Wine Articles IX
|Wine Articles IX|
|6 Feb 2013|
|November 14, 2012|
Austria 2012 vintage: 'small, but high-quality'
Decanter- 8 March 2013
Austria's frost-affected 2012 vintage promises good quality wines across the board - but supplies of the country's flagship Gruner Veltliner are much reduced.
According to the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB), the harvest produced 2.15m hectolitres of wine, well below the long-term average, thanks to a freak late frost in May.
This caused heavy damage in the Pulkautal (Weinviertel) area, as well as parts of Kamptal and Kremstal, inflicting ‘significant harvest losses’ on Grüner Veltliner in particular.
However, the AWMB said ‘beautiful dry weather’ at the end of the growing season and throughout the main harvest period ensured the overall quality for red and white wines was ‘very high’.
‘For the third time in four years – specifically 2012, 2011 and 2009 – the yields in all red wine areas and of all red varieties were of outstanding quality,’ the board said.
Red wines were ‘more compact and vigorous’ than in 2011, but there was ‘no question’ about their ageability.
Among the whites, Grüner Veltliner was already showing ‘very good to excellent’ results, but some Rieslings were still a little reserved as the winter drew to a close.
‘The total volume for Austria’s 2012 wine harvest is significantly lower than the long-term average, but it is much better than had been anticipated,’ said AWMB managing director Willi Klinger.
‘However, the decline has particularly affected our flagship Grüner Veltliner, whose quantities in the Veltliner strongholds of Niederösterreich are rather scarce.
‘But we are very happy the harvest provided fully ripened grapes that resulted in strong but very well-balanced wines and an outstanding red wine vintage.’
China’s Wine Market Bubbles, but Not with Champagne
Wall Street Journal – 8 March 2013
The West may toast birthdays and weddings with Champagne, but China still hasn’t found a taste for the bubbly, a new study finds.
China, including Hong Kong, is the world’s fifth-largest wine market, and its thirst for wine is on the rise, according to the report released by wine-trade fair Vinexpo and compiled by International Wine & Spirit Research. Chinese drinkers consumed 159.3 million 9-liter cases of wine in 2011, representing a 142% increase from 2007. What’s more, the IWSR forecasts growth to increase by another 40% over the next three years.
Of all those bottles, 99.5% were red, white or rose wines. That means just 0.5% — or one out of 200 bottles – contained bubbles. “The Chinese ignore the sparkling wines right now,” said Robert Beynat, chief executive of Vinexpo, in an interview in Hong Kong.
To compare, 7% of all the wine consumed in the world in 2011 was sparkling, and the category is set to increase another 9% by 2016. Global consumption of non-sparkling wines, on the other hand, is predicted to increase by just 5% over the same period.
According to Mr. Beynat, Chinese consumers have yet to discover sparkling wines such as Champagne, Cava and Prosecco, mainly because of a lack of marketing in the mainland. He predicts that the major Champagne brands such as Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Taittinger will lead a breakthrough in coming years.
“It starts with Champagne,” he said. “The Chinese will start to drink it as an aperitif first, then will move on to other sparkling wines.”
Bubbles or no, China is still far behind the Western world in terms of per capita consumption. Chinese drinkers consumed only 1.4 liters of wine per person in 2011, way below French drinkers who ranked first by downing an average of 53.2 liters per person that year. China’s per capita consumption is predicted to increase to 2.1 liters per person over the next three years.
China is now the sixth-largest producer of wines in the world, higher than Australia and behind France, Italy, Spain, U.S. and Argentina. Mr. Beynat said domestic production is key to growing consumption within China.
“We all prefer products from our own countries,” he said. “Once [domestic Chinese vineyards] produce more, China will drink more, and then they’ll even import more.”
Western Australia's first 'ice wine'
Decanter 11 March 2013
While Western Australian winemakers have been sweltering in soaring heats, Margaret River winemaker Clive Otto from Fraser Gallop Estate has been working in freezing temperatures to create his own 'ice wine'.
Traditionally, ice wine is made in the cooler regions of central Europe and Canada from grapes that have been naturally frozen on the vine.
Otto is making a similar style of dessert wine by freezing late picked Chardonnay grapes overnight in a commercial freezer at -16C. The fruit, which was at 13.0º baume sugar levels prior to freezing, was then quickly pressed the following morning at a high pressure.
‘We were excited when we inserted a hydrometer into the juice and were getting sugar readings of 17º to 21.5º baume,’ Otto said.
While this ‘ice pressed’ wine has never before been produced in WA, it is not Otto’s first foray into dessert wines, having spent many vintages making Botrytis Riesling and Cane Cut Semillon while at Vasse Felix winery.
‘I heard about a Tasmanian producer who is making an ‘iced’ Riesling with cryo-extraction methods, so I decided to use Chardonnay as it is growing on our estate.
‘Margaret River Chardonnays are already internationally recognised, so I believe an ‘ice pressed Chardonnay’ will be a nice point of difference,’ he added.
Doubts surface over new Chianti classification
Decanter- 8 March 2013
Chianti Classico producers need to grab the opportunity of the appellation's 'Gran Selezione' top tier – or the new designation will remain an 'empty shell', they warn. Their comments come after the decision by the Chianti Classico Consorzio to introduce the new classification, above Riserva, later this year, starting with wines from the 2010 vintage.
Sebastiano Capponi of Villa Calcinaia, in Greve, told Decanter.com that the new category represents ‘an opportunity to make a wine with 100% proprietor’s grapes, linked to a winery and hopefully a specific vineyard’.
But he added: ‘If producers decide not to grab this opportunity, Gran Selezione will remain an empty shell.’
‘The new denomination should be based on the differences of the region, not on shortcuts that are an end in themselves,’ said Vittorio Fiore of Poggio Scalette, also in Greve.
‘The fact that many producers have chosen the IGT category for their top wines says a lot about the credibility of the DOCG.’
Tommaso Marrocchesi Marzi of Bibbiano in Castellina, however, is cautiously optimistic, saying: ‘I do not know if Gran Selezione will be a Gran Successo [success] or just a Gran Casino [big mess]; only time will tell.
‘However, it is the first true category in the appellation purposely made for estate-grown wines.’
Sergio Zingarelli, president of the Chianti Classico Consorzio, responded: ‘Gran Selezione will not create any confusion.
‘Rather, our aim – which we are certain we’ll achieve with this new type of Chianti Classico – is to give better order to our denomination and further valorise our territory’s excellent wines.’
Earlier this week, Berry Bros & Rudd Italian wine buyer David Berry Green dismissed Gran Selezione as ‘bureaucratic tinkering’ and ‘more of a whimper’.
In June 2012, when the new classificaiton was initially announed, Paolo De Marchi of Isola e Olena voiced concerns about the necessity of a new quality tier: 'People are already confused between Chianti and Chianti Classico. I don't really see the need for a new category unless it relates directly to wines of origin.'
