I’m very excited to be invited to the 5th International Rosé Symposium / Rencontres Internationales du Rosé.
The Symposium is hosted by the Provence Wine Council (CIVP), and the Rosé Research and Experimentation Centre, which takes place in the magnificent setting of the Mucem in Marseille on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.
The Symposium, this year, is focusing specifically on research and insights related to rosé wine.
The international speakers are members of the scientific, technical and wine-growing community, and will share their research and studies related to rosé wine.
The 2019 themes will focus on the future of rosé wines, revolving around three major challenges for the industry:
Champagne’s trade share has risen from 1% to 8% by value in the past eight years,
Champagne’s trade share has risen from 1% to 8% by value in the past eight years, with the number of unique Champagnes trading having multiplied in the same time frame, according to a recent report.
Between 2008 and 2014, the champagne region’s overall trade share hovered between 1-3% by value. So far in 2018, it has contributed 8% of market activity, up from 6.2% last year, according to Lev-ex latest “Champagne Report.”
The number of unique labels trading has risen from fewer than 20 different Champagne labels traded on the market in 2008 to stand at 140 so far this year, with the market thus having grown in both depth and breadth, stated the report.
The report further indicates that Champagne, which has long been an on-trade favourite, had in recent years also established itself as a key player in the secondary market for fine wine.
“Champagne is a unique product among its fine wine peers. Its distribution network is unparalleled, the environments that it exists in are diverse – restaurants, nightclubs, royal weddings – and brand recognition is stronger than in any other part of the market.’
“Mentions of Dom Perignon will likely spark far more excitement than the top names of Burgundy and Bordeaux among non-wine experts. Champagne, therefore, touches drinkers not typically engaged with fine wine, and on a global scale.”
In addition, the report said the Champagne 50 Index had steadily risen almost every year for the past decade, with no sharp upward or downward movements, having only dipped in one year out of the past ten.
“Champagne has occupied its own niche in the fine wine market, undisturbed by some of the major events that unsettled Bordeaux, and not afforded the level of recent attention that has seen prices of Burgundy spike.”
Non-vintage Champagne accounts for the majority of the region’s production, but the vintage category dominates the secondary market.
“The fungibility and, hence, seemingly endless supply of non-vintage Champagne makes it an unwise investment choice, as supply will never diminish in the same way as for vintage wines. It is for this reason that vintage Champagne accounts for 95% of the region’s secondary market activity.”
In terms of price, all of the Champagne 50 sub-indices have increased over the past 10 years.
Salon, which has declared the fewest vintages, has considerably outperformed the broader index, with a gain of 163%, according to the report, with Philipponnat, Krug and Dom Pérignon having tracked, yet slightly underperformed the Champagne 50, gaining 63%, 60% and 61% respectively.
The Cristal index has risen by 40% in the last decade, with movement predominantly occurring in the past two years.
When it comes to Champagne vintages, age stands out as the most important price determinant. Prices tend to plateau for the first few years after release, then gradually appreciate.
Unlike Bordeaux, critic scores did not appear to impact the price significantly, except in examples of extreme quality. Bottle formats and the colour of the wine (white/rosé) also contributed to its price performance over time, stated the report.
The report also revealed that there was “no hard and fast rule” about how Champagnes in different bottle sizes perform in the secondary market.
At release, larger formats often commanded a 10-20% premium on standard bottles for the equivalent volume of wine. Currently, magnums from the Champagne 50 traded at an average of 50% above their 75cl siblings, rising to just over 100% for jeroboams, it said.
However, market conditions and consumer taste could lead to a “dramatic shift” in the relative value of big bottles.
“For instance, the premium for jeroboams has drifted significantly in the last ten years. In 2007, jeroboams of Cristal 1999 traded at a premium of 330%, falling to 148% in 2017.”
It was possible to reach two conclusions from this – first, ostentatious displays of wealth had moved on since the financial crisis; second, and “most importantly”, purchasing bigger bottles for investment purposes carried more of downside risk, it said.
Italy is in the grip weather hazards including hail, floods, tornados
Italy is in the grip weather hazards including hail, floods, tornados and strong winds, casting fears on the 2018 vintage in regions like Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia-Romangna and Veneto.
Italy’s farmers’ association, Confederazione Nazionale Coltivatori Diretti (Coldiretti), has already warned that damages could cost the country’s agriculture industry €500 million.
According to Coldiretti, rainfall in June is 124% more compared with the historic average, and the country is experiencing its hottest summer since 1800.
This is the latest damage reported from a major wine country, following reports of fungal disease in Bordeaux threatening a 70% drop in crop, the ongoing wildfires in California and Germany’s earliest harvest on record due to unusual heatwave enveloping Europe.
