Archive for January, 2009


The South African wine industry is looking at cohesive and collective marketing strategies for the lucrative US wine market. The USAPA were founded by Dana Buys and this initiative was also supported by Wines of South Africa.

The current state of consumer spending suggests that SA wines have a long way to go but to I am sure that we are up for the challenges.

Here are a few figures regarding US wine consumer spending.

It is fairly well known that Americans are one of the biggest consumers of wines. What is not well known is of the wines consumed by Americans, what proportion of wines are imported and what proportion of wines are produced in the US.

The US Department of Commerce estimates that 61% of all wines sold in the US come from California. The remainder of the wine consumed in the US is divided with 13% coming from other US states and 26% are imported into the US.

Wines that are imported into the US come primarily from five countries. These countries supply the majority (87%) of the total value of wines imported into the United States:

France supplies 31% of US imported wines
Italy supplies 28% of US imported wine.
Australia supplies 17% of US imported wines
Spain supplies 5.8% of US imported wines
Chile supplies 4.5% of US imported wines
The next five major suppliers of imported wines to the United States (accounting for 12% combined) are: New Zealand, Germany, Argentina, Portugal, and South Africa.

The EU is the largest supplier of wine imports to the United States. However, in 2000 the EU accounted for 77% of wine imports to the US, but in 2007 the EU accounted for only 70% of wine imports to the US.

The World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) had an increase from 22% of wine imported into the US in 2000 to 28% of wine imported into the US in 2007. The WWTG members include: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and United States

Source: Wine and Food Blog


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It was in 1652 that Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape, tasked with establishing a garden to provision VOC ships. The first vines arrived in 1655 imported from France, the Rhineland and Spain. Naturally, these were planted in the Company’s Gardens, six acres of which survive as a botanical garden in central Cape Town to this day.

Jan van Riebeeck’s diary entry of February 2, 1659 reads: “today, praise be to God, wine was pressed for the first time from Cape grapes, and the new must was tested fresh from the vat.”

Van Riebeeck also planted 1,000 vines at his own farm, Boscheuvel, while his successor, Simon van der Stel, staked his personal claim on the lower slopes of the Steenbergen in Constantia. Once these Governors showed that successful large-scale grape cultivation was possible, other free farmers followed suit. Until then grapes had served primarily as adornments for verandahs and stables!

This was the origin of the famously historic sweet wines of Constantia. Constantia vintners placed a premium on quality rather than quantity, attending their vines with care, and thus differentiating them from the somewhat rough and rudimentary wines produced elsewhere.

Fans of Constantia wines include Frederic the Great of Prussia while Danish foreign Minister Johann Sigismund Schulin’s cellar records of 1744 indicate a considerable stock of Constantia. Famous French poet Baudelaire was a fan, as were Napoleon Bonaparte and British author Jane Austen, who wrote about them in Sense and Sensibility.

French Huguenot refugees in 1688 settled in the Drakenstein Valley, an area better suited to vines than grain cultivation, providing a much-needed boost as a few of their number knew about wine and viticulture. In the early 1700s wine farmers found themselves stuck with a surplus of pretty poor quality wine – but production grew apace because of uncontrolled planting of vineyards.

By 1800 around 5 million litres of wine was produced annually. Wine farmers found themselves in a situation which was to last for centuries: a surplus of less-than-ideal quality wine that was difficult to dispose of allied to the reliance upon a fickle foreign market. Only when crops failed or Europe was at war were South African wines in demand. The exception, of course, was Constantia and sweet wines such as muscadel and hanepoot.

In the 1800s, British occupation meant a strong military and naval presence – and a consequent good demand for South African wines in Britain post 1813. However, it was fleeting, with preferential tariffs abolished in 1861 – leading once again to surplus. Added to this was the phylloxera epidemic which devastated plantings. First encountered in a vineyard in Mowbray in January 1886, it spread rapidly. Vintners were compelled to destroy millions of vines by uprooting and burning. Only the introduction of phylloxera-resistant American rootstock saved the industry.

At the turn of the 20th century, South Africa was itself at war, with Boer and Brit pitted against each other. However, wine and brandy sold well during 1899 and 1902 – but, following the cessation of hostilities, surpluses built up and prices dropped dramatically.

Perhaps one of the most significant events was the creation of the KWV (Ko-operatiewe Wijnbouwers Vereniging van Zuid-Afrika, Beperkt) in 1918. It saved many wine farmers from ruin by uniting their producers’ interest under a single umbrella organisation, stabilising production and setting minimum prices. The country’s change of government in 1948 ushered in the era of apartheid and many former trading partners applied economic sanctions in protest. Lieberstein bucked the trend. Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery launched the semi-sweet white and backed it with an aggressive marketing campaign. By 1965 it was the biggest selling natural wine of its kind – worldwide.

