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Fine wine news roundup: 26-30 August


Sotheby’s offers online bidding for large format Ornellaia

Bidding has opened in London on big bottle Ornellaia to raise money for a charity that supports the blind.

The auction, which runs online until Friday 13th September, comprises 11 lots of limited edition Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016 La Tensione in large formats. The label for this vintage has been designed by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat.

Proceeds from the sale will go to the Mind’s Eye programme of the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, which helps blind and visually impaired people to experience art with all their senses.

Estimated prices range from £2,400-£6,000 for a collection case of 12 bottles, up to £30,000-£60,000 for one Salmanazar of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista La Tensione plus a visit, stay and dinner for six at the Ornellaia estate.


Napa producer unveils $3,500 cult Cab

A boutique producer in the Napa Valley has launched a new limited edition Cabernet Sauvignon called ‘Perrarus’ – Latin for ‘exceptional’.

The wine is the latest ‘cult Cab’ from Lawrence Fairchild’s Stones Wine project. Just 300 magnums have been produced, priced at $3,500 apiece.

The vintage comes from Napa Valley’s 2015 harvest, and comprises a barrel selection from 10 casks that are normally used for single vineyard expressions. Each bottle has been individually hand-blown.

According to Fairchild, the wine – which took four years to bring to fruition – has a “wild energy” like a “leopard”. Bottles will be allocated at random to members of the Fairchild Wines mailing list in September.

“We have opted for the lottery so that we can offer it to members as fairly as possible while keeping the integrity of its exclusivity,” Fairchild said.

A 2016 vintage of Perrarus has been confirmed.


Beaujolais 2019 set for reduced harvest

Beaujolais’ 2019 harvest will be at least 25% smaller than last year’s due to hail, heat and frost, according to Inter Beaujolais vice president David Ratignier.

Speaking to Decanter, Ratignier said: “The 2018 harvest was good, about 800,000 hectolitres. This year it looks like it will be less than 600,000 hectolitres.”

As well as damage caused by extreme weather, Ratignier says they are expecting further reductions during the sorting process, as less-than-perfect grapes are removed. “Sorting could certainly bring more surprises,” he said.

However, despite the diminished harvest producers are optimistic for a good quality vintage, with Ratignier noting they are on track for a “really good year”.


Demand for New Zealand wine skyrockets to all-time high

Global demand for New Zealand’s wines has reached an all-time high, according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The country’s total export value to importers and distributors has reached a record NZ$1.83 billion – marking a rise of 6% over the last year.

Its biggest fans remain the UK and US – the latter remaining New Zealand’s largest export market and accounting for NZ$550 million in exports.

Meanwhile, the country continues to benefit from its premium reputation and remains the highest or second highest-priced wine category in the US, UK, Canada and China.


Bollinger replants historic grapes to combat climate change

Bollinger is replanting the historic grapes of Champagne in a bid to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Speaking at a seminar on sustainability in London, Bollinger’s deputy cellar master, Denis Bunner, explained that the house has spent the last seven years replanting the forgotten grapes of Champagne and will now begin replanting a further two varieties.

The grapes – Petit Meslier and Arbane – have a low pH level and mature more slowly. Champagne Bollinger therefore hopes they will help keep their Champagnes fresh long into the future.

“In the last 30 years due to global warming the acidity has reduced in Champagne [on average] by 1.3 g/l, and it will continue to fall,” said Brunner. “So these old grape varieties could be interesting to use again to produce freshness.”

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