Written by Neville Cooper. Posted in Wine Blog.

Eighty-one percent of adults surveyed drank wine in the past year, compared to 79% for both beer and spirits, according to a YouGov poll of 2,000 UK drinkers. And 28% of those surveyed chose wine as their favourite alcoholic drink, versus 23% for beer and 20% for spirits, said UK Wine Drinkers, which commissioned the survey. Yet wine faces disproportionately harsh duty tax in comparison to other alcohol, said the group, which cites wine critics, trade publications, the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and leading companies, including the Bibendum PLB merchant and Penfolds owner Treasury Wine Estates, among its supporters. Launching a campaign to persuade UK chancellor Sajid Javid to cut duty tax at the next Budget, it said tax on wine has risen by almost 40% in the UK in the last 10 years. Moves in recent government Budgets to freeze or cut tax on beer and spirits, yet allow wine duty to rise with inflation, have further incensed the wine trade. By virtue of its reliance on imports, the sector has also faced extra costs related to Brexit scenario planning and a weaker sterling currency versus the euro. As some in the industry have long suspected, public awareness of wine tax appears to be low. Only 5% of adults surveyed by YouGov knew that tax makes up 61% of the price of a £5 bottle of wine, said the UK Wine Drinkers Group. It dubbed 12 August ‘wine tax freedom day’, because this date falls 61% of the way through the year. ‘Duty on wine has risen over twice as fast as beer over the past 10 years,’ said Helena Nicklin, of new Amazon Prime series The Three Drinkers.‘After a decade of unfair increases, it is time to cut [wine drinkers] a break and cut back wine tax,’ she said, speaking on behalf of the UK Wine Drinkers group. European Commission data shows that UK excise tax revenue on still wines rose from £2.6bn in 2008 to £4.3bn in 2017. By comparison, tax revenues on beer rose from £3.15bn to £3.45bn. The UK is known to impose particularly high duty tax on alcohol compared to many other European Union member states. A series of increases began in 2008, with the then-Labour government’s ‘duty escalator’, amid accusations that alcohol was being sold too cheaply. However, industry groups have long argued that duty rises wrongly affect moderate drinkers, rather than targeting those at-risk of alcohol abuse. Read more at

Sustainable and chic: The drive towards offering more beverages in cans is gaining momentum

Written by Neville Cooper. Posted in Wine Blog.

The canned beverage evolution is upon us, with the craft beer revolution leading the charge, breaking down preconceptions and paving the way for more traditionalist wine to begin finding its way into cans in South Africa. As with most consumer trends in the 21st century, it began in America. It was first adopted by breweries looking to improve the shelf life and freshness of craft beer, with Oskar Blues canning Dale’s Pale Ale in 2002. This led to a huge upsurge in wine being packaged in aluminum cans. Wine sales in cans in the USA have increased from $2 million in 2012 to $69 million in 2018. Bart Watson, Chief Economist at Brewers Association (USA) highlights the growth in canning in the States: “In the U.S. cans have steadily gained share in recent years. Given current trends, it's likely cans will make up a majority of small brewer packaging in 2020.” What has caused this shift? Previously bottles were seen as the premium beverage packing unit; however, the Millennial generation seems to be placing a premium on convenience and sustainability rather than perception. The benefits of cans are numerous: “The product is protected by its aluminium casing and so retains flavour and aroma, while keeping O2 and UV light out, which therefore leads to a longer shelf life,” explains Tom Riley, owner and founder of Tiny Keg Can Co, a mobile canning company that entered the market in early 2019 and is busy canning beer, wine and R2Ds in South Africa. Riley highlights more benefits for business: “Cans are cheaper to ship and handle, while also giving brand-owners more opportunity for marketing real estate, to create eye-catching labels on a bigger surface than bottles can offer.” Cans offer a significant solution to the impact on the environment. Cans are unbreakable and infinitely recyclable. Klaus Hass, Divisional Marketing & Sustainability Director at Nampak Bevcan – South Africa’s largest producer and supplier of beverage cans – notes that “recovery of used beverage cans is far more effective than other substrates products. The recycling loop takes [an] estimated 60 days from recovered beverage can to new product. A little longer in SA, but still extremely effective.” He also explains that beverage cans have an estimated recovery rate of 76.8% and creates informal employment through entrepreneurial recycling endeavours. Hass cites other factors increasing interest in cans: “There has been an increase in new beverage business in South Africa that are innovative and creating exciting products for the younger generations that are more inclined to experiment with smaller single-serve cans. [It also] offers them an opportunity to mix and match different varieties and drink responsibly.” Ben Wren is one of those innovative founders. His Ben Wren Wine brand has been changing perceptions through his 3 litre box wines and will now be launching a sauvignon blanc, red blend and rosé in a 300ml can. He’s buoyant about the future of cans: “Wine cans are coming and if we follow global trends, they’re coming in a big way.” He’s also keen to dispel the notion that box and canned wine isn’t of great quality. “It is the same wine as you find in R100 bottles on the shelf. Not mass produced; [it is] sourced and carefully crafted from boutique vineyards in the Western Cape.” Bruce Collins, brewer and founder of Stellenbosch Brewing Co, has been an early adopter of canning his beers and is well known for embracing innovation. Bruce elaborates on why he has moved to canning: “We have been able to extend our range of seasonals, specialty and collaboration brews, and apply unlimited creativity on the can label. It provides such a fun canvas to express our craft inside and on the can.” Perhaps the biggest challenge for this evolution in South Africa is the preconceived idea that liquid from cans will taste like metal. Previously, beverage cans were made of tin, which imparted a tinny aftertaste; however, they’re now made from aluminium and have a thin film inside that prevents liquid from interacting with the metal. “Perceptions are changing, consumers are making choices based on a new set of lifestyle determinations, with convenience and sustainability being high up on the agenda,” says Hass. Source: Murray Slater for

Bordeaux châteaux owners pledge hundreds of millions to rebuild Notre-Dame

Written by Neville Cooper. Posted in Wine Blog.

