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News posted on Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Margan celebrates 20 years in the wine industry
TWENTY years ago Lisa and Andrew Margan bought an empty paddock in the Broke Fordwich region of the Hunter Valley. They built a home and planted some vines. Today, it is an award-winning labour of love. Lisa and Andrew are at the helm of the Margan brand and distribute wines nationally and to 15 export markets. All grapes are estate grown and the wines produced in accordance with innovative sustainability practices.

Harvest heavy with grief
Vintage 2016 was tough for Hunter vignerons, but at Bill and Wendy Lawson’s Catherine Vale vineyard at Bulga it was a time of heartbreak. As the harvest gathered pace on January 10, the esophageal cancer Bill was diagnosed with months before claimed his life at the age of 78. The Catherine Vale Semillon, Chardonnay and Verdelho had been picked, but the Areis, Barbera and Dolcetto crops were still to be harvested as Wendy had to cope with the loss of her husband of 40 years.

Hunter Semillon: In a league of its own
Is there an Australian wine that’s more unique – or undervalued – than Hunter Valley Semillon? James Halliday reveals why this changeable white should be a national treasure. It’s tempting to say the climate of the Hunter Valley is utterly unsuited to viticulture because it suffers days of searing heat alternating with torrential rain. Vintages such as 2012 and (potentially) 2016 support that view, but 2011, ’13 and ’14 were very good to great: 2014 is considered to be the best since 1965.

Pinot Gris is now the hot new white wine
Pinot Gris is the wine phenomenon of the moment. It's the fastest growing wine category at retail level. It's growing at 12.8 per cent a year, according to A.C. Nielsen market research. And yet it's generally unpopular with wine writers, sommeliers, retailers and other opinion leaders. It's mocked, much as Sauvignon Blanc was mocked before it.

McGuigan Wines launches new range in UK’s Waitrose
Australian winery McGuigan Wines has partnered with Waitrose on an exclusive range of wines under the Family Release brand. The Family Release range at launch features Chardonnay and Shiraz varietals has been specially developed for UK supermarket Waitrose by the winemaking team at McGuigan’s South Australian vineyards. Neil McGuigan, chief winemaker, said the move was a “fantastic achievement for the brand”.

Record exports for NZ lead to largest presence at Prowein
New Zealand’s wine industry had its largest ever presence at the Prowein International Wine & Spirits Trade Show, following a record $1.54 billion in exports in 2015, up 14% on 2014. The 2016 event, held from 13 to 15 March in Dusseldorf, Germany saw a record number of New Zealand producers in attendance.

Perfectly balanced Pinot Gris from Sacred Hill
Pinot Gris’ popularity with Kiwi wine drinkers is showing no signs of diminishing and Sacred Hill’s newly released, beautifully balanced Orange Label Pinot Gris 2015 shows why. Managing Director David Mason says Pinot Gris is naturally approachable and very palatable - a perfect example of Sacred Hill’s desire to make wines with sheer delicious drinkability. “The best New Zealand Pinot Gris are well balanced with subtle complexity as well as being easy to drink and match with food. That’s what makes them so popular,” he says.

Something strange and terrible is happening to France's wine grapes
We’d suggest you sit down and pour yourself a drink before you hear this news — but, honestly, that would probably only make it worse. Harvest dates for wine around the world have been progressively shifting earlier and earlier, as the warming climate gives us warmer and warmer cold seasons. In a new paper out today in Nature Climate Change, researchers at Columbia University and Harvard University looked at the historical data for early harvests over the last 400 years in France and Switzerland.

Post-mortem on a disastrous 2015 grape harvest
Paso Robles, Calif.—Grape growers attending the WiVi 2016 Central Coast conference and trade show last week were hoping for some good news after the worst harvest in memory in 2015. Yields in many Central Coast vineyards dropped 50% below average due to a combination of extreme weather and accumulated drought conditions. “About the only good thing I can say about 2015 is that it’s over.”

Naked Wines hits £100 million annual sales for first time
Naked Wines, the online crowd-funding platform, has broken through the £100 million annual sales barrier for the first time, ahead of the company’s financial year-end on March 28. The company now has over 300,000 ‘angel’ investors who support more than 100 independent winemakers in 14 countries. In return for their investment, Naked Wines customers get exclusive access to unique deals.

Why rivers make great wine regions
We get it — wine regions are special, and not just because the fruits of their labour have lent a happy buzz to imbibers for millennia. A wealth of intricate details combine to make these hallowed regions perfect for grape growing. Sunshine, soil, and water are the basic ingredients, but the rivers that criss-cross most famed areas also play a critical and oft-overlooked role.

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