With fingers in so many pies – wine consultant, importer, online retailer, writer and restaurateur – Mike Turner can always be relied on to come up with some fascinating choices of wine to put on your radar. Looking back at the wines that moved him over the past 12 months, he is recommending you catch up with them over the next 12 months – not so much a Best Of 2021 as a What’s Hot In 2022. Take it away Mike.
Biodynamic farming is being damned by a group of Italian scientists who have started a petition, claiming that the practice is witchcraft. A leading senator backing the scientists has declared (somewhat unbelievably) “we risk giving legal recognition to flat-earthers who preach magic and witchcraft.” The aim of this petition, which has surpassed a staggering 31,000 signatories, is to overturn a bill which would put biodynamic farming on the same standing as organic farming, thereby allowing biodynamic practitioners to receive state aid. So puzzled about this state of affairs was wine consultant and restaurateur Mike Turner, that he decided to delve into the matter and ask some fundamental questions about all types of farming, talk to South African winemaker of the year Johan Reyneke, and generally put some positive PR out there for biodynamic farming.
Canned wine is a genuinely exciting new format and the predictions are that this will be the year when finally there is a real breakthrough. It raises a number of issues against bottles, however: sustainability, parity of quality, image, role in restaurants and format size in general. So what has Mike Turner learned from 12 months of selling canned wines to consumers?
The on-trade is in a cash flow crisis right now and banks and insurance companies need to alleviate the pressure by turning on the taps immediately, writes restaurateur Mike Turner. A co-owner of French restaurant La Ferme in London’s Primrose Hill, Turner shows how the devil is in the detail of recent financial promises – both by the government and by financial institutions. Although he is optimistic that his business is eligible for financial aid, there is plenty of room for pessimism – the rateable value ceiling of £51k, banks looking for personal guarantees, and insurance companies trying to default on technicalities, is detracting from where our real focus should be, which is on helping people cope with the virus.
As recently as the year 2000, a seminal wine was produced that marked a dramatic shift in one of the most famous wine regions of the world. Istvan Szepsy’s now legendary Úrágya dry furmint is widely regarded as the first time a winemaker from Tokaj took the idea of producing a dry white wine seriously, and came up with a special result. 20 years on, Mike Turner attended the launch of Furmint February, a trade initiative to promote these dry Furmints from across Hungary, to hear all about the rapid shift in thinking and production.
His year started in Marlborough and it ended in Morgon, en route he visited Spain, Italy, the Rhône and Bordeaux… on more than one occasion. Welcome to the Top 12 wines of 2019 as discovered by Mike Turner, restaurateur, wine consultant, journalist, web geek and contributor to The Buyer. Every day over the holidays there will be more Top wines from 2019 as chosen by our panel of wine tasters – to pick up on some gems you may have missed in the year but also so you can pretend you’ve got some work on when the in-laws pop round.
The Majestic Wine saga continues to throw up twists and turns as chief executive, Rowan Gormley, looks to reshape and rebrand as a strong and sustainable Naked Wines business into the new financial year. Discussions will be ongoing and the future will likely be uncertain for employees up until, and even potentially after, the investor presentation on June 13. Mike Turner experienced first hand during his days in the City the plight as an employee seeing his livelihood discussed and deliberated in the press, and offers some well meant advice to Gormley and Naked Wines about how it handles its communications and support to its staff during this time of uncertainty.
Coldplay, Strictly, Crispy Pancakes… we all have our ‘guilty pleasures’. For drinks expert and restaurateur Mike Turner, his is Asti Spumante – a drink that, when he first discovered it, he drank with almost everything, much to the dismay of Italian sommeliers. But, despite the derision this precursor to Prosecco often gets, Mike argues it’s a serious drink with masses of skill in the making of. He visits the winemakers of Piedmont and the growers who supply the fruit and has his belief re-confirmed… Asti Spumante is a fizz that seriously needs your re-appraisal.
When Mike Turner opened his first restaurant, little did he think about the spirits shelf – the “every other alcoholic drink in the world in a quarter of a piece of A4” shelf. Mike had just about got used to being a professional wine buyer (and he knows a lot about wine) so how was he going to catch up with his spirits knowledge against the clock? He seeks help from Colin Hampden White who steers him firmly towards whisky as the first category to get on top of. But that is not such a straight path.
Spend any time with restaurateur and wine writer Mike Turner and you’ll know what great company he is, but what does he like to get up to when he has some spare time in the summer? That’s if he manages to get any at all having just opened his new restaurant, La Ferme, in Primrose Hill. When he does he’ll be sitting down to old episodes of Red Dwarf and working out the rights and wrongs of kidnapping….if it’s all for a good cause.