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22 January 2019 № 368


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21 September 2018
The wine maps making waves in Bordeaux.

Bordeaux specialist Pierre Le Hong makes a name for himself in the region by producing detailed, digital maps of prized vineyards. Most of them start out with a bird’s eye view high above Europe, closing in first on France, then on Bordeaux, then on whichever appellation is in the spotlight.

The different vineyard plots are detailed, usually with their soil type and grape plantings in different colours and shown from a variety of angles that make clear that the Médoc isn’t nearly so flat as is usually believed.
6 April 2018
Château Giscours denies breaking chaptalisation rules.

Château Giscours in Bordeaux has strongly denied any suggestion that it purposefully broke rules on chaptalisation of wine after learning that French authorities intend to prosecute the estate.

Château Giscours is facing a court case, likely to be in June, over the alleged illegal chaptalisation of some of its wine from the Bordeaux 2016 vintage. French authorities have accused Giscours, based in the Margaux appellation, of knowingly chaptalising Merlot wine against the rules. Chaptalisation, a method of adding sucrose to grape juice that can then boost alcohol levels in wine, was allowed for all grape varieties except Merlot across several Bordeaux appellations in the 2016 vintage. Giscours said that, while it did begin chaptalisation on a vat of 2016 wine containing 20% Merlot and 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, it did so in good faith; having received what it believed to be written clearance to do so from Margaux wine body, the Syndicat de l’appellation Margaux. ‘There was no intention at all to try to do anything against the regulations,’ Alexander Van Beek, director general of Giscours, told Decanter.com. The case did not concern the Giscours 2016 first wine, he said. He said that Giscours and many other estates had applied to chaptalise some of the juice from the 2016 vintage. An initial email from the Margaux appellation body to Giscours on 10 October 2016 said that chaptalisation at up to 1% of abv would be fine, according to the estate. But, a second email later the same day clarified that Merlot should not be chaptalised. A letter to Giscours from the Margaux appellation body, dated 1 February 2018, confirmed that its first email on 10 October 2016 didn’t include the detail about Merlot. ‘We have all of the documents to prove our innocence,’ Van Beek said, adding that the whole issue had been a ‘communication mistake’. Part of the problem, he added, was the ‘complicated system’. Requests for chaptalisation have to be passed up to France’s appellation body, the INAO, but final clearance must be given by the regional government; in this case the ‘Préfet’ in Bordeaux. Faced with time pressure in the cellar, this can cause headaches, said Van Beek. Bordeaux’s Préfet did not officially endorse chaptalisation on 2016 vintage wines excluding Merlot until 11 October 2016, and this was signed off by INAO a day later, according to the letter to Giscours from Margaux’s appellation body. But the Margaux appellation body was understood to have emailed winemakers two days earlier, after receiving reassurances from INAO. Source – www.decanter.com
15 January 2018
Auction highlights: the most expensive wine lots of 2017

Can you guess which bottles ranked as some of 2017’s highest selling fine wines at auction? Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses reveal their top wine lots of the year… Last year Christie’s auction house held 16 live wine auctions all over the world, including London, New York, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva.

UK Christie’s auctions

Christie’s highest-selling lot was a 12-bottle case of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s Romanée-Conti 1988, sold in London’s September ‘Fine and Rare Wines’ auction for £198,000.

In second place was the coveted Château Cheval-Blanc 1947, a 12-bottle case sold for £168,000 in the December ‘Finest and Rarest’ London auction.

Eight out of Christie’s top 10 wine lots were from Burgundy, dominated by Domaine de la Romance-Conti (DRC) wines: three lots of Romanée-Conti 1988, one of Romanée-Conti 1991 and La Tâche 1996.

A single bottle of Château Lafite-Rothschild 1806 made seventh place on the list, it was sold for £45,600 at London’s December auction.

US and Asia Christie’s auctions

The top selling wine from Christie’s New York sales was DRC’s Montrachet 1990 (12 bottles), sold for US$104,125.

Other US highlights included three bottles of DRC’s Romanée-Conti 1990, which reached a price of $98,000.

Twelve bottles of Petrus 1947 sold for $49,000, and three bottles of 1975 ‘Black Seal’ Madeira, sold for $46,550.

Château Cheval-Blanc 1947 was the highest selling lot among Christie’s Hong Kong auctions; its May auction saw a case of 12 sell for 1,592,500 HKD (US $203,740).

Sotheby’s top wines of 2017

Sotheby’s auction house hosted around 21 wine sales in London, New York and Hong Kong in 2017, reaching a grand sales total of over $64 million.

Towards the close of 2017 its ‘A Life of Luxury’ auction in New York made headlines for hitting over $2.6m in sales.

The lead consignment entitled ‘DRC Spanning Four Decades, Rousseau in Historic Vintages and Top-Flight Bordeaux’ sold 78 lots for an eye-watering $619,244. The top lot was Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Romanee Conti 2013, which sold for $55,350 , above the estimate of $30,000-40,000. 

Two lots from the April Hong Kong sale: Vosne Romanée, Cros Parantoux 1990 Henri Jayer (12 bottles) and Hermitage, La Chapelle 1961 Paul Jaboulet Aîné (12 bottles). The respective upper estimates for the lots were 1.4 million HKD and 1 million HKD, and both sold for for 1.2 million HKD each (US $157,051). 

In New York’s ‘Finest and Rarest’ October sale, the top lot was a case of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée Conti 1996 (6 bottles), selling for $134,750 (est. $60,000-$90,000).

Although the year’s leading lots were vastly dominated by Burgundian cult wines, California earned a spot in the auction highlights with a ‘Vertical’ 43-bottle consignment of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon — the highest-selling wine lot at the September Hong Kong sale, hitting 1,163,750 HKD (US $149,007).

All of the specialist highlights were purchased by private buyers from Asia.

*Exchange rates accurate at time of publishing, but may be subject to change.

Source: www.decanter.com

13 January 2018
Plans begin to rebuild Signorello

The owners of Signorello Estate in Napa Valley have started plans for rebuilding after the winery was destroyed in the California fires in September. 

Ray Signorello Jr has hired Taylor Lombardo Architects and Nordby Construction Company to design and rebuild the estate.

‘After a great deal of research, I am thrilled to align Signorello Estate with these two local, award-winning firms,’ said Ray Signorello Jr.

Both companies have worked on other Napa wineries, including Silver Oak and Inglenook respectively.

The new design will be an open, modern structure taking advantage of the site and location of Signorello. New features include ‘cave facilities’; an estimated 8000 sq ft space for ageing wines, along side hospitality space.

The new winery will also include a professional kitchen, allowing for extensive food and wine pairings as part of the visitor experience.

‘The world saw Signorello Estate as the face of the Napa Valley fire,’ said Tom Taylor and Maurice Lombardo, partners of Taylor Lombardo Architects.

‘Soon they will see it as a leading symbol of this region’s comeback.’

‘We can move Signorello Estate beyond our recent setbacks and towards a brighter future,’ said Signorello.

Source: www.decanter.com

11 January 2018
WSET Chief Executive awarded in New Year’s Honours

Ian Harris, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), has been awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list 2018.

Harris has been awarded this in recognition for his services to the wine and spirit industry.

‘It is an incredible honour to be appointed an MBE,’ said Harris.

