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    Insight

    One Step Beyond: Download the full landmark conference report

    When The Buyer came together with Sophie Jump to organise and hold the inaugural One Step Beyond Conference in early March the focus was 100% on analysing the most disruptive changes in consumer behaviour and technology. Little did we know that just over two months on so many of those changes have now been put on fast forward because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Here is the full report from what was a breakthrough conference for the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors. A day that brought experts from outside the industry’s comfort zone and gave them the platform to set out what we can all expect from consumers and technology in the future. Predictions that are already being seen in how fast businesses and consumers alike are responding to the challenges of Covid-19.

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    Insight

    The Buyer’s Case: Top buyers put Boisset FGV wines to the test

    The hardest job for any wine producer, no matter how prestigious or respected, is getting their wines in front of the right buyers who can ultimately make the difference in getting their wines on to the lists of the restaurants and bars that really matter. That’s what The Buyer’s Case project does. Link producers looking to build distribution in the premium on-trade and specialist retail sector with key buyers in those channels. Here’s how major French producer, Boisset FGV worked with The Buyer on its own Buyer’s Case initiative.

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    Opinion

    South Africa Restaurant Safari – 9 buyers, 18 wineries, 2 Land Rovers

    Here’s a conundrum for you. How do you get nine of the UK’s leading wine buyers to meet 18 winemakers in four restaurants in different parts of London in under five hours? Well, throw two Land Rovers into the mix and you are half way home. It’s certainly how The Buyer teamed up with Wines of South Africa to take a group of top buyers on a tour of London restaurants, and the chance to meet some of South Africa’s best winemakers at the same time. Eating, tasting, chatting along the way. Buckle up and join us on the ride…

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    Insight

    Buyer French Debate: Rise of Crémant & other sparkling wines

    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.

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    Insight

    Buyer Debate: the opportunity for French organic wine

    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.

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    Insight

    Behind the scenes on The Buyer’s Vouvray Restaurant Tour

    It’s one thing tasting wine professionally it is quite another to go on an eating and tasting tour of top London restaurants to experience food and wine in the same way your customers do. Which is what The Buyer’s most recent restaurant tour was all about as we were able to introduce different styles of Vouvray wine to a tour of buyers covering wine merchants, sommeliers, importers, consultants and journalists. As we publish our full report from the event, Richard Siddle picks out the highlights.

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    Insight

    Buyer debate: Indies put Ribera del Duero through its paces

    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.

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    Insight

    Douro’s Soul Wines Debate: why the wines are ideal for the UK

    “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.

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    People People: On-Trade

    Sommeliers on Chile: The Buyer & Chono Wines debate

    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.

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    Insight

    Mionetto and The Buyer Prosecco study tour and report

    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.

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    Insight

    Jackson Family debate on Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

    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.

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    Insight

    Special Report: Sonoma County Vintners London Wine Bar Tour

    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.

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    Insight

    Closures Debate: what do you want to put in a bottle of wine?

    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.

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    Insight

    The Buyer’s Case with Castelnau Wine Agencies

    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.

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    Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    The Buyer’s Case with Cave de Vignerons de Saint-Chinian wines

    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.

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    Opinion

    The French debate: putting France under the spotlight with Foncalieu

    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.

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    New Zealand Debate: the opportunities and challenges

    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

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    The Buyer’s Case with Les Vignerons Foncalieu

    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.

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    Insight Tasting Tasting: Panel Tasting

    Virginia Wine Project: bringing producers and buyers together

    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.

