Wine news January 2012

Sale! Sale! Sale!

sale bagAs always, there are ‘sales’ and there are ‘sales’, but there’s no doubt that January brings a crop of buying opportunities as wine merchants clear out ‘bin-ends’ – remnants of older vintages or lines that have been discountinued. Most have sales of some kind, but a few highlights from merchants who also sponsor wine-pages: the ever reliable Berry Bros & Rudd has savings of up to 40% off list prices, including a number of ‘web exclusives’ such as Quinta de la Rosa’s top Douro red ‘Poeira’ down from £33.15 to £23.00. Cadman Fine Wines has a cracking sale too, though I’ve noted some lines disappearing fast. But there are still wines like the fine Bouldevines Gewürztraminer 2008 from Marlborough at half price, down to £6.50 from £12.99. Meanwhile the deals at Winedeal include a couple of wines I’ve reviewed like the “bold, rich and berry fruited,” Step Rd McLaren Vale Shiraz down from £12.49 to £7.49 and fine Las Moras Chardonnay almost half price at £7.99. Bancroft Wines don’t call theirs a January Sale, but there are some attractive deals, top of which for me is possible the Pitchfork Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from Margaret River in Australia. It’s the 2009 vintage and it’s almost half price, down from £12.70 to just £6.60. Great Western Wine is now owned by superb importer Enotria, and has some offers that look just too tempting. The Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris at £6.00 per bottle is down from £16.00 for example. London merchant Jascots is taking a different approach as you have to be there in person on 28th January to grab some bargains, with their warehouse sale offering everything at between 20% and 50% off. Back online, the aristocratic Corney & Barrow has its Fine Wine Sale coming up, but meanwhile their bin-end sale has some surprisingly low prices including Bin 410 Semillon Chardonnay at £3.99. These are just some of many sales on now. Happy hunting!

How Many Units?

list of drinksResearch by the Wilson Drinks Report shows that drinkers do not know which drinks contain the most units of alcohol. Two thousand adults were surveyed and shown the list of nine alcoholic drinks and drink combinations shown right. They were asked to choose which one contained the most units of alcohol. 43% chose ‘3 x single vodka and Red Bulls’, whilst only 9% chose a 250ml large glass of red wine. In fact, the glass of wine has significantly higher units of alcohol. Tim Wilson, Managing Director of the Wilson Drinks Report commented: “We know 90% of adults are aware of units of alcohol. But our research shows that drinkers do not know which drinks contain the most units.” From the nine drinks shown, almost a third of those surveyed could not even hazard a guess as to which contained the most units.

What recession?

cash-registerThe usual flurry of trading statements from UK retailers after the Christmas rush includes a few from significant wine retailers, and suggests that despite tough economic times and worries over the future, the British wine drinking public decided Christmas wasn’t cancelled after all. Online retailer Slurp claims the number of orders they processed jumped by 162% in December 2011 over December 2010, with revenues also leaping by 73.4%. Majestic joined in the fun too, reporting that total UK store sales, excluding VAT, were up 8.4% for the nine weeks of Christmas trading from 1 November 2011 to 2 January 2012 underpinned by like for like UK store sales growth of 4.0%. Of course there’s a business saying that ‘turnover is vanity profit is sanity’ and the statements from Slurp and Majestic do not mention the profitability of these orders, or how deep the discounts were to generate them…

Crystal Berry’s

berry's logoThere’s been a lot of it about: peering into crystal balls to predict 2012’s wine trends. But the list published by Berry Bros & Rudd is based on 300 years of trading history and observations of their most recent year of sales, so makes for interesting reading. Amongst the findings are that Champagne has lost none of its fizz with sales the strongest for three years, up almost 17% by volume and 41% by value on 2010. Prosecco is another rising star as sales soared in 2011 by 28% in terms of volume and by 37% in value. It was also a record year for Englsh wine, with sales up 50% by value and 25% by volume, which Berry’s says is “on the back of dramatically improved quality which has driven greater demand from drinkers.” Australian wines continues to be the most popular with UK consumers with a market share of over 21.5%, but French wine was Berry’s biggest seller with over 1.3 million bottles, pipping Italy whose sales rose by 29% in volume and 15% in value on 2010. Premium wine sales continued to grow, and Berry Bros say the average amount spent on a bottle of wine climbed to £51.60 in 2011, “showing that discerning drinkers are happy to splash out for the right wine.” In terms of hunches and predictions, Alun Griffiths MW, Buying Director from Berry Bros. said: “Spain will be a region to watch in 2012 with its well-made, attractively-priced red and white wines; Argentina continues to make huge strides and South Africa is now producing some excellent wines.”

The Cube

the cubeShould you be planning a winter or spring visit to Milan before the 26th April 2012 you might at least try to secure a reservation at The Cube, a temporary fine dining restaurant perched on the roof of one of the highest buildings in the Piazza Del Duomo. The Cube offers a “unique Gastronomic Experience,” for the next four months only. Sponsored by Electrolux, The Cube will host a rotating team of award-winning resident chefs beginning with Michelin-Starred brothers Christian and Manuel Costard. The Chefs will encourage guests to explore their own creative boundaries when entertaining at home by sharing their personal hints and tips from the kitchen. The first cube was located on top of the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels. The Cube by Electrolux is also planned for an appearance in London during 2012 at another stunning location which will be announced nearer the time. For more information please visit

Great British Wine Buffs

chartIn a blind taste test three quarters of Britons could distinguish key fruit flavours and characters in a glass of wine according to new research released by Australian wine producer, McGuigan Wine. The survey, of 1,058 adults spanning five UK cities found that on average three-quarters of Britons (77%) could identify the key fruit flavours and characteristics in a glass of wine, when asked to taste it blind. And, nearly a third (28%) could, when prompted, identify the specific wine type that they had just tasted. Those in Manchester have the most accurate wine tasting palate according to the survey, with four out of five (82%) Mancunians able to successfully identify the key fruit characters in their glass of wine.