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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.