A new Spanish DO, grape price wars, Canadian winegrower grants

Wine News in 5 logo and photo of waterfront in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Plus some good news from Portugal. (Above, the waterfront in Vila Nova de Gaia.) But first, some exciting events coming up for our team …

On 24 March both Jancis and Julia will be in Oxford for the Oxford Literary Festival and they’ll be conducting a tasting as well as signing new editions of The Oxford Companion to Wine. The event will take place from 4 to 5 pm and tickets are £25.

I also wanted to mention that it’s International Women’s Day this Friday March 8th – and in honour of this, our site will have a few articles coming out recognising women in wine and food.

Also on Friday, I’ll be hosting an Instagram Live with Steve and Jill Matthiasson of Matthiasson wines in Napa. That will be at 3 pm Pacific time which is 11 pm in London. I recognise that that’s a bit late for most folks, so I will be recording the session and uploading it to Instagram afterward. If you have questions for the Matthiassons, please send them to me on our site’s Forum or by direct message on Instagram.

Government support for Canadian wineries

On 1 March the entire Canadian wine industry received welcome news – Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay announced a CA$177 million extension to the Wine Sector Support Program over the next three years. This programme was originally launched in July 2022 and was structured as a two-year federal support programme to provide wineries with a source of non-repayable federal grants to help them survive price increases, labour shortages and severe climate events. The decision to extend the programme is a relief to all Canadian wineries but is especially good news for those who were affected by the recent freeze in British Columbia. Wineries can begin applying for these grants starting this Friday and applications will remain open until 24 May.

Regulation updates in Spain and France

Winegrowers in Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux voted this month to leave the Union des Côtes de Bordeaux group. However, the Union still needs to approve the split and the winegrowers in Castillon have said that they’ll be pursuing full appellation status. If you have more information on this, please email news@jancisrobinson.com.

In Spain, there has been a new DO approved – Campo de Calatrava DO. The DO is in Castilla-La Mancha right around Ciudad Real. Previously wine made in the region was released as Vino de la Tierra de Castilla. There is a long list of grapes allowed for reds and whites in the DO and the varieties are similar to La Mancha DO and Valdepeñas DO.

New protest in Bordeaux

Last week I spoke about a grower v négociant lawsuit in which grower Rémi Lacombe won €350,000 from négociants Excel and Ginestet who had paid him far below his cost of production.

On 28 February a new protest began outside the négociant Castel Frères for the same reasons. Growers from the region are protesting the abusively low prices paid by the négociant and demanding that price is built based on the cost of growing. Both the trade union Jeunes Agriculteurs de Gironde and the Fédération nationale des syndicats d’exploitants agricoles (FNSEA), which represents 20,000 local agricultural unions, are involved. Winegrower representatives have been received by the négociant to discuss appropriate pricing. They are requesting a minimum price of €1,000 a barrel.

Let’s do some very rough math … a barrel is generally 225 litres, which equates to 300 750-ml bottles, which comes out to €3.33 for a standard bottle. Now imagine that with packaging, logistics and duty making up most of a wine’s cost, plus mark-ups from retailers … that wine is going to be retailing for at least triple and that would be a fair price …

Now think about the fact that Aldi launched a California Heritage Collection of wines under $5 last week and that those wines must travel thousands of miles more than ones going from France to the UK. You start to see how the industry is eating itself and how wine prices that are unsustainably low in countries that don’t have grower protections will still negatively affect growers who have protections.

Portugal’s good fortune

The wine industry hasn’t seen very good news lately. Consumption is down, costs are up, competition is high, there’s a large oversupply – generally speaking, the industry is suffering. But for some reason Portugal seems to be doing quite well. This month’s report from ViniPortugal shows that exports have declined very minimally and price per litre of wine increased to €2.90 in 2023.

Port wine has seen the biggest losses within Portuguese wines and many Port houses have made significant investments in dry wine. The Fladgate Partnership – responsible for Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft, announced last week via The Drinks Business that they are in the process of scaling their table-wine business and buying more vineyards for their brand Principal – acquired last September along with the rest of the Ideal Wine portfolio.

This is interesting. Back in 2021 we published an article written by James Mayor on how Niepoort, the Symingtons and The Fladgate Partnership were increasing tourism in Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto by way of offering new multi-day tasting experiences, opening hotels and opening restaurants. I’m wondering if a growing personal connection to the country – through visiting – is what’s keeping demand afloat.

This is a transcript of our weekly five-minute news broadcast, which you can watch below. You can also listen to it on The JancisRobinson.com Podcast. If you have breaking news in your area, please email news@jancisrobinson.com. And if you enjoy this content and would like to see more like it, please subscribe to our site and our weekly newsletter.