Hatten Wines is the pioneer of Balinese wine. The winery was established in 1994 and the vineyards, around 35ha in total and expanding, are located in Singaraja, northeast of Bali where it is the driest. At the beginning, Hatten only made Rosé (still and later a sparkling) from local table grape Alphonse-Lavallée of French origin. Only after the 100th harvest in 2001 then Hatten its portfolio using local grapes including the near extinct Probolinggo Biru, and Belgia in the Muscat family. The portfolio now has seven wines: sparkling made in traditional method (white Tunjung and rosé Jepun), dry Aga white, semi-sweet Alexandria white, semi-sweet Rosé, light Aga Red, and solera-aged fortified wine Pino de Bali.
Sababay Winery, the second oldest Balinese winery, was born in 2010 out of the urge to help local grapegrowers after Mrs Mulyati Gozali visited their farms. Set up in a cooperative framework, about 300 farmers provided local grapes Muscat St Vallier and Alphonse-Lavallée from some 80ha of vineyard in the north to make seven wines: White Velvet from 100% Muscat St Vallier (aka Belgia), Pink Blossom Rosé, reds Black Velvet and Reserve Red, Moscato d’Bali, semi-sweet Ludisia and ruby port style Masscetti. Probably of its close involvement with the farming community, Eva Gozali, daughter and CEO, is super-excited that Sababay has been invited to partner with Wonderful Bali, the tourism body, to promote the island/country.
Isola Wine by Cantine-Balita, an Indonesia-Italy partnership, soon joined the duo in 2012. In addition to Muscat St Vallier and Alphonse-Lavallée, the winery also grows Malvasia Nera and some Syrah. At the moment, only three wines are made: Isola white (Moscato), Isola Rosé and Isola Red.
Cape Discovery explained that on one hand there are surplus grapes in some wine producing countries and on another hand, there are emerging countries that are asking for reasonably priced quality wine. What he does is to bring these two sides together. Cape Discovery imports frozen musts and clarified juice from vineyards in West Australia, the US and New Zealand and make wine on demand. Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition. As a matter of fact, Hatten Wine also has a second label called Two Islands where wines are made from imported Australian juice.
Plaga Wine is another producer taking advantage of the much lower import duty of non-alcohol raw materials to make wine in Bali. Headed by a spanish speaking team including marketer Juan Diaz from Chile, winemakers Plabo Gonzalez from Argentina and Jordi Moreno from Spain, the company imports both grape concentrate and juice from Central Valley in Chile, Sicily in Italy, and La Mancha in Spain with on-the-ground quality control at harvest. Plaga’s primary target is young Indonesian and the retail price is in par with locally grown wine. In the true Latin spirit, their message
There will always be debate about making wine using grapes from third countries. However, grapes are often transported from across regions to the cellars for processing. Transporting musts and juice in frozen state should in theory preserve the quality (and some may even argue preserving terroir). Urban wineries where grapes are sourced often from different countries are sprouting in metropolitan cities such as London, Sydney, Vancouver and Washington’ and we have our own Urban Project in
After discussing with the winemakers, observing the local market and trying all the wines, I can only respect these Balinese wineries and what they are doing. Like other Asian countries, Indonesia has not developed wine culture yet and imported wine is largely beyond the reach of average consumers. However, these should not stop curious locals to taste and enjoy wine without feeling intimidated. Alphonse-Lavallée or Belgia may not be mainstream wine but so be it if Indonesian like them. If wine made from imported raw materials is as good as wine made from
Where to buy in Hong Kong:
Hatten Wines: Vines and Terroirs (available at Hotel ICON and The Peninsula)
Sababay Wine: Whole Green Peonies