Air Canada Sommelier Veronique Rivest Talks Wine in the Sky

Award-winning Canadian Sommelier, Veronique Rivest, is Air Canada’s very own sommelier. The Quebec-born Rivest explains how she chooses wines for Air Canada’s premium passengers.

Why did you choose to partner with Air Canada? Tell us about your role as Air Canada Sommelier

Veronique: I’ve worked with restaurants, hotels, and other establishments—but never an airline! It’s definitely an exciting avenue to explore. I’m really proud to be working with Canada’s national carrier, which is allowing me to showcase the work of many talented Canadian and international winemakers to a premium clientele who enjoy exploration and adventure.

What makes wine taste good (or bad) in the air?

Veronique: Environment has a huge influence on the way we taste, including who we’re with and the space we’re in. Then, flights bring up other considerations. I think about the way wine will make customers feel in the air—what will be uplifting instead of bringing passengers down and making them tired. We know from research that food and wine can taste different at 30,000 feet. At the start of my partnership with Air Canada, I did my own tasting in the air and discovered that modern planes might lessen, but not remove the effects of altitude.

Luckily the Boeing 787s are equipped with special technology to counteract dry cabin environment, which vastly improves both air quality and humidity and has a positive effect on taste buds—meaning the wines on our lists taste fantastic at cruising altitude!

How do you ensure wines will taste “right” at 30,000 feet?

Veronique: I try to select wines that are vibrant, without too much tannin or oak, to contrast with the cabin environment and keep passengers feeling energized.

What do you take into consideration when pairing wine with the in-flight menu?

Veronique: First and foremost, because the food and wine menus don’t change at the same time, I always make sure to select well-balanced wines. I then assess whether or not the wine is “food-friendly”, as some wines pair well with more foods than others. Overall, I look for wines that have fresh acidity, with moderate alcohol levels and bright flavours.

What types of wines make your lists?

Veronique: The wine list for Air Canada Signature Class changes every three months and is designed to pair with Chef Hawskworth’s delicious menu items. Depending on the routes, there are always four to five wines (a combination of reds and whites) on the menu, plus one champagne. In North America Business Class, the wine menu is meant to be paired with gourmet cuisine. And I always strive to feature at least one Canadian wine to showcase our country’s many great wineries and give passengers a little taste of home.

Here is a short video how she chooses the vintages served to Air Canada passengers. Also, find out what it takes to pair food and wine at 30,000 feet.

https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/about/media/media-features/wine-in-the-sky.html

Happy National Wine Day, santé!

Liz Palmer and
Val from Air Canada

European Wine is dominating Canada

New statistics released last month by Canada’s national statistics agency confirm that wine is increasingly gaining popularity. Canadian consumers’ attention seems to be drawn to foreign products. Statistics show that 70% of the total wine consumed in Canada between 2017 and 2018 was imported.

Canada is a market that the European Union cannot underestimate. While beer seems to retain its position as Canadians’ favorite alcoholic beverage (39, 68% of the value of total alcoholic beverages sales), Canada’s national statistics agency has data to confirm that wine is not far from gaining first place (32,43%). This is a tendency arisen within the last 10 years: wine sales in Canada have been consistently increasing year on year (averaging 4,2% a year; 4,6% compared with the previously investigated fiscal year, 2016/17). At a global level, analysis by Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV) on the state of the viticulture in the world market has found that in 2018 Canada was the 13th country in terms of wine consumption, but the 6th for volume of imported wine (joint with the Netherlands). As mentioned above, Canada’s significant wine import rate is confirmed by Canada’s own data, which reports that 70% of the wine consumed in Canada between 2017 and 2018 was of foreign origin.

The Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union played a fundamental role in imported wine’s conquer of the Canadian market. The treaty was provisionally applied on September 21th, 2018, and eliminated 98% of the exporting tariffs between the signing countries. The CETA also signified the official acknowledgment of European denominations of origin, a remarkable achievement for high-quality European products. For the first time, the treaty banned the sale in Canada of imitations of 140 European delicacies, making European designations of origin an unequivocal guarantee of products origin and craft.

However, protecting these products from imitations is not enough. In order to make the most of this opportunity, the European quality system needs to be demystified and communicated to the ordinary customer. According to NGO participant Kurtis Kolt, wine consultant and sommelier, wine experts are aware of the superior craft of EU products marked with quality labels, but the difference is still unclear to the general public: It should not be taken for granted that everyone knows what PDO and PGI mean.

This is precisely why the European Union has created educational programs such as Native Grape Odyssey. Comments from participants confirm that the full potential of European wines in the Canadian market is still to be expressed: “Wine consumption, sales, intrigue and interest are on the rise in Canada currently and it is a great time for the premium wine market. Wine is currently on trend in Canada and it is a great time to focus on more niche or lesser known wines varietals and regions.“ commented Jeffery Osborne, Sales Manager at Grape Brands Ltd. and sommelier.

The situation seems promising for European exports in Canadian market, but these products need to be properly introduced and explained to the consumer. This is a role that only people of authority within the market can undertake. The above-mentioned 25 wine experts have thus found in NGO a way to deepen their knowledge about the subject, so that they can effectively express it to the Canadian market. Joanne DiGeso, wine educator, stated that NGO has perfectly identified what is needed to take European wine sales in Canada to the next level: «I think that NGO is doing great work at educating influencers, sommeliers and educators on the broader range of Italian wines. This, in turn, should ‘trickle down’ to consumers.» Sommelier Jeffery Osborne commented further by praising NGO’s educational activities content: «NGO-organised seminars are fantastic deep dives into perspectives on the grapes and wines which we are typically not exposed to by CMS or WSET. »

The success of this first edition encouraged NGO’s organizers to expand the program: large scale events have already been planned for the months to come, and this time NGO will literally bring European excellence to the world, organizing educational activities directly in the target countries.

