Predictions of a Vintage Crop for Aussie Wines

Atlas Wine Group - Monday, January 09, 2012

WINEMAKERS in the Hunter Valley are cautiously optimistic about what could be one of the best vintages in years, especially for whites.

Thanks to last month's heavy rainfall, winemakers say conditions have been perfect for an outstanding vintage -- but only if it doesn't rain much before harvest.

"As it turns out we've had particularly cool ripening weather," Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association president Andrew Margan said. "It was the coldest December in Cessnock on record.

"It's very unusual but if the rest of January stays dry we will have an outstanding vintage."

Faced with a global wine glut, Hunter Valley vineyards, like most of Australia's wine growing regions, prefer quality low yields over quantity.

They are poised to produce 35,000 tonnes of grapes during harvest from the end of this month to the first week of March, up on last year.

Andrew Thomas, the Hunter's 2008 winemaker of the year, warned more rain could bring outbreaks of downy and powdery mildew.

"The good news story is the vineyard managers who have been diligent and kept up their spray programs don't have much of a problem," he said.

"If we get through this pressure period we're looking at some pretty good wines."

President of the NSW Wine Industry Association, David Lowe, said heavy rain or an autumn cold snap could ruin what was shaping as a great vintage.

Although he said there were some "concerns for reds" this year.

Source: Richard Noone The Daily Telegraph

Acker Sale Sees Out Record Year

Atlas Wine Group - Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Hong Kong sale by Acker Merrall & Condit witnessed the highest amount paid for a single lot in the world this year and affirmation of the auction house’s importance in Asia.

With three “superlots” of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Pétrus and Mouton Rothschild under the hammer, the sale made US$9 million and was 92% sold by lot.

The vertical of DRC, covering 1954 to 2007, was valued at US$600,000 to $800,000 and sold for $813,333 – the highest amount paid anywhere for a single lot this year.

The vertical of Mouton from 1936 to 2008 made $500,513 after a “highly intense bidding battle” and the Pétrus – from 1959 to 2007 – achieved $250,256.

Other top lots also centred on DRC: a case of 1962 Romanée-Conti sold for $203,333; a case of 1989 for $109,359; 1988 for $100,103 and a six bottle case of 1990 for $93,846.

John Kapon, CEO of Acker Merrall said: “2011 was a spectacular year for Acker Merrall & Condit. The amazing result of this sale is a fitting round-up of another record-setting vintage for Acker in Hong Kong.

“This year, not only will we acquire number one positions in the markets of Asia, America and the world, but also become the first wine auction house in history to break US$100 million in annual sales.

“Our tremendous success and continual lead in the global wine market has largely built upon the robust momentum of Hong Kong, now the world’s most important fine wine market.

“We are enthralled that another triumphant year in Asia is now ending on a high note with this remarkable sale, where we witnessed strong bidding for the star lots, especially over the vertical of Romanée Conti, which is now the most expensive wine lot sold in any auction anywhere this year.”

The result is a positive one for the US house as auction results this year have largely lagged behind those of 2010 and there have been concerns about the amount of wine now entering the Hong Kong market for auction causing a glut.

Source: the Drinks Business – Rupert Millar

Study Mission to Explore Brazil Wine Opportunities

Atlas Wine Group - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wine Australia, Austrade Brazil, Winetitles and Instate are teaming up to provide the opportunity for Australian exporters and wine companies to explore the burgeoning market of Brazil.

The exciting study mission to Brazil, from 21–28 April 2012, has two main objectives: to assess the market potential for Australian wine, and to examine possibilities for collaboration between the Brazilian and Australian wine industries. 

This year, Brazil is forecast to overtake the UK to be the sixth largest economy in the world.  In 2014 it will host the World Cup and in 2016 the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – but Australian wine producers’ knowledge is limited about this emerging economy and its rapidly growing wine market. 

Respected international wine writer Denis Gastin will host the visit along with his Instate team based in Brazil. Denis contributes to The Oxford Companion to Wine, The World Atlas of Wine and Wine Report as well as numerous publications throughout Asia and Australia, including Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker. He is a frequent visitor to Brazil and has been monitoring the market and industry developments over the course of many years.

