Burgundy Week, which hit London at the beginning of January, was a treasure trove of great wines for the Burgundophile with 10 tastings occurring on one day alone. For the wine expert it can be quite a challenge getting round as many tastings as possible as well as getting a clear picture of a vintage from largely barrel sample wines. When the vintage is as tricky as 2016 was then that job becomes even harder, as Justin Keay reports from Berry Bros, ABS and Stone & Vine tastings.
Mirror mirror on the wall, how do you compare one sparkling wine or Champagne to another? With great difficulty which is why you need experts in the field to take on the challenge which is what the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships are all about. This year’s competition is now open for entries as founder, Tom Sevenson, hopes to once again find the very best in class along with fellow judges, Essi Avellan MW and Dr Tony Jordan.
“You think I’m funny? Funny how?” That famous exchange between two gangsters in Goodfellas must have been going through Joe Fattorini’s mind as he was thrown into the deep end and asked to perform a turn as a stand-up comedian whilst filming for the new series of The Wine Show (Friday nights, Channel 5, 7pm). His biggest concern was that he could only make jokes about wine, which proved even harder than you might think…
So if you’ve been in a land far, far away you might have missed that it was Bourgogne Week last week when all the vignerons and negociants hit London with samples of their latest vintage – 2016 in this case. Every day was packed with tastings (ten on Tuesday!) that, after the December lull of the tasting circuit, makes it the equivalent of going from 0-60 in a very fast sports car. 2016 is a problematic vintage for a number of reasons, but one plus side is that it has plenty of bargains to be bought from ‘lesser’ appellations.
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.