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News posted on Thursday, 26 February 2015

Recovery in Australian wine exports
Australian wine exports to China are said to have almost recovered to levels recorded before Beijing’s austerity measures severely dented volumes, and logistics firm the U-Freight Group (UFL) believes it will be a major boost for the company’s specialist wine logistics services in the country. Data released earlier this year by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) indicates that total Australian wine exports in 2014 increased by 8 per cent to 40 million litres, with bottled exports almost recovering to levels recorded before the full effects of the austerity measures took hold in 2012. The booming trade is expected to grow even faster this year following November’s bilateral trade agreement between Australia and China. Once fully implemented, the agreement will remove China import tariffs on a range of Australian agricultural products, including wine.

DataRoom AM: Treasury Wine temptation
Treasury Wine Estates has been absent from this column since a $3.4 billion offer from KKR fell through in September, but the four months of relative quiet may soon be quickly forgotten as the oft-spruiked takeover target is spruiked once again. Elsewhere, Macquarie Group secures a local purchase and an offshore divestment, Rio Tinto again slams talk of a Glencore tie-up and there’s positive progress on float plans for MYOB and Murray Goulburn. Treasury Wine Estates has never been far away from the M&A rumour mill since its demerger from Foster’s in 2011 and while talk has gone cold since a $3.4bn bid from KKR was abandoned last year, speculation is starting to swirl of another attempt for control from the private equity firm despite a reported 12-month ‘no action’ agreement.

Record early vintage for Jim Barry
Winemaking is all about predicting the unpredictable, but for Clare’s Jim Barry Wines, fermenting Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon in February was outside the realm of possibility. Nancy Barry, Matriarch, said the early vintage has been an unreal experience. “I thought I'd seen it all after 65 vintages,” Nancy said. "But I was truly shocked when I visited the winery that Jim and I built in 1973, to find it was almost at capacity by the middle of February." According to Nancy's son Peter Barry, Jim Barry Wines managing director, the Clare Valley has experienced some unusual weather in the lead up to the 2015 vintage. "We had a very dry spring which was ideal for budburst and this led into our coolest January in 23 years, although rainfall remained very low" Peter said.

Campaign for Champagne Jayne launched
Supporters of “Champagne Jayne” have launched a fundraising campaign to help the wine communicator during her ongoing legal battle with the Champagne bureau. Launched this week via GoFundMe.com, funds raised from the campaign, titled “Jayne vs Goliath” will be put towards the wine writer and educator’s escalating legal fees. In its first day, the campaign raised AU$275 of a $40,000 target. “She is fighting to protect herself from bankruptcy and defend both her integrity and business from the bullying behaviour of the CIVC,” said Diane Lofts, secretary at Wine Guild Victoria. Born Rachel Jayne Powell, Champagne Jayne is unable to rally support herself due to a gagging order imposed by Melbourne Federal Court.

AGWA extends applications for Future Leaders
Future Leaders, a leadership development program for people in the grape and wine sector who are early to mid-career, has extended its application deadline to March 17, 2015. Funded by the sector and coordinated by The Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA), Future Leaders will be offered to 15 applicants with open, creative, inquisitive minds and already demonstrating leadership potential. Over the past ten years, the program has produced 75 alumni from the grape and wine community: winemakers; grapegrowers and viticulturists; business managers and marketers; suppliers and researchers. Tom Ward, Swinging Bridges’ winemaker who was part of the third Future Leaders intake in 2009, said the program for him was life changing.

Stoneleigh adds mid-tier Latitude wines
Stoneleigh has recently introduced a mid-tier Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir as exclusives to the independent retail and on-premise channels in Australia. Wines under the Latitude label are sourced from Marlborough vineyards within an area dubbed the ‘Golden Mile’, known for outstanding grape growing conditions resulting in aromatically-lifted wines. The current release includes the Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (pictured left), a portion of which was fermented in oak to add texture and weight. "This 2014 vintage has produced a great example of this textural and weighty wine, with a flinty minerality to top it all off," says Stoneleigh winemaker Jamie Marfell.

Wolf Blass rolls out World Cup wines
Wolf Blass has released two limited edition wines to celebrate its partnership with the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. Available through BWS stores nationally, Wolf Blass has rolled out the Captain’s Release Limited Edition Chardonnay and Shiraz to coincide with the ICC Cricket World Cup’s return to Australia after a 23 year absence. “Wolf Blass have a long association with cricket both in Australia and the UK and are proud to support this once in a generation opportunity to see the best players and best teams going head to head in our back yard,” said Treasury Wine Estates marketing director for Australia and New Zealand, Lisa Saunders.

Online and convenience shopping trends in global market
Online and convenience shopping will be the two key channels that wine companies and producers will have to target in the future in the major global wine markets, according to new research from ProWein and Wine Intelligence. The two organisations will present the results of a major study of the wine drinking trends across eight of the most important markets in the world at next month’s exhibition in Dusseldorf. The study assesses the markets it claims represents 50 per cent or 12 billion litres, of all wine consumed in the world and covers the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Japan and Australia.

Market insight: Vietnam’s wine industry
HANOI – As Vietnam’s consumer market continues to grow, more and more global products are pouring into the country. Among those products that have seen considerable growth in sales over the recent years, has been wine. Starting from a very low level, the Vietnamese wine market has exploded, with hotels, restaurants, and retailers now offering a wide variety of wines from around the world. Currently, the local wine market features wines from such areas as France, Italy, Chile, USA, and Australia. The best-selling wines are reds with 65 per cent of the market, followed by whites with 25 per cent, and sparkling wines with 10 per cent.

California wines fuel $1.49 billion in U.S. wine exports in 2014
SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. wine exports, 90 per cent from California, reached $1.49 billion in winery revenues in 2014, the second highest dollar value for U.S. wine exports and a 64 per cent increase from five years ago. Challenged by a strong dollar and the West Coast port slowdown that began last July, U.S. wine exports were slightly down compared to the previous year while volume was up to 442.7 million litres or 49.2 million cases. "With three back-to-back California vintages (2012, 2013 and 2014) heralded for their high quality and size, we have the ability to meet consumer demand for our wines both in the U.S. and abroad," said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch.

‘We don’t want your plonk!’ German wine consumers turn to higher quality wine
German consumers are prepared to pay more for a better quality still wine, says Mintel, as drinkers become sceptical of mass-production and demand authenticity and quality. Consequently, winemakers in the country should focus on improving quality, and promoting their regional origin, the market intelligence agency suggests. They should also gain an industry understanding of what younger consumers look for in wine, with this category boosting interest in higher quality wines. 61 per cent of German wine buyers would be prepared to pay more for a better quality wine; 31 per cent would spend more if they understood the product better; and 21 per cent would pay more for a good quality private wine label.

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