This Week In Wine–11/27/11

Posted on by Kris

This Week in Wine - A Recap of Wine News from Around the World


China Basketball Star to Sell ‘Yao Ming’ Wine


Months after retiring from basketball, Chinese sporting hero Yao Ming is venturing into business by setting up a wine company to meet a growing thirst for the tipple in his home country.
Yao, 31, is China’s first global sports superstar with a personal brand valued at more than US$1 billion.

Yao Family Wines will sell vintages using grapes from the famed Napa Valley region of California, reflecting his time playing in the NBA, the China Daily newspaper said Thursday.
The first batch of "Yao Ming" wine, as it will be branded, is a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon which will sell in China for 3,800 yuan (US$600) a bottle.
The company has its own winery but will source grapes from six vineyards in the Napa Valley, according to information that was posted on the Yao Family Wines website but has now been removed.

Click here for the full article.

My Thoughts

I had no idea this guy was only 31! Wow! That makes me feel all kinds of under-accomplished! Any-who…fair-play to him! If Yao-Ming can go out there and sell a $600 bottle of Napa Cab, more power to him! Though, it’s certainly a ballsy price-point to start his inaugural vintage at! I’ll be interested to see the uptake.

Gallo Looking for More Grapes


Knowing that California’s growers are facing tough decisions on whether to plant wine grapes or to take part in a nut-growing swarm that’s sweeping the state, a titan in the wine industry brought some bullish reassurance to a Fresno meeting of San Joaquin Valley wine growers.

“This year we have already signed 10,000 acres of long term contracts for grapes,” said Joseph Gallo, president and CEO of the E&J Gallo Winery, the world’s largest family owned winery.

Gallo said he expects continued growth in the wine business. He added that his company, which has imported wines from abroad, has “a plan to avoid importing bulk wine from foreign suppliers,” pointing to what he said was “an astounding number” — the equivalent of 300,000 tons of grapes imported as bulk wine in 2010. “Those tons should be grown in California,” he said.

Click here for the full article.

My Thoughts

It would probably surprise most people when they hear me say that I’m actually kind of a champion for the Gallo brand. Gallo labeled wine have almost become a wine-drinkers joke, much the same way that people laugh about consuming Boones Farm. However, it would no-doubt shock most people to learn just how many quality wine brands they own!
a Vinci Chianti (Italy), Whitehaven New Zealand), Louis Martini (Napa), MacMurray (Sonoma), Apothic (California), McWilliams (Australia), and Martin Codax (Spain); (to name but a few) are all Gallo labels, and I’m certain 99% of their drinkers don’t even know it!

Lower Tariffs Mean More Wine and Less Vodka for Russians


Thanks to the World Trade Organization, Russians may soon be able to enjoy a glass of Beaujolais or, a pint of Guinness straight from Dublin for less than ever before.

Currently, the cheapest bottles of European and New World wines start at around seven dollars – more expensive than a liter of Russian-produced vodka. But with the country scheduled to enter the WTO next year, import tariffs will have to come down. For wine they will fall from 20 percent to 12.5 within four years, and for beer from 60 eurocents to 1.8 eurocents per litre by 2018.

The impact of the beer import duty on consumer behavior is likely to be negligible – less than 1 percent of all Russian beer is imported. But for wine, it is a different story – 60 percent of all the bottles sold in the country are either imported directly, or bottled from foreign ingredients inside Russia. Anatoliy Korneev, the vice-president of Simple, a major importer, predicts that the prices for the cheapest imported wines could fall by as much as a half.

Click here for the full article.

My Thoughts

I spent three weeks in the Ukraine when I was a kid (I have long-lost relatives there), and even though I couldn’t drink at the time (well, I might have had a little vodka, even though I was only 15), all I can say is that they’re doing themselves a big favor by reducing the alcohol tax! Alcohol makes life at least half-way bearable for most Ukrainian / Russian people! No joke. Adding wine to this equation will hopefully reduce the number of alcohol related “issues”.

Weak Global Economy Fails to Dampen Fine Wine Sales


In good times collectors buy fine wines and in bad times they buy even more, the latest wine auction figures show.

Leading wine auction houses are reporting bumper results for 2011. Christie’s sales have totaled $77.7 million globally, more than last year’s $70 million and there are auctions scheduled for Amsterdam, London and Hong Kong before the end of the year.

"Despite the bleak news of the weak economy globally and last week’s markets, I have to tell you, I’m still encouraged. There is a lot of interest and a lot of buyers" for wines that can sell for tens of thousands of dollars a bottle, said Robin Kelley O’Connor of Christie’s.

The auction house sold $1.2 million of wine in New York on Saturday, including six bottles of Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 1911 for $66,000, which were auctioned for The Lunchbox Fund, a charity that provides meals for children. The bottles had been found in the 18 miles (29 kms) of tunnels beneath the chateau’s estate.

John Kapon of Acker, Merrall & Condit sold $2.4 million of wines on Saturday including a Salmanazar, a bottle that holds the equivalent of nine liters of wine, for $20,740.
Kapon estimates business is up 15 percent over last year. "People work hard and drink harder," he said.

Click here for the full article.

My Thoughts

Looking at results from auctions such as Christie’s isn’t exactly the best litmus test of how the wine industry is performing. With 2010 wine retail sales estimated at around $18.5 billion, auction house sales are an extremely small piece of the pie. Once I personally see the majority of the market spending $20-$25+ on a bottle (retail), THEN I’ll start getting excited!


Renowned Margaret River Wineries Evacuate

Renowned Margaret River Wineries Evacuate

Some of Australia’s best-known winemakers have been forced to evacuate as a bushfire raging in the Margaret River area of Western Australia approaches.

The southwest tourist hot-spot, about 280km south of Perth, is one of Australia’s most renowned wine-producing regions.

So far at least five vineyards around Margaret River have been evacuated, including the internationally awarded Leeuwin Estate, Xanadu Wines, Cape Mentelle, Voyager Estate, and Redgate Wines.

The bushfire began spreading fast across the area on Wednesday morning after a prescribed burn by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) went out of control in the nearby Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

The blaze has already claimed at least 20 properties and burnt through more than 2000 hectares of bushland.

Click here for the full article.

My Thoughts

No thought, I just hope everyone came out of it ok!

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