1) Authentic sherry, like Champagne, comes from only a single region in the world, though other regions sometimes produce similar products, and still call them "sherry." I dislike that practice and was glad to see that Australian winemakers now will no longer use the term "sherry." They have one year to phase of the use of that term.
This is part of a larger deal between Australia and the European Union to have Australia stop using numerous protected names, including Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne, Graves, Manzanilla, Marsala, Moselle, Port, Sauterne and White Burgundy. In return, Australia will gain some commercial benefits, allowing them easier access to the European market. Plus, Australia's own geographical indicators will be legally protected in Europe.
Australia will now refer to sherry as "apera." Apera was chosen as it is meant to be a play on "aperitif," and their sherry-style wines will be marketed as such.
Under the Australian Wine Industry Fortified Wine Code of Practice:
"Apera describes a style of fortified wine which ranges from a dry to a very sweet style. The wine is usually produced using a solera system and ageing takes place in a variety of vessels. Apera is fortified with grape spirit, brandy or both. Most Apera styles are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later. Apera is produced in a variety of styles, ranging from dry versions that are pale amber in colour to sweeter sometimes dark brown styles. For Apera produced in Australia fortification must be from Australian grape spirit, brandy or both. Typically, the commercial Apera styles are described using sweetness. Other descriptors such as fine, intense or rich may be used to provide additional information for these classifications for the premium styles or to sub-divide existing classifications."
Now will other regions step up and stop using the protected term "sherry?" I hope so.
2) Check out a new article, The Sherry Revival, written by Norman Miller and published in The Guardian. It mentions that sherry appears to be on an upswing, as I mentioned in my previous History of Sherry. The article gives a nice summary of some of the reasons why you should be enjoying sherry and is well worth checking out.
3) There has been some dark news in the sherry realm too. Decanter magazine stated that nine sherry bodegas, an industry association and Sherry's Consejo Regulador had been fined a total of €6,723,000 for breaching competition rules.
The National Competition Commission (CNC) charged that from 2001-2006, these nine bodegas formed a group to control the output and price of sherry to be exported to foreign distributors of 'buyers own brand' in Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain. Buyers own brand are basically supermarket own-label sherry. The bodegas included Williams & Humbert, José Estévez, Barbadillo, González Byass, Emilio Lustau, Pedro Romero, J. Ferris, and Caydsa.
Price fixing is certainly not a good thing, and it won't help the sherry industry rebound. More united efforts at marketing would be a far better step for these bodegas. It has been done before, so hopefully the wineries can join together once again.