Australian Wine Market Booms in 2016

People all over the world are increasingly getting a taste for Australian wine. How do we know this? New figures indicate that Australian wine exports, especially in the luxury category, boomed in 2016.

Top destination

Keep in mind that there are key differences between old and new world wine-making countries. The wine production industries in new world countries like Australia are less established, meaning that they’re more open to modernisation and to using technology to improve their techniques. Since the 18th Century, Australia has used innovation to gain a reputation as a top wine-making country.

Australia possesses the perfect climate for wine-making, meaning the product is produced in every Australian state. Various grapes are used to make Australian wines including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Historically, Australia consumes more of its own wine than it exports, but this is changing, new data shows, thanks to the Chinese market.

Chinese interest

According to Reuters, a news agency, new statistics from industry group Wine Australia, the country’s wine exports to China climbed by 40% in 2016. The People’s Republic is now the primary export destination for Australian wines. Increasing Chinese interest boosted Australia’s global wine exports last year, at a rate of 7%, so shipments were valued at US$1.67bn across the last year.

Explaining this trend Greg Corra, the Managing Director of wine exporter Inland Trading, which is based in Canberra, said: “Rather than drinking the super-expensive French wines, they were turning to Australian wines which were more affordable.” We should note, however, that France still dominates China’s wine sector, with a market share that’s around double the size of Australia’s.

Good progress

It’s also important to note that the growth of the fine wine market, supported the expansion of Australia’s wine industry as a whole. It was the fastest growing export segment in 2016. Additionally, Australian wine shipments to both the US and the UK, both key markets for the land down under, increased during this period. However, Australia’s wine exports to Hong Kong dropped by 16%.

The Hong Kong share of the market declined, because many exporters are now re-routing stock to the Chinese mainland. China used to charge 20% tariffs on wine imports, but this have now declined to below 90%. The People’s Republic recently enacted another tariff reduction, which according to wine experts could allow the country’s wine shipments to China climb by an additional 20% in 2017.

Sample fine wines

It is clear, therefore, that fine Australian wines are becoming more popular worldwide, especially in China, which itself is rapidly developing a thirst for our favourite tipple. If you want to see why consumers favour luxury Australian vintages, we can help you out. You can buy Penfolds Grange wine, one of the country’s most beloved luxury brands, from Ideal Wine Company online right now!

Cognac Exports Climb To Record Highs in 2016

It looks as though drinkers worldwide are increasingly developing a taste for Cognac. Ideal Wine Company reports on new figures, which indicate Cognac exports climbed to record highs in 2016.

Cognac exports

Cognac is a luxury brandy produced in the eponymous French region of Cognac, based in the South-West. It is produced, through a strict double distillation method involving copper pots, with specific white wine grapes, primarily Ugni Blanc. In most countries, the Cognac label is legally protected, so firms must conform to a specific production process in order to promote their products as Cognac.

Similarly to Champagne, Cognac is regarded as a luxury item, due to its traditionally high price tag. Over the years, a number of top Cognac brands, such as Remy Martin, Delamain and Claude Thorin, have caught the imagination of brandy lovers everywhere. You can find products supplied by the above mentioned brands on Ideal Wine Company’s Cognacs list, at extremely reasonable prices.

According to The Drinks Business, an industry publication, Cognacs are actually more popular now than they ever have been before. Figures supplied by the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), a sector body, indicates that Cognac exports hit a record high of 179.1m bottles in 2016. This represents increases of 6% and 6.8% in terms of volume and value respectively from 2015.

Key markets

This expansion, BNIC argues, was driven by the countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Cognac exports to the NAFTA nations increased by 14.2% (volume) and 14.3% (value), with 77.3m bottles ships. It’s important to note that the US has been Cognac’s largest market for 25 years and it retained this position in 2016, with 74.1m bottles being exported there alone last year.

The growth of the US market has been fuelled the expansion of the VS segment, which now comprises half of Cognac exports. VS saw volume and value rises of 9.6% and 13%. VSOP, which comprises 40% of the market, experienced smaller value and volume climbs of 0.3% and 0.4%, but old quality Cognac experienced a resurgence, with increases of 11.7% (volume) and 8.3% (value) in the same period.

Meanwhile, due to the stabilising Chinese market, 51.1m bottles were shipped to the Far East last year, equalling volume and value upticks of 1% and 3%. Yet only 39.4m bottles were sent to Europe in 2016, a slight decline on 2015, with volume and value falling by 1.2% and 1% each. However, Cognac exports to the rest of the world (e.g. the Caribbean and Africa) climbed slightly across last year.

Popular drink

These figures indicate, therefore, that Cognacs across the age classification spectrum, from VS to XO (extra old), are becoming more popular across the majority of the world. People are increasingly recognising that Cognac is a delicious drink, which can also be used to make fantastic cocktails and delicious dishes. If you want a quality product, you should consider buying Cognac in 2017!

Opinions Are Divided On Quality Of 2016 Champagne

Representatives from two of the world’s top Champagne houses recently expressed differing opinions, concerning the quality of the 2016 vintage. Ideal Wine Company reports.

Background info

The grapes used in Champagne production are grown in the eponymous French region. Consequently, these products are influenced by the Champagne area’s terroir, which encompasses everything from soil to weather. So depending on weather conditions, some years’ vintages are better than others.

