Wine News 4 v2

Fine wine news roundup: 31 October – 6 November


González Byass releases ultra-rare 1878 vintage

Spanish bodega González Byass has released an ultra-rare, ultra-limited-edition Pedro Ximénez – just 78 bottles will be available for sale, and only 30 on the UK market.

The offering comes after master blender Antonio Flores discovered the single butt of the Leon XIII – so named for the investiture of the pope of that name in 1878 – in the González Byass cellars. The wine had been laid down before the arrival of phylloxera in the area.

While the property is best known for its Sherries, the new release does not qualify as a Sherry as it has not been fortified, and has an ABV of just 9%.

Mauricio González Gordon, current chairman of González Byass and fifth-generation family member, said: “We are delighted to be able to release this jewel of a wine as part of our rare Finite Wines Collection, but there will only be 78 bottles for sale – the remaining 20 will be stored in the González family’s bottle archive, El Aljibe.”


Austria introduces first DAC for noble sweet wines

Wines made in the Austrian city of Rust have been given the country’s first designation of origin certification dedicated to noble sweet wines.

The sweet wines known as ‘Ruster Ausbruch’ now have Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC) status, bringing the total number of DAC in the country to 16.

Chris Yorke, CEO of Wines of Austria, said: “Ruster Ausbruch is a unique and distinctive part of our Austrian heritage. The fact that it has now been legally protected by the DAC regulations is an important step on our way to promoting regionally typical wines.”

Under the terms of the DAC, wines must satisfy the requirements for being a Trockenbeerenauslese with a minimum must weight of 30° KMW. They have to be made from one or more white varieties designated as ‘Qualitätswein’, and be hand-harvested in the city of Rust where the wine must also be vilified and bottled.


Pink Prosecco arrives in the UK

The European Union has approved the exportation of rosé Prosecco outside of Italy, with producers able to sell the pink sparkler abroad since 2 November.

According to the Prosecco DOC consortium, of the 486 million bottles produced, around 80% are being exported. Predicting huge demand in the run-up to Christmas, producers had already pre-sold the vast majority of their rosé Prosecco before the wine was even made.

“I congratulate those producers who have shown themselves to be very ready to seize this opportunity, committing themselves right away so as not to be caught unprepared,” said Stefano Zanette, president of the Prosecco DOC consortium.

“With this opportunity, we expect to add a worthy development to the denomination with a high-quality product, best expressing the environmental factors that characterise our territory,” the consortium added in a statement.

The officially-designated pink fizz was approved by the Italian government back in May. In order for it to be able to be called rosé Prosecco DOC, the wine needs to be aged for at least 60 days and it must include 10-15% Pinot Noir in the blend.


COVID is changing the way we buy wine

The global pandemic has led to a radical lifestyle change for many of us around the world, and with that has come an adjustment in the way consumers choose wine, according to new research.

Data from Wine Intelligence’s latest UK Vinitrac consumer survey shows that while UK drinkers have generally remained consistent in their wine buying – and are in some cases buying ‘more and better’ than pre-COVID – four key purchasing factors are now less important than they were this time last year.

According to the report, drinkers are now paying less attention to wine descriptors on shelves and labels, the alcohol content of wine, label and bottle design, and whether a wine matches or complements food.

Lulie Halstead, CEO of Wine Intelligence, puts the declines in interest in descriptors down to time, noting that in-store shopping has become a more time-sensitive activity, with wine drinkers spending less time browsing shelves or handling bottles and reading labels. 

The reduced interest in appeal of the bottle and/or label design reflects how people turn to the “safe and familiar” during times of crisis, she added, while the switch to consuming wine more frequently without food has led to UK drinkers being “significantly less influenced” by wine and food matching.

Meanwhile, a growing disinterest in wine alcohol percentage levels may be down to the consumer population having “more pressing short-term health and wellbeing matters to worry about”, she said, adding that whether or not these are long-term changes was difficult to gauge.

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