Meet Nicolas: 190 years old and still as young as ever
Nicolas' story begins aeons ago when wine was drunk in cabaret clubs. Drinking at home meant buying a whole barrel because wines were not sold in bottles. In 1822, the founder of Nicolas dreamt up a whole new concept: he would sell his wines in bottles, and thus the Nicolas wine stores were born. Three specialist wine and spirits stores opened in Paris; by 1870 there were 30, in 1919 there were 138, and by the brand’s centenary in 1922, there were 180.
Nectar, the 24-bottle delivery man
Created by Dransy (the pen name of illustrator Jules Isnard), Nectar became extremely popular and a very successful publicity stunt. Thanks to Etienne Nicolas, who took over the helm of the family firm and who had an acute flair for publicity, Nectar’s adventures ran for many years and took the 24-bottle delivery man across the world. The results were impressive and his son Pierre Nicolas was to capitalise on them until 1973.
Fifty years of artistic creation form a bond between the Nicolas stores – which have belonged to the Castel group since 1988 – and the world of art. Today, Nicolas boasts 549 shops throughout Europe with a turnover of 350 million euros. The brand has revealed a new, more minimalist appearance that is firmly focused on the future and on modernity. One might even say that Nicolas has been rejuvenated.
Bordeaux 2011: weather report
The vintage came on the heels of hot year with temperatures above the 30-year average for eight months and an overall shortfall in rain, except for the months of July and August. Sunshine hours were long (April being the hottest month since records began in 1920), particularly in September and October. This promoted the latest stages of ripening for the fruit although temperatures remained moderate.
Conditions were favourable and gave acidity and aromatic maturity to the dry whites. The Merlot harvest began at the end of August, becoming more widespread in mid-September, as for the Cabernet Franc. Traditionally later-ripening varietal Cabernet-Sauvignon enjoyed fine weather in September, allowing it to fully ripen. The sweet whites were fairly early and September ensured ideal conditions for the spread of botrytis. Obviously, all this remains to be confirmed by tasting, so watch this space! Find out all you need to know about 2011 Bordeaux in our June issue.
2011 – a great vintage for Cognac
The world’s leading brandy confirmed it was in fine fettle in 2011 with significant sales growth of 6.4% on the previous year, thereby breaking volume and value records. More than five bottles of Cognac are sold every second worldwide. In 2011, shipments beat the previous annual record, rising to 455,958 hectolitres of pure alcohol and 162.9 million bottles.
Turnover is in excess of 2 billion euros due to the fact that the volume increase was coupled with an upward surge in quality (XO: +15.3% and VSOP: +7.9% in a year) which produced a substantial rise in turnover.
Sales are divided evenly across the three main geographical regions. The Far East, which accounts for 35.8% of the global market by volume (+14.4% in a year) and buys primarily higher quality Cognac, consolidated its leading global position by volume and value. The Chinese market was particularly bullish again with a 20.1% increase over the year to 22.6 million bottles.
The United States remains the world’s leading importer, with 48.4 million bottles.
Europe accounts for 28.8% of the world market with no change on the previous year.
BNIC website: www.cognac.fr