Top new products: August

8th August, 2019

La Gitana en rama

Translating as ‘raw’ in Spanish, en rama Sherry is unfiltered, unfined and bottled directly from the barrel. La Gitana En Rama spends eight years ageing under a layer of flor in a solera constructed from old American oak casks from San Luis Winery.

The dry Sherry is drawn directly from separate barrels and is released biannually, according to the natural flor cycle. It is described as having aromas of “green apple skin, camomile and salted almonds, with flavours of fresh apple, brine and olives”.

RRP: £16.50. Contact: Mentzendorff, orders@mentzendorff.co.uk

Earl of Sandwich teams up with Furleigh to create English sparkling wine

8th August, 2019

Dorset-based wine producer Furleigh has partnered with the Mapperton Estate and the Earl of Sandwich to release an English sparkling wine called the Montagu Cuvée.

The cuvée, which is made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, is named after the house of Montagu, of which the Earl of Sandwich is one of the titles. The fizz will now be used for celebrations and events at Mapperton House near Beaminster – part of the Mapperton estate which is home to the Earl and Countess of Sandwich.

The wine was made on the Furleigh estate in west Dorset. The winery was founded in 2009 on the site of a former dairy farm and now boasts over 22,000 vines producing around 40,000 bottles of wine a year, of which three quarters is sparkling wine and the rest still.

Ian Edwards, owner and winemaker at Furleigh, commented: “It was a pleasure to work with Mapperton to produce this unique sparkling wine. It combines all that is good about Dorset fruit-growing with the finest traditions of sparkling winemaking. We are delighted that the Montagu Cuvée will be drunk in the glorious surroundings of Mapperton House and Gardens.”

Mapperton House and Gardens, which are set in 15 acres of land, are open to the public from Sunday to Thursday.

Luke Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, who runs the Mapperton Estate, added: “Our team came up with this brilliant idea and we were very pleased when the world-renowned Furleigh Estate agreed to produce the Montagu Cuvée. My father, the Earl of Sandwich, is a better judge of wine than I am, so I let him steer the development. The result we believe is exceptional, and I’m sure our wedding couples and their guests will agree!”

Last month, Furleigh teamed up with a local ice cream producer to celebrate the launch of its new rosé. Sea Pink, a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Rondo with an ABV of 11.5%, was used by Dorset brand Baboo Gelato to create a Sea Pink Rosé Sorbet to mark the release of the wine.

Earlier this month, the English wine producer completed the construction of a new storage facility after volumes achieved last year meant that its “production capacity was struggling to cope”.

Penfolds launches 2019 collection

8th August, 2019

Australian brand Penfolds has launched its ‘2019 collection’, which marks the winery’s 175th anniversary and chief winemaker Peter Gago’s 30th year at the helm.

The latest release covers the vintages 2015-2018, starting with the 2018 Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling and bookended by the 2015 Grange – which Gago hailed as a “classic”.

As well as Penfolds’ and Gago’s own milestones, this collection was also the last that winemaker John Bird worked on, bringing his tally to a quite exceptional 60 vintages.

It’s also the 10th release of the Bin 23 Pinot Noir – the newest addition to the collection – 25th anniversary of the Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, 20th anniversary of the Eden Valley Riesling and 60th anniversary of the Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz.

The collection also includes the 2017 Yattarna, 2016 St Henri and 2017 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, all wines Gago was particularly excited about, commenting that the St Henri in particular was perhaps one of the best ever made.

Commenting on the collection overall Gago said: “All Penfolds winemakers employ a personal responsibility and great pride in the wines they make.

“Steph Dutton, Emma Wood, Andrew Baldwin, Kym Schroeter, Matt Woo, Shavaughn Wells, Andrew Hales and Dominic Coulter.  As a team the group is committed to making wines that are complex, with a definitive and distinctive Penfolds character. Each displays an individual style, a style that is the result of years skilful blending and access to the best possible fruit, oak and time….”

UK gin craze continues as category valued at £3bn

8th August, 2019

According to data published by the WSTA, the gin boom in the UK shows no signs of slowing, with domestic sales and exports hitting a record £3 billion in the past year.

According to The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), despite concerns that the gin bubble is about to burst, UK gin sales are in fact “continuing at an even greater pace”.

In the year to March 2019, domestic sales amounted to over 76 million bottles worth £2.3 billion. This, combined with exports of £730m in the year to May 2019 (HMRC), puts the value of the entire UK gin category at £3bn.

Based on the figures available, the WSTA predicts that domestic sales of UK gin will surpass the 100 million bottle mark within the next year.

