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News posted on Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Record half-year global profits but Brexit costs
Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) is on its way to exceeding its 2016 full-year profit, having reached 75% of last year’s full-year profit after tax while only half way through the year. In its interim results released this morning, TWE’s chief executive officer Michael Clarke said it was a strong result, with double-digit earnings growth in all geographical markets. For the six months to December 31, the company posted $136.2 million (AUD) net profit after tax for the first half of the financial year, the equivalent of 75% of last year’s full-year profit after tax of $179.4 million.

Searching for the new Australia
I am halfway into my back-to-the-future tour of Australian wine amidst a constant blast of hits from the 1980s—a decade that still seems to hold Australia in its thrall. Much of the attention for the New Australia focuses on formerly unknown regions like the Adelaide Hills, where you find all the elements of today’s contemporary wine world: nuanced flavors, naturalist winemaking, previously unheralded grapes. But I had thought it important during my recent travels to immerse myself in some of the country’s more established corners for wine.

Top end wines defy extreme weather
The top end wines from the 2017 vintage in the Hunter Valley in NSW and the Barossa Valley in South Australia are set to be good quality even though companies have had to contend with extreme weather conditions. Bruce Tyrrell, managing director of Tyrrell's Wines in the Hunter Valley, said he expected the 2017 breed of wines from the NSW region to be in the top tier of vintages when drinkers look back through history and compare them with previous years. "I think it will be in the top 20 per cent of vintages," he said. "We're pretty happy with where we are."

Jack Rabbit Vineyard local bounty
Jack Rabbit Vineyard is set to showcase the Bellarine’s rich and diverse bounty of fresh, local produce by hosting a very special event, The 10K Gourmet, a five course degustation complete with matched wines on Friday, April 7. The event forms part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Regional program for 2017. Every morsel of food - and every drop of wine - will be grown or crafted within 10km of Jack Rabbit Vineyard, located on the picturesque Bellarine.

Sam Neil: Living on the edge is terrifying
Majestic and picturesque with glacial-blue lakes and snow-capped mountains, it is one of the most visually alluring but viticulturally challenging regions in the world. Its semi-continental climate, with short, hot summers, make grape growing a perilous but rewarding endeavour, with winemakers frequently battling unpredictable snowfall, frost and sweeping temperatures. So extreme is its climate that a government report in the 60s concluded that it wouldn’t ever be possible to grow grapes on New Zealand’s south Island, let alone in Central Otago.

Marlborough mayor welcomes sister city students
The first students to visit Marlborough from the region's sister city in China have been personally welcomed by the mayor. John Leggett wore his chain of office as he welcomed eight students from high schools in the north-central province of Ningxia?. Each student was gifted a piece of Pounamu, or greenstone, to take home with them. Welcoming the group to council chambers, Leggett said he hoped to visit the province later this year.

Wine exports set record
US exports of wine — the bulk of it from California — set a record in 2016 despite having to fight a strong dollar, subsidies and barriers in other countries and a tight water and labor supply at home, according to the Wine Institute. The $1.62 billion in foreign trade revenue for 2016 bested the previous year’s record of $1.49 billion by a slim margin through steadily strong sales in the top market, the European Union, and sharp growth increases in China and Britain.

What’s in a name?
The old art of winemaking is drawing celebrities who want to add some prestige to their self-branding. Even Queen Elizabeth is getting involved, producing a new bubbly from southern England. One of the original and best-known celebrity winemakers is Francis Ford Coppola, idolised by many as the director of the Godfather film series. In 1975, he set up one of the now iconic estates in California, Rubicon, famed for their Cabernet Sauvignon production. Coppola’s bottles are highly sought after in wine shops and restaurant wine lists alike, retailing on the Irish stage at around €150.

Chinese wine pioneer, Gérard Colin, dies
Gérard Colin studied oenology at the University of Bordeaux and worked for both Château Teyssier in St-Émilion and Château Clarke in Listrac, before becoming a consultant and winemaker. During his first visit to China in the early 1990s he met CK Chan, the owner of Grace Vineyards, in the Shanxi province. Colin went on to be appointed as the consultant of Grace Vineyards in 2001 where he shared his wine knowledge and experience from time in Bordeaux.

Boycotting Trump wine
A number of big-name brands, from Uber to Under Armour, Nordstrom to Neiman Marcus, have been the subject of politically charged boycotts in recent weeks. Now another company is finding itself in the crosshairs of consumers hoping to avoid Trump products as they take issue with the president's policies and divisive rhetoric: Wegmans. The regional supermarket chain with a cult following is facing calls to remove Trump Winery products from its 10 Virginia stores. Over the weekend, about 300 members of the Prince William County chapter of the National Organization for Women made plans to pressure Wegmans to stop carrying products from the Albemarle County winery.

Dry weather, great vintage
SOUTH Burnett wineries are in the middle of vintage and the dry weather has guaranteed a fantastic season for grape-growers. Owner and winemaker at Moffatdale Ridge Winery, Jason Kinsella, said it had been a fantastic season for grapes even though other crops had done poorly with the hot, dry weather. "With the lack of rain, we've been able to keep our fruit hanging there until it's perfect to pick,” Mr Kinsella said.

What makes celebrities jump into winemaking?
Floating a winery takes a lot of money, so it’s no wonder that celebrities and other famous people are writing some of those checks. The two more intriguing questions are, why are they writing them to wineries, and why are they, for the most part, the most visible of famous people — the actors, musicians and athletes of the world?

Hunter harvest wraps up
As the 2017 Hunter wine harvest this week moves towards a successful end, vignerons have had to contend with an uncommon threat – marauding birds. Drought, torrential rain, hail and mould are the usual things that blight Hunter vintages, but this year flocks of Indian mynas, crows and nectar-loving rainbow lorikeets have forced vineyards to protect their grapes with netting and to deploy bird-scaring gas guns.

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WID 2017