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Wine trade ‘Ups’ and ‘Downs’

A look at what's going up and what's going down in the wine trade as we launch in the new year

Ups

Fans of Spain’s albarino may be interested to learn that Nepenthe winery in Australia’s Adelaide Hills has been dipping its toes into those fashionable waters. An experimental planting went into Nepenthe’s Hahndorf vineyard a few years ago and the first significant vintage was taken in 2008. Nepenthe viticulturalist Murray Leake has said that the venture is still experimental but that the estate is very positive about early results

The Institut del Cava has launched a promotion in the UK aimed at increasing purchases of its sparkling wine by the glass in bars – not before time – and it would be great if they did the same here as, at the moment, Cava’s price point would make it a great alternative to Champagne in the trendier outlets

It seems vermouth is making a comeback. After Daniel Craig’s Bond outing in Casino Royale, there was a huge spike in the sales of Martini, with Tesco reporting an increase of 67%. Cinzano has had an excellent year with an increase in global sales of around 9%, with 18% in some markets, and Noilly Prat is expected to see a sales rise in 2009, following a recent repackaging

Downs

Four previously successful Dublin restaurants closed down in the last quarter of 2008 and throughout Britain and Ireland the rate of closure is expected to accelerate in the New Year. Not only are customers going to be fewer but they are going to spend less cash, as corporate spending tightens. Not good news for the premium wine sector

It’s long been known in the Irish wine trade that, despite every effort by the wine press and by independent retailers, sales of riesling have hardly moved up at all in the past decade. Now it looks like things are going the other way, with sales of German riesling slumping by almost 20% in 2008. The growing fashion for sauvignon blanc is being blamed at premium level, while pinot grigio has been tough competition at entry point

Sales of Chilean wine have slipped in several markets and some experts have advised the country to invest more in marketing and brand image creation. Argentina has been nipping hard on its heels as it grows its markets in the USA and UK and plans are now afoot to open a Wines of Chile office in the US

It is believed that Fosters is no longer to go ahead with plans to dispose of its wine division. Owners of the Rosemount and Penfold brands, it’s understood that both lack of buyers and of sufficiently high offers has induced the corporation to wait until times are better for a sale

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