Vega Sicilia to debut long-awaited Riojas
The Drinks business-1st March, 2013 by Lucy Shaw
A pair of long-awaited Riojas from the makers of Spain’s most highly-prized wine, Vega Sicilia, will debut in Europe next month.
Both made from 100% Tempranillo, Macan 2009 and second wine Macan Clasico 2009 are the fruits of a collaboration with Benjamin de Rothschild.
Rothschild and Vega Sicilia’s general manager Pablo Alvarez own 75 hectares of 30-40-year-old vineyards in the Rioja Alta village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra.
Named after the colloquial word for the inhabitants of the village, Macan will launch across Europe next month and will go on sale in the US in May.
The style of the wines is a midpoint between traditional Rioja and the riper, more concentrated “alta expresion” Riojas that have emerged more recently.
“The old wines need to evolve and the modern wines are too international and don’t really represent a great region like Rioja,” Alvarez told Wine Enthusiast.
“We are very excited about the quality of these wines; Rioja is the most important region in Spain and we want to add our grain of sand to a place this special,” he added.
The project began 13 years ago when a buyer acting on behalf of Vega and Rothschild snapped up 75 hectares of old-vine Tempranillo in Rioja Alta.
Vega Sicilia’s winemaker Xavier Ausas made experimental vintages from 2006-2008, choosing to debut with the 2009 vintage.
The Tempranillo grapes are fermented in wood and steel tanks, and then aged for 14 months in 60% new French oak.
Macan is expected to sell for around £45 a bottle, and Macan Clasico £25.
A winery building in Rioja Alta is under construction and will be ready next year.
Located in Ribera del Duero, Vega Sicilia has been owned by the Alvarez family since 1982.
Top wine Unico, made from around 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, is typically released 10 years after the vintage but some wines are kept back for up top 15 years.
Call for Japanese restaurants to support Koshu
Harpers, Written by Elinor Zuke 01 March 2013
Koshu of Japan UK director Lynne Sherriff MW has called for Japanese restaurants to do more to promote Japanese white wine in the UK. Speaking to Harpers at the fourth annual Koshu tasting last week, Sherriff said that Japanese people by nature were not pushy, and therefore prouder to present well-established wines like Sancerre in Japanese restaurants, rather than something that might not be accepted by westerners. But restaurants that sell Sake have no reason not to sell Koshu either, she said. At the tasting Koshu organisers paired up 12 wines with dishes from various cuisines including fish pie, smoked eel and lamb with cous cous. "We didn't want to get stuck with the idea that Koshu wines only go with sushi and sashimi," Sherriff said.
Production of Koshu wine has been stepped up since the 1990s when domestic demand for wine in Japan started to take off. The wines are light in style and naturally lower in alcohol. Sherriff said that Koshu would never reach the volumes required to become mainstream, but that she wanted it to become well known in the UK. In the off-trade Koshu varieties are sold by specialists including Selfridges, Hedonism Wines and the Sampler.
Koshu of Japan officially launched its first campaign to find a UK brand ambassador last week. The winner will be taken on a trip to Japan.
Imported wine sales in China grew by 7 % in 2012
Vitisphere -11 Feb 2013
According to the statistics of the Chinese Customs, in 2012, China imported 388 million liters of foreign wines (sparkling wines not included), up 7.3% compared to 2011. France, Spain, Australia, Chile and Italy are the five countries whose wines are the most imported into China.
Among them, the import of wines from Chile increased by nearly 40% compared to the previous year, while import sales of French wines grew by 9%, up to 130 million liters. In contrast, increases in other countries are more modest: Italy rose by 2.2% compared to 2011 with 30 million liters. Some even declined, such as Spain, with a drop in sales of 3.7% (71 million liters) and Australia -5% with 42 million liters.
Champagne co-op buys its UK distributor
1st March, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt
CVRC Champagne de Castelnau has bought its UK distributor Patriarche Wine Agencies in a deal signed on Tuesday. De Castelnau was already distributed by Patriarche Wine Agencies in the UK
The London-based agency business was a subsidiary of Patriarche Père et Fils, one of Burgundy’s largest merchants, which in turn is owned by wine giant Castel. Speaking to the drinks business this morning, Patriarche Wine Agencies’ general manager Keith Isaac MW said the move was “positive”. “Champagne de Castelnau is keen to invest in the UK, and wants to grow Champagne sales primarily in London,” he said.
As a result Isaac said the agency business would be looking to recruit two new sales people to help build the brand in the UK, which he has spent many years promoting single-handedly. “Castelnau is aware we need more feet on the pavement,” he said, adding, “I’m trying to do too much.”Isaac also told db that he believed the decision by Castel to sell the Patriarche subsidiary was part of a wider trend of brand owners and producers switching their resources to markets other than the UK.
“Castel as a group view the future as the Far East, South America, and Russia, and see the UK market as mature, and hard to make money in.” Continuing, he commented, “There are lots of wine companies who think that it’s hard to make money in the UK because there are too few buyers [controlling the market] and high taxes. They can probably make more money anywhere else, from Denmark to Japan.” Keith Isaac MW will remain as general manager of Patriarche Wine Agencies
Nevertheless, for Champagne de Castelnau, Isaac stressed that the UK still offered opportunities for profitable growth. “For Champagne, the UK is still by some way the biggest export market, so there is a logic to invest here.” Isaac stressed that the move would not lead to any redundancies, and that the company would continue to distribute Patriarche wines in the UK. “We will be keeping the agencies we have – we are just changing from being a Burgundy-owned company that sells Champagne to a Champagne-owned company that sells Burgundy.” Isaac also said that the UK business will retain its current name until at least the early summer.
Recording that the lease on their current office expires at the end of June, Isaac said that ideally he would like to change the agency’s name at the same time as moving office. “Our landlord wants the office back by the end of June, so if we can move and change our name at the same time, we will only have to change our letter heads and other stuff once,” he said, before commenting, “but that might be wishful thinking on my part.” Meanwhile, he pointed out that Champagne de Castelnau is investing in its exports division, and in November last year recruited former Bollinger employee Hervé Augustin, who is now export manager at de Castelnau.
Furthermore, in an attempt to build awareness for the brand in France, last year Champagne de Castelnau replaced Jacquart as the exclusive Champagne poured on the Tour de France. De Castelnau is owned by one of Champagne’s largest cooperatives, the Coopérative Regionale des Vins de Champagne (CRVC).
Surprise 100-pointers in Parker’s 2010 rankings
1st March, 2013 by Rupert Millar
Wine critic Robert Parker has scored 10 wines from the 2010 vintage 100 points in a surprise turnaround. Initially it was reported that only nine wines had secured 100 points and that one of them had never been awarded the “perfect” score before. Pichon-Longueville Baron and Vieux Château Certan were among the hotly tipped contenders to join the club.
