Yquem releases its 2018 and Ygrec 2019

21st September, 2020

The third Monday of September is now firmly etched into the calendar of La Place de Bordeaux and the global fine wine market; for it sees the annual release of the last-but-one vintage of Château d’Yquem and the current vintage of dry wine ‘Ygrec’. 

Yquem 2018 and Ygrec 2019 will be released to the fine wine world today, 21 September 2020.   

Almost a month ago to the day, with the first grapes for Ygrec 2020 having just been harvested, I was lucky enough to be able to spend the morning with the inimitable Sandrine Garbay, Yquem’s maître de chais (pictured), during a short pause between picking the Sauvignon Blanc and the Semillon for Ygrec 2020. 

Alongside the freshly pressed juice from the Sauvignon Blanc, we tasted both wines alongside a few other recent vintages to help provide a little comparative context.   

Ygrec 2019 (75% Sauvignon blanc; 25% Semillon; alcohol 14.1%; pH 3.15; residual sugar 5g/L; picked relatively early, if not in comparison with the 2020, from 26 August until 5 September). Tasted with Sandrine Garbay at the château a week before bottling. Lighter in hue than the 2018 and in personality too, with a striking aerial freshness, levity and verticality. Pure, lifted, lithe and feather light. This has, from the start, a wonderfully floral lift and zest. Seashells – hinting at the way in which salinity is an essential part of the structure of this wine. Sappy, juicy and with great definition and precision. The finish is very chiseled and focused. If there has been a subtle evolution of the style in recent vintages it is to accentuate the sense of freshness. There is in fact just a little more residual sugar than in the 2018, Sandrine Garbay tells me (though it still rounds out to the same 5g/L); but you are less aware of it. 

Supremely tense and well-balanced. The minerality is so attractive – crushed or powdered stones, mica and that, oh so crucial, salinity again – grains of fleur de sel that seem to draw the wine out over the palate one by one. The freshness and sappiness seem almost to ripple in vying for your attention one after the other. Pink grapefruit, pear or papaya even, mimosa and elderflower. This is superb and deceptively powerful. As good an Ygrec as I can recall. Exquisite balance, tension and freshness with a glorious citrus/saline spine. 

Yquem 2018 (85% Semillon; 15% Sauvignon Blanc; alcohol 13.5%; pH 3.95; residual sugar 145 g/L – almost identical to the 2015; largely picked between the 22 and 30 October – making this the latest harvest in the last quarter of a century; around 4,500 cases – the average is more like 7,500).  Tasted with Sandrine Garbay at the chateau a week before bottling. Even if 2018 is unlikely to go down in the annals of vinous history as a ‘great’ Sauternes vintage, as is so often the case in vintages like this Yquem has produced an unquestionably great wine. For me, by quite some distance, the wine of the vintage. 

Botrytis came very late, only really in mid-October after the catalyst of the long-awaited rainfall on the 5th and 13th. There is a good side to that, the botrytis formed on grapes that were already completely and fully ripe. But there is a downside too – in that levels of acidity had dropped in the grapes before they were picked (though the effect was mitigated in part by moderate September temperatures). At Yquem the upside trumps by some way the downside, not least as this is a wine that does not lack for balancing acidity. 

Tutankhamen gold in the glass; viscous and enticing. Super fresh and lifted on the nose. A little like the 2017 (tasted alongside), the freshness here is delivered almost vertically. Almonds and exotic spices – mace, nutmeg, turmeric and even a hint of star anise. Toasted brioche and pain perdu.  Shockingly soft – paradoxically so for a wine that is so rich and intense. On the palate this is almost chewy. Yet at the same time it has this incredible levity and brightness as it tempts and teases the sense and dances on the tongue.  So subtle and refined and yet with considerable depth and underlying power. Structured like no other wine in the vintage. Very marked by its botrytis which weaves imperceptible sinews through the wine and holds and binds everything tightly together. This is seamless, supremely integrated and harmonious even at this very early stage – unlike the 2016 which, at the same stage, was much more of a cornucopia of senses and sensations. Apricots and mirabelles, saffron, mimosa and buttercups – shades of yellow and orange, reflecting the sunniness and warmth of the late summer. Extraordinarily textured and with a lovely spiciness. Rich, quite exquisite and very special.

