Archive for November, 2008



Never mind the oligarchs. Russia is probably the most exciting new wine market to emerge in the past five years. Why? Because a growing slice of ordinary middle class Russian society has developed a taste for quality wine, according to Wine Intelligence’s Russian Wine Market Landscape report, published on 14 November 2008.

 Based on a groundbreaking consumer survey of Russian drinkers of imported wine, and containing both the latest sales data and information about routes to market, this report provides an unprecedented insight into a rapidly growing wine market on the doorstep of Europe.

Unlike in the emerging Asian markets – to which Russia is often compared – people in this country are familiar with wine and are used to drinking it at the table with food. Wine was actually a popular choice during the Soviet era, and today Russians treat imported wine, especially from traditional European winemaking areas such as France, as a product with an important cultural value.

However Russia’s modern wine market is still relatively immature and has suffered two serious crises in the past 10 years, the financial crash of 1998 and the 2006 wine tax crisis – and as we enter the final weeks of 2008, the threat of a global economic downturn may yet precipitate another crisis in the wine industry.

Moscow is fundamental to the success of any aspiring wine producer, representing at least two thirds of all wine sales. It is followed by St. Petersburg, and a handful of other key population centres. With its Vinitrac® Russia study, Wine Intelligence has been among the first to survey real consumer behaviour in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and the results of this groundbreaking consumer research are contained in the report.

While the global financial crisis may dampen some demand in the short term, the long term picture for wine in Russia is very encouraging. Wine Intelligence predicts that the Russian wine drinking population will more than double by 2020, which gives an opportunity for further sales and consumption growth. The challenge for the wine trade is to sustain this increase, as well as to educate a relatively unsophisticated market.

 Earlier this year, Arniston Bay and Kumkani expanded their global footprint and entered this strategically important market despite complicated export procedures. A diverse variety of wine from these award-winning brands will be sold at major retailers in Russia.

 Business development manager, Mark Lester, said early indications are that Arniston Bay and Kumkani wines have a promising future in the Russian market. “Traditionally, Russian palates have leant towards European-styled wines as a result of historic influences on consumption patterns. However as the footprint widens for Russian businessmen and leisure travelers to countries beyond European shores, increased exposure to New World wine producing countries and their wines are bound to have an influence on their buying decisions back home. Simultaneously, the current growth in the number of New World brands appearing on local shelves in Russia along with improved access to disposable income will further contribute to interest creation and increased demand for these wines.”


Source: wine.co.za


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It’s easy for diners to be confident when ordering their favourite domestic beer, or a common cocktail that every bartender knows how to prepare.

Hand them a wine list, though, and all confidence goes out the window. The average diner tends to be less than well-educated when it comes to pairing wine with their meals, or knowing how to serve it.
To avoid turning ordering a glass of wine into a major ordeal, it’s important to educate yourself about the wines available and the things you should or should not be doing to enjoy them.


Ordering out

Few things are more embarrassing than stumbling over the wine list at a fancy restaurant.

Try following these tips you find yourself on the spot.
No red and white rules: The old adage is “red wine with red meat and white wine with poultry or fish.” But feel free to give yourself some wiggle room when it comes to that. A salmon dish can be paired with a red wine just as easily as a steak.
With a broadened variety of wines and blends, the wines have become more complex. They have expanded their capabilities of what they can be successfully paired with.

Weight: Keep the weight your entree and wine balanced so one doesn’t overpower the other.
A thick steak with onions and mushrooms would go best with a heavy red wine, while white fish would be best paired with a light white wine.
Glass half full: Don’t allow your server to fill your wine glass to the top. Instruct the server to fill the glass halfway so you can swirl the wine and oxygenate it to make the drink more refreshing.
No hard alcohol: You’ve heard of no swimming for 30 minutes after eating. Well, don’t try a new wine immediately after downing a martini or brandy. The hard alcohol numbs your palate, making wine tasting impossible. I recommend waiting 20 minutes between cocktails and wine.
Don’t go cheap: In light of today’s economy, it’s tempting to go with the cheapest wine on the menu. These wines have the highest markup. Pick a wine right in mid-range, that way, you’re getting your money’s worth.


