Tough times

The signs of economic crunch in the wine business are multiplying. How slow sales have been has been apparent, for example, to those on the Platter tasting team working their way through what wineries submit: this year (and this is just my and a few others’ impression at this stage) there are many more examples of such notes as “2007 vintage still selling; no 2008 submitted”. No point in drawing customers’ attention to the newer vintage. One very important winery which has a range of thirteen or so wines submitted only four this year. The rest are presumably piled up in the cellar, while sales of older vintages still drag out.

Simply from a wine-drinking point of view, this is no bad thing if it means that, when things start moving again, it will be with slightly more mature wines (though I daresay some very modest little wines designed for same-year drinking will have collapsed: beware of that).

And, of course, for some wineries things have reached a worse stage. I have heard of retrenchments at the Stellenbosch winery Hidden Valley, for example, with the wine being sold off in bulk and negotiations apparently under was to rent out the winery next year.

That fine producer of fine chenin blanc, Jean Daneel, sent out an email to winemakers just recently, offering all his cellar equipment for sale. Apparently he’s going to focus on consulting. Spreading his influence about is a good thing, too, but I do hope he does continue to produce some wine of his own: a Cape wine industry without Jean Daneel Chenin Blanc would be a diminished one.

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