Fine wine news roundup: 21-27 September


Sonoma wine auction raises record $6.1m

This year’s Sonoma County Wine Auction raised a record-breaking US$6.1 million last week, with all money raised from the sale going to charitable causes.

As well as glitzy lots that included luxury trips to the Caribbean and Nashville, a major highlight was a 378-bottle cellar of Sonoma Cabernet blends, which sold for $520,000.

Meanwhile, Merry Edwards, who sold her winery to Champagne house Louis-Roederer earlier this year, offered a sought-after lot featuring a blend of her famed Pinots.


Nyetimber releases second vintage of 1086 prestige cuvee

English wine producer Nyetimber has released the 2010 vintage of its 1086 prestige cuvee – the second release of the wine following its inaugural debut last year with the 2009.

According to the estate, the wine – claimed to be the first prestige cuvee made in England – is named in honour of the year that the Nyetimber property was first mentioned in the Domesday Book.

The cuvee is made from a blend of 45% Chardonnay, 44% Pinot Noir and 11% Pinot Meunier.

“As a selection of the very best wines produced by Nyetimber in a given vintage, this 2010 vintage of 1086 represents the pinnacle of our winemaking and reaffirms England’s ability to produce an exceptional, sparkling wine,” said head winemaker Cherie Spriggs.


Cotes de Provence gets new DGC region

The Cotes de Provence AOC has announced that a fifth sub-region has achieved DGC national terroir designation status. Cotes de Provence Notre-Dame des Anges was awarded the status this summer, following a recommendation by the national committee of the National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO).

The new region comprises 10 communities – Les Arcs/Argens, Carnoules, Taradeau, Vidauban, Le Cannet-des-Maures, La Garde-Freinet, Le Luc, Les Mayons, Gonfaron and Pignans – and takes its name from the highest peak in the Massif des Maures mountain range between Hyeres and Frejus.

While Notre-Dame des Agnes has around 3,9000 hectares of land under vine, only 273 hectares from 16 wineries will be allowed to produce Cotes de Provence Notre-Dame des Anges AOC wines with the 2019 harvest.

The DGC status brings with it more restrictive production methods specified by the INAO, including plot-based selection, varietal choice and lower yields.

Eric Pastorino, president of the Syndicat des Vins Cotes de Provence, said: “For many years now, the Syndicat des Vins Cotes de Provence has been engaged in the promotion of its terroirs through the identification of specific geographic sectors – an approach which has resulted in the recognition of five terroir designations in conjunction with local wine-makers.

“This strategy is part of a process to upgrade the appellation, with the aim of producing wines which are recognised for their quality and for the expression of their terroir.”


Latest edition of World Atlas of Wine highlights impact of climate change

Climate change has completely changed the way wine is produced around the globe, according to the latest edition of The World Atlas of Wine.

Rising temperatures mean the wine harvest is now on average four weeks earlier than it was 20 or 30 years ago – in both hemispheres. Meanwhile, wine production is now feasible in regions where it was previously impractical, such as England, Germany and Canada.

Wine production methods have also changed, with vines in established vineyards being planted at higher elevations and in wind-exposed areas in a bid to slow down the ripening process.

As many winemakers are now struggling to protect their crops from over-exposure to the sun, many grapes are being replaced with hardier varieties that are better suited to high temperatures. The book also highlights new and emerging wine regions, such as the Lebanon, Uruguay and Brazil.

The eighth edition of The World Atlas of Wine, by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, is published by Mitchell Beazley and is out on 3rd October.


Sicily’s small harvest poised to deliver high-quality wine

This year’s grape harvest in Sicily is down by up to 40% compared to recent volumes, according to the Consortium for the Protection of Sicilia DOC Wines. However, growers are confident of an excellent vintage.

Around 4.5 million hectolitres are expected this year, comparable to the 2018 harvest. Thanks to a cold and wet spring the start of the harvest was delayed until August this year, and is expected to continue until October.

Speaking to Harpers, Filippo Paladino, vice-president of the Consortium, said: "The harvest that began with the harvesting of Pinot Grigio showed a trend of 40% less quantity than in 2018. The other grape varieties harvested, Viognier and Merlot, saw an average reduction of 30% to 35%.

“We can already say that the 10-day delay with which the harvest began was positive in some respects: the plants were able to accumulate aromatic substances and we expect very fragrant wines. Everything makes us think that the final balance will be in line with what we are currently seeing.”

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