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21 March 2018 № 348


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07 October 2015
Italy wine harvest 2015 looking good

Winemakers across Italy appear confident about the 2015 wine harvest, despite a summer heatwave that forced some to use emergency irrigation.

The Unione Italiana Vini, which represents wine producers throughout Italy, reported ‘more or less negligible’ disease thanks to a ‘favourable climate throughout the season’, but reported ‘among highest July temperatures’ in the last few years.

An absence of rainfall also burned or dehydrated bunches in some vineyards, ‘requiring emergency irrigation operations.’

At Castello di Fonterutoli in Chianti, where the 2015 wine harvest is expected to end in two weeks, co-owner Marchese Francesco Mazzei said three weeks of heat provoked a halt to the vegetative cycle of his Sangiovese vines, but the sun and relieving rain at the end of August and September improved things.

‘We still have a couple of weeks to go… but it looks to be like a pretty good vintage,’ said Mazzei of the harvest, which started on 7 September.

Irrigation equipment was seen along slopes of vineyards in the northern region of Trentino, which produces nearly 75% white wine.

Annual rainfall is typically about 1,000mm, but it was only about 400mm in 2015, with July temperatures reaching up to 40˚C (104˚F), said Matthias Clementi, winemaker at Villa Corniole in Verla, although he reported very few cases of rot.

Clementi added that the cooler September nights helped retain freshness in his Müller Thurgau grapes, so ‘it will not be like 2003.’

Domenico Zonin, Chief Executive Officer of Casa Vinicola Zonin S.p.A, said that his Syrah and Nero d’Avola in Sicily are of very good quality, with good concentration as well as freshness, thanks to the cooler September.

Based on a survey of wine producers from end August until first week of September, the Unione Italiana Vini reported a production of 47m hectolitres for the entire country.

This is a 12 per cent increase on last year’s 42m, although the 2014 harvest was deemed ‘particularly modest’.

Source –

05 October 2015
Beaujolais winemakers protest

Hundreds of Beaujolais winemakers have marched through the streets of Villefranche-sur-Saône to call for higher prices for Beaujolais Nouveau. 

Many negociants, who buy the wine in bulk for resale under their own labels, have offered just €180 per hectolitre of Beaujolais Nouveau, according to those at the Beaujolais winemakers protest. Around 500 producers took to the streets on 25 September.

Between 2011 and 2012, prices increased from €162.68 to €221.54, due to winter frost, before dropping to €217.95 last year.

 ‘A decrease to €180 for a great vintage like 2015 is absurd,’ Landry Collonge, of Domaine André Collonge et Fils told, ‘especially since the 2015 yields are 15% to 20% down due to the drought.’

At this price, ‘we will make no profit; we demand a revaluation in order to sustain our business and our family,’ he added.

In ten years, sales of Beaujolais Nouveau have fallen twice, reflecting a structural rather than an economic problem in the region.

The price per hectare ranges from €11,000 against €90,000 for the same area in the Moulin-à-Vent appellation, and ‘the power of the négociants is increasingly important and does not allow us to compete and to have strength in negotiating,’ concluded Landry Collonge.

Bulk wines represent 85% of the volume of each vintage produced in Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau, and two major players, Georges Duboeuf and Boisset, share the market with some co-operatives.

Source –

02 October 2015
Sauternes high speed rail

Winemakers in Sauternes are incensed that France's government has approved what they believe is a 'ludicrous' plan to build a high speed trainline near to vineyards south of Bordeaux.

The fight against the Sauternes high speed rail line that will help to link Bordeaux and Dax/Toulouse took a serious step back this week when the French government approved the plans.

Winemakers were particularly angry that government officials appeared to ignore a survey published in March 2015 that saw 96% of 14,000 respondents opposed to the cost and environmental impact of the trainline.

‘The economic benefits for the entire Atlantic arc of southwest France outweigh the concerns,’ said French transport minister Alain Vidalies.

The president of the Aquitaine region, Alain Rousset, has long been in favour of the project, as is Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé.

But local environmentalists and Sauternes wine producers vowed to fight on, and are set to contest the trainline plan in Bordeaux’s supreme court.

‘We have the backing of local politicians such as Gilles Savary, who will be taking the argument back to parliament,’ David Ornon of Château Guiraud told

‘There is a contradiction perhaps because the vines themselves will not be affected by the train line, but their ecosystem will be devastated. The Cirons river will be cut through in three separate places, and that will have an irreversible effect on the noble rot that gives Sauternes wine its identity.’

The Ciron valley is the subject of studies by INRA (the French National Institute for Agricultural Research) and has also been placed under priority conservation by INRA’s Commission for Forestry and Genetic Resources due to threats to its genetic pool from climate change.

‘The argument put forward by [French rail network] RFF that there will be no adverse effects on the environment is ludicrous,’ said campaigners.

Source –

23 July 2015
Sotheby’s NY to hold ‘landmark’ Margaux auction

Sotheby’s is set to hold a ‘landmark’ auction of wines from Château Margaux in New York this autumn – the first significant sale of wines from the property’s own cellars.

In all, 239 lots worth an estimated US$1-1.4m will be offered at the auction on 17 October, including single bottles from the celebrated 1900 and 1945 vintages, as well as vertical lots marking the ownership of the Mentzelopoulos family since 1978.

Château Margaux 1900-2010 Direct from the Cellars: A Celebration of the Menzelopoulos Era also includes a special charity lot offering eight people the chance to visit the château.

They will enjoy an in-depth visit to the cellars, as well as a tasting and lunch or dinner, hosted by Corinne Mentzelopoulos and/or Margaux MD Paul Pontallier.

