The latest round of medals to be released by the International Wine & Spirit Competition shows, once again, just how diverse and wide ranging the event has become with Kenya, Bolivia and India amongst those picking up medals in the Southern Hemisphere part of the competition. Which is very much part of the wider IWSC strategy to open the awards and make it relevant and important to emerging as well as traditional wine producing countries. Here we pick out the highlights from the New World medal winners in the 2019 competition.
With mounting pressure across all retail and on-trade groups to be able to manage rising costs better it is not surprising to hear of so many moves to collaborate and consolidate resources. Be it joint alliances to help with buying in non-competing areas, like we see amongst independent merchants and the Vindependents and other wine buying groups across the country, through to much bigger collaborations between multinational retailers and groups. It’s why we are seeing so many bigger, centralised buying functions emerging, like the recent news that Aldi is making wine a key part of its new, enhanced global group buying function. But what does that all mean to the wine fixture and what choice is ultimately available to the end consumer? Richard Siddle delves into the world of “streamline buying” and retailer and brand collaboration that is all meant to help us buy and sell better.
Beaujolais might appear at first to be a strange choice for Vinexpo to host its third Explorer event, inviting up to 100 buyers from all over the world to discover and explore a wine region that up to now has not had the international focus. But whilst Beaujolais might be so well known, how relevant and important has it been to major international buyers over the last five to 10 years? This was a chance to help them see a new, rejuvenated Beaujolais, with so many new wines and styles to show. David Kermode was there for The Buyer, equally inquisitive to see how this new Beaujolais would perform.
For understandable reasons the majority of drinks companies, particularly those producing household wine brands, like to keep their political feelings to themselves and instead rely on their respective trade association bodies to do any direct lobbying for them. Until now. The seemingly endless strategy of any government to continue to increase duty on alcohol is forcing drinks companies to take action. When the wine industry was singled out for a tax increase in last year’s Budget it was seen as a bridge too far. It resulted in the launch of the Wine Drinkers UK campaign, a wine industry-backed campaign, that calls for wine to be treated the same as any other drinks category. Richard Siddle talks to two of its biggest members, Michelle Brampton of Treasury Wine Estates and Simon Doyle of Concha y Toro about what they hope it can achieve.
In the first part of our review of the recent debate held by Jascots Wine Merchants into how restaurants can run more sustainable wine lists we looked at the different ways operators are looking to tackle sustainability in their venues and how open they were to extending successful existing schemes into wine. Here in our second part we look at some of the more practical steps that restaurants are taking and, in particular, which sustainable packaging formats are most suitable and most likely to succeed in the on-trade.
Arguably the biggest achilles heel of the drinks industry, and particularly the complex category of wine, is keeping on top of consumer trends, changes in behaviour and the power of the new technologies that are driving them. Today The Buyer is linking up with the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and Jump Start to launch a new conference that will focus on the disruptive and essential trends, innovations and technology that the drinks industry needs to be on top of for future sales, marketing, branding and communications. The 2020 – One Step Beyond conference will look to provide a platform for trends and technology experts outside the industry to share their insights with key decision makers across beers, wines and spirits. The event, which takes place in March 2020, will also give drinks businesses, retailers, and on-trade operators of all sizes practical steps and ideas they can introduce in their own businesses. Here’s what to expect.
“All of which leaves the trade with one conclusion – that government doesn’t understand the value of the UK wine industry.” A pretty damning statement to make at any time, but particularly so when that same industry faces up to what are the widely accepted disastrous consequences of a no deal Brexit. But that was just one of a series of accusations and punches thrown by Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association at its annual summit in London last week. Richard Siddle was there to hear Beale in blistering form as he ripped up the usual diplomatic trade association rule book and came out firing at the potential damage the current government is doing to the wine and spirits industry.
Considering the world of winemaking has a gravitational pull towards France it’s a wonder that Paris has not been seen as the ideal host for wine events and exhibitions. OK, it does not make wine itself, but it is one of the most important and influential markets and who does not like the opportunity to go to Paris? It was therefore no surprise that when Wine Paris was launched earlier this year it was an immediate success. The time has come to start to prepare for the second Wine Paris that takes place in February 2020 with an even bigger focus on organic and environmental wines. Here’s what to expect.
The canned wine market has been jumping up and down on the fringes of the mainstream wine market for some time. Never really getting the attention it thinks it deserves. But now with a combination of consumers and the drinks industry alike looking again at what packaging formats they want, and a step change in the quality of wine being put in a can then it looks like this could become a new category that all channels of the wine market are going to have to take seriously.
