In the third of our debates, held in partnership with the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) to help mark Bourgogne Week, we look at the extraordinary rise in e-commerce during 2020 and how the impact of Covid-19 has been an opportunity like no other for independent merchants and wine producers to maximise their online sales. Richard Siddle helps chair a debate with John Townend, managing director of House of Townend, the Yorkshire based wine merchants, and Manoël Bouchet, director general of Maison Roche de Bellene the négociant business in the heart of Beaune, and vice president of marketing and development commission for the BIVB.
We continue our Onwards & Upwards series featuring key figures in the drinks and hospitality sectors that are now embarking on new roles and opportunities in the industry with the highly experienced sales director, Tom Surgey. Most recently at Ridgeview and with live presenting gigs for BBC Good Food and Three Wine Men coming out of his ears, Tom’s work came to a crashing halt with the pandemic. Here he talks about how he coped and then hooked up with Tristram Coates –devising a new style agency called Glass Half Full, that aims to bring an innovative approach to the industry.
“The last 10 months have not been the cocktail- and cigar-fuelled haven I had planned, but rather a psychological assault course that has left all of us in this industry battered…and some of us already broken.” This is the deeply personal, and at times harrowing account, of what it has been like as a South African winemaker, producer and employer of 100s of desperate employees during the Covid-19 pandemic in a country that continues to ban the sale of any alcohol to devastating effect. We implore you to read Bruce Jack’s unique take on not just the impact of Covid-19, but what it means for the long term future of our wine industry, and us as individuals and human beings.
Villages like Saint-Romain and Saint-Aubin, Maranges and Marsannay were never that high up on the ‘must-have’ list of most self-respecting Burgundy buyers in the past, but how times are changing, argues Sebastian Thomas, director and buyer of Howard Ripley. These wines from more humble locations, and those from the Hautes-Côtes, can be quite brilliant and as generous and balanced as Premier Cru wines were 30 years ago. There are even signs that the hierarchy of classification is threatened, he says.
The second of our three debates, held in partnership with the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB), to help mark #BourgogneWeek examines the relationship between key specialist wine importers and the producers they work with in such an important region as Bourgogne. To help us we turned to Jason Haynes, co-founder of Flint Wines, widely regarded as one of the most important Bourgogne players in the UK market, and Thibault Marion, owner of artisan producer, Domaine Seguin-Manuel, in Savigny-lès-Beaune.
The People’s Choice Wine Awards is the first competition out of the traps in 2021 to announce its finalists in this year’s competition. Once again the awards stand out as they include both everyday wine drinkers as well as professional trade judges in deciding who should be on the shortlists in each category. This year’s competition included both in person judging when it was possible and virtual judging. Here is event founder Janet Harrison to explain how this awards have gone with links to all the wine finalists and a chance for you to vote for the finalists in the Retail award categories.
LM Archer travels to Beaune to meet François Labet, one of the pioneers of organic viticulture in Burgundy, and the largest producer of Clos Vougeot Grand Cru. His two estates, Domaine Pierre Labet and Château De La Tour, are not just about making premium, iconic wines, however, his outstanding value Vielles Vignes Pinot Noir outsells the nearest other red Burgundy that Bidendum sells, by three to one. Archer hears first-hand about Labet’s minimalist approach to both viticulture and winemaking and samples a range of his wines, including the Corsican Pinot that he makes under his own name.
The impact of Covid-19 has thrown the drinks and hospitality sectors together like never before. Although on the one hand it has been incredibly tough for so many businesses and individuals it has also been a year of inspiration and collaboration as people and companies have come together for the greater good. The launch of the new Trust Water brand is a perfect example of our times. The work of three former colleagues who have joined forces to use their drinks industry expertise to create a brand they hope can raise at least £500,000 for The Drinks Trust. Richard Siddle finds out how.
Against all the odds, a solitary one-man Armit team has been visiting its vignerons to bring us insight direct from Burgundy. Nicolas Clerc MS was in the fortuitous position of holidaying in France and, by a stroke of luck and timing, was able to make that crucial diversion to the Route des Grands Crus. Having tasted a comprehensive range of Burgundy 2019, Clerc brings us the inside view into what is proving to be one of the most singular vintages that Burgundy has experienced in recent decades.
We mark the start of Bourgogne Week with a key industry online debate hosted by The Buyer and the BIVB (Bourgogne Wine Board) with leading importers and key figures in the UK wine industry, who discuss the key issues facing Bourgogne going into 2021 with BIVB president and producer, Louis-Fabrice Latour. In this wide ranging discussion the panel looks at how they responded to the challenges of Covid-19, the steps they took to continue working with their key Bourgogne producers and how this classic French region goes into 2021 with the UK as once again its number one export market.