Posts Tagged ‘World’

 

 

Winemakers in New Zealand are hailing the 2013 vintage as ‘one of the best in history’, with a record harvest 28% bigger than last year’s crop.

 

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan described the summer as ‘outstanding’ with ‘near-perfect conditions for growing grapes’.

‘The result is that we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit-driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape-growing regions – 2013 looks set to be a vintage to remember.’

Nearly 350,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested in 2013, a record volume up 5% on 2011 and 28% bigger than last year’s small crop, which left New Zealand short of wine to feed its expansion plans.

Key region Marlborough and key grape variety Sauvignon Blanc both had good years, with volumes up 33% and 26% respectively, while the Pinot Noir crop was 36% bigger than in 2012.
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The Bourbon brand, Jim Beam.

The Bourbon brand, Jim Beam.

 

The drinks business has compiled a list of the current top 10 spirit brands by global volume sales.

While the majority of entries in this year’s top 10 retained their 2012 ranking, there was a new entry from innovative Bourbon brand Jim Beam, while movers in the pack included German digestif Jägermeister and Irish cream liqueur Baileys.

The ability for brands to refresh and reinvent themselves was a core contributing factor to our top 10’s success this year, with new flavoured variants being released thick and fast in the vodka category, and Bacardi giving two new flavours a go on the rum front.

White spirits put in a strong performance this year, but was it enough to stave off the seemingly unstoppable charge of super Scotch Johnnie Walker, voted the number one brand in The Drinks Business Power Brands 2013 list?

 

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Two bottles of Champagne seized by the Nazis during World War II then ‘liberated’ by an RAF serviceman are to go under the hammer this month.

According to Hansons Auctioneers, both bottles – Château de Mareuilsay Montebello 1937 and Monopole Red Top by Heidsieck from an unknown date – are unopened and in good condition.

Each bear a red stamp in German and French that reads: “Sales in the free market are prohibited”, and “Reserved for German army not for resale or purchase.”

They were discovered by a British member of the RAF who was serving in France following D-Day in 1944.
Detail from the Heidsieck Monopole label
He left the bottles to his daughter, who sold them to the unnamed vendor a decade ago.

While Hitler was teetotal, chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, filled vast cellars with stolen bottles of Champagne following the invasion of France.
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Yes, it’s true. Two of China’s wines have won silver in this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards, Jing Daily reports.

The wines are the Great Wall Terrior 2006 from Shandong and Domaine Helan Mountain Special Reserve Chardonnay 2011 from Ningxia.

A total of 20 wines from China were recognized this year by Decanter out of a total 49 entries.

In 2011, Helan Qing Xue’s Jia Bei Lan Cabernet Dry Red 2009 received the top prize from Decanter, drawing much skepticism and controversy.

While China does not have a great reputation for its wine (real or otherwise), there are domestic vineyards producing quality wines.

 

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LaMotte

La Motte Wine Estate Vineyards.

The Blushing Bride, a rare white or pink flower with silky, pointy petals, is somewhat of a legend in the Franschhoek Valley. The story goes that it was discovered in the surrounding mountains in 1773 and came by its romantic name from its use in a rather romantic tradition. A French Huguenot farmer who was in love would wear this flower in his lapel when he decided to propose to the girl he fancied. The pinker the flower, the more serious his intentions were, causing the bride-to-be to blush at the sight of the flower.
 
Sadly, as with other near-extinct fynbos varieties in the region, the Blushing Bride disappeared from sight for many years. It was rediscovered about a century ago and since then conservationists have been determined to return the iconic flower to its former glory.
 
Today Blushing Brides, rare disas and various kinds of proteas are being brought back to life on the La Motte Wine Estate in Franschhoek, where they can be seen in full bloom in the estate’s large Protea Garden. La Motte’s proud collection of rare flower varieties that are lovingly cultivated and re-established in the area is one of the reasons for it to have been awarded Champion status in the Biodiversity in Wine initiative (BWI).
 
Although best known for its international wine brand, La Motte is an estate that has conservation and sustainability at its centre. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the beautiful Organic Walk guiding visitors through the vineyards, fynbos nursery and gardens on the farm and concluding with a tasting of the organically grown Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc.
 
The walk offers visitors the opportunity to see how passionate La Motte is about sustainable farming and conservation. Visitors have the chance to see and smell the Protea Garden and stroll through the sustainably farmed and organically grown vineyards, the indigenous landscaped gardens (this time of year a carpet of lush green and soft purple and white), the nursery where micro greens and orchids are cultivated, and the biodynamic vegetable and herb gardens that supply the Estate’s award-winning restaurant and farm shop with fresh seasonal produce.
 