The original 100-point wines were: Pétrus, Ausone, Lafite, Latour, Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion, l’Eglise Clinet, Beausejour (Duffau-Lagarosse) and Pontet-Canet. Of these, Pontet-Canet, Haut-Brion, Latour, Beausejour (Duffau Lagarrosse) and Pétrus secured their 100-point grades and were joined by Pape Clement, Le Dome, La Violette, Cheval Blanc and Le Pin. Lafite dropped down to 98 points, Ausone and Mouton Rothschild to 98+, La Mission Haut-Brion slipped to 96 and l’Eglise Clinet to 96+.
It was widely noted back to begin with that the number of potential 100-pointers was significantly lower than it had been in 2009 and that a number of that vintage’s stand out wines were not included in the high-rollers in 2010. These scores revise that analysis quite considerably. The surprise additions though are Le Dome (a Saint-Emilion producer of only 1,000 cases) and La Violette (a miniscule Pomerol estate). Initially scored 94-96 and 94-97 respectively, Parker praised Le Dome for being “ethereal in its elegance and finesse” and, “has extraordinary purity and richness as well as a blockbuster finish of close to a minute, yet is so flawless, seamless and compelling”.
La Violette meanwhile had “awesome aromatics” followed by a “quintessential elegance married to almost unbridled density of fruit, all presented in a flawless and seamless concoction of full-bodied power, elegance and purity.” It is, he continued, “one of the great classics” ever produced by the estate. Neither wine has ever been awarded 100 points, Le Dome received 99 points for its 2009 and La Violette 98.
Parker himself on his website declared 2010 to be a “very great vintage” but he did not think it “exceeded in overall quality the Bordeaux that was produced in 2009, 2005 or perhaps even 2000.” Nonetheless he said that it had “turned out” slightly better than 2000 and was at least “as impressive” as 2005.
He noted as well that the present tannins had “softened considerably” and while not as soft as 2009 were more typical of the “classic” vintages 2010 resembles.
Talking of prices, Parker acknowledged the high release prices but that he could not see prices softening “given the greatness of the vintage” but also conceded that the market place was “dull” and “anxious” about luxury wines.
300 bottles of Palmer stolen from château
The Drinks Business - 1st March, 2013 by Rupert Millar
Over 300 bottles of Château Palmer were stolen from the estate’s cellars recently – and then recovered. The 30 cases, totaling 318 bottles and worth €72,000, were stolen by a gang already wanted by police for a spate of thefts in the area.It is thought that the thieves, who seemed well-informed of the château layout, broke into the cellars having used the roofs to gain entry – exactly the method used in the other break-ins. Local newspaper Sud-Ouest reported that the local gendarmerie recovered the cases, all untouched, and arrested seven suspected perpetrators earlier this week. Over 30 gendarmes struck early on Monday morning at the houses of various supects. It was at a house in Montussan that they made the surprise discovery of the wine cases. Three men were remanded in custody to be investigated for their role in the other break-ins in the area, particularly at a tobacconist in Saint-Caprais-de-Bordeaux, a jewellery store at a shopping centre in Saint-Sulpice-et-Cameyrac and at a hardware store in Saint-Loubes.
Brettanomyces : "No barrel is 100 % sterile after cleaning"
Vitisphere- 28 Feb
"Are there more Brettanomyces in cellars nowadays than there used to be? I do not know ... One thing is for certain: the more you look for them, the more of them you find! " says Nicolas Richard, in charge of Research and Development at Inter Rhône. "In any case, I get calls from producers about Brettanomyces every day. This problem affects wineries in all areas of production. "
Brettannomyces are the contaminating yeast oenologists fear the most. It resists high pH as well as low, the presence or absence of residual sugar, high or low alcohol degree... "Brettanomyces flourish in wood barrels," says Nicolas Richard. "They nest in staves even more easily when the ageing is long and the wine dense and extracted. Due to their wine-making process, high-end wines are most vulnerable to Brettanomyces contamination.''
DBecause of its porosity, wood holds and releases micro-organisms (yeasts, bacteriae ...) and Inter Rhône has therefore developed a protocol to detect the presence of Brettanomyces in wood barrels. Nicolas Richard uses a coring device to sample up to a centimeter of wood on the bottom lath. He then does a cell culture in a Petri dish, and uses PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and flow cytometry techniques to detect the presence of Brettanomyces.
Thanks to its high degree of repeatability, this protocol could be applied to measure the effectiveness of various methods for cleaning barrels after racking (an obligatory precaution to control microbiological risks). "Clearly some processes work better than others", says Nicolas Richard. "Vapor diffusion and sulphur-wicking are effective. So are ultrasound treatments, but this new technique needs improving." In contrast, the application of pressurized hot water, solutions of sodium or ozonated water were not effective, according to the tests run by Inter Rhône. Another crucial conclusion of this study: "whatever the method used, the barrels are never 100% sterilized after cleaning.'
Nicolas Richard is currently working on the development of a risk index, which would assess the potential of a particular wine for Brettanomyces development. In addition, Inter Rhône has also developed a curative method for volatile phenols produced by Brettanomyces contamination.
Flexitanks : the new face of bulk wine transportation
Vitisphere- 28 Feb
For their shipments, bulk wine can be packaged in two forms: flexitank container or tank. A flexitank can be pictured as an XXL-sized bag-in-box®: a disposable and recyclable monolayer bag arranged in a conventional container. It requires a specific approach. Would that by logistical constraints certified tank containers for transport of liquid food (certified cleaning within 48 hours, empty repositioning ...). Flexitank is the use of more flexible in comparison (even though it can carry spirits). The flexitank prevents oxidation and reduced residual volumes after unloading. The company Hillebrand (world leader in the transport of wine, with 80,000 containers of bulk wine per year) also highlights the carbon footprint of Flexitank reduced compared to conventional tank container.
Commercial Director France of the company JF Hillebrand, Olivier Daull recalls that "if the approval by the French Customs of Flexitank is only 1995, this technology actually dates back to the 1960s. On the market there are so many products and it is difficult to navigate in offers that are not always suited to wine. "The main disadvantages of Flexitank are related to its terms of demanding installation and filling. To avoid micro-cracks (similar to cracking of the BIB ®) training is recommended. The lack of scale also requires a pump (or a weighing system) during the filling of the Flexitank.
Fine wine market in 'recovery mode'
Decanter - 26 February 2013- by Chris Mercer
A series of successful auctions and improved fine wine pricing shows that investors are regaining their thirst for top Bordeaux.
The Liv-ex 50 fine wine index, which tracks the last ten physical vintages of the five Bordeaux first-growths, is up by around 10% since November last year. Miles Davis, at Wine Asset Managers (WAM), said the rise is 'significant' as an indicator of the fine wine market's health, and shows 'demand is much stronger'. WAM believes the fine wine market in general is in 'recovery mode'.
