Australia’s wine ‘cheaper than a bottle of water’
It depends what wine you’re looking at and where you get your bottled water, but on some big retailers’ shelves in Australia it’s not too hard today to find water that is more expensive than wine.
You may be considering a little-known bottle of red that’s sitting in a bargain bucket selling for one Australian dollar (53p).
Or you could be about to purchase a well-known white going for A$2.99.
That’s all before you spot your favourite four-litre box of cask wine selling for less than A$17.
Whatever you fancy, if you compare your purchase to an average 350ml of bottled water selling for about A$2.50, “then you’ve certainly got wine that’s cheaper than buying a bottle of water,” says Prof Kym Anderson from the Wine Economics Research Centre in Adelaide.
Source: BBCNews Read more
Wine tasting, where you decide if it’s plonk or not plonk.
I read a post yesterday, or the day before on The Wine Wankers about the difference between wine drinking and wine tasting.
It made me think.
Why do we taste wine and not drink it. Tasting seems such a waste. We don’t have beef tastings where we spit the half chewed morsel out and announce that it tastes of spring manure.
Is wine tasting just an act of snobbery?
Obviously I am a peasant and don’t understand it.
Wine for me is a simple case of buy a bottle, if I like it I drink it. If I don’t like it, it goes down the sink, and I don’t buy it again; which, I might add, doesn’t happen very often.
Don’t get me wrong. I love wine. There is nothing more than a good wine and cheese to set my tastebuds on edge. There you get a chance to have a glass, or more of many wines. But you do drink it.
But the spitting, nah, that’s a waste.
Hong Kong auction breaks record for most expensive wine
An auction in Hong Kong has broken the world record for the most expensive lot of wine ever sold, with 114 bottles of Burgundy going for HK$12,556,250 (£1m, or $1.6m), Sotheby’s has said.
The auction house said a collection of Romanee-Conti, one of the world’s most sought after Burgundy labels, sold for the equivalent of $14,121 for each bottle or $1,700 per glass. The lot contained six bottles of each of the 19 vintages made from 1992 to 2010.
The previous record for a single lot of wine – also held by Sotheby’s – was $1.05m for 50 cases of top Bordeaux Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1982, sold in New York in 2006.
“The Romanee-Conti superlot presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire an unprecedented quantity of the world’s most desirable wine,” Robert Sleigh, head of Sotheby’s Wine in Asia, said in a press release. “It is only fitting that it has broken the world record to become the most valuable single wine lot ever sold at auction.”
A 66-magnum collection of Henri Jayer, owned by the Silicon Valley magnate and Netscape founder James Clark, sold for $1.1m, or $16,000 per magnum. Sotheby’s did not reveal who acquired either lot.
The record sales come despite a much publicised anti-corruption campaign and separate austerity drive by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, which has hit luxury goods and vintage wine sales in Hong Kong hard.
According to a survey by Vinexpo Asia Pacific, mainland China’s wine consumption fell by 2.5% last year, after 10 years of uninterrupted growth at a rate of 25% per year.
In 2013, China overtook France as the world’s largest consumer of red wine, drinking more than 155m nine-litre cases or 1.865bn bottles that year, according to Vinexpo. But the official austerity drive in China has meant that people are increasingly turning to cheaper wines.
Wines are getting stronger
Warming climate and changed growing techniques are combining to raise the alcohol level in wines
Two wines made in the same region, from the same grape variety, in the same vintage, at the same price. The only difference, as far as you can tell from the label, is the alcohol. One is 13.5%, the other 14.5%. Which do you choose? If, like me, you’ve learned that a single percentage point can make the difference between a bright new morning after and a sluggish one, you’re going to go for the lower alcohol option.
In the wine world a wine’s alcohol by volume (ABV) is more than a shorthand guide to how it will make you feel: it’s become a touchstone for a fractious debate about how it should taste. Lurking in the background of the dispute is the creeping rise in wine’s alcohol level: a 2% average global increase in the last two decades. The reason is that there is more sugar in the world’s wine grapes when they’re harvested – sugar which is then converted into alcohol during fermentation. The controversy surrounds how that sugar got there, and whether the effects it creates in finished wines are desirable.
Global warming has played its part: the warmer the climate – or vintage – the more sugar there will be in the grape. But wines have been made in hot regions for years, and yet you never used to find bottles with ABVs of 16% or 17% as sometimes come out of California and Australia. Similarly, there have always been warm vintages in temperate regions such as Bordeaux, but alcohol levels rarely broached 13%.
