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News posted on Wednesday, 28 January 2015

'Australian wine category not broken' says Accolade boss
Paul Schaafsma, general manager of UK and Ireland for Accolade, declared, “Australia is not broken” after announcing flagship brand Hardys grew 12.4 per cent in volume over Christmas. Schaafsma said he has been embroiled in debates about whether Australia needs to reinvent itself to solve perceived problems, but he believes the sector is healthy. Hardys sold 1.5 million more bottles during Christmas 2014 than during the same period last year. “Australia is definitely not broken. We have had a fantastic six months in terms of trading results. People are asking what Australia is doing to reinvent itself, but it is already doing a lot of things very well,” Schaafsma said.

Riesling grapes at Port Lincoln lost to heat
A winery on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula has lost about 75 per cent of its award-winning Riesling crop due to hot weather. Tony Ford, from Boston Bay Wines in Port Lincoln, said one day which reached 46 degrees sucked all the moisture from the grapes. He said it was disappointing following a good 2014, when the winery won Australian and New Zealand Riesling of the Year. "We've got all these customers wanting to put it on wine lists and things and we were holding them off, and thank God we did, because we are going to be in very short supply of the Boston Bay fruit."

SA Coalition backbencher Tony Pasin gathering support for dumping NZ wine tax rebate
Political support for axing a tax rebate enjoyed by New Zealand winemakers is growing, with the Prime Minister agreeing it needs to be eliminated, according to a coalition backbencher. Tony Pasin, Member for Barker in eastern South Australia, says the rebate is more like a subsidy, and scrapping it would save the Government millions of dollars, as well as helping Australian winemakers. Under the current system, some New Zealand winemakers selling wine in Australia are eligible for a rebate on the Wine Equalization Tax, which Mr Pasin says is hurting the local industry.

How good are Aldi wines?
You might remember the stir that was created a few months ago when six cheap Aldi wines blitzed the Sydney International Wine Competition. “Australia’s biggest wine snobs have sniffed, sipped and spat their way through more than 2000 wines — only to judge six bottles from Aldi as among the best the country has to offer,” read the news reports. It was the best publicity the discount supermarket chain could have wished for, and demand immediately went through the roof. Christine Salins, writer for 'Food, Wine, Travel' set about the task of tasting all six wines to see for herself whether they are really that good.

Why I would personally invest in Tassie
Cathy Huyghe, Forbes food and drink contributor, shares her views on the Tasmanian wine industry and why it is in a world of its own. “Here’s the reality check: more than 84 per cent of Australia’s wine production is considered unprofitable, or profitable only when combined with other farming or tourism-related activities. Another nine per cent of the time, the profit margin is $300 per tonne or less. So why is Tasmania — Australia’s cool-climate state — on my short mental list of wine regions where, given the opportunity, I would personally invest? Because taken as an individual wine producing region, it is almost 100 per cent profitable.”

Hawke's Bay has a pronounced advantage in China
Hawke's Bay's wines are top class, but the fact the region is easy to pronounce in Mandarin may be its biggest advantage in the Chinese market, according to that nation's leading wine commentator. Fongyee Walker, a tutor, commentator and the only person from mainland China to pass her Master of Wine exam, said "Huo ke si wan rolled off the tongue and that is very important. I get asked a lot why [Chateau] Lafite is the most popular wine in China. One of the reasons is that 'La Fay' is easy to say. 'Haut-Brion' isn't, so no-one buys Haut-Brion in China."

Rivals "would kill" for NZ wine shopper base
Rival countries would kill for New Zealand's affluent young consumer base, according to Mud House supplier Accolade. The UK’s leading supplier made its first move into the dynamic category when it bought Mud House last year, and it has grown UK sales from 10,000 9-litre cases to 250,000 in nine months. Jane Robertson, Accolade’s category development manager said, “New Zealand shoppers are younger and more affluent than any of the other countries of origin. “It’s a dream shopper – young, engaged, knowledgeable, willing to spend money on New Zealand, willing to learn more.”

Accolade Wines recruits Daniel l'Anson as first UK fine wine director to drive premium wines
Accolade Wines hopes to establish a footprint and market for its extensive range of premium wines by appointing its first fine wine director in the UK. Daniel l’Anson has been recruited from Champagne Jacquart from his UK business development role to establish a new market and interest in the group’s portfolio of premium and super premium wines, many of which are not currently seen in the UK. Paul Schaafsma, UK head of Accolade Wines, confirmed l’Anson is to take on his new role in February and will be responsible for establishing Accolade’s fine wine division.

Plant plaster protects wine from vine decline
Symptoms of fungal disease esca, or vine decline, include reduced yields, stunted growth and even the sudden death of vines. Esca is prevalent throughout the world and poses a significant threat to the wine industry – some countries have lost 40 per cent of their grape harvest to the fungus. Often whole collections of vines have to be removed and replaced. No fungicide treatment is available – sodium arsenite was previously used for control in Europe, but is now banned for health reasons.

Tokaj wine region to get 330 mil investment
Hungary's Tokaj wine region is to get a 330 million euro investment to both upgrade its vineyards and bolster the international reputation of its wines. The funding will come from both Hungary’s central government and the European Union and has been allocated until 2020, the Hungarian government said this week. The wine industry is one of the main employment sources in Unesco-listed Tokaj, with an estimated 5,000 jobs relaying directly on wine.

Largest organic wine show broadens out
France celebrates all things organic with growing numbers attending the Millésime Bio exhibition in the South of France. Organic wines and vinegrowing are increasing in popularity among the younger generation, according to the president of Millésime Bio, the organic trade show that is taking place this week in Montpellier, France. The show has 800 wine producers from 14 countries present, and organisers expect 4500 people to attend the show including around 20 per cent foreign visitors from 20 different countries.

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