Global Wine Experts Describe Impact of Turbulence Ahead

Wine Intelligence’s global expert network on the impact of Coronavirus: ‘Christmas trading’ in Italian supermarkets amid a gloomy outlook, calm in Brazil and South Africa, fewer Chinese tourists in Australia, silver linings in South Korea, growing concern in the UK and US

How are consumers behaving in your market?

AUSTRALIA: The most noticeable element is that we have seen declining cellar door sales as the normal influx of Chinese tourists during Spring Festival failed to appear. So far the on-premise sales in Australia seem to be holding up.

BRAZIL: Compared to Europe, Brazilians seem to be less scared. Carnival was 2 weeks ago and there hasn’t been much of an impact. Regular people don’t seem to be changing habits, apart from a few people wearing masks on the streets. Some companies are taking measures to isolate employees – McKinsey, for instance, have shut down their offices in São Paulo, because their neighboring office had one suspected case.

ITALY: The first and most striking event was the assault on supermarkets by people filling their trolleys with pasta, sauces, mineral water, and other goods for fear of being out of stock. The director of an important Italian wine & spirits group, who had recently spoken to the manager of a retail chain, confirmed to me how in recent weeks the points of sale of large retailers have made a turnover close to that of Christmas. For the tourism industry, the crisis period started two weeks ago, with an average of 80% of cancellations (especially of foreign tourists), which has led many hotels to close temporarily. More generally, the on-trade channel is now beginning to suffer, both due to the reduction of customers and as a result of government measures to discourage too close socialization opportunities (in quarantined areas the on-trade premises must close the shutters at 6 pm).

SOUTH AFRICA: Probably too early to tell, but so far it doesn’t seem as if there is a major change. I am hearing that wine tourism is suffering a bit, which will obviously impact on cellar door wine sales. We are a bit behind the curve and possibly the fact that it’s summer has also helped.

SOUTH KOREA: We know the damage to consumer confidence is big. But it is not easy to say how much right now. People are avoiding seeing each other face to face, so socializing is not really happening. Similarly, face to face business meetings are not happening – salespeople are not so welcome at their clients’ bars, restaurants or shops. There are not many people on the streets – not many cars either.

SPAIN: So far, everything seems the same. Masks were bought long ago but people haven´t gone in for the “toilet paper craze” as in other places.

USA: Restaurants and bars are already feeling the impact as people are going out less. On the whole, the on-premise will take a much bigger hit. People are already eating out and going out to bars less. On the other hand, I could see this helping online ordering services like Drizly and Minibar and in food, Grubhub and Delivery.com, as people stay in more and order in more. I saw a post on Facebook recently that someone had shared about Postmates advertising a “no-touch” service or something to that degree to further allay any concerns.

We’re yet to see event cancellations, but that could be just a matter of time. The big issue in a market like Las Vegas is that in addition to both domestic and international tourists, we rely heavily on delegates who attend the many large-scale conferences here – Linda Crisman, Regional Manager Western USA, Jackson Family Wines

UK: On the surface, it feels like there isn’t much dramatic change. London’s Tube is still packed at rush hour, and hardly anyone seems to be wearing masks. We’re hearing from on-premise that bookings are down on normal for the time of year, and events businesses are getting particularly nervous as clients are deferring decisions until the last minute. The news seems to move so fast; it feels a lot easier to defer rather than decide.

What are your predictions for the wine category for the remainder of 2020?

AUSTRALIA: The effects will last long after the virus has peaked – consumers will be spending more cautiously both domestically and in key export markets. The tourism business is still dealing with the after-effects of the fires, so it will be a while before we see a return to normal. From the export point of view we are hoping that some of the excess supply in China will be sold through towards the Mid-Autumn Festival period. Vintage forecasts from ABARES (national commodity forecaster) is predicting a below-average vintage size which will help offset the fall in demand.

ITALY: It will be the most difficult period since the methanol scandal in 1985. Our inbound tourism industry has done so well in the past few years that it has reversed the long term trend of consumption decline in the domestic market – we will have to wait a while for international tourist numbers to recover. I am sure that once the emergency is resolved, perhaps with the summer season, the domestic Italian consumer will resume their love story with the aperitifs and the various socialization occasions. Until then, I foresee some difficulties for wine businesses, especially small ones, which have focused on an important part of their sales on the cellar door and have grown reliant on international tourists.

