The situation surrounding the impact and spread of Covid-19 in the UK and around the world is changing so fast The Buyer has set up this rolling updates service to keep you abreast of the latest official guidelines and recommendations from the government, but also the individual steps that businesses are taking to keep trading and help their customers do the same. Today’s round-up includes last minute reprieve for South African harvest; Pernod Ricard’s major Drinks Trust donation; full furlough guidelines confirmed; Star Wine List’s offer to sommeliers.
For all the efforts everyone in the drinks industry is taking to do what they can to keep sales going and products flowing they all rely on the smooth running of the global drinks distribution business. With so many lockdowns in countries across the world, the situation is becoming more complex to keep on top. To provide the trade with the latest information, global logistics provider, Hillebrand has released the latest data on the supply chain conditions in all the main countries around the world.
As the on-trade has effectively shut down across large parts of Europe, South America and now the United States, in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, it has left thousands of restaurant staff, sommeliers, and bartenders in limbo and stuck at home. The latest online Real Business of Wine Forum talked to senior sommelier figures to see what advice they had to keep their colleagues active, occupied, or, better still, to help find new ways to make money.
As we all come to terms with the enormity of the coronavirus outbreak around the world, The Buyer is looking to play its part by sharing practical information about what the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors are being asked to do, along with individual stories of what businesses are doing to support each other through what are going to be come increasingly difficult times. Here’s our update on the latest situation and what steps businesses are taking now and could do in the future.
In the first part of our report on the debate The Buyer held to discuss what leading wine buyers, merchants and restaurateurs think about the possibilities for Prosecco DOCG in the premium on-trade, we looked at how and why more outlets might list different styles of Prosecco Superiore. Here we give the time and space for those buyers to go into more detail and share their thoughts on how sparkling wine is performing in general and the opportunities they think that Prosecco DOCG has on restaurant wine lists in the future.
Although still somewhat immature as a wine category, German rosé has almost doubled in production over the past decade – up to 12% of all German wine production. Because German Pinot Noir is the third highest planting of the variety worldwide we can expect to see a lot more of German rosé, writes Simon Field MW, especially with so many quality winemakers making both high-end and commercial, populist styles. On a press trip entitled Think Pink! Field was introduced to a plethora of wines that showed many of the issues facing German rosé – most notably name and style – as it strives to forge its own identity in this fascinating category.
The hardest job for any wine producer, no matter how prestigious or respected, is getting their wines in front of the right buyers who can ultimately make the difference in getting their wines on to the lists of the restaurants and bars that really matter. That’s what The Buyer’s Case project does. Link producers looking to build distribution in the premium on-trade and specialist retail sector with key buyers in those channels. Here’s how major French producer, Boisset FGV worked with The Buyer on its own Buyer’s Case initiative.
It was a first for Moët & Chandon. A tasting in which, to demonstrate in detail how its rosé Champagnes are made, it presented to the press every style of red wine it uses in the various cuvées. Anne Krebiehl MW hears from Benoît Gouez, chef de cave, why rosé used to only be available as a vintage wine and how, through thermovinification, Moët & Chandon has not only managed to reduce the amount of red wines needed in its rosés, but has allowed the house to achieve tender, aperitif-like rosé Champagne. Krebiehl analyses the red wines, and tastes the current release of Rosé Imperial NV to see why it has relatively recently become the market leader.
The inaugural One Step Beyond conference, organised by The Buyer and Sophie Jump, was an event designed to take the drinks industry outside its comfort zone and expose it to the big changes in consumer behaviour that are taking place in all our other areas of life and the huge advances in smart technology that are driving them. To help delegates really get to grips with the changes that are the most relevant to them and their businesses, the conference combined keynote talks from experts in the most transformative areas, such as ecommerce, voice search, digital, design and packaging, with the personal experiences of leading figures within the drinks industry who have a track record of succeeding in tackling these changes head on in their own companies. Ahead of a full report from the conference, run in partnership with the WSTA, here are the top line highlights from what was a breakthrough day.
