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Marlborough Vineyard Development: Video Presentation

Image © New Zealand Wine

This short video shows how some key vineyard characteristics in Marlborough have changed through time. Note how Marlborough has become the largest vineyard area in New Zealand, the rise and rise of Sauvignon Blanc, and the relative importance of other varietals such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.

 

Indian Wine: Production, Imports and Exports

India header

The Indian wine market – for both domestic production and imports – has expanded considerably over the past decade. Precise industry figures are not easy to come by as there is, as yet, no official compilation of wine statistics for India.  Not surprisingly, different sources seem to quote slightly different figures and sometimes appear to interchange production with sales.

Arguably the most reliable published information is that produced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of their Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN).  Their 2012 Wine Market Update for India (pdf) was compiled utilising state excise data and combining this with various local industry reports and estimates.  While not perfect, this compilation has the advantage of having produced historical figures on a consistent basis.  It ought, therefore to reasonably accurately show the overall industry trends.

Indian wine production, imports and exports

The growth of Indian wine production, imports and exports is shown here utilising the USDA GAIN compilation. Production appears to have peaked in 2010 at about 130,000 hl.  Until then farmers had been increasingly setting aside land for the production of wine grapes. A poor harvest in 2009, coupled with a buildup of inventory at the wineries, caused many farmers to give up on wine grapes altogether as the industry underwent a painful period of restructuring. Exports have struggled to exceed more than about 10% of production as Indian wines compete unfavouably price-wise with New World competitors.

Wine imports into India, 2010

Wine imports into India dipped sharply after 2008 due to the combined effects of the gobal financial crisis and a drop-off in tourism following the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai. Since 2009 wine imports have continued to rise, reaching a high of 44,000 hl in 2011, despite the prevailing 150% federal tariff. France, Italy and Australia are the main wine exporters to India and together constitute over 50% of wine imports. The EU is attempting to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with India which, if successful, would radically favour imports of EU wines over other producing countries.  It would also put enormous pressure on domestic wine producers who are still dealing with their own problems of oversupply and disttribution.

Do Decanter Wine Scores Correlate With Wine Price?

Price Points Header

As wine consumers, we are often being urged by the trade to increase the amount of money we spend on a bottle of wine.  The argument, goes something like this.  Better wines require superior grapes, more careful vinification and perhaps longer ageing.  Since each of these factors incurs additional expenditure, better wines will inevitably be more expensive.  So if you want a better bottle of wine this holiday, well, simply open your wallet a little wider.

Score vs Price Plot for Soave (Sept, 2012)

Of course, such an analysis is way too simplistic as there are many factors which determine the price of a bottle of wine.  Larger producers may experience economies of scale and have larger marketing budgets.  Smaller producers may argue that they have a boutique offering with rareity value.  As consumers’ tastes change, retailers may have to scramble their prices so as to keep demand in balance with supply.

Similarly, it is very difficult – some would say impossible – to objectively assess wine quality. Not that this has stopped the majority of wine critics.  Although many of them will claim that it is important for consumers to read their tasting notes, most of them post-Parker feel obliged to attach a numerical rating. Retailers love scores as they move markets.  Consumers have been warned about the unreliability of wine scores, but nevertheless continue to make use of them in their buying decisions.

 

Score vs Price Plot for Albarino (Aug, 2012)

Score vs Price Plot for Brunello 2007 (Aug, 2012)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Given the complexity of factors which determine wine price and the difficulties of objectively scoring wines, we might expect there to be little relation between wine prices and scores.  So is this the case?

Decanter magazine, in their print edition, publish regular reviews of particular wines with quality assessments by respected wine experts.   Each expert includes their numerical assessment of quality for each individual wine, which the magazine averages and then assigns to a quality band.

Plots of average score against price for three wine types (Soave, Albarino and Brunello di Montalcino 2007) show that there is a very low correlation between average Decanter wine scores and price.  Indeed in the case of Soave the correlation is slightly negative.  Wine purchasing will remain a complex decision process.

How Large is That New Zealand Vineyard Region?

Image © New Zealand Wine

For the early part of the 21st century, New Zealand Winegrowers produced an annual statistical report which provided detailed information on vineyards and varietals throughout the country.  These studies helped estimate future wine production, determine infrastructure needs and better understand disease management requirements.  They were an invaluable aid for studying the development of the New Zealand wine industry and their curtailment after 2009 left researchers dependent upon estimated projections.

Regional Vineyard Growth in New Zealand

So many workers will welcome New Zealand Winegrowers’ recently published Vineyard Register Report for 2012, together with news that in future this will be updated on an annual basis.  The current report provides a timely snapshot of the New Zealand vineyard and a chance to see how past projections have  played out.

The most noticeable feature is the continued – yet seemingly unpredicted – growth of vineyard area in Marlborough.  New Zealand Winegrowers had predicted that between 2009 and 2012 the Marlborough vineyard area would increase by 6.4% from 18,401 ha to 19,570 ha.  In fact the increase in the Marlborough vineyard area was a whopping 4,186 ha (22.7%), giving it a total vine-bearing area in 2012 of 22,587 ha.

Growth of varietals in Marlborough

There has been much recent interest in Pinots from Marlborough and it might have been thought that these varietals would account for a good part of the Marlborough vineyard area increase between 2009 and 2012.  In percentage terms they both showed substantial gains with the Pint Noir vineyard area increasing by 18% (367 ha) and the Pinot Gris vineyard by 74% (405 ha).  Yet Sauvignon Blanc with a 27% increase (3,705 ha) accounted for the vast majority of the expanded vineyard area in Marlborough between 2009 and 2012.

Outside of Marlborough, recorded changes to regional vineyard areas from 2009 to 2012 are small in absolute terms.  The most noteable change is the increase in vineyard area in Otago (1,532 ha to 1,787ha).  Coupled with a reported downsizing in Gisborne (2,149 ha to 1,617 ha), this means that Otago is now officially the third largest vineyard region in New Zealand after Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay.  Don’t try to remember this unless you’re a serious pub quizzer or wine student!

 

2012 Global Wine Production – Lowest Since 1975

OIV

According to a Press Release from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), world wine production in 2012 is expected to be between 243.5 and 252.9 million hectolitres (Mhl).  The OIV believes that this represents the lowest production since at least 1975.

According to the OIV this increase is due to a combination of a decrease in vineyard area (EU, Argentina, Australia) coupled with a poor harvest in the EU.  With world wine consumption for 2012 estimated by OIV to be between 235.7 and 249.4 Mhl, the global wine surpless in 2012 will be close to zero.

 

New Zealand Wine: Exemplary Trade Tasting Brochure

Image © New Zealand Wine

Trade tastings can be enjoyable affairs.  A chance to discover exciting new wines and producers and with the likelihood of bumping into friends and colleagues.  Or they can feel terribly claustrophobic with too many people in too small a space and without much natural light.

One thing they often share in common is a poorly produced brochure.  Common faults include flimsyness (making it difficult to write on), too much text (leaving little room for tasting notes), and inadequate information about individual wines (abv, residual sugar, etc).  Regional information about soils, climate, canopy management and planting trends is rarely included.

So step forward New Zealand Wine.  For their recent trade tasting in London which showcased an outstanding selection of wines, they produced a brochure that could usefully form a template for the rest of industry to follow.  Each wine had alcohol and sugar contents recorded and the brochure layout included sufficient space for personal tasting notes.  Additionally, they included a wealth of background information on climate, soils and clones as well as statistical information on vineyard area and exports.

The brochure can be downloaded as a PDF, and would certainly prove useful for WSET students or anyone interested in New Zealand wine.