Wine at home

Serving wine at home can be almost as nerve-wracking as ordering wine at a restaurant, especially if you have guests. As the host, the success of the meal depends on making good wine choices.
Start with bubbles: No matter what wine you are serving with dinner, give your guests a glass of sparkling wine to help cleanse their palate.
Choices, choices: Offer a red and a white wine with dinner. Each guest’s palate is different, and it may change over the course of the meal, depending on the main course.
Pour early: Pour the wine before your guests sit down to dinner. It gives the wine time to breathe, and plus you won’t be leaning over people trying to pour while they start their meal.
Get smart: Even if you think you have a good grasp on wine, keep educating yourself. Try a different wine every time you go out to eat. Also, keep an eye out for wine tastings and classes.

Source: Press of Atlantic City

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The newly launched Arniston Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 has been chosen for the 2009 South African Airways On Board Wine List, and the 750ml bottle will now be served on all their African and international flights, including their airport lounges, during 2009

 The wine – which won a gold medal at the esteemed Veritas Awards and bronze at the International Wine & Spirit Competition earlier this year – has delicious cut grass and green pea aromas, great typical Sauvignon Blanc characteristics on the palate and a crisp finish.


South African brand and business development at the company of wine peopleTM, Johan Erasmus, said: “It is always an enormous honour to have our wines chosen by the panel and we are very proud of our continued relationship with SAA. Arniston Bay continues to impress with its consistent quality.”

The competition is judged by a panel comprising 12 renowned local and international wine experts, and wines receiving the highest scores after a rigorous two-and-a-half-day tasting process are chosen to be served on all SAA’s flights. More than 900 wines were entered for the selection process.

With the exception of Champagne, SAA only buys and serves locally produced wines aboard its flights and in their lounges.


Source: wine.co.za

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Arniston Bay is to relaunch its best-selling Original range into the UK market. The relaunch is set to upgrade the range, and will see screwcap closures and fresh, updated packaging on all varietals.

The first varietals to receive the refresh will be the best-selling Chenin Chardonnay 2008, Pinotage Rose 2008 and Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008. The new packaging will be available in the UK grocery trade from December with an RRP of £5.29.

The packaging refresh is part of an overall strategy by brand owner, the company of wine peopleTM, to expand and innovate the entire Arniston Bay portfolio. Recent developments have included the launch of a 1-litre tetra pak, the launch of a sparkling wine and a new entry-level range Arniston Bay: The Reef.

UK Brand and Business Development Manager for the company of wine peopleTM, Barney Davis, says: “We felt it was time to regenerate the most popular range in the Arniston Bay portfolio and respond to an increasing demand from our customers for a screwcap closure. The Original range has shown consistently strong sales and offers consumers exceptional value for money without compromising on quality.”

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My dietician (and banker) regrettably advised me to reduce my red meat consumption. Thank goodness red wine still gets a thumbs up! Luckily, I stumbled across this mouthwatering chicken recipe (which pairs well with a bottle of red wine) so it wasn’t too much of a sacrifice.

Serve this easy-to-make meal with a bottle of easy-drinking Arniston Bay Merlot. This great wine has a plum nose with a spicy palate and is the ideal accompaniment to a delicious meal.

Crunchy Herbed Chicken

Serves: 4

4 slices white bread, toasted
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 (150-180 grams) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Heat oven to 200°C. In a food processor, pulse the bread, parsley, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until coarse crumbs form. Add the oil and pulse to combine. Transfer to a plate.

Spread the mustard over the chicken and dip the pieces in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing gently to help it adhere.

Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden and cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes.

Serve this dish with Quick-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.

Quick-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

3-4 cups of cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 200° C.

Place the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Roast until the tomatoes start to burst, 20 to 25 minutes.

