21 February 2020

Fine wine news roundup: 15-21 February


Bollinger 2012 released at higher price than ‘undervalued’ 2008

Bollinger La Grande Annee 2012 was this week released in the UK at £440 for six bottles, marking a 10% rise on the 2008 vintage release price.

At the wine’s official launch, Andrew Hawes, managing director of Bollinger distributor Mentzendorff, said: ““Our stock of the 2008 vintage sold out in 90 minutes. We released it at £400 for a six pack in bond and it is now trading on the secondary market at £490 for six, having touched £500.

“We’re releasing the 2012 vintage at a higher price because 2008 was undervalued. We’re confident about the pricing of 2012 as there has been a recalibration of where La Grande Annee sits within the prestige cuvée pantheon.”

Hawes said that the wine – a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay from 21 crus – has a “classic” character with “hidden depths on the palate that would continue to unfold and develop”.


US wines to offer ‘unprecedented value’ in 2020

Wine lovers can expect attractive deals on wines from the US this year, according to Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) annual State of the Wine Industry report. The analysis suggests that prices for some US wines may fall due to fewer bottles being sold, leading to an oversupply of grapes.

In a statement, Rob McMillan, executive vice-president of SVB’s wine division, said: “The wine supply chain is stuffed. This oversupply, coupled with eroding consumer demand, can only lead to discounting of finished wine, bulk wine and grapes.”

Other research shows the extent of the issue – according to brokerage group Ciatti, Pinot Noir grapes dropped by 13% in 2019 in California.

However, the premium market is expected to buck this trend and demonstrate growth. According to SVB’s report, fine wines in the US are expected to grow by 3-7% value in 2020.


Piedmont tipped as ‘region to watch’

As once-fervent interest in Bordeaux and Burgundy continues to mellow, analysts say collectors would do well to turn their attention to the wines of Piedmont.

Research conducted by Wine Lister found there is a growing demand for Barolo and Barbaresco wines, and while prices for top names such as Gaja and Giacomo Conterno are on the up, much of the market remains untapped. According to Wine Lister’s forthcoming Piedmont: Treasure Unearthed report, many in the trade believe Piedmont will become a staple of collectors’ cellars in future.

Analysts also predict that wine from Italy may become more attractive overall as collectors try to avoid US import tariffs, which have affected Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Speaking to Decanter, Wine Lister CEO Ella Lister said: “Despite [Piedmont] being home to some of the world’s cult estates, the majority of its wines still represent extraordinary value for money.”


Moet Hennessy to stop use of herbicides in Champagne vineyards

The Comite Champagne has previously said it wants to end herbicide use in the region’s vineyards by 2025 – now Moet Hennessy will be achieving that target five years ahead of schedule. According to the Champagne house, all of its own vineyards will be herbicide-free in 2020.

The group has also announced its intention to work with contracted growers to help them become more sustainable, as well as plans to invest €20m in a research centre dedicated to sustainable winemaking in Champagne.

Moet isn’t the first wine producer to stop using herbicides in its vineyards, and it’s not yet made the move to complete organic farming, however the move does show how sustainability is playing an increasingly large role on winemakers’ agendas.

In a wider context, French president Emmanuel Macron said last year that he wants the country’s agriculture sector to end the use of glyphosate – the active ingredient in many common herbicides – within three years.


China’s spring wine shows postponed due to coronavirus

In response to the Chinese government’s advice regarding Covid-19, a number of spring trade shows in China have been postponed until further notice.

Those affected include The China Food & Drinks Fair, TaoWine, TWC Chengdu Fine Wine Showcase, China International Alcoholic Drinks Expo and Sud de France’s Wine Roadshow.

At the time of writing, trade shows planned from May onwards are still set to go ahead as normal.

It’s not clear yet exactly what impact the coronavirus will have on the fine wine market in Asia, although some sources suggest it is responsible for faltering demand in some areas. Bordeaux wines are particularly popular in Asia, for example, but Bordeaux’s share of trade slumped to 38.3% last week, with some analysts blaming wider impacts of the illness.

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