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Vine planting rights: a return to protectionism?

>> Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A few years back all EU countries agreed to a reform of the agricultural policies concerning the wine sector. One element was to abolish the existing system with planting rights, that decrees that a grower has to ask for strictly controlled planting rights from the authorities. One consequence is e.g. that a successful producer cannot expand his production, unless he can get some strictly limited planting rights. Earlier this year the AREV (an organisation that often is against progress and liberalisation in agricultural reforms) started a campaign to change the agreement to abolish the planting rights. They have managed to get the French minister of agriculture to support their view (France doesn’t exactly have a history of supporting an open market for agriculture) as well as nine out of 26 countries, according to Vitisphere.

To keep the system with planting rights would be, as far as we can see, primarily a way for the established producers to get protection from new competitors and from more dynamic producers. It would certainly be a step against a market economy and liberalisation – badly needed in the wine sector. And it would hardly benefit the consumer who can expect wine prices to be kept higher.

At La Vigne they have published a few interviews with a few advocates of the planting rights, but they don’t make us much wiser. At least it is apparent that their primary concern is not the wine consumer, or increasing the competitiveness among wine producers. Rather a question of keeping competition out.

- An interview with Christian Paly from the CNAOC

- Interview with Catherine Vautrin who has written a report on planting rights, that is certainly confusing (or totally confused), since she seems to mistake planting rights for the AOC geographical delimitations.

We certainly hope that the EU sticks with its agreement to abolish the planting rights and make the wine sector more open to competition, thus paving the way for a healthier wine industry with better conditions for the growers as well as for the consumers. Instead of a return to protectionism.


Mas du Soleilla, La Clape, Languedoc

Soleilla means sun in Occitan, the ancient language langue d'oc. Mas de Soleilla is beautifully situated, close to the sea, in the region of La Clape in Languedoc, not far from Narbonne. The climate is hot and dry, the soil very chalky and stony. The wines, which are both red and white, are generally of good quality. There are a total of 24 estates here in La Clape and all of them can find traces on their properties that go back to Roman times, "says owner and winemaker Peter Wildbolz at Mas de Soleilla.

Mas de Soleilla was created in 2002 by Peter and his wife Christa Derungs, both from Switzerland. Peter worked at the time already as a wine maker. When he found an isolated vineyard of 8 hectares in the middle of the garrigue in the La Clape area, he knew he wanted it. 2002 was the first vintage and now the surface has increased to 22 hectares.

The white wine in La Clape is made of a minimum of 50% of the unusual grape Bourboulenc. There are only 500 hectares world-wide of this grape and 300 of them are here in La Clape. Mas de Soleilla Sphinx Blanc is made with Bourboulenc and 30% Roussanne. It has a lovely aroma of flowers, apricot and a little honey and the oak is well balanced.

For the red wines Peter uses Syrah, Grenache and a little Mourvèdre. I particularly like Mas de Soleilla Les Chailles, a fresh, fruity wine with no oak ageing. Grenache dominates and the aroma of black berries, spices such as mint and rosemary and the good structure makes it a superb wine to combine with Mediterranean food. Mas de Soleilla Les Bartelles has been 15 months in oak barrels and here the Syrah grape is very evident on the nose. A complex, high class wine. Clot de l'Amandier is a blend of syrah and grenache. Full-bodied, with pleasant spicy aromas and with a good balance. A wine to be enjoyed with lamb, duck or game, says Peter.

Languedoc La Clape Mas du Soleilla - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson


Well-crafted writing online on wine: Born Digital Wine Awards

>> Friday, June 03, 2011

The Born Digital Wine Awards is a “competition” for writers, and video producers, professional or not, on the internet. The first edition of the BDWA has just been completed and the winners were announced a few days ago. Congratulations!

- Best Wine Tourism Feature: Wink Lorch Wine Days Out in the French Alps
- Best Editorial Wine Writing; Tim Atkin Towards a New Chile (Part 1)
- Best Winery Self-Produced Content: Randall Grahm On a Mission: The Germ of an Idea
- Best Investigative Wine Piece: Richard Ross Phylloxera– the English connection
- Best Wine Themed Video: Jay Selman (Directed by Mark Ryan) The Scent of Black

(We too participated in the BDWA, in the category Best Investigative Wine Piece, with an article called “VinNet: An exciting new news site about wine?” (translated by BDWA from Swedish). We were shortlisted but did not win…)

Why not participate yourself if you write about wine?

