One of the hottest tickets for a tasting this week was a relatively modest affair in Charing Cross’s Terroirs restaurant. The reason? Here was an opportunity to taste some 30 wines from the Savoie, Bugey, Isère, Hautes-Alpes and the Clairette de Die wine regions. With grapes used such as Mondeuse, Mollard, Persan and Etraire de la Dhui it was a sommeliers’ dream and a rare opportunity to taste a collection of these wines under one roof. Wink Lorch, who has just written a book on the subject called Wines of the French Alps orchestrated the event and here tells Peter Dean how you should go about discovering the wines of the region.
The pace of change within the drinks industry is now so fast it can be hard to predict what is going to be on back bars and on wine lists next month never mind for the next 12 months. But if anyone can then it is national drinks distributor Bibendum which has been brave enough to stick its neck out and pick out the Top 10 drinks trends it believes we will all be talking about, buying and selling in 2020.
If you have just commissioned some research to only look at how you can attract more and engage with millennial consumers then you might want to look away now. For, according to Joe Fattorini you’re wasting your money. Here, with highlights from his insightful and entertaining talk at last week’s wine2wine event in Verona, Richard Siddle explains why pooling consumers together just by their age is not the way to understand how they might behave, least of all what sort of wines they might want to buy.
It seems everyone you meet in the wine industry has an opinion about Vinexpo. And these opinions vary considerably – often down to the experience they have just had at one of the many other international wine fairs being held globally. Vinexpo has a legacy and an international footprint, however, its image over the last couple of years has taken a bit of a battering, particularly around last year’s show in Bordeaux. Which is around the time that its new chief executive, Rodolphe Lameyse, joined the business. Seven months on and he is more than ready to meet the challenge of turning around this global brand. Here he shares his new vision for Vinexpo with Richard Siddle, which is effectively going back to its roots by offering leading buyers the best quality, most effective trade exhibition for premium wine and spirits, with an experience they will look forward to going back to the following year.
Having the opportunity to go to California and meet over 100 producers in an intense five days of tasting doesn’t come around too often. But it proved to be an invaluable exercise for the group of leading wine buyers from both the UK and Irish on and off-trade markets. In Part One of our report we looked at their general feedback on why they wanted to go on such a trip. Here in Part Two we drill down into what they really thought of the wines and the opportunities of giving them a chance in the markets over here.
Bulk wine is a sector that you cannot afford to ignore, representing an ever-increasing proportion of all the wine traded and shipped around the globe and is now a category worth an annual £3.5bn a year. Which is why next week’s World Bulk Wine Exhibition is for some the two most important days of the year. A time when the majority of bulk wine is traded, contacts are made and contracts are placed. It will once again bring a part of the wine industry together that for some operates in parallel universe to the world of premium wine. But one that is increasingly having an influence on how wine buyers source their wine. It is, as Helen Arnold, explains also the chance for insiders to get a 360-degree vision of what the bulk wine industry has to offer.
With wine being made in virtually every region of Italy there is certainly plenty of choice for professional buyers to choose from. But what are the grape varieties, styles and regions that are selling the most on wine lists across the country? That was the theme up for debate as top importers and wine merchants came together at the recent Bellavita Expo in London to not just assess the merits of Italian wine, but what opportunities there are to source wine from both the established and emerging countries right across the Mediterranean. Richard Siddle looks back on the key issues and conclusions made by the buyers.
“The DNA of your company should dictate how you approach the market…The key to China is to get your strategy right and it takes a lot of work and time.” That’s how Marcus Ford, head of Wines of South Africa in China, believes is the right way forward for any producer looking to have serious long-term success in what the most well placed consultants believe will become the biggest wine market in the world. Richard Siddle takes a deep dive into the different options producers can take to build a sustainable and profitable business in China.
After watching and listening to much of the political debate that has taken part in the UK over the last couple of years then you might question the theory that “it’s good to talk”. It certainly helps if the people you are talking to are actually listening and open to what you are saying. Which is what makes next week’s wine2wine conference in Verona particularly exciting as it really does promise to be a meeting of minds of people wanting to shake up, disrupt and challenge the wine industry to do even more in tackling some of its biggest issues. Richard Siddle looks at what is on offer.
If you are a wine buyer for a leading importer, restaurant group, or independent merchant then there are times of the year when you are no doubt spoilt for choice with invitations to go and visit different regions and countries. But which are ones are going to be the most useful, effective and important to your buying needs? It’s what made the recent California Wine Institute event for leading UK and Irish buyers so different. And relevant. Rather than take a group of buyers on a bus around a select group of producers, the Institute brought the producers to the buyers for a series of back to back tastings hosted in the same venue. It meant the busy buyers were able to see over 100 wineries across five days of intensive tasting and take a deep dive into the kind of wines being made across the state. What’s more the producers did not currently have distribution in the UK or Ireland, or both, and had to have wines, with volume, that could the hit the main commercial to mid premium price points. The Buyer’s Richard Siddle, who helped to identify and recruit some of the buyers invited, was also there to get an insider’s take on how it all came together.
