No two years are the same in the Bourgogne winegrowing region. After fast flowering, which was over by mid-June, even in those areas that tend to tardiness, any fears about springtime frosts were soon a distant memory. Now hopes are high for a fabulous harvest.
Even the Chablis region, which suffered the effects of frost at the end of April, is in a much better place than it was at this time in 2016.
Flowering is finished across the Bourgogne region, with only a few days required for the vines to move from first flowers to producing fruit.
With favorable weather conditions, sunshine and heat alternating with short spring showers, the vines were left to follow their growth cycle at a good pace, without hindrance.
On average, flowering reached mid-point by the first week in June. On the Côte de Beaune, flowering started on 31 May for the Chardonnay and 1 June for the Pinot Noir, soon followed by all other regions. The further north the vines, the earlier they flowered, compared to the average for the period 1994-2016.
In the Mâconnais, flowering mid-point was reached between 3-5 days earlier, while in the
Grand Auxerrois and Chablis, it was eight days.
The 2017 vintage is therefore gradually emerging as an early one. It is ranked among the top three earliest years on the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, similar to the 2009 vintage. The nascent grapes are already between 3-5mm across and the bunches should be closed by early July if the weather continues to be fine.
With optimum weather conditions keeping the grapes healthy, the Bourgogne winegrowing region is thus heading for a lovely harvest. In Chablis, things are more mixed. Although globally, things are looking promising, there are a few areas where the grapes are lacking, mainly in the Petit Chablis appellation, and on a few plots of Chablis.
But despite the reigning optimism, it is preferable to be prudent until harvesting is complete, with picking predicted to start in early September.
An article from Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB)
Hot weather and drought mean that some sparkling wine producers in northern Italy have started harvesting grapes 12 days earlier than normal.
Producers of Italian sparkling wine Franciacorta, in Lombardy, east of Milan, officially began their 2017 wine harvest on 3 August.
Picking began as the so-called ‘Lucifer heatwave’ became the latest spate of hot weather to arrive in parts of Europe this summer; leading to health warnings for citizens and problems for public services in several countries.
In the vineyards, many areas have reported that vines are ahead of schedule in 2017.
Franciacorta producers do not normally start harvest until after ‘Ferragosto’, a national bank holiday, which falls on 15 August.
‘The extremely high temperatures we’ve been having lately made us start the harvest,’ Mauro Piliu, export director of Castello di Gussago, told Decanter.com.
The estate was harvesting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The official regulations of the region dictate that the grape harvest must not begin before 1 August. ‘It seems that recently we’ve been getting closer and closer to that date,’ said Piliu.
It’s been a year of extremes in many of Europe’s vineyards.
Earlier in the year, some areas of Italy, Spain and France experienced early blossom followed by devastating frosts, while others were affected by hailstorms.
Franciacorta is expected to see overall yields down by 30% due to earlier frosts, according to the region’s wine council.
Piliu estimated that, due to the weather conditions, the 2017 production of Castello di Gussago will be 10 percent lower than last year.
Italy’s Coldiretti agricultural lobby said it expected wine production across the country to be 10 percent to 15 percent lower than in 2016.
An article from Decanter by Andrzej Binkiewicz
Encore un nom de la Bourgogne viticole racheté par un étranger. Héritier du laboratoire pharmaceutique suisse Hoffmann-La-Roche, André Hoffmann a acquis ce mois d’août la majorité du domaine bourguignon Jayer-Gilles.
André Hoffmann se présente comme un amoureux de la Bourgogne et de ses vins. Familier du sud de la France, le Suisse, vice-président du groupe pharmaceutique familial Hoffmann-La-Roche, a réalisé son rêve de gosse en acquérant un domaine viticole bourguignon.
Son béguin s’est porté sur le domaine Jayer-Gilles, une maison “synonyme d’une vinification rigoureuse, de vins de grande tenue”, juge-t-il au lendemain de la vente.
La communauté des amateurs et les lecteurs de La RVF se souviennent que ce domaine d’une dizaine d’hectares situé à Magny-lès-Villers, à un kilomètre au nord de Ladoix-Serrigny et d’Aloxe-Corton, a connu une certaine notoriété dans les années 1990 en signant des vins en rupture avec la tradition bourguignonne de l’époque.
