If Lanchester Wines was ever invited onto a corporate version of Mastermind then bulk wines would have to be its specialist subject. Perhaps alongside sustainability. For thanks to its parent company, Lanchester Group, which also includes the specialist Greencfroft Bottling business, Lanchester Wines is at the forefront of buying, shipping and packing wines in the market where they are going to be sold. It’s even now created a new ’boutique’ market for bulk wine that is allowing it to work with and source smaller parcels of premium and more eclectic wines that can still be sent in bulk and bottled in the UK. Richard Siddle talks to Lanchester’s Mark Roberts and Lesley Cook about what makes boutique bulk potentially so exciting.
Solid bankers for every wine list, some personal favourites and a couple of oddball wines for the wine geeks amongst us – Mike Turner picks his Top 10 wines from the Bancroft Wines 30th anniversary tasting. What was most surprising, though, was the amount of organic, biodynamic and vegan wines that Turner discovered on the list – 40% of all the wines were certified organic – and a long list of other sustainability initiatives.
“Last year Yasmeen, Cathy, Brian, Imran and Sean had a wine tasting in Coronation Street. That didn’t make it to the papers. Because today wine is part of everyday life for people in every corner of the UK. What did make the papers was when Coronation Street’s script writers mistakenly suggested a large glass of red would cost just £3.00. Viewers knew that was a real piece of fiction.” Joe Fattorini on typically blistering form as he makes a passionate case for a cut in wine duties in the Budget.
You don’t need to have been in the UK wine trade for very long to know that Armit Wines is synonymous with Italian wine. It has long been one of the country’s most important and passionate importers of Italian wine with an almost unsurpassable list of producers and contacts it works with the length and breadth of the country. With a new management team and strategy in place, Italian wines are going to be even more key to its future growth and success in the on-trade, says brand manager Alex Hill.
The Tuscan estate of Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona is producing some of the most renowned Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino wines, along with a number of other wines using international varieties. Its top Brunello from the 2015 vintage has just been awarded 100 points by James Suckling and well it might – it’s a beauty. At its UK launch winemaker Paolo Bianchini showed off all of his new wines to a select group of wine buyers, alongside those of another classic Brunello vintage, 2010, as well as divulge the incredible-but-true story of how his family came to own this historic estate.
With vines dating back to the 1930’s Biondi-Santi is one of the iconic Italian wineries and one of the most prestigious in the classic region of Montalcino. It’s also very much still in family hands that stretch right back to the mid 19th century. Here Tancredi Biondi-Santi, the latest generation to work with the estate’s famous vines, shares the history of the winery, but also looks ahead at the steps being taken to make it as relevant in the future as it has been for so many decades. You can meet him and taste their classic wines at the Sangiovese RESET tasting on March 3.
If sommeliers bought as much Washington State wine as they say they like them, then the lists of most premium wine restaurants would be full of different styles from this distinctive and still fast growing US wine region. As it is there is still enormous potential for Washington to build distribution, both first with UK importers and then to the restaurant customers they supply. Ahead of the Washington State Wines tasting in London on March 10 we start a series of interviews with participating winemakers with Tyler Williams of Kiona Vineyards.
As the international community struggles to contain the coronavirus, life in mainland China has changed beyond all recognition, writes Janet Wang. Social activities have dropped by 80-90% just after the Chinese New Year which, traditionally, is one of the most active periods for gathering and gifting. The impact on retail is colossal with Q1 being written off and a spate of bankruptcies predicted for Q2 as retailers try to cope with the stemming of cashflow. Wine trade professionals are estimating that 2020 will see a 20% downturn. But ‘Wei Ji’ the Chinese word for ‘crisis’ is made up of two words meaning ‘danger’ and ‘opportunities’. Wang also looks at the impact the virus is already having on online and a new ‘contactless delivery’ business that has sprung into action.
First mentioned by the Bard, and shipped back to Blighty by the boatload in the 16th Century, the wines of Tenerife have long been admired for their quality and individuality. Geoffrey Dean went there to discover the island’s 6,500 hectares under own-rootstock vine, its dozen local grape varieties, five DOs, half a dozen wineries that are pushing the envelope, and tasted and recommends the wines that are worth seeking out. Dean also finds that wine tourism is alive and well, particularly in the European winter months.
If you stop and ask a sommelier or a top wine buyer to pick out countries or regions where they are increasingly turning to both for interesting, eclectic wines, but also those that offer excellent value at all price points then time and again they will bring up the different regions of Portugal. What’s more it is also the local indigenous varieties that are becoming more popular with curious buyers. Which will be music to the ears of Sónia Vieira, marketing director of Wines of Portugal, who explains to Richard Siddle Wines of Portugal’s strategy to help grow Portuguese wines sales in the UK.