‘After 25 years in the mainstream, commercial side of the industry, I have enjoyed the last (and the best) 15 years of my career at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.’

Harris’ love for wine began after spending a year working in Bordeaux, then working within sales and marketing, including with Waverley Vintners followed by 15 years with the Seagram Spirits and Wine Group in the UK and France.

In 2002, he joined the WSET as the chief executive. Since 2002, annual candidate numbers have grown from 10,000 to 85,000 in 2017.

‘Education is the foundation for any successful industry and I am privileged to lead an organisation that nurtures future generations of wine and spirits professionals and enthusiasts.’

‘I am very proud of what the team at WSET have achieved over the past few years and we will continue to work to build a fruitful future for this great industry, which I love.’

In 2015, the WSET was awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2015 in International Trade.

The WSET offers nine qualifications in wine, spirits and sake, in 19 languages and across more than 70 countries.

Source: www.decanter.com

28 August 2017
UPS to ship wine in three days to more countries

The US delivery company has said it is expanding its wine, spirits and beer shipping services internationally to quench the thirst of many of the world’s biggest wine importing nations.

This expanded service will allow more people to order their favourite wine brands directly from the vineyard and have it on their doorstep within three days – although it added that delivery time depends on location.

Its move again demonstrates rising competition in the wine delivery sector, and in direct shipments led by online orders.

‘Direct-to-consumer wine shipments are experiencing phenomenal growth around the world,’ said David Rosenberg, UPS international marketing manager.

‘Considering the growth rate and the customer demand, UPS has expanded services to an additional 36 countries with more in the works.

‘This service is now operational, reaching 24 of the top 35 wine importing countries. Our services also include the shipment of beer and distilled drinks.’

UPS’ main focus is Europe, where the service is available to 23 countries, including the UK, France, Switzerland and Belgium.

The second important destination is the emerging market of Asia, where 11 countries are able to benefit from the service, including Japan, Hong Kong and Mainland China.

The International Organisation of Vine and Wine estimates that 43 percent of all wine is consumed outside the country of its origin.

In the US, the home territory of the UPS, direct-to-consumer and cross-border wine shipping has been a fraught battleground in the US in recent years, with ongoing disputes between retailers, wineries and distributors. However, the market has opened up significantly in recent years.

US wineries sent 17% more wine direct to drinkers in 2016 versus 2015, according to an industry report released earlier this year.

Source – www.decanter.com

26 August 2017
Antinori buys Chilean winery

Italian wine giant Marchesi Antinori has bought Haras de Pirque winery for an undisclosed fee.

The family-owned Italian wine group, which produces Super Tuscan favourite Tignanello and also owns the Antica winery in Napa Valley, has been in a joint-venture with the Matte family at Haras de Pirque since 2003.

Marchese Piera Antinori discovered the Maipo Valley estate in 2001 and the the two families subsequently collaborated to create Albis, the winery’s flagship wine.

Albis is ablend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère – Chile’s signature grape but also with a strong French heritage and still one of the grapes allowed in Bordeaux red blends.

‘We are very excited to continue our Chilean venture’, said Albiera Antinori, president of Marchesi Antinori. ‘We will focus on enhancing the quality of our estate-grown fruit through sustainable and organic vineyard practices’.

Eduardo Matte acquired Haras de Pirque in 1991, after a business career in Chile’s private sector.

The domaine extends over 600 hectares, including 100 hectares of vineyards planted with Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay grapes.

Located in the upper Maipo Valley, the region has a Mediterranean climate with rains occurring mainly in the winter.

Source – www.decanter.com

24 August 2017
‘Lucifer heatwave’ kick-starts early Franciacorta harvest

Hot weather and drought mean that some sparkling wine producers in northern Italy have started harvesting grapes 12 days earlier than normal.  Producers of Italian sparkling wine Franciacorta, in Lombardy, east of Milan, officially began their 2017 wine harvest on 3 August.

Picking began as the so-called ‘Lucifer heatwave’ became the latest spate of hot weather to arrive in parts of Europe this summer; leading to health warnings for citizens and problems for public services in several countries.

In the vineyards, many areas have reported that vines are ahead of schedule in 2017.

Franciacorta producers do not normally start harvest until after ‘Ferragosto’, a national bank holiday, which falls on 15 August.

‘The extremely high temperatures we’ve been having lately made us start the harvest,’ Mauro Piliu, export director of Castello di Gussago, told Decanter.com.

The estate was harvesting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The official regulations of the region dictate that the grape harvest must not begin before 1 August. ‘It seems that recently we’ve been getting closer and closer to that date,’ said Piliu.

It’s been a year of extremes in many of Europe’s vineyards.

Earlier in the year, some areas of Italy, Spain and France experienced early blossom followed by devastating frosts, while others were affected by hailstorms.

Franciacorta is expected to see overall yields down by 30% due to earlier frosts, according to the region’s wine council. Piliu estimated that, due to the weather conditions, the 2017 production of Castello di Gussago will be 10 percent lower than last year.

Italy’s Coldiretti agricultural lobby said it expected wine production across the country to be 10 percent to 15 percent lower than in 2016.

Italy is not the only country seeing an early start to its wine harvest. In Spain, Colet winery, just outside Barcelona, has also started picking grapes for sparkling wines.

‘We started on 3 August, which is the record earliest in the history of our vineyard,’ said Irene Mestre Torras from Colet Viticultors. ‘It’s even earlier than in 2015 when the heat forced us to begin on 6 August.’ Similarly to the Italian Franciacorta region, the harvest in Penedes normally begins after 15 August.

Colet started with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Normally there is a time window between the picking of different variety of grapes, but due to the prolonged heat the ripeness of many grapes will coincide and the harvest time for each of their varieties will be about 10 days earlier.

‘Xarel-lo, for example, is usually harvested in September, but this year we believe we will have finished by the end of August,’ said Torrras.

Colet’s production drop is estimated to be at around 15 percent as opposed to 2016.

In France, the agriculture ministry said last month that the vineyard growing season was two weeks ahead of schedule in several areas.

Source – www.decanter.com

8 August 2017
Troplong Mondot has been sold to Scor

St-Emilion's highly rated Château Troplong Mondot has been sold to French insurance company Scor in a week of deals on Bordeaux's Right Bank, with Moueix family-owned Bélair-Monange also agreeing to buy two estates.

Scor has become the latest French insurance group to own a high-profile Bordeaux winery after news broke that it had bought Château Troplong Mondot, the St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé B estate, from the Valette-Pariente family. A fee was not disclosed but it would likely have been at the higher end of the St-Emilion value scale.

French land agency ‘Safer’ said last year that St-Emilion vineyard prices ranged from 200,000 euros per hectare up to 2.5 million euros per hectare, depending on the site. Demand was outstripping supply, according to property consultancy Vineyard Intelligence.

Xavier Pariente said that he would remain in charge at Troplong Mondot for the next three months, when Scor will appoint a new CEO.

Troplong Mondot has 33 hectares of vines, with 90% planted to Merlot, 8% to Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% to Cabernet Franc.

Separately, the Moueix family, headed by Christian Moueix and owner of some great domaines such as Trotanoy, Lagrange La Fleur-Pétrus and Latour à Pomerol, is set to add two new properties to its portfolio.

