Fine wine news roundup: 3-7 February


Almaviva 2017 is James Suckling’s ‘Wine of the Decade’

American critic James Suckling recently announced three one-off awards for a wine, person and winery that he believes has made the biggest positive impact on fine wine over the past 10 years.

Almaviva, the joint Chilean project between Concha y Toro and Chateau Mouton Rothschild, was named as the leading wine for its influence in helping to build “the reputation of Chilean wine around the world”.

In particular, Suckling said, the 2017 vintage had “distinguished itself” from the 100,000 wines he and his team have tasted over the past decade.

Meanwhile, Philippe Dhalluin, managing and technical director at Mouton, was named ‘Winemaker of the Decade’ and Super Tuscan Masseto was named ‘Winery of the Decade’.


Australia’s Margaret River winemakers say 2020 is best vintage ever

Winemakers in Australia’s Margaret River region believe 2020 could be the greatest vintage on record. Speaking to Decanter, a number of producers have expressed profound optimism for the year, which saw Chardonnay grapes picked a month ahead of schedule.

Vasse Felix winemaker Virginia Willcock told the publication: “We’ve never looked better as a Chardonnay region,” noting that warm, dry conditions in November resulted in optimal growing conditions.

However, while the area’s Chardonnays have piqued excitement, there’s a lot of buzz around the quality of the Cabernets. According to Flametree winemaker Cliff Royle: “Early heat vintages like this set the scene for us to make some truly great, long-lived Cabernets, and the 2020 Cabernets has the potential to be amazing – even better than 2018, if that’s possible.”

Margaret River has produced an exceptional run of fine vintages over the past 15 years, with many attributing its position near the ocean as a significant influencing factor.


Sales of organic wine soar 47% in UK

Sales of organic wine skyrocketed by 47% during 2019, according to new research from The Soil Association. In fact, its UK Organic Market 2020 report named wine ‘the big winner’ among all organic goods – the total market of which grew 4.5% last year.

The report noted that retailers are expanding their organic wine offerings with ‘great success’, and that more than £1 million is spent every week on organic wine in the UK. It added that more organic vineyards in the UK are coming through the conversion process this year.

“The explosion in sales of organic wine, and our changing climate, is encouraging more businesses to explore this interesting market,” it stated.

UK producers with certified vineyards include Albury, Davenport, Seddlescombe, Oxney, Ancre Hill, Sunnyhill vineyard, Forty Hall, Laverstoke Park and Bridewell.


UK wine body calls for optimism following Brexit day

Wine industry leaders have issued a number of reasons to be optimistic following the UK’s departure from Europe on 31st January.

While much of the UK’s fine wine industry was in favour of remaining in the European Union in the 2016 referendum, Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), said it was important to “embrace a brave new world of trading”.

He added that it was possible that UK consumers would have access to a greater number of wines in the future, and that now is the time to explore more flexibility within an industry that will no longer be beholden to Europe’s “clunky and outdated” rules.

The WSTA has also held preliminary discussions with government on a new computer system which could simplify the process of importing and exporting wines, replacing the reliance on current EU systems.

“It’s time to complete a trade deal with the EU – and move on,” Beale said.


Bordeaux’s wine museum to expand into China

Bordeaux’s Cite du Vin opened with a flourish in 2016 – now it is opening a counterpart in China. The 194,000-square-foot wine museum will be located in the southwest area of Beijing, and is set to open in 2021. Construction is estimated to cost around US$66.5 million.

"Wine is part of our world heritage," said Sylvie Cazes, president of the Foundation for Wine Cultures and Civilizations, which manages the Bordeaux museum. "Our mission is to share this great history with Chinese visitors."

The new museum will be modelled on the Cite du Vin, echoing a contemporary cubist interpretation of Saint Emilion’s skyline, and will be positioned in the heart of the existing Zhong Pu Hui Wine Village.

In addition to the museum and its 72,000-square-foot permanent exhibition, planning permission has also been granted for three square miles of development, including hotels, holiday cottages, a farm, restaurants, bars and shops, as well as a free-trade zone for Chinese and foreign companies engaged in wine.

General manager of the wine village, Jean-Marc Menant, said: "We are at the beginning of a very long story. In my opinion, wine in China will be very important.”

CW Homepage an investment like no other

Join our wine newsletter

Wine investment insights delivered straight into your inbox