‘Any twinge of sadness I feel with these bottles leaving our cellars is overcome by the pleasure of knowing that they are destined to be enjoyed by Sotheby’s passionate and knowledgeable clients,’ said Mentzelopoulos.

‘This is a truly historic sale, that is only likely to happen once in a lifetime,’ said Jamie Ritchie, CEO, Sotheby’s Wine, Americas & Asia. ‘It provides a complete picture of the Mentzelopoulos era from 1978 to today, with a retrospective of the great vintages back to 1900.’

Highlights of the sale include:
•    One bottle of Margaux 1900 (estimate $10,000-15,000)
•    One bottle of Margaux 1945 (est $3,000-4,000)
•    One bottle of Margaux 1953 (est $2,000-2,800)
•    Vertical 10-bottle and -magnum lots covering the 2000s, 1990s and 1980s
•    Vertical 35-bottle and -magnum lots covering the Mentzelopoulos era (1978-2012)


21 July 2015
Bordeaux winemaker death inquiry to focus on pesticides

A potentially groundbreaking criminal investigation is set to be launched in France over claims that the death of a Bordeaux winemaker was caused by exposure to pesticides.

The first steps towards a criminal prosecution came after Valerie Murat filed legal action over the the death of her father, claiming ‘involuntary homicide’.

James-Bernard Murat, a winemaker in Pujols in the Entre deux Mers region of Bordeaux, died of lung cancer in 2012. He believed the disease was caused by his use of a pesticide to protect against vine trunk disease esca for more than 40 years. Valerie Murat filed her case at the Tribunal de Grande Instance (High Court) in Paris, where a judge will hold an inquiry to assess culpability. A defendant has not been publicly named, described solely as ‘X’.

The case is more evidence that French officials are paying closer attention to the health effects of pesticide exposure among workers. The government recognised a link between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease in agricultural workers in 2012. Murat sprayed three different pesticides containing the chemical sodium arsenite that is now banned as a cancer causing poison. One year before his death, he won recognition that the cancer was officially ‘linked to his profession’, one of up to 40 winemakers in France who have received this.

Ms Murat said she wanted to ‘break the law of silence’ over the effects of pesticides. France accounts for around of quarter of all pesticide use in Europe. Vineyards represent just 3% of agricultural land in France, but the wine industry accounts for 20% of phytosanitary product volumes, and 80% of fungicide use.

Paul François, president of the association Phyto-Victimes, said: ‘This is a step forward not just for the Murat family but for all those affected by the application of pesticides within their profession.’ There is a national plan to reduce pesticide use in French agriculture, called Ecophyto 2018.


19 July 2015
Scotland’s ‘undrinkable’ first wine has promise?

The first wine in memory to emerge from a vineyard in Scotland has been described as undrinkable, but producer Christopher Trotter says there are plenty of positives to draw on.

Grapes at what is believed to be Scotland’s first vineyard were left to hang on the vine too long and then were not chilled quickly enough, causing oxidisation to occur, said Trotter, who is also a chef and food and wine writer.

‘The first bottling was disappointing,’ he told from his estate in Fife. ‘It didn’t smell very good.’

English and Welsh vineyards further south have gained increasing prominence in recent years and Trotter remains determined to prove that winemaking also has a future in Scotland.

‘I set out to prove that it was possible to ripen grapes in Scotland and I’ve done that. Now I want to make a drinkable wine,’ he said.

Trotter and a business partner planted 100 vines in 2010 and a further 100 in 2011. The first vintage, from the 2014 crop, was produced from the original 100 vines and only 10 bottles of wine were made.

Grape varieties planted are Rondo, Solaris and Siegerrebe. ‘Because we harvested too late, we lost a lot of the Rondo in 2014,’ Trotter said, adding that he also planned to experiment with small doses of sulphur dioxide in the 2015 vintage.

‘It’s extremely encouraging that a critic like Richard Meadows of Edinburgh wine merchant the Great Grog Company – who has a great palate – said that once you get beyond the horrible nose there’s a good balance, with good acidity and structure,’ Trotter said.

He said he was seeking a new investor after his previous business partner left, because of time commitments elsewhere. ‘There’s space for 5,000 vines here,’ he added.


13 July 2015
Laroche launches first single-vineyard village Chablis

Domaine Laroche has launched the first village-level single-vineyard Chablis.

The Vieille Voye 2014 is from a seven-hectare vineyard beneath the Vaillons premier cru on the left bank of the Serein river, which cuts through this northern Burgundian appellation. Grands crus and premiers crus are single-vineyards in their own right, but village-level Chablis are usually blends of grapes from many sites.

Laroche winemaker Grégory Viennois, who launched the wine in London, said the Vieille Voye vineyard was planted before the 16th century by the Pontigny abbots, who named it after the old Roman road that connected Burgundy with Champagne – Vieille Voye means ‘ancient path’. He was excited by the potential of these 70-year-old vines when he started at the domaine in 2011. Even though it is a north-facing plot, the organically farmed vines are on the rounded top of a small hill so enjoy both morning and afternoon sun. The handpicked and sorted grapes are then fermented in a 15-year-old, 55-hectolitre oak foudre.

Grapes previously went into the St-Martin cuvée, of which 200,000 bottles are produced annually – 70% of Domaine Laroche’s Chablis production.The domaine owns 90ha, including vineyards in three grands crus and 25ha across seven premiers crus. Just 7,000 bottles (a fraction of potential total production) will be made of Vieille Voye 2014 which is currently finishing its 11-month maturation in an old oak foudre. When released in October, the wine will be available from UK agent Liberty Wines for £20 a bottle. The first taste of a barrel sample shows a big step up in concentration and quality from the St-Martin. It has the ripe nectarine, tropical fruit and sweet spice notes typical of Vaillons along with firm acidity, grip and structure plus a slatey mineral tang. Arguably as good as many other left bank premiers crus at this stage of its development.


