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News posted on Wednesday, 7 January 2015

More consumers buying online
Around one in five regular wine drinkers in Australia have bought wine online recently, making online sales more popular than direct purchases from the cellar door for the first time, according to a new report by Wine Intelligence. The Internet and Social Media Report examined 1006 regular wine drinkers to observe how Australians were finding and buying wine online. Natasha Rastegar, country manager for Wine Intelligence Australia, said the growing use of the online world for wine in Australia was primarily based on a consumer need for pricing transparency.

New owner for James Estate Wines
Hunter Valley vineyard and winemaking operation James Estate Wines has been sold, 16 months after it was placed into receivership. The business is one of a number of companies, linked to print and wine entrepreneur David Anthony James, which collapsed in 2013 with reported debts in the tens of millions of dollars. James was investigated by NSW tax authorities in 2011 over the alleged underpayment of at least $3 million in payroll tax.

Crittenden Wine Centre hopes to be new model for wine tourism
Thirsting for knowledge as well as wine this summer? The Crittenden family, pioneer winemakers on the Mornington Peninsula, have turned their former home at the Crittenden Estate vineyard into a tasting and wine appreciation venue. Winemaker Rollo Crittenden says the centre aims to be a new model for wine tourism in Australia, where visitors are offered seats and asked which varieties they would like to try before being guided through their choices with written notes or electronic tablets.

Is winemaking an art or science?
In vino veritas – in wine there is truth – says the Latin proverb, but the truth behind how grapes ferment into a unique vintage is a mystery long cloaked by the term terroir. Andrew Masterson finds that science is finally peeling back the curtain. Coldstream in mid-winter is living up to its name. The township lies deep within the Yarra Valley, a region on Melbourne’s northeast fringes celebrated for its cool-climate wines. The hillsides are lined with vines – brown, gnarled and leafless but shimmering, this morning, in a thick cloak of frost.

Asian buyers push up vineyard prices
Wealthy Asians are broadening their search for wine estates, driving major price hikes in regions such as Sonoma, Hawke’s Bay and Barossa Valley. According to Knight Frank’s Global Vineyard Index 2014, the price of a “lifestyle” vineyard – that is, between two and 15 hectares in size – rose by an average of 4.5 per cent in the year to June 2014. As an investment, such a return beat the three per cent return offered by wine during the same period, based on the Knight Frank Fine Wine Icons Index, as well as watches; however it fell some way short of the booming classic car market, which offered a 25 per cent average price increase last year.

Simpson takes top spot at Pol Roger
James Simpson MW has become managing director of Pol Roger Ltd, the Champagne house’s UK office and agency business. Simpson, who started the new post at Pol Roger Ltd this week, was formerly sales and marketing director, and has worked for the company since 1993. Well known to those in the UK wine trade, Simpson is an active member of the Wine Trade Sports Club, the Institute of Masters of Wine, the Varsity tasting competitions, The Worshipful Company of Vintners, as well as The Royal Warrant Holders Association.

China entrepreneur buys Bordeaux's Chateau Renon
Chateau Renon has become the second Bordeaux wine property within two weeks to be sold to a Chinese investor, and its new owner plans to both produce wine and use it as an entertainment venue. It is the second deal negotiated over the Christmas and New Year period by Christie's-affiliated estate agency Maxwell-Storrie-Baynes, after it sold Chateau Birot to China's New Century Tourism Group. A fee for Renot, located in Tabanac in the Cadillac Cotes du Bordeaux area, was not disclosed. Local government data showed that average vineyard prices in the area were between 7,000 and 30,000 euros in 2013.

Goa to host four-day wine festival
More than 20 Indian wineries, apart from other renowned spirit brands, are expected to participate in the Grape Escapade, a popular wine festival hosted by the Goa government’s tourism department, scheduled to be held later this month, an official statement said Monday. The event, which is being touted as a “popular gourmet festival” will also be hosting over a dozen restaurants and catering outfits over the four day period from Jan 23-26. “Last year, we had 40,000 participants and visitors during the four-day Grape Escapade and it was an enthralling experience for one and all. We are sure that this year too it will be a success,” said Dilip Parulekar, tourism minister.

A late harvest for ice winegrapes
The cold weather may be harsh on humans, but it's perfect to harvest grapes that make ice wine. Ken Albert, owner of Shelburne Vineyard, says the ice wine harvest can only take place when the temperature is no warmer than 15 degrees for a span of a few days. Generally the harvest takes place in December but this year they were harvested on January 6th, the latest it has ever been for the vineyard. Albert says this will make no difference for the final product, which will be bottled by the end of spring.

Ngatarawa winery: Raising a glass to a wine dynasty
One hundred years - that's quite a family winemaking heritage, and a century of winemaking skills and the desire to produce excellent vintages is what Ngatarawa Wines has behind it. The Corban family is as synonymous with winemaking as it gets in this country. Alwyn and Brian Corban, who are cousins, own and manage the Bridge Pa winery which lies within the "triangle" of that region which is on the western side of the Heretaunga Plains.

Treasury Wine's glass is half full
One of the more interested observers as the Australian dollar continues to slide would be Treasury Wine Estates’ Michael Clarke, given that the big change in currency relativities adds an increasingly positive dimension to his strategy for revitalising the perennially disappointing group. While he has been cautious about the extent to which he has provided guidance for this year, preferring to deliver rather than promise, there is little doubt that Clarke, having seen off approaches from two private equity groups last year, is aware that Treasury needs to demonstrate a structural improvement in its performance.

Chantal takes helm at Chateau
The Old Mission Peninsula's Chateau Chantal has named a new chief executive officer – Marie-Chantal Dalese, daughter of founders Bob and Nadine Begin and former marketing director. She follows Jim Krupka, who served as CEO for the last 10 years and has retired. Dalese returned to the family winery in 2009 with her husband, Paul, who serves as vineyard manager.

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