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Wine News

Greyfriars Vineyard open chalk wine cave

Friday 16th June saws the official opening of Greyfriars’ new chalk wine cave on the North Downs in Surrey.
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Friday 16th June saws the official opening of Greyfriars’ new chalk wine cave on the North Downs in Surrey.

The 18-month excavation and build project created a wine cave that has been carved out of the side of the Hog’s Back near Guildford. The resulting 3,500 square foot cellar will store up to 250,000 bottles of wine.

A huge 9,650 tonnes of chalk was excavated to create space for Greyfriars to expand their business as a boutique producer of English sparkling wine.

Owners Mike and Hilary Wagstaff, together with David Line, their vineyard manager and brother-in-law grow all their own grapes and make all the wine. Mike says the cave will provide a cool, dark space with a constant temperature for maturing wine.

Solar panels have been fitted on the roof to provide a significant proportion of the power requirements for Greyfriars’ winery and the living wall on the front of the cave features 3,106 plants that will help keep the front wall of the cave cool.
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Retail sales growth slow as price rises following Brexit

Most wine suppliers have already passed on price hikes of 3-5% and more are planned. The rising prices appear to be limiting retail sales.
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While UK consumers spent more than ever in stores in May 2017 up 0.9%, we bought less with the extra cash. With inflation of the average store price for May at 2.8% (as a annual figure), the volume of goods purchased was down 1.6%.

Most wine suppliers have already passed on price hikes of 3-5% and more are planned, should the pound remain weak.

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Lidl looks to Eastern Europe for Value Wines

Lidl about to launch a range of Hungarian wines, as the search for value continues.
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Lidl has joined Majestic looking for bargains in Eastern Europe. Hungary in particular appears to be the saviour of cheapish decent wines. Lidl plans on adding 15 Hungarian wines – six white, five red, 1 rose, two dessert and one sparkling Tokaji from the 27 July. Caroline Gilby MW and Eastern European expert told drinks business she was keen to expand the Hungarian wines to incorporate wines from Romania and Moldova which were showing potential and Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Bulgaria in the longer-term.

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Weak pound has seen Majestic supply unusual wines but has not helped profits

Majestic profits continue to fall as sales rise despite a move to more entry level wines from unusual regions.
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Majestic has announced a loss of £1.5 million but it is hoped to be the tipping point, according to CEO Rowan Gormley.

The falling pound saw Majestic raise prices by 4-6% earlier in the year. However to manage the rising price of wine, Majestic has been looking at non classic countries for its cheaper wines. Hungarian Gruner Veltliner and Romanian Pinot Grigio are popular entry level wines selling from £5.99 according to Richard Weaver, merchandising director.

But this move by Majestic has not been enough to help with profitability which has fallen every year since 2014 when pre-tax profits stood at £23.8 million. In 2015 profits started falling when Majestic acquired Naked Wines. The business plan now expects to see 70% of future profits coming from Naked Wines. In 2018 a profit of £16.7m is forecast from a turnover of around £490 million. This is a much lower profit than the £23.8 million in 2014 from a turnover of £278 million.

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Rioja and Beaujolais think smaller is better

Rioja launches Single Vineyard wines while Beaujolais eyes up Premier Cru status.
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Rioja has announced the creation of new Single Vineyards or vinedos singularies classification as part of its DOCa regulations. They hope that the new single vineyard wines will help highlight the origin of their wines. Ultimately Rioja would like to create a hierarchy of villages and sub zones according to Telmo Rodriguez of Remelluri. But Rioja is not the only place looking to increase the distinctiveness of its region. Beaujolais is also trying to identify the key climates and geological features that may be used to elevate some of the current Beaujolais Cru to Premier Cru status.
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New Zealand Sauvingnon Blanc will become harder to find in 2018

The New Zealand vintage is down by 9% will hit exports and prices to the UK in late 2017 early 2018.
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New Zealand has seen steady increases in exports of wine since the 1980, but poor weather has shrunk production by 9% for the 2017 harvest.

A smaller volume is not what wineries want as export volumes have been surging. Currently the USA is New Zealand’s largest export market and grew strongly in 2016 up 24% according to the NZ Wine Growers 2016 annual report. The UK came in second place with volumes up 8%. Both these markets are likely to see sales soften in the next year as prices rise, reflecting unmatched demand from the poor harvest. On a positive note the quantity may be down but the quality is reported to be good.
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When you order wine by the glass at a restaurant, which of these statements is most often true?