The family has agreed to buy Clos La Madeleine, a St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé, and Château Magnan La Gaffelière, a St-Emilion Grand Cru, via its existing ownership of Château Bélair-Monange.

‘The acquisition is in progress, we are waiting for the legal processes to be completed,’ Christian Moueix told Decanter.com.

With only 2.3 hectares, Clos La Madeleine is closest to Bélair-Monange and Château Ausone on the limestone plateau of St-Emilion and planted with 76% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Franc.

It was previously owned by more than 80 investors managed by Société Générale, a French bank and investment company.

Château Magnan La Gaffelière is a larger domaine with ‘a lot of plots’ covering 10 hectares, said Christian Moueix.

‘The terroirs are very diverse and very different to Bélair-Monange,’ he said.

‘For this reason we want to keep them separate from Château Bélair-Monange even if the acquisition was made by Bélair-Monange.’

As with all wines from the Moueix family, the wines will be distributed by Etablissements JP Moueix.

Source – www.decanter.com

5 August 2017
All Britons want for summer is a box of wine

UK wine lovers are returning in their droves to bag-in-box wines, according to Amazon sales data covering summer so far. Box wine – or bag-in-box as it has become known – is enjoying a summertime surge in the UK, with sales increasing by more than 200% at online retail giant Amazon.

Convenience, increasing environmental awareness and improving quality and choice were the reasons pin-pointed by Amazon.co.uk for the 212% increase in its boxed wine sales during June and July, compared to the same period last year.

The city of Bristol led the way with a 650% surge in boxed wine sales over that period, followed by Leeds (up 325%) and London (up 137%), Amazon said today (27 July).

Its figures add to emerging evidence that bag-in-box wines have come back into fashion in the UK.

Waitrose said earlier this month that it was launching a premium range of bag-in-box wines. It began with a boxed Provence rosé, combining two contenders for the key UK wine trend of the summer.

Amazon said that its biggest sellers were JP Chenet Cabernet, with sales up 362% for the June and July versus last year, El Emperador Sauvignon Blanc (+216%), Banrock Station Chardonnay (+150%) and Banrock Station Shiraz (+123%).

‘As the quality and breadth of selection increases, boxed wine is becoming more popular, particularly over the summer months when it can be easily transported from pantry to picnic,’ said Sebastian O’Keefe, beer, wine and spirits store manager at Amazon.co.uk.

‘We have already seen the evolution from cork to screw top and our customers are clearly shrugging off the preconceptions of boxed wine and embracing the ease and environmental benefits of switching from bottle to box.’


Source – www.decanter.com

3 August 2017
UK police raid uncovers thousands of suspected stolen wines

On Thursday 20 July, officers from Serious and Organised Crime Unit of the Kent Police raided two warehouses  – one in Goudhurst Road, Horsmonden, the other in nearby Tibbs Court Lane, Brenchley.

They found a large amount of allegedly stolen goods – thousands of bottles of wine, along with flat screen TVs, marble tiles and air conditioning units. The identity of the wines was not available.

There are 127 palettes of ‘stolen’ loot, filling 4 HGV lorries. The police are now busy identifying the owners of these wines and other goods.

A 26-year-old man from Horsmonden has been arrested and bailed until 17th August.

The raids follow multiple complaints from at least 20 companies from outside the UK.

For at least ten years criminals have targeted wine producers in France, Italy and other parts of Europe. Typically producers are contacted by email by someone falsely posing to work for a legitimate UK wine business.

Orders are placed, wine dispatched but frequently diverted on route to a new destination where it disappears, while payment bounces.

Detective Inspector Annie Clayton said:  ‘We have received multiple complaints from victims who have alleged they have lost goods due to fraud and that these goods were delivered to storage facilities in west Kent; which have now been searched.

‘This is a complex investigation, which is being assisted by our partners at Interpol and the Metropolitan Police and which has so far resulted in the recovery of vast amounts of property we believe has been obtained by fraudulent means. The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate is committed to tackling those who facilitate organised crime in Kent and we are investigating allegations, which are on a very significant scale.’


Source – www.decanter.com

1 July 2017
Hidden message reveals ancient soldiers’ thirst for wine

Scientists have revealed a hidden message on a fragment of ancient pottery on display in Israel, shedding more light on who was drinking wine 2,500 years ago in the region.

Scientists from Tel Aviv University used ground-breaking image technology to uncover an eroded message on the shard of pottery, found near the site of an ancient fortress and dating to around 600 BC.

Their research revealed an order for wine, oil and flour, most likely from soldiers stationed at the fortress, located near to the modern-day Israeli city of Arad.

For the wine world, the discovery adds to evidence of widespread wine consumption in the region at the time.

It is also a victory for multispectral imaging, which was successfully used by researchers to recover the message that had gone unnoticed despite the clay pot fragment being on display at an Israeli museum for half a century.

‘The text bears more than 50 characters, creating 17 new words,’ said researchers in a paper published on Public Library of Science (PLOS) One.

‘It begins with a request for wine – “If there is any wine, send [quantity]” – as well as a guarantee for assistance if the addressee has any requests of his own,’ researchers said.

It’s quite likely that the fortress was occupied by soldiers of the Kingdom of Judah, which was facing a tumultuous period that would ultimately lead to its demise in the same era.

Historians and archaeologists are building a picture of wine drinking and production in the region at this time.

Local wines were believed to have been dark and rich, although many had extra herbs and spices added, according to Dr Patrick McGovern, known as the ‘Indiana Jones of ancient wines’ and who is scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in the US.

Source – www.decanter.com

29 June 2017
UK heatwave sends Provence rosé sales soaring

Supermarkets and wine merchants have seen a strong increase in rosé sales in the UK during a heatwave that culminated in the hottest day for 40 years.

June 21st was the hottest day in the UK since 1976, with temperatures reaching 34°C celsius in some parts of the country. Other countries have also experienced a spate of hot weather, from France to the south-west US.

In the UK, Decanter.com has discovered that a week of high temperatures and sunshine lead to a surge in sales of rosé wines, and particularly rosé from Provence.

Asda reported an increase in rosé sales of over 26% compared to the same week last year; it saw a 170% rise in French rosé sales and also 250% in Australian rosé.

Waitrose told Decanter.com that sales of rosé were also up strongly, and Tesco reported that rosé sales were up 20% compared to the same week last year.

At Majestic, rosé sales are up 16% year to date since April 2017.

Provence rosé was doing especially well, with sales up 29% at the wine retailer.

‘Provence is flying – which, given Majestic’s already strong market share, is big,’ said Jack Merryless, spokesperson for Majestic.

Source – www.decanter.com

27 June 2017
Château Soutard owner buys neighbouring Château

Following weeks of speculation around St-Émilion, Bertrand de Villaines, CEO of La Mondiale Grands Crus confirmed to Decanter.com his acquisition of  St-Émilion Grand Cru Classé, Château Petit Faurie de Soutard.

La Mondiale Grands Crus also owns Château Soutard and Château Larmande in St-Émilion, and is the wine estates branch of French insurance company AG2R La Mondiale.

Château Petit Faurie de Soutard is Château Soutard’s neighbour, but there is no intention of combining them.

‘We will not integrate Petit Faurie de Soutard into Château Soutard’, said de Villaines.

