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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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    • Textbook elegant style Barolo from 2016 a vintage that seems
      Textbook, elegant style Barolo from 2016, a vintage that seems to be justifying the hype. Light brick, exquisite nose, some complexity and concentration, floral, forest fruits, fresh black fig, aniseed lift on the tail; so welcoming on the palate, soft even, a chalky quality, then the ‘hidden’ structure becomes more apparent; raspberry, blue plum, ripe cherry, a hit of creaminess. Beautifully balanced, medium bodied Barolo and amazingly approachable given its youth. This family or estate wine, whose first vintage was 1962, is made from parcel selection across the four villages of La Morra, Castiglione Falletto, Barolo and Serralunga d’Alba. Fermented in steel tanks, it spends 12 months in 300l French oak barrel (5% new), 24 months in 25/30 hectolitre big cask and then 12 months in the bottle.
    • Very different style of Vermentino this  mineral and honeyed
      Very different style of Vermentino this - mineral and honeyed nose, jasmine, ripe red apples, papaya. It’s a little bit fatty on the palate, round, almost Riesling-like. And woven through is a nice spine of well-integrated acidity with saline/ mineral qualities. From selected parcels in Liguria. Not sure I’ve ever had a Vermentino quite so going and voluptuous before. Very nice too.
    • There is something wonderfully Spanish about having this blanc de
      There is something wonderfully Spanish about having this ‘blanc de noirs’ in a black bottle – think Dali or Almodovar – it is pure theatre, which speaks of the wine’s black grape origins, but also its intended destination - a top end restaurant setting which is what it was primarily made for. A collaboration between Chivite and Juan Mari Arzak, whose 3 star Michelin restaurant is hugely theatrical, it’s a complex, fascinating wine that almost has to be deduced at first and then starts revealing itself. On the nose you have savoury, herbal notes (wild fennel) with orchard fruit and pomegranates; on the palate it’s light to mid-weight, a slight fattiness on the front palate with ripe fruit nice and rounded (that has been accentuated through time in the bottle). Beautifully balanced, complex, great length with a nice hit of heat and alcohol on the finish. I would decant this and serve it as an aperitif, although like an aged Albariño it could work at all stages of a meal.
    • Top dry German Riesling from the Nahe and in a
      Top dry German Riesling from the Nahe and in a great year. The nose is displaying a little secondary development but the palate is as fresh as you like, with a mineral quality that is almost spritzy. Notes of oily rag, papaya, acacia honey, blossom; the palate is lively, with lime zest. After time in the glass the wine feels a little more rounded with well- integrated acidity, but in such a good place with plenty more years to go. Very yummy. Drank this with a spread of vegetarian Indian dishes which worked well.
    • Wonderful surprise and hugely enjoyable  an earlypicked Pinot Gris
      Wonderful surprise and hugely enjoyable - an early-picked Pinot Gris with 3 days skin contact that looks for all the world like a Rosé (on 2nd thoughts it is a Rosé! Just undeclared on the label). Would make an excellent blind tasting wine. And yes... it is New Wave California. Jolie-Laide Sonoma County Pinot Gris 2018. The colour is light russet with saffron highlights, the nose has potpourri, baked apple, strawberry and an aged quality; the palate is light but there is a plumpness from the skin contact, flavours include grapes, orange, lime leaf, there is also a textural element from the neutral wood vinification that is interesting and makes this one of the most fascinating Pinot Gris you are liable to find. A real sommelier’s wine.
    • If the closeness of a sparkling wine to resembling Champagne
      If the closeness of a sparkling wine to resembling Champagne is a mark of top quality then Ruca Malen’s Traditional Method Sparkling Brut NV is right up there in the category. In a blind tasting you could easily imagine yourself in Epernay or Rheims rather than in Mendoza. Like the quality sekt coming out of Germany in the shape of Von Buhl, say, this blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Uco Valley in Argentina has Champagne people and knowhow behind it which gives it its undoubted quality. Made by the team that used to run Chandon in Argentina it ticks all the right boxes in terms of provenance and production: fruit grown at altitude (1200m); wine left on the lees for 36 months (reducing the acidity and building up the creaminess and complexity); the wine in the bottle coming from mainly one vintage (2016) but then beefed up with 10% older reserve wines; the wine released six months after the hugely disruptive disgorgement. With 6gms dosage it is dry but retaining ripeness and roundness, very pale in colour, a fine bead, quite savoury on the nose, but then really interesting on the palate: very fruity, raspberry to the fore, some complexity beginning to develop in terms of patisserie and nutty notes, lovely crisp, dry finish. For £16.95 you can’t go wrong.