It’s not just the products and brands that enter the 2023 London Spirits Competition that are stars of the show, but the panel of judges that have been lined up to assess them and hand out the medals. Only drinks professionals with direct bar, restaurant, retail or spirits background are invited to take part with a line-up of talent that includes some of the most influential names in the world of spirits. Here’s who is taking part.
If you are looking forward to getting a new tasting diary in your Christmas stocking here’s a new date and event to look forward to, which also won’t take up too much space as it is only three letters long: VIN. A new tasting event being organised by Business France on February 2 that promises to be a one stop shop opportunity to explore and discover gems from all regions of France from producers already in the UK and many who are looking to sell their wines here for the first time. Here’s what to expect.
Over the last few weeks panels of every day wine drinkers and wine trade professionals have been analysing, checking, tasting and scoring flights of wines and spirits as part of the judging for both what is the sixth People’s’ Choice Wine Awards and the third People’s Choice Spirits Awards. Judging sessions were held in both Manchester and London to get a more diverse set of judges from different backgrounds. Here Janet Harrison, founder of both competitions, explains how the judging went, announces the shortlists and picks out some highlights for how the 2023 awards are going to be run.
Over the last 18 month Distill Ventures has extended its investment programme to support new start-up drinks brands, by starting a Pre Accelerator programme aimed at identifying and then backing new brand launches from entrepreneurs from marginalised communities. To date it has been able to invest $5 million in a wide range of brands and is now starting its investment programme for 2023. Here we talk to Ara Carvallo, portfolio and I&D Director at Distill Ventures about how it works.
You’ve tasted the wine, now visit the region, says Linda Galloway after a visit to Tokaj, Hungary’s oldest wine region. There are miles of wine caves to explore, new state-of-the-art tasting rooms, historic estates plus a range of gastronomy and hospitality to indulge yourself in. Galloway points out some of the key wineries, plus gives a range of contacts for when you visit Tokaj.
“We look to Burgundy as the global benchmark of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, we are not trying to replicate their wines.” Instead Brendan Hawker says he is looking to pin point which blocks and parcels of vines are going to make the right styles of wine that truly reflect the terroir of Australia’s Yarra Valley in his role as head winemaker at Yering Station. He also looks at how its winemaking has evolved to become focused on the fruit and bringing together complex blends of its key varieties.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Balfour Winery, and the launch of its new Archive Collection, owner and founder Richard Balfour-Lynn held a remarkable vertical tasting of its English sparkling wine, Balfour Brut Rosé, in London this month. Launching the new range is a late-disgorged Brut Rosé from 2008, which is the first wine of its type in the UK, and which gets two thumbs up from our expert at the tasting, Master of Wine and fizz aficionado Anne Krebiehl MW.
Winemakers are faced with making 100s of decisions every month about what they should be doing in the vineyard, with their vines and in the cellars. But how many would be brave enough to give the power for making those decisions over to their potential customers? Well that’s the exact concept behind the Not Named Wine Co and a new form of community winemaking which allows people to sign up to become members and then work with the winemakers to decide what wines to make. Co-founder Alex Brogan explains how it all works.
If you really want to fast track your knowledge about the global wine industry and what is really going on then book yourselves into two days at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition. It’s like the wine fair equivalent of Tinder where buyers will swipe left, or right, depending on who they want to do business with. Across the two days of the show I was not offered one wine to try. My name badge may have had ‘The Buyer’ on it, but as soon as the producer realised I was not actually there to physically buy wine, but talk about it, they wanted to keep their limited tasting stocks back for the ‘buyers’ who really matter. Last week’s fair was like no other that has gone before it. The ramifications of Covid, problems in the supply chain and seemingly quarterly increases in dry good, packaging and bottling costs, along with a global shortage in glass bottles meant the actual price of wine was actually the last thing people needed to negotiate about. All of which is ripping up the traditional way that producers and buyers do business together with once sacrosanct yearly contracts being thrown up in the air. Richard Siddle was there to see the new rules of trading being written before his eyes.
To mark the sad passing of rugby legend Doddie Weir OBE yesterday we repost the inspirational story of Doddie’5 Red Blend 2019, a unique South African red blend which has many parts to it but one purpose – to raise money for Weir’s Motor Neurone Disease foundation. Weir wore the No.5 shirt for Scotland while Schalk Burger, who made the wine with his son Tiaan, wore the No.5 for the Springboks. In another homage to the wine’s sporting provenance the blend is made of five grape varieties with £5 from every bottle sale donated to Weir’s MND charity and Burger constructing the wine as if it were a team of legends. Wine and sports writer Geoffrey Dean got the story and the wine is still available to buy – details at the end of the article.