Phylloxera. Just saying the word out loud will send winemakers running to the hills. Whilst it might be a thing of the past in Europe, phylloxera is a clear and present danger in Australia with every region fearful of an outbreak. The tiny insect that devastated Europe’s vineyards in the 19th century, reached, for example, the Yarra Valley in Australia in 2006. The only way of beating the plant-killing louse is to graft European vines onto resistant American rootstock, an expensive solution but one that presents opportunities for grape growers, as Peter Ranscombe found out during a recent visit.
It’s a little unusual to find yourself being constantly stopped by fellow visitors at a wine trade show and being asked why you are asking questions to the producers showing their wines. When you reply you are a journalist wanting to find out why and how they are working in China, the same visitors are only then too keen to share their experiences, explain how they buy and sell wine and exactly what they think of the wines they are tasting. It is just like nowhere else you might visit. It is the Chinese wine market that, for my first visit, was exciting, dynamic and a breath of fresh air. In the first of two reports from the inaugural Vinexpo Shanghai, The Buyer examines the key trends, opportunities and challenges facing producers looking to succeed in the Chinese wine industry.
There are a select, and shortening list of wine regions and styles that are a must for any wine list. A list that has Rioja firmly placed on it. One of the Old World’s most traditional wine regions, it has been able to reach parts of consumers wine psyche that other regions can only dream of. But how does it keep its place in the sun? Will the new relaxed regulations to allow producers to make wines from specific sub-areas add or subtract to Rioja’s appeal? To find out Richard Siddle helped host two panels featuring leading buyers from across the on and off-trades at the recent Wines from Rioja 10×10 tasting.
Double the number of entries, over 70 judges, the majority of which are average wine drinkers and a bigger number of shortlisted wines. The People’s Choice Wine Awards are on a march. Now into its third year, the competition that literally lives up to its name, shows there is plenty of excitement and enthusiasm amongst everyday wine drinkers to get involved in an event that is all about championing wines the average consumers want to drink. Richard Siddle assesses the ins and outs of the shortlist for the 2020 People’s Choice Wine Awards.
Forget New York, Shanghai or Dubai. If you are looking to build your business around the world then it is time to change your perspective away from the fastest growing cities of the past and instead take a serious look at the various economies across the continent of Africa. At least according to the latest financial assessments from leading bank, Standard Chartered that singles out the Ivory Coast as the country and economy to watch. Richard Siddle explains why.
The demographics and psychographics of the Low & No-alcohol market were the main focus of the world’s first Lo and No Beverage Summit held in London last week, which was attended by most of the major players in this fast-growing drinks sector – Diageo’s Distill Ventures group, Pernod-Ricard, Fever-Tree and AB InBev amongst others. Former drinks inventor and author, David Gluckman, was there for The Buyer to pick up on the ideas from some of the ‘early adopters’ who were presented at the summit, hear about legal definitions, CBD and why 29% more is spent at Wetherspoon’s on coffee than at Pret-A-Manger. But was there enough on the actual products themselves?
There are not many – if any – wine events like wine2wine. That’s the point. Now into its sixth year this two-day event in Verona, Italy has become a key event in the calendar for those serious about getting on top of the key business issues facing the global wine industry, looking specifically at the influence and importance of technology and communications. Described as a cross between a conference and a think-tank it attracts top speakers from around the world. This year The Buyer will be on hand as a media partner sharing the highlights and insights. Here’s what to expect.
There are many special tastings in the world of wine and many special bottles – some of them with plenty of bottle age. But the tasting that took place three days ago in Epernay was in the realm of ‘I was there’. 119 years after its cellars collapsed Champagne Pol Roger opened the first two intact bottles it had managed to retrieve from the rubble of the 1900 catastrophe. So what would be inside the bottles? sludge? vinegar? surely not drinkable Champagne? Peter Dean was there to witness the preparation, painstaking disgorgement and taste the two wines, one most likely from 1897, the second from 1895 – the first vintage that was bought by Winston Churchill.
As someone who was born and grown up in Canada’s Okanagan Valley, Jackie Fast is well placed to have seen how far it has grown and developed as a serious wine region in its own right over the last 20 plus years. As she says she has “watched first” hand to see how the quality of wine and the investment being made in the region has elevated the Okanagan to a level she believes can now give even the illustrious Napa Valley a run for its money.
It’s a nice problem to have. Too many people, countries, importers, restaurants and sommeliers want to get more than the fair share of your wines. So how do you juggle who gets what in a situation where you are running out of land to make a lot more wine. That’s the situation that New Zealand now finds itself in as global demand is increasing so fast it is starting to struggle to keep up. Richard Siddle assesses the opportunities and challenges the country faces in the coming years.