Sicily’s renaissance as a wine region has its roots in the mid-1970s when Diego Planeta’s influence started to be felt. In the past 20 years the seeds he sowed have borne fruit, with a massive increase of outside investment in new estates, improved facilities and a passion for maintaining and re-discovering Sicily’s viticultural heritage – just last month 6 new grape varieties being re-discovered. Stefano Girelli is a part of this new wave with his two organic estates Santa Tresa and Cortese producing wines of outstanding quality and value, using local varieties – Catarratto, Grillo, Fiano, Frapatto, Nero Mascalese and Nero d’Avola – and a mix of modern viticulture and ‘old style’ winemaking.
The Drinks Trust is on course to have helped up to 5,000 extra people during 2020 who have fallen into serious difficulties because of the impact of Covid-19. The stark reality is that we are faced with months of yet more uncertainty, disruption, anxiety and job losses as businesses, and, in turn, their staff are hit by the continued fallout of the pandemic. It’s why the Drinks Trust has stepped up its efforts to offer as many people in the sector an even wider range of emotional, mental and physical support measures and services to help them as best they can, as Nicola Burston, the Trust’s operations and services manager, explains.
Restless River is one of a growing number of producers in South Africa which has sprung up in the past 20 years – challenging the old order and helping to define the country as a genuine fine wine region and not just a ‘value option’. Six years since discovering the wines at a craft fair in Constantia, and helping set up its import into the UK, our roving editor Roger Jones was re-united with Restless River’s owner and winemaker Craig Wessels. They taste through a number of vintages of Wessels’ wines as well as catch up on some of his winemaking techniques and separate the fact from the fiction – like ‘the one’ about him learning winemaking from a 2-day weekend course.
This time last year and the US bulk wine market was in a bad way. You might expect things to look even worse after Covid-19, the largest bush fires in history in California, and the ongoing trade war with China. But according to Greg Livengood, partner of global wine broker Ciatti, the bulk market has managed a 180 degrees shift in the past 12 months, as he explains to Robert Joseph as part of the online debates he is hosting for WBWE Connect.
Since leaving Plumpton College in 2014 with a degree in oenology, Sergio Verrillo and his wife Lynsey have taken a different path to most winemakers in England and Wales. At their winery Blackbook they make very little sparkling wine and, instead, focus on making still Burgundian wines, along with some ‘weird beardy’ blends. And they do this all in the heart of London. Fresh into urban winemaking himself, wine scribe and fellow Plumpton graduate Chris Wilson put Blackbook’s wines through their paces.
In our second deep dive into the highlights of the recent One Step Beyond webinar, organised by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, we turn the focus on voice search and the power of our own voices in how we live our lives – and run our businesses. James Poulter, co-founder of specialist voice and conversational AI agency, Vixen Labs, explains how Covid-19, lockdowns, switch to online and desire for touch free retailing has seen the demand for voice search fast forward the equivalent of years in roll out.
Hot on the heels of her Bordeaux red blend, The Mentors Orchestra 2018, winning the Veritas Vertex award for best South African wine, winemaker Izele van Blerk takes Victor Smart through the entire The Mentors range, with a selection of cheeses to match. The KWV winemaker is allowed a free rein on how she makes the company’s prestige wines and which she picks as the varietal that takes the top premium spot – with this vintage the accolade going to a Petite Sirah of which only 1000 bottles have been made.
There is something delightfully English about calling your retail business The Good Wine Shop. It expresses a certain level of confidence that you know what you are doing, without being over the top and brash about it. But it also encapsulates the friendly, easy going, but also highly professional nature and personality of its founder, Mark Wrigglesworth. Over the last 15 years he has quietly built his business up into a small chain of four much loved, neighbourhood wine merchants in leafy areas of south London all built around the premise of selling “good wine, from real people with great stories”. Richard Siddle paid him a visit at his store in Richmond Hill to find out just how good his wine shops really are.
The drinks industry has come up with some ingenious ways of coping with Covid. As far as awards judging goes, however, none was more extreme than the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships which rented a country estate, complete with its own pub and on-site coronavirus testing team. Our man at the event, editor-at-large Roger Jones, sent back this behind-the-scenes report of how this Bubbly Bubble worked, (a presumably watered-down version of) what went on in the ‘Big Bubble House’, as well talking to CSWWC’s creator Tom Stevenson about the philosophy of the competition and the logistics of making it work.
The issues of diversity, equality and inclusion have never been more front of mind in the drinks and hospitality industry. This week’s online wine2wine event dedicated a number of sessions to allow a wide range of debates and conversations to take place. The key now is how does the fragmented world of drinks and hospitality come together to keep the momentum behind these issues going. This is very much where the Women of the Vine & Spirits organisation comes in as it has been offering a platform for women all over the world to come together and share and use its now wide range of resources and support tools for women. Here founder Deborah Brenner explains why she set the organisation up and how she is so pleased these issues are now getting the profile and publicity they need.