HOFFMANN, LA 15ÈME FORTUNE D’EUROPE
Le vigneron Gilles Jayer-Gilles, aux commandes du domaine depuis 1982, restera quelques temps encore le chef d’orchestre, avant de céder la place à deux jeunes vignerons, Julien Gros (domaine Christian Gros), qui a œuvré aux châteaux de Beaucastel (Rhône) et Miraval (Provence), et Alexandre Vernet (domaines Gilbert, Philippe Germain et Manuel Olive).
D’après la dernière liste des plus riches familles d’Europe publiée par l’excellent magazine suisse Bilan, la fortune professionnelle de la famille Hoffmann s’élèverait à près de 26 milliards de francs suisses, soit 23 milliards d’euros, ce qui la place au quinzième rang en Europe.
Désormais à la tête des crus Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Hauts Poirêts, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru les Damodes et du grand cru Echezeaux du Dessus, André Hoffmann, entend poursuivre en Bourgogne ses efforts de conservation de la nature. Passionné par l’écologie et spécialiste des oiseaux sauvages de Camargue, M. Hoffmann est en effet vice-président du World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF International).
An article from La Revue du Vin de France by Geoffrey Avé
Puni, Italy’s first and only malt whisky distillery, will make its UK debut this month thanks to a sales and marketing agreement with distributor Magnetic Brands.
The Italian distillers will introduce its ‘Nova’ and ‘Alba’ three-year-old whiskies to the UK which have been distilled with imported Scottish pot stills at its modern facility in Glurns in the Vinschgau valley, Italy.
“Puni’s a fantastic ‘best-kept secret’ in the whisky world,” said Dave Steward of Magnetic. “Few have heard about the area, let alone the whisky – but both are a delight.
“The family’s been determined to get everything just right – as shown by importing genuine Scottish stills and bringing over whisky experts to install them. This attention to detail, the area’s climate and unique ingredients mean these are truly special whiskies.”
Puni’s first whisky was released in 2015 using local rye and its stock is barrel-aged directly beneath the distillery in a converted WWII military bunker.
An article from Drinks International by Shay Waterworth
Rumours are circulating that Saint-Estèphe property Château Phélan-Ségur has been sold to the owner of a leading shipping company.
According to a tweet by Jancis Robinson MW that the drinks business has not, so far, been able to absolutely confirm, the Gardinier family has apparently sold the ‘cru bourgeois exceptionnel’ to Philippe Van de Vyvere, the owner of one of Europe’s largest shipping firms, Sea-Invest.
Details of the sale remain unknown although the château was reportedly put up for sale with minimal fanfare some two months ago.
Neither the château nor the office of Van de Vyvere have so far confirmed the sale although both have been contacted by the drinks business.
It is thought the family has sold the estate in its entirety and have not retained any shares although the technical team will remain in place, at least for the time being.
The Gardinier family has been at the helm of the château since 1985 and the three brothers, Thierry, Laurent and Stéphane (pictured) have been in charge since the late 1990s.
As well as Phélan-Ségur, the Gadiniers own the famous Paris restaurant Taillevent, which also has an outlet in London now, Les 110 de Taillevent and one of Champagne’s leading hotels, Les Crayères in Reims.
Why they might have decided to sell the property is not known. It is conceivable they wish to focus more on the hotel and restaurant trade and have thus divested themselves of what would otherwise be an expensive asset.
On the other hand, they have also poured huge investment into the estate over recent years and critics and merchants alike are in agreement that the quality and consistency of the wines has improved dramatically, with the recent 2016 vintage being one of the ‘best ever’ wines from the property.
It is widely admired as a brand and certainly punches above its weight for a cru bourgeois with many people no doubting believing it to be a cru classé on the basis of its renown, quality and price.
Asking prices certainly have risen at the estate, though certainly not out of step with other properties in the region. Phélan-Ségur is a large estate though, covering some 70 hectares and produces a lot of wine in an average year.
Is it possible that in a bid to raise the profile of Phélan-Ségur and price it as a cru classé, the owners have found it harder to shift stocks? Or perhaps they found they’d hit a price ceiling and weren’t able to take the label any further?
Another high profile château, Troplong-Mondot, was sold last month to a French insurance firm.
An article from The Drink Business by Rupert Millar
Ever controversial, BrewDog is planning to open a craft beer bar on the USA/Mexico border, making a physical statement about its values of “collaboration and inclusivity”, alluding to US President Donald Trump’s plans to build a 1,000 mile wall between the two countries.