Beyond Bordeaux & Burgundy, what else should you invest right now?

19th September, 2020

db Asia spoke with Kevin Cheng, senior managing director of Kaigai Fine Wine Asia, for his insights on fine wine investment and regions to watch on your radar.

2020 is a year marked by turbulent events. However, this seems not to be affecting the global wine auction market as most sales have shifted online and achieved outstanding results. As reported by various auction houses, the acceleration of online biddings is not only a positive sign but has helped successfully capture a younger, broader and more dynamic audience this year. For consumers, the digitalisation of auction houses is opening up a much more accessible and viable channel for fine wine purchase.

A lot of fine wine connoisseurs would prefer to go after staple regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy. “Bordeaux has been the strongest wine region in the overall market share of wines up until around 10 years ago, taking around 95% of total market activity on Liv-Ex at the time. This was largely the result of significant buying of Bordeaux wines until the middle of 2011 which saw Bordeaux prices increase by over 200% between 2006 and 2011 to peak around June of 2011,” explained Kevin Cheng, senior managing director of Kaigai Fine Wine Asia.

He continued, “buyers had often looked towards the en primeur campaigns in Bordeaux to determine the direction of prices and unfortunately the prices for the primeur campaigns around then were just too high for a lot of them to stomach. This was coupled with a period where consumers were interested in diversifying their wine portfolios, both for consumption and also for cellaring. Even as Burgundy prices continue to rise every year, there seems to be more of an interest to collect Burgundies now given the generally much lower production numbers for the fine wines in Burgundy compared to Bordeaux and the perceived rarity of a lot of Burgundy wines now.”

Although the enthusiasm of Bordeaux is still storng, Cheng recommended buyers to go beyond the region and keep an eye on other rising stars in the auction market, “some wines coming out of South America, particularly from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have seen a lot of attention recently, getting outstanding scores from prominent reviewers. Some wineries from Australia, New Zealand and the US (especially from Oregon and the Finger Lakes regions) have been gaining cult-like status and prices for these wines have been on the rise for the past several years.

“Within Europe, there has been renewed interest in places like Priorat in Spain, Sicily and Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy, as well as Jura, the Loire Valley and the Southwest of France. Many of these regions have a lot of potential, but as collector items, it is going to take a bit of time – so if there are particular regions buyers are interested in, it won’t hurt to buy some and lay them down in the cellar for a while.”

Speaking of starting a wine collection for first timers, Cheng suggested thinking about whether collectors are looking to collect the wines purely for investment or personal enjoyment. If seeking wine as an asset class, buyers should focus more on wines that have an established or growing brand, new wines that are high in demand already and which have consistency in quality for each vintage and potential for improvement with ageing.

On the other hand, most individuals like to buy wines that they want to drink. Being able to purchase a case of six or 12 bottles gives buyers the opportunity to try the same wine over the course of many years. At the same time, prices for these wines has a chance of increasing in value – possible to an ideal situation that half a case could be sold back into the marketplace some years down the road at a large enough profit that results in the owner of that case being able to drink the first half of the case for essentially no cost.

When it comes to purchasing wine from auction houses, it is imperative to buy wines with the best provenance possible and to ensure the legitimacy of the wines. Cheng added it is important to understand how the wines have been stored by the consignor and to get as much information as possible on the conditions of storage prior to ending up in a consignor’s cellar. There are a lot of bottles of wine that are being put up at some auctions that have no discernible track record or have some questionable issues pertaining to the condition of the bottles themselves. “There have been quite a few cases in the past in which the auction house doesn’t necessarily complete the proper due diligence required to minimise potential problems with the bottles,” he warned.

