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10th January 2013 - Prosecco the winner as retailers announce Christmas boom

Thursday 10 January 2013 by Richard Woodard

Prosecco emerged as the wine favourite among shoppers in the UK at Christmas, with soaring sales of the
Italian sparkler reported by Majestic, Waitrose and Tesco.

Tesco said sales of Prosecco in 2012 were likely to be double those in 2011, while Waitrose wine buying manager Ken
Mackay reported it as ‘the biggest seller by far’ in a 23% sales surge for sparkling wine over the Christmas period.

Majestic chief executive Steve Lewis told that sales of Prosecco had soared by 55% by value in the last
seven weeks of 2012, while Champagne sales were flat and overall sparkling wine sales rose 22%.

Majestic reported overall sales up 5.1% over the same period, with like-for-like sales rising 1.1% – broadly in line with
the company’s performance over the rest of the year to date.

Lewis described the Christmas trading period as ‘challenging’, as many consumers delayed their shopping until the last
minute – but added that this simplified the planning of stock and staffing levels.

Online sales, which rose 15% to account for 10% of Majestic’s turnover, were now ‘absolutely critical’, he said: ‘Without
online clearly we wouldn’t be performing as well as we are.’

Volumes of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc continued to be ‘extraordinary’, Lewis added, with Marisco-owned brand The
Ned set to sell more than 1m bottles in this financial year.

Other big sellers included Argentinian Malbec priced at £6-12 a bottle, and French regions including the Loire, Rhone,
Beaujolais and Languedoc, which Lewis attributed to ‘younger consumers discovering France for the first time’.

Meanwhile, Waitrose had its strongest fortnight’s trading ever in the last two weeks of the year, with English sparkling
wine seeing an 80% sales spike, said Mackay.

However, supermarket rival Morrisons had a disappointing Christmas – like-for-like sales fell 2.5% in the six weeks to 30
December – but said it had sold 407,000 litres of Champagne, 18.5m litres of wine and 734,000 bottles of brandy in
the two months to Christmas Eve.

Tesco will announce detailed Christmas trading figures this week.


7th Januarty 2013 - Dievole and Poggio Landi bought by Argentina's Bulgheroni

Monday 7 January 2013 by David Furer

One of Chianti Classico's largest estates, Dievole, has been purchased by Argentinian billionaire Alejandro
Pedro Bulgheroni, owner of several wineries in Argentina, Uruguay, and California. 

Bulgheroni has also bought Poggio Landi in Montalcino for a reported €15m. The 134ha estate, with 25ha
of vineyards, formerly belonged to Stefano Cinelli Colombini, owner of Fattoria dei Barbi.

Bulgheroni has plans to renovate the estate, adding a new cellar, refurbishing the farmhouse, and beginning
wine production once a winery is installed.

The wine production of both operations is being overseen by Tuscany's Alberto Antonini, who for years has
consulted to Bulgheroni's Uruguay estate, Bodega Garzón.

Located 15km north of Siena, Dievole consists of 80ha of vines and substantial olive groves – and a luxury
resort that was redesigned around its 15th century villa a few years ago.

The Tuscan businesses will be managed from Dievole with new management already in place.

According to statements made to the Italian press, Cinelli Colombini says production at Fattoria dei Barbi
will remain unchanged.


18th December 2012 - Police arrest suspect in Soldera wine sabotage

Tuesday 18 December 2012 by Kerin O'Keefe

The Case Basse barrel cellar; Andrea Di Gisi [Images:]


Police have arrested a former employee of Brunello producer Soldera in connection with the destruction of
thousands of litres of wine.

In a crime that shocked the international wine world, the suspect is accused of opening casks of aging Brunello
at Gianfranco Soldera’s Case Basse estate on December 2 and destroying more than 60,000 litres of wine.

Rumors that the crime was either a vendetta or even a mafia hit have been quashed by the arrest of
39-year-old Andrea Di Gisi, who is from Rome but reportedly lives in Montalcino and is a former employee
of Soldera’s, where he worked in the winery.

As reported earlier today on Montalcino-based website, Di Gisi was arrested last night after a
coordinated investigation involving Montalcino and Siena carabinieri, as well as the public prosecutor of Siena.