SPAIN: We´ve still to see the worst effects but the summer will approach fast and here it will help reduce conditions that favor contagion. The big question will be whether the tourists show up in their normal numbers.

SOUTH AFRICA: I think the major global grocery retail businesses will be extremely cautious in their ordering pattern against the current scenario. In the local market, we may see some sales lost from people not attending large gatherings/restaurants etc as much, and we expect the conference industry to take a hit. Wine tourism will take a while to recover because leisure trips to South Africa are often planned a long way in advance, and we may not see the full extent of the effect for a year or more.

SOUTH KOREA: Companies in the sector are planning on 20-30% declines in their sales vs their original plan for the year. People are not going to the shops – they prefer on-line shopping. In Korea, we cannot sell wine online yet, but we understand that the government will allow online sales of wine temporarily, maybe as soon as April – it will only be click-and-collect, not full delivery, at least not yet. But it is a good start. I expect that, sooner or later, maybe within the next couple of years, the online wine market will be opened up.

UK: So far the government is resisting imposing restrictions on the public, but this will change soon. We understand the medical experts are expecting the peak of infections in the UK in about 6-8 weeks’ time, at which point restrictions may start to be lifted. Supermarkets will do just fine, but it’s the on-premise, hotels and events companies which will have a hole in their revenues – somewhere around 15% of their annual sales – which won’t be made up in this calendar year.

We haven’t seen anything change yet from a retail sales perspective as yet, but we have already seen a drop off in Travel Retail (ferries, airports). Supply has been rather lumpy as shipping lines have had to adapt their schedules to China and Singapore port closures. Looking ahead I’d say that the [UK] On Trade is in for a tough time, clearly festival volumes are up in the air and in retail, I’d expect local small stores to do well – Simon Lawson, General Manager, Casella Family Brands (Europe) Ltd, UK.

USA: The big unanswered question for Americans is how bit the outbreak will get. We are losing faith in the government response – it seems very slow and complacent, and who knows how many confirmed cases we will have when the virus testing gets to a sensible number [estimated at <3,000 tests completed as of 9 March]. When events like Indian Wells [major tennis tournament in California] are canceled, it feels like we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Source:  Wine Intelligence

The Institute of Masters of Wine announces Seven new Masters of Wine

The Institute of Masters of Wine has announced seven new Masters of Wine, from five countries. The total number of MWs in the world is now 396 in 30 countries. 

The new members of the IMW are Vanessa Conlin MW (US), Elizabeth Kelly (UK), Pasi Ketolainen (Finland), Lin Liu (France), Curtis Mann (US), Beth Pearce (UK) and Ross Wise(Canada).

The new MWs have passed the MW exam, recognized worldwide for its rigor.

The MW exam consists of three stages; theory exams, tasting exams and a final research paper (RP). The institute says the  RP is an in-depth study on a wine-related topic from any area of the sciences, arts, humanities or social sciences.

In addition to passing the exam, and before new members have the right to use the title Master of Wine or ‘MW’, they are required to sign the IMW’s code of conduct. By signing the code of conduct, MWs agree to act with honesty, integrity and use every opportunity to share their understanding of wine with others.

The first MW crop of 2020 shows the continued internationalization of the IMW. The top six countries where MWs are based around the world are Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

The new MWs:

Vanessa Conlin MW (US)

Vanessa lives in Napa Valley and is the head of wine for Wine Access, a national direct-to-consumer e-commerce wine retailer in the US. Conlin was previously the director of sales and marketing for several of Napa’s wineries, including Arietta Wines and Dana Estates. Before moving to Napa Valley, she was the wine director for two wine shops and a wine bar in New York City. While studying for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Diploma she received the Niki Singer Memorial Scholarship from the International Wine Center. Vanessa worked as a professional opera singer, performing internationally and on Broadway, before falling in love with wine. She holds a master’s degree in music.

Research paper: Land and winery ownership in Napa Valley from 1998-2018: historical, legal, and economic factors affecting vineyards and wineries and the resulting current opportunities and limitations for ownership.

Elizabeth Kelly MW (UK)

After completing a degree in mathematical physics, Kelly decided to follow a different path and joined the wine industry 16 years ago. She worked at Oddbins and the WSET before joining the wine team at Marks and Spencer in 2013. Kelly is involved in buying English wines and product development.

Research paper: A sustainability scheme for the UK wine production industry.