Most of the time connoisseurs spent much attention on major spring or fall sales from large auction houses; however, they may have overlooked other quality auctions held all over the world. In these events, bidders can as well treasure hunt for rarities, unicorns and unique bottles.

Next month from 5 Oct (9am JST) to 12 Oct (6pm JST) sees the 29th Kaigai Fine Wine Online Auction – leading the sale are two bottles of Domaine Romanee Conti of 1923 and 1969 vintage. The event also includes a mini-vertical of G. Roumier Bonnes Mares (1986, 1989, 2010 and 2012), an extensive range of mature François Raveneau Chablis, mini-verticals of René Engel Grands Crus (Grand Echezeaux, Clos Vougeot and Echezeaux) and mature bottles such as 1977 Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos-de-Beze, 1966 Leroy Musigny, 1982 Mouton-Rothschild, 1978 Guigal and 1978 Chave, 1976 Roumier Morey-St.-Denis Clos de la Bussiere. Interested bidders can register and manage the bids on Kaigai’s auction platform.

New ‘plant-based’ wine range targets Millennial vegans

18th September, 2020

Australian winery Fourth Wave has launched a range of ‘plant-based’ wines called Hello! targeted at Millennial vegans and vegetarians.

Keen to tap into the growing wellness trend and the inceasing number of people adopting a plant-based diet, Fourth Wave developed a range of VF (‘very friendly’) wines to appeal to health-conscious consumers.

Free of animal-based fining agents like casein and isinglass, the range includes a Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Shiraz and rosé, and boasts on-trend pastel-coloured labels designed by Denomination. All four wines have an RRP of AU$13.99.

“It’s important our sector responds to the plant-based movement in a modern, cool way, just as other sectors have. Hello! is a consumer friendly wine that happens to be vegan. We want everyone to feel the love,” said Nicholas Crampton, co-owner of Fourth Wave.

“Hello! wanted to embrace all wine lovers without alienating vegans and vegetarians, so the messaging on the front and back labels is friendly and clear,” said Rowena Curlewis, CEO of drinks branding specialist Denomination.

“We had to remember that it’s not obvious to people without a knowledge of wine production processes that a lot of wine is not vegan-friendly,” she added. The range is being launched in Australia and New Zealand, with a view to expanding the brand into Europe and the UK next year.

Jameson whiskey teams up with Irish brewery on new expression

18th September, 2020

Jameson owner Irish Distillers has teamed up with Eight Degrees Brewing on a new edition of its Jameson Crested expression.

The collaborative spirit called Jameson Crested Finished in Black Ball Metric Stout Barrels will launch this month.

Jameson and Eight Degrees Brewing, which are both based in Ireland’s county Cork, have previously worked together on a beer. To celebrate its eighth anniversary last year, Eight Degrees released the Black Ball Metric Stout, which it finished in Jameson whiskey barrels.

Jameson has now done something similar with its whiskey, finishing its spirit in the stout barrels.

Blender at Irish Distillers, Dave McCabe, said: “We were delighted when the opportunity arose to create a truly special whiskey. When we were selecting a whiskey to mature in these barrels, Jameson Crested became the obvious choice. It’s higher pot still component and Sherry cask inclusion allowed the whiskey to meet the impact of the stout head on, creating a balanced reaction.

The spirit was put into the stout casks last November and spent four months in barrel.

McCabe added: “The stout influence is prevalent in the taste, complementing the whiskey beautifully. It’s a truly unique liquid, perfect when enjoyed neat, paired with a craft stout, or as part of a spiced cocktail.”

A total of 10,000 bottles of the limited-edition expression have been produced, and it will be available to buy direct through Jameson’s online shop for €45 a bottle. The bottling will also be sold at Dublin Airport’s terminal two from mid-October.

Derek Neville, head cellarman at Eight Degrees Brewing, commented: “It was an honour to be given the opportunity to create our special 8th anniversary stout using barrels from Jameson, the world’s most popular Irish whiskey. Today we are delighted to have made our mark on Jameson Crested, an icon of Irish whiskey, through the release of this special edition.”

