Pulling the cork on recent wine stories

Pulling the cork on recent wine stories

Angelina bows out of Miraval

Celebrity wine news continues to flow freely. This month we hear that Angelina Jolie has sold her stake in Chateau Miraval, which has built a loyal global following for its light and easy-to-drink rosé. The buyer is Tenute del Mondo, which also owns businesses in Argentina, Spain and Italy. It will now work with Jolie’s ex-husband, Brad Pitt, who is keeping his share of the business.

Learning wine lessons

The wine expert, Michael Vaughan, has given his wine collection to Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) in Canada. Vaughan has accumulated 2,500 bottles of Canadian wines, including some of historical significance and is one of his country’s leading wine writers. Explaining his decision to donate the collection, he said that he wanted to ensure the wines could be used to help others learn.

Pinot Grigio volumes down but quality up

Production of Pinot Grigio has fallen, but makers have expressed relief that the problems they faced earlier in the year have had only a limited impact. The drop, which is around 15% in most cases, has been attributed to hail and frost in the spring, followed by low temperatures in May and excessive heat during the summer. However, the quality is good and expectations now are for a fresher, more elegant and well-structured wine.

Robots on the rise because of Covid

A shortage of workers has prompted an increase in the use of robots during the harvest season. The problem, reported in various parts of Europe as well as the US, is being blamed on travel restrictions that have arisen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it has been increasingly troublesome to attract workers over recent years and this is just an additional barrier for winemakers to overcome.

Champagne harvest a brief affair

The Champagne harvest is always a complex affair, and this year was no exception. The yield is defined by anticipated sales, which this year are 300 million bottles. The result of this system was that some growers had the job done quickly while others took up to 21 days to pick their grapes. Any that are not needed for Champagne can be harvested and made into ordinary wine and stored for use in future years.

Portugal feels tourism pain

Portugal is the world’s biggest consumer of wine per person – on average around 1 litre a week for each of its 10 million people – so many expected it to fare reasonably well during the pandemic. That has proved to be inaccurate, with a fall of around 25% over the past year, despite increased exports. Part of the problem seems to be the reduction in tourists, as Covid-19 restricted travel. One of the export markets that saw growth was the UK, a sign perhaps that Brits were buying Portuguese wine in attempt to recreate the holiday mood while restrictions kept them at home.

Swiss grape thefts on the rise 

Winemakers in the Valais region of Switzerland have reported the theft of large parts of the grape production in such scale that it is clearly the work of gangs prepared to spend several hours picking the fruit and transporting it to where it might be sold. The nocturnal activities are frustrating for the growers, as many of the grapes are not yet fully ripe. Police have stepped up the frequency of their checks and the winemakers are adopting more security conscious measures.

Virtual vines for budding winemakers

Online gaming continues to grow, but it’s not all aimed at kids. A recent launch is Hundred Days which allows players to try their hand at winemaking. They must start at the beginning of the process and learn about the traditions of the industry. Success or failure depends on matching supply with demand, increasing sales and coping with crises such as diseases and the weather. Players must handle these issues and make decisions on use of fertilisers, pruning and fermentation before marketing the final product.