New appellations, new styles of wine and Prosecco on the move in China, things are moving this week.
© Visit France
| The Rhone village of Laudun is about to become the last French wine region to obtain its own appellation.
National Wine Day in the US began on Friday with much of the wine press busy focusing on the latest EU wine label decision while UK newspapers were busy telling readers that two glasses of commercially-made sparkling Moscato might be enough to hit an adult’s recommended daily sugar limit.
Residual sugar in popular commercial winemaking comes as no big surprise to those in the wine industry, but the alarming headlines were enough to get a few people excited on social media — and not without reason.
Also in the news at the end of the week was the revelation that Brad Pitt was suing his ex-partner Angelina Jolie for selling his share in their Provence wine estate, Miraval. Pitt says the couple had an agreement not to sell their share in the property without each other’s consent (Jolie sold her stake to a subsidiary of the Stoli liquor group run by Russian businessman Yuri Shefler) .
But aside from the label spats, sugar spats, and rosé spats, here are some of the wine-related stories you might have missed this week:
Laudun will become its own AOC
The Côtes du Rhône Villages Laudun title is expected to follow Rasteau and Cairanne and become its own appellation – Laudun AOP – likely by the 2023 vintage. The news emerged this week after officials from France’s national appellations body, the ‘INAO, presented their conclusions on the return in December (although the contents of the comments remain, so far, unknown) and following a vote by winemakers in the region earlier in the month.
The vote, which asked if Laudun winegrowers and winegrowers were willing to pursue the petition to become a full-fledged AOP/AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) – known in the region as the Côtes du Rhône “Cru” – was adopted by an overwhelming majority (88 votes against 7) at the beginning of the month.
The next step will be a so-called “public inquiry” by the INAO in the three municipalities that make up the Laudun production area in order to establish the official production area (which will cover more than 1,000 hectares of land. The appellation is slated to officially debut in June this year, though the title likely won’t hit labels until 2023.
“It will be the conclusion of a great undertaking,” Luc Pélaquié, president of the Laudun winegrowers’ union, told the regional newspaper Midi Libre. “I salute the hard work and the spirit of the winegrowers who have worked for the future of local viticulture.”
The title Côtes du Rhône Villages Laudun encompasses the communes of Laudun, Saint-Victor-la-Coste and Tresques in the Gard department on the right (west) bank of the Rhône, north of Lirac and Tavel, and on the river of ( and northwest of) Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Laudun vineyards currently cover approximately 560 hectares (1,400 acres).
Initially recognized in 1937 as one of the 28 towns in the Gard that can produce Côtes du Rhône wines, Laudun (as well as that of Chusclan to the north) was registered as an appellation with the INAO in 1953. even following a court decision in Uzès in 1947, where Pélaquié’s grandfather, Joseph, pleaded for Laudun.
However, the regional policy of the time saw the territory fall into the orbit of Côtes du Rhône Villages and Laudun became a title of Côtes du Rhône Villages in the mid-1960s.
The region is known to be one of the largest producers of white wines in the Villages. Laudun whites, mainly from Grenache Blanc and Clairette (although Viognier, Bourboulenc, Marsanne and Roussanne may also feature) account for around a quarter of all production in the region.
The reds are primarily blended from Grenache and Syrah, with the former being just proportionately larger in terms of overall vineyard plantings. Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault may also feature in minor proportions.
In total, the region produces just under two million liters of wine per year through 18 wine estates, six cooperative cellars and 18 trading operations. Over half of all Laudun production is sold at retail outlets in France while a quarter of production is exported (UK accounts for a third of all exports, China/Hong Kong, the United States, Belgium and Sweden being the other main markets).
The Entre-deux-Mers soon to be covered in red wines?
Adding to the INAO’s workload, Bordeaux’s famous Entre-Deux-Mers white wine appellation – a white wine-only appellation since 1937 – could soon cover red wines by 2023, if a petition from the local winegrowers is accepted.
According to French wine publication La Revue du Vin de France (RVF), the INAO began reviewing the region’s application earlier this month.
“If all goes well, we hope we will have the AOC [appellation title] for red wines before 2023,” David Labat, president of the Entre-deux-Mers winegrowers’ union, told the publication.
Currently, the red wines produced in the Entre-deux-Mers production region come under the Bordeaux or Bordeaux Supérieur appellations. Ironically, red wines represent 85% of the production of this region.
“There is a real commercial problem,” added Labat, who told RVF that the project to extend the appellation to red wines had been in the making for 20 years. However, the official process would not have been launched until 2019.
Prosecco booming in China
Prosecco’s seemingly relentless march to take over the world continues this week with news that the global popularity of Northern Italian bubbles continues to grow. According to food publication Italia a Tavola, Prosecco exports to the United States rose 43% in value last year, while exports to China nearly doubled to 117%.
Italian bubbles were generally up in Canada (23%), Switzerland (11%) and Japan (5%). According to the northern Italian daily, Il Gazzettino, overall exports of Italian wine to the United States increased by almost 13% in 2021.
The context of the statistics (which aligns with a global increase in champagne consumption, among other wine categories) is attributed to so-called “revenge spending” following the effects of the global pandemic. Piedmont and Tuscan DOC and DOCG red wines grew in the United States by just under a third and just over a quarter respectively, while Sicilian reds (another region showing strong exports) increased in Canada by more than 50%.
While praising the export successes of sparkling wines from northern Italy, Paolo Castelletti, the head of the Union of Italian Wines (Unione Italiana Vini), also exercised caution.
“…we will have to be careful of 2022, which shows signs of danger that should not be underestimated,” he said. “Starting with the high prices caused by the escalation of energy costs up to the attack on wine on the health front.
Burgundy exports exceed pre-Covid results
More Burgundy rebound as region reports record 2021 revenue of 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) – a 28% increase from 2020 and 27% from compared to 2019. According to the French newspaper Le Figaro, the figures for 2021 “far exceed those before the [global health] crisis and have definitively erased the Covid effect”.
This will come as no surprise to industry players. The newspaper adds that over the past ten years, the turnover of Burgundy wines has effectively doubled.
“The reasons for these good results can be summed up as: the lifting of restrictions linked to the pandemic and the revival of the café, hotel and restaurant sector; the suspension of customs tariffs and the trade conflict between Europe and the United States; and finally, the ever-increasing appeal of Burgundy wines”, declared Albéric Bichot, President of the Federation of Burgundy Traders (FNEB).
Vega Sicilia watched Jerez before Rías Baixas
Here’s one for the alternative history books: In an interview with digital food publication 7 Canibales, Pablo Álvarez, the chef of Spain’s top winery, Vega Sicilia, said the company had considered going into the production of Sherry before embarking on his new project, Deiva, in the Rías Baixas of northwest Spain.
After admitting that, if Jerez was ignored, Albariño (the grape synonymous with Rías Baixas) was the best white wine in Spain, Álvarez was pushed onto the Jerez route.
“Jerez is Jerez – a great region, with unique wines that no one has managed to copy,” he said. “We were in negotiations with a wine estate with the aim of making our own wines and having our own vineyard, it would have been the ideal candidate, but in the end the owner did not want to sell and we could not get there. “
Vega Sicilia in Jerez? There is a thought…
And if that’s too melancholy for some, here’s a CGI rendering of Vega’s new winery in Rías Baixas:
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