The increase in demand, Davis told Decanter.com, is partly driven by a supply shortage among merchants, who are looking to restock. However, he also believes the longer-term investment trend looks positive heading into 2013. 'We've just come out of a 30% market correction, so it's a good time to be buying,' said Davis. He said Asia continues to be a key source of fine wine investment, but that there is 'evidence of more American interest creeping back in the past year or so'.
There has been an upbeat tone from auction houses in the past few days. A Sotheby's auction in New York at the weekend saw 99.4% of lots sold and fetched a total US$1.46m, with most wines exceeding their estimated price tags.
This included six bottles of Petrus 1982, which sold to a private buyer in Latin America for just over $30,000, versus an estimated selling price of $15-20,000. A 12-bottle haul of Yquem 2011 went to a Europe-based buyer for $24,500, two-and-a-half times its expected price tag.
'Today’s offerings of Ornellaia, Dom Pérignon, and Yquem were all 100% sold,' said Jamie Ritchie, the CEO & president of Sotheby's wine division in the Americas and Asia.
A couple of days earlier, Christie's saw 97% of lots sold in a London auction that fetched £960,000 (US$1.46m); roughly equal to value sales at the Sotheby's auction and ahead of a top estimate of £904,000.
A highlight of the Christie's auction was a 12-bottle cache of Lafite Rothschild 1982, which sold for £34,500.
This week, Acker, Merrall & Condit began its 2013 auction season in New York with US$3.1m in sales and 94% of lots sold. While Acker said it continued to see a 'Bordeaux renaissance', with the region accounting for 15 of the top 25 lots sold, it also highlighted buyers' broadening palates.
'Burgundy’s momentum continued, led by two extraordinary parcels of Raveneau and Liger-Belair that came to us directly from Europe,' said Acker CEO John Kapon. The auction's best-selling lot was a three-bottle haul of 2006 Romanee Conti, in an original wooden case, for $27,060.
Australian wine production remains in decline
MSNnine Finance- 6 Feb 2013
The decline in Australian wine production is tipped to continue over the next five years but the industry could eventually be more sustainable and profitable as a result.
A new report released in London forecasts Australian production will be down 14.7 per cent over the next five years compared with the previous five. At the same time world-wide production will decline just 2.3 per cent, according to an International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) study commissioned by Vinexpo.
The only top 10 wine-producing country expected to take a bigger hit than sixth-ranked Australia is Italy which is tipped to decline by 16.1 per cent. Italy is number two on the table behind France and ahead of Spain. "Australia for two decades has showed incredible growth around the world but is plateauing now and there's an adjustment on the production side which is totally normal," Vinexpo chairman Xavier de Eizaguirre told AAP on Monday. "It doesn't mean Australia is in trouble in terms of exporting, it just means there's a correction after years and years of spectacular growth."
The IWSR study doesn't include export forecasts but does reveal that between 2007 and 2011 Australian exports declined 13.3 per cent from 89 to 77 million cases. In the top 10 only Germany and Portugal fared worse. But in monetary terms the value of Aussie wine exports fell 20.9 per cent to $US1.96 billion ($A1.89 billion). Germany also experienced a fall, but of just 5.1 per cent.
Part of the problem for Aussie exporters is that drinkers in their largest market, the United Kingdom, are increasingly experimenting with Italian and Spanish wines as bars and restaurants from those countries proliferate. Nevertheless, Mr de Eizaguirre insists the picture is actually positive for the Australian industry. Local wine makers will move to more specialised or boutique labels which will eventually lead to a more sustainable and profitable sector, he said. "It will take a while for the Australian industry to adjust to the new trends but it will translate into less volume, better qualities and higher prices." The Vinexpo chairman said the fact New Zealand wines were going "through the roof" proved the market was ready for more premium wines despite Europe facing an "unprecedented" economic crisis.
The IWSR study reveals Chinese consumption of imported still wines grew by more than 550 per cent in the five years to 2011 by volume. And it's forecast to expand a further 62.7 per cent by 2016. Mr de Eizaguirre says Australia should be doing more to push aggressively into the region. "They are already working hard in the Chinese market," he said. "(But) it will increase definitely in the next five years."
Vinexpo, the world's biggest wine fair, will be held in Bordeaux in June.
Wine Consumers Move Up the Price Ladder
Sacramento, Calif.—Wine consumers are changing their purchasing habits according to Christian Miller, research director of Wine Opinions and proprietor of Full Glass Research, who based his assessment on a pair of surveys completed by the Wine Opinions Consumer Panel. Miller was one of four speakers during a session about consumer trends that affect vineyards and wineries Thursday morning in Sacramento, where the largest wine and grape event in North America continued at the Sacramento Convention Center. As of Thursday afternoon, registration at the event sponsored by ASEV (the American Society for Enology and Viticulture) and CAWG (the California Association of Winegrape Growers) had reached 13,400, an increase of 1,000 registrants from 2012. Several hundred industry professionals attended the consumer trends panel, where Miller revealed that consumer habits are bouncing back from recession levels. More people are purchasing wines in the $10-$20 price range than are cutting back on such purchases. Wine Opinions panel survey In 2009, 5% of panelists surveyed reported buying $20 wines on a weekly basis; as of 2012 that figure had jumped to 9%, Miller said. The number of consumers who reported buying $20 bottles “less often or never” dropped from 40% in 2009 to 30% in 2012. One interesting note from the Wine Opinions survey was that consumers whose financial situation was unaffected (and even those who saw financial improvement) during the recessionary period reported trading down on wine spending during that time. By 2012, financially secure consumers were less likely to buy wines in the $6 and under price category than they were three years before. “A lot of the psychological impact of the recession on wine buyers has been reversed,” Miller said. More respondents in 2012 reported seeing California wines and brands they didn’t recognize than in 2009—a possible effect of luxury brands that launched labels at lower price points to keep afloat during the recession. And 45% of respondents said there are more wines suited to their preferred taste than in 2009. The importance of value to consumers grew during the recession and remains high; nearly 60% of panelists claimed to believe that if you shop carefully you can find wines under $10 that are as high in quality as $10-$20 wines. What’s in the bottle While Miller discussed consumer habits related to buying wine, Rebecca Bleibaum, vice president of Taragon Corp., discussed sensory research about the preferences of consumers. There is a “difference between what they want on the shelf vs. in the glass—and what they want that wine to taste like,” she said, adding that taste is the factor that leads to repeat purchases. Bleibaum said that capturing consumers’ perceptions of wine via sensory evaluation allows researchers to look for relationships between their responses and predict the characteristics that are widely appreciated by wine consumers. “If you come up with a model to predict what consumers like,” she said, “then you can exploit that,” or use the information to make wine in a style that consumers will enjoy and buy more often. A lot of criteria that companies look to when drawing conclusions about consumer preferences aren’t factors at all, said Bleibaum, who argued that characteristics like age and gender are extraneous compared to physiological traits. Some people are wired for bitterness, she offered by way of an example, while others are not. ‘A huge opportunity’ In one study of about 300 consumers, red blends stole the top spots above varietal wines and other retail darlings. “The thing that jumps out to me is that the market leader is not the best liked,” she said of the results. “That is very typical” of consumer research findings. Regarding the resounding preference for red blends compared to their availability in the marketplace, Bleibaum stressed: “These segments exist whether you want to delve into the data or not. There is a group of wines that get very high scores (in consumer studies)…and there are no commercial wines that offer blends. That is a huge opportunity.” In 2001 and 2013, consumers identified taste as the No. 1 factor when making wine purchases. Price is a little more important now than it was in 2001, Bleibaum said. Consumers ranked vintage and brand as less important than in 2001. Bleibaum also related results from a consumer survey having to do with wine closures. Consumers said screwcaps and synthetic stoppers were about even with natural cork for at-home and everyday drinking, while natural cork is still preferred for special occasion wines and gift giving.
