Fine wine news roundup: 5-11 September
La Place de Bordeaux abuzz with autumn activity
La Place de Bordeaux has seen a slew of releases this month, with heavyweights from Napa, Italy, South America and Australia making an appearance on the global distribution network, as well as iconic French names including Latour and Chateau de Beaucastel.
Latour’s 2009 vintage was released from the First growth’s cellars in Pauillac for €860 per bottle, marking an average 10% premium to existing Latour 2009 stock on the UK market. Iconic Italian Masseto released its 2017 at €380 per bottle, while California’s Opus one 2017 was released at €215 per bottle.
This year has also seen the first releases of a raft of Australian wines through Bordeaux, notably the 2016 vintages of Wynns’ John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon and Jim Barry’s ‘The Armagh’, as well as the 2017 Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon.
As there are still a number of eagerly-awaited releases yet to come this month – including Chateau Palmer and the start of its N-10 release programme – it’s clear that September is fast becoming an autumnal equivalent of summer’s En Primeur campaign for those looking to get their hands on blue chip wines.
Related link: Autumn Releases Pour From La Place
Sotheby’s Ornellaia sale raises £193,000 for charity
A selection of large format bottles of Ornellaia’s 2017 ‘Vendemmia d’Artista’ have sold for £193,980, with all proceeds going to the Soloman R Guggenheim Foundation’s ‘Mind’s Eye’ programme in support of the blind.
The bottles all featured original limited edition labels by Argentine artist Tomas Saraceno, based on the theme ‘solare’. The sale’s top lot was a single nine-litre Salmanazar, which sold for £42,700.
Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Wine, said: “This is a fantastic result for our tenth auction with Ornellaia’s exceptional Vendemmia d’Artista project. Once again, the marriage of art and wine for which Ornellaia is renowned, has proved impossible to resist, with collectors in the US, Europe and Asia competing to acquire these stunning bottles.
Related link: Ornellaia Charity Bottles Sell For £193k
Napa Valley Vintners launches ‘future releases’ campaign
Napa Valley Vintners has completed its first ever ‘future releases’ campaign, designed to support and promote the wineries of the famous region.
The En Primeur-style offering saw more than 100 Napa wineries ‘open their cellars’ to release their latest vintages, with customers able to reserve these limited wines online. Many wines from the 2016, 2017 and 2018 vintages were on show for the first time, each with release dates running from
this autumn to 2022. The event included the likes of Stag’s Leap, Cakebread Cellars, Darioush and the Peter Franus Wine Company.
As well as helping to drive sales, the event aimed to support winegrowers in the region affected by the ongoing wildfires which have affected large swathes of California. The biggest challenge faced by producers now is keeping their harvest plans on track and avoiding potential smoke taint.
At this juncture, however, things seem to be under control. Speaking to Decanter, Teresa Wall of Napa Valley Vintners said: “Harvest has just begun, and vineyard and winery crews have been able to safely move forward with harvesting white wine and early ripening reds.
Related link: Napa Valley Vintners launches ‘future releases’ campaign
‘Princess of Polka Dots’ designs label for La Grande Dame
Internationally-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has created a unique label for Veuve Clicquot’s La Grande Dame 2012.
Kusama is widely known as the ‘Princess of Polka Dots’, and her signature style can be seen in the bold, floral design, entitled ‘My Heart That Blooms in The Darkness of The Night’. Only 100 numbered magnums will be available with the design, priced at £150 each.
The La Grande Dame 2012 is a blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay, with grapes from the Grands Cru vineyards of Ay, Verzenay, Verzy, Ambonnay. As cellar master Didier Mariotti says: ”La Grande Dame 2012 is a wine that is both precise and delicate. This new vintage offers a strong minerality carried by Pinot Noir balanced with the freshness of the blend. Its ageing potential is immense, it is a wine whose tasting makes me vibrate.”
This is not the first collaboration between the famous artist and Champagne house. In 2006 Kusama revivified the portrait of Madame Clicquot Ponsardin, the house’s founder, with her famous polka dots for a charity auction in Tokyo.
Related link: Yayoi Kusama Designs Label La Grande Dame 2012
English wine exports double in 2019
The world is developing a taste for English wine. According to the latest figures from Wine GB, exports of English wine more than doubled in 2019, with the number of bottles shipped overseas growing from 256,000 in 2018 to 550,000 last year. Meanwhile, overall sales rocketed by 70%.
English wine is now available in 40 markets worldwide. While the US remains the biggest importer, sales to Japan have more than doubled and now account for 6% of all exports. Norway, Canada and Australia are also major export destinations.
WineGB said the long-term outlook for UK wine producers was positive, despite the uncertainty and financial challenges created by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Simon Robinson, the trade group’s chairman, said: “We obviously cannot overlook the seismic changes everyone has experienced this year due to COVID-19, which will no doubt be reflected in our next industry report.
“This year has inevitably brought serious setbacks, but the industry has reacted nimbly to address the issues and as a result we have also seen significant developments in direct to consumer sales and increased growth through the UK retail sector; we therefore remain broadly positive for the future.”
Related link: World gets a taste for English wine as exports soar