Not enough wine to go around: Wine companies to prioritise customers

Morgane Solignac | Stuff Apr 29 2021

A dearth of grapes this vintage has forced a family-owned winery in Marlborough to turn down a new customer in Europe. But it’s not just the smaller operations struggling. One of the biggest players in the global drinks industry, Pernod Ricard, is also reporting it is unable to meet the global demand for Marlborough wine this year, in particular sauvignon blanc, due to the region’s low yield.

One estimate puts the take of sauvignon blanc grapes down 30 per cent against long-term averages, due to early frosts and cool weather during the flowering season.

A Pernod Ricard Winemakers spokesperson said the company was in talks with its partners to determine how it should prioritise supply for customers “in the context of the strong ongoing global demand for the sauvignon blanc category”.

The volume shortage meant the family-owned Marisco Vineyards had to walk away from a deal in Germany to make sure it could supply its long-time customer base.

Marisco Vineyards general manager sales and marketing Siobhan Wilson said the winery, which employs about 80 people, didn’t want to sacrifice one market for another.

“The key focus for us this year is to look after the partnerships we’ve developed over the years … We have a long-term contract with annual supply conversations starting around January-February, which is tricky as vintage happens [March-April].

“So I have to take what our customers would like versus what we have got coming in.”

Marisco started blending this week, so it would have a full picture of what was available, and when, in the next couple of weeks, Wilson said.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said Aotearoa hit a record-breaking $2 billion in New Zealand wine exports at the end of last year.
“Exports to our key international markets have increased beyond expectations over the past 18 months, and we saw an increase of 19 per cent for the first four months of the new export year (July to October 2020), at the same time in 2019.

“We are already seeing supply and demand tension as a result, and we expect that many wineries will face tough decisions on who they can supply in their key markets over the next year,” Gregan said.

And while increased demand and reduced supply might push up prices, Wilson said they had to be careful.

“We are not just going to put the price up because it is in short supply, because next year what happens if we have a bumper vintage, and we’ve got plenty of wine, do you then discount it?

“What is important when you are selling wine, and when you are building a brand, is a consistency of quality and price.

“So, we all have a responsibility to ensure that we sell at a good price and the right price,” Wilson said.

Ongoing labour shortages, due to the closure of New Zealand’s borders and the restricted number of RSE workers, had also piled pressure onto wine companies.

Wilson said they had challenges coming at them every day and a short vintage was just one of them.

“We have got massive challenges in Marlborough getting wine shipped offshore because of the shortages of boats coming in, the restriction of space … and it is all the result of the pandemic.

“At Marisco Vineyards we are really resilient, my team have been working for me for a long time, and they have experienced many challenges over the year, so we just deal with it.

“The key thing is the communication with our customers and being really honest with them about the situation,” she said.

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Year in review

Well, December already team. It has been a strange year with a few downs to go along with the ups for some of us on a personal level.

       

That is not to say that it has been a bad year for our Cellar Club, quite the contrary in fact. Let’s review our year. By a long-established tradition, we began with our summer BBQ at the end of January. The usual excellent occasion and we continue to appreciate that Derek makes his premises available. February saw us heading to Askerne Estate in Hawkes Bay. The Hawkes Bay wineries never let you down. March was with the very well established Villa Maria presenting. While the winery originated in Auckland, the company has expanded over the years and produces wines from most of the major regions in New Zealand.

April saw something of a coup for the club with Joelle Thomson presenting. Joelle is a well-recognised personality in the New Zealand wine world as an author, wine writer and tutor. Another great tasting. May is the inevitable AGM then in June Simon Bell from Colab Wine Merchants took us on a tour of Europe. Simon brought along some large wine glasses and some time was spent on discussing the virtues and differences that wine glasses can make to your wine experience. On to July for the mid-year dinner at the Trade Kitchen.

Off to Nelson for the August tasting with Waimea Estate. Over the years Waimea has gathered 150+ Gold Medals and 26 Trophies across nine different wine styles. Nelson producers are right up there as a wine region. Cenna Lloyd for Negociants presented in September. She presented wines from two wineries, Misha’s Vineyard and Two Paddocks, both from Central Otago. Much enjoyed by those who attended and really great orders from a smaller group attending.

In October we celebrated the Rugby World Cup with a selection of wines from countries competing in the Cup. Keith Tibble was the presenter. November saw the very early return of Cenna Lloyd for the South American wine and food match evening outlined below. Cenna had been to South American after presenting in September and was keen to share her experience.

It only remains to anticipate yet another December Dinner. We have been to Cashmere Lounge before and we are sure you will not be disappointed.

Best wishes for the festive season.

Cheers
Robin Semmens
Editor

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A Colab view of Europe – Review June 2019

Simon Bell, the Representative for Colab Wine Merchants, presented a taste of Europe. There was a good turnout of 33 members and 3 guests. Everyone enjoyed the evening. It was a different style of meeting with lots of member interaction. Simon gave out larger glasses to demonstrate the difference using a large glass versus a small glass. It was an interesting evening with the tasting aimed for the layperson. There were 14 orders with a total of 96 bottles. Simon was pleased with the meeting and is keen to do another meeting. To revisit the wines included:q

Alpha Domus Collection Sauvignon Blanc (NZ)
Vivanco White Rioja (Spain)
Guerrieri Rizzardi Pinot Grigio IGP Veneto (Italy)
Domaine Dupre Bourgogne Chardonnay (France)
Vivanco Rioja Crianza (Spain)
Vivanco Rioja Reserva (Spain)
Chateau Mauciol Cotes du Rhone Villages Red (France)

One of the prospects he discussed, and would be happy to run, would be a non-threatening “Wine Options” evening. Your committee will consider this.

