HomeWine News ‘Lucifer heatwave’ kick-starts early Franciacorta harvest


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

Puni whisky makes UK debut


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


French Wine Exports on the Up

export1-10006220.jpgFrance has been the big winner among wine producing countries in the first quarter, while the US suffered a major drop in overseas sales.
The figures released in the Rabobank Wine Quarterly survey showed healthy growth for French wine exports, which increased by 5.9 percent in volume and a whopping 14.7 percent in value, giving an average price-per-liter rise of 8 percent. Champagne did well with 7.3 percent volume and 12.1 percent value increases, while Bordeaux continued its strong growth with a 10.7 percent rise in volume and a staggering 26.4 percent leap in value.
The US and Chinese markets saw solid growth for French wines, even exports to the embattled UK market rose by 2.9 percent in volume and 13.8 percent in value.
US wine producers weren’t so lucky, with a big drop in sales to the UK leading to a steep 15 percent decline in volume and an 8 percent fall in value. Bulk sales also fell as own-label brands contracted in the softening economic conditions in the UK; an almost 3 percent rise in inflation there has pushed down earnings and weakened the outlook for consumption.
First quarter exports of Italian wine lifted slightly by volume (2 percent) and 5.4 percent in value against the last quarter of 2016, with sparkling wine the star performer. Still wine exports to major markets the US, Germany and Switzerland contracted slightly in volume, but sparkling wines jumped 10.8 percent in volume to all markets and 15.1 percent in value. Canada and China were growth markets, as was the UK, although the average price per liter to the UK fell by 3.5 percent.
Spain had a mixed performance, with DO/DOCa wines jumping 16.2 percent in volume and an impressive 47 percent in value, while sparkling wine saw double-digit drops in per-liter average prices. Spain’s main export market was still the US, with 4.3 percent volume and 6.5 percent value increases.
While US exports might have softened, imports rose in the first four months of the year, with a 2 percent volume lift and a 6 percent increase in value compared to the same period last year. Imports from Italy were up 3 percent by volume and 2 percent in value, led by Prosecco’s seemingly unstoppable surge. Portugal was the big winner, however, with a 21 percent increase in volumes shipped to the US and a 26 percent rise in value. Australia grew value off lower volumes, with a 13 percent jump in value despite a 1.6 percent drop in volume.
The report also said that wine inventories were likely to come under some pressure later this year, as a predicted shortfall in the Northern Hemisphere harvest impacts global supply. While it pointed to sufficient stocks of wine to meet current demand, the report warned of reduced volumes coming from major producers France, northern Italy and Spain, due to adverse weather.

An article from Wine Searcher