Fine wine news roundup: 6-10 January
Vineyard damage from Australian bushfires appears limited overall
A maximum of 1% of Australia’s total vineyard area has been damaged by bushfires so far, according to Wine Australia. While the deadly fires have raged throughout huge swathes of land, a review of fire maps suggests around 1,500 hectares of the country’s vineyards fall within affected regions.
Speaking to Harpers, Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said: “Even if all those vineyards were fire damaged – and they are not – it would only be about 1% of Australia’s total vineyard area.” He added that “Australia is a very large country with wine regions spread across it from the eastern seaboard right across to the west. Most fires have been in heavily forested areas or National Parks.”
Nonetheless, some wineries in parts of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have suffered “devastating damage which would take years to recover”. Clark said it would be several weeks before it was possible to get a real picture of the impact to affected areas, and that it will be “some time” before it will be safe to access damaged vineyards.
“Sadly, it is not the first nor the last time that Australia has dealt with bushfires,” said Clark. “What we have seen in the past and no doubt will again in the future is an astonishing generosity where people have donated grapes and labour to assist their neighbours and friends to recover.”
Vinexpo and Comexposium join forces to create new drinks body
Two of the world’s leading wine event organisations are joining forces to create a new company. Vinexpo and Comexposium will combine to “become the world’s leading organiser of events dedicated to wines and spirits,” merging their existing events which involve more than 5,900 exhibitors and 78,000 visitors annually from 140 countries.
The new venture is yet unnamed, although details of the company are expected to be finalised by June. Existing events it will manage include Vinexpo in Bordeaux, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York; Vinexpo Explorer events; Wine Paris, which includes Vinisud and Vinovision Paris; World Wine Meetings; and the World Bulk Wine Exhibition in Amsterdam and Asia.
The collaboration will also look to develop new events around premium and luxury wines, as well as enable further expansion in the Asian and American markets for its stakeholders.
Bonhams wine and whisky sales hit £16 million in 2019
Auctioneer Bonhams has revealed it made £16 million on its fine wine and whisky sales last year.
Highlights included a 12-bottle case of Romanée-Conti 1988, which sold in March London for £241,369, as well as a private collection of wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which sold for more than £225,000 in May.
The auction house holds five ‘Fine & Rare’ sales in London every year, as well as two in Hong Kong.
Bonhams International head of wine and Master of Wine, Richard Harvey, said: “This has been another good year for Bonhams’ wine and whisky departments with eye catching results underpinned by a strong performance across the field. Looking ahead, we already have some exciting sales lined up for 2020.”
France slams its first ‘dry January’ as ‘puritan obsession’
‘Dry January’ has become something of a New Year’s staple in the United Kingdom – and indeed in the US – but France’s first attempt at the health kick campaign does not appear to be going down well.
While dozens of health organisations have backed the campaign – which calls upon participants to avoid alcohol entirely for the first month of the year – more than 40 prominent French figures, including chefs and writers, have criticised the concept as “Anglo-Saxon and puritan obsession” in an open letter to Le Figaro newspaper. “This initiative dismays me,” wrote Philippe Claudet, lead author of the article.
However, France’s health ministry has not endorsed the campaign for 2020, and while Prime Minister Macron has not commented publicly on the endeavour, French wine news site Vitisphere reports that he has assured Champagne producers that he has no intentions of lending his support to such a concept.