‘Petit Faurie de Soutard is a great domaine, and we want to understand it.’

de Villaines also rejected the idea that he will use this purchase to increase the land area of Château Soutard.

Historically, the vines of Petit Faurie de Soutard were part of  Château Soutard, but the two have been separated since 1851.

The vineyard is planted on eight hectares of calcareous-clay soil, with 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Petit Faurie de Soutard had belonged to the Capdemourlin family since 1978.

Soutard had been previously owned by Francois des Ligneris, who was known for his opposition to the St-Émilion syndicat, and the appellations body the INAO.

No fee was disclosed for the Château Petit Faurie de Soutard sale.

Source – www.decanter.com

2 June 2017
Krug launches luxury festival for £400 a ticket

Krug has announced it will be hosting a lavish, night-time Champagne, food and music festival in Hampshire, with tickets starting at £395 per person.

Champagne house Krug announced that it will host a luxury festival called ‘Into the Wild’ this summer, where guests will be treated to barbecued meats cooked on 10-feet-high fires and paired with Krug Champagne. There will also be music acts, but no names were disclosed.

Tickets for the festival, to be held on 29 July from 4pm to midnight, will cost £395 per person or £750 for a pair, said Krug.

It said the event will take place in the ‘grand English wilderness’ of Hampshire.

More specifically, ‘Into the Wild’ will be set up in the grounds of The Grange, a 19th-century Greek-revival manor owned by the 7th Lord Ashburton. It’s a venue that already hosts an annual opera festival. 

The evening’s entertainment is said to come from South American chef Francis Mallmann, who will headline the festival with his open-fire cooking, using flames reaching up to 10ft high.

Dubbed by the Champagne house as a ‘culinary sybarite’, Mallmann is a celebrity chef who grew up in Patagonia, Argentina, where he first realised his love for ‘open-fire cooking’.

Olivier Krug, director of the eponymous Champagne house, said, ‘Francis Mallmann embodies the Krug spirit of a refined maverick’.

Mallmann will lead the guests across three sites of the estate, where his team will have cooked locally sourced meat and vegetables for up to seven hours on mammoth fires.

Each round of his barbecued meats will be paired with a wine from Krug’s Champagne portfolio in what is being termed as ‘rough luxury style’.

No live music acts have been revealed, but Krug has said new music platform Mahogany will be in charge of the musical pairings.

The event follows on from their ‘Krug Island’ project last year, when Krug Champagne partnered up with Mick Jones to throw an exclusive music festival on a private island off the coast of Essex. Young celebrities including Rafferty Law, Jaime Winstone and Tess Ward were in attendance.

The festival will take place 4pm-midnight on July 29. Tickets include food, drink and return travel to London at the end of the evening. You can register your interest at krugfestival.com.

Source – www.decanter.com

30 May 2017
Bordeaux 2016 en primeur

Its been the biggest week so far of the Bordeaux 2016 en primeur campaign, with Left Bank stalwart Lynch-Bages joining Right Bank big guns Pavie and Angélus on merchant lists.

A rash of price rises continue to be the signature of the Bordeaux 2016 en primeur campaign.

Today (24 May) has seen Château Lynch-Bages, rated 95 points by Decanter, at €96 ex-Bordeaux, a rise of 14.3% from last year, expected to go on the market in the UK at around £1,150 per case of 12.

That would put it in-line with market value and expected to sell well.

Yesterday, Châteaux Angélus and Pavie continued their policy of releasing at the same price, something that they have followed since both being promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé A in 2012.

They came out at €294 per bottle ex-Bordeaux, a 16.7% increase on the 2015 opening price. In the UK, this translated to a price of £3,576, where sterling different since last year translates to a 33% rise.

Other releases this week include Château Carbonnieux at €25.20 ex-Bordeaux, up from €23.40 with the 2015 vintage.

Château Saint Pierre came out at €45.60 ex-Bordeaux (£548 in UK), Château Petit Village at €54 ex-Bordeaux (up 12.5%), Château Gloria at €30 ex-Bordeaux or £360 per case of 12 in the UK, Château Sociando Mallet at €26.40 ex-Bordeaux (up 18.9% on last year and around £315 per case of 12 in the UK), Château Langoa Barton at  €36.60 ex-Bordeaux (up 14.4%) and La Lagune at €35.40.

First Growths have also begun to show their hand – Château Quintus from Haut-Brion held its 2015 price of €96 ex-Bordeaux translating to £586 per case of 12 in UK.

Carruades de Lafite came out at €135 ex-Bordeaux, and the main Lafite-Rothschild 2016 – one of the wines of the vintage for many – released its first tranche at €455 ex-Bordeaux, just 8.3% up on last year but at volumes that were 50% down, meaning that a second more expensive tranche is expected. Negociants are almost entirely holding on to stock to release at an average price between the two tranches.

‘With more questions than answers, it’s a non-event,’ said Shaun Bishop, CEO of JJ Buckley Fine Wines in California.

‘So far, the wines with the briskest pace of sales on the first day of the release are Pavie, Palmer, Montrose, Labegorce, Branaire Ducru, Beychevelle, and Pape Clement,’ he told Decanter.com.

In the UK, several merchants have reported a steady pace of sales, though not at levels seen for top vintages of the past.

But there is talk, too, of how the en primeur environment has changed. Paul Marus of Corney and Barrow told Decanter.com, ‘As each campaign passes, it becomes more evident that many properties no longer want to sell en primeur. They want to finance the stock themselves and sell bottled wines at a later date, at a higher price. It will be a whole new world, that could easily all end in tears.’

Source – www.decanter.com

27 May 2017
Viognier saviour Georges Vernay dies in the Rhône

Georges Vernay, one of the men who saved Condrieu in the Northern Rhône and put Viognier on the world wine map in the process, has passed away at the age of 92.

Georges Vernay (1926–2017) was the pioneer of the appellation we know today as Condrieu in the northern Rhône. He took over at the family winery in 1953 with only one hectare in the Coteau de Vernon. His father, Francis, had planted vines in 1937 and at that time the domaine was cultivating several crops alongside vines.

The appellation of Condrieu was born in 1940, but the name was not officially listed by French officials until 1945, after the Second World War. The wines of this time were sold simply with Viognier on the label, rather than the name of the appellation.

Before Condrieu gained a worldwide reputation, the appellation nearly disappeared.

In 1960, the AOC included seven hectares of Viognier – believed to be some of the only commercially-planted Viognier left in the world at the time.

In 1986, it extended to 20 hectares; in 1990, it covered 60 hectares; and today the appellation covers 184 hectares.

It was Georges Vernay’s brilliance that transformed this small appellation into one with a worldwide reputation.

‘My father-in-law was a real, erudite wine grower who represented the [Viognier] grape,’ said Paul Amsellem, of Domaine Georges Vernay and husband of Christine Vernay.

‘He did not realise that he represented the grape all by himself [for a long time],’ he told Decanter.com.

Paul Amsellem described Georges Vernay as ‘a forerunner in the comprehension of the Viognier grape but also in the techniques of vinification’.

He added: ‘He was one of the first to use thermo-regulation and barrels in the Rhône Valley.’

Georges Vernay was president of Condrieu for 30 years. Today, all the winemakers from this appellation have lost the forefather of Condrieu.

