New Zealand Vanishes - EU Blamed
Tuesday 5 March
Date: 4 March 2025
New Zealand was yesterday hit by the world’s rising waters, submerging the country’s 4 million people and 31m sheep. What a baaaastard.
The world must bid a fond farewell to New Zealand lamb, the All Blacks and Marlborough sauvignon blanc.
It is a sad loss. But let’s face it, New Zealand was a nation at the end of the world. Next stop, penguins on the South Pole. And will we really miss Kiwi savvy? The Chileans will be pleased to see their major competition literally sink – or how about Argentine Torrontes, which has been really making headway in the Russian market since Putin banned vodka production in 2020.
While global warming experts are proclaiming this is the start of the end of the world as we know it, conspiracy theorists are claiming that is all part of the European Union’s grand plan to finally win market share back from new world producers and reduce the wine lake once and for all.
It has been reported that Frenchman Philippe Fillop, agricultural commissioner for the European Union, is envious of the success of New Zealand’s pinots and sauvignon blanc in his native country. The federation of militant wine producers have recently been throwing Kiwi lamb chops at their local mairies in disgust at soaring sales of Marlborough sauvignon blanc in Carrefour.
Reducing the world’s wine oversupply has been top of Fillop’s list since he took charge in 2015. At that time, he was certain that China, India and Brazil were going to come to the wine world’s rescue, by drinking more and more wine. Instead, the BRICs continue to sup beer and spirits, sticking two fingers up at wine.
So, thinking that no one would really notice if New Zealand fell off the bottom of the earth - it was almost dropping off anyway - did the EU call in the heavies?
If so, it’s a sign of things to come. The Kiwis produced just 1 percent of the world’s wine. Yesterday’s submersion has not made one iota of difference to the world’s oversupply - particularly since New Zealand recently sent its entire 2024 vintage to the U.K. in bulk for Tesco’s own label Saver Sav, keeping the shelves piled high.
It would have been more effective to get rid of the Austrians or Moldovans, which produce more wine than New Zealand ever did but landlocked countries are a tricky proposition to obliterate.
Would you like a glass of wine with your Domino’s, sir?
Thursday 22 September
Should you have an Italian Barbera or a Chilean Chardonnay with your pizza? It’s a big decision but don’t fret – help is at hand! Staff at online wine trader Virgin Wines have partnered up with multinational pizza chain, Domino’s, to help hungry customers select the best match with their takeaway.
Wine Advisors at Virgin have matched each pizza from the Domino’s new Gourmet Range with one white and one red wine ‘to offer customers a luxury dining experience in the comfort of their own homes.’ The Rustica pizza has been paired with a Barbera and a Sauvignon Blanc ‘to bring out the flavour of the smoky bacon and sweet sunblush baby plum tomatoes’ while a Shiraz Cabernet Sangiovese or a Gewürztraminer are recommended for its ‘spicy Firenze’.
Domino’s customers are also offered six bottles of Virgin wines for £25 when they purchase a pizza. That’s £4.16 a bottle, so I’m not sure about the quality of the booze although Domino’s pizzas aren’t exactly the best I’ve ever had either.
Simon Wallis, sales and marketing director at Domino’s Pizza, gushed about the new promotion in a press release: ‘Our new Gourmet range has been developed to appeal to a wider pizza eating audience. This promotion will enable us to reach out to more potential pizza eaters, while also offering added value for our existing Gourmet customers.’
In addition to its venture with Virgin Wines, Domino’s is also the official partner on low-brow reality TV show Big Brother’s eviction night. Customers get a free bottle of Coca-Cola with their pizza on those evenings. Excuse me if I don’t rush out and order…
There are currently 638 Domino’s outlets in the UK and more than 9000 worldwide.
Chilean earthquake strikes our wine producing friends
Monday 1 March
You probably turned on your TV yesterday and saw the aftermath of the massive earthquake in Chile: houses no more than piles of rubble and bridges nose-diving into the ravines they once crossed.
