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News posted on Thursday, 5 March 2015

Pernod Ricard committed to Jacob's Creek despite sales slump
Pernod Ricard has affirmed its commitment to the Jacob’s Creek brand but said it will persist with a premiumisation strategy despite volume sales falling 15 per cent (Nielsen, six months to January 2015). The French drinks giant has made its Spanish wine Campo Viejo a “star brand” with a broad marketing push, and that has led to a 45 per cent rise in sales, while New Zealand brand Brancott Estate is up 23 per cent. That leaves Jacob’s Creek as the black sheep in its wine portfolio.

The world's most-overlooked fine-wine regions?
MARGARET RIVER, Australia—I'm sure that you, every bit as well as I, can compile a list of "most-overlooked regions that create truly fine wines” (and do feel free, if you'd like to take a stab at it). This designation is a surprisingly competitive category, with contestants such as Canada's Ontario and Okanagan Valley zones, South Africa's Stellenbosch district, New Zealand's Hawkes Bay district, various parts of southern Italy and the like. The term "overlooked" deserves definition. In this context, I am suggesting that "overlooked" means not so much that no one has paid any attention at all.

A great year for winemakers
WINE Tasmania expects a bumper grape harvest this year as wine producers struggle to keep up with international demand. A smaller than expected harvest last year has meant that winemakers, especially of sparkling varieties, have been struggling to meet the demand this year. However, Wine Tasmania chief executive Sheralee Davies said high international demand for Tasmanian wines would lead to growth in the industry.

Natural wines: no lab-bred yeast, pig’s pancreas or cryo-extraction
Modern winemaking has become a highly industrialised process – but a growing band of producers are going back to basics. The resulting wine is shocking: vibrant, earthy and alive. ‘You have,” says Isabelle Legeron, “to forget all you know about wine.” She pours two glasses of 2011 malvasia secca, produced by the Italian natural winemaker Camillo Donati. “Look at this one: it is all we are told a wine shouldn’t be – orangey, cloudy, fizzy, tannic. But …” (she sips) “delicious.” She is not wrong.

Stomping success gets juice flowing
ONE tonne of Merlot grapes weren't going to crush themselves. Lucky a couple of hundred eager helpers were on hand to help out at Flame Hill Vineyard, Montville, on Saturday. The sixth annual grape stomp had been postponed the previous weekend due to the flow-on effects of ex-Tropical Cyclone Marcia, which left the cellar door with a few leaks and the vineyard with overflowing rain gauges. The event had sold out of its 500 pre-sale tickets and while owner Tony Thompson said it was unfortunate that number didn't manage to make the rescheduled event.

Province mulls turning cheap wine into biofuel
SOUTH AFRICA: The Western Cape government is investigating alternative uses for cheap, low-quality wine, such as converting it into biofuel for tractors and generators as part of efforts to curb alcohol abuse. But such a move could face resistance from producers. The provincial government says it is looking to encourage wine farmers to investigate alternative uses for low-quality wine, rather than packaging and distributing such wine to be easily accessed.

Spain's wine exports soar 22% — but profits fall
Spain's wine industry had a record year in 2014, posting numbers that could propel it past Italy as the world's biggest wine exporter. Annual results have not yet been reported in Italy, which was the top exporter last year. The growth is due to a bumper crop at Spain's vineyards in 2013 that allowed it to surpass France in the export rankings. But a Spanish industry group says that despite 22 per cent annual growth in exports compared with 2013, Spain's overall wine profits fell two per cent in the same span.

Private wine chains face major shakeup
Queen's Park is looking at reorganizing how the Wine Rack and the Wine Shop operate, sources say. It's not just the Beer Store. The Wine Shop and the Wine Rack are also pillars of Ontario's stagnant alcohol retailing landscape — and now face a possible shakeup. Thanks to years of industry consolidation, these now-dominant wine chains continue to disadvantage smaller local competitors and diminish LCBO profits that would otherwise flow to the provincial treasury. Like the Beer Store's quasi-monopoly, they are a historical anomaly.

The weird world of wine law
Beverage lawyer Lindsey Zahn looks at the reasoning – or lack of it – behind some of wine's odder laws. Laws restricting or regulating wine exist all over the globe and for various – and obvious – reasons. But others exist for purposes that seem to make little or no sense whatsoever. Here's a list of weird and quirky wine laws that, to paraphrase Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist, shows the law can be an ass when it comes to wine, too.

Business insights flow like fine wine
A Who's Who of business gathered at Craggy Range's third annual Speaker Series lunch on Friday. Last year 180 attended the Giants Winery event in Havelock North and this year word of mouth meant a bigger marquee was needed for 250 dining among vines and listening to speakers between courses. Icebreaker founder Jeremy Moon shared insights and dilemmas of his global Merino apparel business journey and veteran company director Michael Stiassny gave advice on governorship.

Seresin finds the life in the land
Marlborough wine company Seresin Estate has hit a milestone - 20 years of organics. Wine reporter Chloe Winter catches up with manager Colin Ross to see how far they have come. From cow dung to egg shells, vegetable gardens to olive trees, it's fair to say Seresin Estate likes to do things a little differently. While pigs dig up the ground in the vine rows, horses and cows graze the land and just metres away garlic is being hung from olive trees and lettuce is harvested from an estate vege patch.

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