two articles he wrote, the first compares Bordeaux and Coonawarra and the second is on Highbank
The wine universe is set to expand in the wake of the “Ultimate Parker in Asia Event” at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore. The Parker, of course, refers to the internationally respected wine critic, Robert Parker, and we are writing about it because Highbank was invited to participate – a grand honour indeed!
The focus of the event was a Grand Tasting, which was held on the 1st and 2nd of May 2010 with only 100 exclusive wineries (including Highbank of course) from around the world being invited to represent their distinctive Terroirs.
Why was this so important to be part of?
Because the participants were 1500 to 2000 fine wine drinkers including wine writers, critics and buyers from around South East Asia.
Robert Parker attended, as expected, to partake in a book signing event as well as to feast his senses claiming, “no one on this planet will be drinking and eating better than we will be.”
Highbank’s winemaker Dennis Vice chaired the Cabernet Sauvignon Master Class at this international event, pictured right, and then conducted a personal tasting.
Our Coonawarra wines were handsomely benchmarked against wines from France (Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy), Italy, California and other significant world wine players – all working hard to excel in one of the worlds important wine markets.
Some of the participating wineries were: Chateau Angelus, Chateau Brane Cantenac, Chateau Lagrange, Chateau Beychevelle, Chateau Malescot, Chateau Beauregard, Chateau Angelus, Chateau Cos D’estournel, Chateau Haut Brion, Cheateu Fieuzal, Domaine de Chevalier, Krug, Bollinger, and Chateau Peti VIllages.
Some other Antipodean makers were there with Mosswood, Brokenwood, Highbank, Parker Estate, Siro Pacenti, Tobreck Felton Road, Suidurant, Chateau Pichon Baron, Churton, Fontodi, Peccavi, Seresin Estate, Kooyong, Bass Philip, Grosset, Kumeu River, Yalumba, Capannelle, Domaine Serene, Meerlust, Domaine Trimbach, and many others
Highbank Wines has been invited to take part in a prestigious wine event in Singapore in May 2010 and I am particularly looking forward to conducting personal tastings at the “special venue” being made available to each of the selected wineries.
The event is the “Ultimate Parker in Asia” event, which of course is a direct reference to internationally respected wine critic, Robert Parker. It is being sponsored by Hermitage, a fine wine distributorship in Singapore, and is being held at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore.
The Grand Tasting will be held on the 1st and 2nd of May with only 100 exclusive wineries (Highbank has been invited) from around the world being invited to represent their distinctive Terroirs.
To me, this is a welcome acknowledgement of our particular winemaking techniques and unyielding focus on accentuating the terroir of our patch of succulent, red, Terra Rosa soil in the Coonawarra.
France (Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy), Italy, California and other significant world wine players are making a big effort at this event to showcase their wines in what is becoming one of the worlds important wine markets.
I have been told that 1500 to 2000 fine wine drinkers including wine writers, critics and buyers from around South East Asia will attend with Parker conducting a book signing as part of this event.
Parker’s tasting team for Asia, New Zealand and Australia will review the participating wines for their world reviews and there is much interest in the pre-event tasting by e-Parker team taster Lisa Perotti-Brown, Master of Wine.
Media Group SPH (Singapore Press Holdings) the Sunday Times will be an associated sponsor of the event.
For the Japanese tourist, Australia is that country where to go on holidays on the South Hemisphere. A country where the nature is splendid and any gourmet will be delighted by food. This is in such a place that some people are making wine in Bordeaux style. At the South of Australia, in Coonawarra area, is Denis Vice is running “Highbank Vineyards”.
“This is organic. With organic methods you respect the natural environment. I believe in producing good wines from the nature. I think of myself as a gardener. Because I don’t want to grow more than 8 tufts on each vine-plant. This is how I increase the fruit concentration of the grapes. You know, it takes us 3 months and a half only to cut branches and tufts.”
I wonder when Denis Vice started to think about organic cultivation.
“In any country, not only in wine, but also in food, chemicals are added to food. This is something I can’t accept. Until we obtained the approval for permanent residence in Australia, I practiced organic culture at my wife’s parents’ home in Hawai where macadamia nuts are grown. ‘This is it’, is what I thought that time”.
What about the products on the market today?
“First ‘Basket Press’ and then ‘Limestone’. In Japan, you can only find these two wines. I am thinking about introducing Merlot and Pinot Noir in future. Because recently, I bought a new vineyard close to Adelaide, which has the same Terra Rossa soil. In that area, Chardonnay and Viognier are planted.”
Is Basket Press’ grape variety Cabernet only?
“No, it is blended with 20% of Merlot and 5% of Cabernet Franc. We are extracting only the best juice by pressing slowly the grapes with a basket press. We are using French oak barrels and do everything we can to preserve the original taste of the grapes”.
“When you come to Australia, you have to visit Highbank. I’m sure you won’t regret that trip!”
Highbank wine “Coonawarra Basket Press” is made of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc (7000 yen/Vintners). Extremely complex structure with soft and delicate acidity and tannins. Long length.（92 points, now to 2015)
Highbank vineyards are located on the central hill of Coonawarra’s highest terroir, this is why this top quality wine is different from other Australian wines.
Coonawarra is not only that land famous for its name, it is also the place where people made a move towards to obtain Coonawarra appellation for top quality wines. This is only at the top of the hill that you will find the best soil, limestone covered by a thin layer (20 cm) of Terra Rossa.
Denis Vice couldn’t imagine making wine anywhere else than on the best spot.
Three methods are used jointly: Scott henri’s, VSP and Double Canopy. Denis Vice has a keen interest in cultivation.
This is why the yield is very low: « usually, you get 6 tons per hectare. We are producing 1.5 ton per hectare ». I guess this is why this wine is so different from others.
Winart September 2002 By Tanaka Katsuyuki