Stock up on wine for the festive season!



Are older vintages always better than younger ones?


Contrary to what you may expect, most wines today are made for consumption while they are still young (within a year or two of the vintage on the label) and will not improve much over time.

With red wines, you can generally bank on an older vintage having more complexity and smoothness than a younger vintage, especially for age-worthy grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and blends containing these grapes.

Because red wines contain age-friendly tannins originating from contact with grape skins and stems, and from aging in oak barrels, they continue to develop and mature inside the bottle and become more drinkable over time.

Fine red wines that are more expensive than average usually will improve with age, whereas lower-priced wines, usually under R40 , are made for more immediate consumption — within months of their release.

The issue of vintage can be complex. There are wine vintage charts (available as a reference resource in many wine stores) that list wine regions around the world and rate each vintage year according to its quality, which is primarily determined by that year’s weather.

Weather in a given year is more critical in France, for example, than in the United States because wine laws in France prohibit irrigation of vines. In other words, the quantity of water that a vine gets is not controlled.

What’s more, the climates in California wine regions are fairly consistent from year to year, making differences between vintages less meaningful.

Red wines age according to a curve that reaches a peak of improvement and then declines. It is just a guess by winemakers and wine critics as to when in the life of the wine that peak occurs

Because white wines are absent of tannins and their preservative characteristics, the older a white wine gets, the greater the chance that it may be beyond its peak and on the downside slope of its “drinkability” curve.


Silver lining for the company of wine people at the India Wine Challenge


The company of wine peopleTM delivered sterling results at the India Wine Challenge: its newly launched Arniston Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 and Kumkani Sauvignon Blanc 2007 were both awarded silver medals.

The Kumkani Chardonnay Viognier 2007 received a bronze medal while the Arniston Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008, Arniston Bay Reserve Shiraz 2007 and Kumkani Shiraz 2005 all got the Seal of Approval.

The Arniston Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 also clinched a gold medal at the recent prestigious Veritas Awards – South Africa’s longest running wine competition – and winged it onto the 2009 South African Airways On Board Wine List. Top quality grapes, sourced throughout the Western Cape, were used to create this premium wine. Consumers are subsequently rewarded with cut grass and green pea aromas, typical Sauvignon Blanc character on the palate, crisp acidity and a good finish.

The Kumkani Sauvignon Blanc 2007 – which won a silver medal at the AWC Vienna International Wine Challenge – has expressive fresh aromas of ripe figs, green peppers and Cape gooseberry. With a rich mid-palate and a long finish, this wine was made to be enjoyed with food.

Brand and business development manager at the company of wine peopleTM, Mark Lester, said: “It’s always encouraging to see our wines perform so well, especially on the international stage and considering such a respected panel. The endorsement expressed by these distinguished panelists can only motivate the winemaking team, who ultimately should take credit for creating these great wines, to reach new heights. Our superb achievement highlights our depth as a quality South African wine producer, and I’m confident that ultimately our performance will contribute to a greater presence for the category as a whole in the exciting Indian market.”

More than 500 wines from across the globe were entered into the India Wine Challenge 2008, currently in its second year and the country’s only major independent wine competition. A panel of 14 distinguished judges such as founder of the London International Wine Challenge and IFE Chairman Robert Joseph, president of the Indian Wine Academy Subhash Arora, and sommelier Magandeep Singh were amongst the panelists.

Wall Street Journal to Establish New Wine Service


 The Wall Street Journal today announced WSJwine , a new service offered to its readers and other wine lovers. WSJwine offers access to quality wines of outstanding value through a direct-to-home wine service.  


WSJwine will offer wine from all over the world through a dedicated website, toll free number or standard mail. Customers will have the option to purchase individual bottles, full cases or receive ongoing shipments of mixed cases delivered to their homes or businesses. The range will include quality everyday wines to fine and rare specials, and will build over time. Many are from smaller production wineries, not readily available in stores. The combination of quality wine, excellent value and high levels of service will deliver a unique wine experience to meet the discerning tastes of the Journal reader.   

“We established WSJwine to offer something truly distinct and valuable to our subscribers,” said Paul Bascobert, chief marketing officer, Dow Jones & Company. “We know from extensive research that many of our subscribers enjoy good wine and also have an interest in learning more about wine. WSJwine was designed to offer great wine values and tap the natural curiosity of our readers.”   

Johan Schwartz , a wine marketing specialist indicated that these new ventures will definitely have a impact on global wine retail. Amazon also recently indicated that it will get involved in US wine sales. This is good news for global brands like Kumkani and Arniston Bay. The Kumkani brand will be able to use these new distribution channels to reach a wider consumer audience.


French wine exports down but value up

Despite the economic downturn, wine drinkers are apparently abandoning cheaper French wines in favour of more upmarket alternatives. 

The trend contributed to a six-month period in which French export volumes fell by 8.7% but the value of sales increased by 8.2% to £2.6 billion. 

Ubifrance, the French export development agency, said the first half of 2008 had brought mixed fortunes for France’s wine exporters. The rising euro and increasing competition from the New World meant that vins de pays had found the going difficult in vital markets such as the UK, USA and Germany. 

There was also some disappointing news from Champagne – a sign interpreted by some that a world recession is inevitable. Export volumes were down 4.2% and sales value by 1.3%