Disastrous Frost and one of the biggest Wine Scandals of all time

With Easter firmly behind us, it should be time for Spring’s arrival but not so fast! This week we’re talking about the weather – among other things. Here is the JollyCellarMaster Weekly:

Terrible Weather, a Record Year and remembering a massive Wine Scandal


The Big Freeze

Just when I got used to the warm weather the first days of Spring had brought us, Winter struck back with freezing weather across Europe. While for most of us this only means to get the winter clothing out again, it poses a serious threat for winegrowers in the Old World. The French government has declared an agricultural disaster after an unusual early spring frost damaged crops and vines across the country. Significant losses have been registered and since we’re not out of the woods yet, time will tell how bad it is going to be, but already some vineyards the Sauternes region of Bordeaux have reported 90% of the crop destroyed.

French farmers have used every method they can to save their crops and their Italian counterparts, too, are busy picking up the pieces as can be seen on these pictures from Montalcino.

Frost is always a major threat, though this year could be an extreme case with temperature dropping by 20 degrees a day in Northern Italy and Austria or going far below zero as seen in France. Eventually, we are reminded of the Mark Twain quote: “In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”

Italian Numbers

On a more positive note from Italy and Montalcino in particular, its producers report record numbers for the sales of Brunello for the 2015 riserva and its “super annata” 2016 with an increase of 37% in the first trimester of the year.

Elsewhere in Italy, ISMEA, which reports on Italian agricultural markets, has announced a 3% increase in wine production, though that might not necessarily a good thing as we discussed last week.

Facing the Abyss

Twenty five years ago, a German court announced the verdict diethylene glycol wine scandal where several Austrian wineries illegally adulterated their wines using the toxic substance used in some brands of antifreeze to make the wines appear sweeter and more full-bodied that would appeal predominantly to the taste of German consumers at the time. It all started with a producer that declared a suspiciously large amount of antifreeze for tax compensation, which turned into an avalanche and a lengthy investigation in Germany that ended only eleven years later. In the end, it also marked a turn of the tide for the Austrian wine market, which has overhauled its quality concept and risen from the ashes of the scandal.

That’s all for this week. If you have an interesting story, connect on Twitter and if you want to stay in the loop about things happening at the JollyCellarMaster and the world of wine, make sure you sign up to our newsletter.

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