Head Chef Chris Erasmus and his colleagues at Pierneef à La Motte restaurant visit the garden in their gumboots every morning to pick out the freshest seasonal produce for their signature Cape Winelands cuisine. Chef Chris also guides on what to plant in the garden and places orders ahead of season. Beautiful things are grown, like purple speckled beans, cucumber-shaped aubergines, peas, watercress, yellow and purple carrots, radicchio, kohlrabi, sour fig, rocket, sweet basil and the fine succulent Pork Bush (“Spekboom”) which can be used in salads.
 
La Motte has been farming organically since 2007 and in 2009 received EU and NOP organic certification by SGS in France and NOP organic certification by LACON in Germany. Everything on the farm bears testament to this ethos.  La Motte has long been a leader in flora conservation work and sustainable, eco-friendly farming practices in South Africa and this commitment has just earned it the title of South Africa’s top practitioner of sustainable wine tourism by the internationally respected Great Wine Capitals of the World (GWC) network. GWC annually awards top performers in wine tourism in ten wine regions of the world, including South Africa. 
 
La Motte was also the overall winner of the South African competition for the second year running, making it the best wine tourism player in the country, thanks to its acclaimed restaurant, art museum, architecture and wine.
 
A closer look at how things are done on the farm reveals a rare attention to detail in every aspect of the farm’s life. The Rupert family and its wider La Motte family are visibly passionate about sustainable farming and conservation.
 
More than ten percent of the land is dedicated to conservation. The entire farming operation is set up to be self-sustainable, which means that almost everything that is needed to keep the farm running is produced on the farm. Everything is about quality over quantity – a method that takes time to yield results, but pays dividends in the long run.
 
One case in point is how water is treated on La Motte as a precious and limited resource. Water used in the wine cellar is treated and purified using natural methods only, never with chemicals. The farm dam provides all the water the farm needs and receives its water from the Kastaiingsrivier and rain. The farm uses drip irrigation to save water and water meters are used throughout the farm to monitor water usage and catch leaks.
 
Special attention is also paid to the rehabilitation of the soil to keep it healthy and chemical-free. No chemicals have been used on the farm for the last seven years. Special earthworms are fed the kitchen waste to recycle it into concentrated compost that is diluted with water and used across the farm to nourish the soil and plants. Only natural methods are used for pest control and fertilisation. Dry mulch is used to keep out weeds and wet mulch is used to keep in moisture.
 
Visitors can extend the Organic Walk by taking the 5km hiking trail into the surrounding mountains.
 
The herbs grown on the farm, including lavender and buchu, are used for the extraction of essential oils that are used to make the range of Arômes de La Motte body products sold in the farm shop.
 
As CEO Hein Koegelenberg explains, La Motte took the path of sustainability at around the turn of the millennium. This meant that quality and consistency would come first. The whole La Motte experience has become testament to this new sustainable way of thinking, and today the estate’s international awards prove that it was a journey the international wine tourism industry supports and honours. It is an ethos that enjoys sharing its passions with guests in a way that both entertains and educates and in the end it has winners on all sides: the estate, its people, its visitors, the environment, the local tourism sector, and the regional economy.

 

As the wine director at Jaynes Gastropub, I am constantly trying to edge people away from the common toward the lesser-known grape varieties and wines. Like pinot noir? Then try nebbiolo. Like Syrah? Then consider a blend from Provence. When it comes to the diners seeking “big” wines, such as cabernet, merlot or malbec, I have one secret weapon and that is Rioja.

Rioja can be either red, white or rosé. The red is made from what I consider to be Spain’s greatest grape, tempranillo, blended with smaller amounts of garnacha, graciano and mazuelo. Tempranillo is a variety that shares some characteristics with nebbiolo and pinot noir: thin-skinned, light in hue yet very bold with the ability to yield highly complex and utterly delicious wines. Rioja is also somewhat reminiscent of French Bordeaux, with strong oak integration, albeit American white oak instead of French wood. In the end, this wine is utterly Spanish and well worth seeking out. Here are a few recommendations:

A 2008 C.V.N.E. Vina Real Crianza is an excellent entry-level Rioja and very approachable when young. The vanilla characteristics of the American oak blends beautifully with the red cherry and berry fruits. This particular wine comes from the Rioja Alavesa region. The Vina Real Reserva is a very modestly priced wine, generally around $16 retail, from a fifth-generation producer. (Available at Bine and Vine on Adams Avenue.)

My all-time favorite Rioja producer is R. Lopez De Heredia from the city of Haro in La Rioja Alta. It makes some of the most traditional wines in the region with 135-year-old cellars filled with cobwebs, spiders and dust, the antithesis of the spit-shined and pressure-washed modern winery. Lopez, as it is affectionately called by American wine geeks, holds back vintages before release longer than just about any other producer and creates some of the most interesting wines in the world, including a 13-year-old new release rosé. The winery’s current-release Crianza is the 2005 Vina Cubillo Crianza, available by the bottle at one of the best wine restaurants in San Diego — Costa Brava in Pacific Beach. Owner Javier Gonzalez and I share a mutual love for this winery.