According to CGA, the pink gin category is helping to drive sales, with consumers buying the equivalent of £392 million worth of the coloured spirit in the 12 months to mid May 2019, equating to an eightfold increase based on the same period last year.

Total sales of UK-made spirits surpassed £11 million in the past year, according to the WSTA, with sales of around 400 million bottles. One in five of these bottles, therefore, was gin.

Sales in the on-trade grow 56% compared to last year, with the equivalent of 6 million more bottles sold in the 12 months to March 2019 than the same period in 2018. In the off-trade, sales amounted to almost £1 billion, rising 43% compared to last year.

Of the total £730m worth of gin exported, around £350 million worth is sent to the EU. Chief executive of the WSTA, Miles Beale, noted that with 46% of UK gin sent to the EU, it is “imperative that the Government works with the European Union to secure trade that is as seamless in the future as it is now”.

Beale, added: “It’s been another phenomenal 12 months for gin and, despite recent reports suggesting the gin bubble may have burst, our numbers suggest the exact opposite – not only is gin’s popularity here to stay, it’s now worth over £3 billion annually.

“Gin’s continued domestic popularity, and the growth in the spirits category overall, has no doubt been helped by the decision to freeze duty on spirits in the last Budget. We need further supportive action from the Government as we approach Budget time once more.”

Waitrose launches Seedlip’s aperitif sister brand, Aecorn

7th August, 2019

Waitrose has launched Æcorn Aperitifs, the first non-alcoholic aperitif brand, which was established as a sister brand to Seedlip.

The drinks, which were inspired by 17th century herbal remedies, are made from English grow Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay grapes and comprise three skus –  dry, bitter, and aromatic – which will retail for £19.99 in the upmarket retailer. 

The retailer said sales of  no and low alcohol drinks had been rising for the past five years with last year seeing a 180% year-on-year increase, and searches via its website increase by 2,140% it said. There was also growing consumer interest in aperitifs it noted, with searches up 82%. 

“We know our customers are becoming more interested in no and low alcohol drinks, and the innovative flavours and techniques used in Æcorn will be able to offer them a premium non-alcoholic drinking experience,” Pierpaolo Petrassi MW, head of drinks buying at Waitrose & Partners said. 

Claire Warner, managing director of Æcorn Aperitifs added that the company was “thrilled” to be following in Seedlip’s footsteps and break new ground in the category they had created.

“Since Seedlip’s launch, the world of non-alcoholic has shown itself to be dynamic and exciting, and we hope that the introduction of Æcorn Aperitifs to Waitrose & Partners will now give everyone who is not drinking, a seat at the table,” she said.

Speaking to The Drinks Business last December, Warner said the drinks had been designed to be drunk with food.

The Dry aperitif combines clary sage & chamomile, with black tea, quassia & oak, the Bitter has citrus notes of grapefuit and orange with bay, quassia, honeycomb & oak, while the fuller-bodied Aromatic aperific combines smoked cherrywood, vanilla, kola nut & mediterranean citrus fruit, chinotto, with clove, cassia & oak.

Warner, who joined Seedlip in January 2018 before the new brand was launched in May, was previously the head of spirit creation at LVMH Moët Hennessy.

Seedlip launched its first botanical drink in 2015, and a year later was snapped up by the Diageo-funded spirits innovation group, Distill Ventures, who bought a minority stake in the business.

Today it was announced that Diageo has acquired a “significant” majority stake in the non-alcoholic ‘spirit’ brand and its sister brand Æcorn Aperitifs.

US ‘most attractive wine market’, report finds, as China falls out of top five

7th August, 2019

The US regained its title as the most attractive wine market in the world, despite the threat of escalating trade tariffs between the US and some of its key markets – but China fell out of the top five.

According to the latest Global Compass report published by Wine Intelligence, the global wine market grew 1.2% in the last 12 months, to USD 204 billion, despite volumes falling 1.7% (IWSR) as the value per bottle of wine rose.

Although the US’ sustained volume growth of the past decade has largely subsided, the US’s success came on the back of the willingness of American consumers to trade up and pay more for the wines they buy, even though categories such as craft beer and spirits are competing more strongly for a share of individual’s alcoholic beverage consumption.

However, Luis Osorio, senior project manager and editor of Compass, said the key uncertainty was how the global trade picture was likely to change in the next 12 months, with tariffs featuring prominently in this.

“An escalation of the Trump tariff war and the threat of a disorderly Brexit are known factors, but unquantifiable at the moment given the range of possible outcomes they represent,” he said.

However he added was good news that more people are paying more money for their wine around the world than ever before, even though large numbers of wine drinkers are moderating their consumption.

