There really is no other wine producing country like South Africa. Its unique political and recent social history means this is not a country that makes wine just because it can. It does so to also help the viability, the prosperity and the future of all those who work in it with a series of world leading sustainability and ethical trading codes that truly sets its apart. Richard Siddle reports back from last week’s Cape Wine where that message sang out loud and clear.
The wine purist might not like to admit it, but the wine industry would not be an industry at all if it was not for bulk wine. Be it moving grapes from growers to producers, or between wineries in the same country, or shipping vast containers to all corners of the world, bulk wine is the blood supply that keeps the wine sector alive. Here Helen Arnold explores the global bulk wine trends that will set the agenda for this November’s 10th World Bulk Wine Exhibition.
For years China has been a country wine producers the world over have wanted to do business in, but have been put off by the bureaucracy and impenetrable supply chains that have made it so hard to do business there. All that is now set to change thanks to the scale, power and reach of the country’s major online retail giants, like Alibaba and JD.com that can source, sell and distribute producers’ wines to all corners of the country. Their influence is so large that they are also now attracting the world’s biggest international retailers looking to sell their products in China as well, reports Richard Siddle.
Whatever industry you focus on it’s the same old story. Women are paid less than men, their bonuses are smaller, their career prospects are more limited, they are less likely to get promoted, and have less faith in their abilities to reach the top. Which is why Helen Arnold was intrigued to find out what steps could be taken in the wine and spirits sector, and to hear directly from business leaders looking to improve matters and directly address gender equality at work, at the recent Women of the Vine & Spirits conference held in London.
After a year in which producers were in the unusual position of giving ‘take it or leave it prices’ for their grapes on the back of 2017’s bad European harvest, the roles are once again reversed as buyers find themselves once again calling all the shots as forecasts predict strong crops across the main wine producing powerhouses of Europe. Richard Siddle examines what that means for grape prices.
On the face of it Canada’s Okanagan Valley has it all. It has the location, the terroir and the climate for making outstanding, distinctive and premium wines. It also has its fair share of ambitious producers with owners prepared to make the necessary investment to make the most of those conditions. After all it’s one thing having the wines, it’s quite another convincing the world to buy them. In part two of his analysis of this fascinating wine region Richard Siddle assesses what styles of wine the producers are making and the outside expertise that is helping them produce it.
The quality of Hungarian oak has been improving steadily over the years with Europe’s two main oak species used in barrel-making, both in abundance. As our understanding grows about the effects that different growing conditions, terroirs and oak species has on wine barrels and the finished wine, so Caroline Gilby MW maintains that the focus is increasingly being put on selling oak by species rather than by forests or tightness of grain.
It seems anything that a premium spirits brand does is touched with gold, particularly if you happen to be able to put a coloured gin in a fancy bottle. Alistair Morrell examines what lessons wine brands, retailers and restaurants can learn from how well spirits continues to find new ways to excite and engage with more consumers.
We are told time and again that the wine trade needs genuine stories to bring the category alive. In that case Canada’s Okanagan Valley should be one of the most talked about wine regions in the world such are the array of characters and personalities each with own unique tale and take on life – and that’s just the seven producers who make up the Okanagan Wine Initiative. In fact there’s so much for Richard Siddle to report on here’s part one of his two part analysis.
In an extensive trip through Germany, predominantly dedicated to Riesling and Pinot Noir, Christina Rasmussen uncovers soils, clones and the people fiercely dedicated to their soils’ expressions of wine (while all the while expanding her own rock collection). In the first of her 3-part series on Germany, Rasmussen explores German Pinot Noir/ Spätburgunder through site, clones and the winemaker’s hand and asks ‘what is the true identity of German Pinot Noir’?