Issue 03/2017

Saturday, 17. June 2017 - 9:30



Almost a decade ago, I went to the Climate Change and Wine conference in Barcelona, and listened to hours of talks on how the world’s weather was changing and what it could mean for wine. As if to illustrate the point, water restrictions were announced in the region that same weekend. Barcelona’s fountains, swimming pools, and lakes were drained, and the city began shipping in water. Coming from Australia, I understood all about drought and water restrictions. Even so, the discussions about what might happen some time in the future seemed somewhat theoretical in 2008. Vines might migrate up to higher slopes. Warm inland regions might become unviable. Heat spikes and water would become major issues… eventually.

Well, the day of reckoning is upon us. Each of the past three years have been the hottest on record; above-average temperatures have resulted in the bleaching of more than 70% of the Great Barrier Reef; and droughts may be responsible for driving people out of Africa to Europe.

Over the same period, there’s been a search by consumers for authenticity in the food chain. People are much more aware of provenance, and are more interested in local, authentic cuisine than they were at the turn of this century.

The wine trade has been at the forefront of both trends. Because grapes are sensitive to temperature, wine producers were concerned about lowering carbon emissions, recycling water, and reducing chemical inputs long before their colleagues in other areas of agriculture. This drive towards sustainability in the vineyard and winery is now accelerating, in tandem with a quest to rediscover old varieties and find less interventionist ways to make wine.

In this issue, consultant Monty Waldin looks at what it costs to go organic or biodynamic, and what the viticultural and financial consequences are. I look at the rise of biodynamic methods, and we have articles on the trend in Italy for making sparkling wine from autochthonous varieties. Michèle Shah reports on the situation with natural wines in Italy, while Jeff Siegel asks why organic wines still haven’t really taken off in the US.

Of course, we have all our usual popular features as well. Treve Ring has written a Who’s Who of Canada; Christian Burgos explores what’s happening with Brazilian consumers; and Jeff Siegel introduces the top distributors in the US, and gives some advice on the best (and worst) ways to approach them. There is also an extensive feature on inbound/content marketing, with insights from Lisa Mattson of Jordan Winery, who is acknowledged as the best content marketer in the wine business.

Speaking of hot weather, we’re taking a short pause over summer, so your next issue will reach you in August, to get you ready for the back-to-work period.

Felicity Carter

Content of this issue

The man who knows taste

Tim Hanni MW has done research on how taste functions, which has enabled him to not only predict wine trends — but to help drive them.
He discusses his work with Robert Joseph.

The sweet wine boom in China

Online shops that specialise in sweet wines are doing well in China. Could they offer hope to a category in crisis?
Oliver Zhou reports.

The wine life in Brazil

While Brazil has been through economic and political turmoil, its citizens have continued to enjoy their wine. Christian Burgos looks at the trends.

Power lists: top us distributors

Jeff Siegel identifies not only the major distributors in the US, but also some of the up-and-coming ones — and explains how to approach them.

The cost of going sustainable

Noted wine consultant Monty Waldin looks at what it actually takes to convert a vineyard to the organic or biodynamic way of doing things.