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News posted on Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Not the usual suspects sparkling tasting
The Wine & Viticulture Journal is calling on Australian wine producers who make sparkling wine from non-traditional varieties to enter the publication’s next wine tasting. The tasting is open to dry white or red sparkling styles not made from the varieties traditionally associated with sparkling wine production, namely Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Sparkling styles made from varieties other than Prosecco and Shiraz are also encouraged, with these styles having been tasted specifically in previous Journal tastings.

Standard high as awards get under way
Judging got underway yesterday for the Hawke's Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards - the oldest regional wine competition in New Zealand. Senior judge Rod Easthope said that, after a bit of a lull, the wine industry was experiencing an upward trend. "We had 410 entries this year, which is our third highest number ever," Mr Easthope said. He said that when he tasted a wine he imagined it being served in a New York restaurant and whether it would sit alongside the best wines in the world.

Wine flights on track for November
A Marlborough airline is making it easier for winemakers and tourists to travel between the two largest wine producing regions in the country. Blenheim company Sounds Air will start flying between Blenheim and Napier from November 5. General manager Andrew Crawford said there was demand from people in the wine industry, who commuted between Marlborough and Hawke's Bay.

Sauternes in a spin over possible child cancer connection to vineyard spraying
Concerns are raised after a government report fails to rule out a link between vineyard spraying and cancer rates. The cost of producing France's greatest sweet wines could be measured in more than simply dollars and cents, as claims emerge that vineyard sprays in the Sauternes region could be causing an alarming spike in child cancer rates. Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reports that a former mayor of the town of Preignac has called for an investigation.

What do California’s wildfires mean for the 2015 wine harvest?
September is wine harvest month. For Shed Horn Cellars in California’s Lake County, it has been a disaster. A wall of flame from the Valley Fire, which started on Sept. 12, burned the winery to the ground. For nearby Hawk and Horse Vineyards, this harvest is a miracle. Though the same fire charred hundreds of forest acres on the 1,300-acre property, the 18-acre biodynamic vineyard was barely touched. “No one can explain why it was spared,” said an emotional Tracey Hawkins, whose family owns the estate.

English wine to double production in 7 years
English vineyards are forecasted to double in capacity and production over the next seven years, British MPs have been told. The prediction was revealed as politician’s toured one of the UK’s biggest wine producer’s, the Rathfinny Wine Estate, where they also heard about the Sussex winery’s application to the EU to have the county fully recognised as a wine appellation. Tim Loughton MP, said it opened MPs eyes “to see at first-hand what an important British success story our domestic wine industry is becoming.”

Vintage Champagne market ‘being exploited’
The vintage Champagne category is being exploited by certain houses who are upping production to raise their prices, according to one producer in the region. Speaking to the drinks business during a lunch at Le Gavroche last week, Antoine Malassagne, winemaker at Champagne AR Lenoble said: “A vintage Champagne should be something special with huge character and ageing potential.

Cross-regional sourcing key to Grange 2011
Cross-regional sourcing is key to Penfolds latest release – a Grange from the extremely challenging 2011 vintage in South Australia. Speaking yesterday to the drinks business at the London release of the flagship wine, Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago said that the 2011 marked the third really difficult year since Grange was launched in 1951, but stressed that the wine was made possible by selecting grapes from across South Australia.

Direct to customer sales grow 19%
Times have rarely been tougher for wine producers in Australia. On-going oversupply, a period of strong exchange rates following the GFC and a supermarket duopoly have made making money in the wine business extremely challenging. Direct to customer sales has been a savior for many small to medium wine businesses who now earn around half of their income from selling direct to consumer.

Dean Carroll takes on CEO role with Brown Brothers
Brown Brothers yesterday announced the appointment of Dean Carroll as its new CEO, taking over from Roland Wahlquist in December. After joining the company in 2007, Carroll worked his way up to be a key member of the Brown Brother’ senior management team as chief sales executive. Over the past six months, the winery’s board have undertaken a rigorous process engaging a recruitment specialist to seek out both internal and external candidates who were benchmarked against some of the most respected CEOs in the world.

OPINION: Wine’s lesson from the mining industry
Philip White Opinion: After my editor avoided a major Riverland/InDaily crisis by deciding to publish Henry’s response 'In defence of the Riverland Wine Industry', Henry voiced his “disappointment and frustration at seeing someone who clearly has a passion for wine and the wine industry sink the boot into the Riverland”. Andrew Weeks, business manager of Riverland Wine, the leading regional wine industry body, wrote a similar response in The Week That Was.

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