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    Instataste

    Tasting with pictures View All
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    • The wines of Alto Adige, or Südtirol, are almost as unique as the region they come from – the most North-Eastern corner of Italy where the German and Italian worlds collide, and which enjoys an Alpine-Mediterranean climate. Vines tend to face the sun to compensate for the cool, high altitudes. With mineral-rich soils, a long history of winemaking back to the 13th Century, and a mix of classic and unique grapes – the region continuously throws up interesting, sommelier-friendly surprises, like this one. Cooperatives are also big and well-established here with generally good reputations, which means prices can be keen on the lower end (and a bit steep on the upper). This St. Magdalener Schiava 2019 is from the co-op Colterenzio, which is also the name of the hamlet where the winery is located. It is 95% Schiava with 5% Lagrein (normally grown together) from warm, south-easterly vineyards in the
    • The success of the New York wine scene, if not the entire Eastern United States, owes considerable debt to Dr Konstantin Frank, an immigrant from the Ukraine in the early 1950s. Frank believed that it was the lack of proper rootstock rather than the cold climate which was holding fine wine production back. He grafted phylloxera-resistant rootstocks with vinifera varieties, they took hold and so began the ‘Vinifera Revolution’. With 140 acres, the winery produces 38 different wines today, not including its budget Salmon Run label, including an amber wine made from Rkatsiteli. This Riesling is very pale green-gold on the eye; on the palate the wine is light to medium with notes of pink grapefruit zest, lime, candied citrus. The wine is deceptive, although the nose is complex, the palate feels subtle almost before opening out in the mouth then delivering that distinct Keuka Lake minerality which manifests itself
    • Saumur Vielles Vignes, 2016. Langlois Chateau (which is owned by Bollinger) produces this top sommelier wine from its base in Saumur on the South bank of the Loire. The fruit was grown on 35-year-old vines, and the wine then aged for 12 months in French oak. Mid-gold, the nose has aromas of oak, butter, apple and gun flint. Medium weight, there is a fascinating complexity and intensity that you find with quality Chenin Blanc – flavours include baked apple, dried lemon, a hint of lime cordial, nut butter and honey; finely textured with terrific balance – the acidity is all there framed by the ripe fruit. The wine opens out nicely in the glass, I would recommend it with a variety of seafood and white meats, and possibly leave it for a while to let the wood integrate a bit more. 13.5% abv
    • Third spirit to come from the producers of Foxhole Gin and HYKE is this premium white run called Mad City. It’s a neat take and the end result is very impressive and different. They’ve taken a base spirit blend of four runs from Jamaica, Guyana, Dominican Republic and Barbados, then added 25 botanicals and not used any sugar post fermentation. Neat, it has a lifted, bright, floral and fruity nose, it smells like a complex rum-with-a-difference; on the palate it has orange, mocha, nutty notes, has a good edge and does not have that sometime-sickly sweet rum flavour. I tasted it in two of their signature cocktails, Mad City Solstice, their take on a Dark&Stormy with Martini Rosso and Ginger Ale, and a Daquiri which had lime juice, honey syrup and a basil leaf and orange twist to serve. Both really delivered and make me feel this has a real
    • Dry Riesling from Seneca Lake in New York State. Winemaker Louis Barroul whose family has run Chateau de St. Cosme in the Southern Rhone since 1570, teamed up with friends Rick Rainey and Justin Boyette to make stand-out Riesling and Pinot Noir down an eight-mile stretch of southeast Seneka Lake. They now produce 13 different Rieslings, 11 of them single vineyard, with the Classique wines a blend (of the 16 vineyards it buys fruit from) that tries to capture the Forge style and express the vintage. On the eye this wine is mid to deep gold (from the percentage of the wine that is fermented in used French oak). The wine has more flesh on the bones than some of the Finger Lakes wines – the aromas are ripe, honeyed, with hints of flint, jasmine and mango. The palate is medium weight with lovely balance, and a complex range of
    • Although Bollinger La Grande Année 2012 Rosé was launched to the press in February it gets its release this week in the UK. “Tasted next to its golden sibling, this Rosé with its 5% addition of red Pinot Noir, adds an aromatic flourish that transforms candied lemon into blood orange. Its perfume and openness are intense, almost heady in their seductive intent. There is lovely juiciness and those Tarocco orange notes, floating on that soft, yet fresh, pillowy creaminess. As the wine breathes and warms, a little spicy steak of white pepper appears. It goes down like nectar.” (AK) For more info. Go to www.the-buyer.net and read Anne’s article.
