Wine in a Can.  I’m a Fan!

What’s wrong with selling wine in a can?  It was not too long ago when traditionalists thought screw caps on wine bottles were a total outrage to an industry cloaked in tradition. And look at us now; twisting that screw cap with glee and patting ourselves on the back that the screw cap invention protected the cork trees.

Wine in a can is no gimmick. It began in about 2004 with Francis Ford Coppola Winery producing “Sofia”, a blanc de blanc sparkling wine in a can.  It has been growing steadily since then and canned wine was a $50 million business in the US last year. It seems to be falling somewhere between the box wine of student days and elegant, gifting wine in bottles.  We accepted beer in a can, followed by other premium beverages in a can like cocktails, sake, and craft beer, what’s stopping us from embracing the wine in a can trend?

So why is this new format drawing so many consumers?  Firstly, it is mainly the millennial generation that is attracted to wine in a can.  This grouping of people is usually drawn to products of convenience, accessibility, approachability, especially when purchasing wine.

Canned wine ticks all those boxes and so many more:

  • Ease of use: simple to take anywhere, takes up little space, is practically a single-serve unit, no mess
  • Environmentally friendly: the product has a lower carbon footprint because of transporting its reduced weight as well as space efficiency. Aluminum cans are also far easier to recycle than glass
  • Faster chilling: making this product practically instant
  • Adaptability: canned wine can be used in places where glass is normally banned like in parks and swimming pools
  • Price: due to reduced costs of packaging and transport

It is now a question of premiumization.  Consumers, especially the millennials do not want lower quality products, in any format.  The challenge is to prove that canned wine can exceed the consumer’s expectations and deliver a quality wine, regardless of its format.  One way is to encourage the consumer to drink the wine out of a glass and not from the tin.  There is still the old myth: “won’t it taste like metal?”.

Age ability is the other difference.  Wine in a can is meant for immediate consumption.  There are currently no trials or stats to see what the aging process in a can might be, so for now, the wine in your cellar will remain in a bottle, but the wine in your picnic hamper may well be in a can.

Stel + Mar sent us some samples of their wine in a can. The Stel + Mar strap line is “premium wine in a can” and I was not disappointed.

The Premium White is a 250ml Californian Chardonnay at 14.5% alcohol.  It is quite delightful.  I tasted it, enjoyed it thoroughly and poured the rest of the can into my glass to enjoy as I wrote this piece.

Tasting Notes: Aromas of fresh nectarine, lemongrass and a refreshing honeysuckle note make it a very appealing everyday tipple.

The Premium Red is a Californian Zinfandel and has classic varietal typicity.

Tasting Notes: Blackberries and rose petals with dark cherries and cinnamon.  It’s heavy enough to satisfy but light enough to glug.

I am a fan of wine in a can.  It’s a growing business and is to be ignored at your peril.

Stel + Mar Website:  https://stelandmar.com/

Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright Cape Wine Master

The South African wine industry commits to sustainability

South African wines are known globally for many things: wide range of styles; diversity of climate and geography; unique varietals; transition between the old and the new world.  But not many people know the Cape Winelands are located in the Cape Floral Kingdom, a world heritage site, one of six plant kingdoms in the world, with more than 9500 plant species. This piece of natural significance, located on the most southern point of the African continent, in the area surrounding Cape Town is where 70% of the plant species found cannot be found anywhere else on earth.

With this unique biodiversity, preserving the natural heritage of the land has become a focus for the South African wine producers. With the boom in the export market, the area being planted to vines in South Africa in on the increase.  Farmers are identifying what is unique and rare on their farms and finding ways to preserve the natural fynbos and renosterveld (translated as rhino fields); local names for the indigenous vegetation, and to minimize further loss of the threatened natural habitat as their plantings increase.

The South African wine industry supports conservation, and special biodiversity guidelines have been written. A program in sustainable farming was initiated called the Integrated production of Wine (IPW).  It became compulsory for farmers in 1998 and it concentrates on every stage in the wine production process.  Environmental impact studies, soil preparation, use of recyclable packaging, as well as botanical audits to preserve endangered or sensitive species, and using indigenous plants as cover crops.  Farmers also are required to set aside undeveloped land on their farms to preserve the natural ecosystems.