09 July 2015
Louis Roederer in alleged UK vineyard bid

“Louis Roederer has been looking to acquire land in Southern England, but so far growers have only wanted to lease the land,” a senior UK industry source told understands that growers in the UK have been reluctant to sell land. Louis Roederer’s alleged acquisition bid comes amid growing international recognition of English sparkling wine. In 2007, fellow Champagne producer Duval LeRoy attempted to acquire land in the UK, but negotiations with producers fell through according to consultant Stephen Skelton MW.

Louis Roederer’s cellar master Jean Baptiste Lecaillon has so far neither denied nor commented on its acquisition plan for the UK. In September 2014, the company told French business daily newspaper, Les Echos, that it was it was looking to expand through acquisitions outside of France.

As well as Champagne, Louis Roederer produces sparkling wine at the Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley in California and still wine at its Ramos Pinto winery in Portugal. Louis Roederer has not made an acquisition outside of Champagne since 2007, when it purchased Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Pauillac in the Bordeaux wine region.


07 July 2015
Champagne and Burgundy recognised by UNESCO

Burgundy and Champagne have both been recognised by UNESCO, in the latest round of new inclusions to the cultural world heritage list.

The 39th assembly of UNESCO, held in Bonn Germany on July 4, saw five cultural sites accepted – two in Denmark, one in Turkey and two in France. Both French sites are recognised for their viticultural heritage; the hillsides, houses and cellars of Champagne around Reims and Epernay, and the 1,247 climats, or individual terroirs, of the Côte d’Or in Burgundy. Also recognised are the historic centres of Beaune and Dijon. Both regions are now eligible for financial assistance to help preservation projects.

‘We are duty bound to preserve and maintain this landscape, know-how and heritage,’ said Pierre Cheval, president of the Associations Paysages du Champagne. ‘This means that the trilogy of great winemaking regions of France – Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne – have all been recognised by UNESCO,’ Pascal Loridon, marketing director of the Burgundy Wine Bureau told, referring to the inclusion of Saint Emilion in 1999.

Other wine regions to have UNESCO protection include Piedmont in Italy and the Mosel in Germany. The two French regions have either begun or are planning celebrations – with a Paulée de Climats in the Château de Mersault on July 9th, while impromptu crowds gathered upon the news in the Champagne town of Hautvillers, the birthplace of Dom Perignon. An indepth exhibit centering around the climats of Burgundy is planned for the new Cité des Vin in Beaune, expected to open in 2016.


29 June 2015
Suspected Bordeaux wine theft gang facing trial

Thieves suspected of stealing hundreds of bottles of Bordeaux wine produced by some of the region’s top chateaux have been put on trial this week.

Seventeen suspects will go before a court in Bordeaux accused of playing some part in a series of wine thefts, France Bleu Radio reported.

The case follows on from a mass police operation involving 300 French gendarmes and months of detective work, which led to dawn raids and arrests across France in February 2014.

Nicknamed ‘Casse vin’, police believe the suspects were responsible for a string of burglaries at chateaux in including Yquem, Palmer and Leoville Las Cases.
It is thought the total value of wine stolen is around 1m euros.

At the time of the police raids last year, Colonel Ghislain Rety, who led the operation, said officers recovered some bottles worth more than 1,000 euros each.

Police recovered ‘many hundreds’ of bottles, he said. It is also believed that thieves attempted to sell some wines abroad.


25 June 2015
Anderson Valley can be Burgundy of California

Long Meadow Ranch winery has purchased a 59 hectare estate in California’s Anderson Valley, where it intends to emulate Burgundy by focusing on single vineyard Pinot Noir and also Chardonnay.

Named Anderson Valley Estate, the site is already planted with 20 hectares of Pinot Noir, as well as seven ha of Chardonnay and just under one ha of Pinot Gris, Long Meadow Ranch said. It did not disclose financial details of the deal.

It has recruited native Burgundy winemaker Stephane Vivier (pictured) specifically for the newly acquired vineyards, which lie at the ‘deep end’ of Anderson Valley close to Philo, around two hours north of San Francisco by car.

‘Expanding into estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is a natural fit, and we believe Anderson Valley is the ideal location to produce premium, Burgundian varietal wines,’ said Long Meadow Ranch’s chief executive and president, Ted Hall.

‘We’ve [already] established strong positions with the classic Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot at our Rutherford and Mayacamas Estates in Napa Valley,’ he said.

The vineyards are planted in several distinct blocks with varying elevations, soil composition, sun exposure and proximity to the Navarro river, said Long Meadow Ranch.

Winemaker Vivier said, ‘The subtleties and complexities characteristic of the Burgundian varietals are not always easy to achieve in the United States. Pinot Noir here can have a tendency for high alcohol and can be overly fruit-forward, in part because that’s what the climate allows.

‘But in the Anderson Valley, and specifically in the deep end of the valley, the possibilities are intriguing.’


23 June 2015
Red wine weight loss theory is ‘nonsense’

The UK’s National Health Service has spoken out following a series of media articles claiming that drinking red wine may help people to lose weight.

Health officials moved to quash hopes among wine lovers that their passion could have an unexpected health benefit.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found a link between mice being given resveratrol — a polyphenol found in grapes — and lower weight gain.
The research is one of several studies on resveratrol, which has been associated with a range of health benefits.

