As the clock ticks down for the start of the 31 Days of Riesling campaign for 2022 in July, The Buyer looks back on last year’s competition that attracted over independent wine merchants, bars and restaurants to take part, who brought German Riesling to life in their outlets and venues. Here Helen Arnold talks to the overall on-trade winner, Tessa and Elliott Lidstone of the Box-E restaurant in Bristol.
Washington Wines prides itself on how it is breaking new ground. There are now 70 grape varieties planted, oak is on the retreat, new vinification vessels are de rigeur and there are three new AVAs to add to the 16 already mapped out across this second largest wine-producing region in the United States. Although his top 10 wines from the tasting reflects this diversity and innovation, Justin Keay had to seek these wines out from a tasting room that was Old World-centric, exhibiting perhaps too many examples of Bordeaux and Rhône wine styles.
Start-up wine importer business, Vida Wines & Spirits, has a very clear mission. To showcase lesser-known wines, producers and winemakers from countries across Central and Eastern Europe. With interest in the new, unusual and different at an all time high it arguably could not have chosen a better year to launch. Here breakthrough wine writer Natalie Wilson talks to Olivier Freymuth, Vida’s wine buyer and head of UK sales, about how it has built up a portfolio of wines it believes can start to fill a big gap in the UK wine market. Vida’s Olivier Freymuth explains what it is about wines from Bulgaria and Slovenia that excite him over wines from the all too familiar Old and New Worlds.
One of Robert Sinskey’s wines, an orange wine called Orgia, has a label design based on LSD blotters given out at Grateful Dead concerts. The wine was intended as a middle finger to the department of the US Treasury Department that looks after wine labels. This hip Californian’s white field blend, Abraxas, is named after the second album by Santana. So, it was only fitting that when Sinskey invited Victor Smart to try his wines the venue chosen was the London Electric Daisy Flower Farm – so that they could taste wines… at the same time as make bouquets of flowers together.
“Online shopping has its acronyms, technologies, and innovation. But at its heart it digitises the human experience of walking into a wine shop. In a shop or restaurant you’d listen. Online you just have to use different sorts of ears.” That’s how the team at Pix, the new online wine discovery and search platform, analyses its users and consumers to work out what they are looking for from wine online. In the first of what will be a regular series of insights, Pix suggests four online tools that can help you analyse your own traffic data on your site to create more effective content and lists of wines that your consumers are wanting to buy. From Google Trends to Google Ads there are free existing tools out there that can unlock your online sales data and help you make more informed decisions about the wines you source, list, promote and sell.
Although many Barolo and Barbaresco wines are true icons, they are largely still flying under the radar, argues Peter Mitchell MW, Jeroboams’ wine director, who believes they offer an opportunity to the on-trade to start replacing Burgundy on wine lists. Sarah McCleery talk to Mitchell at Festa Piemontese, the company’s Barolo and Barbaresco tasting, and discovers key wines from Castello di Verduno, Ciabot Berton, Amalia and Ceretto.
As Prowein 2022 gets set to return after two years absence, Caroline Gilby profiles Château Purcari, the Moldovan estate that is exhibiting with the aim of bringing more of its wine to the UK. Purcari is at the forefront of reviving Moldova’s indigenous grape varieties, such as Rara Neagra which is a key part of the iconic Negru de Purcari cuvée, as well as producing Freedom Blend, the wine aimed at raising money for refugees that have flooded across the border since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Although it makes ports – both red and white – the winemaking team at Quinta da Pedra Alta in the Douro Valley is saving its greatest enthusiasm for the new table wines it’s producing. Its philosophy is to make fresh, approachable, contemporary wines using indigenous varieties like Viosinho, Rabigato, Sousão and Gouveio. Winemaker João Pires takes Victor Smart through the wines who is suitably impressed.
It was Bordeaux winemaker Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc who once coined the phrase “Twitter is for show, but email is for dough,” when talking about how to build up an online wine retail business. It is very much the approach that Eamon FitzGerald has taken in setting up his own e-commerce platform, WineSpark, which has borrowed a few tips and techniques from his days at Naked Wines to build up a strong email database that is now driving his move into online wine retailing.
What started as a Louis Jadot employee brainwave has now grown into a major international event. Bike to Care en Bourgogne has just successfully wrapped with €230k raised for hospitality charities with Château Haut-Bailly agreeing to stage the event next year in Bordeaux. Our drinks editor Peter Dean went along for the (long) ride.