François Pinault, owner of Château Latour and Bernard Arnault, owner of luxury group LVMH, have pledged to donate hundreds of millions of Euros towards rebuilding Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris after a major fire devastated the 850-year-old landmark yesterday evening. Pinault has stated he will donate €100 million, and Arnault €200 million to the international fundraising campaign marked for cathedral restorations, according to French news agency Agence France-Presse. The blaze began on the evening of 15th April, engulfing Notre-Dame, with the French fire service working through the night to extinguish the flames, which was finally confirmed this morning (16th April). The LVMH Group announced on its Instagram account; ‘In the wake of this national tragedy, the Arnault family and the LVMH Group pledge their support for #NotreDame. They will donate a total of 200 million euros to the fund for reconstruction of this architectural work, which is an integral part of the history of France.’ The group has also offered the support of all teams, including creative, architectural and financial, to help with the long term work of reconstruction. As owner of LVMH, Arnault owns Château Cheval Blanc, Château d’Yquem, Krug, Moët Hennsey and fashion brand Louis Vuitton. Pinault also owns Eisele Vineyard Estate in Napa Valley – previously named Araujo, Clos de Tart in Burgundy and Château Grillet in Northern Rhône. His parent company Kering also owns luxury fashion brands Gucci and Yves San Laurent. The Notre-Dame fire The cathedral took 200 years to build and has been in Paris for 850 years, surviving both World Wars. The fire burned the roof and caused the spire to collapse, but the north and south towers, and main structure have remained. The full extent of the damage is being assessed, but there were no casualties in the fire. It is believed the fire was accidental and could have started during renovation work on the cathedral. Originally posted in

Trump says he ‘might’ put tariffs on French wine in response to digital tax

Written by Neville Cooper. Posted in Wine Blog.

President Donald Trump said Friday that he “might” slap tariffs on French wine in response to the country’s new tax affecting technology companies. The president told French President Emmanuel Macron that he would put duties on French wine if France passed the digital services tax it approved earlier this month, Trump told reporters Friday. In a tweet earlier Friday, Trump also suggested he could target French wine — a move experts considered the most likely U.S. response to the French digital services tax. “I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine!” Trump tweeted. In the tweet, the president said his administration will unveil “a substantial reciprocal action” following what he called Macron’s “foolishness.” Earlier this month, France passed a 3% tax that will affect firms such as Facebook and Google that draw about $28 million or more in revenue from digital services in France. The Trump administration then started an investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. If, after the probe, the U.S. determines the tax is discriminatory or unreasonably targets U.S. firms, Trump could respond with tariffs. Trade experts considered Trump’s most likely response a 100% tariff on French wine — one of the country’s signature, symbolic products. In a statement Friday, White House spokesman Judd Deere criticized France’s tax but did not give any new details on what the U.S. could do to retaliate. He said the administration is “looking closely at all other policy tools” in addition to the already launched investigation as it determines how to respond to France. “The Trump Administration has consistently stated that it will not sit idly by and tolerate discrimination against U.S.-based firms,” he said. In a CNBC interview last month, Trump suggested he could put tariffs on French wine. He said California wine producers have complained to him about France putting higher tariffs on imports than the U.S. does. “And you know what, it’s not fair. We’ll do something about it,” he said. France exported 3.2 billion euros (or about $3.6 billion) in wine to the U.S. last year, according to the Federation of French Wines and Spirits Exporters. The U.S. was France’s biggest wine export market. Trump does not drink alcohol, but he is familiar with the wine industry. While in office, Trump has touted the Virginia-based Trump Winery operated by his son, Eric. Tariffs on France would open up another conflict as Trump tries to navigate thorny trade relationships around the globe. Already in the coming months, the White House looks to push a skeptical Congress to approve Trump’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement and strike a trade deal with China. Originally posted in

SA Chardonnay Judged World’s Best

Written by Clair Macdonald. Posted in Wine Blog.

Cape Town – Groot Constantia’s 2013 Chardonnay was judged the best in the world at the recent 22nd annual Chardonnay du Monde competition. 

The runner up was the 2013 DB Reserve Chardonnay from Australia.  


The competition was held from March 11 to 14 in the Burgundy wine region of France. 

Chardonnay-du-Monde is an international wine competition held every year since 1993. 

The competition’s name means ‘Chardonnay of the world’ and as this suggests, the competition focuses specifically on Chardonnay wines. 

Beating over 800 other entrants from across the globe to be judged best overall, Groot Constantia’s 2013 Chardonnay proudly represented South Africa as one of only two Chardonnay’s from SA to feature in the top 56 and to receive a gold.

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