What we can do to help California Wine Country?

Since the beginning of 2020, there have been over 8,100 wildfires in California, alone.   August 15 when fire activity increased extensively, there have been over 26 fatalities and 7,000 homes and businesses destroyed. This week, the California wine country was affected by the “Glass Fire”, which burned parts of Sonoma and Napa. The images are disturbing and the wine industry, as a whole, is with heavy-heart!

Here’s how you can help:

1. Donate to charitable organizations – see list below;
2. Book a trip in advance: support the wine country by visiting them;
3. Shop California wines: search for local shops, DTC winery shipments, order California wines in restaurants and bars; and
4. Show your support by using #WineCountryStrong on social media.

American Red Cross
California Community Foundation’s Wildlife Relief Fund
California Fire Foundation
Google (Scroll down and click “Yes, Donate”)
Humane Society of Ventura County
Salvation Army
United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Stay safe and show your support!

Liz Palmer

Pouilly-Fuissé gets 22 premier cru vineyards

The French National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO) has officially recognized 22 premier cru ‘climats’ within the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation.

The AOP Pouilly-Fuissé will become the first appellation within Burgundy’s Mâconnais sub-region to benefit from premier cru vineyards.

The 22 new premier crus account for a total of 194ha of land planted to vine, corresponding to circa 24% of Pouilly-Fuissé’s total vineyard area (800ha), spread over the four communes of the appellation: Chaintré, Fuissé, Solutré-Pouilly and Vergisson.

A proposal for the recognition of these climats as premier crus was first submitted to the INAO 10 years ago. Since then, the INAO has been working in partnership with the Organization for the Defense and Management (ODG) of the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation to assess the worthiness of these ‘terroirs’.

The 22 new premier crus, commune by commune

Chaintré:

  • Le Clos de Monsieur Noly
  • Les Chevrières
  • Aux Quarts
  • Le Clos Reyssier

Fuissé:

  • Le Clos
  • Les Brulés
  • Les Ménétrières
  • Les Reisses
  • Les Vignes Blanches
  • Les Perrières
  • Vers Cras

Solutré-Pouilly:

  • La Frérie
  • Le Clos de Solutré
  • Au Vignerais
  • En Servy
  • Aux Bouthières
  • Aux Chailloux
  • Pouilly
  • Vers Cras

Vergisson:

  • Les Crays
  • La Maréchaude
  • Sur la Roche
  • En France

#wine #bourgogne #burgundy #pouillyfuisse #Mâconnais

US Wine Market Adapts to “New Normal” According to Nielsen Report

US off-trade consumers are settling into new normal following the incredible sales spikes seen at the height of the pandemic, the latest data from Nielsen has shown, but US wine appears to be losing out to imports from New Zealand, Italy and France in the most recent weeks.

According to data for the week ending 22 August, wine in the US off-trade grew 17.4%, marginally lower than the previous week, and well below the 25.2% of the whole Covid period to date. Spirits meanwhile led the charge at with growth of 26.2% (down from 27.2% last week, or 33.5% over the whole Covid-period to date) led by the whiskey (24.2%), which accounts for a third of the spirits category, tequila (+59.1%), ready-to-drink cocktails (+101%) and cognac (+53.2%).

Hard seltzers also saw triple-digit gains, up 113% this week, compared to the same period last year. Although this growth has slowed slightly, it still accounts for 10.2% of sales in the latest week.  Craft and super-premium beer also showed strong sales within the core beer category, which rose 9.8% overall.

Drilling into wine sales, sparkling wine grew well ahead of table wine, rising 35.5%, compared to table wine’s 13.3% growth.  However, the data showed sales of American table wine are losing out to wines imported from New Zealand (23.6%), Italy (23.3%) and France (18.7%) at a faster rate than pre-pandemic, with the market share of domestic table wine falling 3 percentage points, on the back of a 2.5 percentage point decline in Californian wine.

US Consumers are settling into a new normal, according to Nielsen’s vice president of beverage alcohol Danella Kosmal, with year on year trends up 18.5%

However, Kosmal stressed that although off-premise growth rates for alcohol continue to outpace growth rates of total consumer goods, the off-premise growth was not enough to make up for the total losses in on-premise channels. “There has been a significant shift in volume from on-premise channels, which has exaggerated growth rates for off-premise alcohol,” she said.

The latest data showed that the US Wine Market Adapts to “New Normal” According to Nielsen Report premise saw steady growth, showing the seventh consecutive week without decline, with the average rate of sale per average establishment up 3% compared to last week. This metric varied in different states across the US, with New York rising 4% in the last week, and Illinois seeing the strongest growth, at 11%, making it only a third (36%) below the ‘normal’ level of the same week last year.

However, the average rate of sale in outlets that are currently open is still down 22% compared to the same period last year.

Young red wine is found to be more beneficial than aged wine, study finds

A recent study of 16 wines from Australia and New Zealand has found levels of healthy antioxidants, existing mainly in red grapes, decreased significantly over time.

CQUniversity lead researcher Mani Naiker said the compound, trans-resveratrol, was proven to have cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic effects.

“The more you consume this compound in your food or in beverages, it is perceived to give you better health benefits,” Dr Naiker said.

“When we compare younger bottled wines with mature red wines, we have proven that as the wine ages the concentration of this important bioactive compound decreases by about 75 percent over a 16-month period.

“That is a huge decrease in the concentration of this particularly important health-benefiting compound.”

