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News posted on Tuesday, 6 December 2016

China still a ‘big question mark’
Despite Asia now accounting for 30% of its exports, Gaja, one of Italy’s most well-known wineries, still finds the Chinese market something of a puzzle, admitted Gaia Gaja. Speaking to dbHK during her Hong Kong trip to launch the new 2013 vintage, the capable heiress confessed that even after 15 years in China, the winery still faces hurdles to expand its share in the market, hampered by the country’s market segmentation, a result of different drinking cultures and distribution networks in different provinces. “China is a big question mark for us. It’s developing its own dynamics. There are many things I did in the US and they worked great, so I can replicate them in Denmark. And I may have a strategy for London as well, but nothing makes sense in China."

$100,000 cellar door grants through WET rebate
Winery owners will be able to spend up to $100,000 on sprucing up their cellar doors under a Federal Government grants program to boost the wine and tourism sectors. The grants will be available to eligible wineries as part of an overhaul of the Wine Equalisation Tax Rebate scheme, intended to put an end to rorting by “phantom winemakers”. Revenue Minister Kelly O’Dwyer and Assistant Agriculture Minister Anne Ruston have announced the Government’s final plan for the WET overhaul after they completed a lengthy consultation process with the wine industry. The main change to the WET rebate will be a cap reduction from $500,000 to $350,000 from July 2018.

A new kind of bottle shop
The selection of wines on tap at The Drink Hive in Rosebery changes monthly, and customers are encouraged to bring along old bottles to refill. This month’s selection includes a Pinot Rosè, a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes from the Swinging Bridge winery in the Central Ranges, NSW. Re-using bottles reduces the impact on the environment (Bertaud and Farrell are against plastic bags and wear aprons made from recycled material), but also allows Bertaud to stock varieties that may not be available or affordable when packaged as single bottles.

Plucking the foreign goose
The morning news on the ABC network featured blondes, and more blondes, riding a derelict van along a non-descript street in sunny Australia. It did not matter who they were, or even where they were. They were simply “backpackers”, the sort of culturally designated code for all that is money, and all that is budget. Accustomed to the politics of plunder, the Australian budget minders have been wondering how best to cut hands that feed them over the years. Of late, the only story that this Parliament seems to be interested in is the issue of the backpacker tax. Obsessively, deals have been made, trading taking place behind party rooms and the not so very closed doors about what rate would be most suitable.

Martinborough vineyards contaminated by spray-drift
Up to eight vineyards in Martinborough have reported damage to vines, and some could experience significant crop losses. Samples have been collected by the Greater Wellington Regional Council to try to discover exactly what has caused the damage, but some wineries suspect the cause is most likely to be agricultural spray-drift. The regional council confirmed it was investigating an incident reported on November 21 relating to a helicopter in the area several weeks before. The council said samples from foliage had been taken to its lab for analysis, and work was being done to identify the source of any possible spray-

Weeds big topic at organic field day
Increased herbicide resistance in ryegrasses and weeds will be a real threat to farming and viticulture in the future, says scientist Dr Charles Merfield, of the BHU (Biological Husbandry Unit Organics Trust) Future Farming Centre at Lincoln University. He was speaking at a Southern Organic Group field day on Bruce and Merril Catto's Waipahi property in front of 115 people on November 23. Organiser Allan Richardson said the theme of the event was ''Growing great crops and pastures with less chemical inputs''. ''The 115 people there were from across the spectrum, from conventional to organic and people who want to be organic,'' Mr Richardson said.

Blossom Hill: Emphasis on fizz for wine re-brand
Treasury Wine Estates is re-naming its Blossom Hill Fruit Bloom range in order to stress bubbles over fruit. Investment has been funnelled into the sparkling range which will be known as Blossom Hill Spritz. The ingredients won’t change, but the name and packaging have undergone a refresh in order to better match the name and the product, “namely a slightly bubbly, refreshing, lighter proposition, compared to others in the market”.

Pernod Ricard lauded for corporate responsibility
Drinks company Pernod Ricard has secured the top spot in Vigeo Eiris’ international corporate responsibility index for September 2016. It was awarded for its environmental protection policies and its mitigation of products' 'societal impacts', the company announced last week. It currently possesses an ‘A-’ grade from the UK’s Carbon Disclosure Project for its actions to better manage climate change, which include its pledge to reduce CO2 emissions per unit produced on production sites by 25% between 2010 and 2016 and 30% by 2020.

‘Gigglewater’ Prosecco in a can launched
A new Prosecco brand called ‘Gigglewater’ is due to launch in the UK in January with a range that includes a Frizzante Secco housed in a 20cl can. Gigglewater is a “new lifestyle-led sparkling wine brand” aimed at millennials and female consumers that takes its name from a slang term for alcoholic drinks from Prohibition era America. The brand hopes to capitalise on booming sales of Prosecco, as reported in db last week. “With growth of sparking wine continuing we are really excited to be launching a brand into this dynamic category,” said Catherine Monahan, Gigglewater’s founder and CEO.

Wine Spectator reveals its top 10 wines of 2016
Wine Spectator has revealed its top 10 most exciting wines of 2016, as part of its overall top 100 wines of the year. The top spot in this year's list goes to Lewis 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that is described as "remarkably elegant and refined". Speaking about the top wine, Wine Spectator's Senior Editor, James Laube, said: "What the Lewis Cabernet typifies is modern winemaking. The grapes are very, very ripe, expressive, opulent; there's an underlying seem of elegance and finesse and grace and harmony. You notice the acidity is lively, you notice the tannins are there but they're soft and agreeable".

Australians embrace the festive spirit(s)
The festive season is a busy time for liquor retailers as consumers stock up on beverages to help them celebrate. But while beer and sparkling wine remain the popular choices, research from Roy Morgan reveals many Australians will celebrate with rum, whisky, bourbon, vodka, gin or tequila, with more than a quarter of Australian adults consuming spirits at least once in an average four weeks. Australians’ overall alcohol consumption has been relatively stable in the past few years. 69.6% of the adult population consumes alcohol in any given four-week period. Wine remains the most popular beverage, consumed by 44.5% (or almost 8.3 million people) in an average four weeks, followed by beer (38.5% or over 7.1 million). Spirits are the third most popular type of liquor, drunk by 26.2% of the adult population (nearly 5 million people).

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