However, the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and the rapid – and peaceful – transition to democracy paved the way for sustained growth in the modern era. Along with the establishment of a dedicated export marketing body (Wines of South Africa), a new generation of young winemakers were able to work and travel abroad, returning with fresh skills, techniques and ideas.

International exposure and dramatic growth in sales led to a change in style of South African wine as well as a greater commitment to improving quality. This has been reflected in the slew of international awards claimed by South African wines since democratic elections were first held in 1994, a remarkable turnaround and achievement for an industry which is simultaneously 350 – and 15 – years old.

Go to http://www.southafricanwine350.co.za to view the array of wonderful events and promotions planned for the year to celebrate this commemorative day.

Article was written by Annareth Bolton, CEO Stellenbosch Wine Routes


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It’s official. The ladies from New York are doing it again. HBO has confirmed that the Sex and the City sequel is in the early stages of development, reports The Hollywood Insider.

Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays successful author and columnist Carrie Bradshaw said, “The studio is very enthusiastic, which is lovely and seductive. We’re at the place where [writer/director] Michael [Patrick King] has a wealth of stories…” While the script has not been finalized, producer-actress Parker is expected to earn $30 million (R 300 million) from the sequel.

It’s quite a change of attitude from Parker, who – in September – denied rumours of an impending sequel saying, “It has taken the last two years of my life to get to this point. To ask for anything beyond that – honestly, we would have to be greedy.”

Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis are likely to enjoy more profitable paychecks for the sequel. Sex and The City: The Movie grossed $ 391 million (R 3.9 billion) worldwide. The film was so successful that Dan Fellman, Warner’s president for theatrical distribution, said, “It’s a cultural phenomenon; it’s an absolutely incredible event.”

Michael Lombardo, president of HBO’s programming group, said, “We’re really heartened by the fans’ enthusiasm. Absolutely, there is a lot of energy behind doing another SATC movie.”

Parker says the script is in development. But what could possibly trump the first film now? Most of the series’ conflicts have been resolved, including Carrie marrying Mr. Big and Charlotte overcoming infertility. So far, Parker has promised fans her character will not become a mother in the sequel. She said, “It feels a little bit manipulative to toss that into the mix, because she seems so pointed in a different direction,” Actress Archives reports.

Sex and the City: The Movie was a firm favourite with audiences but not with marketing monitor, Brandchannel which has tracked product placement in big-budget films since 2001. SATC was handed the Film Whore award by Brandchannel. The film featured 25 fashion designers, seven electronics brands, seven publications, seven food and drinks brands, five cosmetics companies, three car companies, and one airline.


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Wine is a very mysterious drink. This is also the reason why the wine enthusiasts are fascinated no end by the multitude of flavors, all coming from just one fruit-grapes.

There are, however, many misconceptions and even myths that need to be demystified before anyone can go to the next level in terms of fully understanding wine.

Here is a few of the most common misconceptions I received in my over 10 years of teaching, writing, and marketing in this industry.

1. The older the wine, the better

How often do we hear this? A lot of people seem to believe in the myth that the older the red wine, the better it gets. While this is the case for most premium red wines, it is definitely a huge fallacy. A light bodied red wine, meant for early drinking, will die naturally when cellared past its prime. And think about this, if the wine you are drinking is bad now, adding a few more years of aging will not miraculously transform it to become a better wine-we are not that lucky. And even premium wines, like those grand cru Bordeaux wines, are not guaranteed for long-term keeping. It depends on the vintage and basically the viscosity and body of the wine.

Stronger, high-tannin wines need time to mellow down before achieving its optimal flavor and taste profile. Only this type of wines, the full bodied, high tannin and well-oaked are worth cellaring.

2. White wine does not age

This is another sweeping statement. I know all of us at one time or another experienced bad white wines because we kept them too long before drinking. We see white wines that turn gold and amber in color, and lose its aromatic qualities. While we attribute it to lack of longevity of the whites, the usual culprit is poor storage. White wines are more sensitive to UV rays due to lightly colored or even transparent bottles. Also, white whites contain less tannins and alcohol, both factors in preserving the wine. Most white wines that does not last beyond three years are light-bodied wines.