This study mission will incorporate visits to major cities and wine regions across Brazil and will also include a visit to the country’s major wine trade show — Expovinis Brasil 2012 in Sao Paolo.  There is also a three-day optional side trip to Chile and Mendoza in Argentina, and an extended stay in Brazil is also available.

The program includes carefully targeted visits to various retail and on-premise outlets for wine in major cities and contact with the trade and wine media.  The visit will also provide an opportunity for producers’ to understand the domestic wine industry in Brazil, and to identify areas of alignment and exchange in viticultural and winemaking technologies and expertise.

The group will also visit major industry bodies and wine producers throughout the Vale Dos Vinhedos.

Source: Daily Wine News


Demand for Australian Wine Soaring in China

Atlas Wine Group - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

With more than 1,000 Australian wine brands now available in China, third-quarter results show Chinese mainlanders bought 2.54 million cases of Australian wine.

China is Australia’s fastest growing market and fourth largest export market by value, after the UK, US and Canada.

According to Wine Australia, China netted the most sales of premium Australian wines between September 2010 and September 2011, with more than 4.2m bottles priced over 600 yuan sold.

The country is on track to import 26m cases of wine by the year’s end, a 60% growth compared with last year’s figure of 16m.

Australia takes a 15% slice of the market, followed by Italy, Spain, Chile and the US.

Chinese consumers’ increasingly sophisticated thirst for imported wine is said to be driving the growth.

Last year, Jacob’s Creek experienced a 42% sales increase in China, assisted by the launch of its Winemarker Series and tailored marketing approach.

“We have become one of the most active imported wine players in the market,” said Jessie Lu of Jacob’s Creek owner Pernod Ricard.

But despite the boom in imported wines, Australian wineries are not actively seeking to boost sales volumes to China.

Wine Australia said the best measure of success for Australian wine in China isn’t based on market share.

“There’s no point increasing volume for volume’s sake or trying to achieve an extra 5% market share if it erodes the position and value of Australian wines,” said Lucy Anderson, director of Wine Australia’s Asia branch in Hong Kong.

“We need to ensure consumers are confident to seek out Australian wines because they trust them, enjoy the taste and are proud of the association back to the brand, region and country,” she added.

Source: Lucy Shaw - the Drinks Business

Demand for Australian Wine Soars as Nation's (China) Taste Change

Atlas Wine Group - Monday, December 12, 2011

BEIJING - Turning 30 is cause for a big party, so when Chang Jie celebrated his 30th birthday at a karaoke bar in Beijing recently, cases of 2009 Chateau Lafite were in high demand.

"Bordeaux is best," he said without offering any justification. Then without any swirling, sniffing or sipping he sculled the glass of wine in his hand. Many Chinese mainlanders consider Chateau Lafite to be the best French wine. "It stands head and shoulders above anything else in terms of its brand recognition," said Campbell Thompson, an Australian and co-owner of the wine importing and distribution company The Wine Republic. "The French are leaders in the gift-giving and corporate dining market. Australian wine just simply doesn't have the same cachet among these consumers," he added. Despite not being able to match France's leading 50 percent market share in China, there is some good news for Australian wine producers. Overall demand for its wine is experiencing strong growth.

There are currently more than 1,000 Australian wine brands available in China and imports of Australian wine were up 29 percent in the first nine months of 2011 compared with the same period last year. Third-quarter results show Chinese mainlanders bought 2.54 million cases of Australian wine. Each case contains 12 regular bottles. China is also Australia's fastest growing market and is the fourth largest export market by value, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. It boasts the largest sales of high-priced wines - more than 4.2 million bottles valued at 600 yuan a bottle and above between September 2010 and September 2011, according to Wine Australia, the Australian government's industry marketing body. According to data from the Customs, China is on track to importing 26 million cases of wine by the year's end, a 60 percent growth compared with last year's figure of 16 million. Australia takes a 15 percent slice of the market, followed by Italy, Spain, Chile and the US. Chinese people's increasingly sophisticated and diversified thirst for imported spirits and wines is said to be driving this growth.