More info on BDWA. The listing of all category winners an runners-up:


Interesting interviews with top chateaux in Bordeaux

I’m not quite sure why they have done it but it is a very ambitious effort. The Swedish wine importer Hjo Grosshandel has published a dozen video interviews with a handful of the great and glorious chateau in Bordeaux. The interviews were done (it seems) at the primeur tastings earlier this year, and the main theme is the 2010 vintage. They have managed to get a quiet moment with the heads of each chateau and the result is exceptionally interesting (and ambitions) compared to much of what you see on wine online. Well done! You can see all the videos on Hjo Grosshandel’s YouTube channel. (And, yes, they are in English!). These are the chateaux they cover:

- Château Pontet-Canet
- Domaine de Courteillac
- Château Margaux
- Château Pichon Longueville comtesse de Lalande
- Château Cheval Blanc & Château d´Yquem
- Château Mouton Rothschild
- Château Beychevelle
- Château Picque-Caillou
- Château Cos d´Estournel
- Château Pétrus
- Château Pichon-Baron
- Ets. Jean-Pierre Moueix


Vineyard area in Austria

>> Thursday, June 02, 2011

Austria has around 46,000 hectares of vineyards. That is roughly one third of Bordeaux (and some). There are four main regions: Burgenland, Niederösterriech, Steiermark and Wien. Niederösterriech is by far the biggest region with 60% of the total. Here are the details for all the wine districts in Austria:

Wine Growing Region: Surface in ha, % share

- Südburgenland: 498, 1.08%
- Mittelburgenland:2,117, 4.61%
- Neusiedlersee-Hügelland: 3,576, 7.79%
- Neusiedlersee: 7,649, 16.66%
Burgenland: 13,840.00, 30.15%

- Traisental: 790, 1.72%
- Carnuntum: 910, 1.98%
- Wachau: 1,350, 2.94%
- Thermenregion: 2,196, 4.78%
- Kremstal: 2,243, 4.89%
- Wagram: 2,451, 5.34%
- Kamptal: 3,802, 8.28%
- Weinviertel: 13,356, 29.10%
- so. NÖ: 30, 0.07%
Niederösterreich: 27,128, 59.10%

- Süd-Oststeiermark: 1,400, 3.05%
- Südsteiermark: 2,340, 5.10%
- Weststeiermark: 500, 1.09%
Steiermark: 4,240, 9.24%

- Wien: 612, 1.33%
Wien: 612, 1.33%


Italy world's largest wine exporter, followed by Spain and France

According to the latest statistics from the OIV Italy is the world’s largest wine exporter. 20.6 Mhl went to the international wine market in 2010, an increase with 7% from 2009. The second biggest exporter is Spain with 16.9 Mhl, up 15%. France is in third place in the wine export league with 13.5 Mhl on export, which is an increase with 7%, just like Italy.


High Constantia, South Africa

>> Wednesday, June 01, 2011

At High Constantia winemaker David van Niekerk makes an exceptional Cap Classic (sparkling wines made by the traditional method) that gets at least three years of ageing on its lees (sur latte). The grapes grow up in the mountains where the climate is fairly cool. Whole bunches are pressed and he gets 400 liters out of 1000 kilos of grapes. The wine is a Brut Zero, no dosage is added.

David has 14.5 hectares in total and makes also very interesting red wines. He likes to experiment. He looks for balance in the wines and he works hard to avoid harsh tannins. In order to emphasize the fruit, he is experimenting with unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon, which is unusual when it comes to high-quality cabernet. The region of Constantia is known for its Sauvignon Blanc and David's Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Nova Zonnestraat, with its lovely citrus flavors is a good example. In addition to MCC (Méthode Cape Classic), Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, David also makes interesting Viognier and Cabernet Franc.


Welcome to the BKWine Brief nr 94, May 2011

The competition in the wine world today is tough whatever the price segment. It means a lot to have your wines or your domaine mentioned in the press. But that means capturing the interest of a journalist. Just a short while ago it was the organic wines that got the headlines. Today it is not enough to be organic. You should be at least biodynamic as well or producer of so called natural wines. Given that these wines represent just a tiny fraction of the world wine production they get a lot of attention from the journalists. And what is the moral of this? Well, you should not be like everyone else. It is not enough to make a good, or even very good, affordable wine, you must also be different. Maybe putting up a solar panel on the roof or hiring a horse for ploughing every now and then will do the trick. Knowing how to promote you wine is as important as knowing when to harvest.

You will read more on organic wines (and the various cousins) here in the future, as well as on marketing.

And we also have to mention that it is urgent to act if you are interested our autumn wine tours:

- Bordeaux, October 5-9
- Burgundy October 19-23

Register NOW! Don’t wait. Otherwise it might be too late.

Britt & Per

PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them !
PS2: Read the wine newsletter here

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