Armit Wine has one of the most enviable portfolio lists in the business. MD Brett Fleming celebrates three years in charge this November, and its Autumn Portfolio Tasting gave the team (and those producers that could get away from harvest duties) the chance to showcase their wares to an expectant client base of private clients, restaurants, and well-heeled independents. We sent Mike Turner along to get a taste of what Armit has to offer.
“Pinotage is emblematic of our country and the region of Stellenbosch. As a variety it is also just at the beginning of its own journey.” That’s how South African wine academic Jonathan Steyn describes just how important Pinotage is not just to Stellenbosch but to the country as a whole. A grape variety that has long been misunderstood outside of South Africa, but is now gaining the respect it arguably deserves. Richard Siddle talks to some of the most influential Pinotage producers to find out just where they want to take Pinotage next.
Aiming to be fully-sustainable as a business is all well and good but how do you do it in the wine business exactly? Alliance Wine drew its line in the sand in September 2021 and since then has aligned its business practices with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals from work in the vineyard through to how finished wines are delivered – even picking a ‘no waste’ restaurant in which to hold its ‘In Our Nature’ tasting. Robert Mason was suitably impressed with what he saw at the tasting and picks 10 wines that all have their art in the right place.
“Now is the time to value old vines, in every sense. And the sessions have been developed to show why. To value old vines is not to hanker sentimentally for ye olde days of the hoe…we want to highlight how old vine fruit inspires and engages winemakers.” That’s the rallying call from Sarah Abbott MW, co-organiser and founder of the Old Vine Conference that holds its first in person event next month as part of its worldwide ambition to bring producers, winemakers and commentators together to discuss and analyse how collectively the wine industry can work with, protect and use old vines to make the wines of the future.
Go to virtually any major city in the world and there will be a thriving, if small, natural wine scene going on. But what about China? Has natural wine been able to make its mark in such a vast, fragmented country where it’s hard for even multinational wine brands to make their mark? Nichole Mao, partner at Nimbility, the Asian-based drinks brand development agency, investigates the natural wine scene in China to see what sort of grip, if any, it has taken on the still growing overall wine market.
The second ever Blue of the Danube tasting on 12th October, is an unique opportunity to explore Central Europe’s fantastic diversity of blue-skinned grapes in one place, with around 50 producers from seven countries showing their wines.
It’s a busy and significant time at Enotria&Coe as it celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this month and looks back on its achievements over half a century, as well as assessing how it is going to meet the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow. Part of that strategy is centred around taking its premium wine offer, and the services it can provide around it for busy sommeliers and on-trade buyers, to the next level. Which is why it’s a good time to catch up with John Graves, its new head of wine development, to get his take on a business he has re-joined and how he and his team are fully focused on making that strategy happen.
Spirits and fortified specialist Kate Hawkings found plenty to be impressed by at last week’s Specialist Brands portfolio tasting – liquids that were on-trend towards lighter long-drink styles and ones that play to the post-Covid stay-at-home-mixologist. She talks to all the key players, picks a Top 10 that definitely need your attention, plus highlights market innovations such as Boatyard’s 2.8 litre refill pouches of vodka and gin that help the on-trade save 25% over the same drink in bottle.
Although wine lovers the world over will be familiar with Wynns Coonawarra Estate and its iconic Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, this is still a misunderstood region, with the estate’s Michael Shiraz somewhat neglected. In a rare back vintage tasting which showed the three new flagship wines: Wynns John Riddoch 2019, Michael Shiraz 2018 and Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 against much older library wines, Justin Keay discovers, with the help of Wynns winemaker Sarah Pidgeon, what makes Wynns tick and how the wine styles are changing.
However much Stellenbosch wants to look forward, its future also lies in its past and the traditions and knowhow that enable so many of the innovations taking place in the region to happen. None more so than in the role of old vines in helping winemakers rediscover, and bring back to life varieties and plots of land that have gone unloved for many years. In the latest article from The Buyer’s Stellenbosch Business Report, Richard Siddle assesses just what impact old vines are having on modern winemaking in Stellenbosch.