Regions across France experienced adverse – sometimes even bizarre, weather conditions this year, impacting its grape harvest. For examples, heavy frosts hit Burgundy in the spring, with projections showing that they damaged 46% of the region’s vineyards by over 30%. The Champagne region did not escape these adverse weather patterns, so have they damaged grape production and quality?

Unexpected quality

Assessing opinion, The Drinks Business found it to be divided. Commenting, AR Lenoble’s co-owner, Anne Malassagne, said: “It’s too early to decide if 2016 will be a vintage year but the quality of the grapes we picked was unexpected. We were very worried in the middle of August but we enjoyed three weeks of sunny days and cool nights that helped to keep the acidity levels high enough. We had perfect conditions in September apart from a few days of rain, which didn’t cause any damage.

Going on, she said: “We started picking our Pinot Noir and Meunier on 15th September then had to stop for a few days to wait for the Chardonnay to get ripe enough. Some of the Chardonnay was a bit too sweet so we blocked malolactic fermentation this year. The South of Champagne was hit hard by April frosts and some estates lost almost all of their crop to hail in villages like Urville. Our crop is down by about 20% on 2015 but we’re very happy with the quality of the grapes we picked.”

Nightmare harvest

However Regis Camus, the Chef De Cave of Champagne house Piper-Heidsieck, expressed a contrasting opinion. Explaining his position further, the Chef De Cave said: “The 2016 vintage was a nightmare. We had snow in April and very low temperatures in the vineyards. Nearly all of the vines in the Côte des Bar were killed by frost – production in Champagne is down by 15%. We had lots of rain in May, June and July, which led to an explosion of mildew like I’ve never seen before.”

“Thankfully the August heat stopped the march of the mildew. The grapes were tiny though and were drying out on the spot. Our harvest was down by 33%. Pinot Noir and Meunier ripened faster than Chardonnay, which is unusual. In fact, our Chardonnay ripened at the right time but our Pinot ripened early. It will be an interesting challenge trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and make our Cuvée Brut from the 2016 vintage. We will have to rely more heavily on reserve wines and will use at least 20% in the blend,” potentially damaging this products renowned quality.

Try Champagne

The only way we’re going to be able to assess the quality of the 2016 vintage, therefore, is by actually sampling these Champagnes. If you want something to measure them against, you could buy top Champagnes from Ideal Wine Company. Visit the Champagnes list on our official website and you’ll find bottles from prestigious brands like Dom Perignon, Salon and Krug, providing you with true luxury!

Image by Simon Law.

What Can You Expect From The 2016 Port?

Reports recently confirmed that this year’s Port grape harvest was “surprisingly good,” raising hopes over the quality of the vintage. Ideal Wine Company asks: what can you expect from the 2016 Port?

Growing conditions

Port is a fortified wine produced in the Douro Valley region of Northern Portugal. Like Champagne, Port wine is a legally protected product, so it must be made according to certain rules. While the drink can be produced from over a hundred grape varieties, there are only five that are commonly used. These are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cão.

Similar to wine, the quality of the grapes used for Port depends on the region’s ‘terroir.’ According to Wine Folly, an industry website, this term refers to “how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine.” The Douro Valley has the perfect climate, soil and terrain for Port, but the weather is also a determining factor, so some years produce superior vintages to others.

Inclement weather

We already know that 2016 has seen bursts of inclement weather envelop France, damaging the country’s grape output. Earlier this year hailstorms hit Cognac, home to its famous eponymous brandy, badly damaging around 6% to 8% of vineyard crops. Meanwhile, this spring Burgundy was subjected to heavy frosts, with estimates indicating that they ruined 46% of the area’s vineyards by over 30%.

The Douro Valley didn’t escape unscathed either. The 2016 growing year began with a warm winter and a hotter than average December and January. Coupled with a colder, wetter spring than usual, this created the perfect conditions for mildew, which can ruin grapes. Also the region experienced hailstorms in July, resulting in “significant” grape losses and a lack of uniform maturity at harvest time.

Surprisingly good

Despite these factors, Port producer Sogevinus claims, the harvest was “surprisingly good.” Commenting, a report from the company was quoted by The Drinks Business, an industry portal, says: “The maturation analysis showed good results, and our visits to the vineyards confirmed this year was going to be good. Although the berries and bunches were smaller than other years, they showed a good pulp/skin ratio, a sign of richer and more complex wines. But the maturation of the parcels in the vineyards was not uniform, which required careful planning in the picking decisions.”

Going on, the report there was “freshness, medium acidity and good colour” in its red Port wine grapes, with a good overall health and yield. It added that the Touriga Francesa, along with Touriga Nacional grapes were particularly well-formed and should create “rich and fat” wines. Elaborating, the report revealed: “The Port wines [for 2016] are already proving to be clean and quite aromatic, and concentrated in colour. However, their tannins are not quite fully rounded, which tells us the wines from this harvest will need ageing time to refine and reveal all their potential.”

Buy Port wine

It looks as though the 2016 Port vintage will be good, with strong colours and rich flavours. If you want to see what a fantastic Port looks like, before the 2016 vintage starts being released, buy the Fonseca’s Finest 1977 Vintage Port from Ideal Wine Company. A truly classic vintage, it’ll blow you away!