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Wine is social. Sure, you can drink it solo, but it’s best enjoyed with friends, food and conversation.  Selling wine is social, too. Canny wine marketers know this in their bones. The job isn’t about moving a bottle of wine across a counter. That’s just the transaction. The job is about great service, gonzo enthusiasm and killer personality.

They approach a customer, ask the right questions, listen carefully, suggest wisely. If the customer goes away smiling and the wine is a hit, the customer will come back. And next time, bring friends.

If any industry is tailored for social media, it’s wine. The proof is in the data. According to VinTank, a social media software company for the wine business, 14 million people have mentioned wine online at some point, a number that grows by 450,000 people every month. And they’re talking a lot, having 1.5 million conversations about wine online—every single day.

The bulk of this chatter happens on mainstream social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, plus wine-centric apps like CellarTracker and Delectable. People post tasting notes, bottle shots, and ratings from 88 points to Yuck to Wow! They tag their friends, who share it too. Think of social media as the breeding ground for digital word of mouth.

Now, producers, retailers, restaurateurs and buyers have joined the conversation. Getting up to speed in social media means learning a new technology, but that’s not so different from learning a new point-of-sale system (and arguably a little easier). Happily, many wine pros find that success online requires the same kind of sensitivity and savoir-faire their jobs demand in real life.

“Customers are going to talk whether you’re listening or not,” says VinTank’s CEO, Paul Mabray. “You’d answer the phone if they called you. You’d answer an email. It’s fundamental customer service to answer a tweet, or a post on your Wall. And you don’t answer in stupid promotional ways. You just say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’”

But social media success does require a slight shift in thinking. Traditional marketing was about push. A marketer publishes a notice about a holiday sale, or the arrival of a scarce Bordeaux, hoping customers will come pouring in.

Social media is about pull. Instead of broadcast-and-pray, a marketer goes where the customers are, connects with them, and engages with them on their terms.
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Sauvignon blanc vines from Marlborough, New Zealand.

Sauvignon blanc vines from Marlborough, New Zealand.

 

Few words in the UK wine market provoke a reaction as polarising as “Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc”.

For a host of consumers those heady aromas of passion fruit, gooseberry and the entire spectrum of fruit salad ingredients in between act like catnip. Among others, however, including many in the trade itself, it is possible to detect a degree of fatigue with New Zealand’s hugely successful flagship style.

This latter camp saw its numbers swell when the bumper 2008 vintage saw shelves flooded with discounted stock. On top of oversupply came the observation from several corners that quality was slipping as fast as the prices. Just as this golden goose was starting to look decidedly wobbly on its feet, New Zealand’s producers regrouped, rallied and within just a few years have taken major strides towards revitalising the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc landscape.

At a mainstream level, the classic style is clearly going stronger than ever – just visit a UK supermarket and compare the shelf space dedicated to this single combination of variety and region with the area allocated to other entire countries. Against this backdrop of stability, however, many Marlborough producers have now identified an opportunity – a need even – to shake up the stereotype and show what else they can do.
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The Internet is blossoming into quite the virtual vineyard.

Online wine options are everywhere, from flash sale sites like Lot18 offering daily deals to Facebook prodding you to send a little something for Aunt Suzy’s birthday. And now there’s a new generation of startups such as Club W, which adds a little algorithm to your Albarino, using surveys and ratings to figure out what you might like to drink next.

 

Advertisement ..The click-and-sip approach seems to be catching on, says Jeff Carroll of ShipCompliant, a Boulder, Colo.-based company that helps wineries comply with shipping laws. “Wine is a unique product and it lends itself well to the social aspects of the Internet in terms of discovery.”

 

Online sales have been around for a while, with individual wineries selling wine through their websites, a practice that has become more prevalent as more states relax Prohibition-era laws that had banned alcohol shipments.

 

Today, only seven states have an outright ban on direct-to-consumer shipping, though some of the states that do allow shipping have various restrictions, and 89 percent of the U.S. population has access to direct-to-consumer sales, according to Steve Gross of the San Francisco-based Wine Institute, a trade association.

 
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A brave new world lies ahead!

A brave new world lies ahead!

A report has warned that climate change is likely to push viticulture into new areas with potentially “disastrous” consequences for several endangered animal species.
Credit: Conservation-International photo-by-Russell-A.-Mittermeier
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the study claims to be “the first ever worldwide analysis of the impacts of climate change on wine production and conservation.”

The international team of researchers led by Conservation International warned that in certain parts of the world the area suitable for wine production is due to shrink by “as much as 73% by 2050”, with particular pressure on local water resources.

A Google Earth “flyover” (see video below) compiled by the report’s authors shows a significant northerly shift for Europe’s viticultural regions, putting even areas such as Bordeaux and the Rhône under threat.

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