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News posted on Thursday, 25 June 2015

2015 'it' year for Hawke's Bay wine
If there was ever a year to return to the judging panel of the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards, 2015 is it for one of New Zealand’s and Hawke’s Bay’s most respected wine industry leaders, Steve Smith, Master of Wine. "After a decade, it’s great to be back. I’m thrilled to be joining a judging team again for an exceptional year on the back of three outstanding Hawke’s Bay vintages," said Smith. Hawke’s Bay was in for some of the best wines the region has ever produced - which was the culmination of three big factors, he said.

Wine gang on trial in Bordeaux
Fifteen people went on trial on Monday for stealing almost 4,000 bottles of grands crus wines worth €1 million (A$1,450,000) from a string of top Bordeaux chateaux, in an elaborate scheme in which some were stolen to order. The alleged wine thieves were arrested last year in a vast sting operation involving 300 gendarmes in four regions of southwestern France and Paris, called Cassevin – or Winebreak.

A Chinese taste of Australian wines
New research from the UniSA Business School’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute could help transform the export market for Australian wine, enabling producers and distributors to describe their product more effectively using terms more easily understood by Chinese wine consumers. The Chinese Lexicon Project – a two year long research initiative funded by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) and led by Dr Armando Corsi, Dr Justin Cohen and Prof Larry Lockshin, has revealed what terms Chinese consumers use more often when describing a wine, and what Asian fruit and vegetable flavours are equivalent to the typical Western ones used for wines in China.

Wither Hills new white wine cellar development
Two major wineries are getting ready to ramp up production to meet growing demand with new infrastructure being built in time for next season. Wither Hills Winery is readying for a 50 per cent increase in production with the construction of a new 3000-square metre white wine cellar. The building will help add an extra 3000 tonnes of white wine production to the Lion Nathan-owned company's current annual production of 8000 tonnes. The increase follows the company's intention in 2010 when it obtained resource consent to target 15,000 tonnes per year.

Restaurant, pub and hotel wine sales continue to decline in UK
Wine sales have continued to fall in restaurants, pubs and hotels over the last three months with only sparkling and fortified wines bucking the trend. According to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association's (WSTA) Quarter 2 Market Report, wine sales (volume) declined two per cent while sparkling and fortified were up 35 adn 15 per cent respectively. Red wine led the category's overall decline with sales down five per cent while Rose also saw a drop. White wine was the only category to see little or no change in volume sales.

Qantas dismisses wine selection panel
Len Evans must be turning in his grave. Qantas has dismissed the wine selection panel he instituted and replaced it with a chef. Neil Perry, who seems intent on being the all-round wine guy as well as a restaurateur and chef, is the new wine consultant for Qantas, replacing the panel of three of Australia’s most highly regarded winemakers, Steve Pannell, Vanya Cullen and Tom Carson, who have done the job for more than 10 years. No doubt Perry will be relying on his teams of sommeliers in his various restaurants to do the hard yakka of tasting massive numbers of wines.

China vineyard Helan Mountain near Yinchuan sees bright future
IN the desert sands of central China, the first sprouts of a potential giant is emerging. The Chinese wine industry is slowly gaining a foothold in a domestic market that has, until now, been dominated by foreign wine. But with more affluent Chinese consumers turning to wine, the future looks rosé for both Chinese and Australian wine producers. Much of China’s local wine is emerging from Ningxia Province, which sits in the geographical centre of China.

UK market in growth as price increases slow
The latest figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, for the second quarter of 2015, show that “consumers are finally getting the break they deserve after years of inflation-busting tax rises”. The latest report from the WSTA highlights the role that a combination of factors have played in slowing price inflation, a positive result for consumers. Duty cuts and lower inflation are cited as the main reason for the positive findings in the report, which indicated that the benefits of the slowing price increases were being passed down to the customer by producers and retailers.

US wine imports fall
Wine import volumes, excluding other fermented categories like cider, declined by five per cent on a year-over-year basis to 255.6 million liters in the first quarter of 2015. A 25 per cent rise in imported sparkling wines, including champagne, was offset by a nine per cent decline in table wine volumes. Volumes for fortified wines, which include additional alcohol added during the fermentation process, were up 23 per cent.

Entries open for 2016 Sydney International Wine Competition
Will Aldi repeat their success at the 2016 Sydney International Wine Competition? That’s the question everyone is asking after it was announced that entries are now open for next year’s show. With no minimum production requirements, the event encourages boutique and experimental wineries to test their product beside some of the world’s biggest producers. The only international wine show to judge all wines in accompaniment with complimentary food, Warren Mason, Sydney International Wine Competition director, said the event reflects the industry’s move toward food friendly wines.

Brian Walsh appointed as AGWA chair
Brian Walsh has been officially appointed as chair of the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) after almost a year acting in the role. Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Agriculture, made the announcement on Tuesday following a recruitment process which saw a large number of applicants assessed by a selection panel. “Under Brian’s leadership, AGWA has been established quickly and effectively at a very important time for the industry,” Joyce said. “I am very pleased to announce his permanent appointment today for a two year term.”

Smidge Wines extends distribution reach with Global
Smidge Wines have announced a new distribution relationship with Global Food & Wine in Queensland. “Global have four warehouses, and an impressive customer service network providing Smidge with a competitive advantage for wine distribution in this region,” said Matt Wenk, Smidge Wines owner and winemaker. Smidge has benefitted from the extended reach of Global with enhanced distribution of its most popular wines, including its Houdini Sauvignon Blanc, Adamo and also through to Magic Dirt.

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