According to reports, the suspect already has a record of crimes involving destruction of property. In this case,
is charged with sabotage.

According to unofficial reports, Di Gisi bears a grudge against Soldera, stemming from the fact ‘Soldera
showing preference to another employee by giving him better lodging’ at the winery, online daily said.

Estimates vary but the loss to Soldera is thought to be around €6m..

At a televised press conference in Siena the authorities said they arrested the subject after following
his movements on 2 December on various video cameras around Montalcino and later intercepted a
cell phone call where he told his nephew, ‘Wine isn't like blood, with two washes it will go away.’

They also revealed they have seized a pair of wine-stained jeans, which will be tested to see if
they can match the stains with Soldera's wine.

Even without this, they say they have enough evidence for the arrest.


11th December 2012 - Ferrari moving to higher vines as climate change effects felt

Tuesday 11 December 2012 by Anne Krebiehl

Italian sparkling producer Ferrari Fratelli Lunelli is actively encouraging its growers to plant vines higher
in Trentino to avoid the effects of climate change.

'Nothing below 300m': Ferrari [pic:]

Ferrari buys grapes from 500 independent growers for its production of 4-5m bottles of Ferrari Perlé, and
in recent years it has favoured grapes from growers with higher vineyards and stopped buying fruit grown
below 300m, winemaker Marcello Lunelli said at the recent Bollicine du Trento event in the northern
Italian province.

‘We pay higher prices for higher quality grapes, and we see most of the time that higher altitude means
higher quality,’ Ferrari publicist Camilla Lunelli added.

‘In Trentino the climate has changed very quickly,’ Marcello Lunelli said. ‘The average temperature in our
vineyards over the past 30 years has increased by 1°C; more than in the previous 2000 years. To have the
same conditions in the future as we’ve had, we need to move the vines 150m higher.’

According to Lunelli, this will guarantee cooler summer temperatures which help preserve the acidity in the
grapes necessary to maintain the standard of their sparkling wines. ‘We are lucky because Trentino is a
mountain region so we have the space and the altitude,’ he said.

While 61% of Trentino’s vineyards are already planted on elevated hill and mountain sites, Lunelli feels the
unique sub-Alpine terrain provides Ferrari with an opportunity.

The producer owns 120ha which are all ideally located between 300-700m, and which are being planted.
‘We’ll have planted 10ha in the next two years, all at 600-750m,’ Lunelli said. ‘But we have to wait ten years
to obtain the right quality for a Riserva like Giulio Ferrari.’


4th December 2012 - Montalcino rallies round as Soldera's Brunellos are destroyed

Tuesday 4 December 2012 by Kerin O'Keefe


Vandals have destroyed thousands of litres of ageing Brunello in the cellars of cult producer Gianfranco Soldera.

The cellars at Soldera’s Case Basse estate in Montalcino were broken into and the taps opened on all of his
Brunello barrels, draining the every litre of vintages from 2007 to 2012 - more than 600 hectolitres (60,000 litres)
of ageing wine. No bottles, nor any valuables were taken or damaged.

Most observers assume this was a personal attack on Soldera (pictured), one of the most outspoken Brunello
producers and a staunch advocate of the rule that allows only 100% Sangiovese in the blend.

Fellow producers and their consorzio, shocked at the crime, are rallying behind him.

‘When the news broke late yesterday, I called Soldera to offer solidarity,’ Fabrizio Bindocci, managing director of
Il Poggione and president of the Brunello Consorzio, told

‘I was pleased to find the usual Soldera: driven, determined and tough. He told me right out, “I’ll get through this.
I’m not giving up and I’m not beaten”,’ Bindocci said.

Although Montalcino’s producers are notoriously individualistic and tight-lipped, they are dropping their usual reserve.

‘I’ve already received phone calls from numerous producers offering their support for Soldera and asking what they can
do to help. In a situation like this, where an act of cowardice of this magnitude has been inflicted on another producer,
we are rallying together like a family for Soldera. And we would do the same for any of our producers,’ Bindocci added.

Soldera’s annual production of 15,000 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino, almost always designated Riservas after five and
six years ageing, are among the most sought-after and expensive bottlings in the denomination.

[Images: Paolo Tenti]


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