Wine sales at the latest Sotheby’s auction smashed pre-sale estimates, making more than US$2.2 million,
Initial estimates for the 25 February Finest and Rarest sale in New York were set between $1.3 and $1.9m. A 99% sell through rate was far more encouraging than its London sale three days earlier, where 77 lots - or 13% of items - remained unsold.
The sale was led by a case of Château Pétrus 1982 which fetched $58,188 nearing the high estimate.
There was also more evidence of Asian collectors going beyond Bordeaux and Burgundy with a rare nebuchadnezzar (15 litres - sounds like a good night in) of Italian wine, Masseto, which sold to a private Asian buyer for $49,000, several times the $12/18,000 estimate.
Duncan Sterling, head of Sotheby’s wine auctions, New York said: “We were pleased with the $2.2 million total achieved in our February sale. There was enthusiastic bidding from Asia and Latin America as well as a resurgence in the American market. A packed saleroom and spirited bidding from online buyers confirmed the market’s concentration on Burgundy including selections from DRC, Hubert Lignier and Jean-Marie Fourrier.
“Italian wines continued to be much in demand with stellar results for Masseto, Brunello from Gianfranco Soldera and Solaia,” he added
Sotheby’s claimed the sale was particularly notable for the renewed demand from American collectors alongside Latin America and Asia.
Have you heard of Erbaluce? Or Manzoni Bianco? No? Nor me.
But Peter Dry, a viticulture expert at the AWRI, suggested that these two varieties should be considered by cool climate producers, instead of the usual suspects. Indeed international varieties have gained a rather superior status, and he is championing ‘varietal egalitarianism’. Let’s face it there are thousands of varieties out there and we are rather limiting consumers’ choices.
Dr Richard Smart added, “It’s rather insulting to consumers to limit varieties to half a dozen varieties.”
So, why should we be considering the likes of Erbaluce and other so-called alternative varieties?
“These varieties may be better suited to climatic conditions including drought tolerance,” said Dry. “There are cool climate areas with low growing season rainfall and high aridity.
“During times of drought our cool climate areas have sufered because they rely on water stored in dams and the dams are empty.”
As well as it being more suitable to increasing temperatures and lower rainfall, people might actually prefer to drink something other than Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. “They may provide a greater range of flavours suited to the Asian palate. According to a CSIRO study, alternative varieties including Lagrein and Fiano may be better suited and may offer a competitive advantage.” said Dry
So, what is Erbaluce? An Italian white variety, that reaches maturity relatively early, is tolerant of botrytis, has good acidity and elegance. Manzoni Bianco, another Italian grape provides “good wine quality with structure and floral characters,” he added.
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.
In July 2009, the EU ruled that producers making Prosecco outside of the DOC and new DOCG area in the Veneto region would be forced to use the new grape name Glera on their labels instead of Prosecco.
So, on my return to New Zealand from Blighty, I was a little puzzled to be presented with a bottle of Toi Toi ‘New Zealand Prosecco’. What the….?
It’s not made from the grape formally known as Prosecco (‘Glera’) but a blend of Riesling, Muller-Thurgau and Pinot Gris. The sparkle is not created by the tank method, used in the Prosecco region but carbonated. So, I am curious as to why the front label clearly states Prosecco on the front. The accompanying press release claims it is “produced to broadly reflect the origins and style of the Italian wine”. Well, it’s 11.5% alcohol, which is about right, medium-dry with apple and pear characters but I’m not sure the Venetians will be overly impressed by the quality of the contents.
John Barker, general counsel for New Zealand Winegrowers shed some light on the matter. If this wine is only sold in New Zealand, there should be no problem, as there is no agreement with the EU on this law.
Barker says, “It’s a bit of a funny position the Italians have taken. There’s no geographical area called Prosecco if you look on a map – the GI is an artefact of EU law. There’s no grape variety called Prosecco either because the grape is Glera.
“It’s absolute nonsense,” he adds.
So, the only domestic stumbling block comes from if the label is considered to be misleading – and that’s a personal matter. Personally, I think it’s misleading but you can make your own mind up.
Barolo is not a wine for the elderly or terminally ill. It takes a good 20 to 30 years before the tannins become approachable and you’re going to have to stick it in the cellar (or under your bed) until it comes around.
And if you don’t like tannins or acidity, you’d better walk past the Barolo section.
At an Ascheri dinner with Squisito Fine Wines, we were treated to a vertical of Barolos as far back as 1996 and cor blimey, they are still babes in arms. Most wines are dead as dodos by the time they hit 5 or 10 years but not these bad boys.
The likes of Ascheri are from the ‘traditional’ school of Barolo, leaving the wine on its skins for up to 40 days after fermentation completes (that is a loooooong time) and then putting it in oak for 2 ½ years. The modernists take it off the skins much earlier and like plenty of new oak to give more fruit and vanilla flavours.
Wine of the night has to be the 1996 Ascheri Barolo. It’s still as tight as a pair of speedos with lovely mid palate weight, incredible concentration and drawn out, finally-woven tannins. A really elegant wine that’s got lots of life left in it.
I took a moment out from tasting Barolos with MD of Squisito, Alberto Cenci, who tells me about his Italian-Kiwi romance and his love of Aerosmith….!