美国葡萄酒销量大幅回升

25th February, 2020

Liv-ex报道称,在有消息报道百分百关税不会实施后,其平台上的美国买家再度重返市场,销量大幅反弹。

美国贸易代表称他们将维持目前欧盟葡萄酒(低于14%酒精度)25%的进口关税,可见在短期内至少对欧洲葡萄酒征的威胁已暂时被解除。

这个来自美国贸易代表的消息以及美元走强的缘故,导致上周北美购买活动激增,Liv-ex表示其购买量比前周增长超过200%。

勃艮第和意大利是这次美国买家主要的购买对象,交易份额继续保持自1月份以来的增长。然而,由于新冠肺炎的情况持续,亚洲的贸易仍然低迷。

香港春季拍卖会宣布改期

25th February, 2020

有鉴新冠肺炎的影响,两家主要的拍卖行宣布修订香港春季拍卖活动的时间表。

由于病毒情况带来了相关旅行限制,香港苏富比决定将其大部分的春季拍卖会从4月推迟到7月初。在最新安排下,只有当代艺术拍卖会将在四月份进行,并移师纽约。其他部门的拍卖会,包括洋酒拍卖,也将推迟到新的日子。

拍卖行期待“延期至七月初,届时将可以更畅顺无阻地于亚洲各地举行巡回展览,继而在香港举槌”。

每年,佳士得香港春季拍卖会都会比其他主要竞争对手晚。

到目前为止,佳士得香港还没有计划更改将在五月末举行的春拍。但是,原定于3月举行的葡萄酒专场拍卖会已被推迟,有关专场的拍品暂时搁置了。

上述活动的全新举行日期即将宣布。

亚洲50最佳餐厅颁奖典礼改为线上直播

25th February, 2020

原定于2020年3月24日在日本佐贺县举行的亚洲50最佳餐厅年度颁奖典礼将改为线上直播。

因应新冠肺炎疫情持续蔓延,亚洲大部分地区均采取严格的旅游限制措施,同时为全面配合日本政府减少大型活动的建议,亚洲50最佳餐厅与日本佐贺县政府经详细考虑及协商后,”在别无选择下共同决定取消今年原定在日本举行的实体颁奖典礼及相关活动,并将改以其他形式进行”。

除了颁奖典礼,原定在2020年3月22至24日在日本九州南部佐贺县举行一系列有关餐饮和文化的深入探讨活动亦已被取消。

亚洲50最佳餐厅的团队正在筹划以高质稳定的线上直播方式举行的颁奖典礼,希望让所有相关人士同步见证这盛大庆典,有关详情将尽快对外公布。

继中国和南韩,日本现时为第三个拥有最多新冠肺炎确诊个案的亚洲国家,截至目前合共有160宗。

Pol Roger to host London and Manchester portfolio tastings

25th February, 2020

The Pol Roger Portfolio is to hold two tastings this March in London and Manchester to mark its 30th anniversary.

The first tasting will take place at Sessions House in London on 24 March and then the second at the Cloud 23 Bar on the 23rd floor of Beetham Tower in Manchester on 26 March.

The entire range of wines and spirits, including Joseph Drouhin, Staglin Family Vineyards, Grand Tokaj and Glenfarclas, will be presented at each tasting and it will also be the first chance to taste new agencies Kinsman Eades and TOR Wines from California, bolstering the existing high-end US offering.

The latest vintages from Pol Roger, including the 2009 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill and 2012 Rosé and 2016s from Staglin Family Vineyards, will also be available to taste.

James Simpson MW, managing director of Pol Roger Portfolio, said: “2019 exceeded all of our expectations; we were delighted to discover that there was a genuine appetite for a comprehensive agency-wide tasting which informed serious buying decisions.

“We want to be able to invite all of our existing and potential customers, from across the country, hence expanding our geographical reach with a tasting in both London and Manchester. On 24 and 26 March, in London and Manchester respectively, we look forward to welcoming our agency Principals from across the world.”

Study claims agricultural spray reduces levels of smoke taint

25th February, 2020

A study conducted by The University of British Columbia (UBC) claims that applying an agricultural spray made of phospholipids reduces levels of volatile phenols found in smoke-exposed grapes.