Source – www.decanter.com

13 May 2017
More drinkers buy California wines above $10

Shipments of California wine across the US hit record levels last year, as volumes rose 2% to 238m cases, at an estimated retail value of US$34.1bn.

The increases mean that California wine shipments have gone up by nearly 25% over the past decade, said Jon Moramarco, founder and managing partner of BW166, which purchased The Gomberg-Fredrikson Report into the US wine market last year. The report is used by the California Wine Institute and US government.

‘The growth trend has been driven by population, which is up more than 12% over the last decade, and by the fact that baby boomers, traditionally the large population segment of frequent wine consumers, have been joined by millennials aged 21-38 who are also driving the growth in wine consumption,’ said Moramarco, in a statement released by California’s Wine Institute.

California wines priced at $10 and above are also on the increase, and now make up 19% of the market by volume, and 40% by value – while wines under $10 are flat or falling, despite still accounting for more than 80% of volumes.

Total shipments of Champagne and sparkling wines rose 14% in 2016 to 25.6m cases, with Prosecco driving the strong growth in the market.

Meanwhile, access to wine across the US continues to expand, with 550,000 locations that sell wine, according to market research company Nielsen.

As well as stores, bars and restaurants, these now include less traditional locations such as bookstores, nail salons, coffee shops – and even car washes and car repair shops.

Figures released in February showed that US wine exports earned a record $1.62bn in winery revenues during 2016, despite a double-digit decline in shipment volumes.


Source: www.decanter.com

6 May 2017
Loire 2017 vintage in trouble after frost

There could be fewer Loire wines around from several appellations after winemakers were among those hit by heavy frosts across Europe, and some for the second consecutive year.

Loire Valley vines were also hit hard by spring frost in 2016.

Although it is still too early to have exact figures, some Loire regions and appellations have lost a significant percentage of their 2017 crop due to frost.

Unlike the historic frost of 1991, which occurred over one night, producers faced an exhausting series of frosts as they did in 2016.

The frosts occurred in the last weeks of April with particular damage on the 20th, 26th and 27th.

Damage varies considerably along the Loire. In the Pays Nantais (Muscadet), Savennières and Saumur-Champigny the frost is more serious than last year, while overall Indre-et-Loire department has suffered less than last year.

‘The 2017 frosts are more serious than last year with around 40%-50% of our vineyards affected, although we will not have a full picture until the end of this week,’ said François Robin, of La fédération des vins de Nantes. ‘The heart of the Sèvre-et-Maine has suffered most.’

Emmanuel Ogereau, of Domaine Ogereau, told Decanter.com, ‘Savennières was wiped out on 27th – only 10% of the crop remains and there is also severe damage in other parts of Anjou.’

‘The higher Saumur-Champigny vineyards, which are not normally frosted, were hit on 20th, while the lower ones to the west were frosted the next week, especially 27th,’ said Patrick Vadé.

‘Some producers have lost everything. The Robert & Marcel coop report a 20% loss in their 1800 hectares.’

Guillaume Lapaque, directeur at Fédération des Associations Viticoles d’Indre-et-Loire et de la Sarthe says that, ‘Overall the 2017 frost has been much less devastating in Indre et Loire than in 2016. We calculate that the loss in the département is in the order of 15%, whereas last year it was 50%.’


Source: www.decanter.com

30 April 2017
Argentina harvest 2017: promising vintage

Off the back of a very wet El Niño vintage last year, it was a relief for winemakers in Argentina to return to its more characteristic dry climate. Although quality is considered high across the board, damaging spring frosts significantly reduced the quantity.

‘2017 is a fantastic harvest in terms of quality,’ said Santiago Achaval, winemaker at Matervini.

‘After 2014 and 2015 were challenged by rain close to the harvest, and 2016 in spring and early summer, we had a return to almost normal Mendoza weather. The only problem was a series of near-frost events during spring. This resulted in a poor fruit set for Malbec, with yields down between 40% and 60%.’

A slightly earlier harvest than normal was a blessing in disguise for Mendoza as mid-April experienced a big downpour of rain and several hailstorms.

‘2017 will be remembered for its excellent quality and low volume. Low yields and excellent ripeness led to an impressive concentration of tannins and very intense colour.

‘The tannic structure offers mouth-filling wines, and we can expect tremendous ageing ability.’

In Salta and northern Argentina the yields increased compared to last year, with no reported complications. However further south in Río Negro and Neuquén, late spring frosts also reduced yields by up to 40% followed by a hot summer, flash floods and hail.

Argentina’s 2017 vintage was undeniably smaller, but should stand out for its concentration and quality.


Source: www.decanter.com

24 September 2016
New Cru Bourgeois Classification to launch ‘in 2020’

More than three quarters of châteaux in Bordeaux's Cru Bourgeois classification have voted to create a new three-tier system by 2020, its leaders have said.

Leaders of the Cru Bourgeois classification aim to introduce a new hierarchy based on quality, environmental standards and ‘notoriety’ within four years. Seventy-eight percent of members backed the new classification in principle at a general assembly meeting in Bordeaux last week. If implemented, it means that Cru Bourgeois châteaux can apply for higher status, either Cru Bourgeois Supérieur or Exceptionnel.

Today there are 278 châteaux in the Bordeaux 2014 Cru Bourgeois classification. Producers hope that a broadly well received 2014 vintage for the region as a whole will help them to attract new consumers looking for Bordeaux at more affordable prices.

Cru Bourgeois wines generally cost between €15 and €30 euros at retail. Fastest growing markets include China and the US.

Members must prove their worth by submitting every vintage to a blind tasting, usually around 18 months after harvest. A list of those who have made the grade is then released in the autumn, two years after the vintage was plucked from the vines.

Previous attempts to create a hierarchy among the estates have ended in dispute, and discussions on a new tiered system have been ongoing for several years.

‘We need to organise ourselves,’ Armelle Cruse, vice president of Cru Bourgeois, told Decanter.com during the London tasting of its new Bordeaux 2014 vintage wines

Estates that attain the ‘supérieur’ or ‘exceptionnel’ tag will have to re-apply every five years, she said. And there will be spot checks inbetween to keep people on their toes. Plus, for what is believed to be the first time in Bordeaux, the new classification system would include an assessment of environmental practises.

Promotion hopefuls will also have to produce dossiers on quality and ‘notoriety’, said Cruse.

For example, ‘you’ll have to state what you want to do to improve the quality, and why you’re better than others’, she said.

‘Winemakers will [also] have to show a dossier on pricing policy, distribution policy and, third, whether they have press coming to taste the wine.’

Cruse said that it would be important for an ‘exceptionnel’ château to achieve ‘notoriety’, because ‘they will be the stars’ of the classification.

Source: www.decanter.com

23 September 2016
Wine ‘war’ in Sancerre as vines vandalized

A dispute over who should be allowed to grow Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire appears to have spilled over into vineyard sabotage after one grower reported losing 6,000 vines.

In what French media has termed ‘war in Sancerre‘, one wine producer in the Loire has complained to police after vandals sabotaged between 5,000 and 6,000 of young vines.

The vineyard attack is believed to be connected to a feud in the Loire over who should – and shouldn’t – be allowed to grow Sauvignon Blanc. However, a connection has not been proven.

