Last week we were able to share Bruce Jack’s personal and harrowing account of what the real impact of Covid-19, and the subsequent alcohol bans placed on South Africa by its government, has had on its drinks industry and the large community of towns and villages, and the people that rely on working in vineyards and for wine producers, has had. It generated an enormous response both in the UK, but also in South Africa itself and around the world. Today UK wine consultant Richard Bampfield MW calls on us all as individuals to do what we can to support South Africa by buying as much of its wine as we can. The only part of its industry that is still working. He also asks us to share our stories and the wines we like on social media under the hashtag #MyFavouriteSouthAfricanWines. Here he explains why.
“The last 10 months have not been the cocktail- and cigar-fuelled haven I had planned, but rather a psychological assault course that has left all of us in this industry battered…and some of us already broken.” This is the deeply personal, and at times harrowing account, of what it has been like as a South African winemaker, producer and employer of 100s of desperate employees during the Covid-19 pandemic in a country that continues to ban the sale of any alcohol to devastating effect. We implore you to read Bruce Jack’s unique take on not just the impact of Covid-19, but what it means for the long term future of our wine industry, and us as individuals and human beings.
Back in 2009 when Pancho Campo held the first Wine Future event in Rioja the world was a very different place. For a start hardly any of it was reported on social media. Some 14 years later he feels the time is more than right to bring the event back in a bid to shine the light brightly on the key global issues facing the world wine industry, from the impact of Covid-19, climate change, viticulture, international tariffs, and how we collectively engage with a fast changing consumer. Here Campo explains what we can expect at Wine Future 2021 in February.
It’s one thing having a particular liking for Rhône wines, but it’s quite another to move your family to the Rhône to live for two years so that you can really get under the skin of all 52 appellations and write a 300 page book on it. That’s what Matt Walls did, and on January 25th the fruits of his labours Wines of the Rhône is published. He tells The Buyer why the Rhône has such an appeal as well as gives us a few insider tips to the best wines, appellations and winemakers we should be keeping an eye on.
“And so as we start 2021, the Lebanese political class still has not taken heed of the priorities: to make provision to salvage the economy and the state finances and to sufficiently protect us from the Covid-19 virus.” So writes George Sara, who runs Lebanon’s largest winery Château Ksara, on the tragic impact of the pandemic on his personal and professional life. Covid-19 comes on the back of the collapse of the banks, political turmoil, and the August 4 explosion that destroyed his apartment. In another ‘must-read’ feature Sara tries to find some light at the end of the tunnel, but all the time aware that he is fighting for survival.
Coming up with a potentially breakthrough wine brand is hard enough, never mind launching two separate brands, side by side, into the wine market at the same time. But when you have a creative team behind them that includes a winemaking Master of Wine and an advertising executive that has dreamt up campaigns for some of the world’s most famous brands then they must stand more chance than others of making it. Richard Siddle caught up with Barry Dick MW and Nick Palmer to talk through their two very different new wine brands – Bowl Grabber and Vin Ventura.
The on-trade being closed for such an extended period of time clearly brings no end of issues for restaurateurs, bar owners and pub chains. But it is also a unique time for operators and their suppliers to truly take stock, and re-assess the right range and offers they need to have in place for when the sector can re-open again in the coming months. That’s what the new set of reports from on-trade research specialists, CGA, in partnership with The Buyer hope to provide. The data, statistics, trends and information to help buyers and sellers plan what are the right drinks ranges and wine lists going to be for the rest of 2021. Here’s how you can get access to the four reports planned in the series, starting with a dedicated focus on wine menus.
This was the first year the People’s Choice Drinks Awards ran separate judging sessions, using professional spirits buyers, to help assess the eight standalone spirits categories it has introduced to the overall event. In keeping with the ethos of the People’s Choice Drinks Awards consumers were also invited to take part in the judging which was able to take place both in person and virtually. Here is the shortlist of brand owners, distillers and importers who make up the finalists.
As our attention starts to turn to our buying needs in 2021 the California Wine Institute in the UK has been quick to get on the front foot and plan a new form of virtual tasting that it believes can both break new ground for how generic wine bodies can put on major country tastings, but also provide a new highly effective tasting model that will still be suitable and relevant for post-Covid times. Here its two UK directors, Justine McGovern and Damien Jackman, explain to Richard Siddle just how its Essential California At Home tasting in March is going to work and how importers, buyers and press can get involved.
As wine regions go The Loire is still one of the most neglected and under-valued in the world. It is also one of the most diverse regions, with arguably the world’s most diverse grape, Chenin Blanc, in its arsenal of varietals. In order to shine a light on Chenin Blanc’s diversity and value, Loire wine expert Jim Budd picked six of his favourite wines and explained how Chenin Blanc has had a renaissance over the past 30 years, particularly in the Anjou region.