South African wine bodies are working together to drive the industry’s commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly production of wine.  The Wine and Spirit board seal on the bottle guarantees this and has a unique seal number which can be verified online (www.sawis.co.za)

Consumers can now know that South African wine is the real deal when it comes to sustainability and not just a form of green rubber stamping to appease wine drinkers.  With that in mind, it is worth exploring the wonderful treasures that this little slice of Africa has to offer.  A recent tasting revealed some delightful wines, all found in the main section of the LCBO, hence, they are easy drinking value wines, and all on promotion for the month of January:

Vinologist Sauvignon Blanc $12.95 (currently $10.95) https://www.vinologist.co.za

  • Fresh, zingy, passionfruit and grapefruit notes

Fleur du Cap Chardonnay $12.95 (currently $10.95) https://www.fleurducap.co.za/wines/

  • Lovely lemon tones, no real sign of oakiness, just the softness and complexity of oak barrels

The Grinder Pinotage  $14.00  (currently selling for $12.00) https://www.grapegrinder.com/grinder-pinotage

  • A great expression of the South African Pinotage grape, loads of blackberry and plum fruit and coffee toastiness from the oak

Porcupine Ridge Syrah $15.95 (currently $12.95) https://www.boekenhoutskloof.co.za/porcupine-ridge/

  • A great value Syrah with notes of black pepper and black cherry

Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright
Cape Wine Master

French Super Chef Alain Ducasse Reduces Wine Prices to Discourage “Dry January”

Internationally famed French Chef Alain Ducasse declares war on the “Dry January” trend.  At the beginning of January, Chef Ducasse was “horrified” to see New York diners drinking iced tea at lunch and not wine. Shortly thereafter he launched an initiative to entice patrons of his restaurants to drink wine during the first month of the year, not less.

“I’ve noted that trend, but I don’t want to see or hear of it, I am opposed to it,” states Chef Ducasse and he further adds that he wants to “rid consumers of their inhibitions” with regards to drinking wine.

In November, the French government abandoned a campaign urging people to give up alcohol in January after the wine industry pushed president Emmanuel Macron to drop it.

“Dry January” began in the UK in 2013 and has since been adopted around the world. Last year one in five Americans participated in the initiative, giving up alcohol for the first month of the year.

Alain Ducasse has runs restaurants all over the world, including the three Michelin star Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenée in Paris.

What are your thoughts on this ?

Provence Wine Council approves a €21 three-year strategic marketing plan for export markets

At its AGM last month, the Provence wine council (CIVP) approved a three-year action plan costing €7 million a year, which includes drives in no fewer than 15 export markets. From 2019-2024, Provence’s producers have established a clear agenda to support premiumization of their wines; increase the share of exports from 37% to 45%; and diversify shipment destinations, particularly towards the Asia/Pacific region (more specifically to China and Japan).

“Our actions in France and abroad are aimed at constantly increasing the reputation and image of our appellations across the globe. A levy increase is never taken lightly. This bold decision is a sign that producer companies are aware of the challenges to be met and the collective resources that need to be deployed”, states Jean-Jacques Bréban, chairman of the Provence wine council.

https://www.vinsdeprovence.com/en/civp

Wine Technology:  Bordeaux’s first wine with augmented reality label revealed

Château Laffitte Carcasset has just released a new wine which, when viewed through an app on a smartphone, appears in augmented reality.

The wine, a classic 60% Cabernet Sauvignon 40% Merlot blend, is destined for the export market and pays tribute to a key figure in the region’s history.

Jean Lafitte bought a wine estate in ‘Carcasset’ in 1781, naming the estate after himself and passing it down to his children.

The 35-hectare estate has partnered with the SnapPress app and POSQA, a start-up that supports augmented reality projects, on the initiative.

The producer hopes it brings “young, connected consumers” to the brand, and also to Bordeaux.

Made from grapes sourced from the 2016 vintage, the wine was fermented in stainless steel vats before being matured in oak for 12 months, creating a wine that is approachable and “easy-to-drink in its youth”.

Eden Villages, owned by French businessman Pierre Rousseau, acquired a majority stake in estate in 2017. Since 1958 it had been owned by members of the Padirac family.

Upon acquiring Laffitte Carcasset, his first winery, Rousseaux said he would implement a renovation and restructuring project, drawing on his experience gained through running his company, which specializes in mobile homes and motorhomes and already deals in the wine tourism sector.