Ratcliff resigns, pound weakens, Melbourne show

Ashley Ratcliff, a 14-year veteran of Yalumba, has resigned to follow his own path. Ratcliff is not dissatisfied. He says:

“I was given the opportunity to commence a wonderful and exciting journey with one of the greatest wine companies in the world… Yalumba. Starting in a viticulture position, I moved on to managing the Oxford Landing Winery and in recent times headed up the bottling and packaging department.”  

A loss for Yalumba but a win for the Riverland region. Ratcliff has several vineyard plots of his own and others that he manages under the collective title of Ricca Terra Farms. He produces quality fruit that is sought after and makes quality wines.

I have no doubt Ratcliff will expand his holdings and others will invest in the region under his guidance. It’s going to be a struggle to change the approach that many growers in the region have, but I have full confidence he will convince many to lower the crop, produce better fruit and in turn get higher prices.

Some, perhaps many, growers won’t change, and will continue to complain about low prices and how they have to find work off-farm to meet the bills. The Riverland needs more people like Ash Ratcliff. I wish him well and ask the Riverland to listen to what he says and back him.

Last week TKR covered the weakening pound and how it was eroding profits for wine companies exporting to the UK. Not that TKR had any influence, but the day after we published the article Australian Vintage (AV) issued a profit warning due to the unsteady dollar-sterling relationship.

It said: “Assuming the GBP remains at the current rate of 62.8 against the AUD for the balance of the 2016-17 financial year, the negative impact on our net profit after tax will be approximately $3.5 million to $4 million.”

That’s a big assumption, but being optimistic, let’s hope there is an improvement. AV also released its annual report, which is dealt with in the Australian Wine News section.

Any company involved in large exports to the UK will be affected. Wine wise, Accolade Wines and Treasury Wine Estates will also be feeling the effect of a falling pound. A recent article in The Australian said the pound could affect the proposed public float of Accolade Wines early next year.

The Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy winner was announced last week. It was Deep Woods Estate 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, from Margaret River. The full list of trophy winners is in the Australian Wine News section.

Worth pointing out is that the trophy for best shiraz/cabernet sauvignon blend went to Young Brute 2015 Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon made by Casella Family Brands for Dan Murphy’s. It was also a contender for the Jimmy Watson.

It’s a cracking wine and if you’re a member of Dan’s wine club, two bottles can be bought for $16. Dan’s also stocks a cleanskin riesling, No 53 Clare Valley Riesling 2016, which picked up a silver in the International Riesling Challenge. It is also very good and very cheap at about $8 bottle.

If you’re a believer in the show system, you have to accept that the supermarket own brands can be quality wines and that the consumer is the winner.

I’m currently reading Passing Clouds: A Winemaker’s Journey by Graeme Leith. It’s a good read, a journey through Leith’s life, which has been a fascinating one, involving a great deal more than wine, including the tragic murder of his daughter. I recommend reading it.

Be kind and share wine with friends this coming week.


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