English and Welsh sparkling wines that are fermented in bottle now have a new official hallmark, Classic Method. But what does this new initiative from Wine GB mean for the future of our sparkling wines? Will it increase exports, be understood by customers abroad and even be understood by customers on home soils? Justin Keay ponders all of the above while tasting eight top examples of Classic Method – some well known and some new to him – and providing an update on how the 2020 harvest has gone in relation to the previous two vintages.
We might have spent a lot of the last eight months at home, sitting still, but all around us the world has been moving at record pace. All the trends we were struggling to keep up with going into Covid-19 have all been on fast forward as we have, as a global population, had to get used to a completely different way of living…and doing business. It has meant we have all had to go online like never before. How you adapt your company to meet the challenges of a digital age is what the One Step Beyond initiative, introduced by The Buyer and Sophie Jump earlier this year, is all about. Following an inaugural conference held just before the first UK national lockdown, here is the first part of an analysis of a follow up webinar, held last month, featuring the same expert speakers who were able to share their insights into the impact Covid-19 has had on consumer behaviour and expectations. First up Naji El-Arifi of Wunderman Thompson Commerce sets out the rights and wrongs of running a successful DTC and e-commerce website.
Spirit producers and distillers the world over are fixated on creating the best styles and blends of gins, vodkas, rums, whiskies or whatever. But however hard they work to get their products right it will all come to nothing unless they can find bar tenders and bar managers who can equally believe in what they are making in order to use and sell them in their outlets. It’s that connection between award winning spirits and the bar community that the London Spirits Competition works so hard to foster, as Richard Siddle explains.
There will be baited breath in the global wine community on November 18 when the winners of the Wine Producer Awards will be announced. The highest-achieving wine estates from the IWSC have made it into the shortlist across five categories: Sparkling Wine Producer, Fortified, Sweet, Red and White Wine Producer with English wineries well represented in the Sparkling Wine category. Unlike the Spirits awards where William Grant & Son could win for the third year in a row, the Wine Producer Awards will have a new winner as last year’s most Outstanding Wine Producer did not make the cut.
Now in its 29th year the ¡Salud! Oregon Pinot Noir Auction is a prime example of how a wine region can keep its key workers alive and well. Although the world sees many wine auctions, with exclusive cuvées and formats up for grabs in an auction setting, rarely is it tied into a free healthcare programme that is providing 2,500 vineyard workers and their families with the healthcare and outreach they need – especially important this year during the pandemic. LM Archer looks at this unique programme as well as picks out key wines from this year’s auction that is operating online until November 16 and gives a first look at the 2019 ‘throwback’ cool vintage.
The current high standard of wine communication has been made evident with the announcement of the 2020 shortlist of IWSC Wine Communicator of the Year. The four contenders – Nina Caplan, Elaine Chukan Brown, Anne Krebiehl MW and Melissa Monosoff MS – are wine professionals who, between them, have achieved an enviable array of achievements and qualifications that put them at the top of their game. Ahead of the announcement of the winner at the IWSC awards on November 18, we take a look at each of the contenders and discover what wine communication means to them.
Despite all the problems that Covid-19 has created for the usual smooth running of the wine supply chain, there are huge efforts being made by generic and trade bodies to give producers and buyers as much of a chance as possible to still show, taste and select wines. This was typified last week with Business France’s Val de Loire Unlocked session that gave buyers and the press the chance to taste in person a selection of 70 AOC wines from producers looking for distribution in the UK. Geoffrey Dean was there for The Buyer to pick out his highlights.
“In the auction business we talk about the drivers for supply being death, debt, divorce,” so it’s not surprising for James Ritchie, head of wine and spirits auctions for Sotheby’s, to use that phrase when assessing the global auction market in 2020. But in this fascinating insight into what really goes on behind the scenes at the world’s famous auction house, Ritchie also shares who and where the biggest wine collectors are and how even Sotheby’s is having to break with traditions and go as digital and online as it can.
Covid-19 has tested the agility of many industries this year, none more so than hospitality. But through innovation and hard work hotel groups and restaurants have been experiencing a number of fillips, says Alan Montague-Dennis, director of prestige sales at Mentzendorff. Staycations, a new al fresco, fine dining at home and trading up on the wine list (when possible) have brought about some unexpected returns. In this insightful piece Alan explains how his role allows him to flex with changing needs and to stay nimble – literally – on his Brompton bike, a key part of the company’s approach to sustainability and mental wellbeing, and helping him keep a positive spin on things.
In this agenda setting thought piece Amelia Singer, wine educator and co-presenter of The Wine Show, examines some of the flaws lying at the heart of the drinks industry that have led to increasing calls for decisive action to be taken to improve both diversity and inclusion in the sector. When it comes to solutions, she highlights the need for organisations to work together, promote greater diversity in leadership roles within the industry, and for best practice ideas to be shared between drinks sectors around the world.