Ask the average sommelier, restaurant or bar group to list the wines they are selling the most of then time and again it is the lighter, fresher, easy drinking approachable red and white wines from Italy that are being increasingly asked for by their customers. So it should really come as no surprise that for the first time ever Italy – officially – has more listings on UK restaurant wine lists than France. At least according to new research released by Sydney-based on-trade specialists, Wine Business Solutions. Helen Arnold caught up with its principal Peter McAtamney to find out why Italy is enjoying such success, which styles of Italian wines are finding more room on wine lists and what it has meant for the wines from France, and other leading countries, that have lost their way in the UK on-trade as a result.
Working within Norway’s restrictive Monopoly system, picking a wine as a substitute for sunny days in the depth of a Norwegian winter, and pairing old bush vine Garnacha with reindeer pizza – these are just some of the many challenges that Andreas Hogfeldt, sommelier at Brasserie Ouest in Oslo, faces on a daily basis. So how does he approach his job? and what did he do that saw him crowned the Best Young Sommelier in Norway?
The number one Champagne brand in France, number three in the world, it has been all change at Nicolas Feuillatte in recent times, as it evolves its style and focuses its UK effort on targeting buyers. Already a huge presence in off sales, the giant growers co-operative now wants a slice of the on trade pie. Champagne lover David Kermode, aka Mr Vinosaurus, was at Somerset House for the UK launch for The Buyer.
Nebbiolo has been an integral part of the history of the Piemonte region in north west Italy ever since the Romans were picking the grapes. As part of our countdown to the second Nebbiolo Day tasting taking place in London on March 5 we talk to one of the producers taking part, Paolo Rovellotti, whose family have been making wines in the region for over 400 years. He explains why Nebbiolo is very much part of his and the region’s DNA.
“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.
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