Fine wine news roundup: 27 July – 2 August


Wine auction prices climb throughout first half of 2019

Following a highly successful 2018, commercial auction houses are celebrating even higher figures for fine wine sales during the first half of this year.

Global sales from auctions by top houses in the US, UK and Hong Kong realised a total US$233.8 million, up 11% from the same period last year.

The totals made at US sales rose by 9%, by 10% for UK sales and by 14% in Hong Kong.

Zachys led the charge with total sales of $68.9 million. Thanks to strong activity in Hong Kong, Sotheby's auctions came a close second, bringing in $65 million in the first half of 2019 – a 28% increase over the same period in 2018.


Argentina 2019 could be ‘best vintage of the decade’

Winemakers in Argentina are celebrating what many say could be the “best vintage of the decade”, following the 2019 harvest.

A cold winter and dry summer meant production was down 4% on last year, with just 73% of Argentina’s wineries producing any wine at all. However, those that did have lauded the vintage. Speaking to Decanter, head winemaker at Catena Zapata, Alejandro Vigil, said: “The cooler climate made for highly concentrated wines with great colour and acidity.”

Meanwhile, Noemia winemaker Hans Vinding-Diers said it has been “an exceptional year”, noting that “the reds have a great colour intensity and are fruity and fresh with very silky tannins – the wines are very well balanced”.

Argentina’s whites are also said to be promising. “White wines this year have a much higher level of malic acid and lower sugar content,” winemaker Leo Borsi told Decanter. “We’ll see more austere white wines which can age well.”


Consorzio Doc delle Venezie halts new vineyards to boost Pinot Grigio

Italy’s Consorzio Doc delle Venezie has introduced a three-year suspension of new vineyards in a bid to boost the profile and quality of Triveneto Pinot Grigio.

Triveneto is the largest Pinot Grigio production area in the world, accounting for 42% of global production. By suspending the creation of new vineyards across the Province of Trento, the Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Veneto regions, the Consorzio hopes to focus on achieving higher quality and a balanced market growth for what it calls he ‘second era of Italian style Pinot Grigio’.

“Market stability, further quality improvement through yield reductions and growth management: these are the key words for the enhancement of Pinot Grigio DOC and its territory – a great heritage to defend and promote,” said the Consorzio in a statement.

The suspension takes effect from 1st August 2019.


Provence winemakers create collaborative wine in response to climate change

A group of Provencal winemakers have joined forces against climate change and ‘big business’ rosé with a collaborative wine.

The group – which formed in 2012 when Raimond de Villeneuve of Chateau de Roquefort lost his entire harvest – has two aims: to help each other out in the event of any major climate event, and two protect its terroir.

“You know Provence mainly produces rosé now, about 85%. We find that a bit sad. We think our reds are just as important,” said Peter Fischer of Château Revelette, a founding member of Rouge Provence.

The group now boasts around 30 members, and has produced a joint vintage every year since 2013. The wine, called Plaisir Solidaire (Solidarity Pleasure) is vinified at Chateau de Beaupare, and sells for €35 per bottle. “There’s no profit,” Fischer told Decanter. “It all goes to fund the association and its goals.”

This is not the first collaborative effort French winemakers have made as a result of climate change. Last month, DRC, Leflaive and Comtes Lafon – among others – announced they were working on a one-off Montrachet due to extreme weather conditions hammering grape yields.

Meanwhile, France has announced it’s on track to produce smaller harvest than last year, with yields expected to fall by as much as 13%.


Chemical in red wine could help treat anxiety

Red wine has a number of well-known health-enhancing properties, and now researchers believe that mental health can be added to that list.

A study from the University of Buffalo has found that a plant-based chemical compound present in red wine could help to reduce depression and anxiety.

The compound – named resveratrol – appears to possess antidepressant properties by blocking the expression of an enzyme related to the control of stress. Excessive amounts of this enzyme, called corticosterone, can lead to the development of depression and other mental disorders.

Found in the skin and seeds of red grapes, researchers believe resveratrol could be an effective alternative to traditional drugs that focus on serotonin or noradrenaline function in the brain.

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