Saboteurs up-rooted the hectare of young Sauvignon vines over the weekend in the commune of Saint-Satur, at a place called The Cabarette. They belonged to Jean-Jacques Auchère, a winemaker in Sancerre located in the village of Bué.

Damage has been estimated at 12,000 euros, but no suspects had been identified at the time of writing (19 July).

Tension has been running high in the Loire due to a dispute over vine planting rules outside of AOC vineyards.

Sancerre AOC producers in particular have been angered by what they see as overly-liberal EU rules allowing planting of new Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Pinot Noir, beyond appellation borders for use in IGP Val de Loire wines.

Winemakers in the Centre-Loire AOC group, including Sancerre, have said those outside appellation borders should look beyond Sauvignon and Pinot, to the 22 other grape varieties cleared for use under the IGP Val de Loire label – equivalent to the old ‘vin de pays’.

But, the wine union for IGP Val de Loire said concerns were exaggerated and that there was no widespread planting of Sauvignon Blanc outside of the AOC zones.

In October 2015 and February 2016, around 300 vignerons from Sancerre and Reuilly protested against a potential threat to AOC wines in Bourges.

Many in the region believe vandalism is too much. ‘We do not endorse these malevolent acts,’ Nathalie Prieur, director of the Union Viticole Sancerroise, told Decanter.com.

Source: www.decanter.com

22 September 2016
Wine Enthusiast’s 2016 Wine Star Award Winner for Person of the Year: Wayne E. Chaplin

It isn’t always easy to grow up in the shadow of a parent who has built a successful business.

Whether it’s a question of the parent knowing how (or not) to let go, sibling rivalries or financial issues, it’s never simple knowing to judge when a son or daughter is ready to take over the reins of a modern, complex enterprise.

But if there’s an individual who’s succeeded within a multigenerational family business and a highly competitive sector, it’s Wayne E. Chaplin, chief executive officer of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, North America’s largest wine and spirits distributor.

Under Chaplin’s leadership, Southern Glazer’s has operations in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and the Caribbean. The company has more than 20,000 employees and sells more 150 million cases of wine and spirits per year.

Associates marvel of the devotion that the low-key Chaplin has to his family, friends and the charitable groups he supports.

Chaplin credits his wife, Arlene, for her loyal support and wisdom. The couple just celebrated their 30th anniversary. He also gives credit to their children.

A Softer Side

When asked about the most important quality that people may not know about him, Chaplin says, “From the very beginning, our family and my mentors were always, always all about giving back. For me, that having a soft center comes from having a warm heart.”

He’s extremely proud of his family’s charitable giving. Their commitment to promoting responsible consumption and aiding efforts to combat underage drinking has spread throughout the company over the years.

“We encourage our people to be involved at the local level, not just with the big charities,” he says.

For Chaplin, it’s not only about financial support for charities. He also puts in time and hard work. Chaplin is chairman of the board of trustees of Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach.

“In working closely with Wayne, he is literally the busiest person I know,” says Steven D. Sonenreich, president and CEO of the hospital. “However, with his unrelenting commitment to business, he prioritizes his family, friends and community.”

Chaplin’s support of Florida International University in Miami has helped make the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management one of world’s best, according to Mark Rosenberg, the university’s president.

“Wayne Chaplin is a passionate supporter of the next generation of hospitality professionals, and works for a more inclusive, global and stronger industry,” he says.

Wayne and Southern Glazer’s are original sponsoring organizers of the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Now in its 16th year, the annual event has raised more than $24 million, much of it for FIU student scholarships.

Southern Glazer’s also sponsors the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival, which has raised more than $9.5 million for Food Bank for New York City and No Kid Hungry.

“What I admire most about Wayne is his common-sense approach to business,” says Pete Carr, regional president of Bacardi North America. “He truly understands how the entire business operates, as he is engaged front and center in every area.”

John Sellar, the president of importer Frederick Wildman & Sons, says, “Wayne’s dedication to the development of the wine and spirits business across the U.S. has and continues to be unparalleled. With all that he does, he still manages to balance this business dedication with his personal and philanthropic endeavors with the same vigor.”

So what’s the secret to Chaplin and his remarkable journey? What’s behind his emergence as a visionary industry leader who’s respected and known across six continents for his business acumen and generous nature?

The Power of Empowerment

Harvey R. Chaplin, Wayne’s father, has part of the answer: strong, decisive, principled, enlightened and compassionate parenting.

“Wayne wanted to come to Southern straight out of high school, out of college, out of law school,” says Harvey, who co-founded Southern Wine & Spirits of America in 1968 and serves today as chairman of the company. “And I kept saying to him, ‘You have nothing to offer. Nothing to offer.’ I said, ‘You’re going to be the owner’s son. What the hell are you going to offer?’ ”

So after he graduated from University of Miami School of Law, Wayne joined a leading Miami law firm. Wayne worked there until Harvey finally said one day, “Are you coming or not?”

Only then, armed with some real-world legal and business experience, did Wayne join Southern in 1984.

He started at the bottom. In the firm’s Miami warehouse, he learned the basics. Wayne became versed in everything from operations and delivery to sales and marketing to retailers and restaurateurs.

In 1987, he was promoted to vice president in charge of operations. By 1989, he rose to first vice president and chief operating officer. In 1994, he was appointed the company’s president. In July, he was named CEO of Southern Glazer’s.

“Once Wayne came in, he applied a strategy to expand to multiple states,” says Mel Dick, senior vice president and president of Southern Glazer’s wine division. “And thank goodness that he had the ability, the brilliance, and—this is the important thing—empowerment from his father and the other partners.”

Game-changing National Vision

“By the late 1980s, as we saw what was happening in our industry as well as many other industries, that consolidation was rapidly unfolding, we thought we could add value to our customers and our suppliers if we could scale up to a national basis,” says Chaplin.

In the business world, often loaded with jargon and cliché, “vision” is one of its most overused terms. Yet, if one quality separates Wayne’s career from so many others in the wine and spirits industry, it was his early appreciation of the potential of a distributor if it could expand nationwide.

As the leading multistate distributor, Chaplin capitalized on this trend before many other competitors. It was his vision that transformed the company.

“It was Wayne’s vision to build a national footprint for the company and to demonstrate to suppliers how this would make sense for their businesses,” says his father. “His drive and determination is what made Southern’s combination with Glazer’s a reality, and it’s truly a game changer for the industry.”

“Wayne’s strong leadership skills, combined with his vision for collaborative and mutually beneficial partnerships, have always impressed me,” says Paul Duffy, president and CEO of Pernod Ricard North America. “His ability to clearly communicate a vision—and then achieve it—has helped him become an industry leader.”

For these professional, charitable and personal activities and achievements, and the respect, friendship and admiration of his peers, associates and employees, Wayne E. Chaplin is Wine Enthusiast’s 2016 Person of the Year.

16 August 2016
Wine-making in Brazil

As Brazil is getting a lot of attention right now it may be appropriate to point out that there are actually quite a lot of good wines in this big country.

It is perhaps not the first country that comes to mind when you think of wines from South America. But Brazil is rapidly becoming known internationally as a serious wine country and exports have grown dramatically in recent years.

Brazil is a big country. There is tropical heat in the north but down in the south, on the border with Uruguay and at 600 meters (2000 ft) altitude, the climate is well suited to viticulture.