Last year, Jacob's Creek, Australia's top wine brand in China, experienced a 42 percent increase in sales assisted by the launch of its Winemarker Series and tailored marketing approach. "We have become one of the most active imported wine players in the market," said Jessie Lu of Pernod Ricard, the label's brand manager in China. Brands such as Jacob's Creek are increasingly looking to China, which accounts for about 6 percent of volume exports from Australia and 10 percent by value.

Businessmen and officials are the biggest wine buyers. "The second important group is made up of young white-collar workers, who are increasing in numbers very quickly in China's major cities. They are spending their own money and drinking wine with their friends because they enjoy it, and Australian wine is often the preferred choice," said Thompson. Twenty-nine year old Qi Qinghua, an investment consultant in Beijing, said she often preferred Australian wine with her dinner. "I love a good Riesling from Margaret River (in Western Australia) because of its crispness and fruitiness. I've also been there and like their varieties," said Qi.

Despite the boom in imported wines, Australian wineries have not indicated they will actively seek to boost sales volumes to China.

Wine Australia said the best measure of success for Australian wine in China isn't based on market share. "There is no point increasing volume for volume's sake or trying to achieve an extra five percent market share if it erodes the position and value of Australian wines," said Lucy Anderson, director of Wine Australia's Asia branch in Hong Kong. "We need to ensure consumers are confident to seek out Australian wines because they trust them, they enjoy the taste and they are proud of the association back to the brand, region and country," she added.

Source: China Daily

Australian Export Panel Facing the Axe?

Atlas Wine Group - Saturday, December 10, 2011

Speculating is mounting that Wine Australia is considering axing its much maligned wine export approval panel.

WBM Editor Anthony Madigan tweeted on Friday night that he heard the panel was being scrapped. He said the rumour had come from a good source.

The rumour was picked up by Decanter magazine overnight in a story titled "Australian Export Panel 'out of touch and' under fire".

"Anger directed at the AWEC has been bubbling for some time as wines that have been lauded by critics have been rejected for export", the Decanter article states.

Source: WBM


Chinese Company Bright Food to Increase Australian Presence

Atlas Wine Group - Thursday, December 08, 2011

True to its word in early September that it would quickly dominate the Australian market, Chinese company Bright Food has announced plans to open an office in Sydney. Bright Food is the second largest food company in China, and following its acquisition of 75 per cent of Australia’s leading independent grocery importer Manassen Foods Australia, it wants to become a global leader in the sector.

Manassen Foods includes the Margaret River Dairy Company, Sunbeam Foods, Chrystal Fresh, Angas Park and Don Vica.

Bright has confirmed its interest in entering other Australian markets including wine dairy, sugar and health supplements, the Australian Financial Review reports.

Bright’s Ge Junjie spoke told the Financial Review ahead of the first board meeting at Manassen since the acquisition that the cinoaby wants to use Manassen as vehicle to import more products into Australia. It’s part of the company’s plans to make Australia a main focus. “I extend an invitation to other companies who are interested in accessing the Chinese market by going through Manassen,” he said. “Bright can offer these companies access. “Part of Bright’s key focus following the Manassen deal will be Australia, especially the great wine sector. “We are very interested.” He dismissed the current trend towards private-label products, saying it will not have a major impact on the company. “I’m not concerned that private labels will encroach on Manassen brands business,” he told the Financial Review. “Bright will increase marketing and we believe the brands represent good value. “Australia is a very sophisticated market and consumers can differentiate between private label products based on price and other branded products based on quality and are life-style driven.”

Australian farmers, manufacturers and industry groups have been calling for tougher regulation on the increase in private-label products, which they say are eradicating competition and local companies and will result in 130 000 workers in the food and grocery sector out of work by 2020. The major supermarkets argue that the lower prices of private label products are beneficial to consumers, but companies and ministerial representatives say the move will negatively impact prices in the long run.

The company’s office will be located in Macquarie Place, Sydney.