According to the producer, the whiskey has notes of malt, vanilla, chocolate, dried fruit and coffee beans with a creamy mouthfeel.

Jameson rebranded its Crested whiskey back in 2016. 

Amuse-bouches: The latest restaurant news bites

18th September, 2020

In restaurant news this week: hospitality companies issue an eviction ultimatum to the government, new data reveals one in four licensed venues are yet to open, and Gordon Ramsay announces plans for a cookery school in Surrey.

Restaurants face ‘critical risk’ of eviction, open letter claims: 90 hospitality businesses have signed an open letter to the UK Prime Minister asking for further support and a targeted extension of the eviction ban. Signed by the bosses of businesses including Deliveroo, Itsu and Burger King, the letter warned that: “failure to extend and/or modify [the eviction moratorium] could severely hamper the restaurant sector’s recovery and lead to many permanent restaurant closures”. It added: “There is a critical risk that many restaurants will face eviction proceedings from 1 October.”

One in four licensed premises yet to reopen: Just over three-quarters (76.3%) of all licensed venues in Britain had reopened by the end of August, data from CGA and AlixPartners has shown. More then 15,500 sites reopened in August, a 14% rise compared to the previous month. The change was most marked in the food-led sector, with pubs and bars reopening at a slower rate. However, in central London, only 71.2% of licensed premises had reopened by the end of last month.

Gordon Ramsay to open cooking school: The Sun reports that chef Gordon Ramsay is set to open a cookery school in Woking, Surrey. The Gordon Ramsay Academy was initially scheduled for completion this year, but its opening has now been delayed to early 2021. The academy will offer cookery tuition to people of all ages, and will also help those who want to get into the hospitality industry. A spokesperson added: “Students will be offered the chance to complete their studies with a guaranteed job at the group. It’ll also help chefs, already in the industry, to improve their knowledge and skill set with advance courses.”

English hospitality outlets required by law to record contact details: Hospitality businesses are now required to collect customer contact details, and store them for 21 days, by law. Fixed penalties will be issued to venues that do not comply. While sites were previously advised to collect customer information, it was not required by law. The new regulations come into force today (18 September). Details should include the name, contact number, date of visit, arrival time and departure time if possible.

Matt Abé named co-chef patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay: In other Gordon Ramsay-related news, chef Matt Abé has been appointed co-chef patron of the restaurant group’s flagship site on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea. Australia-born Abé has spent over a decade working for the Gordon Ramsay restaurant group.

Curfews in the north east affect almost 2,400 restaurants and pubs: Around 2,350 pubs and restaurants are to be affected by new curfew measures in the north east of England, according to data from real estate adviser Altus Group. A 10pm curfew on pubs, restaurants and bars will come into force today in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.

Openings:

Klosterhaus: Restaurant operator D&D has announced the name of its new Bristol site. Klosterhaus, which will open on 2 October, will be an all-day dining venue inspired by the mittel-European cafés. Housed in the 18th century grade 1 listed Quakers Friars building, the restaurant will be spread across two floors.

Hankies: Indian restaurant chain Hankies has relocated its third site to London’s Paddington after closing its Haymarket branch earlier this year as a result of Covid-19.

Bosporus: Turkish restaurant Bosporus is set to open in London’s Leicester Square on 24 September. The chain started out in Dubai and now has six sites across the country, as well as venues located in Abu Dhabi and Egypt.

Shaman: All-day dining venue Shaman has opened in Bermondsey’s Bermonds Locke development. Located within the co-working area of the site, it draws menu inspiration from southern French cuisine using locally-sourced ingredients from the UK.

Closures:

Manchester tapas restaurant co-owned by footballer’s family closes: Manchester Evening News reports that Tapeo and Wine, a restaurant co-owned by the father of Manchester United footballer Juan Mata, is to close. The restaurant shared news of its closure on social media after five years in business.

