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News posted on Thursday, 6 August 2015

Australia regaining its mojo in US
Australian wine has fallen out of fashion. In the late 1990s, Americans became obsessed with wines from the 'Land Down Under'. For most of this millennium's first decade, fruit bombs with quirky names and eye-catching labels flew off the shelves of United States retailers. But sales soon began free-falling. Between 2008 and 2013, the US market for Australian wine declined by more than 20 per cent. Finally, though, Australian vintners are beginning to recognise what went wrong.

Margaret River strong despite wine profitability losses
DESPITE a 50 per cent production profitability loss in the last year, the Margaret River region is maintaining its stance as a strong entity in the wine industry. According to figures released in this year’s Wine Federation of Australia Vintage Report, the Margaret River region has increased its unprofitable production to 50 per cent while maintaining its profitable production at 30 per cent. “Margaret River wineries are doing better than a lot of the country.”

Robert Oatley Vineyards rebrands
Robert Oatley Vineyards has rebranded its Australian wine distribution business as Oatley Fine Wine Merchants (OFWM), effective 3 August. The company is on track to cementing its place as a leading distributor of wines from across Australia and around the world. Its portfolio includes Ara Wines (Marlborough); Cumulus Wines (Orange); Clover Hill (Tasmania); Champagnes Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck (France); with the new additions of Joseph Drouhin (France) and wines from Chris Hancock’s newly created label, Hancock & Hancock.

McGuigan awarded top marks by Halliday
Australian wine critic, James Halliday, has given McGuigan’s “The Philosophy” the highest marks the company has ever received. The 2010 vintage of the Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz blend was given 97-points in the 2016 edition of Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion. Eight McGuigan wines were awarded 90-points or more in the guide including for its Riesling, Chardonnay, Bin 9000 Semillon, Handmade Shiraz and Shortlist GSM, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, while chief winemaker, Neil McGuigan, said the results were “fantastic”.

Nominations open for the ASVO Awards for Excellence
The 4th annual Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology’s (ASVO) Awards for Excellence have been officially launched, with the ASVO calling for nominations. Since their inception, the ASVO Awards for Excellence have attracted a high calibre of entrants and are now recognised within the industry as a demonstration of expertise for wine industry professionals to aspire to and achieve. The ASVO awards aim to promote excellence through recognition and reward of high achievers in innovative practice.

Why Kiwis are missing out by not ageing wine
Up from the cellar came a village Chambolle-Musigny 1978, a Cru Bourgeois 1981 from Bordeaux and, for a bit of fun at the end, a Mumm Brut NV Champagne that had been resting quietly since the early 1980s. None of them were expensive wines, but all were rendered more interesting by having been cellared for more than 30 years (the calm, golden, chamomile-infused non-vintage Mumm being a particular revelation).

Star auctioneer for a good cause
Organisers of New Zealand's oldest and most prestigious charity wine auction have secured the talents of Michael Boulgaris as their 2015 auctioneer. Boulgaris is a household name in luxury Auckland real estate, yet to the rest of New Zealand, he is the smooth-talking star from the TV series, Location, Location, Location. "I feel privileged and am very much looking forward to contributing my time and expertise towards the Hawke's Bay Wine Auction for Cranford Hospice," Boulgaris said.

Wine surpasses spirits in Korea's imported liquor market
Korea is importing more wine than liquor for the first time ever. The Korea International Trade Association says wine imports rose five per cent from the year before to 94 four million U.S. dollars in the first half of the year. Imports of the hard stuff like whiskey, vodka and gin, came in at 91.seven million dollars. Spirits once took up two-thirds of booze imports, but wine now has the highest share at nearly 25 per cent. Liquor fell to just over 24 per cent.

Machine learning used to predict fine wine price moves
Curiosity about the limits of machine learning led former trader, UCL academic and startup founder, Dr Tristan Fletcher, to apply complex AI techniques to the — on the surface — rather chaotic arena of fine wine pricing, comparing them with trading techniques used for more typical asset classes. “Prices of wines are all over the place. You can get one wine sold at an auction say in London, and the same wine might get sold a few days later in Hong Kong and the price differences would be humongous,” says Fletcher.

Canada’s opportunity to punch above its weight
The pursuit of free trade in Canada has often coincided with dire predictions of a demise of small-scale Canadian agricultural industries. In the lead up to the completion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, many pundits predicted the end of Canada’s protected wine industry if it were opened up to competition with larger, more well-established producers in California. More than 20 years after NAFTA came online, Canadian wineries are thriving and have made significant inroads into U.S. markets, and as a result are more competitive globally.

Georgia-Russian wine relations again at risk
Geopolitics rather than terroir may be affecting the quality of Georgian wine, at least as far as Russia, the world’s largest Georgian alcohol tippler, is concerned. After the Kremlin said it would retaliate against countries that support Western sanctions against Moscow, Russia tried Georgia’s wine and found it wanting. Rospotrebnadzor, the Russian federal food safety agency as formidable as its name, declared on August 4 that both Georgian winemakers and government services for food quality oversight consistently fail to assure the quality of alcoholic beverages exported to Russia.





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