Fine wine news roundup: 9-15 January
Industry analysts predict boom for US wine
The US wine industry is on track for a major uptick in the coming months, according to the latest State of the Wine Industry report from Silicon Valley Bank.
The forecasted boom will be largely linked to the end of the coronavirus pandemic, which will result in celebrations not seen since the end of the Second World War, said Silicon Valley Bank executive vice president Rob McMillan.
"Wine is recession-proof and maybe somewhat pandemic-resistant as well. People do want their wine," he said, noting that people will “make up for lost time” once vaccines are widespread in the latter half of the year.
The report also indicated that the way we buy wine has likely changed forever as a result of the pandemic. The average winery sold about 2% of its wine online in April 2020 – by November that was up to 10%.
“A big bonus is the number of people who have opened up online wine accounts,” said McMillan. “Digital investments are what I really want to encourage wineries to make. Consumers are proven to be out there looking to buy online.”
UGCB confirms new date for En Primeur tasting week
The Union des Grands Cru de Bordeaux (UGCB) has announced that this year’s tasting week for the 2020 vintage will take place at the end of April instead of March.
Speaking to The Drinks Business, UGCB CEO Ronan Laborde said that tastings would take place from 26-29 April – later than previous years but designed to “keep the En Primeur campaign dynamic and attractive”. As such, sales should start in early May, and continue into June.
Laborde added that, depending on restrictions, it was hoped that the trade will be able to visit Bordeaux in person for tastings. If not, the UGCB plans to arrange tastings in ten major cities around the world.
Last year’s tasting week was cancelled in its entirety as the full force of the coronavirus pandemic had made itself known by the start of the campaign.
Tuscan wines see arrival of official bivarietal label
The European Union has given Consorzio Tutela Vini della Maremma Toscana permission to label wines as ‘bivarietal’ – two grape varieties blended together – marking a first for Tuscany’s protected designation of origin (PDO) wines.
This means that it will now be possible for winemakers within the consorzio – the consortium – to market wines produced with modifications. The EU also approved specific changes to red and white wines.
In the production of reds, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah and Ciliegiolo can be used, alone or in a minimum of 60% blend. In the production of white wines, it will also be possible to use Viognier alone or in at least 60% blend with Vermentino and Trebbiano Toscano.
The decision is one of “strategic importance”, according to Francesco Mazzei, president of the Consorzio Tutela Vini della Maremma Toscana.
“We will be the first PDO wine in Tuscany to use the bivarietal label, very popular in markets like the USA, UK and Northern Europe,” he said. “This gives us a leg up in adapting to new market demands to increase its commercial outlets, while at the same time strengthening current growth trends and highlighting the production qualitative features”.
He added that the move “expanded the scope of the DOC Maremma”, which represents a winemaking Tuscany that is “still young but has great potential”.
Coravin unveils new Pivot system
Wine preservation system Coravin has added a new product to its line-up. Named Pivot, the series is designed for ‘casual wine enthusiasts’ and will keep everyday wine fresh for up to four weeks.
Coravin’s flagship system allows drinkers to access and pour wine from a bottle without pulling the cork. With the Pivot device, users will have to remove the cork or screwcap and replace it with a Pivot stopper, which is compatible with all still wine closure types and bottle sizes. The Pivot device is then inserted through the stopper, and a button is pressed to pour the wine. Once poured, the device is removed, and the stopper can be closed.
According to Coravin, the new system offers a faster, easier experience for users. As well as a faster pourer speed, Pivot comes with more efficient gas usage, with each capsule pouring approximately 20 150ml glasses.
Launched initially in Hong Kong and through selected online retailers, the system is on sale for £119.99 and includes a Pivot device, two Pivot stoppers, one Coravin Pure capsule and one bottle sleeve.
Related link: https://www.coravin.hk/en/products/pivot
French wines return from space
Twelve bottles of Bordeaux wine and over 300 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vine canes are returning to Earth this week after spending up to 14 months on the International Space Station.
Travelling back on board the SpaceX Dragon, the wines and vine canes were sent into orbit as part of a project by Space Cargo Unlimited (SCU) to investigate the impact microgravity and high radiation has on a number of different items.
SCU and its partner institutions will assess the biological mutations that have taken place in the canes exposed to these conditions, comparing them to samples that have remained on Earth. One area of exploration will be the way vines deal with stress, and how they could subsequently adapt to changes brought about by climate change.
The red wine, meanwhile, has been stored in space in metal cylinders for 12 months, and will be assessed to see whether increased levels of radiation and microgravity has influenced the chemical reactions that take place within the wine as it ages.