Wine News v7

Fine wine news roundup: 11-17 July


Large format DRC steals auction spotlight

Christie’s latest Hong Kong sale made over HK$42 million last week, with a single Jeroboam of DRC Romanee-Conti 1990 going for HK$1.25 million.

The ‘Finest and Rarest Wines and Spirits’ sale took place online with bidders from more than 10 countries, and was 99.3% sold by lot.

Large formats stole the show. In addition to the Jeroboam of Romanée-Conti, a Jeroboam of DRC La Tache 1995 went for more than its high estimate at HK$275,000. Scottish and Japanese single malt whiskies, meanwhile, achieved 154% over their pre-sale estimate.

Commenting on the sale, Michelle Chan, head of wine at Christie’s Asia Pacific, said: “As Christie’s first live wine auction of the year, we are delighted to witness a very strong market response, with the sale totals achieved representing an increase of 50% from last season.”


French wine dodges US tariff bullet in ongoing trade dispute

French wine has been left out of a long list of goods that will be the subject of US tariffs next year – part of an ongoing dispute relating to France’s digital tax services.

The US government last week released a list of goods worth US$1.3 billion which will be subject to 25% tariffs from January 2021, including handbags, makeup and soap. French wine and cheese has been spared from the list, although French wine under 14% alcohol – as well as those from Germany and Spain – will continue to face the 25% tariff arising from disputes involving EU support for Airbus.

The most recent round of tariff impositions stems from the Unites States’ opposition to France’s 3% digital levy, which will hit US companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Digital services taxes are now a popular potential revenue source for governments – Italy and Austria have also announced new digital services taxes, and wine from those countries could also face US tariffs as a result.

Speaking to Wine Searcher, Ben Aneff, president of the US Wine Trade Alliance, said of the decision: “Every day in 2020 has been worse than the last, so it's nice to have a little break from that. We have multiple major trade issues and it's nice to have a win on one of them.”


World’s best vineyards revealed for 2020

This year’s World’s Best Vineyard Awards have been presented (online, naturally), with South America accounting for five spots within the top 20.

Based on nominations from a voting academy comprising 500 wine experts spread evenly across 18 geographical regions, the awards do not draw from a predetermined checklist or criteria, but rather the whole experience connected to the visit, according to awards founder Andrew Reed. “The tour, the tasting, the ambiance, the architecture, the wine, the food, the staff, the view… the list goes on,” he said, during the live-streamed event.

Taking the top spot for the second year running was Argentina’s Zuccardi Valle de Uco, while once again in second place was Uruguay's Bodega Garzon, which was praised in particular for its approach to sustainability. Elsewhere in the top 20, Chile's Montes and Vina Vik placed fourth and 10th respectively, while Argentina's Catena Zapata, with its pyramid-like design inspired by Mayan architecture, dropped this year to 11th place.

Europe’s shining star this year was Austria’s Domaine Wachau, shooting up 16 positions to third place, while the highest-placed French vineyard was Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, while the nearby Chateau Pichon Baron slipped in at 19th position.

Elsewhere in the table, New Zealand’s Rippon entered at 13th place to score the highest for Australasia, while the best in Africa – Delaire Graff Estate – was the highest climber at 14th place, and Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello in the US took 16th position as the table’s highest new entry.


James Suckling puts Chinese wines on par with famous Bordeaux

Esteemed critic James Suckling has once again bestowed favour upon China’s wine offerings, following a Hong Kong-based event where famous Bordeaux names failed to win acclaim with tasters.

The blind tasting, attended by luminaries including major property tycoons and Hollywood film directors, pitted six top wines Chinese wines against revered Bordeaux names such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The 16 tasters voted for their favourite wine in each pair, with China winning four out of the 12 pairs, leaving the other two tied. Bordeaux failed to win a single pairing.

The overall winner was LVMH’s 2015 Ao Yun Shangri-la, a Cabernet Sauvignon blend from northern Yunnan Province in southwestern China.

Summing up the event, Suckling writes: “I believe most of the people in the tasting were rating the wines for their current drinking pleasure and not for the future or on a professional level. But it doesn’t matter. The fact is that in almost every pair of reds the Chinese wines were preferred for their quality by a consensus – proof, if you needed it, that the best Chinese wines of today can easily be placed on the table next to France’s best bottles of comparable wines.”

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