WSTA Launches Low and No Alcohol Labelling Guidance

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (UK) has produced new guidance around the labeling of low and no alcohol drinks, as a record number of Brits explore low and no products.

This guidance has been produced in partnership with the WTSA’s Primary Authority Trading Standards Partners, and at the behest of both retailers and producers.

With the popularity of the low and no alcohol category at an all-time high, and January traditionally seeing efforts by consumers to cut out or cut down on booze to start the year, drinks producers are developing new and innovative techniques to provide consumers with more choice and greater quality.

The latest data from the WSTA Market Report shows that overall alcohol sales are down compared to the same 12-month period last year. Wine and beer sales have dipped and overall, spirit sales are flat. Wine, the nation’s most popular drink, has seen a 5% decline in sales despite the boost in online deliveries.

Many new products on the market are produced to closely resemble their alcoholic counterparts – they are closer than ever before – in taste, aroma and appearance – to the spirits and spirit drinks they are providing an alternative to.

The WSTA’s new guidance aims to establish acceptable legal names, marketing text and general labeling requirements for low and no alcohol drinks.

It also looks to boost confidence for consumers in the category, helping them make informed purchasing decisions through clear, accurate, and consistent labeling – which had been retailers’ over-riding concern and motivation for asking the WSTA to offer advice that can be applicable UK market-wide.

The new guidance applies to low and no alcohol drinks that are packaged and marketed as a substitute or alternative to spirit drinks and is designed to complement existing – and any future – Low Alcohol Descriptors Guidance produced by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said:

“There has been a huge amount of innovation and product development across the low and no alcohol category in recent years. Confusion – for producers and for consumers – led to a request of the WSTA to pull together comprehensive advice. Along with our Primary Authority partners, we have produced this new guide to help both producers and consumers.

We know that overall alcohol sales fell during 2020. Many Brits want to start 2021 by reducing the amount of alcohol they drink, or cutting it out completely, which is why I am delighted to have been able to publish this guidance so early in the year.

Many of our members are making it easier than ever for us to choose a lower-alcohol, or no alcohol alternative, without compromising on taste or quality. Our new guidance will help producers label and market their products with greater confidence, and will help promote clear, accurate and consistent labeling across the category, boosting consumer confidence.”

Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, at Salford City Council said supporting businesses to comply with the law and promoting best practice is central to the council’s primary authority advisory work with the WSTA.

“Low and no alcohol drinks are a fast-growing market.  It is important that products are legally compliant and that they have clear and understandable labeling so that customers can make the right choices. Our staff were delighted to work with their colleagues in Wales to help the WSTA publish this pioneering guide,” he said.

Jonny Peacock, Strategy and Transformation Director for Pernod Ricard UK, said:

“The non-alcoholic spirits category is already growing fast, and with 30 percent of all consumers seeking to moderate, there’s no reason to doubt projections of continued growth of ~25% over the coming years. This move is welcome as it ensures clarity and certainty for producers and consumers as they increasingly engage in the category.”

Rob Curteis, Group Marketing Director, Quintessential Brands, adds:

“With many consumers today looking to create a better balance in their lives and their diets, there’s more interest in products that help them to moderate – be it low & no alcohol, or low & no sugar. They’re also wanting to enjoy good quality when they do indulge in a bit of what they fancy though – it’s not enough to simply remove the alcohol and not consider the impact on the taste, shoppers today are more discerning and expect more from these ‘alternatives.’

“With this being new territory for many producers, retailers and consumers, we welcome the WSTA’s proactive approach in giving guidance to the industry on this burgeoning category to help the consumer understand and navigate it, and also to protect the integrity of the spirits category.”

Coronavirus Disrupts the Wine and Spirits Industry

Tastings and trade shows worldwide have been canceled or pushed back to mitigate the spread of coronavirus – we are keeping you up-to-date with the latest news from the drinks industry.