“Climatic changes seem to have also impacted the Italian vineyards. It seems to be an abnormal Summer here in Italy, the most threatening weather conditions being floods due to excessive rain, hail and crazy wind called “tromba d’aria” in Italian,” Stevie Kim, managing director of Vinitaly International.
The adverse impact on the 2018 harvest in Northern Italy is early to assess but according to Kim, most producers remain cautiously optimistic and affected areas are mainly in parts of Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Tuscany, Marche and Veneto.
“I know the affected areas include some parts of Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Tuscany, Marche and Veneto. I’ve personally heard about damage to the corn fields, so far most producers that I’ve spoken to seem to be cautiously optimistic, however, in general most have concluded that their yield projection is lower. More importantly the Summer has not come to a close just as of yet,” she explained.
Last year, Italy’s grape yields dropped by 30% in some regions due to bizarre weather patterns, due to late spring frosts and drought.
“Follow the road of the golden bubbles” MAITRE DE MAISON – NICOLAS BÉLIARD –
Champagne’s first contemporary luxury hotel, The Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa officially opened this week.
Embracing the lush bounty of the champagne houses and the surrounding UNESCO World Heritage sites, guests will have exclusive access to private Champagne houses, harvesting sessions with local wine producers and tastings personally curated by the in-house concierge team.
The Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa boasts an enviable location right in the middle of the vineyards that stripe the hills of Epernay, the capital of Champagne, and the historic villages of Champillon and Hautvillers of Dom Perignon fame. Reimagining a wine-country retreat for all seasons, local Reims-based architect Giovanni Pace has designed the property in the style of a contemporary amphitheatre, incorporating the original 19th Century Post House where it is said that King Charles X of France stopped over before heading to Reims for his coronation.
‘Champagne’ rooms start at £489.92 per night feature a king-size bed and private terrace.
The top tier ‘Josephine’ suite meanwhile, will set you back £1,068.71 a night and boasts a sitting room and balcony overlooking vineyards.
Each of the 49 rooms in the 16,000 square foot space features Hermès bath products.
The original property has been closed since 2014 after it was acquired by Boston-based Champagne Hospitality collection, a group of boutique luxury hotels and spas that includes the award-winning Le Barthelemy Hotel & Spa in St. Barths. The hotel is led by Nicolas Béliard, formerly General Manager of the Peninsula Paris.
Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa is home to the region’s first world-class destination spa spanning 16,000 ft. In partnership with acclaimed French brand Biologique Recherche, the wellness centre comprises nine treatment rooms; state of the art fitness facilities; a wood-lined yoga studio; eucalyptus-infused sauna; manicure and pedicure stations, and a mosaic-tiled Hammam. Completing the experience are two temperature-controlled, chaise longue-lined swimming pools – one indoor, one outdoor – along with dedicated staff who deliver invigorating juice blends and guide guests to multiple relaxation lounges. Biologique Recherche offers a highly personalised approach, with signature treatments including the ‘Soin seconde peau / Second skin treatment’, a regenerating and lifting facial treatment. All products are formulated using pure natural or biotechnological compounds and are fragrance free. Spa packages and retreats will also be available throughout the year.
Two-star Michelin chef Jean-Denis Rieubland is the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa’s Executive Chef, where he leads the two gastronomic dining experiences – a gourmet dining room, Le Royal, and a more casual, all-day restaurant, Bellevue. Formerly Executive Chef of Le Chantecler at the Negresco Hotel in Nice, Chef Rieubland brings the highest level of gastronomy to Royal Champagne, where he will preserve French ‘know-how’ while injecting a contemporary touch. Rieubland’s cuisine is influenced by the local surroundings, working closely with farm producers of the region. He will also be developing a Chef’s garden on a large terrace overlooking the hills of Épernay.
Majestic Douro Valley produces some of the finest red and whites in the world
Majestic Douro Valley produces some of the finest red and whites in the world
There is a dangerous beauty to Portugal’s Douro wine region. With its treacherously steep slopes, extreme summer heart, perilous roads, and a wild river – why would wine growers consider growing grapes here? Just take a sip of the red and white wines from this region and then you know why!
With three World Heritage Sites recognized by UNESCO, there is no reason not to visit Douro Valley. Home to the Douro River, the third largest river in the Iberian Peninsula, which runs 897 kilometers from Duruelo de la Sierra to Porto, Portugal.
I had the amazing opportunity to visit Douro wine region in March this year with other international wine journalists. I found the scenery in the valley to be some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen in a wine region. Not only because of the gravity of the steep slopes of the vineyards, but also the sheer beauty of the Douro River and the hills that fall to the water’s edge.
“The sole immeasurable evidence with which we can amaze the world.”