This is in contrast to the fuller whites of Bordeaux, particularly the Sauternes and Barsac region, German Trockenbeerenauslese made from Riesling, and even the Coteaux du Layon wines of Loire made from Chenin Blanc. It is no coincidence that all these above-mentioned whites are on the sweeter, higher residual sugar side. For the dryer longer keeping whites, I would go with the Cote de Beaune, Burgundy trio of Meursault, Puligny Montrachet, and Chassagne Montrachet wines made from the omnipresent Chardonnay grapes.

3. Wine is a healthy drink

While this belief contributed to the huge renaissance of wines, in particular red wines in the late 1990s (the French Paradox syndrome), this is highly deceiving. I know… I’m in the wine trade, and a health endorsement can be very beneficial, but it is too general, and abuse of wine, like other alcoholic beverages, has its worst consequence. The health angle of wines come from the antioxidant and anti-clotting properties of flavanoids that fight cardiovascular diseases. It is more preventive than cure. On the other hand, too much alcohol intake will lead to cirrhosis of the liver, and eventually, liver cancer, which are both a lot more harmful.

So, wine, red or white, has to be taken in moderation, 2 to 3 glasses per meal is acceptable. That is why sharing a bottle (normal 750 ml) with a friend or loved one is always great. Each person can have maximum 3 glasses, well within the moderation rate. If you have two major meals a day, lunch and dinner, that can mean 6 glasses of wine a day or roughly 1 full bottle in a spaced out span of 7 to 8 hours. Not shabby at all.

4. Screwcap wines are cheap and of poor quality

It will probably take more than a lifetime (or maybe never) before a Screaming Eagle or Chateau Margaux will be closed in screwcap instead of natural cork-the former, a cult wine from Napa, being more a possibility than the latter French first growth grand cru Bordeaux wine.

The reason for this is mostly image and aesthetics. The New World wines have embraced this closure concept as evidenced by the surfacing screwcap-ed wines from Australia, California, New Zealand, and even South America. The screwcap closure or correctly termed as Stelvin, created from highest French technology, is actually an excellent closure. The Stelvin closure not only substitute for the dwindling problem of cork oaks, but it can eradicate the dreaded TCA (or Trichoroanisole) or “cork taint” that still affect over 2 percent of the world’s cork closure wines.

TCA is a compound that surfaced when chlorine used in cleaning and bleaching interacts with molds inherent in the cork. This can either happen in the cork producers side because chlorine solution is used to clean the bark of the cork oak, or at the winery. TCA is vulnerable in many areas of a winery’s bottling facilities, from drains, tanks to the barrels. O

ne of the largest wine markets in the world, the United Kingdom, is extremely partial to Stelvin closures due to their bad experience with corked wines and TCA. This has contributed to the popularity of Stelvin wines as of late. So, the bottom line is screwcap is a mere closure-nothing to do with quality.

Source: Manila Standard

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Wine and health


As the New Year unfolds, many people are examining their waist lines, considering resolutions about their diets, and making reservations at their local gym or spa.

Unfortunately, one of the items often displaced from their diets is wine! After all, wine contains calories. But perhaps you haven’t heard the story about wine and health, so don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Wine is a very complex natural food that contains a wide variety of things, not just alcohol. Wine contains minerals, grape sugars, several organic acids and some organic esters that give the wine those wonderful flavors and smells. Depending on the type of wine (red or white), wine might offer you between 80 and 100 calories per 4-5 ounce serving. If you are a moderate wine consumer, the caloric content of wine is nothing to be too concerned about.

The real fascinating thing about wine is that it contains some truly amazing and potentially beneficial health factors. I’m sure most wine lovers have heard the story of the “French paradox,” which suggests that the consumption of red wine is perhaps responsible for the low levels of some heart disease in many parts of France. Years of scientific research have lent credence to this proposal. Although many of the early studies tried to relate the positive health effects of moderate wine consumption to alcohol, something seemed to be missing. Alcohol could not explain some of the rather dramatic health effects observed in moderate wine consumers.

The secret ingredient in wine can be found in a unique class of natural organic compounds known as the polyphenolics, or tannins. These same tannins can be found in a variety of nuts and in tea. These complex organic compounds have now been shown to be excellent antioxidants that tend to protect the body from what is known as oxidative stress, which is another way of saying aging!

Certain of the tannins are quite effective in inhibiting the aggregation of human blood platelets which helps prevent ischemic heart disease. They can also effectively increase the levels of high density lipoprotein, or HDL, which is known as the “good cholesterol.”