Pasi Ketolainen MW (Finland)

Ketolainen holds a BSc in hospitality management and an MBA, for which he received an academic achievement award in recognition of outstanding academic performance. After a career as a sommelier and completing his WSET Diploma in 2003, he worked in sales and product management positions at various wine importers in Finland. Ketolainen has partner and board member experience and has consulted in an advisory role on strategy, customer relationship management and start-up company development. He has also represented Finland in blind tasting competitions. As well as speaking four languages, lecturing on wine, and conducting educational tastings, Ketolainen judges at wine competitions and in 2019 started as the commercial director at Viinitie Oy.

Research paper: Wine distributors’ views regarding the current and future status of the restaurant supply chain in Finland.

Lin Liu MW (France)

A Chinese national originally from Hangzhou, Liu started her wine studies in 2011. Now based in Cahors, France at Château de Chambert, Liu has devoted herself to many aspects of the wine world: trading, winemaking, tasting, judging, writing and wine education. She holds a BA (Zhejiang University), an MBA, where she won a full fee scholarship award (Aberdeen Business School) and received the top graduate award when completing her WSET Diploma (Austrian Wine Academy). Before wine, she held senior positions in the investment consultancy sector (foreign direct investment to China) and the whisky industry. Outside of wine, Liu enjoys painting, cooking, mushroom hunting, making pottery, gardening or sailing.

Research Paper: Cahors AOC hierarchization project, a case study from 1991 to 2019.

Curtis Mann MW (US)

Mann is a 19-year veteran of the US wine industry. He started his career in hospitality at ZD Wines in the Napa Valley. After graduating with an MBA (University of California, Davis), he worked as a brand manager for Trinchero Family Estates and then at Information Resources Inc. as director of wine and spirits insights. Since 2013, Mann has worked for Raley’s, a 125-store specialty supermarket chain in California and Nevada. As director of alcohol and beverage, he has re-shaped the chain’s wine offerings with the help of in-store wine stewards and educational tastings, leading to a growth in sales over the last six years. The wine press has noticed his efforts with awards such as the 2016 Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Award for US retailer of the year and the 2018 Market Watch Leader Award.

Research paper: California consumer understanding and preference for US Chardonnay styles

Beth Pearce MW (UK)

Pearce is based in London and works as a buyer for Majestic Wine. After university, she visited vineyards in New Zealand, which ultimately led to her joining Majestic’s management training scheme in 2010. Pearce embarked on her MW study program journey in 2016 after completing the WSET Diploma, where she received the Derouet Jameson scholarship.

Research paper: How effective is it to use the reduced carbon footprint of bulk shipping and UK bottling as a marketing message?

Ross Wise MW (Canada)

New Zealand native Wise is a winemaker and viticulturist based in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, Canada. Following a brief stint as a chef, Wise kicked off his wine career in 2002 by studying viticulture and wine science. After graduating top of his class (Eastern Institute of Technology, Hawkes Bay), he went on to work with several wineries and vineyards in the Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago regions. Wise moved to Canada in 2009 and established Wise Consulting, providing viticulture and winemaking advice to several wineries across Ontario. In 2015 he completed the WSET Diploma and shortly after was accepted to the MW study program, where he passed all theory and tasting exams on the first attempt. Wise moved west to the Okanagan Valley in 2016, where he is the winemaker for Black Hills Estate Winery and a senior winemaker for the Andrew Peller Limited family of wineries. Since arriving in the Okanagan Valley, he has expanded his organic and biodynamic viticulture knowledge, studied the potential implications of climate change in the valley, and developed a reputation as a prolific sourdough bread baker.

Research paper: How will climate change be influencing viticulture in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley by the 2050s?

Steven Spurrier is returning to Napa for the Judgment of Napa

May 2020 Steven Spurrier and George Taber will return to Napa for the Judgment of Napa – a modern-day interpretation of the famed 1976 event with a focus on giving the public a chance to be part of the judgment. Full itinerary, video and ticket link here.

50 VIP guests paying $15,000 will have the opportunity to participate in the blind tasting curated by Masters of Wine Peter Marks and Matt Deller and sit side-by-side with the men behind the original event. 50 additional guests purchasing $1,500 tickets will be part of the reception, watching the tasting while enjoying other highly credible wines.