Much of the Brazilian production is still simple wines. These are made from American grapes and sold locally, often in 5-liter carboys. But ambitious producers are now making more and more wines from European Vitis vinifera grapes. They call these wines Vinhos Finos.

Some producers have completely stopped growing the American vines. Overall, Brazil has today about 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of vineyards. Out of these 80,000 hectares between 10,000 ha and 15,000 ha (between 25,000 acres and 37,000 acres) are planted with European grapes.

For most producers, the American grapes are an important part of their production. At Vinhos Mioranza, for example, founder Antônio Alvise Mioranza and his grandson Diego make 7 million litres (1.85 million US gallon) of vinho de mesa (table wine) from American grapes and 100 000 litres (26 400 US gallon) of Vinhos Finos. They are not ashamed of their table wines. The grapes are Isabel, Niagara, and Bordo and for this category, says Diego, the wines have a good quality.

In São Paolo it is 25 degrees Celsius (77 F) in August (and that’s the winter), down to Bento Gonçalves it is 10 C (almost 20 F) cooler. Bento Gonçalves is the main town in the wine region of Vale dos Vinhedos, 2 hours’ flight south from São Paolo. Here the vines grow at between 600 and 800 meters (between 2000 ft and 2600 ft) altitude in an undulating landscape that stays green more or less all year round. There is never any lack of rain in the Vale dos Vinhedos. They have around 1300 millimetre (51 in) per year (that is quite a lot in a wine region), well spread out over the year. Fortunately, most of the vines grow on well-drained slopes.

The climate is mild, without any excesses. The average annual temperature is 17.6 degrees Celsius (63.7 F). Average winter temperature is 12.9 degrees C (55.2 F) and average summer temperature is 22 C (71.6 F). As a comparison, the average temperature in Bordeaux in July is 20 degrees Celsius (68 F). Frost in spring can occur, but it is rare.

It is here, around the city of Bento Gonçalves, that the history of Brazilian wines began. In 1875 Italian immigrants arrived here, most of them from Veneto and Trentino in Italy. Accustomed as they were to grow and to drink wine, they didn’t hesitate long before they started cutting down forest and plant vines. Soon, wine was an important economic activity in the region.

Some of the first wines they made were sparkling. And sparkling wines are now an important part of the production of many of the Brazilian wine producers. Often the “charmat” method is used which means a second fermentation in tank (as opposed to in bottle as in e.g. Champagne). Some of the wines are made with a long ageing on the lees in the tank which gives the wines a good, toasty complexity.

The unpretentious sparkling wine called Moscatel Espumante is made in large quantities. The grapes are Moscato Branco and they often come from the tropical Vale do São Francisco in northern Brazil, almost on the equator. Here, the grapes are harvested twice a year. The wines are easy drinking aperitif wines with some residual sweetness, low alcohol and floral and caramel aromas.

Wine producers in Brazil are dynamic and very much looking at the export market. They have worked well because exports have increased dramatically in recent years. Many of them are very good at receiving tourists and wine lovers. Some also have hotels and restaurants.

Source: www.forbes.com

14 August 2016
Don’t confuse with Cava DO

Torres have announced their decision to differentiate their new sparkling wine, launching this year, by not putting the Cava name on it - therefore not signing it up to be part of the Cava DO, as originally planned.

The 2013 vintage of the sparkling wine will not be part of any denomination, even though it has been made in Catalonia and still using the traditional method.

‘This wine has been produced under the supervisions and parameters of the Cava D.O., but we have decided to separate ourselves from registering as Cava’, said Miguel Torres.

The Torres premium sparkling wine is made from grapes from vineyards 500m above sea level, in Penedès. 36,000 bottles have been produced.

The wine will also not be part of the Penedès D.O. In this way, they have more flexibility with winemaking in the future, and won’t be bound by limitations. In particular, Torres sees the potential of making wine from grapes in the high altitude region of Tremp, which would not be allowed under Cava specifications. ‘Gradual changes in temperature, due to climate change mean single estates in high altitudes in Catalonia would complement this style of winemaking.’

Source: www.decanter.com

11 August 2016
Fires on vineyards

A huge fire in Monterey County keeps getting bigger, but so far growers of the county's best-regarded wine grapes say the wind is keeping their vineyards safe.

However, the Soberanes Creek fire, which has blazed through 57,000 acres is not yet close to being brought under control. The state declared it 45 percent contained as of Sunday morning. On Monday night, US Highway 1, a major coastal road, was to be closed in both directions near the epicenter of the blaze in Big Sur.

Monterey County is an important grapegrowing area, with much of its fruit ending up in bottles labeled Central Coast. Monterey has the most white-wine grapes of any county in California, according to the US Department of Agriculture. It also has the second-most Pinot Noir grapes of any California county, behind only Sonoma, and is fifth overall in red-wine grapes.

The most prized grapes come from the Santa Lucia Highlands, which is due east of the fire. So far, winemakers and vineyard owners say that southerly winds have mostly kept the smoke away from their grapes.

The same is not true for Carmel Valley, which is much closer to the center of the blaze. Carmel Valley doesn't have the cachet of Santa Lucia Highlands, but it does make some nice wines, and this vintage of them is endangered. Bernardus Vineyards & Winery vineyard manager Matt Shea told Wines & Vines last week: "We've definitely been bathed in smoke."

While smoke will not in most cases permanently damage grapevines, smoke taint is a major problem for thinner skinned grapes like Pinot Noir. Anderson Valley suffered essentially a lost vintage in 2008 because of smoke taint from out-of-control fires. The wines can be sold, but either with an unusually smokey flavor, or, if heavily filtered to strip out the smoke, with simply less flavor than usual.

The Soberanes fire, which Cal Fire was started at by a campfire at an illegal campsite, has already destroyed 57 homes and claimed the life of one person fighting it. More homeowners in Big Sur were ordered to evacuate on Monday. Cal Fire says at least 650 structures are currently threatened.

Source: www.wine-searcher.com

13 June 2016
Bordeaux Estates Boost 2015 Wine Prices as Campaign Quickens

Bordeaux wine estates pushed prices higher as the sales campaign for the 2015 vintage quickened, with Chateau Haut Bailly increased more than 50 percent and Chateau Cos d’Estournel up more than 40 percent, according to Liv-ex data.

Haut Bailly, a grand cru classe in Pessac Leognan south of the city, will charge 66 euros ($74) a bottle, an increase of 53 percent relative to its 2014 wines, according to Liv-ex. Prices increased 42 percent at Cos d’Estournel in Saint Estephe to 120 euros and 46 percent at Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron in Pauillac to 96 euros.

The pace of Bordeaux wine-price increases has accelerated, with gains of more than 40 percent for leading estates comparing with increases averaging about 32 percent the previous week for other classed growths around the region and gains of 19 percent in late May. Some top estates have still not set prices for their new “en primeur” wines sold while still in the barrel, two months after presenting them in early April tastings.

“With the Bordeaux 2015 campaign now entering its final significant stretch, one trend has been noticeable,” Liv-ex wrote in its market blog. “The increases are increasing.” It said that a prediction back in April by its members that prices would rise 18 percent on average for 2015 “now seems wildly optimistic for buyers.”