Image: Johansen Wines

Author of the report, Wesley Zandberg, assistant professor in chemistry at UBC Okanagan, called the results “encouraging”.

Zandberg and his team tested multiple substances, finding that a spray composed of phospholipids – lipids that are usually used to prevent cherries from cracking – applied to grapes one week before smoke exposure led to “significantly reduced” levels of smoke taint.

Zandberg noted that unless a winery has access to testing facilities, smoke taint will only be detectable once the grape juice has undergone fermentation.

Wine grapes absorb compounds in the smoke, coating them in sugar using enzymes and thus masking the “smoky odour and taste”. This sugar is subsequently consumed by yeast during fermentation, and smoke taint becomes detectable.

Back in 2017, Zandberg announced that his team had developed a chemical test for smoke taint, which could be carried out prior to fermentation.

Zandberg added: “When you look at the catastrophic wildfire seasons California and British Columbia have experienced in recent years, and the season Australia is experiencing now, I don’t think a solution can come quickly enough. This strategy has shown potential in its ability to protect crops.

“In 2003, the wildfires in Australia cost their wine industry $300 million dollars in lost revenue, and I imagine they’ll experience a similar loss this year, if not more.

“Our team has developed a strategy that’s proven to be successful, but there’s still a long way to go. Now, we need to work on replicating and refining these results to alleviate crop losses experienced globally by the wine industry.”

Zandberg’s is one of many studies currently being undertaken on smoke taint. Earlier this month, Australia’s National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC) and Charles Sturt University in New South Wales announced that they were working with the growers to test grape samples in order to understand the potential impact of the smoke exposure on their vines.

While only 1% of Australia’s vines were damaged in the recent wildfires, it is believed a higher percentage of the grape crop will be affected by smoke taint.

Tyrrell’s, based in New South Wales, has decided to “severely” reduce its 2020 vintage by as much as 80% due to smoke taint fears, while Clonakilla has said that “unacceptably high levels of smoke taint” across all varieties means it will not be producing a 2020 vintage.

Other products are also in development and are undergoing trials.

Finnish fire safety company Xpyro have developed a spray called Bonsoguard, which it claims could protect vineyards in the future.

According to the company’s global fire prevention specialist, Mike Jurvélius, the magnesium-based product can be sprayed directly on the ground, or onto vines, to create fire-breaks.

Jurvélius states that the product contains some elements commonly found in fertilisers, and once exposed to rainwater, will dissolve and nourish the soil.

So far, the spray has only been tested in Finland to control forest fires. It has been tested by the Finnish defence forces for the past two years.

Amazon Go launches first big format cashier-less store

25th February, 2020

Online retail giant Amazon is set to open its first big format cashier-less grocery store in the US today, a stone’s throw from its Seattle HQ, which includes a ‘sizeable’ beers, wines and spirits section.

The new 14,000-square-foot Amazon Go Grocery store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighbourhood will feature the e-commerce’s proprietary cameras, sensors, and computer vision thereby eliminating the need for shoppers to use cash or card to pay for their purchases, although staff will be employed to greet and help shoppers, and also check ID in the beer, wine and spirits section.

Having launched its first store to the public in 2018, after a trial the previous year and a series of false starts, the e-tailer now operates a series of smaller format stores in 25 locations in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle. Currently, the stores sell a  variety of ready-to-eat and packaged foods including sandwiches, burritos, and sushi as well as packaged sodas and freshly brewed coffee and cold drinks at select locations, with some stores, including Seattle store on Seventh and Blanchard streets, licensed to sell liquor.

In November, the retail giant applied for an alcohol license at one of its Chicago stores, and 2019 saw it open bricks and mortar shop solely selling liquor in San Francisco and Los Angeles, although these were essentially shopfronts attached to its BWS warehouse, which enabled it to offer booze delivery to local Amazon Prime Now customers.

Amazon offers alcohol for delivery through its Amazon Prime service in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Manhattan, Brooklyn, St. Louis, and Washington, DC and sells liquor as well as through Whole Foods Markets, which it acquired in June 2017.

Amazon Go’s vice president Dilip Kumar told US tech newsite Recode that there were “no plans to put” the technology into its Whole Foods stores “for now”, saying it was focusing on the concept and seeing what customers think of it.