    • Fifth vintage of this excellent 90% Garnacha and 10% Viura rosado from a dream 90ha parcel high up in the Sierra de Yerga mountains in Rioja Oriental, made by Ramón Bilbao but undergoing a change of identity – it is now called Lalomba Finca Lalinde – to take advantage of the new single vineyard quality categorisation in Rioja – and also to fit in with the launch of the two premium Lalomba reds. Salmon rose-pink with saffron highlights; elegant and quite discreet floral nose, fruity (but elusively so); the palate is fresh, with bright acidity, flavours of red berries, cherries, rose petal, the finish is long with a lick of cream – a fine marriage between Provence and Rioja and intentionally so. Such a finely balanced and precise wine that delivers bags of flavour, with a weight of texture and tannin that you don’t normally associate with Rosé outside perhaps
    • Like the Cabernet Franc made by Languedoc-based Gayda, the Chenin Blanc is a reflection of winemaker Vincent Chansault’s origins in the Loire and experience making wine in South Africa. It’s a happy mix of both styles really, well balanced with firm acidity and a meltingly ripe fruit profile – tarte au pommes and ripe Golden Delicious. Touch of tannin, tidy finish, delicious.
    • Mullineux’s Old Vines White is a classic example of showing off blending as one of South Africa’s key winemaking strengths. In this dry and early vintage the cuvée is 73% Chenin Blanc (from very old bush vines), 13% Clairette Blanche, 7% Viognier and 7% Semillon Gris – the other varietals bringing complexity, balance and aromatic lift to the Chenin. The wine is now deep straw-coloured with complex aromas of baked apple and spices, orange peel, honeysuckle; the palate is smooth, ripe, with fine grained texture from the 11 months ageing in French oak (20% new), moderate acidity and a slight grip to the finish, flavours include ripe pears, almonds and orange oil. Tasted blind the wine doesn’t immediately scream Chenin but it has a unique profile and is more than the sum of its parts. Decanted for an hour, this is drinking well now, perhaps lacking some of the lean
    • Langlois Chateau (which is owned by Bollinger) has two chateaux in Sancerre, this one is a 15 hectare property located in St-Gemme en Sancerrois, one of the only estates in this north-western part of the appellation. 100% Sauvignon Blanc, of course, it is pale gold and exudes class with its expressive nose – pure clean, fresh and flinty – with aromas of lemon blossom and a hint of tropical fruit. On the palate the wine is fresh, clean as a whistle, precise, with bright lemon and lime notes, tarte au citron, a mineral core, firm and refreshing acidity, yellow grapefruit on the finish. It is a well-balanced wine with real focus and nice to see it come in as 12.5% abv. Classic Sancerre. Drinking well now until about 2025.
    • Fascinating new wine from Georgia - Kakhuri Mtsvane, 2018, Levani’s Marani Akhmeta. Kakhuri Mtsvane is the second most important grape in Georgian winemaking and Akhmeta is the name of the village known for the most rich, intense examples of amber and red wine. Levani’s Marani is the winery, a new set-up making small batches of distinctive wines. This particular wine is a dry, amber wine fermented and aged in a traditional qvevri (an undergound clay vessel). The moment you pour this wine into the glass your expectations are challenged time and again. The colour is simply extraordinary – vivid orange with pink and saffron highlights – with an almost lava-lamp-like luminosity. (My son unfairly called it Parisian tap water!). The wine is ever so slightly cloudy from no fining or filtering. The aromas are heady, rich, wild, exciting, I couldn’t wait to try it! There were notes of dried stone
    • This fascinating straw-gold white from Toscana would be a good wine for a blind tasting – it feels distinctly Italian, but I venture that the blend of grapes might be tricky to determine – Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, Traminer and Semillon! As you might expect there is real complexity in this from the first aromas of lemon blossom, wild fennel, saline, through to the melange of flavours and substantial structure you come to expect of the Maremma terroir. It has a mid-weight, textured palate is full of flavour and would work well with seafood salad and a range of vegetable and fish dishes.