But, it remains unclear whether the amount of resveratrol in most red wines would be enough to have any health effect, particularly when set against the health risks of drinking too much alcohol.

With this specific research, ‘based on mice studies only, we don’t know whether resveratrol will have the same effect in people,’ said the NHS on its NHS Choices website.

‘And drinking plenty of red wine [as one headline claimed] will not lead you to lose weight — if anything the opposite will occur. A standard 75cl bottle of red wine contains around 570 calories, which is more than is found in two McDonald’s hamburgers,’ it added.


15 June 2015
Lynch Bages trials tool to monitor wine inside barrels

Chateau Lynch Bages will be among the first to trial new technology that claims to help wineries better monitor what is happening to the wine inside a barrel or vat.

The system uses sensors within barrels and vats to take continual measurements, from the evolution of sugar levels and turbidity to alcohol, temperature and colour.

Chateau Lynch Bages is set to begin testing the 'Winegrid' technology for the Bordeaux 2015 vintage.

The estate’s general manager, Jean-Charles Cazes, is part of the entreprenurial mentoring programme that seeks to help food, wine and tourism start-up companies to develop.

Winegrid is owned by Portugal-based Watgrid, which originally created the technology to measure water purity.

The company believes that it has huge potential for the wine industry, first developing the product for producers in Madeira who were specifically looking to monitor the wine as it passed through the estufagem process — a tradition first discovered through lengthy sea voyages when the wine would be repeatedly heated and cooled.

‘Currently a winery will typically monitor temperature, and take samples a few times a day to send to a laboratory,’ Watgrid founder Rogerio Nogueira told

‘Our interface allows producers and consultants to track a number of parameters direct from the vats — with the possibility to track numerous chateaux or vats at the same time, sent wirelessly to a smart phone or compute.'

The sensor is made of glass and stainless steel.

Source —

10 June 2015
Burgundy grand cru vineyard prices still rising

A single hectare of a Burgundy grand cru vineyard cost more than 4.3m euros on average last year and some fetched up to 10m euros, show new figures that reinforce the wine region’s reputation as the world’s most expensive.

The average price of Burgundy grand cru vineyards rose by nearly 9% in 2014, to 4.35m euros per hectare, according to France’s Safer agency, which governs agricultural land deals.

But, it said prices ranged from 2m euros to 10m euros per hectare. That compares to a top price of just 60,000 euros p/ha for vineyards certified as regional Burgundy AOP.
Last year, luxury goods group Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton bought the 8.66 hectare Clos des Lambrays grand cru vineyard and associated estate in Morey St-Denis. Local sources said they believed LVMH paid close to 100m euros on the acquisition, but an official fee was never disclosed.

The French government figures suggest that collectors’ seemingly inexorable thirst for top Burgundy wines has been reflected in the price of the area’s best vineyards.
Bordeaux’s Pauillac appellation trailed Burgundy’s grands crus, but still weighed in at 2m euros per hectare on average, level with the previous two years. Vineyards in Margaux, St Julien and Pomerol cost 1m euros p/ha last year, with Pomerol up 11% and the other two broadly flat.

Against this, St Emilion and St Estephe looked relative bargains at 220,000 and 350,000 euros per hectare respectively.

Further north, Champagne vineyards sold for around 1.2m euros p/ha on average last year, Safer said.

Elsewhere in France, some of the cheapest vineyards were in Languedoc-Roussillon, traditionally the productive powerhouse of French table wines, although more recently improving its quality image via a new generation of winemakers in several appellations. Vineyards in Corbieres, in western Languedoc, cost 5,000 euros p/ha on average last year, Safer said.

Further east, Beaujolais Villages vines cost 11,000 euros p/ha on average, albeit Beaujolais Crus cost 57 euros p/ha.

Source —

08 June 2015
Spanish wine tourism trail to open on ancient trading route

One of Spain’s oldest wine export roads has been revived as a wine tourism route by 12 producers in Catalonia.

The producers from the Penedès region, Catalonia’s biggest winemaking area, have funded ‘The Mediterranean Wine Road’, which opens on 13 June. Tourists will be guided along it by mobile apps and road signs.

First used about 2,700 years ago, the road starts inland at Sant Marti Sarrocca, near Vilafranca del Penedès, and leads to Sitges on the coast, from where wine was once shipped up the coast to Barcelona and across the Mediterranean Sea.

Tourists paying for a premium app alongside a general ticket will have access to premium wines offered by the producers, as well as other discounts en route. The 12 producers are Torres, Mas Bertran Viticultors, Rovellats, Parés Baltà, Colet, Heretat Mas Tinell, Pinord, Torreblanca, Finca Viladellops, Clos Lentiscus, Torre del Veguer and Puig Batet.

As well as the wineries, wine tourists will be able to visit archaeological and historical sites such as Olerdola Castle.

The Phoenicians and the Greeks are thought to have been the first wine producers in Catalonia, but Xavier Esteve, Historian at the Institute of Penedès Studies, said the Romans increased production and made wine popular with all in society. They also used the wine road to supply wine across their empire.

'This wine road was used 2,700 years ago, right up until the introduction of the train, here in the late 19th Century,' Esteve said. 'It is one of the oldest wine export routes in the Western Mediterranean.'

Source —

05 June 2015
Burgundy is the dream for winemakers

Burgundy has topped a chart of where leading winemakers around the world would love to make wine, outside of their own region, shows a Decanter survey.

More than one in four (23) of the 85 winemakers who responded to the survey named Burgundy as the wine region where they would most like to put their skills to the test.

