Analysis

Style and Regions

Champagne and Sparkling Wine – Booming US Sales

In 2021, thirsty US wine drinkers popped 69% more Champagne corks than the previous year. Some of that dramatic increase can be attributed to the impact of Covid on 2020, but sales are still growing and, as Sarah Philips McCartan reveals, France’s iconic fizz is not the only beneficiary of this trend.

Reading time: 5m

Alternative Packaging: Everything But Glass

Alternative packaging in the wine industry promotes climate benefits. What possibilities are there to replace the emission-intensive disposable glass? Vincent Messmer reports.

Reading time: 7m 30s

Pix – What Went Wrong? What Went Right? The Paul Mabray Interview

In the middle of 2021, US wine professionals learned of the launch of a new digital platform to stand alongside Vivino, WineSearcher and CellarTracker. The brainchild of wine-tech entrepreneur Paul Mabray, its aim was to help consumers find wines they already knew about, and to discover new ones. Part of the model involved the creation of high quality journalism in the shape of a platform called the Drop. Edited by Erica Duecy, previously of Vinepair and Felicity Carter, former editor of this publication, and with a range of illustrious contributors, it rapidly won recognition and praise from those who were aware of it. 

A year after its launch, following the failure to raise a third round of funding, after the earlier investment of $7m, despite recurring revenue of $600,000 that apparently exceeded initial projections, the Drop has effectively closed and Mabray is looking for partners to enable his business to achieve its objectives.

In this exclusive, lengthy interview, he answers some tough questions.

Reading time: 12m 38s

The Rise and Plateau of Hard Seltzers

Why is hard seltzer so successful with younger consumers? Sarah Phillips McCartan reports on a category that's no longer a novelty and considers what it means for the wine industry.

Reading time: 6m

The Masters of Wine Exam - Relevant to Non-MW-Students?

The Institute of Masters of Wine publishes the questions candidates for membership have had to answer in 2022 - and the wines they had to taste. Robert Joseph considers the exam, and whether wine professionals with no interest in becoming MWs might still benefit from giving it some thought.

Reading time: 3m 45s

Spain: Time for a Rethink in Rioja?

The Rioja classification system has tradition and determines marketing. Ever cheaper Reservas, however, are causing criticism and fueling doubts about the traditional model. David Schwarzwälder reports.

Reading time: 6m 30s

Penfolds goes French, following in some Illustrious Footsteps

Will Penfolds decision to launch super-premium French, Californian and French-Australian and California-Australia blends under its own label inspire others to follow its example? Robert Joseph reports. 

Reading time: 6 m

State of the Cape: Interview with Rico Basson and Maryna Calow

The South African wine industry had an especially tough time during the pandemic, with challenges including restrictions on exports as well as domestic sales. Rico Basson, managing director of Vinpro, a non-profit company that represents close to 2,600 South African wine producers, and Maryna Calow head of communications at Wines of South Africa, speak frankly about the industry today.

Reading time: 9m 50s

Terra (In)cognita - Douro Valley and Trás-os-Montes Region in Portugal

While classics are being reinterpreted on the Douro without losing sight of tradition, the neighbouring region of Trás-os-Montes is waking up from its slumber. Simon Werner reports.

Reading time: 6m 30s

Robotic Vehicles are Driving into the World’s Vineyards

California is catching up with Europe with driverless tractors, and ones that can multitask while running on renewable electricity. Roger Morris reports.

Reading time: 4m 15s

Prosecco: Walking a Tightrope - with a Net

The constant increase in demand poses major challenges for the guardians of Prosecco. The consortium must keep an eye on quality and protect the image. Veronika Crecelius reports.

Reading time: 5m 15s

Portugal’s Alentejo Rises to the Climate Challenge

Alentejo’s big sustainability efforts are starting to provide a competitive edge for wine producers who have obtained third-party certification from their WASP (Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Programme) membership. Barnaby Eales reports.

Reading time: 6m 45s 

Vladimir Putin and his Friends – Taking Control of Russian Wine

When he is not focusing his attention on his invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president and his entourage take a particular interest in wine. Last year, laws allowing domestic wine to be described as shampanskoe on official labels while Champagne could only be called ‘sparkling wine’ hit the headlines. But, as Sergey Panov reveals, other moves have been far more significant.

Reading time: 8m 30​s​​​​​

Austria: Well Equipped to Face the Competition

Record export results, a large number of international visitors at VieVinum, and a superb 2021 vintage: Austria is brimming with lots of energy in the world wine market. Sascha Speicher reports.

Reading time: 2m 50s

Guest feature: Sarah Heller MW on the Language of Wine

Sarah Heller, Asia’s youngest Master of Wine, is unusually well qualified to discuss wine communication in its broadest sense. An exhibited visual artist, TV host and wine columnist, she speaks English, Chinese, German, Italian and French with basic Korean and Spanish, and is one of the three key lecturers on the faculty of the Vinitaly International Academy.

Reading time: 4m 20s