But the real secret of wine is a simple organic compound called trans-resveratrol. This compound is found in the skins and seeds of grapes and serves as a natural antifungal agent that protects the grape vine against fungal attack.

Although the levels of this compound are quite small in most wines, the list of potential health benefits is amazing. In various animal studies, this compound has been shown to have a direct effect on fat cells and may provide a means of dealing with obesity and related diseases. It has also been shown in animal studies to provide some degree of protection to brain cells and the damage that occurs with stroke.

One of the most exciting results suggests that this compound may have some benefits to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

There are a few things you should know about resveratrol. First, the levels of this compound are always highest in red wines and usually quite low in white wines. This is because red wines are fermented on the grape skins and seeds, which is where all of the resveratrol is stored.

You may wonder which wines you should pick in order to get the most resveratrol. There are basically three things to consider in choosing a red wine for its resvertatrol content: the grape varietal (cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir), the region where the grapes are grown, and the techniques used in producing the wine.

Most studies have shown that pinot noir, which is generally a lighter colored red wine than a cabernet, is the best choice for higher resveratrol levels. Cabernet sauvignon wines are generally quite high in resveratrol content as are merlot, syrah and shiraz wines. Quite often some of the more expensive red wines, like those from Bordeaux or the Rhone Valley, have been shown to have relatively low levels of resveratrol. Most of these styles of wine have been aged in oak barrels, and apparently extended oak aging diminishes the compound’s level.

Wines produced in warmer climates seem to have higher levels of resveratrol than wines from a cooler climate, and long-term soaking of the wine on the skins usually produces higher levels of resveratrol and other polyphenolics. The color of the red wine has very little to do with the levels of polyphenolics in the wine.

Source: dailypress.com

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A modest amount of wine could help to beat memory loss and delay the onset of dementia, claim researchers, who added that the same goes for a few  squares of chocolate and cups of tea.

However, if anyone thinks that they have got the licence to over-indulge during the festive season, should beware. According to scientists, the benefits wear off dramatically if people take more than half a glass of wine, four squares of chocolate or five cups of tea.

To reach the conclusion, Oxford University researchers examined more than 2,000 elderly people to measure cognitive performance.

They found that chocolate, wine and tea boosted the brainpower of those aged 70 to 74, reports the Daily Express.

Wine was most effective, with better performances after just a tipple.

It has long been claimed that people who consume a lot of flavonoids – present in the food and drinks studied – show lower signs of dementia.

But while the new findings support this theory, researchers still can”t explain why.

Professor David Smith, who led the work, said improvements were limited to a maximum level each day.

“They had got better results depending on how much they consumed, although it did plateau,” he said.

Source: The Times of India

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Decanter reports that sales of sparkling wine in the UK are set to increase by more than 20% over the next three years, while red wine purchases will drop by nearly 5%, according to new research.

Rosé sales will rise by nearly 50%, white wine sales by over 7%.

The findings of the survey, carried out by the International Wine & Spirits Record on behalf of Vinexpo, the wine fair held in Bordeaux every two years, paint a remarkably optimistic picture given the general malaise hanging over the UK wine industry and the state of the economy. By volume, wine consumption in the UK is predicted to increase by 6.87%, from 145.1m cases in 2008 to 155m by 2012.By value, the increase is estimated to be 7.25%.The UK will remain the world’s biggest wine importer, with imports topping 135.8m cases in 2007.

Between 2003 and 2007 wine drinking in the UK increased by 12%.Consumption in the UK will rise to 143.9m cases in 2012, an increase of 5.9%.

And although red wine consumption in the UK is expected to fall by 4.57% between 2008 and 2012 (57.2m cases, down from 60m), rosé sales should rise by nearly 50%, from 12.5m cases to 18.45m. White wine consumption is also predicted to climb, from 63.7m cases to 68.6, an increase of 7.7%.

Vinexpo CEO Robert Beynat said past experience indicated that the recession may not seriously affect wine sales.‘This study was made at the end of last year, when the crisis was not so evident, but even so, we have seen these crises before, and the effect on wine consumption was not so high.’ The Italians will overtake France to become the biggest drinkers of wine per capita, at 56.4 litres a head.In terms of volume, the US will become the biggest wine-drinking nation by 2012, with 313.8m cases drunk.

Globally, wine consumption is expected to increase by 6%, with 2.8bn cases consumed by 2012.

Beynat, who attributed the positive figures – especially in white wine – to an emergence of younger wine drinkers, added: ‘The world is drinking more, and the world is drinking better. The world will not stop drinking wine.’ 

Source: Decanter



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