On the grapevine: Wine news from 1st-15th January 2021

From a wine-inspired space mission to a counterfeit wine raid in China, find out the latest wine news from 1st-15th January 2021:

Zachys sales top $85 Million in 2020

The fine wine auction house, Zachys, sold a grand total of 173,847 bottles across 30,204 lots and 40 sales in 2020. 

‘Out of that total, 10,217 lots were Burgundy which realised $36.4m overall (…) Bordeaux was the next best-selling region ($27m in total sales), followed by California ($9.9m), Tuscany ($2.3m), Champagne ($2.1m), the Rhône ($1.9m) and Piedmont ($1.7m).

Unsurprisingly, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti led sales by value ($11m), followed by Lafite, Mouton Rothschild, Petrus and Armand Rousseau.’ 


Another alcohol ban for South Africa

As Covid cases surge in South Africa, the government has imposed a new shutdown on all alcohol sales leaving winemakers concerned for their future.

According to industry bodies, Vinpro and Wines of South Africa, the impact of 14 weeks of bans on domestic sales, 5 weeks of restricted domestic sales, and 5 weeks of export bans has been devastating. It is estimated that the industry has already lost more than $400 million since the first shutdown. As a result, it is suggested that about 80 wineries and 350 grape growing operations will shut down and 21,000 people won’t have a job in the coming months.


WSTA calls on the Chancellor for support

Harpers reported that the hospitality industry looks set to take a £30bn hit in revenue in 2021. The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) is asking the Treasury to prolong the temporary cut in VAT to 5% for soft drinks and food to support the hospitality industry in its recovery, while also extending the scheme to cover alcoholic drinks.


An unlikely space mission for Bordeaux wine

A year ago, 12 bottles of Bordeaux red wine and 320 vine canes boarded a SpaceX ‘Dragon’ cargo and were blasted into space destined for the International Space Station. They’ve now returned to earth and scientists from the University of Bordeaux’s wine institute plan to analyse to better understand how zero gravity environments change the taste and sedimentation.


New dates for the annual En Primeur Tasting Week

The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) has announced that this year’s En Primeur tasting week for the 2020 vintage will now take place on 26-29 April rather than in March. Sales of the 2020 vintage should start from early May, or end of June.


Penfolds counterfeiting operation busted by Chinese Police

Police in China stormed nine workshops closing down a network that has counterfeited an estimated $20.1m worth of fake Penfolds. The counterfeiting operation is thought to have been active for roughly three years..


Wine pouring robot developed by Tech giant

Samsung has unveiled their new robot Bot Handy. Currently still in the development phase, the robot uses artificial intelligence to help pour a glass of wine, put away groceries and hand you a drink. 


WINE HEIST Drama in France

French law enforcement are searching for three men in connection with the robbery that targeted the Domaine de Rymska Saint-Jean-de-Trézy hotel twice in one week.

Police were alerted to their second robbery as they attempted to steal several hundred bottles worth an estimated €350,000 leading. This lead to a dramatic chase that resulted in the thieves began lobbing bottles at the pursuing gendarmes in an effort to throw them off. 

Looking to stay up-to-date with the latest wine news? Subscribe to our newsletter and join thousands of enthusiasts for insight into all things vinous.

Sources: The Drinks Business, Decanter, Wine Spectator, Harpers