In northern Italy, roughly 16 million people are in a state of lockdown until 3 April after the government imposed strict quarantine that includes the closure of museums, cultural institutions and the suspension of all public gatherings and social events, including pubs, nightclubs and games halls. Budget airline Easyjet announced on Sunday evening it would cancel flights to Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona airports in the period up to April 3 and will provide further updates in due course.

The UK’s Foreign Office has advised members of the public to cancel all-but essential travel to key Italian wine-growing regions such as Lombardy region, including the cities of Milan, Bergamo and Como, and the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini in Emilia Romagna region. A spokesperson for the UK government has said anyone returning to the UK from these parts of Italy should self-quarantine regardless of whether they are displaying symptoms.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson held an emergency meeting with the UK’s cabinet on Monday morning (9 March) to decide whether the country will undergo a similar lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. However, a spokesperson confirmed that the UK will not pursue any stricter measures for the time being.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has said its annual trade show, BeerX, will be going ahead as normal on 11 and 12 March, but with extra precautions in place.

James Calder, SIBA’s chief executive said: “We’re taking extra steps to ensure the risk of passing on infection remains low. We are working with our event partners, the Liverpool ACC and closely following Government guidance on a day by day basis. We would encourage all brewers, suppliers, judges and delegates to stick to their plans and take sensible measures.”

The measures include:

  • A ban on handshakes
  • A ban on sharing beer glasses with anyone else
  • Hand sanitizer stations placed throughout BeerX and on every bar
  • Exhibitors to use hand sanitizer on all stands
  • Encouraging everyone to stick to the NHS latest guidance on hand washing and sneezing into tissues

On Thursday, March 5th, Messe Düsseldorf, the organizer of ProWein, has revealed that the show will not take place this year. The group plan to host ProWein as scheduled in 2021.

On Tuesday, March 3, London’s wine trade had its first casualty. The RAW Wine Show, which was due to take place this weekend, has been postponed. Founder Isabelle Legeron MW said: “With so many producers flying in from all over the world this seems like the right decision for such a large gathering of people and such an international event.”

At the same time, the bi-annual Grands Jours de Bourgogne tasting, due to take place between 9 and 13 March, has likewise been called off.

And the organizers of the leading Italian wine show, Vinitaly, have announced the 2020 edition will be postponed until June.

On March 2nd we learned that the London Wine Fair will still go ahead, but attendees have been told to proceed with caution. The organizers have pledged to supply extra hand sanitizers and face masks to curb infection at the mammoth wine tasting in Kensington Olympia in May.

Also set to go ahead as normal is the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux’s annual primeurs week, which takes place at the end of March.

Arguably the biggest event in the drinks trade calendar, ProWein, has also been pushed back. Messe Düsseldorf states on February 29th that it was postponing a series of trade fairs set to take place in the exhibition center, including ProWein, Wire, Tube, Beauty, Top Hair and Energy Storage Europe.

A number of shows have also been canceled altogether in China, while the dates for Vinexpo Hong Kong and ProWine Asia in Singapore have also moved to later this year.

Source:  Drinks Business

 

Michelin Introduces Sustainable Gastronomy Symbol

The Michelin Guide has unveiled a new green clover symbol in its France guide to indicate restaurants with “commendable environmental practices”.

First revealed at the launch of the Michelin Guide France 2020 on 27 January, the new icon has been allocated to over 50 sustainable restaurants.

Among them is three Michelin-starred Mirazur in Menton which has two hectares of “permaculture vegetable gardens” and also has a zero-waste policy.

The symbol can be given to chefs whose restaurants have been awarded the plate, bib gourmand or 1-3 stars.

Also given the accolade was Parisian Restaurant David Toutain, which collaborates with smallholdings and local craftsmen and matches its food orders with future bookings in order to minimize waste. In addition, Septime, also based in the French capital, was praised for its sustainable food sourcing and its practice of sending all bio-waste to a vermicomposting center to be recycled.

