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News posted on Friday, 27 February 2015

Treasury Wine says private label growth poses challenge as profit slumps
Mike Clarke, Treasury Wine Estates chief executive, has warned that sales of private label wines in Australia's big liquor retailers are growing at a faster rate than those of broader wine producers and this is a real challenge, as he reported a first half profit of $42.6 million for the six months ended December 31, 2014. This was 60 per cent lower than the net profit after tax of $106.2 million a year ago. Treasury has declared an unfranked dividend of 6.0 cents, the same as the previous corresponding period. Net sales revenue was up 6.2 per cent to $882.7 million. Treasury sells more than 80 different wine brands including Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Rosemount, Seppelt, Lindemans and Saltram, and Clarke said the shift of the Penfolds release date to October was paying dividends.

Industry full bottle on intense early vintage
Winemakers in South Australia’s cool-climate regions say this year’s vintage is one of the shortest grape harvests on record, after a dry spring and ideal growing conditions last month helped grapes ripen at the same time. Chester Osborne, a fourth-generation winemaker and viticulturist at McLaren Vale’s d’Arenberg Wines, said harvesting time was cut by two-thirds, a scenario experienced by other growers in the region, which is known for its Shiraz and Grenache varieties. “It’s by far the shortest on record. It started early because we had one of the warmest springs on record, with flowering starting one month early,’’ Osborne said.

NZ and Australia tie in the Trans-Tasman wine battle
New Zealand Winegrowers injected some old fashioned rivalry in 'The Great Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge' on Thursday evening in Auckland ahead of the New Zealand and Australia Cricket World Cup game at the weekend. The two nations channelled their trans-Tasman rivalry as they met head-to-head in a blind wine tasting. After some rigorous judging lead by Bob Campbell MW and Nick Stock, the ‘dream team’ of top 12 wines turned out to be a perfect split from Australia and New Zealand with each nation claiming six places each. Australian wine, Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat NV, was crowned “player of the match”.

Fracking banned for five years by Tasmanian Government
The Tasmanian Government will ban the controversial mining practice known as fracking for another five years. Fracking involves injecting liquid at high pressure into underground rocks to extract oil or gas, and the practice has sparked controversy in New South Wales and Queensland. Tasmanian Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff, who declared a one-year fracking moratorium in March 2014, considered 155 submissions on the subject. Rockliff said there was uncertainty around fracking, and his decision would "protect Tasmania's reputation for producing fresh, premium and safe produce".

Robert Hill-Smith reveals his wine tips
Robert Hill-Smith, Yalumba managing director and incoming chairman of Australia’s First Families of Wine speaks to Sydney Taste about why 2015 is an exciting time for wine. "Never be intimidated by fashion. Drink what you like but always upgrade. Too many wine sippers lack the confidence in their own tastes. However, my rule is to make the next bottle a better version of whatever I am drinking. Sometimes that’s a serious problem!" Hill-Smith said. "Right now we are selling a lot of Yalumba “The Scribbler” Cabernet Shiraz 2012. It’s a blinder from the greatest vintage for reds in a long time and a traditional Yalumba blend of Barossa-grown Cabernet and Shiraz and a recent gold medal winner in a highly reputable wine show."

New low-cal wine comes with nutritional panel
Sileni Estates is offering wine lovers the chance to lighten up their glass of wine with the launch of a new range of lower-calorie wines. Each bottle will include a full nutritional panel, a move which is rare in the wine industry. “Our Wisp range of wines was created to deliver fewer calories in the glass, without compromising on flavour. Every bottle includes a food-style nutritional panel, outlining total kilojoules and total sugar, providing transparency for consumers,” says Graeme Avery, Sileni Estates chief executive. Avery says his background in healthcare publishing was motivation to produce a wine for health-conscious wine drinkers. The use of a nutritional panel provides full disclosure, ensuring people know exactly what they’re drinking.

Delegat posts 45% drop in first half profit despite rising sales
Delegat Group, New Zealand's largest listed wine company, has posted a 45 per cent drop in first-half profit, mainly caused by a $10.7 million writedown of its vines and grapes and losses on derivative instruments used to limit its foreign currency exposure. Net profit was $9.77 million for the six months ending Dec. 31, which included fair value adjustments of $3.1 million for its vines, $7.5 million for its grapes, and $4.3 million for derivative instruments, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. that compared to a profit of $17.8 million a year earlier. Delegat confirmed record operating profit of $20.5 million, up 2 per cent from $20.2 million in the previous corresponding period, following a 4 per cent rise in global case sales to 1.13 million.

TescoGate: Dan Jago to return to retailer following investigation
Dan Jago, who was suspended from his role as Tesco’s director of wine, spirits and beer at the height of the fallout from the £263 million (A$519m) shortfall in the retailer’s profits, is being reinstated and will return to the retailer in a new role on March 9. Jago was one of eight senior figures suspended by Tesco as it carried out a review under the management of its new chief executive, Dave Lewis. The profits blackhole is now the subject of both a police inquiry by the Serious Fraud Squad and it is being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The Grocery Code Adjudicator is also looking into the trading behaviour at Tesco with its suppliers.

Harvest 2015: South Africa winemakers excited by quality
Hopes are rising that South Africa’s 2015 harvest could be one of the best in recent memory, with many winemakers reporting ideal conditions. Vineyard owners and grape pickers in several areas have faced an intense month, after harvest arrived early at a number of estates. 'It's been bruising,' said Thorne & Daughters, a Western Cape winery set up in 2012. But, early signs suggest the pain may yield a strong vintage. A blog by trade body Wines of South Africa said the early growing season, low rainfall in many areas and strong variation between day and night temperatures have helped growers to achieve well balanced ripeness.

New world wine regions growing Italian grapes
One of the ironies of the wine world is that so-called “international” varieties are actually French in origin. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah: They have spread around the globe like a pandemic, spawning successful bottlings in locales as distinct as Argentina, Australia, California and South Africa. For historical reasons, Italian varieties lagged behind. Early propagators of Vitis vinifera were much more familiar with France—and to a lesser degree, Spain and Portugal—as a source of wines to emulate and vines to transport to newly discovered lands. James Busby, a prominent source of vines in Australia and New Zealand, brought cuttings from France, while the conquistadors brought Spanish varieties to South and Central America—and later to California.

Size Matters?
Depending on who you ask, it’s either “good things come in small packages” or “go big or go home.” For fans of large-format wine bottles, it’s definitely the latter. There’s just something about a ginormous bottle of wine that piques even the most casual wine consumer’s interest. And for die-hard wine aficionados, it’s an eye-catching, conversation-starting, envy-provoking addition to their cellars. While a traditional wine bottle contains 750 millilitres, large-format bottles range from the slightly oversized 1.5-liter magnums (the equivalent of two standard bottles) to monstrous 15-liter bottles known as Nebuchadnezzars — and beyond.

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