Lidl pays man £100 after ‘faulty’ bottle leads to wine-stained walls

25th February, 2020

UK discounter Lidl has awarded Barnstaple resident Chris Burke £98.91 after a “faulty” cork caused red wine to splatter over his kitchen wall and blind.

As reported by Plymouth Live, Burke, a retired Devon police officer, received compensation from the German retailer after apparently spending £123 on kitchen repairs.

Back on 5 February, Burke told the North Devon Gazette that he had purchased a bottle of Barón del Cega Gran Reserva Tempranillo from his local branch of Lidl back in October 2019.

Explaining what happened, Burke said: “I placed a corkscrew on the top and the cork slipped straight into the bottle and red wine squirted, or ejaculated if you like, out the bottle all over my white walls.

“The three walls had to be repainted and the kitchen blind was covered in red wine so that will need to be replaced.”

After the incident, Burke spent £20 on a tin of paint, £10 on stain sealer and a further £93 on a kitchen blind.

He was initially offered a £10 Lidl voucher, which he spent on Port, but later vowed to never return to the store until he received better remuneration.

Almost four months after the incident, according to Plymouth Live, Burke was sent a letter and was awarded £98.91.

A spokesperson for Lidl added: “We were very sorry to hear of this matter and can confirm that a full refund was provided as soon as our store team were made aware.

“Further to this, our quality assurance team are in contact with the customer and have confirmed that the cost of the damage incurred will also be covered.”

Postponement of spring auction sales in Hong Kong

25th February, 2020

Two major auction houses have announced a revised schedule of spring sales events in Hong Kong due to Covid-19 (coronavirus).

Sotheby’s Hong Kong has decided to postpone most of itsspring auctions from April to early July in Hong Kong because of the travel restrictions caused by the virus situation.

Only the major Modern and Contemporary Art auctions in April will proceed as planned but it is being relocated to New York.

The remaining sales, including fine wine auctions, will be delayed to the new schedule too.

The auction house is looking forward to, “safely holding a traveling exhibition across Asia and resuming their normal Hong Kong schedule in the fall”.

Each year, Christie’s Hong Kong’s spring sales begin rather later than its main competitors.

So far there are reportedly no plans to change any events taking place from May onwards. However, a dedicated wine sale due to be held in March has been postponed and consignments to the spring sale have been put on hold for now.

The new dates for the events above will be announced soon it is hoped.

The Global Riesling Masters: the results in full

25th February, 2020

We bring you a full report on this year’s Global Riesling Masters, including all the medallists from the tasting, which took in Rieslings from Alsace to Kamptal, Rheingau to Washington State, and a couple of wines from Kazakhstan.

Mention the word Riesling to mainstream wine drinker and then a trade professional, and the response will be markedly different. In the eyes of the former, the grape signals something sweet and perhaps cheap. As for the latter, Riesling is the noble source of fine whites with high acidity. It’s a divide that is also getting greater, as it seems that the Rieslings being made today are getting drier, fresher and pricier, although the bargain off-dry end of the offer is gradually disappearing – and it’s probably being replaced by Prosecco.

While the reduction in entry-level Riesling may be good for the grape’s image, crafting a delicious bone dry wine from Riesling is far from easy. As a result, if there was a single criticism of the wines in this year’s Riesling Masters, it concerned the level of acidity in the dry wines. For the most part, the wines were delicious, with fresh citrus fruit flavours that made one’s mouth salivate like licking just-sliced lime, but occasionally, the finish was so intensely acidic, it left a hardness that made even our Riesling-loving panel of judges wince.

In the same way that Chardonnay makers moved to something austere in an attempt to distance themselves from a previous paradigm of fat, buttery whites, I wonder if some Riesling producers are going to an extreme form of dryness to provide a contrast to something sweet, and possibly too saccharine, that was made by – and for – an older generation.

Another reason why acidities may be too intense in some samples concerns an urge to minimise the ‘kerosene’ character in young dry Riesling. Hailing from the presence of TDN (1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2- dihydronaphthalene), which is believed to form in warmer areas and from high sunlight exposure, it could be the case that producers are harvesting grapes earlier, or allowing canopies to shade the bunches more, to reduce the incidence of the aroma compound. Such an approach would result in less ripe grapes, so, while the kerosene character is diminished, the resulting wine, if fermented to dryness, will have a marked acidity.