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Aussies 'frustrated' with our wine success
Marlborough Express- 6 Feb 2013
An Aussie outburst labelling Marlborough sauvignon blanc "the McDonalds of wines" reflects frustration with the wine's appeal across the Tasman, Wine Marlborough says. Wine Australia called for Aussie wine drinkers to "ditch that sav blanc from across the Tasman in favour of a top local drop" on Australia Day last month, and a Sydney Morning Herald article at the weekend featured several winemakers rallying against the popular variety. James Agnew, who has a family-run vineyard in New South Wales' Hunter Valley and is the former chair of the NSW Wine Strategy, told the Herald New Zealand savs are "the McDonald's of wines". "You can go all over the world but a Big Mac is still a Big Mac." Hunter Valley winemaker Bruce Tyrrell said Australia's top selling white wine, an Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc, tasted of "passionfruit . . . body odour . . . cat's pee . . . lantana".
However, Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said the Australian comments reflected pain and frustration as the industry faced tough times. There was no doubt Marlborough sauvignon was stealing a chunk of domestic consumption but the solution was innovation and meeting the market, not attack. By coping with larger vintages in recent years, the Marlborough wine industry showed it could be outstanding at any price level, Mr Pickens said.
Renwick-based wine consultant Belinda Jackson, who runs two wine competitions and tastes several thousand wines a year, said Marlborough made a tremendous range of sauvignon blanc styles. Even within companies, different micro-climates and soils and varied winemaking techniques such as ageing in oak, wild fermentations and low alcohol produced very different wines . "Some are very passionfruity and forward, others are very reserved and mineral," she said. The Aussie complaints smacked of jealousy, Ms Jackson said.
The Oyster Bay sauvignon Mr Tyrrell complained of was an excellent entry-level wine providing great value for money, and Aussies loved it, she said. New Zealand Wine chief executive Philip Gregan said consumers in Australia and elsewhere appreciated Marlborough sauvignon was very, very good. Demand would continue to grow, Mr Gregan said.
In 2009, New Zealand sauvignon blanc overtook chardonnay as the top selling white wine in Australia, with Kiwi savignon blanc now accounting for 39 per cent of white wine sold there. Of the 20 top-selling sauvignon blancs, 17 are from New Zealand and three from Australia. At least one Marlborough winemaker used Twitter to respond to the Australian comments. Te Whare Ra winery owner Anna Flowerday, who hails from Australia, sent a tweet saying that she was "getting pretty sick of Oz wine people bagging kiwi SB. You don't hear people over here dissing Oz Shiraz."
China will import less over the next four years: Vinexpo research
Decanter - 5 February 2013
Chinese will import wine at a slower pace as the country’s domestic wine production increases – while the world’s most populous nation is set to become the world’s second-biggest wine consumer by 2016. Competition for space in China's wine market is set to intensify in the next few years: China's wine market will still expand by 40% in volume over the next four years, but opportunities for foreign brands will be more limited.
Figures released jointly by wine trade show Vinexpo and research group IWSR show that between 2007 and the end of 2011, wine sales in China rose much faster, by 144% in volume, than they will for the next four years. Alongside the predicted slowdown, Chinese wine production is growing considerably. Since 2007, the country has risen from 10th to eighth in the global wine production league table, and it is expected to displace Australia and Chile to become the world's sixth biggest producer in 2016. 'It will be more challenging, and especially for France [market leader], because everybody wants to go there now,' Xavier de Eizaguirre, chairman of Vinexpo, told Decanter.com.
However, de Eizaguirre said the speed of growth in China remains 'incredible' compared to many other markets, and its per capita consumption is still only 1.6 litres a year.'China will bypass the US very soon,' he said. ‘The forecast for 2016 is 250m cases. The US is about 350m, so they’re getting very close.’ In value terms, China should overtake the UK to become the world's second biggest wine consuming nation by value in 2016, with sales of US$16.7bn. More than a third of foreign visitors to Vinexpo 2013, to be held in Bordeaux in June, are expected to come from Asia. Most of the other figures released by Vinexpo showed a continuation of existing trends. Consumption in the UK, for example, will continue to fall up to 2016, by around 4% on current levels. However, sparkling wines and still wine priced above US$10-a-bottle will buck this trend.
Globally, wine consumption is expected to rise by 5.3% between 2012 and the end of 2016, to 2.87bn cases, while worldwide production will fall by around 2%.
Ministers consider 'calorie labels' for wine, beer and spirits
telegraph 6 Feb 2013
Bottles of wine and beer could display how many calories they contain to discourage people from drinking too much, under new Government plans.
Anna Soubry, the British health minister, said officials have been in talks about “the possible inclusion of calorie content on labels” with the alcoholic drinks industry. Ministers are concerned about the issue as an official study has linked the high calories of alcoholic drinks to people being overweight and obese. They are separately looking at how to reduce deaths caused by alcohol and tackle anti-social behaviour fuelled by drink. It is thought displaying calorie content could encourage those who watch their weight to moderate consumption. Lager can be as fattening as a slice of pizza at around 250 calories per pint, according to the Drink Aware Trust. The alcohol education charity also says two large glasses of wine have about the same amount as a beefburger at 400 calories. Mrs Soubry revealed the talks about calorie labels in a parliamentary question by Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative MP for Romford. The minister said she and the Government are “committed to improving the labelling of alcoholic drinks”.
