The Cape Wine Auction is the third major South African auction to be held by the wine industry and it is carving out a niche for itself as being the most philanthropic. This year, only its fourth, the auction raised R22.3m and 100% of the money is given to needy causes. The Buyer was there and talked to the auction’s creator, Mike Ratcliffe about his vision, how it works, past successes and hopes for the future.
With close to an estimated 900,000 producers to choose from it’s not surprising Italy is seen as one of the hardest countries to source from. So news that what claims to be the country’s first full service Italian network of wineries, Vinità Italia, is launching in the UK, should be of interest to on-trade buyers, whether they are Italian specialists are not. We take a look at what it has to offer.
Troy Christensen was not alone in wishing good riddance to 2016, but he also recognises the challenging trading conditions, coupled with the double whammy of integrating Coe Vintners into its business, has arguably made the new Enotria&Coe a stronger force and in a much better place to reap the dividends in 2017 and beyond.
Plaimont Producteurs has just hosted the annual blending of their flagship cuvée, Le Faîte, with guest blenders Olly Smith, wine writer, columnist and TV presenter and Serge Dubs, world’s best sommelier 1989 and head sommelier of l’Auberge de l’Ill (three Michelin stars for the past 50 years). Giles James, of Noble Inns, accompanied the group from the UK on-trade side.
The inaugural London wine tasting held by fledgling wine distributor North South Wines showed a number of quality wines across its portfolio. A tasting table based on the company’s insights and predictions for the coming year was illuminating. But it was the wines of one producer in particular, South Africa’s Painted Wolf, that got the journalists in the room reaching for their superlatives.
It’s not often that a completely new concept hits the drinks industry, but with the launch of his Rare Tea Drinks, designed to be paired with premium spirits, Paul Benjamin has created an intriguing new category, under his Benjamin & Blum premium tea label. Helen Arnold went along for a very refined cuppa to find out more.
Pinotage is a wine that has gone out of fashion, particularly in the premium end of the market – this despite it being a derivative of Cinsault and Pinot, two grapes that have recently seen a massive increase in production on South Africa’s Cape. Michelin-starred chef Roger Jones travelled to South Africa to find out what has happened to quality Pinotage and see if he could find some that would sit happily on wine lists in the UK.
On the face of it the latest on-trade figures for January look pretty robust, particularly in light of the growing popularity of Dry January, but the new Coffer Peach BusinessTracker for the major restaurant and pub groups show the sector needs to make hay before it is faced with the fall out or rising wage and operating costs, and inflationary pressures on consumer spending.
Davy’s Wine Merchants are now the oldest family merchants with both their own shops and bars in London. Dating all the way back to 1870. But for James Davy, who is guiding the business through its fifth generation, that is very much in the past, his drive and ambition for the business is to make it viable and exciting and different for what it is going to achieve rather than rest on any laurels.
Justin Keay meets up with Wine Mosaic, a Paris-based organisation whose mandate is saving and promoting rare grape varieties. He also samples 100 wines from Croatia, Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and even France itself – all in the pursuit of discovering new and magnificent wines that all have their provenance rooted in the past.