The standards and competition between national drinks and wine distributors in the UK is arguably the highest in the world. Each one can point to their own wall of trophies and awards, so how as a sommelier and premium on-trade buyer do you decide which one is right for you? Well, that ultimately comes down to the people that are the real DNA of how these companies work. Here The Buyer goes behind the scenes at Alliance Wine to talk to its senior on-trade sales team to find out how they work, build relationships with customers and what it is they think they do that makes them stand out from the rest.
In February the Catena Institute published a report into the terroir of Malbec that offered scientific evidence to ‘irrefutably prove’ that terroir exists and is not just a concept dreamed up by the French. Discussing the findings, and broadening the discussion into related fields such as climatology, was a panel of experts that included Laura Catena, journalist Jane Anson and professors from Oregon, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Mendoza. Will historic terroir designations need to be altered in the future to reflect climate change? Should we talk about ecosystems rather than terroir? And will this type of research help to sustain consumer demand for high quality wines? All this and more was discussed while David Kermode took notes.
All eyes are on the Tokyo Olympics of course, which are coping with an unprecedented level of restriction, so now seemed as good a time as any to find out how Ayana Misawa, winemaker at Grace Wine, one of Japan’s leading wineries, is coping as a winemaker. The interview is the first of a new series The Buyer is running throughout the summer with key influential winemakers across the globe. We want to know from the people who actually make the wine how has their life been in the past 18 months? What additional challenges have they faced as winemakers? And how are they adapting to the new normal?
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Before picking up a pen, notebook, wine glass and spittoon for a living, David Kermode spent much of his career working in one of the most stressful jobs possible running live TV news and shouting instructions into the ears of highly paid news broadcasters, whilst desperately trying to keep to deadlines and keep the whole show on the road. As a drinks writer he has once again returned to his broadcast days by starting his own podcast – The Drinking Hour on Food FM – where he hopes to bring a fresh approach to wine and spirits on the airwaves. Here he shares some of the highs and lows from his high profile national TV days and just what he thinks makes a good podcast work.
Personal spittoons and personal sommeliers… it’s the return of physical wine tastings. Fifteen months on from attending a physical wine tasting, journalist and winemaker Chris Wilson headed to London for not one but two physical tastings – the Georgian wine trade tasting and the Wines From Spain annual tasting. Both events were run on entirely different models –a walkaround style close to ‘old school’ wine tastings and a sit-down style where personal sommeliers serve you. So what were the key benefits and disadvantages of both models?
Elisha Rai and Tom Cannon are not the first to have enjoyed a successful career in the City before swapping careers to go into English wine, but Rai is one of the first to have done so from a BAME background. Here they explain how they are looking to bring a very different approach to English wine, by focusing on creating a rosé brand – Folc – using grapes bought by the best producers they can find in Kent and Sussex. A brand that was launched in lockdown and has already picked up medals in the IWSC and IWC awards – only one of two English rosés to have done so.
Managing to evade the rigours of Lockdown, quarantine and self-isolation, Geoffrey Dean travelled to the Wines of Portugal Challenge in Santarem. His job was to take part as a judge but he also managed to get out and about and get a snapshot of contemporary Portuguese winemaking through the eyes of six very different winemakers – from the small and unrepresented in the UK, right through to the second largest producer in Portugal. On top of getting an idea of what the challenges are facing the winemakers here, Dean also got a chance to try many wines and recommends the ones that stood out on the day.
The last 15 months have polarised the on and off-trades like never before. Whilst retailers struggled to keep up with demand from customers holed up at home for much of the time, the on-trade has either been completely shut or operating on half measures, dictated to by the rule of six and social distancing rules. But rather than look enviously at what the off-trade has been able to do, Harry Crowther believes the best on-trade operators will be taking lessons, analysing what wines were actually sold and then use those findings in re-imagining the wine offers in their restaurants, bars and pubs. Here he explains why.
Since Condor Wines was established in 2011, it has carved a niche as one of the UK’s foremost importers of wines from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Condor’s founder, Lee Evans, hosted a day of webinar sessions with representatives from several of the really interesting wineries with which he works, comparing and contrasting their different regions and enlightening us on the challenges and opportunities they face now and in the future.