Temakinho: The Caterer reports that Brazilian-Japanese fusion chain Temakinho has closed its first UK restaurant located in London’s Soho. The Milan-based restaurant group opened its first London site in 2016. The chain also operates another eatery in the capital in the One Tower Bridge development.

CNDP gains ground in secondary market

18th September, 2020

The Rhône is rising in the secondary market and southern appellation Châteauneuf du Pape was leading the way in August.

As explained in Liv-ex’s September Market Report, the five top movers in the secondary market from the valley last month were from Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

The region overall is having a good year. Liv-ex notes that its share of trade by value is up 25% year-to-date from its 2019 average.

Four of the five Châteauneufs that topped the charts in August are under £500 a case and yet carry critic scores of 90 or higher.

With some top northern valley appellations such as Hermitage and Condrieu already sitting quite pretty in terms of pricing, collectors have clearly sensed some value in the large but still prestigious southern cru.

As Liv-ex noted: “The region is coming into the spotlight in 2020 for its value and continued quality.”

Last month, two of the top-performing wines of 2020 so far were revealed as being from Châteauneuf; namely Beaucastel’s 2016 and Vieux Télégraphe’s 2015 ‘La Crau’.

That’s over the course of the year, however. In terms of August alone the top performer was Clos des Papes’ 2012 which saw its case price rise 9.4% to a lofty £488.

Its more recent 2016 vintage was also on the list and the most expensive after a 6.3% shuffle up to £840 per dozen.

Vieux Télégraphe’s aforementioned 2015 continued climbing, up 7.3% in August, while the 2013 vintage rose 5.9%.

Beaucastel’s 2017 vintage was also on the move meanwhile, up 3.2%.

 

READ MORE: Fine wine market broadens to new heights

Brun: Bitterness is the new trend in Champagne

18th September, 2020

With rising temperatures leading to lower acidity levels in Champagne, Cyril Brun of Charles Heidsieck, believes bitterness will be used to achieve balance.

Cyril Brun believes bitterness may hold the key to balance in Champagne

Speaking at the UK launch of Charles Hedisieck’s prestige cuvée, Blanc des Millenaires 2006, this week, Brun said: “I’m very interested in bitterness in Champagne and I think it could be the answer with regards to global warming.

“Good bitterness management can complement lower acidity levels – if you play with bitterness it can give a second life to the Champagne and can keep the freshness longer in medium acidity wines.

“I am reintroducing an element of bitterness to the Champagnes I make as an answer to decreasing acidity levels.

“I think in the future we will be talking about bitterness more and more in Champagne and sugar will become a secondary indicator, because sugar is always there.

“In Champagne we used to lose sleep over not having enough sugar in our wines and now it’s the opposite, we’re losing sleep over having too much sugar.”

Brun believes bitterness will play an increasingly important role in the second pressing stage of Champagne production.

“I started to realise the role of bitterness when tasting berries and eating the seeds. When you do this you can really feel what the role of bitterness can be.

“We have been rediscovering the role of phenolics in Champagne since the heatwave in 2003, and we’re really paying attention to it now. Before no one was paying attention to phenolics as they were almost un-measurable,” Brun said.

As for the 2020 harvest, Brun said it was record-breaking in terms of how early it was. “In 2006 we started picking on 15 September, and this year we had already finished the alcoholic fermentation by then as we started the harvest on 13 August.

“Global warming has had a big impact on picking dates. The big challenge of 2020 was that the ripening of the grapes was not homogenous.

“I’m optimistic about the wines, especially Pinot and Meunier, which are displaying rich and opulent fruit. I tasted the wines from 27 tanks this morning and it’s looking very promising, but it’s too early to know if 2020 will be a vintage year or not,” Brun said.

In terms of yields, Brun said “nature and business were aligned” in 2020, with the house bringing in 9,000 kilos of grapes per hectare due to the smaller than average berry size brought about by an excess of heat and lack of water.

