The world of oligarchs and super yachts might sound a glamorous industry to serve, but it presents its own particular challenges as wine suppliers Ed and Jess Dunnett of Antibes-based Onshore Cellars discovered when they set up their own specialist business to bring wonderful wines from around the world to match the jet set lifestyles of the rich and sometimes famous.
Oz Clarke, wine expert and ambassador of Hungarian wine, sees a bright future for wines of Hungary on the international stage. Part of the reason, he thinks, is because young people don’t want to drink the international grape varieties their parents drink – they are returning to the type of ancient varietals that Central European countries excel in. Chris Wilson caught up with Clarke over brunch and tasted the 10 Hungarian wines he thinks you should have on your radar.
Since 2012 life for winemakers in Turkey has become increasingly difficult with the industry unable to promote or market itself. Muslim staff can refuse to taste the wine, traditional winemaking skills are hard to find and then there is the climate and the challenges of working with indigenous grape varieties. On top of that consultant winemaker Daniel O’Connell appointed a woman as one of his senior winemakers which, in itself, posed complications with a largely older, male workforce. But, as Justin Keay discovers first hand on a recent visit, many of the wines are now world class.
Is Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne 2007 too cheap compared to the other Champagne houses’ top cuvées? Is it too understated? Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, president of the eponymous family-owned Champagne house, thinks it may well be. A billionaire told him recently that he no longer serves it because it looks like you cannot afford the best. Those in the know, however, like Victor Smart clearly know otherwise.
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.