Fine wine news roundup: 17-23 April
Zachys HK$36.15m sale sees ‘exceedingly’ strong demand
Zachys latest Hong Kong fine wine and spirits sale, auctioneered from the company’s headquarters in New York, raised a total HK$36.15m with “exceedingly” strong bidding online and on the phone.
Highlights of the sale included nine bottles of JL Chave Cuveee Cathelin 1998, which sold for HK$423,300; an Imperial of Lafite 1959, which went for HK$398,400; and a bottle of Domaine Leroy Musigny 2013, which went under the hammer for HK$348,600.
Commenting on the sale, Terrence Tang, Zachys head of Asia, said: “Absentee bids, online bids and telephone bids came in for renowned single-owner collections Sui Generis, The Supreme Cellar Part III, The Ruby Collection Part VII and others. Impeccable provenance is paramount when it comes to fine and rare wines.”
New Zealand reports ‘significantly smaller’ 2021 vintage
New Zealand’s 2021 vintage is set to be “significantly smaller” than many previous years, according to New Zealand Winegrowers.
While final figures are yet to be confirmed, New Zealand Winegrowers’ CEO Philip Gregan said that the smaller harvest has largely been caused by late spring frosts and cooler-than-usual spring weather.
“We have seen unprecedented demand for New Zealand wine in our key export markets over the past 12 months. This meant industry stocks were at low levels going into vintage, a situation that has now been compounded by the smaller harvest,” he told The Drinks Business.
“We are already seeing supply and demand tension as a result, and we expect that many wineries will face tough decisions on who they can supply in their key markets over the next year,” he added.
Despite the reduced supply, however, this year’s vintage is said to be of excellent quality. “All reports indicate the quality of the harvest so far is exceptional, and we are looking forward to some fantastic wines coming out of this year’s vintage,” Gregan added.
Barossa Wine Auction sees renewed enthusiasm for fine wines
Australia’s 2020 Barossa Wine Auction saw total sales of AU$139,000 when it took place at Chateau Tanunda Winery last week – a marked uptick on 2019’s total of AU$120,000.
The star attraction of the auction – and the lot responsible for pushing the event’s total far above last year’s – was a four-litre Imperial of 2016 Penfolds Grange, which sold for AU$50,000 to an Australian consortium of private buyers.
Elsewhere, many lots attracted final prices at least 30% higher than auctioneers Langton’s had originally expected. Highlights included an Imperial of Standish Wines’ 2004 The Relic Shiraz Viognier, which sold for AU$6000; and six bottles of Poonawatta Estate’s The 1880 Shiraz (2005-2010 vintages) selling for AU$2,300 – more than 10 times the anticipated price.
Meanwhile, a new record was set for a Barossa Grenache, with a six-litre Imperial of Torbreck Wines’ 2010 Les Amis Grenache selling for AU$6,000.
According to Barossa Grape and Wine Association chief executive James March, the prices seen at this year’s auction “served to set a new high benchmark for the Barossa, and underlined buyer confidence in Australian wine in general”.
European appellations granted protected naming rights for low-alcohol wines
Geographical indications and protected denominations of origin will be permitted to produce lower-alcohol wines, thanks to the EU’s next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.
The new dealcoholised wine category will be introduced alongside the reform on 1 January 2023, with table wines allowed below 0.5% abv and IGP and PDO wines permitted between 0.5% and 8.5%.
However, it will be up to single denominations to decide whether to adopt these changes or not, and how to integrate the new rules into their own regulations.
As stated by the CAP reform’s proposal, the EU took the decision “in view of the ever increasing consumer demand for innovative grapevine products with a lower actual alcoholic strength than the minimum actual alcoholic strength set out for grapevine products”.
According to no- and low-alcohol drinks specialist Christine Parkinson, this decision is set to be “an absolute game-changer for the category”.
Speaking to Harpers, Parkinson said: “People would definitely buy a lower-alcohol version of the [appellation] wines they usually drink, but these are just not available at the moment. It will be interesting to see which region does it first: I think that once it happens the floodgates will open, because the demand will really be there.”