The five most attractive countries for wine comprised the USA, Canada, France, Germany and The Netherlands, which moved from 9th place in 2018 to fifth this year. However China moved from third place in 2018 to sixth due to its first sustained decline in imported wines in five years and slowing economic growth and Russia tumbled down the rankings on the back of major volume and value declines.

South Korea also made it into the top 10 for the first time and there was growth from India, who made it into the top forty for the first time. Eastern European countries such as Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovenia also saw growth on the back of a broadening market for imported wines and positive economic performance.

‘Sober curious’ movement gathering speed in US

7th August, 2019

The ‘sober curious’ movement is gathering speed in America, with two thirds of millennials seeking to lower their alcohol consumption, according to new Nieslen data.

Nielsen reports that 47% of US consumers over the age of 21 are making a concerted effort to reduce their alcohol intake – a figure that leaps to 66% when looking specifically at millennials, who are driving this change in drinking habits.

Soft serve Kombucha is gaining in popularity

This rise in mindful drinking is forcing restaurants and bars to get creative with their non-alcoholic drinks offerings to meet a rising demand for sophisticated soft drinks.

Kombucha, kefir, botanical tinctures, drinking vinegars and cold brew coffee are all growing in popularity, and offer bartenders a chance to get experimental with their virgin serves.

Nielsen reports that alcohol consumption in the US has been “relatively flat over the past year”, while sales of no and low-alcohol beers, wines and spirits are on the rise.

In the on-trade, no and low-alcohol beer is the fifth-fastest growing beer type in the US, and has a total value of US$77 million, according to Nielsen.

In US retail meanwhile, non-alcoholic drinks are worth US$7 billion more than they were four years ago, with sales growing by $1.1 billion in the last year alone.

Nielsen found that 54% of consumers abstained from alcohol at some point last year, with half of those surveyed citing health as the primary motivator.

The health and wellness trend is so powerful now that it is starting to influence consumer drinking trends on nights out.

Dry January is also becoming more popular in America, with 20% of those surveyed by Nielsen taking part in the initiative, which began in the UK in 2013.

Sober September is the latest alcohol detox to make a splash, encouraging consumers to give up booze for 30 days after the hedonistic summer months. Click here for our round-up of some of the best soft serves on the market in the UK.

US drinks companies risk being “collateral damage” in Boeing trade spat, USTR warned

7th August, 2019

The US wine and spirits industry risks becoming “collateral damage” in the US’s ongoing spat with the EU over civil aviation, representatives of the industry warned the US Department of Trade this week, arguing that retaliatory tariffs could result in up to 78,000 US jobs being lost.

Concept of American wine industry. Close-up studio shot in selective focus of one clean wine cork with small paper American flag planted in it, with crowd of multiple different cork bottle stoppers blurred in background, on white background with light and shadow effects. There is a basic illustration of vine grape plant, created and merged by the photographer in post processing.

In a joint statement signed by a collection of US alcohol trade bodies timed to coincide with the USDT hearing on Monday, the industry urged the department not to include distilled spirits, wine and non-alcoholic beer on the final list of EU products targeted for retaliatory tariffs in response to a long-standing dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding civil aircraft subsidies.

In April, the US government identified $21 billion-worth of EU good imports it said could be subject to tariffs in the culmination of the 14-year trade dispute between EU aerospace and defence group Airbus and US company Boeing, following the WTO ruling last year that EU subsidies Airbus were illegal.

In response, the EU is threatening to impose tariffs on imports of U.S. wine, vodka, and rum.

However, the organisations argued that a trade war would have unintended consequences and could cost up to 78,000 jobs across the US drinks industry.

“If beverage alcohol products remain on the final US list, the EU would certainly respond by keeping U.S. beverage alcohol products on its list, thus inflicting more damage on US companies that export to this critically important market and hampering the export progress that has benefited our sectors and created good paying jobs across the U.S,” the groups stated.

It pointed out that US alcohol exports from US had been “a great American export success story”, with the value of distilled spirits exports up 261% to $496 million and wine sales up 174% to $1.5 billion between 1998-2018.

“This extraordinary growth may be at risk due to the retaliatory tariffs imposed by key trading partners on American wine and spirits exports in response to unrelated trade disputes,” it warned, adding that since the EU had levied a 25% tariff on American Whiskey last summer, exports had declined 19% and many small distilleries had reported cancellations or reductions in their EU export orders while the 54% tariff imposed by China on US wine imports had seen trade fall by 57% since the beginning of the year.

Signatories included the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Kentucky Distiller’s Association, Wine Institute, American Craft Spirits Association, WineAmerica, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, the National Association of Beverage Importers (NABI), American Beverage Licensees, Wine and Spirits Shippers Association, and the American Distilled Spirits Association.

