Is there a more misunderstood wine category than Prosecco? It might top all the best selling charts, but it is too often dismissed or taken seriously by some professional wine buyers. To help get to know not only the beautiful region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, but to explore the different quality tiers of Prosecco and the potential they have in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with leading Prosecco brand, Mionetto, and its UK partner Copestick Murray, to host a study tour with key buyers and influencers of the area and the city where Prosecco truly comes to life – Venice.
It might seem strange to talk about confidence when it comes to winemaking – have you ever met a winemaker who does not think they make good wine? But when it comes to a country’s collective confidence about the wines they make then that’s a different story. Particularly in South Africa. A country whose recent political and social history means as a nation it is still very much on the back foot. Take its wine industry, which for most of the last 20 plus years has been too quick to accept the pricing demands of the international market which has meant it has been its bulk, mass volume rather than its premium wines that it has become globally famous for. Not any more. South Africa is now producing quality, world class wines at all price points to suit all tastes, and, whisper it gently, is finding the confidence, the identity and the belief to demand the right prices for them.
Over the last 18 months wine harvests has been in the news for all the wrong reasons as newspaper headlines seized on the worst grape harvest in Europe since the early 1960s with headlines of “devastation” and “disaster” for all involved. There was even concerns there would not be enough wine to fill our supermarket shelves. The reality saw buyers switch their areas of supply and turn to those who had got grapes, which meant a big boost for East European wine producers who for some time have been knocking on the door for their wines to be taken more seriously. But with major European harvests on course to return to average what will happen to the wineries that helped plug the gaps?
There really is no other wine producing country like South Africa. Its unique political and recent social history means this is not a country that makes wine just because it can. It does so to also help the viability, the prosperity and the future of all those who work in it with a series of world leading sustainability and ethical trading codes that truly sets its apart. Richard Siddle reports back from last week’s Cape Wine where that message sang out loud and clear.
The wine purist might not like to admit it, but the wine industry would not be an industry at all if it was not for bulk wine. Be it moving grapes from growers to producers, or between wineries in the same country, or shipping vast containers to all corners of the world, bulk wine is the blood supply that keeps the wine sector alive. Here Helen Arnold explores the global bulk wine trends that will set the agenda for this November’s 10th World Bulk Wine Exhibition.
For years China has been a country wine producers the world over have wanted to do business in, but have been put off by the bureaucracy and impenetrable supply chains that have made it so hard to do business there. All that is now set to change thanks to the scale, power and reach of the country’s major online retail giants, like Alibaba and JD.com that can source, sell and distribute producers’ wines to all corners of the country. Their influence is so large that they are also now attracting the world’s biggest international retailers looking to sell their products in China as well, reports Richard Siddle.
Whatever industry you focus on it’s the same old story. Women are paid less than men, their bonuses are smaller, their career prospects are more limited, they are less likely to get promoted, and have less faith in their abilities to reach the top. Which is why Helen Arnold was intrigued to find out what steps could be taken in the wine and spirits sector, and to hear directly from business leaders looking to improve matters and directly address gender equality at work, at the recent Women of the Vine & Spirits conference held in London.
After a year in which producers were in the unusual position of giving ‘take it or leave it prices’ for their grapes on the back of 2017’s bad European harvest, the roles are once again reversed as buyers find themselves once again calling all the shots as forecasts predict strong crops across the main wine producing powerhouses of Europe. Richard Siddle examines what that means for grape prices.
On the face of it Canada’s Okanagan Valley has it all. It has the location, the terroir and the climate for making outstanding, distinctive and premium wines. It also has its fair share of ambitious producers with owners prepared to make the necessary investment to make the most of those conditions. After all it’s one thing having the wines, it’s quite another convincing the world to buy them. In part two of his analysis of this fascinating wine region Richard Siddle assesses what styles of wine the producers are making and the outside expertise that is helping them produce it.