Named ‘The Bar on the Edge’, the exact location of the remote bar remains a secret, but will aim to reflect the Scottish brewer’s ambition to expand to the “farthest reaches”.
All BrewDog has said is that half of the bar will be in Texas and the other half in Chihuahua, Mexico, and that it will be built out of old shipping containers.
The geographical border will be represented by a dotted line across the centre of the bar and along the venue’s outdoor seating area, with US beers served on the Mexico side and Mexican beers on the US side, as well as BrewDog’s range of craft beers, brewed in Columbus Ohio.
“Beer has always been a unifying factor between cultures – and our business was born from collaboration and an inclusive approach – so we thought it would be fun to place the bar a few feet further to actually cross the US-Mexico border too,” said James Watt, co-founder at BrewDog.
“We will request official permission from the local authorities to put it there and adhere to any red tape stuff, but I guess it would make it more difficult to build a wall if there’s a BrewDog bar in the way. We’re planning on putting the bar there anyway until someone tells us to move it.”
Although the bar will be nowhere near any regular footfall, BrewDog hopes it will become a “magnetic pole” for craft beer fans on both sides of the border to come together.
The announcement will be celebrated with a Tex-Mex craft beer event at the brewery’s DogTap taproom in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend, with beers from Texan breweries Alamo Beer Company, Brash Brewing, No Label Brewing, 512 Brewing, Copperhead Brewing and Buffalo Bayou set to feature alongside craft beer cocktails with Mexican mezcal and Tequila.
An article from The Drink Business by Lauren Eads
New figures from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) reveal that demand for wine and spirits education is higher than ever, as more businesses recognise the return on investment in educated staff.
WSET, the largest global provider of qualifications in the field of wines and spirits, is reporting a record 85,487 candidates globally in the academic year finishing 31 July 2017, an increase of 19% on last year, marking 15 years of growth. The UK continued to lead the global table with candidate numbers up 14% to 19,401. However, Mainland China and USA followed closely behind both seeing impressive growth with candidates up 41% to 12,813 and 48% to 11,487 respectively.
Top 10 WSET Markets for the Academic Year 2016/17 (growth from previous year):
Mainland China (+41%)
Hong Kong (+16%)
South Korea (+13%)
Trends behind the UK Growth
According to Wine Intelligence UK Landscapes 2016 Report (released June 2017) the number of regular wine consumers in the UK has dropped from 29 million two years ago to 28 million today. The silver lining for the trade is that wine consumers are showing higher spend per bottle and greater product interest when choosing wine to drink both at home and in restaurants.
The report notes that supermarkets are seeing consumers focus less on discount multi-buy offers and more on region of origin, brand awareness and recommendations, and generally becoming more adventurous with their choices. Evidence from a new study by Franklin & Sons has revealed similar behaviour for spirits purchasing, with consumers favouring more premium brands.
The need for more knowledgeable staff is therefore greater than ever, encouraging businesses to prioritise formal training and accredited qualifications for staff to cater to customers’ discerning tastes and drive profits.
In the last year, WSET expanded its global reach with the opening of its first international office in Hong Kong and launching courses in new markets including Czech Republic and Montenegro. WSET welcomed over 100 new Approved Programme Providers and there are now 750 Providers offering WSET courses to wine, spirits and sake trade professionals and consumer enthusiasts in over 70 countries. In the UK, a total of 243 Approved Programme Providers now offer WSET courses.
This year, as the USA remains a strong region for growth across the wine, spirits and sake arenas, WSET will be cementing its presence in the market with the appointment of a dedicated team on-territory that will nurture the future potential.
The new academic year will also see the release of the freshly updated Level 2 Award in Spirits and the availability of a full suite of printed materials for the Level 3 Award in Sake.
Ian Harris, WSET Chief Executive, says, “I am delighted to see that more and more businesses are recognising that education and well-trained staff are the foundations to better customer service and stronger profits. After another successful year for WSET we’re now setting out strategies to take our progress to the next level.”
Karen Douglas, WSET Director of Education, adds, “The new academic year will also see the release of an improved Level 2 Award in Spirits following the hard work of our Global Education team to make sure WSET offers the most up-to-date and best-in-class education through its network of Approved Programme Providers worldwide.”
An article from WSET Global