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News posted on Friday, 19 February 2016

Treasury's Bob Spooner heads off for another Great Western adventure
It seems like such a long time ago now, but it has been barely 12 months since Treasury Wine boss Michael Clarke called in his old UK chum from Premier Foods, Bob Spooner. His job was to rip tens of millions of dollars in costs out of its supply chain – just like he did with Premier's bread business while Clarke was in charge. Optimising the supply chain at the wine business is just like slicing bread really, as Spooner showed in October when he announced the closure and sale of the 150-year-old Great Western Winery in Victoria.

Barossa 2016 vintage progress report
In the BGWA’s previous Barossa vintage progress report on 8 January 2016, my closing comment was “a small rainfall event soon would be a very good thing”. Thirteen days later, the rains began to fall – setting the Barossa up for a perfect finish to the season. In early January, the growing season had been summarised as “low winter and spring rainfall, followed by a very warm and dry December which has reduced bunch weights”.

RIVERLAND: Senate recommendations not good enough
On first read of last week’s Senate Inquiry Report into the Australian Wine Industry, it was a challenge to find the good news! For many, the report was a Claytons, the report you have when you’re not having a report! It contained 12 recommendations, including Recommendation four, that Australia Post should review its approach to wine delivery in each Australian State and Territory!

PHILIP WHITE: Wine provenance watchdog
Philip White discusses a new cryptographic digital business model which could revolutionise the way wine is sold, mainly by eliminating bullshit. I have seen the future of the fine-wine industry, and its name is blockchain. This is tricky to explain, so forgive me while I try. As the value of expensive exported wine continues to increase, many opportunities arise for those who would tinker with that main key of added value: the wine’s provenance.

Pernod Ricard targets British millennials with 'unfussy' Jacob's Creek wines
The French drinks giant behind Jacob’s Creek is trying to entice young Britons put-off by the “fussy” wine industry with a new range that will sell for just £6 (A$12) a bottle. Pernod Ricard is hoping to attract millennials to its Australian wine brand by launching five new wines targeted specifically at 18 to 34-year-old drinkers in the UK. The “Sun Craft” range of Jacob's Creek wines will hit shelves in supermarkets and off-licences in March or April and will carry “easy to remember” branding.

Aged wines offer much to the discerning
Over nearly three decades of enjoying wine I have built up a wine cellar. Like so many other wine lovers, I thoroughly enjoy opening a mature wine that I have cellared since release and savouring the complexities of age. To do this in New Zealand necessitates starting your own cellar or befriending someone with one, as while I have had successes securing older bottles in Europe, it is very rare to find "museum'' or back vintage wines here.

John Saker: It's a matter of style
Style can refer to where a wine sits on the dryness-sweetness scale; to wine characteristics that are winemaker induced; to others that literally come with the territory (ie, from the region, or even the vineyard). It can also mean grape variety. Chardonnay is a wine style, Pinot Noir another. Style was a talking point recently at the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration (always a highlight on the New Zealand wine calendar).

$8 wine might be a tough sell this year: California forecast
California's wine industry is experiencing challenging times, with growers in the Central Valley coping with the lack of water, excess supply on the low-end segment and more competition from overseas producers. The state's total harvest was down 7 percent last year from the prior year, and some premium vintners from Napa Valley report going into 2016 with supply constraints and feeling the impact of a strong U.S. dollar and weakness in China.

Vancouver has matured nicely as a wine market
It’s wine festival week across the city of Vancouver. It is the 38th time a large portion of the world’s wine industry has assembled in a city that has with very few exceptions outperformed most of the North America when it comes to be being an informed, progressive, marketplace to drink wine. Even while grossly overregulated B.C. remains a market willing to take chances and stretch boundaries almost daily to expand our wine knowledge and experience.

NV or not NV? Champagne reserves strengthen non-vintage consistency
One of the world’s greatest wines is anathema to things many enophiles stand for: It doesn’t express the terroir of a vineyard, it’s not the expression of a vintage, and it’s not made from organic or biodynamic grapes. The wine is Champagne. Grower Champagnes are increasingly popular in the U.S., but for most of us, most of the time, the Champagne at hand is a multi-vintage, multi-appellation product made in an attempt to produce a certain style every year.

On wine: Behind the US wine label
Trumping whatever aesthetic value a wine label may have, its main function is to impart legal information to the consumer. As such, the bottler, winery or winemaker, as well as the legal authority in the country where the wine is sold, have an interest in shaping that information. For their part, the people who put the wine in the bottle want the consumer to buy it.

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