In 2019, the MICHELIN Guide handed out Sustainability Awards to recognize chefs across several destinations rated by the guide, including Angel Leon of three-MICHELIN-starred Aponiente in Spain, Enda McAvoy of one-starred Loam in Ireland, and Heidi Bjerkan of one-starred Credo in Norway.

Commenting on the launch, Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said: “Faced with constantly evolving challenges including production methods, sourcing and waste management, chefs are striving to improve their practices.

“Often, these initiatives combine the best of the knowledge of our predecessors with the creativity and innovation of chefs who are never short of ideas. The ambition of our approach is to amplify the scope of the good and ingenious practices of chefs by putting them in the spotlight.

“The ideas, methods, and know-how developed by these chefs will thus help raise awareness of an entire sector to its customers and the general population.”

The practices and achievements of those restaurants given a sustainability icon will be promoted via the Michelin Guide’s platforms throughout the year.

The list can be found here:

https://guide.michelin.com/mo/en/macau-region/macau/article/news-and-views/michelin-new-sustainable-gastronomy-icon

Puglia’s Negroamaro – to be discovered

I traveled to Puglia, Italy early October 2019 to attend a four-day educational tour.  The Educational Tour Guagnano (Salento – Puglia – Italy) “Negroamaro Stories” was carried out with the support of the Comune di Guagnano, the Municipality of Trepuzzi, the Gal Terrad’Arneo, the Municipality of Porto Cesareo, of the National Association of AIS of Lecce, and  Solento Wine Shop.

Puglia is geographically located in the south-eastern tip of Italy, covering 7,469 sqm. It is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the east, by the Ionian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its climate is Mediterranean, with hot summer temperatures only partially mitigated with sea breezes.

On my first day I attended the Museo del Negroamaro for a press conference, which kicked off the 2019 “Stories of Negroamaro” tour. In attendance were partner organizations, participating wineries, local politicians, and artist Arianna Greco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conference speeches and presentations were given (in Italian) by:

Antonio Rizzo – Ass. cultura e al marketing territoriale del Comune di Guagnano;

Claudio Maria Sorrento – Sindaco del Comune di Guagnano;

Chiara Tondo – Ass. all’Agricoltura del Comune di Guagnano;

Cosimo Durante – Presidente Gal Terra d’Arneo;

Viviana D’Amico – Presidente del Comitato Tecnico Organizzativo del Premio Terre del Negroamaro; and

Titolari e Rappresentanti – Aziende Vinicole Guagnano.

The conference introduced us to the Guagnano and Terra d’Arneo area and presented grape harvest data for 2018-2019.

After the presentations and speeches, I met and mingled with Italian wine journalists, winegrowers and members of the local and regional associations, while tasting the delicious local cuisine.

After lunch, I participated in a tour of the Museo del Negroamaro.  I found out that the Museum was formerly a millstone from the 1800s. It now houses antiques and antiquities from yesteryear, such as traditional presses, barrels, fermenters, weighs, pressure switches, and other tools and equipment previously used in the processing of grapes and winemaking. The Museum also houses the Negroamaro Study Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next four days, I will be visiting eight wineries or Cantinas in Puglia and tasting their DOC and IGT wines, with a focus on the indigenous varieties Primitivo and Negroamaro.  The participating wineries include: Cantele Cantele; Cantina Sociale Enotria; Vini Leuci; Feudi di Guagnano; Cantine Cosimo Taurino; Cantina Moros di Claudio Quarta; Taurino Francesco; and Tenuta Marano.

The first winery visit was Cosimo Taurino

The Taurino family have been growing grapes and making wines in Puglia for seven generations. This multi-award-winning estate owns 80 hectares of cultivated vineyards exclusively with Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera grapes, both indigenous to Salento.  The Taurino’s family respect for terroir and for native grapes is inspiring, and their impact on the vinous history of Puglia is unprecedented.

 

 

Two wines that really stood out for me were:

Cosimo Taurino, Notarpanaro Salento  2010

100% Negroamaro

Tasting Notes:  This wine offers complex aromas of cherries and raspberry, with some notes of wood and spice, which all come through on the palate;  this medium-bodied wine has fleshy tannins and a long finish.

