We only have to look at our Google Analytics or Twitter and Instagram feeds to see how popular articles on alternative grape varieties and what you might call the old but new emerging wine producing countries are with sommeliers and premium on-trade buyers. It’s why we have created our dedicated Grape Unknown newsletter and place such a focus on bringing those type of articles to you. Clearly one of the most interesting and exciting of those countries is Hungary. Its new generation of wines and winemakers have really caught the imagination of the trade. But it is one thing being interested about the country, it’s quite another to go ahead and list its wines. Which is why The Buyer teamed up with Wines of Hungary to host the first of our new 90 minute format Sommelier Workshop sessions to give buyers, producers and importers the chance to share their experiences in an open debate and tasting format.
2017 was a year to forget for most wine producing countries, but particularly in Italy where frosts and rain did so much damage to many of its iconic regions. Like Soave. But thankfully conditions are back to normal in 2018 and the region is back on the front foot driving not only a quality agenda, but putting the focus firmly on biodiversity and working on the long term future of its vines, as Aldo Lorenzoni, director of the Consorzio di Soave explains.
Given that Hugel was founded in 1639, its Schoelhammer Riesling is a very new addition to the story. It was first launched just three years ago in 2015 when the 2007 vintage came out and has already become a classic Alsatian Grand Cru Riesling. Chris Wilson attended the launch of the new 2009 vintage where Marc Hugel and his nephew Jean-Frédéric brought along the first two vintages for comparison, plus some extraordinary wines from their personal library.
For the past 10 years February has been the month when winemakers and local communities in Hungary come together to celebrate Furmint, one of its most famous indigenous white grape varieties. Next year Wines of Hungary wants to bring a flavour of those celebrations to the UK with its very own Furmint February promotion, including on January 30 and the day when it claims a record number of Furmint wines and producers (over 20 producers and 60 wines) will come together at London’s 67 Pall Mall to show UK buyers and sommeliers what these wines can potentially do for their wine lists.
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.
With wine on sale from virtually any country that makes it, the UK has to be one of the biggest and most democratic markets for wine anywhere in the world. If your wine is good enough and affordable enough there are a whole host of channels and sectors to sell your wine into. But where do you start? To help the Soul Wines group of Douro wine producers that are looking to find distributors and importers in the UK, The Buyer brought together a panel of trade experts, influencers, distributors and buyers to give their advice on how best to crack the UK market.
The Buyer hits the road again and this time it’s destination Cyprus as Geoffrey Dean returns to the island three years on to discover how Cypriot wine is becoming premiumised. The bad old days of bulk wine exports to the Soviet Bloc have long since gone and now a new breed of internationally-sussed winemakers are using a mix of international and indigenous grape varieties to make fabulous wines with great sommelier appeal.
On the one hand English whisky is one of the most exciting, fast moving spirits categories you can find on the back bar. On the other it is still very much in its infancy, with vastly different products and no real identity about what the category is all about. Stephen Russell, co-founder of the Copper Rivet Distillery in Kent, believes English whisky needs its own charter, its own standards and benchmarks to help create a standalone industry in its own right. Here he explains why.
Working with three different a la carte menus, including one where the customer chooses the wine first and then the kitchen adapts the food to match, can be a lot of fun. For young Swedish sommelier Emma Ziemann it still allows time to compete in major sommelier competitions – and time to win them. Crowned Best Swedish Sommelier for 2018, Ziemann talks to Peter Dean in detail about life at Gothenburg’s Michelin-starred restaurant Thörnströms Kök and what the challenges are of sourcing and buying wine in a market where the monopoly rules.
When you’ve been making wine for eight centuries you can get away with speaking confidently. For Lamberto Frescobaldi, head of the winemaking dynasty, 2018 is set to be a cracking vintage in Tuscany, and the 2015 vintage of wines from his new estate Tenuta Perano also delivers. Victor Smart was there at the launch of Frescobaldi’s seventh estate, tasted the two new wines and heard how Tenuta Perano is one of their most significant acquisitions to date.