The results come in the same week that French government figures showed the average price of a grand cru vineyard in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or rose by 9% in 2014, to hit 4.35m euros.

The question was one of several put to leading winemakers around the world as part of a survey published in Decanter magazine’s July issue on which producers around the world are the most respected by their peers.

There were 133 responses and Aubert de Villaine, co-director of vaunted Burgundy Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, was one of several names high on the list.

Other winemakers making the top five, all profiled in Decanter’s July issue, were — in alphabetical order — consultant Alberto Antonini, Ridge Vineyards' Paul Draper in California, international consultant Michel Rolland and Christophe Roumier, of Burgundy’s Domaines Georges Roumier.

Winemakers were also given the chance to answer a series of other questions, including whether climate change had affected their vineyards and whether they had begun producing wines intended for earlier drinking than in the past.

Source —

05 June 2015
Sauternes producers to open wine co-operative

Members of the Sauternes and Barsac union have voted to create a co-operative wine cellar, as part of efforts to re-vitalise sales of Bordeaux’s signature sweet wines.

Sauternes union president Xavier Planty, also co-owner of Chateau Guiraud, confirmed at the general assembly this month that 'the statues should be officially signed on June 15’.

Moves to create a cooperative cellar in Sauternes follow much discussion about how the region can re-connect with more drinkers following years of muted demand, particularly outside of the classified estates' wines.

‘The idea is not to unload unwanted grapes,’ Planty said, ‘but to pool resources and ideas to create a powerful body that draws interest due to its volumes and the quality of its production.’

Planty confirmed that the creation of a cooperative cellar — the first in Sauternes — has come after requests from Bordeaux négociants, who are looking to create brands and have more of a control over the marketing of Sauternes wines.

Allan Sichel, the president of the négociants’ union, is a member of the association that will be launching the co-operative cellar.

Currently, around half of the volume of Sauternes is sold in bulk each year, and the hope is that this co-op will allow the creation of commercially interesting brands. Between 20 and 30 winemakers are ready to become members, with an expectation of the first wines becoming available for the 2016 vintage.
There is currently no dedicated building, and vinification will take place across the cellars of members until a permanent base in found. It is also expected that the co-operative will produce dry white wine and the base for sparkling crémant alongside the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac. Initial contracts with winemakers will last five years and chateaux will be able to continue also bottling under their own names.

‘We would welcome having access to well-made and cared-for generic Sauternes at competitive prices,’ said Bill Blatch, the semi-retired, veteran Sauternes negociant.

‘There is currently too much sub-standard bulk Sauternes produced by small growers, to provide just subsistence for themselves and cheap own-label wine for the big négociants,’ he told

Source —

02 June 2015
Marlborough 2015 harvest worsens Sauvignon Blanc 'squeeze'

The reduced 2015 crop in New Zealand has exacerbated the on-going squeeze of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc grapes, says Cloudy Bay Estate Director Ian Morden.

‘The Wairau valley is changing and Marlborough is not infinite. So it’s more important than ever for us to secure good grapes because there are only certain places that are suited to our classic cool climate style such as Renwick, Fairhall, Brancott and Rapaura,’ he told in London.

Following on from last year’s bumper crop, Morden explained that 2015 will be more like 2012 in terms of volume. ‘In general, New Zealand is 20–30% down. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing because the quality is there. I think you’ll find more palate weight and slightly lower aromatics on our Sauvignon Blanc than in 2014. I do expect the quality to drive value in the premium sector.’

Cloudy Bay owns 50% of its Sauvignon grape supply having bought a number of vineyards in Marlborough over the last three decades. But now it is becoming tougher and more expensive to acquire suitable sites. ‘So we also rely on strong relationships with growers, added Morden. ‘Some growers have been with us since the very beginning.’
‘The squeeze on Sauvignon fruit has meant that prices have risen by 30% over the last five years,’ added Morden who joined Cloudy Bay in 2008. ‘Plus we also pay a premium for top quality low yield fruit to get good concentration and balance.

‘These are exciting times for Cloudy Bay and not just because we are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. We continue to develop new markets and cross into a new generation of wine drinkers. The UK remains very important to us and Asia is developing well. But now the US is our biggest Sauvignon Blanc market.’
According to Morden, Sauvignon Blanc is still ‘the engine room at Cloudy Bay'. And he admits that Cloudy Bay’s Sauvignon Blanc production has increased over the same period. ‘Yes, we have grown but we don’t discuss volumes,’ he pointed out.

The focus on its core offering of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir also remains firmly in place under LVMH’s Chateaux & Estates supremo Jean-Guillaume Prats. As a result, varietals like Gewurtztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris have been discontinued.
Source —

29 May 2015
Stephan von Neipperg invests in South African property

Baron Stephan von Neipperg, owner of classified Saint Emilion estates Château Canon la Gaffelière and La Mondotte, has taken a stake in Capaia Wines in New Philadelphia near Durbanville, South Africa.

The 58 hectare property has been owned by Baroness Ingrid von Essen and her husband Baron Alexander since 1997, with vines planted since 2001.

‘I first visited South Africa in 1995,’ von Neipperg told, ‘and have followed this estate closely for some time. The terroir is exceptional, with schist on steep hillsides, and the young vines are gaining in complexity with every year. But there are plenty of things still to do, from refocusing the planting in the vineyard to helping with the marketing and commercial strategy, making this a fascinating challenge’.

