Fine wine news roundup: 9-15 May



Wine-Searcher reveals world’s most wanted wines

Wine pricing platform Wine-Searcher has unveiled its annual list of the world’s most wanted wines, and while this year’s offering includes a number of the usual suspects, there have been a few interesting changes afoot, too.

As Don Kavanagh writes on Wine-Searcher’s blog post: “Until this year, the 10 most wanted wines really was predictable. Sure, you'd get a weird interloper every couple of years, but mostly the same old (Bordeaux) wines sailed serenely along, bathing in the plaudits of an adoring public.”

This year, however, and thanks to “an influx of searches by Indian users”, the top 10 looks a little different to usual. In first place, predictably, is Chateau Mouton Rothschild, followed by Dom Perignon Brut (up from third place last year), then Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux and then Petrus. The bottom half of the table, however, shows that Yquem and Haut Brion have slipped out of the top 10, to be replaced by two wines with strong backing from Wine-Searcher’s new user base: Opus One and DRC La Tache.

In fifth position is Chateau Latour, followed by Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri, DRC Romanee-Conti, Opus One and finally Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache Grand Cru Monopole. According to Wine-Searcher, “regional variations are marked and the global top 10 probably doesn’t tell the whole story.” As such, it plans to split the list further and will be presenting a regional breakdown in the coming weeks.


Austria’s Wachau wines are given protected status

Wines from Austria’s northern Wachau area have officially been given protected status as the region is named as the country’s newest DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus). It becomes Austria’s 15th DAC, a system which comprises three tiers: Gebietswein (regional wine), Ortswein (‘village’ wine) and Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine).

The move follows a lengthy campaign to have Wachau’s wines officially recognised and protected. It’s hoped that the new system will help consumers to benefit from greater transparency and specificity of provenance within the Wachau.

Speaking to Decanter, managing director of the Austrial Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) Chris Yorke said: “With the Wachau, we can now welcome another important member to Austria’s DAC family. In doing this, Austria’s wine industry has taken a further step on the path of origin-based marketing. This has proven itself effective for 17 years now, and has also become recognised internationally.”


Chile’s 2020 vintage boasts ‘unique characteristics unlike any before’

Chile’s 2020 vintage has faced its fair share of challenges: not only was it harvested in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but it was an extremely early harvest following a year of frost, drought and summer heatwaves. But while yields are expected to be down by around a third, winemakers are optimistic for its eventual outcome.

Speaking to Decanter, Eduardo Jordan – a winemaker for Mique Torres which has vineyards throughout Chile – said that “this has been one of the most challenging vintages with unique characteristics unlike any before”.

For others, the early harvest actually proved to be a boon for winemakers, given the situation with coronavirus. Emily Faulconer, winemaker at Vina Carmen, told Decanter that, “A hot year like this can be very challenging in terms of organisation as the window for harvest is much smaller and more complex… But in this case, it was a blessing in disguise! Even though we didn’t know at the time that we would be faced with the Coronavirus lockdown, it meant that most of our harvest was done by the time quarantine started at the end of March.”

Meanwhile, Christian Sepulveda, winemaker at Bouchon Family Wines in Maule, said: “I think this year is going to be a very good year for Mediterranean varieties including Syrah, Carignan and Monastrell.” He noted that such “vigorous varieties” tend to do well despite difficult growing conditions.


Lockdown prompts UK drinkers to find more occasions for wine

In the shadow of coronavirus lockdown, UK wine drinkers are finding more occasions to enjoy their favourite tipple. According to Wine Intelligence’s latest COVID-19 Impact Report, the UK’s 28 million wine drinkers have “found new occasions for wine drinking during lockdown: at lunchtime, or catching up with friends online, or replacing the trip to the restaurant with a more indulgent evening meal”.

The report shows that drinkers aged 25-54 have been leading the charge, with those that are normally the most regular drinkers finding and driving those additional drinking occasions. In March 2019 the average wine drinking frequency was 9.5 times a month. This rose to 9.9 times a month (equivalent) ahead of lockdown in March 2020, jumping to 10.3 following lockdown.

As such, coronavirus doesn’t spell doom and gloom for the entire wine industry, says Wine Intelligence’s chief operating officer Richard Halstead: “Mercifully for the wine category, and in common with consumers in other markets, UK wine drinkers are still choosing to buy wine even as their plans for summer holidays get put on hold.”

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