The Wine Guy Eddie McDougall: Balmy Balinese wines

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With a large part of its population made up of Muslims who practice halal, it’s hard to believe that Indonesia produces any wine at all. Alcohol is highly regulated, making it difficult to access wines of value or quality, especially those that are imported. The right to sell or produce alcohol is subject to high taxes and requires special licences that are fairly difficult

to obtain. For those with a licence to produce and sell alcohol, though, the advantages are significant as local competition is limited and imported wines are priced at a king’s ransom.
In 1994, the first commercial vineyard in Indonesia was established in the popular tourist hotspot of Bali. The grape varietals planted in Bali are indigenous to Indonesia’s island of Java and have the ability to yield and be harvested up to three times a year. Compared to traditional viticultural areas, that’s a lot! Often premium vineyards are lucky to yield once a year depending on the forces of Mother Nature and, as many of us winos know, ‘less is always more’ when we talk about quality.

Climatically, Indonesia is hot, wet, humid and overtly fertile, which is hard for the production of wine grapes. Using classic varietals like cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, chardonnay and so forth doesn’t work. Not only do traditional wine grapes struggle, modern viticultural practices also can’t simply be applied to vine management. As a result, vineyard owners must apply the pergola trellising system, which is better for avoiding sunburnt grapes, provides the vines with better photosynthesis and reduces the pressure from the harvest by disease and mould.

When it comes to winemaking, it happens all year round here at the Emerald of the Equator because the vineyards yield so regularly. The winemakers don’t get much sleep but they sure get plenty of practice. When it comes to styles, the winemakers of Bali are extremely experimental and have plenty of options to explore the unexplored. From the recent tastings I’ve had the pleasure of attending, I can vouch that it is the sparkling and fortified wines that have the most potential to be benchmarked against international counterparts.

Main grapes

Red: Alphonse lavallée.
White: Belgia, probolinggo.
                                                           
Wine recommendations
Hatten Wines, Pino di Bali NV (fortified): This dessert wine has notes of dried pear and apricot, as well as nutty tones with hints
of chocolate and coffee. Pair this
with a rhubarb crumble and
vanilla ice cream. $210.
Hatten Wines, Tunjung Sparkling NV: This fresh sparkling wine is light and refreshing with aromas of citrus and flowers. Drink it with smoked salmon and free-range poached eggs. $180.
Both wines are available at The Flying Winemaker, 604-605 Yu Yuet Lai Bldg, 43-55 Wyndham St, Central, 2522 2187; flyingwinemaker.asia.

Follow Eddie on Instagram @theflyingwinemaker

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