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News posted on Thursday, 28 January 2016

‘We need to improve Australian fine wine image’ – trade body chairman
Queues of wine professionals vied for a space inside the Australia Day tasting in London like it was the final farewell of some muscial great, fuelling speculation that Australian wine is coming back into vogue in the UK in 2016. Throngs of wine trade professionals and critics descended on the Australia Day tasting (ADT) in Central London this week, and many found more than a few surprises. Several merchants have suggested to Decanter’s editorial team that 2016 could be a big year for Australian wine.

Aldi joins new push to stock alcohol in supermarkets
The debate to stock alcohol in supermarkets has started to bubble again as Aldi joins the push to sell liquor in its soon-to-be-opened South Australian stores. Alcohol could soon be sold from South Australian supermarket shelves if a push by new retail entry Aldi is successful. The move from the German mega grocery chain comes as the State Government is one day away from closing submissions to the first review of SA liquor laws in 20 years.

The truth behind the latest wine export figures
Whitey contemplates some sobering export numbers from Wine Australia. Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark triumphantly announced: “Pleasingly, our latest Export Reportshows that the value of Australian wine exports grew in each of the top 15 export markets in the year ended 31 December 2015. This export growth should be warmly welcomed by the Australian grapegrowing and winemaking community as it is largely a result of their hard work.” Wrong. The majority of the grapegrowing and winemaking community has not suddenly discovered how to do anything better.

Mudgee expects short, compressed vintage
Despite a drier start to the 2015/16 grape vintage season in NSW, grape growers in Mudgee and the Riverina should expect excellent grape quality. NSW Department of Primary Industries' viticulture development officer Adrian Englefield said seasonal weather conditions in both regions had resulted in minimal disease pressure, resulting in excellent grape quality.

Winery seeks exemption
Felton Road winery is pushing for a proposed law change after its Riesling missed out on the European market by 0.01% alcohol volume. Felton Road's 8.44% alcohol 2015 Riesling was prevented from being sold to Europe because of European Union (EU) trade regulations which state still wine must be at least 8.5% ABV (alcohol by volume). Felton Road winemaker Blair Walter said laws allowed rounding to the nearest 10th of a percent, meaning the Riesling missed out by 0.01%.

All hail the mighty Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
Glance at any supermarket wine section and it's immediately clear that we like Sauvignon Blanc best. All the reds for sale would struggle to fill the area set aside for a single variety from a single area - Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. For all the talk about the New Zealand wine industry being much more than a one-trick pony – that pony still rules. But while Sauvignon Blanc sells in stainless steel vat loads, it's other wines such as Pinot Noir, that have set up their own navel-gazing conferences.

French winemaker drops organic status for ‘better treatments’
A winemaker in the Vaucluse has become the latest producer to withdraw his wine from organic certification, citing his concerns over the environmental sustainability of organic winemaking. Sebastien Vincenti, of Domaine de Fondrèche in Mazan, AOC Côtes de Ventoux, has been certified organic with French body Ecocert since 2009. But, that is about to change.

Acidity is the key to ageing wine
Rather than tannic structure or time in oak, a wine’s acidity levels are the most important factor as to whether or not it will age well according to one winemaker. Speaking to the drinks business during a recent visit to Argentina, Martin Kaiser, chief agronomist at Doña Paula estate, said: “Acidity is the most important element to ageing but the wine also needs to have a good tannic structure to perform well during the micro-oxygenation process.

Why the American Wine Industry Needs a Shakeup
The United States currently is the world’s dominant wine producer and the American wine drinker is its dominant consumer. But that doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels. Between the web, agnostic millennials and the strong dollar, there's a huge opportunity for our overseas brethren to take over.

Record 2015 harvest for Spain
The 2015 vintage in Spain looks set to be a “record year” in both quality and quantity but “intense” heat in some areas provided challenges to overcome. According to Wines of Spain’s vintage report, July was the hottest month of the year before the arrival of cooler weather in August. Harvest dates were somewhat in advance of previous years (by a week or so) but the warm, dry weather throughout 2015 kept vineyard diseases at bay and allowed the crop to be brought in in excellent health.

WA wine regions working hard to prevent disease after rain hits ahead of harvest
Vineyard operators in major West Australian wine regions are working hard to prevent disease after wild weather hit just weeks before harvest. Heavy rainfall in the Margaret River, Great Southern and Geographe regions has caused fruit splitting in some vineyards, which can lead to pest and disease issues. Producers in the northern parts of the Geographe region may also face issues of smoke taint following bushfires south of Perth.

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