What has changed is the way grapes, particularly red grapes, are grown, and it’s here the controversy begins. At its heart is the concept of phenolic ripeness: the moment when the pips and stalks lose any trace of green. Over the last two decades winemakers became obsessed with techniques such as cutting back yields early in the year to concentrate on fewer bunches or waiting as long as possible to harvest. But the longer you wait for phenolic ripeness, the higher the sugar climbs, and the more acidity you lose. And so, the smooth tannins, and lack of green flavours tend to come with a side order of high alcohol, frequently at the expense of freshness and, some would argue, complexity.
The backlash against high alcohol wines has a militant, ideological edge. Many winemakers tell me they’ve drawn an imaginary line over which no wine should cross. Get much above 14%, they say, and a wine can never be truly fine. Some put the level even lower: I know of several independent retailers and sommeliers that avoid anything over 13.5%.
I can’t say I’m disappointed at this turn back towards elegance. But the move brings problems of its own. I wouldn’t go as far as Robert Parker, the powerful American critic famed for his enthusiasm for big reds, who dismisses the rush to lower alcohol styles as “essentially a phony, anti-California, anti-New World movement by Eurocentric self-proclaimed purists”. But I do think he has the ghost of a point.
Like Parker, I’m concerned that the obsession with an arbitrary acceptable alcohol level rules out some of the great warm climate wines, from Barolo to the Douro, from Roussillon to Napa, all of which tend to be around 14% or higher. The best producers in these regions don’t try to push ripeness to its outer limits. And tasting them you realise that what matters isn’t the number on the label, but a concept as elusive and subjective in wine as it is in life: balance.
Sourece: TheGuardian Read more
Surely, an oxymoron…
First bottles of Ethiopian wine produced by French firm Castel
The grape names – merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay – are distinctly French, but the label on the Rift Valley wines is surprising: made in Ethiopia.
The French beverage giant Castel, one of the world’s biggest producers of wines and beers, is raising a glass to its first production of 1.2m bottles of Ethiopian Rift Valley wine.
The African state’s former president Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, encouraged Castel to develop vineyards in Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, as a way of improving its image.
Half of the bottles are destined for domestic consumption and half for export to countries where the Ethiopian diaspora have settled, though 26,000 have already been snapped up by a Chinese buyer.
Although Castel does not expect its Ethiopian wine business to make a profit until 2016, it hopes to more than double production to 3m bottles a year. Though Ethiopia is better known for its production of another drink, coffee, Castel says the African country has the potential to rival the continent’s main wine producer, South Africa.
“It’s not that difficult because the climate is good and it’s not too hot,” Castel’s Ethiopia site manager, Olivier Spillebout, told Agence France-Presse. “Exports are small now, but year after year they will grow.”
The company has produced a better quality wine called Rift Valley, selling in Ethiopia for the equivalent of €7 (£5.50) and a grape-mix wine called Acacia, retailing at the equivalent of €5.
Source: TheGuardian Read more
Castel, A French Wine Maker, To Export Ethiopian Wine
A leading French wine maker, Castel Winery plans to begin bottling wine for export starting early next year from its Battu (commonly known as Zeway) based vineyard.
It is Ethiopia’s first foreign winery after all wineries were nationalized during the Derg regime, and has been cultivating four different types of French wine since May 2008.
Back again after the interruptions of the World Cup.
Concha y Toro
A Chilean wine from the Central Valley.
It doesn’t stipulate the harvest.
Aroma of ripe red fruit.
Goes well with white meats, pastas, pizzas, risottos and fresh white cheeses.
I am having mine with feijoada, a little bit heavier than the recommended pairings.
But I like the smoothness of Merlot.
Priced to fit my pocket at around R$20.oo.
definitely NOT plonk.
The wine today is no longer in my rack…
I drank it on Saturday to celebrate the Argentine game against Iran in the FIFA World Cup…
Ugni Blanc Chardonnay 2013 from Viñas de Balbo, Mendoza, Argentina.
“This generic wine is obtained from the harmonic combination of Ugni Blanc and Chardonnay varieties which gives this wine a delicate yellow color with hints of green, a subtle and persistent aroma and a particular soft and fruity flavor. It goes well with white meats, soft cheese, fish and seafood.” – Don Cano Wines
Although I drank it with weinerschnitzel, boiled minted potatoes and cauliflower with cheese sauce…
Good price, went down a treat, looking for more.
The Mendoza region in northwest Argentina produces many great wines. Here’s a good guide to northwest wines: Grape Travel
My rating: Definitely not plonk.