“The Department has discussed the possible inclusion of calorie content on labels with representatives of the alcohol industry on a number of occasions,” she said. She added there is a chance the European Commission could suggest mandatory calorie information on alcoholic drinks when it reviews the issue within two years. The Government's preferred method of getting companies to provide more health information is through "responsibility deals". These voluntary agreements have successfully got fast food companies, including McDonalds, KFC and Pret a Manger, to provide calorie information on their menus. Mrs Soubry recently caused controversy when she said it is easy to spot poor people because many are obese. Her new comments on calorie content come as the Home Office prepares to make a decision on whether to bring in minimum pricing of around 45p per unit of alcohol. The plans, championed by the Prime Minister, are aimed at stopping people from drinking cheap alcohol to excessive. However, there are fears it could raise the price of alcohol for moderate middle-class drinkers and fail to tackle the drinking habits of people with alcohol problems. On Friday night, a Department of Health spokesperson said officials are “continuing to work with industry” on the “labelling of alcoholic drinks”.
"By the end of this year, 80 per cent of all alcoholic drinks on shop shelves will include clear labelling on units and health messages,” he said. “Through the Responsibility Deal we will continue to discuss how to give consumers more information on alcoholic drinks, including calorie labelling."
Motörhead releases bag-in-box Shiraz
The Drinks Business, 4th February, 2013 by Lucy Shaw
British heavy metal group Motörhead has released a bag-in-box Shiraz modelled to look like a guitar amplifier.
Motörhead Sacrifice Shiraz, the first bag-in-box wine to be produced by a band, has been designed specifically to appeal to the BIB-friendly Swedish market. “Around 60% of the wine consumed in Sweden is from bag-in-box, which makes Sweden the world’s largest consumer of boxed wine.
“Naturally, we want to provide Swedish rock fans the same range of packaging choice,” said Yvonne Wener, head of the wine’s distributor, Brands For Fans. Like the bottled version, Motörhead Sacrifice Shiraz comes from South Eastern Australia, and, according to its makers, is “full bodied” and “spicy” with “aromas of blackberry and black currant.” In addition to Sacrifice Shiraz, the band, which has been together for 38 years, also makes a rosé and a vodka. Last June, Motörhead released a 4.7% “Bastards Lager”, brewed in Sweden by Krönleins, named after one of its albums.
The band’s foray into wine has not been problem free – last January, Motörhead Shiraz was banned in Iceland due to alleged links between the band’s name and drug abuse.
Fronted by Lemmy Kilmister, Motörhead is not alone among rock groups in releasing wine and beer lines for their fans. AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Whitesnake and Satyricon all boast wine labels ranging from AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells Sauvignon Blanc; Slayer’s Reign in Blood California Cabernet Sauvignon and Satyricon’s Barolo and Langhe Rosso.
Wine: When small wineries get big owners
2 Feb 2013- By Dave McIntyre, Special to The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — The National Museum of American History's exhibit "Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000" includes a photo of Joel Peterson using a long metal tool, sort of like a hoe with an extra-long handle, to punch down fermenting zinfandel grapes in a wooden vat. The photo — and the tool, also on display — represent the frontier spirit of California wine in the 1970s, before it became an industry.
Peterson was the winemaker behind Ravenswood, the Sonoma winery that helped revive zinfandel as a California flagship with wines from old-vine vineyards around the state. His "No Wimpy Wines!" slogan solidified a take-no-hostages perception of California wine that persists to this day. Peterson is no longer the lone artisan struggling to steer his wines through fermentation to bottling. Today he is a vice president of Constellation Brands, the drinks conglomerate that bought Ravenswood in 2001. Constellation is one of three companies that produce or import more than 50 percent of the wine sold in the United States, according to a recent study by researchers at Michigan State University. As I wrote recently, those companies — E. & J. Gallo and the Wine Group complete the troika — dominate our wine buying choices with brands such as Barefoot Cellars, Corbett Canyon and Arbor Mist. No one would begrudge Peterson his success. Starting a company from scratch and then cashing in is the modern American dream. For him, the story is a happy one; others rue the corporate touch. In wine, with its dominant image of the artisan vigneron creating a unique product from a combination of sun, soil and sweat, cashing in can be seen as selling out. "There is no doubt that acquisition by a larger entity negatively impacts the reputation of a smaller winery," Peterson said in a recent e-mail interview. "Frequently this opinion is unjustified. The wines that Ravenswood produces now are as unique . . . as they have ever been. The corporate input is strictly budgetary." Peterson said the Vintner's Blend Zinfandel, the most widely available Ravenswood wine, has grown under Constellation's ownership and is now available in Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. The single-vineyard zinfandels, however, are still sourced from the same vineyards and made in the same quantities as before the winery changed hands, using the same methods he employed during Ravenswood's early days.
"It is important to distinguish between the brands and the wineries in the various portfolios," Peterson said. "Brands like Rex Goliath and Black Box on the one hand, and wineries like Robert Mondavi and Ravenswood on the other, are very different in philosophy and execution." While the wineries aim to remain true to their traditions, "the brands are made to fit perceived holes in the market where there is believed to be demand," he said. "Witness the explosion of moscato and sweet red blends."
Is big bad? Corporate ownership has not ruined Ravenswood's single-vineyard zins, which are distinctive and show the various expressions of old-vine zinfandel throughout California. And the Robert Mondavi wines from Napa are still excellent. I said as much to Margrit Mondavi, Robert's widow, when she visited Washington last November for the opening of the American History Museum exhibit.
"It's the same team making the wines" as before the 2004 takeover by Constellation Brands, she replied. (Well, except for the absence of Mondavis.) For most consumers, the corporate ownership of a wine brand might not matter, as long as the wine tastes good. Those of us who spend too much time thinking about and drinking wine still prefer the small-scale ideal of the winemaker toiling over the fermenting juice with purple-stained hands, wielding makeshift tools that someday might be on exhibit in the Smithsonian.
That ideal resonates with some winemakers as well. "We went from family winemakers to family winemakers making a consumer product," recalls Michael Mondavi, who co-founded Robert Mondavi winery in 1966 with his father, then helped grow it to a publicly traded company with brands such as Woodbridge and Robert Mondavi Private Selection before its takeover by Constellation. Today, he is "founder and coach" of Folio Fine Wine Partners and Michael Mondavi Family Wines, with his son, Rob Jr., as a fourth-generation winemaker, and he's determined to keep his new company small. "It's more fun to meet with the guys at Calvert Woodley and Pearson's," Michael Mondavi said, referring to two leading Washington retailers, "than to report to corporate headquarters."
Chateau requests Bordeaux's first-ever single-vineyard appellation
Decanter- 1 February 2013
A 400-year-old Bordeaux property has applied for the creation of a single-vineyard appellation – the first of its kind in Bordeaux. The owners of Chateau Le Puy, in AOC Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, have asked appellations body the INAO for the tiny AOC, which might be as precise as a single plot within a vineyard. Jean-Pierre Amoreau and his son Pascal, whose family has owned the estate since 1610, applied in August 2011, and hope to have a successful result by 2014. The 50ha Le Puy is within the 525ha of Francs Côtes de Bordeaux. A geological study by consultants Lydia and Claude Bourguignon identified a small plot of 5.6ha with a distinct limestone composition. It is this section that would become AOC Le Puy.