Neipperg confirmed that he expects to visit Capaia four or five times per year, and that the estates’ technical teams will regularly exchange information and spend time between South Africaand Saint Emilion. ‘We will start this September, with my cellar master and vineyard manager heading over to South Africa with me,’ said von Neipperg, ‘to help with the harvest. The intention is to ensure a long-term exchange.’

The von Essens were defrauded in 2011 of significant sums of money by their general manager Francois Austin. In a high profile trial held in Bellville Commercial Crimes Court in Cape Town, Austin pleaded guilty to 132 counts of fraud worth 17 million rand (close to £1 million), although at least 3 million rand was subsequently recovered.

Source —

27 May 2015
Course «Wines of Italy»

East European Sommeliers and Experts Association and Aсademy of sommelier Mozart Wine House continue their educational process during the evening course «Wines of Italy».

Course «Wines of Italy»

The course is a detailed overview of principal wine-making regions of Italy and makes part of evening course for wine-lovers and connoisseurs, who are interested in getting new information about wine-making of Italy as well as in systematizing of existing data. It is a great chance to know more about history and culture of the country and to enrich your tasting experience.

Evening courses are previewed for working people of students who can meet with interesting people and spend free time with use and pleasure.

Attested students will get an accredited certificate of the Academy of Sommelier Mozart Wine House.

You are welcome for our next day and evening courses! For detailed information see:

27 May 2015
Champagne council launches e-learning programme

The initiative is designed to spearhead the new digital education package being developed by the Comité Champagne, and is available on PC, Mac, smartphone and tablet at

The site asks users a series of questions about Champagne to gauge their level of knowledge and guide them towards one of three training pathways: for novices, enthusiasts or lovers.

The programme then explores a number of areas, including the winegrowing area, the vines, the winemaking process, tasting and history, using diagrams, films, photographs, activities and computer graphics.

Available in French, English and Chinese, Champagne Campus is aimed at the general public, Champagne enthusiasts and trainers.

‘Research we conducted clearly shows that consumers, especially younger ones, want to know more about Champagne and its unique point of origin in the Champagne region,’ said Françoise Peretti, director of the Champagne Bureau UK. ‘It’s with them specifically in mind that we’ve designed e-learning tools that are plainly the way to reach them.’

Champagne Campus will be followed by further consumer and trade initiatives to be launched later this year.

Also available is a Champagne Campus mobile app consisting of 150 questions on Champagne, available in the app store and on Google Play.

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25 May 2015
English wine newcomer bottles first wine

Rathfinny Estate in Sussex, one of the newest and biggest English wine producers, has bottled its first wines as it seeks to join in on a sales boom for the sector.

Vines at the recently opened Rathfinny Estate — an example of new investment going into the UK’s wine sector. Sussex-based Rathfinny began bottling its first wines on 18 May, around one year after opening its winery.

Around 6,000 bottles of still wine — a blend of Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay of Italian style — will be released this June under the Cradle Valley label, Rathfinny owner Mark Driver told He said a further 6,000 bottles of sparkling Blanc de Blancs will spend about three years on the lees and be released by the end of 2017 or in 2018.

The UK economy may continue to be fragile, but the country’s budding wine industry has appeared to go from strength to strength in the past 18 months, meaning many winemakers are entering this year’s English WineWeek in confident mood.

Retailer Waitrose said at the start of May that English and Welsh wine sales doubled in 2014. Trade body English Wine Producers previously that it believed overall retail sales for the sector could go close to £100m in 2015, up from an estimated £80m last year.

Later this year, Rathfinny expects to harvest between 50 and 80 tonnes of grapes to make up 60,000 bottles of sparkling wine for release in 2018, a third of which will be a sparkling rosé. About 72 ha of grapevines — mainly of the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier varieties — have been planted on Rathfinny Estate’s south facing slopes. It has total capacity of 243ha, making it the largest vineyard in the UK.

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24 April 2015
Japanese consumers turning to New World wines

Japanese wine drinkers are increasingly open to trying new styles and countries as the country’s wine market ‘comes of age’, according to a new report.

Chile has been a major beneficiary of this maturing trend in Japan, with the country’s wines more than tripling their share of the market over the past seven years and overtaking France late in 2014, says Rabobank in its latest wine quarterly report.

The Netherlands-based bank said many wine exporters had turned their backs on Japan when the market fell away 16 years ago, focusing instead on the potential of Hong Kong and Mainland China.

‘But in more recent years, the hype surrounding the China wine market boom has coincided with a significant, yet much less publicised, renewed interest in wine across the Sea of Japan,’ said Marc Soccio, report co-author and Rabobank senior wine analyst.

‘This has opened the way for New World producers, most notably Chile, to gain a foothold in the market.’

In particular, the ratification of the Japan-Chile Economic Partnership Agreement in 2007 had prompted cuts in import tariffs, with Chile’s share of wine import volumes moving from 7.5% in 2007 to more than 25% in late 2014, overtaking France.

Australian winemakers are also seeking a greater presence in Japan after the two countries implemented an economic partnership agreement earlier this year. The deal is set to eliminate Japanese import tariffs on Australian wine withing seven to 10 years.

Soccio said new generations of consumers, including female drinkers, were bringing a new perspective to wine, driving growth of premium sparkling wines.

Other New World countries and ‘less familiar’ Old World powers, such as Spain, are expected to benefit in future.

According to provisional figures from market research group IWSR, Japan ranked eighth in the list of wine importing countries, importing a total of just over 25m cases in 2014.

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22 April 2015
Champagne producers debate new disgorgement rule

A debate is underway in Champagne over whether there should be a mandatory resting period for wines following disgorgement, before bottles are released on the market.