“This year was a true paradox – we’d picked all the Meunier before we started on the Chardonnay, usually it’s the other way around,” Brun said.

Black Eyed Peas create AR music campaign with Barefoot wine

18th September, 2020

US wine giant E&J Gallo has signed the Black Eyed Peas for an augmented reality marketing stunt to promote its Barefoot wine brand.

The wine label has created an app that allows drinkers to see a virtual mini-performance courtesy of the band.

Consumers start by downloading an app directly or scanning the QR code on a Barefoot wine product. Then, consumers scan the iconic ‘foot’ on the Barefoot label to hear a new version of Black Eyed Peas’ single “VIDA LOCA” and see a 3D animated performance from the group. With each additional Barefoot product in the frame, more sections to the display will be added until the full song is playable.

The app works with interactivity, so the more Barefoot products in the frame, the more music users will hear.

Every label scan generates a US$1 donation to hospitality charity  CORE: Children of Restaurant Employees, and for the American Cancer Society.

Consumers can also enter for a chance to meet Black Eyed Peas by participating.

The week in pictures

18th September, 2020

This week in star-studded events, Saturday saw Italian sparkling wine brand Ferrari toast the other Scuderia Ferrari’s 1000th Grand Prix.

The Gran Gala took place in Florence at the Palazzo Vecchio. Matteo Lunelli, fizz Ferrari’s managing director, was seen getting matey in facemasks with Fiat Chrysler chair John Elkann.

 

US wine giant E&J Gallo has signed the Black Eyed Peas for an augmented reality marketing stunt to promote its Barefoot wine brand. Consumers start by downloading an app directly or scanning the QR code on a Barefoot wine product. Then, consumers scan the iconic ‘foot’ on the Barefoot label to hear a new version of Black Eyed Peas’ single “VIDA LOCA” and see a 3D animated performance from the group.

The app works with interactivity, so the more Barefoot products in the frame, the more music you will hear.

 

Two time Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown shared an Instagram post with a personalised bottle of Sterling Vineyards wine following an Emmy-themed wine tasting with Sterling winemaker Lauren Kopit on Monday.

They sipped on Sterling Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to celebrate Sterling’s double nomination for performances in This Is Us and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

This year, Sterling Vineyards gifted over 3,000 bottles of Napa Cab to all nominees to celebrate their achievements while watching the live broadcast this weekend.

 

One for the rock fans.

The Sexton whiskey has partnered with Handel & Hendrix in London to create a commemorative cocktail to mark the 50th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s death. The Purple Haze is a mix of The Sexton single malt Irish whiskey, Cointreau, lemon juice, simple syrup, grenadine, and something called butterfly pea flower tea, which gives the serve its purple hue. It’s finished with an egg white, naturally, although we reckon you could make it vegan with aquafaba.

The whiskey label has also teamed up with Regent Sounds on Denmark Street, giving away free bottles of The Sexton to anyone who buys a Fender Stratocaster on the day.

 

In summer sports, spirit label Sipsmith has become the official gin of Wimbledon.

While there obviously were no tennis matches this year, Sipsmith is already preparing for next year. The brand is giving people the chance to win two tickets to the 2021 Championships, alongside a year’s supply of Sipsmith gin.

 

In other booze and sport news, AB InBev-owned beer brand Budweiser has partnered with Domino’s to launch competition celebrating the return of the Premier League.

Pub-goers will be asked to, first and very importantly, buy a pint, bottle or can of Budweiser or Budweiser Zero, and then upload a photo of their beer to www.budweiserpl.com.

Entrants are then in with the chance of winning Domino’s vouchers, PerfectDraft machines which allow fans to pour the perfect pint from home, or signed football shirts from their team of choice.

The company claims this will help drive sales in pubs, as long as those are Budweiser sales.

Aperitivo brand Italicus has named the winners of its creative talent competition.

The digital art competition, launched in June this year, was created in partnership with Moniker Art Fair to mark the brand’s fourth birthday. This year’s brief was to create a unique digital artwork, which brings to life the “heritage, flavour and experience” of the liqueur.