Where would the UK on-trade have been in the last few years without the saving graces of rosé and sparkling wine? Both have been able to buck the trend of declining wine sales to bring excitement and innovation to wine lists. Which has also been good news for France, with so much of the consumer demand coming for the light pale pink rosés synonymous with Provence and other major French regions. But what else can we expect from the French rosé category? Where else can buyers go to source the wines their customers want? To help find out The Buyer teamed up with Business France to hold a debate with leading UK on-trade buyers and importers and the chance for them to meet and taste wines from producers looking to find their own way into the UK market. In this first of a two part report we assess what leading distributors and merchants think of French rosé general and then drill down into the opportunities from different regions.
There must have been some nerves behind the scenes when the powers that be opened the doors for the inaugural joint Wine Paris and Vinexpo trade fair in Paris earlier this month. In the end they need not have worried as exhibitors and buyers alike embraced the two shows and gave them their solid approval. Clearly there is a long way to go before this exhibition becomes more than essentially a French wine event with bits and bobs from other counties bolted on, but it’s the corporate power behind Wine Paris/Vinexpo that really makes the future look very exciting…and might eventually get ProWein looking over its shoulder as well.
“It feels like we are working together as one business. Not like they are a supplier or operator working for us.” As compliments go for a national drinks distributor working with a new customer they don’t get much better than that. But that’s how Jayson Perfect, managing director for pubs and inns at the Liberation Group, particularly strong in the Channel Islands and the West Country through the Butcombe Brewing Co, describes its relationship with Bibendum since they first started working together in June last year.
Looking at the past winners is one indication of a competition’s value, but arguably so are its judges. Who are the people tasked with making the decisions about which drinks win an award? It’s why the three London drinks competitions, London Wine, London Beer and London Spirits – only works with managers, buyers, sommeliers and bartenders that are professionally working in retailers, bars, restaurants and pubs.
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.
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.
OK before you read any further, it’s time to manage expectations. This report does not tell you what the next Prosecco or Pinot Grigio is going to be. But what it does do is provide the insight and the analysis into understanding the consumer and why wine sales in the on-trade were down a further 6% last year. It also explains in detail the steps needed to make wine less of a daunting drinks category for consumers to navigate and how the answer to reviving wine sales actually comes in how it is promoted, talked about, presented and served.
In March The Buyer, together with Sophie Jump and the WSTA, is looking to do something very different for the drinks industry. Hold a one day conference that is 100% focused not on the individual wine, beer and spirits categories and the specific product trends within them, but on the consumers that we might want to drink them. An event that is instead dedicated to the huge changes taking place to consumer behaviour and our potential attitudes to alcoholic drinks and the new smart, connected technology that is driving them. To give you a taste of what to expect here is James Harmer of Touch Design, the brand design and packaging agency, on the challenges and opportunities facing all brand owners, producers and retailers when it comes to making ever more sustainable, relevant, challenging and consumer friendly products that work from a manufacturing, design and packaging point of view. We might not all be able to hire George Clooney to then sell what we come up with, but we could all do with the sort of transformative packaging and design solution that Nespresso has done to the coffee market.
This week was the inaugural Barcelona Wine Week, a show designed to show off the very best in Spanish wine and clearly one that was ‘thinking big’ from the outset, says David Kermode. In this insightful piece, Kermode assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the show, talks to its chairperson Javier Pagés about the show’s ambition and selects 10 of his top wines from the event, ranging from a zero SO2 Garnaxta to a Cava that is the best one he has ever tried. Oh, and he may have had a few bits of tapas along the way.
The People’s Choice Wine Awards are unique. They are worth going to even if you are not up for an award. Where else can you go to a wine awards evening in the same clothes you were wearing in the day? Get the chance to sample all the finalists wines with a glass in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other. These are the awards for the people, organised by those who put having fun at the top of the agenda for a night out. But it’s also a chance to reward wines that have been tasted and voted for by the consumers who buy them.
“We’ll bounce back. That’s what we do.” That was also the clear message driven home at an emotional press conference at today’s Wine Australia annual trade tasting in London as senior figures from the generic body, including marketing chief, Stuart Barclay, and head of the UK and Europe, Laura Jewell MW, explained the harsh reality of the devastating impact the wild bush fires have had on some areas of the Australian wine community. Thankfully the overall damage has been limited to some areas, mainly in the Adelaide Hills, but where the fires have struck the impact on wineries and the surrounding communities has been total. Richard Siddle reports.