Image: Shanghai Company News

Source: Jessica Burke

2011 Dan Murphy Margaret River Wine Show Results

Atlas Wine Group - Tuesday, December 06, 2011
In trying conditions the Judges led by well respected Chair Iain Riggs awarded 376 medals from 761
entries, a medal strike rate of just under 50% with 34 Gold, 85 Silver and 257 Bronze. The following
major trophies and awards were presented:

Most Successful Exhibitor              Xanadu Wines
Best Red Wine of Show                 Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Best White Wine of Show              Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2010
Best Cabernet Sauvignon               Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Best Chardonnay                            Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2010
Best Single Vineyard Red               Woodlands ‘Shelley Anne’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Best Single Vineyard White            Cowaramup Wines Margaret River Reserve Chardonnay 2010
Best Exhibition                                 Lenton Brae Chardonnay 2006
Best Cabernet Sauvignon                Amelia Park Cabernet Merlot 2010
Predominant Blend

Best Blends of Sauvignon Blanc
Semillon                                            Brygon Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011
Best Shiraz                                        Next of Kin Xanadu Shiraz 2010
Best Optimus Alias                            Tigers Tale Cabernet Merlot Shiraz 2010

Iain Riggs said, The 2011 Margaret River Wins How demonstrated that even in not quite ideal
conditions, the great wines of the region stand out. With yet another top vintage behind them in
2011 and on top of 2006 through to 2010, the region is assured of a steady roll call of Trophy and Gold
medal wines. They are a pleasure to judge. Congratulations to the winners and best regards to all
those who lost property during last week’s bushfires.”

Wine Show Chairman Stuart Watson said, “The results again reflect the unwavering focus of the greater
Margaret River wine industry on producing premium fine wines as this is our future. When we couple
this with our wonderful climate and geography with little seasonal variation it naturally lends itself to
the consistent production of internationally competitive premium fine wines”. 

“The Judges and all of those who were part of the Wine Show this year did a great job in difficult circumstances and we appreciate their efforts because with consistent wine show results that we’ve been achieving over recent years the message will become louder and louder that Margaret River is one of the worlds best wine regions in the world”, said Mr Watson.All results from the 2011 Dan Murphy’s Margaret River Wine Show will shortly be available from the Association’s website

For further information, please contact Stuart Watson, Woodlands Wines & Wine Show Chair on 9755 6226 or Nick Power, CEO, Margaret River
Wine Industry Association on 08 9757 9330 or 0400 516 555.

Source: Wine Companion Online

Robert Parker has announced that Spain critic Jay Miller will be leaving The Wine Advocate.

Atlas Wine Group - Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Addressing subscribers to his bulletin board, Parker said: “After several months of consideration, Big Jay has decided to return to wine consulting, lecturing and wine retail.”
Miller’s departure comes as the scandal known as “Murciagate” continues to gather pace, with suggestions by Parker that legal action against “the bloggers” who have been involved may be imminent.
“Some may believe my stepping down is in response to my critics,” Miller (right) said, in reference to the scandal.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. I have felt constrained in responding while still on The Wine Advocate staff. While the office has defended my actions, justifiably, now it is time for me to speak for myself.
“In what format I will do that remains to be seen. This much is clear, I have never accepted (or requested) fees for visiting wine regions or wineries,” he added.
Both Miller and Parker indicated this was a voluntary departure on Miller’s part, with Parker referencing the tediousness of tasting mediocre wines that can “burn out the best of us,” adding, “change is never easy, but often essential.”
Miller’s Spain, Chile, and Argentina responsibilities will be taken over by UK-based Neal Martin, while coverage of Oregon wines will go to David Schildnecht.
Last month, wine writer Jim Budd obtained e-mails indicating that the Association of Wine from the Region of Murcia (Asevin) and Pancho Campo MW were allegedly charging wineries €20,000 to “secure” a visit from Jay Miller on his upcoming trip to Spain.
Since the story broke, Budd obtained further emails indicating the same practice from Campo with regards to DO Vinos de Madrid, with Pancho allegedly offering the wine body a €20,000 ”cut-price deal” in exchange for a two day visit to the region.


Source: the drinks business