Supporters of a minimum resting period following disgorgement believe the rule could increase the overall quality image of Champagne on the market. understands that a recent meeting saw 19 out of 20 chefs de caves vote in favour of introducing a minimum cellaring period for Champagnes after disgorgement, although no specific time period was agreed.

A spokesperson for the Comite Champagne, the regional trade body, told that the measure was one of several issues being discussed.
‘We do not have any deadline on this idea,’ said Comite Champagne spokesperson Thibaut Le Mailloux. ‘Such a project will [only] take place if an agreement is found among the growers and houses.’

Disgorgement, which is the removal of yeast cells after second fermentation and prior to dosage, already divides opinion in Champagne. Some producers, such as Bruno Paillard, print disgorgement dates on labels on the basis that a Champagne’s taste profile can alter significantly in the months after that point. Bollinger has its recently disgorged ‘RD’ label and Krug has begun printing ID codes on bottles to allow consumers to find disgorgement dates.

Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, chef de cave and deputy managing director at Cristal owner ChampagneLouis Roederer, said a minimum cellaring rule ‘can only be beneficial for Champagne’.

He said, ‘Our experience here has always shown that a minimum three month, post-disgorgement period is very beneficial for the wine, allowing it to «recover» from the disgorgement process. It makes the wine more balanced and harmonious.’

He said Louis Roederer Brut Premier non-vintage is cellared for at least six months after disgorgement, with vintage Champagnes are held back for a minimum eight months.

Source —

20 April 2015
WSET receives award from the Queen

The Wine and Spirit Education Trust has been given one of the UK’s highest business awards: The Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2015 in International Trade.

The Trust (WSET) was founded in 1969 as a training body for the UK wine trade, but has expanded rapidly overseas over the past decade, with more than 56,000 people worldwide sitting for a WSET qualification in the last academic year.

The proportion of non-UK candidates over the same timescale has more than doubled from 37% to over 75%, while overall candidate numbers have more than quadrupled, covering some 62 countries.

‘As a country with a historically low domestic production, the UK has always been one of the world’s largest importers of wine,’ said WSET chief executive Ian Harris.
‘This exposure to different styles and grape varieties has given the British a rich understanding of wines and spirits from all over the world — making us well-placed to be world leaders in the industry’s education.’

WSET candidate numbers in France have quadrupled since 2008, while numbers in Australia have increased eightfold over the same timescale — and Greater China is fast catching the UK to become the WSET’s number one market.

Queen’s Awards — of which there are about 140 this year — are made annually by HM The Queen for the highest levels of business excellence in the fields of International Trade, Innovation and Sustainable Development.

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18 March 2015
Alvaro Palacios named Decanter Man of the Year 2015

He has been credited with putting Spain on the fine wine map, transforming the fortunes of Priorat and Bierzo, and is now directing his focus on Rioja Baja, which is why Decanter has awarded Alvaro Palacios the Man of the Year title for 2015.

Alvaro Palacios follows on from the Rhone-based Perrin brothers, ofChateau Beaucastel, who won last year.

Now in its 31st year, the Decanter Man of the Year prize has been awarded to some of the wine world’s best-known figures, including Angelo Gaja,Robert Mondavi and the late Serge Hochar, who was the first to claim the award.

It is down to his extreme focus and quest for perfection that Palacios plays such a significant role in the Spanish wine scene, writes Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW in the newly released April issue of Decanter magazine — where the prize was announced. 'His pioneering nature helped to rescue bothPriorat and Bierzo from oblivion,' writes Ballesteros.

Born the seventh of nine children, Palacios was part of the fifth generation of his family in the wine business, his father having founded Bodegas Palacios Remondo in 1948. Whilst studying oenology at the University of Bordeaux, he had stints of working at both Petrus in Bordeaux and Stags Leap in California, where he said the attention to detail changed his vision of wine forever.

Palacios used his instinct in buying abandoned plots of land in which he spotted great potential, selling barrels in his spare time to make a living, and in 1993 bought the old-wine L’Ermita vineyard — which fetched top scores and impressive prices from that year.

After the success in Priorat, his nephew Ricardo encouraged him to turn his attention to the vines at Bierzo, where they set up business in 1999 and the wines gained international acclaim. Now Palacios is altering the viticultural landscape in his Rioja Baja vineyards, and creating a new, distinctive style — but the release date and price for the new wine is yet to be announced.

Source —

16 March 2015
Smith Haut Lafitte owner creates Sauternes to mix with Perrier

The Cathiard family of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte is to launch a light Sauternes wine to be used in an aperitif drink with Perrier water, in a partnership with two as-yet-unnamed estates.

Sauternes 2013 wines ready for blind tasting during last year’s en primeur week. The new creation by the Cathiard family is unlikely to be something for traditionalists.
'SO Sauternes' has been described as a modern-style Sauternes made from young vines in a light style, and is aimed at being mixed with Perrier and ice.

In July 2014 the Cathiards bought the 52-hectare 1855 second growth estateChateau Bastor Lamontagne in a partnership with the Moulin family ofGaleries Lafayette group. They are minority shareholders but oversee all winemaking and estate management.

The drink is to be officially launched on 19 March, when the other two Sauternes properties will be named, but it is already causing controversy, with some French journalists questioning why it is necessary.

'Traditional Sauternes lovers are worried that this will cannibalise their core business,' Florence Cathiard told 'But in a world dominated by Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, those who don’t disrupt existing models will have difficulty surviving.

'There will always be a place for the great Sauternes wines. This is simply an alternative for the younger generation, an aperitif that we hope will later lead them back to this wonderful appellation.'