About: Native Grape Odyssey is a project financed by the European Union and managed by Unione Italiana Vini and Zante Agricultural Cooperatives Union for the promotion of PDO and PGI European wines abroad, in particular in three countries: Japan, Canada and Russia. In order to achieve this, the Native Grape Odyssey educational program will organize wine seminars, workshops and b2b meetings both in these countries and in Verona, Italy, inviting wine experts and influencers from these countries. These events, realized in the span of three years (2019-21) aim at creating awareness about European native wines abroad, in particular, Italian and Greek wines, which share a long tradition and a high standard of quality.

Source:
Native Grape Odyssey (NGO), an EU-financed educational project for the promotion of European native grapes

Moet Hennessy acquires Provence rose winery Château du Galoupet

Moët Hennessy, the wine & spirits arm of LVMH announced last week that they have agreed to purchase Chateau du Galoupet, a winery that specializes in Provence rosé. This will be the group’s first producer of rose wine.

Chateau du Galoupet is a 17th-century estate in the Provence region on the Mediterranean coast. The purchase includes 68 hectares of vines and the selling point for the estate is the
micro-climate, which “refreshes the vines with temperate and salty winds” which ensures consistent yields, the French luxury group said.

“In response to growing demand in France and around the world, Château du Galoupet offers a renowned rosé wine, combining ancestral methods and technical precision, adhering to the strict requirements of the fine wines of Provence,” Moët Hennessy said in a statement.

LVMH’s wine and spirits portfolio includes Champagnes like Dom Perignon and Ruinart, as well as Hennessy Cognac. Other acquisitions have included top-shelf makers of Bordeaux and Burgundy like the Clos des Lambrays estate whose grand cru bottles can retail north of $260. Now rising demand for rose — which has lately become emblematic of South-of-France savoir vivre and a staple for daytime summer parties — has seen the French luxury conglomerate buy an estate whose bottles still retail for less than $15.

Exports of Provencal rose have risen 14-fold over the past 10 years, trade association CIVP said. Exports rose 8% in value last year, roughly three times the increase for French wines overall.

Liz Palmer elected to the board of Federation Internationale des Journalistes et Ecrivains du Vin et des Spiritueux (FIJEV)

I’m soooo excited! I’ve just been elected to the board of Fédération Internationale des Journalistes et Ecrivains du Vin et des Spiritueux (FIJEV) at a meeting held today at Vinexpo – Bordeaux!

About FIJEV
The International Federation of Wine and Spirit Journalist and Writers/Fédération Internationale des Journalistes et Écrivains des Vins et Spiritueux (FIJEV) is a French non-profit association created in 1987 and is based in Paris. Its goal is to promote contacts between wine journalists and writers all over the world and to defend their profession. Beyond providing an international press card, aims at helping its members to establish contacts to editors, newspapers, and magazines in other countries; assure the recognition of its members by the producers, publishers, public relations’ organisations and all members of the trade; create contacts between organisations of the wine and spirit business organising press presentation (events, tours) and its journalist members; defend its journalist members and the freedom of the press; respect of a common code of ethics.

Who
FIJEV has more than 400 members in 60 countries.

Liz Palmer

New Zeland Wine Exports on Track to Exceed Forecasts

HAPPY SAUVIGNON BLANC DAY!

A recent report released by Dutch bank Rabobank reveals modest growth for New Zealand wine exports, with analysts predicting that the industry is on track to exceed the 2019 forecasts.

Hayden Higgins, senior analyst of horticulture and wine, said: “In early 2019, wine import growth continued the slowdown witnessed in 2018 for both the US and China, while Brexit has been thrown a lifeline, for now”.

New Zealand’s export value and volume is in line to exceed MPI 2019 forecasts. Rabobank expects overall value growth to be around NZ$60 million, representing a 4% year-on-year change.

Higgins said: “Wine export revenue to the US contracted slightly in the 12 months to February 2019 by around 1%, but the US remains our lead market by value.

“Total US wine imports, on a case equivalent basis, contracted by 4% in the 12 months to December 2018, but New Zealand achieved overall growth at the expense of other exporters such as Chile, Australia, Spain and South Africa.

“Total US import volumes contracted again in the first two months of 2019, but at a slower rate than 2018.”

Rabobank expects continuous modest US value and volume import growth for New Zealand Wine across 2019. Although downside risks do exist in 2020, with the potential for a modest US recession looming, New Zealand continues to experience strong wine export growth to China, off a small base.

In regards to Brexit, Rabobank expects importers to run down current inventory levels, and then start rebuilding stocks in the third quarter, prior to the new Brexit date.

The release of the report coincides with International Sauvignon Blanc Day today. New Zealand Winegrowers has launched a promotional campaign, beginning in New Zealand before rolling out to a series of events globally.

Chris Yorke, global marketing director of New Zealand Winegrowers, said: “New Zealand produces less than 1% of the world’s wine production, but Sauvignon Blanc shows huge popularity all over the globe, with the zesty variety making up 86% of all wine exported from New Zealand.

“International Sauvignon Blanc Day gives us an opportunity to enjoy and celebrate the diverse styles of this sought-after variety.”

Sauvignon Blanc was commercially produced on New Zealand shores for the first time in 1979, and is now New Zealand’s most widely planted variety. New Zealand wine exports are currently valued at $1.75 billion, while 98% of New Zealand’s vineyard producing area is Sustainable Winegrowing NZ certified.

 

Sources:  Dutch bank Rabobank