Yarra Valley images of kangaroos on fire hopping down the road while flaming koalas drop from burning eucalyptus trees as 5% of the appellation’s vineyards go up in flames may have been spared Stellenbosch producers who lost vineyards to the ongoing bush fires over the past weeks but the future has never looked as bleak as it does now.
Sticking with carbon, if footprints and carbon kilometres do not curtail export sales then subtle and not so subtle protectionism may do for exports to North America, Europe and even Australia. But the biggest blow by far is the news that researchers at the University of Oxford have concluded from a Million Women Study that “even small amounts of alcohol increase a woman’s risk of cancer.” With British women famous devotees of Bacchus, the news is a sucker punch, arriving hot on the heels of advice from the French government not to drink wine.
Once again, it seems that small amounts of alcohol increase the risk of contracting cancer of the mouth and throat by 168%. In Hong Kong last week, James Hepple, Operations & Marketing Controller of Watson’s Wine Cellar, the 14-outlet fine wine retailer owned by Hutchinson Whampoa, noted that the chain was founded in 1998 after anti-oxidants became flavour of the month among health obsessed Chinese consumers.
Current Chinese legislation insists on a health certificate for wine sold in China. The one for Grace Vineyards Deep Blue 2006 states “Deep Blue 2006’s quality and purity have been tested and confirmed by SGS on its conformity to the National Standard of the People’s Republic of China.” Wine producers will be hoping National Standards won’t change anytime soon in the light of the Million Women Study.
Even if legislation lags, the latest health scare news will fuel the temperance lobby and social control freaks who will see alcohol as a natural target now that the war against smoking is largely won. Indeed, HK wine insiders expressed dismay at a recent change in police procedure that now allows random testing of drivers for alcohol as the result of several high profile drinking-driving accidents. In the past the procedure was only to test for alcohol after an accident had occurred. Pre-emptive testing is expected to further reduce consumption in restaurants already shivering from the chill drafts of the financial tsunami.