We are so used to talking about, promoting and selling fine wine, but how often do we actually stop and ask what a fine wine actually is? Look it up in a dictionary, or even a wine compendium, and you will not find an absolute definition, for fine wine is mostly in the eye of the beholder. Or is it? It was the subject of much debate at the recent Fine Minds 4 Fine Wines conference in Champagne. Cathy Huyghe was there to give her take on what fine wine can mean.
Another week another new gin brand launches onto the already-crowded market. But Palmers Dry Gin is different – this is the ‘own brand’ of Langley, a distillery that makes over 350 different gins and which David Kermode describes as the ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ of gin-making. Kermode travels to Birmingham and meets master distiller Rob Dorsett, the man charged with masterminding the blend and coming up with the USPs of this new gin brand.
So why do we have an urge to order a Bloody Mary when on an aeroplane? Do you know when to stop when telling a story? Has 50 Shades of Grey changed your life as much as it has for Meininger magazine’s Felicity Carter? And where in the world can you sell five million mobile phones in five seconds? Questions that might not come immediately to mind, but are just an example of some of the illuminating facts, figures, debates and tastings that took place at last month’s MUST Fermenting Ideas conference in Portugal. Thankfully Sorcha Holloway was on hand to pick out the best bits…
Ventoux is a region of the Southern Rhône that is best known for its towering mountain – a Holy Grail for cyclists and a climb that claimed the life of the first British world cycling champion Tom Simpson. It is also an important wine producing region, representing over 1,300 wineries across 51 communes. Previously known for making high alcohol ‘rustic’ table wines, things have been changing there and the quality has been improving as Mike Turner discovered when he went along to a Ventoux AOC tasting.
It’s nice talking about and throwing the spotlight on new wine regions and emerging styles of wine and little known grape varieties, but at these times of the year restaurant and bar customers are looking for the classics and the tried and tested. Which is why for our latest major debate we teamed up with Jackson Family Wines to look at what leading wine buyers, sommeliers, distributors and merchants think about Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Organising a wine tasting where all your guests are sitting in one place can prove to be a challenge at times, so you can imagine the potential for things to wrong if you then invited those guests to go on a tour of restaurants and bars around London, tasting different wines, matched to each outlet’s food along the way. It certainly made for a very different, fun, highly informative and memorable day for wineries from Sonoma County Vintners and our panel of “tour-ists” willing to go on the adventure with us.
Outside of the natural wine debate is there a more contentious issue than the one that surrounds the type of closure you have in your bottle of wine? To assess what leading on-trade buyers and sommeliers now think about closures we teamed up with Vinventions, one of the biggest suppliers of all types of closure from cork to screwcap, to make the issue of closures the latest topic in our Buyer Debate series.
Every wine as soon as it is made puts its self up for judgement. Be it the end consumer who wants to drink it with their dinner, or the trade buyers and wine critics looking to score, assess and adjudicate on whether it is suitable for listing in the first place. But nothing ventured, nothing gained and Castelnau Wine Agencies was happy to put its range of wines from producers all over the world up to the test in our latest Buyer’s Case project with leading on-trade buyers and influencers in the trade.
The Buyer has been set up to help drinks producers and leading on-trade buyers better understand their needs and where possible work closer together. This is best demonstrated by The Buyer’s Case initiative where we link up with a wine producer or importer and ask leading buyers to taste, assess and offer professional feedback on their wines. Here we turn to the Languedoc-Roussillon and present wines from leading producer, Cave de Vignerons de Saint-Chinian to leading on-trade decision makers.
France might be the best selling country in the UK on-trade, but that does not mean it could not sell. To help better understand the opportunities and challenges facing French wine in the premium on-trade, The Buyer linked up with Les Vignobles Foncalieu and leading buyers from the different types of operator, including high end restaurants, independent wine merchants and national wholesalers all working the French category in the north west of the country.
New Zealand’s enormous success in the UK off-trade, where its Sauvignon Blanc has created a category of its own, has not always been reflected in how many of its wines are on premium on-trade wine lists. The Buyer teamed up with Villa Maria, and its UK partners, Hatch Mansfield, to ask a panel of leading UK buyers to set out the challenges and opportunities for New Zealand in the premium on-trade
The Buyer’s Case is a new initiative that gives producers the chance to show specific drinks to key buyers in target channels of the on-trade. For our first Buyer’s Case we teamed up with Les Vignerons Foncalieu and selected key buyers in its main distribution areas in the UK on-trade to show their wines. Here are the results.
The Buyer teamed up with Virginia Wine and some of its key producers to help them better understand the needs of the UK premium on-trade and how buyers might relate to their wines with both a business roundtable debate with key players and a study tour of leading London restaurants, wine bars and merchants to see the kind of offers they have and where their wines might fit in.