Although January is considered by many as a quiet month for business, it is a time of considerable activity for us as we do our best to set a successful path for the new year.
It helps to use the crystal ball rather like a rear-view mirror and see how it panned out in 2016.
I made it clear to all our staff that fine rosé, particularly from Provence, should have high demand as it was the fastest-growing wine category in the world and the French were actually now drinking more rosé than white.
It is no secret that Whispering Angel from Chateau D’Esclans led the way and for this I thank you all very much.
Owner Sasha Lichine has quite a range starting with his Single Blend Rosé for $17.55 followed by Whispering Angel for $24.75, Rock Angel at $33.55, Les Clans at $52.30 and finally Garrus for $92.45.
We introduced Mirabeau Classic Rosé for $17.30 and Mirabeau Pure for $20.35. We took these on not because of the very amusing YouTube video of the owner removing a cork with his shoe (over 11 million hits), but because they consistently rated in the top ten rosé wines in quality from Provence. You will shortly hear about three more new ones that are also among the most asked for overall.
One thought that I have done my best to instil with our team here, is that we must no longer think of rosé as only a summer wine. To give this credence I can say that December sales of Whispering Angel probably exceeded what we would have sold in two whole years back a decade ago.
Some reports are now saying that sparkling wine is taking over from rosé as the quickest-expanding wine category, and this, of course, is led by prosecco. I have to admit that I was rather flabbergasted by sales of Lamarca ($20.10), Santa Margherita ($19.90) and Pasqua ($14.90).
We, of course, pay attention to what is happening in other countries and prosecco grew by 27 per cent in the USA last year and the British have doubled their consumption of sparkling wine over the past five years.
New ideas are also catching on and some new champagne blends and other sparkling wines are produced specifically to be served over ice. We recently introduced four sparkling wines from France that are all line-priced at $14.65. They are Veuve du Vernay brut and rosé as well as Veuve du Vernay Ice Demi Sec and Ice Rosé Demi Sec. When a French wine is designated demi sec (semi dry) it is actually slightly sweet.
To be honest, I wavered about bringing in Veuve du Vernay as I felt that their minimum order requirement was just too high for Bermuda. We have since placed two more orders!
And, finally, there has been the red blend trend and, although I hesitate to divulge information that may be of help to our competitors out there, I would rather like to make the bold claim that I believe 19 Crimes is now the single largest selling bottle of wine in Bermuda. But, why should it not be, as it takes great talent to produce a blend (mostly cabernet sauvignon and shiraz) that appeals to such a wide audience. I personally enjoy ripe, crushed blackberry and black currant fruit along with hints of minerals and star anise. It also attracts those that are newer at enjoying red wine. 19 Crimes Red Blend: Australia $17.75.
Another one named Primal Roots from California consists of merlot that provides aromas of raspberry and mocha. Syrah adds violets, blackcurrants along with cherry, chocolate and vanilla and finally zinfandel rounds it out with warm spices and blackberries. It is growing well and sells for $13.45.
Our highest-priced wine in this category could almost be described as a typical bordeaux blend as it consists of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and Malbec, but then comes a dab of petite sirah, which makes the difference. Beringer “Quantum” 2012 Red Blend: Napa Valley sells for $75.05 and has aromas of black raspberry, dark cherry, cardamom, leather and a touch of graphite. It has a plush texture, silky tannins and an elegant structure.