Miguel Torga (Portuguese poet)
I found the Alto Douro Wine Region to be a land of traditions where nature reigns in perfect harmony and farmers who shaped the valley into terraced vineyards supported with stone walls (socalos). Their persistent labors have transformed this vast slate-soiled region into a true agricultural and landscape monument. The vineyards are accessible by lots of winding roads and steep cliffs.
Wine grapes have been cultivated here for over 2,000. The Demarcated Douro Region was formed (by the Marquis of Pombal) in 1756, and at this time the region became more internationally recognized. It’s important to note that it was the first region in the world to be demarcated. Even today the traditional harvest is done by hand and crushing the grapes by foot is still carried on, along with modern vinification methods that accompany these traditions.
Alto Douro Wine Region is stretched over 250,000 hectares in which 20% is used for wine production, with 9,000 wine-growers.
(wine producing estates/winery or vineyard)
The Adega is a cooperative with over 1,232 members and works with winemaker Rui Madera. It was named “up and coming wine producer” for Portugal by Wine Access magazine in 2010 and was awarded the best co-op winery of Portugal of 2013.“
We met with Nuno Ferreira Borges, Marketing and Export Manager, and his father Jaime Borges, retired director and grape grower. They discussed what the co-op is currently doing and how they keep the quality high.
Their wines are made from grapes cultivated according to traditional techniques, with low mechanization levels and low yields/hectare, while maintaining Douro’s terroir.
Their commercial brands are: Adega de Vila Real, Cancellus, Cancelão and Terras De Alleu.
Dirk Niepoort was the first to make high-quality unfortified wines in the Douro since1987.
Niepoort was founded in 1845 by Dutch merchants and at that time only produced Port wines. This changed when 5th generation Dirk van der Niepoort took the realm. He decided not only to make port but also wine. Dirk is a true pioneer – he insisted on making the region known for its wines first. He began with an experimental wine in 1991, and his first production white in 1996.
After a guided tasting with Dirk Niepoort we lunched on the terrace at Quinta de Nápoles winery, which hosted spectacular views.
Quinta da Casa Amarela is located on the left side of the Douro River, just opposite Régua. The Quinta has been owned by the same family since 1885 and today Laura Regueiro is sitting at the helm. The quinta is named after the main house yellow or ocher color (Amarela in Portuguese).
Quinta da Casa Amarela has 8 hectares with 45-50 year-old vineyards, mainly planted with Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca, with smaller parcels of Malvasia Fina, Viozinho and Codega. They also practice sustainability. I learned that they had traditionally delivered their grapes to other port companies, but since 1994 started marketing their own Port and wines.
This palace is famously depicted on bottles of Mateus rosé. Casa de Mateus is one of the best surviving examples of 18th-century baroque architecture in Portugal.
Its granite wings shelter a lichen-encrusted forecourt, dominated by an ornate stairway and guarded by rooftop statues. Surrounding the palace is a fantasy garden, with boxwood hedges, prim statues, and a fragrant cypress tunnel.
Inside, the library contains one of the first illustrated editions of Luís Vaz de Camões’ Os Lusíadas, Portugal’s important epic poem, while another room houses a collection of religious artifacts, including 36 relics brought from the Vatican in the 18th century: a bit of holy fingernail, a saintly set of eyeballs, and the inevitable piece of the true cross – each with the Vatican’s proof of authenticity.
The wine shop offers tastings of three locally produced wines for €4. I found especially interesting is the Alvarelhão, which is the same rosé originally bottled by Mateus in the 1940s.
C.A.R.M. has over 200 hectares of vineyards spread over various farms and planted at different altitudes, up to 550 meters. C.A.R.M. overlooks the valley with the Douro river in full view. The temperatures in the summer reach 45C. Antonio Ribeiro gives us a tour and shows us the olive trees, vineyards and almond trees. The soil in their vineyards is schist, and granite in some areas which is good for white wines.
In the production facilities, they have modern alternatives to the traditional lagars for the foot-stomping of the grapes.
During the visit, we meet Celso Madeira – who is not only a pioneer in the organic viticulture in the region but is also the first to have had the idea to remodel the hillsides with bulldozers in 1965.
My favorite wine: Carm CM Douro 2013, a 94+ points/Robert Parker
The back label adds 4130 bottles total (this one was No 124). 14 % alcohol
Fresh nose of black fruit and berries; nice balance with nuances of licorice and complex aromas of wood; firm tannins and smooth texture.
The Douro wine region has truly maintained their rural character and traditional roots with culture and religious customs and truly worth a visit to some of the historic quintas and to taste their wines!
I want personally thank Rita and Pedro Figueiredo for putting together this extraordinary tour! #TeamDouro