After three difficult vintages in Bordeaux in 2011 to 2013 and a return to a more classic style in 2014, last year’s wines have the potential to be the best since the highly rated 2009 and 2010 harvests. An unusually hot June and July was followed by rain in August that helped the vines, and then sunshine through the harvest allowed grapes to be picked at their ripest.

Producers interviewed in Bordeaux and London have said that 2015 is shaping up to be the highest-quality Bordeaux vintage in at least five years.

Other estates releasing wines in recent days included Chateau Palmer in Margaux, which raised its price by 31 percent to 210 euros a bottle, Chateau Lynch Bages in Pauillac, which boosted its price by 40 percent to 84 euros, and Clos Fourtet in Saint Emilion, which raised its price 33 percent to 67 euros, according to Liv-ex.

Source: www.bloomberg.com

12 June 2016
Champagne sales 2015: the facts

“Champagne is back” said Vincent Perrin, new CEO at the Comité Champagne, when speaking yesterday at a press conference during the UK’s Annual Champagne Tasting, and referencing the global volume and value growth for the region in 2015, in particular the strong performance by Champagne in the UK market, as well as the region’s new turnover record worldwide, which hit a new high of €4.74 billion last year.

Such a figure, explained Bruno Paillard, president of Comité Champagne’s Communication Commission – who also attended the press event – represents 30% of the export value of all French wines, the largest proportion by region for the country, ahead of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

In terms of volume, the region shipped a total of 312.5 million bottles in 2015, which, Paillard admitted, was still short of Champagne’s historical record: in 2007 it reached 339m.

“We have not recovered yet our volumes of 2007,” he stated, although, as the figures on the following pages show, Champagne shipped more bottles worldwide in every year from 2006 to 2011, aside from 2009, when sales dropped to 293m, following the financial crash in October 2008.

Since 2014, however, there has been a turnaround in volume sales, and driving that global growth, stressed Paillard, has been the Champagne houses – not those producers classified as growers or cooperatives.

Indeed, referring to last year’s shipments, Paillaid said that volumes produced by the maisons reached 223.5m, which was up 3.9% on the previous year, while the growers accounted for 60.9m bottles, down 3.6%, and the cooperatives, 28.1m bottles – a fall of 2.7%.

“It is clear that the growth was totally due to the maisons,” he concluded.

Over the following pages is a breakdown of the key facts and figures regarding the Champagne market worldwide, with an in-depth focus on the UK market.

Source: www.thedrinksbusiness.com

11 June 2016
From Blood to Wine – Innovation in technology aimed to assist winemakers

The three students from the Institut d’Optique Graduate School, part of the Université Paris-Saclay in France, have created a unique, portable device, adapted from existing blood analysis technology invented by biotech start-up Archimej Technology, which allows for the real-time control of wine quality.

So how did they go from blood to wine? Mr Valecha said it started on the innovation and entrepreneurship programme he and his colleagues took during the first year of their master’s. Students had to propose ideas to students to adapt the companies’ technology.

Archimej’s monitor analyses blood by performing a full panel of blood tests, looking at 10 to 20 biomarkers – including cardiac and liver – in a sample. The wine monitor uses this principle to assess the wine quality during production.

‘What a winemaker does is take some samples from different stages of the production and sends them to labs to test the alcohol degree, sugar quantity, acid levels. We want to test these parameters at the winery,” Mr Valecha explained.

He said winemakers were interested in the product even at this early stage, when they are monitoring only one or two parameters – sugar levels and one of the acids. In the future, they hoped to analyse all the acids, pH, sugar, and sulphur levels.

When asked to review the monitor, winemaker at Enotria & Coe, Freddie Cobb said: ‘As we all know, wine is a living product that is constantly evolving, whether it be in the vineyard, during fermentation or ageing in tank, barrel and bottle. So there is always a desire by all winemakers to have an instant snapshot of how these wines are evolving and help them to make decisions in to optimise the organoleptic profile and limit the risk of spoilage’.

‘At the minute it has its limitations in analysing just one or two parameters, which can be easily and cheaply analysed in house. Nonetheless this could become a very useful piece of piece of equipment to have if the technology is developed to analyse more parameters in the future.’

According to Mr Valecha, winemakers currently spend around €2,500 every year for lab analysis, a costly and time-consuming but vital expense, given that whole barrels of wine can be lost if they are not monitored during production. Though they don’t have a price yet, the students do not want to exceed €5,000. Mr Valecha believes the monitor will cover a winemaker’s expenses and will be a sound investment as they can ‘test production faster, easier and won’t have to pay for each analysis.’

Cobb believed wine technology needs to be a complimentary constituent part of good winemaking saying; ‘I am always slightly apprehensive of this type of technology, as it can lead to “lazy winemaking” where winemakers can become over reliant on it. The best winemakers use both chemical analysis and more importantly organopletic properties to base their decisions. In this day and age, consumers are looking for expressive wines, yet striving for consistency in terms of quality.’

Source: www.decanter.com

11 June 2016
From Blood to Wine – Innovation in technology aimed to assist winemakers

The three students from the Institut d’Optique Graduate School, part of the Université Paris-Saclay in France, have created a unique, portable device, adapted from existing blood analysis technology invented by biotech start-up Archimej Technology, which allows for the real-time control of wine quality.

So how did they go from blood to wine? Mr Valecha said it started on the innovation and entrepreneurship programme he and his colleagues took during the first year of their master’s. Students had to propose ideas to students to adapt the companies’ technology.

Archimej’s monitor analyses blood by performing a full panel of blood tests, looking at 10 to 20 biomarkers – including cardiac and liver – in a sample. The wine monitor uses this principle to assess the wine quality during production.

‘What a winemaker does is take some samples from different stages of the production and sends them to labs to test the alcohol degree, sugar quantity, acid levels. We want to test these parameters at the winery,” Mr Valecha explained.

He said winemakers were interested in the product even at this early stage, when they are monitoring only one or two parameters – sugar levels and one of the acids. In the future, they hoped to analyse all the acids, pH, sugar, and sulphur levels.

When asked to review the monitor, winemaker at Enotria & Coe, Freddie Cobb said: ‘As we all know, wine is a living product that is constantly evolving, whether it be in the vineyard, during fermentation or ageing in tank, barrel and bottle. So there is always a desire by all winemakers to have an instant snapshot of how these wines are evolving and help them to make decisions in to optimise the organoleptic profile and limit the risk of spoilage’.

‘At the minute it has its limitations in analysing just one or two parameters, which can be easily and cheaply analysed in house. Nonetheless this could become a very useful piece of piece of equipment to have if the technology is developed to analyse more parameters in the future.’

According to Mr Valecha, winemakers currently spend around €2,500 every year for lab analysis, a costly and time-consuming but vital expense, given that whole barrels of wine can be lost if they are not monitored during production. Though they don’t have a price yet, the students do not want to exceed €5,000. Mr Valecha believes the monitor will cover a winemaker’s expenses and will be a sound investment as they can ‘test production faster, easier and won’t have to pay for each analysis.’

Cobb believed wine technology needs to be a complimentary constituent part of good winemaking saying; ‘I am always slightly apprehensive of this type of technology, as it can lead to “lazy winemaking” where winemakers can become over reliant on it. The best winemakers use both chemical analysis and more importantly organopletic properties to base their decisions. In this day and age, consumers are looking for expressive wines, yet striving for consistency in terms of quality.’

Source: www.decanter.com