Friday, June 30, 2006

No Screwcap for this Big Beautiful Bottle...of wine!!

The debate about which is the best bottle closure continues. But you wont find a screwcap on this Nebuchadnezzar sized botle anytime soon.

In a recent extensive survey by Wine Business Monthly, it was found not surprisingly, that natural cork remains the closure of choice but screw caps are reaching parity with other alternatives. The oxidative quality of cork and the possible reductive potential of screwcaps continue to be an issue wine makers struggle with.

Eventhough screwcaps have become much more acceptible by the wine consuming public in North America, it is still not the closure of choice in most European wine regions. A smart new way to stopper a wine bottle that is making inroads is the ZORK closure from Australia. ZORK is a revolutionary new wine closure that seals like a screw cap and pops like a cork. An interesting video on the Zork closure can be seen at this site. A delightful Cabernet Sauvignon under Zork is the Red Knot Cabernet Sauvignon 2004.
The good thing of course is that when all this closure problem is sorted out we'll find that there will be a host of new and effective ways to close our favourite wines. In the meantime as Jancis Robinson, one of my favourite wine writers, states "I feel sure we are far from throwing away our corkscrews."

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Global Grape Glut continues to be a problem....

Please click on globe to get larger image.

Australia is suffering from an overproduction and growers fear the worst. The great glut is lowering wine prices and is even affecting New Zealand markets. The continued over production in Europe has created an estimated 1.5bn litres of surplus wines. The European comision has dished out millions of Euros bailing out the industry by converting unsold wine into industrial alcohol. It is expected that over 500 million litres of excess wine will be converted to bio-fuel. Sweeping changes, which will include ripping out vineyards are on the horizon. Years of huge production subsidies has created an imbalance between EU wine supply and demand creating excessive surpluses that could not be readily sold. A major shake-up is required.

Australian growers had hoped for a $60 million sbsidy plan but agriculture minister Peter McGauran rejected any bailout for struggling growers or winemakers. Similarly no plan to convert excess wine into ethanol is contemplated. Consumers are celebrating low prices while they last. New markets are needed and Australia may have found help in the new emerging affluent middle class in China. Extensive vineyard plantings in China and India may be the next contributor to another world glut. In the meantime smart marketing but above all good quality wine production is the key to success in getting attention from wine consumers around the globe. As always there is so much good wine and so little time. But I am trying my best. Cheers.

Monday, June 05, 2006

King Tut to Tetra Pak...!!

King Tut was a tippler and it turns out he liked white wines.
( Most pictures in my blog can be enlarged by clicking on the images. Try clicking on Maddie in my previous blog and you'll see what I mean )

According to researchers at the University of Spain in Barcelona, a research team discovered amphoras believed to have contained white wine. King Tut was sent off to the hereafter with both white and red wines. Wine amphora and wine scenes as pictured above have been found in Egyptian tombs as far back as 3150 BC.
Fast forward about 5000 years and we arrive at BIB's (Bag in the Box or as the Aussies call them Chateau Cardboard)
Wine companies such as Boisset from France and the Centerra wine company with the Vendange series from California claim to be having a measure of success in traditional markets. But really now, BIBS and Tetras might be fun and great for the patio and out among the Ponderosa pines, but would you really bring them out and plunk them on the dinner table while serving an elegant dinner for your guests, or with your Christmas and Easter dinners ? Do I hear dissenting voices? On the positive side, read Nick Lees article in Canada's Wine Access Magazine about the quality of boxed wines.
Help may be on its way, if you like your wine in a bottle . A UK mineral water company has launched the first biodegradable bottle. Now you won't even have to take those bottles back for a refund. They'll self destruct in no time. Of course mineral water and wine are quit different in their chemical composition. It remains to be seen whether the problem of the acidic nature of wine prematurely dissolving your bottle can be overcome. You wouldn't want that to happen before the wine has had a chance to age at least 3 months. What's next? Its summer, enjoy your wine in whatever vessel you prefer.