Downgrading, Acquisitions and the NBA makes Wine more inclusive – The Jolly Cellar Master Weekly

Another week of Covid lockdown measures, quarrelling about vaccines and uncertainty – The week starting on the 15th March wasn’t all Coronavirus though and the world of wine had a couple of interesting news.

Voluntary Downgrading, Surprising Mergers, and the NBA

Lageder voluntarily takes a step down

Alois Lageder is one of the icons of the small wine producing region of Alto Adige aka South Tyrol in the north eastern corner of Italy that borders with Austria (and a bit of Switzerland, too). An early champion of bio-dynamic wine making, he is one of the best known winemakers of the region and has enjoyed success all around the world.

The winery has been known to take decision that went against the grain and last week was no different when the son of Alois Lageder, Alois Clemens Lageder stepped in front of the press to announce that the winery was going to downgrade the upcoming vintages of some of its product line from the prestigious DOC Alto Adige to the wider IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti. Just to explain that DOC or Denominazione di origine controllata refers to the Italian version of the Protected designation of origin (PDO) under EU law and IGT stands for Indicazione geografica tipica, which is nothing other than Protected geographical indication (PGI). The latter is considered a lower step on the quality pyramid of geographical indications. Lageder said that the decision was taken after long and careful consideration as the current DOC framework appears to limit the winery in its choices in viticulture and vinification. Outside the DOC, the winery will be able to harvest earlier or produce at lower alcohol levels than what is dictated by the producer regulations and which reflects the changes in winemaking and climate. For these reasons, two of its product lines will be produced under the IGT denomination of the region while others remain within the DOC. Reminds me remotely of the discussions that happened elsewhere in Italy in the past, but it remains to be seen whether it could develop into another Bolgheri case.

Antinori buys Jermann

Recently, I had opened a bottle of Vintage Tunina by the Jermann winery from Friuli Venezia Giulia and being a big fan of the wines of the region talked to some sommelier friends about it, pretty much all agreeing what a great wine it is. So, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the news the Italian Sommelier Association shared with us about Antinori buying Jermann. It referred to a brief press release a few days earlier that announced the agreement between Silvio Jermann and Piero Antinori which sees the sale of the majority shares of the Friulian winery. Antinori stressed that it hadn’t snapped up the winery in a hostile takeover reminisced of Gordon Gecko but a step, which would “guarantee the development and continuity in full collaboration with Silvio Jermann”. Even experts of the region appear to have been taken by surprise by the news, as Renzo Zorzi, president of AIS Friuli Venezia Giulia put it, since a a prominent producer of the region had taken a decision that goes beyond the domestic market. Instead, it could be seen as an opportunity to improve international trade in difficult times for the wine industry.

Well, let’s hope they keep making wine that deserves the highest merits it received only recently in the latest guide of the Italian Sommelier Association and elsewhere

NBA Players want to make Wine more inclusive

The snobbery surrounding wine certainly isn’t at past levels, but apparently there is still a misconception of wine as pretentious – according to no other than Dwayne Wade, a three-time NBA champion who retired from professional basketball in 2019 and who has taken a personal interest in wine. He and Josh Hart, who plays for the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA, the world’s most important basketball league, are some of the faces of the NBA’s unofficial wine club as wine appears to be a big thing among professional players – last year when the league played its finals because of the Covid crisis in a bubble behind closed doors in Disney World players reportedly weren’t satisfied with the official selection and had hundreds of bottles shipped and organized curated tastings.

Now, some of these players get engaged to “help minorities who don’t have the resources, or who are nervous or hesitant, to get into the wine space”, as Hart put it, “trying to change the stereotype around wine as something for old, rich, white men“.

Players owning a wine brand and wineries is nothing new, but some of them are getting involved in Wine Access, a subscription service that seeks to “connect people and place through wine”, to to make the wine industry more welcoming and inclusive. I have no idea if it works and this is by no means an endorsement of the service. I have no connection or affiliation here, but only liked the stories about those basketball players who love wine. Great stuff.

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.


Disclaimer: As always, I’m trying to be completely transparent about affiliations, conflicts of interest, my expressed views and liability: Like anywhere else on this website, the views and opinions expressed are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. The material information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. I endeavour to keep this information correct and up-to-date, I do not accept any liability for any falls in accurate or incomplete information or damages arising from technical issues as well as damages arising from clicking on or relying on third-party links. I am not responsible for outside links and information is contained in this article nor does it contain any referrals or affiliations with any of the producers or companies mentioned. As I said, the opinions expressed by me are my own, no liability, just thought it would be important to make this clear. Thanks!

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