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OMG, Tastings, Turn out

OMG

OMG, are we halfway through 2018 already?

 

Tastings

What a great time we are having this year with a variety of European offerings, two great Hawkes bay producers and a possible iconic Barossa label closer to Christmas, just to name a few.

Turn out

A great turn out expected for Saigon Van, good orders from the Unison tasting and more fun ahead.

I am really looking forward to the second half of 2018

Cheers
Robin Semmens
Editor

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A tour of Europe through wines – Macvine International – April 2018

A ghastly night weather wise and a long list of apologies through autumn ailments meant that the turnout for this tasting was a little lower than we had hoped for. Despite that, those who braved the conditions enjoyed an excellent presentation and some great wines. Simon Bell and Craig O’Donnell from Macvine International presented for this tour around Europe. The tasting was a little different from the usual but was done with great style and enthusiasm. The wines presented were not necessarily well-known wines from Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. Simon and Craig enjoyed the evening and expressed a keenness to return in the future.

The tour included the following wines:

Andre Delorme Methode BDB (France)
Pazo Cilleiro Albarino (Spain)
Bernard Defaix 2015 Cote de Lechet Chablis (France)
Cantina Terlan Lagrein (Italy)
Dourthe No 1 Rouge (France)
Alpha Zeta “V” Valpolicella Ripaso Superiore (Italy)
1994 Burgermeister Lauer Drohner Hofberger Riesling (Germany)

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Things you always wanted to know about wine

Cathy Gowdie – Stuff | October 25, 2017

(These are some excerpts from an article which actually canvassed 10 things you might want to know about wine. I have picked out several that I found more interesting. The rest, in fact, we didn’t want to know.)

What is orange wine if it’s not from oranges?

The new rosé? Orange wine is having a moment. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Orange, some say, is the new rosé, occupying the demilitarised zone between red and white. The colour crosses a spectrum – from pale apricot to enraged Trump, all the way to amber – but what’s really different about orange wine is the way it’s made. Traditionally, red wines are made from the juice of red grapes plus grape skins. Whites are made without skins.

Orange wines are made from white grapes but get the red-wine treatment – the juice is macerated with the skins, a technique dating back 8000 years to wine’s birthplace, Georgia. The resulting texture, tannin and colour means these “skin-contact” wines have more in common with reds than whites; styles vary from fruity, floral or earthy to sour and funky.

What is natural wine and why are people so excited about it?

Natural winemaking is a broad church in which wines are generally (purists say must be) made from grapes grown without commercial chemicals. Processing takes place with minimal “intervention” – so, for example, the wine may not be filtered to remove cloudiness. Additives, such as sulphur dioxide – used for centuries to keep wine tasting fresh – are shunned or kept to a minimum. It’s a departure from the kind of large-scale industrial winemaking that values hygiene and consistency over quirks and imperfections.

As with conventional wines, quality varies hugely. There’s no regulation of what’s called natural, so if you’re going that way to avoid chemicals, look for certified organic or biodynamic wines – they’re more likely to be what you’re paying for. When made by winemakers of skill and integrity, the best natural wines celebrate quality, individuality and character – hallmarks of all great wines, regardless of whether they’re pitched as natural.

What’s better – Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio?

The wine world can be daunting. Photo: Jennifer Soo

Same grape, different name – one name is French, the other Italian, with “gris” and “grigio” both meaning “grey”. In Europe the French approach to making gris produces a highly perfumed wine with plenty of mouthfeel; grigio from Italy is often (not always) a crisper, lighter wine. “Better” is in the eye of the beholder – good news is they’re all food-friendly styles. So in short, no difference in the grape, just the name.

Why might some wines contain traces of eggs, fish or milk?

Egg whites with fish bladders and milk: a dish that might make guests at a Game of Thrones banquet actually welcome the post-dinner massacre. Yes, it’s medieval stuff – each of these has been used for centuries to “fine” wine. Fining is a process in which one or more of these proteins is dropped into unfinished wine to bind with components that taste bitter, astringent, or are likely to make the wine hazy. They are then removed. Traces, as the label states, may remain.
If any of the above have been used you’ll find them listed on the label as allergens. The fish bladder derivative also goes by the name isinglass and is rarely used in Australia but egg whites and milk products are still common.

How long will a wine keep after it’s been opened?

Like fish and houseguests, opened wine smells less appealing after three days. Aim to finish an open bottle over no more than two nights. As a rule of thumb, red wines stay in condition for longer than whites (some robust reds taste better on day two). Exposure to air changes the aroma and flavour of opened wine, so reseal a bottle you’re not planning to finish in one go.

A bottle that’s mostly full will last better than one with only a glass or two left. It’s about the proportion of air to wine – more air in the bottle means faster deterioration. Store an opened bottle upright, not on its side. If you keep a clean, empty half-bottle handy, decant unfinished wine into that – it will stay fresher than in a full-size bottle. Otherwise, start scouting wine-saving devices.

(This last item may not reflect editorial opinion, surely once the bottle is opened it deserves to be finished in one sitting. The person I live with frequently draws my attention to the week that passes between a tasting and when the committee downs the tasting leftovers, but members may not understand the deterioration that has occurred during that time and the generous effort made by committee members to get rid of these leftovers on their behalf.)

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