“We strongly urge the United States and the European Union (EU) to de-escalate the current trade disputes, secure the removal of the EU’s 25 percent retaliatory tariff on American Whiskey and reach a negotiated settlement in this dispute and avoid the implementation of new tariffs in connection with the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute against the EU and certain EU members state,” it said.

The president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Chris Swonger and president of the National Association of Beverage Importers  Robert Tobiassen testified at the hearing.

Tobiassen told the hearing that around 95% of its members were small or medium-sized family-owned and regionally-based US companies purchasing from small producers in Europe of second-tier brand names and as such, would not be able to absorb increased costs.

“They do not have markets on multiple continents where they can generate a profit centre to offset the losses that they will suffer here in the United States from lost sales due to the proposed retaliatory tariffs,” he wrote. “Lost sales means lost market share that they may never be able to recover.”

He argued that as a dispute over civil aircraft and aeronautic equipment, rather than alcohol beverages,  better tariff solution against Airbus were available.

In June, US and EU members of international grower organisation Wine Origins Alliance wrote to their respective trade representatives calling for the scrapping of proposed tariffs on EU wine, and urging the countries’ trade representative to work together to reduce and eliminate tariffs.

Last week President Trump reignited his earlier threats to impose tariffs on French wine in retaliation to France imposing a tax on global technology companies.

Vegan ‘egg whites’ produced from beer waste

7th August, 2019

We’ve had biofuel, paper, yeast and bones made from brewing waste, but now Dutch start-up FUMI is using beer byproducts to produce what it’s calling the world’s first vegan and non-GMO egg white replacer.

The start-up, which was founded in March this year, has made its protein alternative from spent yeast used during the brewing process.

Developed by FUMI’s founders Edgar Suarez Garcia and Corjan van den Berg, the animal-free foodstuff is the result of a four-year research project at the Wageningen University.

Said to be “tasteless”, the product can be used both as a foaming and binding agent, as well as an emulsifier. Its developers claim the product represents a 95% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions when compared to the equivalent volume of dried chicken egg white.

van den Berg told Food Navigator: “If you go for the dried egg whites that are used in industry, it’s a 10-fold increase per kilogram – 40kg CO₂/kg.

“If you compare this to our process, you can achieve over 95% reduction of CO₂ equivalent. It is an enormous step.”​

Commenting on how he would source the spent yeast going forward, van den Berg added: “Once we scale up further and have all the logistics in place – including good collaborations with brewers – it makes more sense to source directly from beer makers.​

“As it stands, spent yeast is most commonly mixed with spent grain for animal feed. It is a low value resource, and we plan to upgrade that.”​

FUMI is marketing its product to the meat-replacement market, as well as the baking sector.

As mentioned above, brewing yeast has been used to produce a range of different products. Earlier this year, beer giant AB InBev announced that it was converting wasted alcohol from its low and no-ABV beers into biofuel, combining two major trends in the drinks industry. The brewing powerhouse is also researching ways to develop a snack brand produced from recycled protein from the brewing process.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have devised a way of making paper from spent grain leftover from brewing, while scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a technique that turns 85% of the waste produced in the process of beer brewing into yeast nutrients for more brewing.

Back in 2014, Spanish scientists made an unusual discovery, having developed a new biomaterial from waste discarded after beer brewing which can be used to regenerate human bones.

Nyetimber teams up on new menu with Lympstone Manor and Michael Caines

7th August, 2019

Michelin starred Exmouth restaurant and country house Lympstone Manor has partnered with English fizz producer Nyetimber to serve “the most extensive” range of the brand’s wines.

Eric Heerema the winery’s owner and chief executive, said the wines “will beautifully compliment Michael’s precise and distinctive highest-quality modern European cuisine, as well as the elegant surroundings of this historic, yet contemporary property.”

Lympstone manor will throw a one-off dinner for restaurant and hotel guests to toast the new listing on 20 August.

Guests can purchase tickets for £255 for the evening, or stay at the manor for £785 (based on a double room), and get a chance to taste 5 different Nyetimber vintages, which will be matched with a menu designed by Caines.

Caines said it was “entirely befitting” for Lympstone to be partnering with a “great English sparkling wine producer.”

“I’m thrilled to be welcoming Nyetimber’s meticulously crafted collection to Lympstone as the perfect accompaniment to our menus and ethos.”

Lympstone Manor planted 17,500 vines of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay in 2018, and hopes to have its first harvest next year. A spokesperson said it will take a further two years for the wines to “develop and mature before release.”