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Fine wine news roundup: 27 June – 3 July


Bordeaux En Primeur 2019 draws to a close

This year’s En Primeur has all but come to a close. The campaign will be remembered forever as one up against a backdrop of global crisis, yet it has navigated these unprecedented challenges well and delivered a number of surprises nonetheless.

Many critic reports were published during the releases – an unusual turn of events for the campaign which traditionally sees critic appraisals delivered after its end. Lisa Perrotti-Brown from the Wine Advocate released a series of flash reviews throughout and published her full review late last week under the title ‘The Miracle Vintage’. Jane Anson, writing for Decanter, shared her scores and notes on over 1000 wines during the campaign, while Wine Enthusiast’s Roger Voss said he found the wines had “benefitted from staying in a barrel a month or two later than normal”, adding that they “turned out to be rather good”.


Penfolds 1951 sets new record at £57,000

A bottle of 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange has sold for more than AU$103,000 (£57,000), setting a new record for the highest price ever paid for a bottle of Australian wine.

The bottle – part of Langton’s ‘Penfolds: Rewards of Patience’ sale – was the first ever vintage of the famed estate’s Grange Hermitage and was made by the original chief winemaker Max Schubert. Its final sale price surpasses the original record holder by some margin – a bottle of the 1951 Grange previously sold in December 2019 for AU$81,550 (£45,250).

Langton’s head of auctions, Tamara Grischy, said: “The early 1950s Penfolds Grange wines are very rare, so collectors will snap these up when they can in order to complete their sets of every vintage of these incredible wines. The 1951 Penfolds Grange truly represents the beginning of modern Australian wine.”


New Zealand celebrates ‘outstanding’ vintage

New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) has declared the 2020 vintage “outstanding” thanks to an “excellent” summer and despite adverse coronavirus conditions.

“Although Covid-19 restrictions did have a huge impact on the way the harvest was run, they will not affect the quality of the wine, and we are really looking forward to some exceptional wines coming from this year’s vintage” said Philip Gregan, CEO of NZW.

While production is up 11% on 2019, this year’s harvest was “smaller than expected” – mirroring a trend the country has seen over the last three years. A total of 457,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested. As such, NZW has said that sales growth in the year ahead would “be modest, albeit there is more uncertainty than normal due to Covid-19.”


Is paper the future for wine bottles?

As the global conversation around climate and sustainability deepens, all sectors and industries are looking at ways to reduce their impact on the planet – and the wine business is no exception. British sustainable packaging company Frugalpac has now launched a wine bottle made from 94% recycled paperboard, with a carbon footprint 84% lower than that of glass.

According to Frugalpac, the 75cl bottle is up to five times lighter than a glass bottle and has a carbon footprint over a third lower than a bottle made from recycled plastic. Its water footprint is also at least four times lower than glass.

At the moment, the bottle is being used by Umbrian producer Cantina Goccia for its 3Q Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend (pictured above). However, Frugalpac says it’s in talks with a number of other estates and businesses. The bottle can be produced by a winery on-site, which opens up new avenues for reduced transport and logistics, costs as well as greater design freedom.

The bottle follows the launch of a paper beer bottle last year by Danish brewer Carlsberg. Undoubtedly we’ll see further similar innovations rolling out in the coming months.

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