This special event is being put together by Angela Duerr of luxury concierge service Cultured Vine and will launch a series of one-of-a-kind experiences in Northern California wine country.

Chef Marco Pierre White launches “£7,000 Spring Gastronomy Experience’” in the Scottish Highlands

Tempestuous Chef Marco Pierre White has just launched a three-night food experience at Alladale Wilderness Reserve in the Scottish Highlands which will set you back £6,910. The ‘Spring Gastronomy Experience’ is being offered by Satopia Travel.

In its promotional material for the four-day culinary adventure, Satopia Travel dubs Pierre White “the Godfather of modern British cooking”.

The experience includes meals created by the outspoken chef, a tour around the Alladale Wilderness Reserve, and accommodation in a recently refurbished Victorian manor with Laura Ashley interiors.

White was the youngest ever chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, scooping his third at Restaurant Marco Pierre White at the Hyde Park Hotel in 1994 when he was just 33.

Since retiring from the kitchen, White has opened over 40 restaurants in the UK.

Russell Crowe is set to play Chef Marco Pierre White in a forthcoming biopic about the chef.  The actor has also written the script and will be producing the film.

Satopia Travel Website:

https://satopiatravel.com/

Alladale Wilderness Reserve Website:

https://alladale.com/

2020 Cognac Trend Predictions

Cognac continues to evolve globally given the interest in craft cocktails, particularly in pre-prohibition cocktails. With the United States being the first cognac market (102.4 million cognac bottles imported in 2019) it has diversified the many ways cognac can be consumed, from sipping it neat to using it as the base for trendy and originating cocktails. A recent study by Beverage Dynamics points to millennials spending up for premium spirits and cocktails. In the past 12 months, spirits priced $25 and up have increased in sales by 13.2%.

With millennials favoring the full imbibing experience—with an emphasis on ingredients — bartenders and stirrers are shifting with the trends.

COGNAC EDUCATORS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY SHARED TRENDS THEY CURRENTLY SEE AND PREDICT FOR 2020

LESS DRINKING, HIGHER QUALITY

Dan Nicolaescu, Beverage Director of Brandy Library and Copper and Oak (New York, NY)

It is my experience that, generally speaking, people are drinking less but of higher quality. I see interest in trying cognac growing steadily, especially towards neat pours. It seems that preferences steer toward cognacs with a lighter wood influence but fairly well developed, in the 10-25 years range.

As far as cocktails go, I can envision bartenders focusing on quality by using small quantities of high-quality old cognac as an accent in a drink. It can provide unique flavors to the final product and is also more financially sensible.

MODERN MIXOLOGY SIMPLIFIED

Miguel F. Lancha, ThinkGoodGroup Cocktail Director (Washington, DC)

One trend that I have seen working with cognac is younger bartenders are showing an interest in wanting to learn about it, whether it’s at a bar training session or an industry seminar.

The interest in classic cocktails has been around for a while now, but many bartenders are going back to being more flexible and creative with cocktails. I see an opportunity for guests to be more exposed to cognac by trying drinks that combine it with cool techniques. Bartenders are continuing to modify the textures and structures of drink components by clarifying, carbonating, making a slushy, etc. They’re doing it in a way that’s not in your face or over the top, which is intriguing guests and exposing them up to Cognac in cocktails.

PRESENTATION WITH LEVITY

Kellie Thorn, Hugh Acheson Restaurants Beverage Director (Atlanta, GA)

While we are still having a hard time getting guests to order cognac on its own the way they do whiskey, we are seeing a lot of cognac cocktails sell.

I think that the key to reaching a younger audience is presenting the spirit and category with some levity. I obviously love the heritage and tradition behind these spirits, but we should approach it with a little irreverence.

Split your pour of cognac neat with some amaro, think of more tropical applications, add it to your spritz build, and in general make cognac feel like something that doesn’t have to have a lot of pomp and circumstance around it to enjoy it.

LOWER-ABV COCKTAILS

Joseph Erhmann of Elixir, Elixir to Go and Cocktail Ambassadors (San Francisco, CA)

There is an opportunity for cognac to take advantage of its great flavor intensity by mixing shorter pours (.5-1 ounce) with light mixers, like the multitude of uniquely flavored tonics to make low- ABV drinks. I particularly like a VSOP with Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic and expressed lemon oil or a young, fruity VS with a dry grapefruit soda like Q Grapefruit.

https://www.cognac.fr/