Argentina, and South America in general, may not be currently top in the cyclical world of football, but it seems their wines are very much back on the agenda for international wine buyers looking for the best value to quality ratio they can get for their retail and restaurant businesses. Paul Schaafsma, founder of new UK importer and agency business, Benchmark Drinks, explains why he believes Argentina, in particular, is so well placed to benefit in the months and years to come and why he is so pleased to have signed an exclusive deal with to bring the wines of leading producer, Fecovita to the UK.
Keynote speakers like Paul Mabray are right to point to consumer trends and mining customer data as a way forward for the wine industry in a digital age. The industry would do well to really embrace social media. But with so much emphasis in the wine industry now being put on being at the forefront of the digital media and e-marketing world, Mike Turner argues it’s worth remembering that easy wins can be had by finally bringing more of the reluctant members of the trade into the ‘dizzy sphere’ of the World Wide Web. On a recent press visit to the Médoc, half of the 36 producers visited don’t have websites and six didn’t have email addresses.
There is a lot spoken and written about the wine industry’s inability to truly connect with more consumers about what wine is all about and why there is so much to discover if only people took the time to look. But why should they? Are they ever going to change the habits of a lifetime and not just see wine for what essentially it is. An alcoholic drink to enjoy with friends or on your own. That’s where Paul Mabray start his conversations about wine. If wine is truly going to connect with its target audience it needs to really understand what consumers do care about and that means getting deep, down and digital. Which is the message he delivered to great effect at this summer’s MUST Fermenting conference in Portugal.
In the news this week for all the wrong reasons, one Michelin-Star The Kitchin in Leith was the restaurant chosen by our drinks editor Peter Dean to test out the skills of the sommelier and see what he came up with in matching a complex mystery tasting menu. One of the delights of spending a week at the Edinburgh Fringe each year is not only the unrivalled fun and madness of the Fringe but an excuse to sample Scotland’s finest cuisine, writes Dean. With his pocket money dutifully saved, he was knocked out by the bravura of what was happening in the kitchen but also some very unusual choices by the head somm.
In part one of The Buyer’s debate, alongside Business France, between leading importers, merchants, restaurants and wine producers from most regions of France, we focused on the rise in and importance of organic wines. The tasting and discussion also looked at how different styles of sparkling wine are now really coming to the fore, and how Crémant, in particular, is presenting a real premium alternative, ideal for promoting and driving in the premium on-trade.
For the latest The Buyer Debate we teamed up with Business France to bring producers from different regions of France together with key buyers from across the premium on-trade to look at two key growth areas not only for French wine, but the premium wine category as a whole: organics and sparkling wine. It was an opportunity to meet, taste the wines and then explore why French winemakers are increasingly turning to organics and sparkling wine production. Whilst assessing just what it is leading UK wine distributors, merchants and restaurant and bar owners are looking for when taking on a new French wine supplier. There was a lot to cover. So much so that we have broken down the report into two parts. First up we look at the rise in organics and both the opportunities and the challenges there are in making and selling organic wine.
Even for a wine region that is as relatively small as Spain’s Ribera del Duero it’s important to taste as many wines as possible if you are going to truly understand, experience and enjoy its enormous diversity, says wine writer and critic, Tim Atkin MW. To help do just that, but also debate and share what leading UK buyers think of Ribera del Duero, The Buyer teamed up with the region’s generic body, a panel of top wine merchants and Atkin himself to see what opportunities there are in the burgeoning independent retail and wholesale sector.
“There is a deliciousness to these red wines. I am hugely impressed by them. The quality has blown me away.” Just the kind of review any wine producer would want for their wines, particularly if it comes from such as senior a figure as John Graves, on-trade channel director at Bibendum Wine. But Graves was not the only UK panelist in our debate with the Douro Valley’s Soul Wine producers to be impressed with what they saw and tasted. In part two of our report on the wide ranging debate we assess the opportunity for Douro’s wines in the premium on-trade and what steps producers need to take to make the most of them.
To try to unravel and understand Chile’s position in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with Ellis Wines and its Chilean producer partner, Chono Wines, to bring
together a group of senior wine trade professionals, buyers and sommeliers to debate what are the opportunities and challenges for Chile as a whole. It was the chance for these leading figures to share their experiences with Chilean wines in their restaurants and businesses and look at the kinds of wines from Chile that they are looking to source and select for their wine lists.
Is there a more misunderstood wine category than Prosecco? It might top all the best selling charts, but it is too often dismissed or taken seriously by some professional wine buyers. To help get to know not only the beautiful region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, but to explore the different quality tiers of Prosecco and the potential they have in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with leading Prosecco brand, Mionetto, and its UK partner Copestick Murray, to host a study tour with key buyers and influencers of the area and the city where Prosecco truly comes to life – Venice.
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.