Cosimo Taurino, Patriglione 2013

100% Negroamaro

Tasting Notes:  This wine has notes of red berries, leather, tobacco, and some traces of pepper. It’s a rich and full-bodied wine with a good balance.

Unfortunately, I could not complete the rest of the tour due to a family emergency.

 What I learned in Salento….

About  Negroamaro

Negroamaro is a deep, black-colored grape with taste characteristics of black currant, cherry, blackberry and cloves with some cinnamon undertones.  It is almost exclusive to the Salento region (Brindisi and Lecce) and is harvested in late September.

Negroamaro is used in 13 regional Dop labels (out of 28 in Puglia) and is produced in the provinces of: Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto: Alezio, Brindisi, Copertino, Galatina, Leverano, Lizzano, Matino, Nardò, Negroamaro in Terra d’Otranto, Salice Salentino, Squinzano, and Terra d’Otranto.

Negroamaro has a high alcohol content with some floral and fruity aromas; this makes it an ideal blending wine because the aroma does not distract from other grape varieties.

The Soil

It is worth mentioning that one of the secrets to the fabulous tasting Pugliese wine is the soil.  It’s dense red clay, high in iron-oxide – this provides a sweet, structured, full-bodied wine.

Over the last few years, the wines of Salento have been gaining tremendous success. The next-generation winemakers have both improved the taste and the image of the wines in this emerging wine region.

A special thank you to the municipal administrations, for organizing this wonderful trip.  I’m looking forward to going back to Puglia in the near future and learning more about this up-and-coming wine region.

Liz Palmer

 

Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 3 of 3] — VDP “Große Lage” Seminar and Tasting

A special trade seminar was held the following morning with a specific focus on VDP “Große Lange.” The seminar was held in the beautiful Kurhaus Wiesbaden, which is unmistakable Wiesbaden’s landmark. This magnificent neoclassical building is the city’s convention center.

VDP stands for Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (or the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates). It was founded as a regional association in the Rheingau over a hundred years ago with the goal of recognizing and encouraging quality producers of dry wines.

The VDP has selected and classified the best German vineyard sites coming from all 13 of the country’s wine-producing regions. In 2019, there are 200 members. The logo for VDP is an eagle with grapes on his chest. If you see this logo on a bottleneck, you know that it comes from one of the best vineyards in Germany and is a trustworthy guarantee for the quality within. VDP has four classifications:

VDP Gutswein –  these are often the first wines of a wine year to be bottled and sold. They must come from estate-grown grapes and the producers are given freedom here to experiment and innovate.

VDP Ortsweine – these are wines that express regionality. The grapes must come from one village and offer a sense of expression of that particular place. Only regional grape varieties are used, and many come from the higher-classified Grosse Lage or Erste Lage sites.

VDP Erste Lage – these wines are Premier Cru from first-class vineyards where there are optimal growing conditions. These wines must also be grown with a view to sustainability and tradition.

VDP Grosse Lage – these wines come from the highest quality German vineyards. They are complex, express single vineyard sites, and are known for their long-aging. These wines also must also be grown and made with a view to sustainability and tradition.

Membership is by invitation only, and with producers known for long-standing quality and a commitment to excellence.  Members must also adhere to strict rules including low yields, higher starting must weights, selective hand harvesting, and five-yearly inspections.

Promotion remains a major aspect of its activities. The VDP has developed its own quality pyramid based on the official German system,  with a specific focus on dry wines. Recently, they introduced a new classification for Sekt, German sparkling wine.

5% of Germany’s vineyards are included in the VDP classification, accounting for 7.5% of the turnover of the German wine industry.

Riesling is the most important grape among VDP producers with 55% of all VDP vineyards planted with Riesling, compared to 23% across Germany as a whole.

 

 

Other grape varieties approved for VDP Grosse Lage certification include:

Chardonnay

Weissburgunder

Spätburgunder

Grauburgunder

Frühburgunder

Traminer