Source: Real Simple

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South African wine exports are up 36% over 2007 export figures as of September this year, reports wine export facilitator Wines of South Africa (Wosa).

Wosa CEO Su Birch reports that the growth is being driven by the weakening rand and the commendable performance of South African wines in key export markets.

She adds that, although the final figures for the year have not been calculated, it is believed that exports will maintain momentum and finish up considerably higher then 2007’s figures. Last year, South Africa exported 309-million litres of wine to the international market.

Birch reports that a year ago, South African winemakers were working towards reclaiming lost ground after a slight dip in sales in 2006. The results of this reclamation is that international consumers have an extensive range of South African wines to choose from.

She adds that the biggest international consumer of South African wines by volume is the UK.

Birch reports that, according to the latest data from independent market research company AC Nielsen, South Africa is the fastest-growing category in the UK off-trade wine market.

In the first period of 2008, South African export wines grew 13% by volume, against a total market growth of 1,1%. South African value sales also grew by 13%, demonstrating a strong and profitable performance from this category. South Africa’s current market share in the UK is 9,1%, by volume, and it is the fifth-largest export country in the UK market.

Wosa UK market manager Jo Mason says that it is satisfying to see South Africa performing so well in one of its most established export markets. “South Africa enjoys an enviable image in the minds of UK consumers and the quality and value for money the country offers are clearly having an effect. The more established South African brands have been successful this year.

Numerous South African brands have delivered commendable results, and Arniston Bay in particular has put in a strong performance. According to the latest Nielsen statistics – Total Off Trade MAT to 9 August 2008 – Arniston Bay increased by 21.9% in value.

In addition, South African wines are selling more wines above the £5 a bottle mark. This is being driven by the fact that South Africa is being viewed as a producer of premium wines with distinctive regional characteristics,” says Mason.

Read full article: engineeringnews.co.za

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The recent Platter tasting method debate has resulted in the Platter guide to set up an open discussion forum about their tasting method .

Wine.co.za reports that against a backdrop of increased interest in its method of sighted wine assessments (ie with the label exposed and the name of the producer known), Platter’s Wine Guide invites the book’s readers, wine producers, retailers, media and other interested parties to attend an Open Discussion Forum on blind versus sighted tasting, and the way forward for Platter’s, to be held in early February 2009.

Sighted tasting has been a feature of Platter’s Guide since its inception in 1980, initially because wineries were visited for tasting (and blind assessments obviously were out of the question) but also after visits were replaced in the early 2000s by “off-site” tasting. (For practical reasons, two very large portfolios continue to be reviewed at their producer’s premises.)

The guide’s publisher, Andrew McDowall, says sighted tasting serves two main purposes: firstly, it promotes more informed and nuanced assessments, resulting in (hopefully) a more readable and informative book. Secondly, sighted tasting supports a unique (in South Africa) aspect of the guide, namely the monitoring of the quality and style of a wine over successive vintages, thereby enabling the guide to offer an opinion on not only current performance but also track record and pedigree.

“Sighted tasting is a valid and internationally accepted approach,” McDowall continues. “Many of the world’s leading wine critics use it, either exclusively or on occasion, in the course of their reviews. However, while sighted tasting historically is Platter’s preferred method, it is not a dogma to which we blindly cling. If change is needed, our track record speaks of our willingness to listen to advice and constructive criticism and introduce improvements as needed.”

A complication, though, is that the local wine industry is far from unanimous in its opinion on the way forward for Platter. In conversation and via the media, many different alternative methodologies are mooted, ranging from competition-style blind tastings through to fully sighted assessments in the presence of the winemaker.

“The lack of industry accord on the one hand, and the need to canvass the views of consumers on the other, suggest that an Open Discussion Forum, which will encourage input from all interested parties, is the best first step in mapping out the way forward,” McDowall says. “The objective is for the Platter team to listen and to learn, but equally for those who call for drastic change to carefully consider the ramifications.”

Source: wine.co.za

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