Fine wine news roundup: 24-30 April
Ultra-rare bottle of Grand Constance 1821 heads to auction
An exceptionally rare bottle of Grand Constance 1821 – one of only a dozen in existence – is to go on sale at the Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction on 22 May.
The bottle comes to auction 200 years after the grapes that went into the South African sweet wine were harvested from the vineyards of Groot Constantia. The wine made a name for itself during the 19th century as a favourite among royalty and political circles, including the likes of Napoleon, Marie Antoinette and George Washington.
The wine is even mentioned in Jane Austen’s 1811 novel Sense and Sensibility, where Austen noted its “healing powers on a disappointed heart”.
“The opportunity to present what is arguably one of the most precious, scarce and coveted wines in the world at the upcoming Cape Fine & Rare Wine Auction is an incredible moment,” said Niel Groenewald, head of the CFRWA. “A treasure of this calibre presents itself perhaps once in a lifetime, and anyone lucky enough to secure this wine at auction will be rewarded with a valuable piece of wine history.”
The bottle is expected to sell for R80,000 to R130,000 (£4,000-£6,500).
New report reveals who really buys fine wine
A new report from fine wine research company Areni Global has revealed fresh statistics on fine wine’s primary consumer base, and some of the findings are surprising.
According to the report, the majority of people purchasing fine wine (defined as those priced above £50), are younger than the general wine buyer, with many in their 30s. In the US and UK, around 75% are men, while in China and Hong Kong there’s more of a 50-50 split between men and women.
Nearly half (47%) of Americans are likely to prize age-worthiness in a fine wine, compared to 35% of Brits. Chinese buyers are most likely to rate this characteristic, with 57% deeming age-worthiness important.
Interestingly, the reports states that only Hong Kong buyers claim to be motivated by a wine’s scarcity, while British buyers care more about a wine’s ‘complex taste’ than other markets.
The reasons people choose one fine wine over another also vary by country, with Chinese and British consumers most interested in the quality of the vintage, compared to just 25% of Americans.
Sustainability is not very important to fine wine buyers in any country, but it may be surprising to learn that buyers in the UK are the least interested in it, with just 7% claiming it’s an important factor in their choices. Curiously, the highest interest, at 21%, comes from mainland China.
The report also found that across all countries, between 25% and 30% of fine wine buyers do so as a financial investment.
Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year revealed
The winner of the prestigious Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year – part of the Pink Lady Food Photography of the Year Awards – has been announced.
Spanish photographer Oscar Oliveras first won the produce category – and later took the overall grand prize – for his beautiful shot of a harvest machine loading grapes into a tractor against a pink evening sky (pictured above).
The image, titled ‘A Grape View’, depicts the gathering of St Emillon grapes on the first day of the harvest at Chateau des Ganfards in Saussignac, France.
Commenting on this year’s awards, competition founder Caroline Kenyon said: “The range and quality of images this year has been extraordinary. They tell moving, beautiful, informative, entertaining food and drink stories of every kind from around the world – a world still gripped by the pandemic – and show us how food and wine connects us all.”
The competition’s corresponding exhibition will premiere at The Royal Photographic Society in Bristol later this year.
Acker announces first-ever NFT-accompanied wine auction
Auction house Acker has announced the world’s first NFT-accompanied Burgundy wine lots, which will feature in the company’s upcoming fine wine sale in Delaware on 12 May.
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to represent items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files.
Acker will debut 16 single bottle lots from the yet-to-be-released 2019 vintage of every wine produced by the highly acclaimed Comte Louis-Michel Liger-Belair of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair. Each bottle will be accompanied by a unique NFT showcasing the Comte’s description of each particular vineyard and its expression in the 2019 vintage
Payment for these lots will be accepted either in traditional US dollars or in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and others.
“Imagine owning a unique keepsake today of Louis-Michel’s ancestors discussing the legendary 1919 vintage wines as they were being bottled,” said Acker chairman John Kapon. “Each NFT of the Comte describing these wines will never be duplicated – something akin to the first email, the first telegram, the first phone call captured in time, forever. This is sure to be an exceptional sale and a groundbreaking moment for the entire world of wine, technology, and finance.”
Wine sector gets representation in the ‘Race to Zero’
The International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) has joined the Race to Zero initiative, a global campaign backed by the United Nations to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonised economy ahead of COP26 in November.
All Race to Zero members are committed to the same overarching goal: halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050. IWCA is the first Race to Zero member to represent the wine industry.
“While the wine industry is responsible for few emissions, it is one of the agricultural activities most affected by global climate change,” said Nigel Topping, UK high level climate champion for COP26. “We are delighted to welcome IWCA into the Race to Zero, and applaud its ambition to become climate positive by 2050.”
Founded in 2019 by Spain’s Familia Torres and California’s Jackson Family Wines, IWCA is a collaborative group addressing climate change through innovative carbon-reduction strategies. Among its 10 members are Chile’s VSPT Wine Group, New Zealand’s Yealands, Douro-based Symington Family Estates, and Australia’s Cullen Wines.