    • Just 350 cases were made of this old vine cuvee from some of Sorrel’s best hillside parcels. There is still a primary force to the wine, purple/black almost opaque, still-fresh blackberries, black cherry, red capsicum, black pepper, liquorice; a broody intensity pervades but then on the palate the wine is fresh, lithe, not showing its age or any sense of fatigue, lovely core of mineral, terrific balance, long, textured finish. Sensational.
    • Top cuvée from Jean-Luc Colombo which is only made in small quantities (3-5 barrels) in the very best vintages. The vineyard is about 300m above sea level and rises up 50m within the small South-East facing parcel giving a low yield of 12-14 hl per hectare. The wine was the most complex of those tasted in a four cuvée line-up, its appearance is deep purple-black, almost opaque; there is a real melange of aromas, Jean-Luc Colombo describes it as being like a “spicy marmalade of raspberry and strawberry”, I also got blackberry and apple jelly, old wood, Sichuan pepper, red licorice; the palate is fresh and intense, medium to high structure and acidity, which is cloaked nicely within copious amounts of quality red and black fruit. The wine manages to be powerful and elegant at the same time, with a real sense of the steep, forbidding terroir. Makes quite an
    • Unoaked Chardonnay that comes from Finger Lakes, New York but could just as easily be a Petit Chablis. The nose is subtle and complex, with notes of honeydew melon, lemon; the palate shows this is clearly a cool climate Chardonnay, ‘skinny’/ lean, but with an attractive creamy texture, that comes from the purity of the fruit (and not oak), lemon flesh and ripe tangerine on the mouth; bright, fresh, pure. Great value ($11.99 retail in the US)
    • A fine wine from South West France that really shows the potential of the small and little-recognised appellation of Saint Mont. Plaimont Producteurs used to put this fruit into Le Faîte until 2014 when they first produced this cuvée – a single vineyard field blend of Gros Manseng (50%), Petit Courbu and Petit Manseng (both 25%). The vineyard (Cirque Nord) is a mini-ampi-theatre with a North-Westerly exposure on variegated clay soil. As a result the wine has considerable tartaric acid which is exciting when young but perhaps more consumer-friendly when it starts to age (2017 is the current release). With little intervention, the wine spends 16-20 months in 10 year old 225 litre barrels until it is blended and then tanked. Mid-gold, the wine is a great mix of rich, complex flavours and firm acidity, with potential to age for decades. The nose is complex, with stone fruit, dried fruit,
    • Sample bottle of Milmanda 2017 a top Chardonnay from Torres’ estate Conca de Barberà. Quite a dry vintage, temperatures higher than average up to June and then cooler in the ripening months, leading to a very low production. Used to be 100% malolactic fermentation – 50% now, over the years Torres has pulled back on winemaking intervention with this wine, preferring the variety and terroir to ‘speak’. On the eye the wine is pale gold; open, refined aromas of fennel, lemon, a little bit of honeyed brioche; on the palate fresh, concentrated, juicy lemon – flesh and zest, tarte au citron. Opened at first it was too cold and there was a real attack of acidity, almost young Kumeu River but, after 30 minutes and warming up, it was more balanced and rounded – still with good structure and tension. Very approachable now.
    • Hard to believe this is 30 years old, it’s so fresh and intact, exhibiting secondary characteristics rather than tertiary. There is a Right Bank plushness to the wine, a silkiness to the tanins, but it still has grip and an appealing texture. The nose is fruit-driven (cassis and blackberry) with beef stock, smoke, earth and a touch of graphite in the background but none of the cigar box you might expect. The balance is perfectly judged between still-bright acidity and concentrated, ripe fruit, with a good deal of concentration and elegance. Seductive, beguiling and firing on all cylinders.
    • ‪Well this is v different. Lovely refreshing table craft dry cider made to drink with food from wine man turned cider maker James Forbes & journo / cider maker Susanna Forbes @DrinkBritain. Its called @LittlePomona and is a true celebration of what (5 types) of apple can do. Yum! ‬ #cider   #ciderlover   #cidermaking 
    • Il Poggione’s 2009 Brunello di Montalcino has grown into a truly outstanding wine – it was always a bit intense in youth and needed some time in the cellar to find its balance – and is well into its drinking window. The wine has that lovely interplay between ripe strawberry, iron and blood that you get from a gutsy Sangiovese – red cherry fruit also on the nose, bit of cedar. The palate is structured and bold and has a central pillar of still considerable acidity, framed by ripe tannins, savoury, red fruits, jamon, earth. Showed really well with and without food.