Haiti seemed like a distant place to me but knowing people in Chile and its wine regions, having been there just three months ago, this natural disaster seems very close to home. I met Pedro Parra, a terroir specialist who lives in Bio Bio, which was at the centre of the quake and I hope he is safe and well. I am awaiting a reply from him via twitter.
When fires, floods, earthquakes hit countries with wine regions, the wine press can struggle to find information but Wines of Chile were on the ball with a statement and immediate plans to set up a relief fund.
In a statement they said: “At this early stage, it has been difficult to ascertain the extent of the damage to Chile’s wine regions and winery infrastructure, but I have had contact with a number of friends in Chile who report that there is significant damage in the southern wine areas closest to the epicentre, notably Bío Bío, Cauquenes, and other parts of Maule, and Curicó.
“Even wineries as far north as Colchagua have been affected, with structural damage, road collapses, and power and communication problems.
“In due course Wines of Chile will find a way to ensure that the UK wine trade can send funds to help families in need as Chile find its proud feet again.”
My pesos are on their way.
If you want to donate more generally, here are the details of the Chilean Earthquake Appeal. A wine trade fund will follow.
142 Brompton Road, London, SW3 1HY
Account Nº 01010982
Sort Code: 23-47-36
(if needed) IBAN: GB46BBVA23473601010982
Your £5m chance to get Naked
Thursday 18 February
Are you a winemaker who wants to go it alone but can’t convince the bank manager to give you a loan?
Here’s your chance.
The innovative people at online wine retailer Naked Wine have announced they will stump up £5 million to talented winemakers looking to set up in business. They’ve already supported Chilean couple Felipe Garcia and Constanza Schwarder (pictured) and want to help others. What a cracking idea.
Rowan Gormley, director of Naked Wines, said, “We’re looking to commission experienced, proven winemakers, who are looking to go it alone, to create stunning new wines for UK wine drinkers.
“We will cover production costs, pay a salary, guarantee an order, market the wines, pay a profit per bottle sold. In other words, provide all the tools an independent winemaker needs to create their own wine, under their own label, without the risks usually associated with being self-employed in the wine world.
Interested winemakers can find out more about the project, and apply for a piece of the action here
If you still haven’t signed up to Save the Wine column, please help the campaign. We’re only nine off 1000. Tim’s shopping list column comes out this weekend, and I’m encouraging as many people as possible to write to Stephen Pritchard, readers’ editor at The Observer firstname.lastname@example.org and the editor John Mulholland email@example.com to complain. Snail mail address is The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9GU. Please use ‘Save the Wine column’ as your email subject or letter heading.
Where’s all the Sauvignon?
Wednesday 6 January
Crikey, who’d have thought it would be so difficult to get a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand?
I am currently searching for a South African, Chilean and Loire Sauvignon for a Master of Wine tasting practice with Lynnette Hudson, winemaker at Pegasus Bay. But it is proving rather difficult. I called respected merchant Vino Fino in Christchurch and they could only help me out with the Sancerre - but it will cost me $52 (£23) for the privilege. When you’re such a strong Sauvignon player, the assistant told me, you can’t sell Sauvignons from the rest of the world. I guess it’s the same in most wine-producing countries. New Zealand’s wines are of an enviable standard but it’s a shame people aren’t able to try styles beyond their borders.
I was clearly spoiled for choice in London where the local independent merchant would always have something from Leyda, Stellenbosch and Touraine on the shelves. Unfortunately you don’t realise how lucky you are until you move away.
Now I am horribly aware that trying to do tasting practice for the MW in the UK is a) less hassle and b) cheaper than doing it elsewhere - although living costs and exorbitant travel fares add up (£4.10 for a single on the tube is a joke, Boris).
So, if anyone from the UK is coming over to Auckland, could you stick a bottle of Rueda/Argentine Torrontes/anything from South Africa in your luggage for me?