Third place went to Virginia Vignali with ‘Italian Aperitivo for All’, an artwork that represents the ‘quintessentially Italian Dolce Vita’. In second place was Vix Black with The Aperitif, an artwork that represents a corner of paradise on a cliff, and in first place was Jean Philippe Vaquier with his piece ‘The Compenetration of Lights’, which he made on Adobe illustrator (below).

Rowan Miller, creative director of Stranger & Stranger and one of the panelists, said Vaquier’s piece has “a very clever deconstruction of the packaging, typography and colours of ITALICUS brand.

“Heroing the historic Italian features of the bottle structure and the distinct Italian typography – the creative ‘reconstruction’ of these elements truly express the versatility and creativity that ITALICUS offers to the modern Italian Aperitivo occasion.”

This week in Brewdog PR stunts, the Scottish brewer has released a barrel-aged beer with an ABV of 57.8% in partnership with German Brewer Schorschbräu.

Fans (or perhaps not) of Brewdog may recall 10 years ago the company tried to make the “world’s strongest beer” to rival Schorschbräu, who were also trying the same thing.

BrewDog claimed the first victory with ‘Tactical Nuclear Penguin’ a 33% ABV beer which beat the previous record of 31% held by Schorschbräu.

This led to the German team releasing a new version which came in 40%. BrewDog then made Sink the Bismarck, which stood at at 41% ABV.

Then Brewdog continued doing this and launched “The End of History”, the previous record holder at 55% ABV. Now this year, they worked together on Strength in Numbers, which is matured in whisky barrels for 10 years, and gets its high strength from the eisbock brewing method, where beer is frozen and chunks of ice are taken out, leaving the concentrated liquid behind.

Viña Maquis: Online sales surpass expectations

17th September, 2020

Ricardo Rivadeneira Hurtado, executive director and winemaker at Viña Maquis in Chile’s Colchagua, has said the company’s online sales through its new e-commerce site have surpassed all expectations.

Rivadeneira told the drinks business that the company had recently launched a new online store called Vinos de Origen, which sells wines from both Maquis and sister brand Calcu.

He said online sales have been better than anyone expected, particularly the volume of high-end wine sold. “We’ve been selling more than we ever dreamed of,” he said.

Maquis has recently reopened its cellar door shop after it was forced to close due to the pandemic.

“We were selling the most higher end wines there. But now we’re doing very well online, it’s amazing how much you can do,” Rivadeneira said.

Maquis currently sells 30% of its wines in the domestic market, with the remainder exported to top markets including the US, China, Brazil, Canada, the UK and continental Europe.

Rivadeneira said the winery, which is known for its Cabernet Franc, had been able to increase the volume of wine it sells through online retailers like wine.com and had also struck a deal with American wholesaler Costco.

“We’re down in the US, probably by around 10%, but not that much,” Rivadeneira said, adding that losses in the on-trade had been in part mitigated by growth in online sales.

Rivadeneira and chief winemaker Rodrigo Romero have each been doing two to three online tastings per week.

“It’s amazing the reach you have, you can be presenting to a group of 150 sommeliers,” Rivadeneira said. “It would be hard to achieve that if I was physically travelling to the UK or the US, it would be a huge event.”

In the vineyard, recent work has concentrated on creating diversity through cuttings of massal selection vines. Rivadeneira explained that the family had been able to recover old plant material after its vines were ripped up in the 1970s.

Together with consultant viticulturist Xavier Choné, Rivadeneira explains that the winery has been “doing our own selections of the massal selections”, including some vines that are earlier ripening and some that ripen later.

“It really helps with climate change,” he said. “It’s true that more often we have warmer vintages, but I really see it more as climate change in the sense that today you see more extremes. In 2011, for example, the harvest was cooler than most others in the last 50 years. Having selections that work well in different conditions is one of the main things that we’re trying to achieve here at Maquis.”