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Fine wine news roundup: 28 March – 3 April



France officially recognises natural wine

After nearly a decade of lobbying from the wine industry, French authorities will now officially recognise natural wines. The new denomination will see these wines marketed using the term ‘vin methode nature’, as existing European regulations prohibit the use of the term ‘natural’ on wine labels.

To be considered a vin method nature, the wine must be produced from hand-picked grapes from certified organic vines, and made with indigenous yeast. The denomination also prohibits the use of cross-flow filtration, flash pasteurisation, thermovinification and reverse osmosis.

As up to 30 mg/l of sulphites are permitted in all types of wine, two different logos have been created to distinguish between natural wines that contain sulphites and those without.

The denomination will be run as a trial for a three-year period, with more than 100 French wine brands expected to adopt the term in the coming months. Speaking to Wine Business, Natural Wines Union founding member Sebastien David noted: “The first wines bearing the designation were made last year by vintners who agreed before the harvest to fulfil its requirements.”


Beaujolais enjoys continued UK success

Beaujolais’ UK success is continuing apace, with export volume and value up 22% and 17% respectively in 2019 – more than any other French wine region.

Growth was consistent throughout the year, with Sopexa’s annual Wine Trade Monitor citing Beaujolais as the only French AOC out of four global regions likely to see the greatest growth despite Brexit.

Cecile Bossan-Redon, managing director at Inter Beaujolais, said: “We are proud to have such a healthy increase in exports to the UK. There is now more choice of Beaujolais wines available on UK shelves than ever before, which we believe is a huge contributing factor to its continued popularity.”

Inter Beaujolais remains hopeful that its annual trade tasting will go ahead in London on Tuesday 23 June.


Wine Intelligence updates Global Report in wake of coronavirus

Wine Intelligence has updated its Global Wine Report – initially launched in January – to take into consideration the impact coronavirus is likely to have on wine consumption.

“Back in January – only eight weeks ago, but already seeming like another era – we reported that the key themes in global trends in wine for 2020 revolved around ‘The Four Rs’: relationship, retail, repertoire and responsibility," said Lulie Halstead, chief executive of Wine Intelligence.

“In our new environment, we believe these mega trends are as valid as they were in the pre-coronavirus world. However, the way in which these trends present themselves in the current context, and the path of their evolution through the remainder of this year and beyond, has undoubtedly changed."

The report suggests that a predicted recession will halt the growing trend towards ‘premiumisation’ in the wine market, and that consumers will likely turn to more domestic and local wines as countries become more inward-looking.

On a positive note, however, the report says the dramatic shift to online wine shopping could “reverse the reported decline in depth of wine knowledge with the need to define search terms”, while the availability of time to explore reviews and commentary could to lead to a lift in consumer engagement.

Further, a society-wide focus on collective responsibility could drive further awareness and support for environmentally positive products, such as sustainably-produced wines.


Sparkling wine dominates wine-related searches online

Nearly half of all wine-related online searches in the UK are for sparkling wine, according to new findings from Italian wine company Independent Wine.

Over the past year, 49.3% of wine searches have been for sparkling wine. Prosecco is the single most popular search term, averaging 84,300 searches a month. Champagne follows, with 52,500 searches.

Red wine is the second most-searched for wine category after sparkling, accounting for 35.4% of all searches. Pinot Noir appears to be the most popular varietal with 9,800 searches, followed by Malbec and Shiraz with 9,200 and 8,600 respectively.

In terms of white wine, Pinot Grigio is the most searched-for varietal, followed by Sauvignon Blanc. Only 0.6% of all searches related to rosé wine.


French vineyards get on with 2020 growing season despite lockdown

Producers in France are busy getting the 2020 growing season underway, having found creative ways to do so without compromising the coronavirus lockdown.

An initiative from French wine industry group Vin et Société has called upon growers, producers and negociants to showcase their efforts using the hashtag #LaVigneContinue – ‘the vine continues’. High profile names such as Chateau Talbot, Pavie Macquin, Billecart-Salmon and Domaine Michel Lafarge have all taken part, sharing pictures and videos of work (safely) taking place in their vineyards.

Chateau Troplong Mondot CEO Aymeric de Gironde has, for example, posted a YouTube video detailing the new measures being undertaken, including keeping workers and horses separated. “Each person is separated by two rows to make sure we don’t have any connection or contamination,” he said. “The vines haven’t stopped due to Coronavirus so we have to continue taking care of them.”

Meanwhile, Charles Lachaux of Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux told Decanter that people work apart from each other and use a lot of soap and hand sanitiser. “But the rest is fine and we have the luck to be working in the vineyards at the moment,” he said. “The sun is shining everyday.”

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