Personally I would prefer a dry Riesling with some kerosene aromas and a softer acidity, than a pure lime-scented white with a hard finish. And our judges felt similarly.

So, if there is a message to the producers of dry Riesling, please pursue a softer style of wine, even if it means a touch more TDN.

As for the great Rieslings in our tasting, whatever the sugar level, they combined the grape’s intense citrus freshness, often with a slightly chalky sensation on the finish, and riper characters from beeswax to peach, along with a hint of white flowers. Such examples displayed cleansing, if not sharp acidity, and a touch of TDN, like a whiff of burnt rubber or spilt petrol. Like all great wines, the key is the balance of the components, which should complement each other.

In terms of the sources of the highest-scoring Rieslings in this year’s competition, the range was broad, with Alsace, Austria, Germany, Australia, Washington State and Canada picking up the top medals. Among the outstanding dry wines were a Grand Cru Riesling from Schlumberger and a ‘Museum Release’ from Australia’s Howard Park, while we were wowed by the top wines form Austria’s Schloss Gobelsburg.

In the medium-dry category it was Schloss Sconborn’s top Rheingau expression that took home the only Gold of the flight, with further Golds then awarded to sweeter wines, including a Spatlese from the same producer, and another to a further Rheingau winery, with August Eser also gaining a Gold-medal score.

Our tasting ended on an intensely sweet high, with a Canadian ice wine from Peller Estates named a Riesling Master for its combination of remarkable raisined richness, lemon curd-like characters and freshly sliced green apple acidity.

Indeed, having started the tasting by sampling the fine chalky fizz of top German Sekt and ended with the viscous deliciousness of a Canadian Riesling made from frozen grapes, we were reminded just how versatile this single grape is. Indeed, such is the diverse nature of Riesling, it would be a great shame for the grape to remain famous for just one style of wine. The challenge of course comes with telling the consumer exactly what they can expect from their chosen Riesling. And for that to be overcome, an accurate tasting note on the bottle or wine list is vital.

Over the following pages you can see all the medallists from this year’s competition, as well as comments from the judges (who are pictured below), and more information about the Global Riesling Masters, including how to enter.

The judges (left to right): Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW; Patrick Schmitt MW; Jonathan Pedley MW; David Round MW

Warburtons turns old crumpets into beer

25th February, 2020

British baked goods behemoth Warburtons is brewing beer with stale crumpets in partnership with sustainable brand Toast Ale.

Jonathan Warburton, whose bakery business posted a £13.5 million loss last year as a result of falling wrapped bread sales and restructuring costs, has turned his attention to beer instead and partnered with sustainable brewer Toast Ale to create an IPA made with leftover crumpets.

It is the first non-baked product in Warburtons’ over 140 year history.

The beer, described as a “light session IPA” with 4.2% ABV, is made by replacing the malted barley in the beer with crumpets leftover in Warburtons’ production, extracting starches and sugars and breaking them down into fermentable sugars.

The beers are being released as limited editions for now, but a statement from the baker said the range could be rolled out permanently “dependent on consumer demand.”

Darren Littler, head of product innovation at Warburtons, said: “Not only are we proud that Crumpet Beer is our first non-baked product we’ve ever launched, there’s nothing ‘butter’ than this cold brew teamed with a plate of warm crumpets!”

James King, marketing and brand manager at Toast Ale, said: “We couldn’t be more excited to venture into the world of crumpets. As a British staple, they bring something hole-y different than our bread brewed beer, with a unique taste. We will continue to toast change and hope everyone loves this new Crumpet Beer as much as we’ve loved brewing and tasting it!”

Warburtons X Toast Ale Crumpet Beer is available to purchase on the Toast Ale website for £28 for 12x 300ml bottles.

All of Toast Ale’s beers are brewed with surplus fresh bread from bakeries, delis and other sandwich makers.

The brand, which is stocked in the Co Op, Tesco Express and Waitrose, was launched in January 2016 by Tristram Stuart, founder of food waste charity Feedback, in collaboration with Hackney Brewery. All profits go towards tackling the issue of food waste.

In the UK, Toast contracts its brewing out to World Top Brewery in Yorkshire, touted as one of the most sustainable in the UK. Internationally, Toast Ale works with local breweries rather than exporting to ensure the beers are as fresh as they can be for each consumer market.