Lead researcher Dr. Mani Naiker states that the compound is proven to have cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic effects.

The study published in the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, found the concentration decreased in some wines by as much as 96 percent.

After the initial resveratrol levels were measured, the bottles were resealed and stored in darkness in their original packaging.

“Irrespective to where we got the red wine from, which variety it was, the process of that compound, the loss was the same,” Dr Naiker said.

“I might just leave it with the French paradox that having a glass of red with a meal every day is good for your health.

“Now you know, you might want to go with a young red rather than an old one.”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajgw.12449

Research from University of Cape Town shows old vines add value

Research from the University of Cape Town shows that using old vine fruit earns winemakers more money.

South Africa has finally discovered – and celebrated – its treasure trove of old vineyards. A country that typically renewed its plantings every 15 to 20 years, pretty much as soon as the yields began to decline, was an unlikely candidate to develop a culture of ancient vines.

Part of the reason for the constant renewal of vineyards lies in the history of the industry. Until the modern era, it existed primarily to supply cheap wine to the domestic market and to provide distilling grapes to the local brandy trade. Accordingly, it was planted to high yielding varieties – or at least to varieties which could be induced to increase their yields if the local market preferred quantity to quality.

There was also another reason for the frequent replacement of vineyards: the widespread incidence of leaf-roll virus. Within a few years of a vine reaching productive maturity, the vine leaves, lacking essential chlorophyll, turn russet long before the vintage. Since the vine is unable to convert sunlight into fruit ripeness, as the season advances it shows signs of stress; acidity declines in the grapes while the sugar levels remain resolutely low. Within a few years the yields drop. By the time a vineyard has reached what should be peak maturity it is economically unviable and must be replaced.

In the pre-modern era of the Cape wine industry roughly a third of the national vineyard was Chenin Blanc (putting South Africa’s share at over 50% of the world’s plantings) followed by Cinsaut. The two varieties accounted for half of all vine grapes in South Africa. With the Mandela presidency in 1994 came an extraordinary worldwide demand for Cape wine. Exports, which in 1992 had totaled a mere 21m liters – roughly 2% of total production – doubled and redoubled every year. At the end of the decade they had grown sevenfold to over 140m liters. In 2008 they crossed the 400m liter mark for the first time.

In this post-Apartheid export boom, vineyards were uprooted simply to meet the expectations of a market that wanted Cabernet and Chardonnay rather than Chenin and Cinsaut.

Rescue Plan

A number of initiatives were undertaken to save focus varieties, of which the most important was a campaign launched in the early 1990s to preserve the country’s Chenin heritage. Happily, Chenin is less susceptible to leaf-roll, so there were many older vineyards yielding reasonable quantities of often fabulous fruit. There was less success with Cinsaut: many of the older plantings fell victim to the simple demands of the international supermarket trade and were replaced with Merlot and Shiraz.

In the early 2000s Rosa Kruger, a viticulturist with a passion for the country’s viticultural heritage, began to research and create a record of the country’s oldest vines. Unsurprisingly, most were Chenin, though Grenache, Pinotage (a local crossing of Cinsaut and Pinot Noir), Semillon and Cinsaut were also present in more reduced amounts. At much the same time Eben Sadie, a producer who enjoyed a singular reputation for hand-crafted artisanal wines, began marketing some of these single-site rarities. His lead was followed by many of the younger, and more adventurous, winemakers. Suddenly, for the first time, it seemed as if it could be profitable to farm low yielding ancient vines.

At this point Johann Rupert, whose family had started one of the country’s major liquor companies and had then gone on to create Richemont (whose brands include Dunhill, Cartier and Mont Blanc), provided the seed capital to launch what is now known as the Old Vine Project. Making use of Rosa Kruger’s catalogue of the old vines, it identified just over 3,800ha of heritage vineyards, and then persuaded the authorities to certify wines produced exclusively from them.

In 2019 the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business conducted research into the value that old vines bring to the selling price of the wines: its primary objective was to determine whether, given the inevitably lower yields associated with older vineyards, it was actually viable (from an economic rather than a sentimental perspective) to keep them in the ground.

Price Advantage

The research was able to quantify the retail price advantage of old vine fruit: all other factors being equal, it added R100 ($5.70) per bottle to the final product. Given that most wines sold from these varietals retail for less than R200, the connection to an old vineyard was significant – at this stage an estimated 30% to 50%. Typically, the fruit cost of a bottle of wine comprises a low percentage of the final selling price. Stellenbosch grape prices average less than R12000 per ton, or R20 per liter. Dry goods, oaking and processing cost would take this to R50. These are largely constant, unless a producer opts to use a high percentage of new wood. Doubling the fruit price only raises the input costs by 40%. If certified old vines add R100 to the price of a bottle of wine, this potentially means that grape prices could increase from R12000 to somewhere close to R60000.

This amount of upward price mobility is vast in the South Africa context: it more than compensates for the lower yields. Johann Rupert’s investment in the Old Vine Project has proved, beyond doubt, that well-sited virus-free older vines are worth nursing to the magical age of 35 years – at which point they acquire the Certified Heritage Vineyard seal. It may seem strange that the country’s most famous luxury goods mogul’s true legacy – at least in the world of wine – will rest on an act of generosity aimed at saving a dwindling number of old vines. But it is also apt. It is the combination of quality and rarity which ensures that there’s nothing artificial about the premium: on reflection, that has always been the unique selling proposition of the luxury goods business.

Source:  Wine Business International