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Wine News

The great Calais booze cruise set to end with a No Deal Brexit, but is Duty Free the way to go?

UK Government will remove from the public the opportunity to buy car loads of cheap wine in France and replace it with a limit of 5 bottles of slightly cheaper wine.
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The UK government announced that should there be a No Deal Brexit, duty free wine and spirits will be re-instated, but with a 4 litre limit imposed. The move will see the end of Booze Cruise to Calais where Britons can stock up on as much wine, beer and spirits for their own consumption. They do pay the small French duty of 2p/750ml bottle and then 20% VAT. The UK has a duty of £2.23 for still wines and a similar 20% VAT rate.

The saving on an equivalent £5 bottle of wine purchased in the UK vs France at the moment is around £2.20. Duty Free, the same £5 bottle of wine purchased in France will save approximately £3.05. So duty free has greater savings.

Using the average £5 bottle price, in the past motorist would go to Calais and buy say 10 x 6 bottle cases of wine, saving £132.

With a Duty Free allowance of 4 litres (5.33 bottles) the maximum saving equates to £16.27.

Meanwhile the WSTA, who represents many of the big drinks companies in the UK, claims that the governments plans to introduce controls on wine imported into the UK will result in £70 million in costs associated with import certificates.

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WSET kick off wine education week with World Record for the biggest ever sommelier lesson.

The WSET kicked off wine education week with Guinness World Record for the biggest ever sommelier lesson with 330 participating.
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The WSET kicked of wine education week with Guinness World Record for the biggest ever sommelier lesson with 330 participating. The event broke the previous record of 309.

The event looks like it was held just in the nick of time as research by the WSET claims that, of 1500 British adults canvassed, 28% insisted ‘terroir’ was a breed of dog, while Sauternes is either a planet in our solar system (7%), a continental beach resort (20%) or a type of orange (29%).

The news is not all bad. The WSET reported that student numbers hit another record of 108,557 in the 2018/19 academic year, with their new Spirits courses growing the fastest, with a 33% increase in students.

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Is cork finally environmentally friendly?

Has cork finally become environmentally sustainable? New research by Amorim shows that its most popular cork has a net carbon sink of about 1.8g per stopper.
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Has cork finally become environmentally sustainable? New research by Amorim shows that its most popular cork has a net carbon sink of about 1.8g per stopper.

Historically, corked wine, which has a damp cardboard taste (TCA) caused by faulty corks, is much higher at 1.28Kg/bottle, than any savings made by the cork. This meant natural corks were a huge source of carbon compared to screw caps.

But Neutocork is made by grinding up low quality waste cork then heat and pressure treating it to remove TCA before gluing the cork back together. The process, while carbon intensive, is net slightly positive for the environment according to the Price Waterhouse Coopers study. With no TCA, the cork also does not suffer the carbon cost of causing faulty wine, which in the past has destroyed cork's environmental credentials.

The 1.8g of CO2 saved is very small and the study did not look at the carbon costs of faulty corks. But as long as the failure rate is better than 1 in 700 bottles it will be good for the environment. Normal cork has a failure rate closer to 1 in 20 bottles.

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Heatwave risks vines in Europe, but England’s vines enjoy the sunshine

Record temperatures were recorded in Paris, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands as the current heatwave continues to damage vines in France.
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Record temperatures were recorded in Paris, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands as the current heatwave continues to damage and kill vines in France.

The UK broke its own 2003 record of 38.5°C, hitting 38.7°C in Cambridge, near some of the UK's best Bacchus vineyards. But in France this is the second heatwave in a month and it has taken its toll on the vines.

Ten days ago, France was already in the grip of a heatwave and vineyards in Hérault, in the Languedoc-Roussillon area, and Gard in the Rhône, had seen temperatures reach more than 45°C in the shade, and some have reported burn damage to grapes. President of the Hérault Chamber of Commerce, Jérôme Despey, who is also a winemaker, said: “Temperatures reached such levels that the vines appear to have been blowtorched, literally grilled. Grapes were burned and the leaves dried out.” He estimated that 60-80% of his temperature tolerant Carignan grapes where particularly badly damaged.

No reports are available yet for this week's heatwave, but more losses are expected.

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New UK Prime Minister Boris Johnston escalates Brexit, as the industry continues to stockpile.

Boris Johnson has stepped up plans for a no deal Brexit, with the wine industry investing £5m into stockpiling.
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New PM Boris Johnson has stepped up plans for a no deal Brexit, with the wine industry investing £5m into stockpiling ahead of the 31st October. The cost of warehousing has increased by 60-80% according to a new Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) report.

The report shows that 85% of WSTA members in the wine and spirit trade are investing staff time and company money on preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

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Winners announced for the Wine GB Awards 2019

The Wine GB Awards recognise the best UK producers and with 254 wines were entered there were 39 Gold medals, 53 Silver medals, 124 Bronze medals awarded and a total of 19 trophies announced.
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The Wine GB awards recognise the best UK producers and with 254 wines entered there were 39 Gold medals, 53 Silver medals, 124 Bronze medals and a total of 19 trophies announced this week.

The star of the show was Langham Wine Estate in Dorset, which scooped four trophies, including Top Sparkling and the highest accolade in the competition, the coveted Supreme Champion trophy for its Blanc de Blancs Reserve NV. The Kent region did very well winning the most trophies (seven) of which four were won by Chapel Down and three by Gusbourne Estate. Gusbourne also scooped the highest number of Gold medals in the competition.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Chris Foss, recently retired Head of Wine Studies at Plumpton College, who founded the department 31 years ago.

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