World wine exports rebound | Wine-Searcher News and Features
In this week’s roundup, we look at how international trade is on the rise again, as well as various instances of deception.
| As the world opens up again after the pandemic, so does the world of wine.
Ups and downs this week as the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) announced a banner year for the wine trade in 2021 while a judge in Italy froze three quarters of a million euros of winery assets still trying to claw their way out of a hangover from their fraud convictions in 2020.
More fraud and wine this weekend too as the French state auctions another collection of top-tier Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. The wines in question were all seized as part of official investigations into criminal behavior.
Meanwhile, traditionalists are up in arms in Spain as health officials seek to remove beer and wine from lunch menu blackboards across the country, and there’s another dating app for wine. Continue reading.
Wine exports reach new heights as Covid restrictions lift
As the world begins to emerge from what is hopefully the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic, wine exports have returned to rampant levels, according to the International Organization of Vine and Wine. (OIV). According to the organization, global wine exports reached new heights last year, increasing by 16% in value (to 34.3 billion euros or 36.2 billion dollars) and by 4% in volume to 111.6 million hectoliters (or 11.16 billion liters) – two records.
Spain led the way with exports, with France and Italy taking second and third place respectively. The big three accounted for only 50% of world wine exports.
The United States was the top importer by value, with imports up 21% – the lifting of Trump-era trade restrictions also played a big role in the growth in trade.
In terms of volume, Germany ranks first while the United States has overtaken the United Kingdom as the second largest wine importer. The latter’s exit from the European Union would be to blame because, according to the Reuters news wire, “Brexit has contributed to a contraction in British imports.”
Global wine consumption increased by 1%, according to the Dijon-based organization.
However, all was not rosy. Supply chain issues, availability of dry goods (the two are regularly linked) and continued conflict in Ukraine could potentially dampen growth in 2022.
Italian vineyard assets seized in fraud investigation
Following a two-year investigation into major fraud at a winery in Italy’s Oltrep regionwhere Pavese, the attorney general has frozen nearly €740,000 ($780,000) of company assets as it struggles to put its financial house in order. This decision follows a series of arrests and accusations of wine fraud, tampering with labels and fraudulent documents at the Cantina Canneto facilities in Canneto, in the province of Pavia, in northern Italy. .
According to reports, the company attempted to resume normal operations after the police (the Carabinieri and the Guardia di Finanza Anti-Fraud Police) descended on the winery two years ago in what has been dubbed ” Operation Dionysus”. Despite an operational headline that makes it clear that even law enforcement has a sense of humor, cops arrested the company’s CEO (and president), vice president, two winemakers, and a broker.
The operation, its investigation and the arrests came after official checks in 2018 found 1.6 million liters of wine “missing” from cellars. It turned out that wine (not to mention grapes) never existed.
The winery had falsely claimed the consumption and production of grapes, intending to make up the shortfall with cheap bulk wine which would then be fraudulently labeled with the geographical denominations DOC or IGT, or even as organic wine.
The winery also used certain prohibited additions, including rectified grape must and invert sugar syrup. Although the ingredients used do not pose a risk to public health, their use was part of the fraud.
According to some dispatches, the investigation could even affect winegrowers. “According to the prosecutor, the counterfeiting could have taken place with the complicity of grape suppliers – 28 are under investigation,” local newspaper La Provincia Pavese said.
| Removing alcohol from the traditional menú del día is likely to meet with some resistance.
Spain mulls proposals to remove alcohol from ‘menu del dia’
If there was ever a decision that took big “cojones”, the Spanish Ministry of Health has tabled a proposal to ban alcohol from lunch menus across the country. The move is part of a broader health campaign in the country to tackle cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the country.
To this end, alcohol and tobacco face stricter regulations from the government. With Barcelona banning public smoking on its beaches, a nationwide ban on smoking on restaurant terraces – and even fines for smoking while driving – has also come into effect.
According to reports, the Ministry of Health is seeking to reduce the country’s tobacco consumption by 30% over the next three years.
Today, the government is reconsidering its intention to ban beer, wine and/or spirits from the ubiquitous “menú del día” (lunch menu of the day) in bars and restaurants across the country. According to Barcelona publication Equinox, the menu of the day “will have to offer free tap water as standard and can no longer include the consumption of alcohol”.
The potential ban is not total, however. “These drinks would be offered à la carte, therefore at a higher price,” adds the media.
Despite all this, the bill remains controversial and its contributors are not holding their breath. “Although the Spanish Society of Cardiology is satisfied with the document […] it is also skeptical about the application of the measures it contains,” said Spanish television channel Onda Cero.
The State will auction grand crus seized in France
A collection of 200 lots of prestigious wines seized by the French tax authorities as part of their investigations is being auctioned this weekend in Dijon. With impeccable reasoning worthy of the land given to us by Voltaire, Diderot and Spinoza, the French tax authorities declared that the auction “guarantees the efficiency of justice by combining the dispossession of property resulting from offenses and the preservation of their value”.
Among the 200 lots put up for sale by the French auction house Drouot on behalf of the French state are three bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 2000, 12 bottles of Château Angélus 2005, 12 bottles of Ausone 2001, six bottles of Cheval Blanc 1982, six bottles of Pétrus 2000 and two mixed cases of 12 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2001.
The collection – 1400 bottles in total – goes under the hammer in Dijon, Saturday April 30.
This is not the first time that wines confiscated from crooks have been put up for auction by the state. As we reported at the end of last year, a series of goodies, including a Ferrari, two Lamborghinis, a handful of Rolexes and fine wine (including more Bordeaux and Burgundy grands crus), this time seized in organized criminal operations, went up for auction in October. Again, if only we knew a little more about where the wines come from…
Another “wine Tinder” on apps
Another week and another wine pairing app for your mobile phone that seeks to pair you with your ideal wine. This time it’s Vinidaily who, despite a name doomed to break European Union consumer safety guidelines, offers to find the perfect wine for a cassoulet – or so pointed out the local newspaper Toulouse Secret (for the curious, the options are Gaillac, Minervois or Buzet).
Although Vinidaily seems to have an unsurprisingly French bias when it comes to wine suggestions, it will allow you to see your friends’ wine preferences (if they’re also signed up), potentially alleviating any stress when it comes to choose a bottle for them.
Other than that it’s not the same. Tell Vinidaily how you like your coffee (don’t drink coffee; with milk, with sugar, etc.) and it will use your answers to start building a profile of your palate.
But don’t worry: if you don’t like a wine that the app offers you, it won’t offer it to you anymore.
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