Amoreau is confident that his request is legally sound. All AOCs in France are required to have a quality charter, or Cahier de Charges, that details winemaking practice, and are also required to be checked by a local wine syndicate (now known as an ODG), and a quality control agency. The Le Puy Cahier says it would be a certified-biodynamic AOC, with one hectare of wild flowers, hedgerow or forest for every hectare of vines. There would be no chaptilisation or mechanical harvesting, no green harvesting and only natural yeasts. It would be its own ODG, but overseen by a number of regional experts. ‘This would be a first for Bordeaux to have a single chateau AOC,’ Amoreau told Decanter.com, ‘but I have identified a part of my vineyard which is entirely different from the surrounding terroir of the Francs appellation.’
The estate received a global boost when Japanese manga Drops of the Gods celebrated its 2003 vintage, but it has repeatedly run into problems with the local quality control agency, Quali’Bordeaux, at tastings tests for the wider Cotes de Bordeaux AOC. ‘The difficulties just underline for me why we need our own appellation,’ said Amoreau. ‘We are recognised for our excellent wine, and yet we are very different from the wine of our neighbours. ‘Often in Bordeaux it is more an administrative decision, based on communes. We want to take the approach of Burgundy, and make an appellation based on geology.’
Amoreau has the support of his neighbours in Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, who voted by a majority for Chateau le Puy to have its own AOC. There are only seven single-vineyard AOCs in France.
Fifty shades of Constantia wine
Cape Town - The world’s most famous playboy, Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, wooed his women with it, Napoleon drank it daily while in exile on St Helena and royalty have ordered it by the hundreds.
Now interest in the wine Vin de Constance, made exclusively at Klein Constantia, has been renewed after its mention in Fifty Shades oO Grey, the first instalment in the three-part best-sellingseries
Interest in the wine has surged among people who have read the book, says , says Hans Astrom, the estate’s managing director. This has not necessarily translated in increased sales.
In the book the wine is listed on the menu at a masked ball which lovers Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele attend. It was first mentioned in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and later in Charles Dickens’s last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Astrom, who read Fifty Shades of Grey out of curiosity, says the amber-coloured sweet wine has a colourful history. “We should be proud in South Africa to have a wine with such a rich history,” he says.
Vin de Constance was first produced in 1689, when a variety of muscat grapes planted by Simon van der Stel were made into a wine. It gained stature after being exported in small amounts by the Dutch East India Company, but because only small quantities were produced, a fair amount of bootlegging also took place.
A diary entry, on July 18, 1807, by Charles Abbott, the speaker of the British House of Commons, is an indication of the wine’s popularity at the time: “This day received my allotment of the Government Constantia wine from the Cape of Good Hope, viz. five dozen red, and five dozen white pints. The King takes 40 dozen; the Prince of Wales and each of the princes of royal blood, 20 dozen; the Cabinet Ministers have each 15 dozen.”
After French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was banished to St Helena in 1815, he, too, developed a liking for the wine. Napoleon was supplied annually with between 563 and 1 126 litres of the wine until he died in 1821. In fact, according to journals and documents, he drank nine bottles of wine daily, including one bottle of the sweet elixir. After his death, his former secretary reported he had refused everything on his deathbed, but a glass of Constantia wine.
In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor is offered a glass of the wine for her sister by Mrs Jennings, who says her husband described it as “more good than anything else in the world”.
Dickens mentioned it in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, when it was served to Reverend Septimus by his mother.
German poet Friedrich Klopstock devoted an entire ode to its pleasures, while French poet Charles Baudelaire transformed it into a sensuous image for his great poem, Les Fleurs du Mal.
Astrom says the wine disappeared for about a century before making a comeback during the redevelopment of the wine estate in the 1980s. It takes about five years to make once the grapes have been harvested when perfectly ripe. After that, the winemaking process takes one year, after which it’s left to age in barrels for four years before being bottled and sold.
The wine has consistently appeared on lists of the world’s top 10 wines and the 2007 vintage, which costs R465 for a 500ml bottle, was recently awarded 97 out of 100 points by Robert M Parker, a US wine critic with international influence. The rating makes it the best-rated South African wine in history, says Astrom.
But what makes this wine so special?
“Wine has a lot to do with perception. It’s a very likable wine: a bit of sweetness, but it’s fresh, light and savoury. It makes you happy and feel good,” says Astrom.
And you don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to appreciate it. Astrom compares the wine to art, saying there are times when people just love certain paintings, even though they don’t understand them.
He says its unique taste is the culmination of the right balance between fruit, sugar and alcohol and that the wine is better known to the foreign market, especially Europe.
“What’s too close to home, one tends to forget. We are very fortunate to have this wine here,” says Astrom. – Cape Argus
Brussels makes vine planting rights recommendation
By Andrew Rosenbaum for Meininger’s Wine Business International- 10 Jan 2013
A European Commission special advisory group has recommended postponing legislation that would have liberalised vine planting rights in the European Union has been postponed for at least six years, according to an announcement made by the European Commission on 14 December 2012. While most of European agriculture is being liberalised, removed from the controls that characterised the Community Agricultural Policy that limited production of sugar or milk, restrictions on planting vines for wine production are going to remain in force. Reforms of the CAP date from 2008, but were due to be applied in 2016.
But wine-producer organisations in the 15 major wine-producing countries in Europe have been maintaining a battle against the liberalisation which, they say, would make the industry less competitive. They are vocal in their pleasure at the change of policy. “The effect of the liberalisation,” warns Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, president of the Italian wine group Federdoc and of the European Federation of Origin Wines, “would have been the extension of wine-producing zones beyond traditional areas, the contamination of the classified zones of origin with new vineyards, speculation, loss of quality, an increase in the number of producers with a corresponding drop in income for the group as a whole.”
The European Commission had argued that removing planting rights would have the opposite effect, that of increasing competition, enabling other producers to respond more freely to market conditions. The advisory group’s recommendations are still to be approved by the European Parliament if they are to come into effect. They will then have to be implemented by national governments as part of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş intends to continue the meetings of the special advisory group with industry groups in the coming year.
English wine experts question need for regionality
Harpers, Written by Laura Heywood - 25 January 2013
Harpers hears from leading experts on English sparkling about whether establishing a cru-based identification system would help estates promote their wines better on an international stage.
Last week, Harpers reported that leading English sparkling wine producers are calling for estates to shout about their individual growing areas in a bid to communicate their regional differences better (read the original story here). We opened the debate up to our readers to have their say.
Stressing regional variations is not the right direction for English sparkling producers, believes English wine expert and Master of Wine Stephen Skelton. "With most of the major producers – Coates & Seely, Chapel Down, Camel Valley, Three Choirs, Nyetimber, RidgeView – either buying grapes from, having growers under contract in, or owning vineyards in, more than one county, how can there be regional differences?" he asks.