Cocktails based on wine have been created in Bordeaux before, includingLillet and Lime Blanc. SO Sauternes is to be distributed only in France for the initial launch.

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14 March 2015
Priorat wine producers bid for World Heritage status

Catalan wine producers in Spain are pushing ahead with a bid to have Priorat recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The campaign, which has been endorsed by the government of Catalonia, aims to protect a landscape that has generated an economy based on wine and olive oil production and wine tourism.

Among the most vertiginous wine regions in Europe, Priorat is home to deep-rooted vines grown on the unusual llicorella slate soil near Tarragona. Producers want the region to be listed as a ‘mountainous, Mediterranean agricultural and cultural landscape’ by UNESCO.

Rachel Ritchie, liaison officer of Priorat wine council’s Espai Priorat event, said World Heritage status would help protect Priorat’s non-terraced hillside vineyards, known as ‘costers’.

'The introduction of terraces in Priorat has not worked as well as ‘costers’, so World Heritage status would protect traditional winemaking techniques,' said Ritchie on the sidelines of the Decanter Mediterranean Fine Wine Encounter in London over the weekend.

Producers claim UNESCO’s global reach would help raise awareness of the values of Priorat’s landscape and cultural heritage.

«We have work the land with the upmost respect for the environment," said campaigner Joan Asens, Oenologist at Orto Vins winery and former winemaker for Decanter Man of the Year Alvaro Palacios.

The campaign for Priorat follows the inclusion of the Alto Douro wine region in Portugal as a World Heritage Site in 2001. More recently, St Emilion in Bordeaux and Barolo vineyards in Piedmont have made the list.

The Priorat area is home to both Priorat and Montsant DO wine regions and an olive oil DO. Campaigners now have to present a final dossier to the Spanish government, which would then take responsibility for pushing Priorat’s case on the international stage.

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12 March 2015
New Zealand wine exports hit record in 2014

New Zealand’s wine exports hit a new high last year, rising 8.2 percent to NZ$1.37bn, according to the country’s wine marketing body.

Vineyards at Greystone Wines, which won the International Trophy for Pinot Noir priced above £15 at the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards.

New Zealand Winegrowers said wine became the country’s sixth biggest export commodity last year, albeit still lagging traditional product sectors such as dairy products and meat.

The news comes as New Zealand’s 2015 grape harvest gets under way, with prospects so far looking good in quality terms — although it is set to be ‘significantly smaller’ than the record 2014 crop.

New Zealand Winegrowers' CEO, Philip Gregan, said ‘superb’ summer weather had enhanced the chances of a top quality harvest in 2015.
‘The warm, dry summer of 2015 has been absolutely perfect for growing and ripening grapes,’ he added.

‘As we move into autumn, the prospect is for an outstanding, albeit smaller, vintage in all our grape-growing regions.’

Crop levels are likely to be well down on 2014’s record harvest, when some 445,000 tonnes of grapes were picked, up 29% on the year before.

However, Gregan said sales in the year ahead would be supported by retained stocks from last year’s bumper vintage.

New Zealand’s wine exports have more than doubled in volume terms since 2008, with export value rising by more than 60% over the same timescale.

Australia, the US and the UK dominate export demand for the country’s wines — and for Sauvignon Blanc in particular — but markets such as the Netherlands and Germany have also grown strongly in the past few years.
Source —

10 March 2015
Deutschland Sommelier Association at the Prowein 2015

A new stand, doubled in size with 130 square meters, over 50 winegrowers and a programme with 20 masterclasses for buyers and international journalists and everything «enriched» by seven master-vertical tastings.

This is what the DE.S.A. (Deutschland Sommerlier Association) offers at the ProWein 2015 at the Fair of Düsseldorf (Halle 15, Stand A41).

Fabio Contato’s Lugana, 1996–2012, presented by the winegrower itself, will inaugurate the tasting spectacle. The next one is Gavi dei Gavi ® «Etichetta Nera», La Scolca, 1989 — 2014, presented by Chiara Soldati and Alessandro Scorsone, Master of Sommelier and one of the most important and internationally rewarded Italian sommeliers. Last but not least the Brunello di Montalcino La Togata, from 1997 to 2004. Sofia Pepe and Chiara Lungarotti will be the main actresses of the second part of the master-vertical tastings: a selection of the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Doc «bio» Emidio Pepe and the Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio di Lungarotti, 1997–2008. The sixth tasting will be dedicated to the winners of the 7th edition of the International Challenge Euposia, the biggest blind tasting for sparkling wines of Italy. With Bruno Paillard’s Champagne leading the way. The grand finale will be made by the Chianti Classico Riserva Fietri vertical tasting from 2009 to 2012.

Furthermore, new interpreted classics and emerging italian wine cellars and some rare and extraordinary products like the swedish icewine from the top chef Goran Amnegard, will be introduced. Among the masterclasses’ moderators there are: Dr. Jens Priewe, Frank Smulders MW, Sofia Biancolin, Ralf Kaiser, Boris Maskov and Veronica Crecelius.

The DE.S.A.-stand will be divided into two very different parts: the first one is an open space, where the masterclasses take place and the second one is an «Enoteca», the face-to-face-meeting area. Sommelier Gianni de Bellis, supervisor of this area, will assist all the guests, that want to taste the wines of the 50 exhibited Italian cellars.

A happy hour at the DE.S.A.-stand will conclude every evening in the best way. This will give visitors the opportunity to taste top quality products among the Italian sparkling wines, home-brewed beer, oysters, caviar and different, gastronomic specialities of the «Bel Paese» in a soft and relaxed atmosphere.

More information: