Fine wine news roundup: 26 October – 1 November


Sotheby’s launches own wine range

Auction house Sotheby’s has expanded its remit by launching a range of own-label wines.

The collection – which has gone on sale in the US this week – comprises 12 wines, including eight from France, two from Italy and two from California.

The wines have been made by some of Sotheby’s “favourite producers”, such as Chateau Corbin, Julien Barbier, Firmin Dezat and Matt and Sara Licklider.

Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby’s wine, said: “The wines are made by producers with whom we have had a long relationship, because we enjoy both the wines and the individual personalities behind them, so naturally many have become good friends.

He added that the wines range in price from US$16.95 to $39.95 per bottle, and that “each wine has a lot number that represents the specific wine and producer, giving a strong link to our heritage as an auction house.”


Rioja says 2019 will be ‘the’ vintage

Despite complicated growing conditions, Rioja’s 2019 harvest has “all the hallmarks of an extremely high quality vintage,” according to the Consejo Regulador de Rioja DOCa, with some at the Consejo dubbing it ‘the’ vintage for the region.

In a statement, the Consejo said that: “There is no doubt, from what’s been seen in the vineyards and from what the results of the first rackings are revealing, that 2019 could be ‘the vintage’ – a year that reflects the skills of both growers and producers in managing the weather conditions.”

Extraordinary weather conditions resulted in a lower yield, characterised by less tightly-packed clusters and smaller grapes – all key components in guaranteeing quality.

According to Pablo Franco, director of the Control Chamber of the Denomination: “Although it is still early to look at the results, we have high hopes that this vintage will be recorded as a memorable year in the history of Rioja wine.”


Global wine production back to average after bumper 2018

Global wine production dropped 10% this year, taking figures back to the average seen before 2018’s bumper crop.

According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), initial estimates put the global output at a more average 263 million hectolitres, compared to the 294 million hectolitres of 2018.

Two of the world’s largest producers, France and Italy, recorded a 15% drop in production, while Spain saw a 24% reduction.

The OIV said the drop across the three countries, which combined account for 80% of the total EU output, could be explained by “aleatory weather conditions, notably a very cold and rainy spring followed by an extremely hot and dry summer”.

Portugal was the only EU country with a wine production higher than last year, with Germany, Austria, Romania and Hungary all showing production levels in line, or above, their last five-year average.

In the US, production was down 1%, whereas falls in the southern hemisphere were largely in line with the five-year average.


California wineries face state of emergency over wildfires

Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has declared a state of emergency throughout California as the Kincade wildfire continues to rage across Sonoma County.

The fire began in Sonoma County on the morning of Thursday 23rd October, and has been spread by winds of up to 90mph.

While many local vintners have already picked their grapes for the 2019 harvest, a number of properties have been badly affected, including Soda Rock, Field Stone Vineyard and a building owned by Jackson Family Wines on Alexander Mountain.

However, firefighters worked continuously to contain the blaze, with officials lifting the mandatory evacuation order for much of the county on Wednesday 30th.

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