"You don't hear Champagne trumpeting its regional differences because it is a multi-region, blended product. Remember how far the Aube is from Rheims... let's take a leaf out of their book."
According to Skelton, what the UK needs, and already boasts, is "good individual producers who create great wines and shout about them". "We need neither a generic name for English sparkling wine (which is the name already enshrined in law and which appears on every bottle), nor some phony regional based naming system. By all means, where there is an individual vineyard that has a great track record of producing excellent wines (like Camel Valley's Darnibole), then give it a special status, but otherwise, let's get on with the job of making, promoting and selling, really great English Champagne," he says.
The average consumer would struggle to identify the regional differences between different counties, let alone estates, according to Luke Wolfe, a viticulture and oenology degree student at Brighton University, who has completed a project looking for similarities and differences between English and Californian sparkling wine.
"I challenge anyone to line up sparkling wines from England and put them into categories as simple as south east and south west, let alone counties," Wolfe says. "My panel of 21 wine students with at least the WSET advanced certificate could not differentiate between Californian and English wines so the chances of the untrained public being able to taste regional differences within the UK in unlikely in my view."
While terroir can be expressed in still wines, Wolfe maintains that it can't be in sparkling wines. "The main issue is the characteristics which are developed in sparkling wine during secondary fermentation. Decisions on varieties and yeasts used, number of wines used for blending, vintage variation, production methods used, time on lees and time on cork all change the character of the wine," he says.
English producers should be focusing on establishing associations between their individual brand names and quality winemaking, rather than creating a generic term to group them together. That's the view of Nicholas Hall, founder of Kent-based Herbert Hall Wines. "I can understand why some producers may in the past have favoured a new generic term for English sparkling wine – a few years ago the term hardly set the blood racing. But the drive towards quality among the top English sparkling wine producers is changing that perception," Hall says.
"The best are becoming known as individual brands and highlight their brand name rather than a generic description of the product itself. If you study the label of a bottle of Herbert Hall you will indeed find the description English Quality Sparkling Wine – but only if you look very carefully; it is written in the smallest type size that we use. In contrast the brand name Herbert Hall is written in large capitals. That is because we want consumers to associate our brand name with our own particular house style of site-specific organic viticulture and artisan winemaking."
Hall goes on to suggest that the future of the English sparkling industry will be determined by "the development of strong, individual English sparkling wine brands, all making high-quality wine but each with its own unique style". For Hall, "the differentiation of individual growing areas is an important part of this future," he adds.
US consumers 'confused' by multiple Sonoma AVAs
Decanter- 24 January 2013
Sonoma Valley has announced the launch of a new campaign to differentiate the region from the larger Sonoma Coast and even larger Sonoma County AVA.
There is confusion in the marketplace regarding the differences between the many appellations that include the name ‘Sonoma’, the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance reckons.
‘We know that Sonoma Valley has very distinct appellations, but there is confusion with the title. Is it a coast? Is it a valley? Is it a town? A county? Or all?’ executive director Maureen Cottingham said.
The 400,000ha Sonoma County appellation includes 15 sub-regions, 60 miles of coastline and more than 25,000ha of vineyards.
A recent survey of 1,000 US consumers shows that, when purchasing wine, few differentiate between Sonoma County and Sonoma Valley and that using both on a label may even be a disadvantage.
‘The presence of an AVA with “Sonoma” already in the name (e.g. Sonoma Mountain) may complicate understanding of conjunctive labeling,’ the survey by research company Wine Opinions says.
‘While a substantial number of consumers (42%) can comprehend that a “Sonoma-named” AVA can reside within Sonoma County, over one-quarter are confused by combinations like ‘Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma County” and 22% believe that this indicates a blend of Sonoma Mountain and Sonoma County fruit.’
Additionally problematic is the name Sonoma Valley, which includes three sub-AVAS (Bennett Valley, Carneros and Sonoma Mountain) and one proposed sub-AVA (Moon Mountain), two of which are high altitude, mountainous regions.
The SVVGA’s ‘Roots Run Deep’ campaign is separate but complementary to the 'We are Sonoma' campaign launched by the Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Tourism earlier this month, Cottingham said.
Sydney launches first 'natural' wine fair
Decanter- 21 January 2013
Sydney's inaugural 'natural' wine fair is already attracting controversy, with one wine writer saying quality winemakers are annoyed by the 'natural' label.
Rootstock Sydney will offer over 100 wines from more than 30 producers who ‘share common philosophies on viticulture, winemaking and sustainability’, the festival’s website says.
The majority of exhibitors are Australian, with a handful from Italy, France, Greece, Slovenia, the US, New Zealand and Spain.
Australian wineries include Jauma, Shobbrook, Lucy Margaux and Paxton; Radikon and Giuseppe Rinaldiare coming from Italy, and Milton Vineyards, Pyramid Valley and Rippon from New Zealand. All are available in the UK.
Set up by Giorgio De Maria, owner of Sydney wine bar 121 BC, wine writer Mike Bennie, and James Hird, owner of the Wine Library bar, the festival is subtitled the Sustainable and Artisan Wine and Food Festival.
‘We don’t feel the need to use the term "natural"', Bennie told Decanter.com. 'We don't want to be dogmatic. Artisan and sustainable are as indefinable as the term natural, and are certainly bandied about as often, but unfortunately we have no other way of telling the consumer these wines are slightly different, as in handmade with more pastoral origins as opposed to more mechanized industrial farming.’
Bennie believes there has been a significant increase in interest in Australia for wines of a more ‘lo-fi’ nature, ‘as consumers move towards more understanding of provenance. A lot of the wines that fall under the “natural” umbrella are celebrated here and seen to be successful.’
Bennie also referred to the success of overseas natural wine festivals as a model for Sydney’s. However, while fairs like London’s Real Wine Fair and RAW drew thousands of visitors, they also proved divisive.
According to Australian wine journalist Max Allen, this discord exists in Australia too: with the dominance of large-scale producers, smaller independent winemakers already consider themselves ‘natural’ or ‘artisan’.
‘In many cases they’re not working that far off "natural" anyway. There is a lot of industrial wine made here, but at the smaller level, most Aussie winemakers are already pretty much doing the right thing. So with "natural" wines coming up as a rebellion, some winemakers feel that perception is unwarranted.
‘There are a lot of cranky Aussie winemakers out there who have let "natural" winemakers get under their skin and it’s really annoying them.’
Bennie, however, reckons that most consumers are not aware of the conflict, and that even in the trade it is far less pronounced than it is elsewhere in the wine world.
‘It’s an in-trade conversation. Certainly there are people who are rightly challenging “natural” wine and what it means. But most Aussies just care if the wine’s good.
‘In Australia to draw lines in the sand, as in “us versus them” isn’t our thing. We want an inclusive fair, and the wines are a great talking point in helping communication between producers and the consumer.’
Last Updated (Tuesday, 19 March 2013 14:46)