Climate Change, UK Drinking Habits, ProWein and Casella

My thanks to all who have sent in kind words regarding the new TKR format, and to all who have offered to support the venture for open readership. Please spread the word and get people to sign up to the weekly email. This is the third edition. Pleasingly, readership is up, especially in the UK and US. I’m assuming that’s because people there are somewhat interested in Australia but not interested enough to pay for a subscription. It’s good to have them on board. I hope they remain engrossed in Australian wine and the industry that is responsible for it. Let’s not forget those who work in selling and promoting Australian wine around the world.

Climate Changing

Until this week summer seemed reluctant to end in Byron Bay. That might sound good to those living in cooler climes, but it’s a worry. As is this news from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): the average temperature for the contiguous US during this northern hemisphere winter (December through February) was 2.6°C (4.6°F) above the 20th century average. This set a new record. It was also the 12th wettest winter on record for the lower 48 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) and the wettest since 1997-98. El Niño is playing hard and fast with us.

An article worth reading was published in The Conversation on March 15. Meltdown Earth: the shocking reality of climate change kicks in – but who is listening?  by James Dyke, lecturer in complex systems simulation at the University of Southampton. It states:

  • 2014 was the warmest ever recorded by humans.
  • 2015 was warmer still.
  • January 2016 broke the record for the largest monthly temperature anomaly. Then…

Dyke: “February didn’t break climate change records – it obliterated them. Regions of the Arctic were more than 16℃ warmer than normal – whatever constitutes normal now. But what is really making people stand up and notice is that the surface of the Earth north of the equator was 2℃ warmer than pre-industrial temperatures. This was meant to be a line that must not be crossed.”

The chart below is from NASA. The point to note is that it has taken about 5000 years for the planet to warm 5 degrees. The predicted rate of warming for the next century is estimated to be 20 times faster. Any discussion about terroir or selected site, aspect and soil comes to nothing when the world is in danger of cooking.

Global mean temp

UK Drinking Habits

The UK Office for National Statistics has released Adult drinking habits in Great Britain: 2014. The main points:

  • 9 million people report they had drunk alcohol in the week before interview.
  • 5 million people drink more than 14 units of alcohol on their heaviest drinking day.
  • Almost 1 in 5 higher income earners drink alcohol at least 5 days a week.
  • Young people are less likely to have consumed alcohol in the last week than those who are older.
  • A higher percentage of drinkers in Wales and Scotland drink over the recommended weekly amount in one day.
  • Wine is the most popular choice of alcohol.

This will spur the anti-alcohol brigade to keep UK duty and tax high, or even to increase it, citing health and violence issues. George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer in his budget handed down 16 March increased duty on wine in line with inflation as inflation was zero over the year 2015 the exact amount is difficult to calculate.  He also froze duty on beer, cider and the levy on whisky and other spirits.

He also introduced notice of a sugar tax to take effect April 2018.

I am surprised the Australian Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) hasn’t got on to the report to further its cause.

What the report shows is almost half the people interviewed (47 per cent) drank wine. The Welsh and Scots consume more alcohol then the English, and the wealthy drink more than those strapped for cash.

Wine drinkers drink less then beer drinkers on their heaviest days. Wine was the most popular drink among those who drank only up to 4.67 units on their heaviest drinking day. Among those who drank more than 14 units on their heaviest drinking day, the most popular drink was normal strength beer, stout, lager or cider.

Fourteen units of alcohol is the equivalent of six pints of 4 per cent beer, six medium (175-millilitre) glasses of 13 per cent wine or 14 standard-measure (25-millilitre) glasses of a 40 per cent spirit.

“The UK is key target export market for Oregon wines” was a heading in Off Licence News last week. It’s amazing such a crowded market constantly attracts countries, regions and brands to have a crack at it.

The following was in a private email, so I have kept the sender anonymous, but I think it worth sharing:

Yesterday I talked to Miguel Torres who complained at the difficulty he has in selling his top wines to restaurants. The sommeliers say they don’t want to sell wine that’s on offer in supermarkets (even though the top wines, which have been around for decades, have never been in a supermarket).”

ProWein 2016

ProWein is on and lots of positive reports are emerging. Bill Moularadellis (Kingston Estate Wines) is using it as a platform to launch new wines. The Living Brands range is an interesting concept. I haven’t tasted it, but from the media release it appears to be made from Riverland-sourced fruit and put out as single varietal. Nothing wrong with that. It was this quote from Moularadellis that got my attention:

“We have added value to the packaging and provided an authenticity and a story in each of these wines which in turn increases the price point opportunity of a customer’s private label range.”

Is Moularadellis saying tart up the label, create a fable to go with it and the $8 merlot will sell for $12-15?

There is no denying Moularadellis is one smart operator, especially when it comes to private label business, and if he gets a bigger margin, well done. TKR wishes the brand well and is sure the bigger margin made will trickle down to the grape grower. Moularadellis is also launching a Coonawarra brand.

Neil McGuigan is at ProWein, saying the world is over high-alcohol wines and Australia should take note. He’s probably right.

Casella News

John Casella has announced Casella Family Brands will establish a base in Cambridgeshire, England. It will take control of Yellow Tail distribution, previously handled by Diageo-owned Percy Fox. As yet, Casella is leaving the Peter Lehmann brand with distributors Liberty Wines. It’s an interesting move and may well result in greater sales of Yellow Tail in Europe, including the Nordic countries. We also think the new base will do well with the Peter Lehmann and Brand’s Laira wines down the track.

Let your God or gods walk with you this coming week. Happy drinking.


3 thoughts on “Climate Change, UK Drinking Habits, ProWein and Casella”

  1. Bull to NASA. As I read that graph its 0.4°C increase prior to 1940, stable for 20 years and 0.5 °C increase since. But I know that only NASA shows an increase after 1998 so I’m taking off 0.1°C for that.

    Wait for the La Nina. We in WA have seen the coolest February and March for a long time. Wind is blowing up from Antarctica. An unusual amount of summer rain. On the month to month scale and even the inter-annual time scale we call it weather, not climate.

    CO2 increased monotonically between 1940 and 1980 and yet temperatures declined. Can the Greenhouse Theorists account for the influence that caused the temperature decline between these years and that responsible for the increase before and after. I’m all ears. If not, then we should not assume anything.

    I’m getting awfully tired of this crap.

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