The quality of Hungarian oak has been improving steadily over the years with Europe’s two main oak species used in barrel-making, both in abundance. As our understanding grows about the effects that different growing conditions, terroirs and oak species has on wine barrels and the finished wine, so Caroline Gilby MW maintains that the focus is increasingly being put on selling oak by species rather than by forests or tightness of grain.
It seems anything that a premium spirits brand does is touched with gold, particularly if you happen to be able to put a coloured gin in a fancy bottle. Alistair Morrell examines what lessons wine brands, retailers and restaurants can learn from how well spirits continues to find new ways to excite and engage with more consumers.
We are told time and again that the wine trade needs genuine stories to bring the category alive. In that case Canada’s Okanagan Valley should be one of the most talked about wine regions in the world such are the array of characters and personalities each with own unique tale and take on life – and that’s just the seven producers who make up the Okanagan Wine Initiative. In fact there’s so much for Richard Siddle to report on here’s part one of his two part analysis.
In an extensive trip through Germany, predominantly dedicated to Riesling and Pinot Noir, Christina Rasmussen uncovers soils, clones and the people fiercely dedicated to their soils’ expressions of wine (while all the while expanding her own rock collection). In the first of her 3-part series on Germany, Rasmussen explores German Pinot Noir/ Spätburgunder through site, clones and the winemaker’s hand and asks ‘what is the true identity of German Pinot Noir’?
With all the major European wine producing countries predicting a return to healthy or above average harvests in 2018, buyers are going to be holding all the cards again when it comes to choosing where they go for their supplies. So it makes it even more important they are on top of the latest bulk wine and market trends. Next March’s second IBWSS show in London hopes to provide some of those answers. Here’s how you can take advantage of early bird pricing to exhibit or attend the two day conference.
Perceptions about Vinho Verde are changing – for the better not for worse. For starters, Portugal’s celebrated white wine is not green, second, the wines are becoming more complex and diverse, the result of recent investment and innovation. As wine drinkers around the world start to pick up on these changes so the value of the Vinho Verde export market is increasing, doubling in recent years to €60m in value. David Kermode visits Vinho Verde, has many of his preconceptions confounded, and learns of the many interesting developments that are making this a region that is very much in vogue.
Sherry might be one of the most traditional drinks on a back bar or wine list, but for many drinkers, both young and old, it is also something new to discover. The Copa Jerez competition that invites both chefs and sommeliers to come together and create specially devised menus to be both cooked and served with sherry is just one of the initiatives that is looking to take sherry to more people, both within the on-trade, and their customers.
If the media forecasters are right then the majority of our internet searches will be done with the power, and authority, of our own voice as home voice assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Alex become as familiar in our kitchens as a kettle and toaster. But what does this mean for brand owners and retailers alike? Richard Siddle looks at the threats and opportunities that voice search presents.
In the first part of our analysis of what leading merchants and distributors think of the Italian wine category the overall summary was pretty conclusive: you won’t find a more exciting or value for money wine producing country in the world. This time round we dig a little deeper to look at the impact Prosecco has had on Italian wine in general, prospects for other Italian sparkling wines and we drill down into the price points that are really driving demand for Italian wine.
If you’re looking at your wine list and wondering where you can squeeze a little more growth, a bit more margin, and add a lot more excitement to what you have on offer, here’s a bit of advice. Not from ourselves, but from leading wine buyers some of the country’s most respected national distributors. Open your list, turn to your Italian selection and concentrate all your efforts there. For if you want to find what these buyers call the “most exciting” and the “best quality and value for money wines” in the world then Italy potentially has it all. Providing you know where to look. Here’s their advice in part one of our two part analysis of what they are sourcing for their Italian wine lists, and, most importantly, what’s selling.
As the cream of the football world gets narrowed down to just eight in the World Cup, today is a day to celebrate the 18 countries that have either been awarded a Gold or Silver medal in what is the fifth year of the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships. With all entries tasted blind by the same three judges it’s all about the quality about what is in the glass rather than how good it might sound on paper. Here’s who has won what…