Anyone lucky enough to have chosen Italy for their summer holiday this year has probably come back home thwarted and frustrated that you can’t re-create the quality of the food and wine you can find in every nook and cranny of the country. Which is where Bellavita Expo comes. A trade show dedicated to showcasing the best importers in the UK of the finest Italian produce and wines that can make those holiday dreams come true back here in the UK. It’s a show that started life in London, but is now hosted in 10 countries around the world. Here’s what you can expect from this November’s show.
It seems every forward looking, on trend restaurant now has sustainability at the core of its business with well publicised commitments about why, where and how it sources all its produce, meat and fish in its kitchen. But when it comes to the drinks list and, in particular, wines that are being shipped from all over the world, how important or relevant is sustainability to the restaurateurs, operators, F&B managers and sommeliers buying them? Do their customers care more about the traceability of the food they eat, than the wines they drink? Jascots Wine Merchants believes it is time that buying and sourcing wine should also be part of the on-trade’s sustainability agenda. In the first of a two part report, Richard Siddle looks back on a recent debate Jascots held with a number of its on-trade customers to see how it can help them put together more sustainable wine lists.
The latest CGA on-trade report, published in association with The Buyer, goes to parts of the world wine industry that individual businesses cannot reach. For as well as you might be looking at your own sales data, and that of your customers, it only tells you your side of the story. CGA’s new ‘Global Origins and Price Polarisation’ report is a deep dive into which countries are the most popular – with the Old World still coming out top over the New World – and the fact consumers are now growing in confidence enough to spend more on wines they know are going to be of better quality.
It’s like a magic wand has been waved across the Californian wine industry. If you had held a debate with buyers, importers and sommeliers even five years ago about the opportunities for California in the premium on-trade then it would have been all about the reasons why they are not looking to bring those wines into the UK. Now it is a completely different story. Which was very much the tone of the recent debate hosted by The Buyer and California Wine Institute with key figures from across the importer, buyer, sommelier scene in the premium on-trade.
Distill Ventures doesn’t have holding music when you call it up. It does not quite cut the image of the world’s first hip and happening spirits drinks accelerator company. But if it did then The Pet Shop Boys lyrics “I’ve got the brains, You’ve got the looks, Let’s make lots of money” would be perfect. For that, in a nutshell, is what Distill Ventures does. Admittedly with Diageo’s money. Founded in 2013 it finds start up drinks brands it believes have what it takes to make it on a global scale. If its partner, Diageo, agrees, then it gets the green light to use Diageo funding to help develop and build that brand up. To potentially the point when Diageo offers to make it part of its own portfolio. Like it already has done with the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits brand, Seedlip. But how does it work in practice? What makes a brand so unique and exciting that Distill Ventures would want to take it on? Co-founder Frank Lampen explains to Richard Siddle the step-by-step process it goes through before it’s prepared to share its “brains”, or “money” with any potential drinks entrepreneur.
One of our most popular summer features is re-posted here as part of our popular The Buyer Rewind series (well the Chief and Pete need to get to the beach at some point!). As soon as the hot weather hits us we all check to see how much rosé is in the fridge. Or head to the nearest bar to while away the evening in front of an ice bucket or two. But have you ever noticed how poor the rosé selection is on most wine lists? That has got to change says our resident MW Anne Krebiehl who looks at the skill required to manage rosé on wine lists. Too often rosé is subjected to tokenism on the average list, but by carefully choosing a wider range, and focusing on what customers are really looking for means that rosé could become a significant new revenue driver for a bar or restaurant.
The seven Aeolian islands – Salina, Lipari, Stromboli, Vulcano, Panarea, Filicudi and Alucudi – lie off the north-east coast of Sicily. Named after the Greek god of wind, Aeolius, they were formed by that slow collision of tectonic plates that also gave rise to neighbouring Vesuvius on the Italian mainland and to Etna on Sicily. It’s that history that lies behind the winemaking in this tiny Italian wine region. Kate Hawkings was delighted to be able to go and discover the islands for herself.
The French appellation system is notoriously strict and, some would argue, necessarily stringent in order to protect the uniqueness of a wine region. But what happens in an IGP where, comparatively speaking, ‘anything goes’? Pays d’Oc IGP which covers 120,000 hectares in the South of France prides itself on letting winemakers have almost total creative freedom, working with – count them – 58 different grape varieties and blending parcels from all across the region. Peter Dean travels through the region and talks to winemakers operating within the system about why, for contemporary winemaking, ‘liberty of style’ is so important for them.
There is a lot spoken and written about the wine industry’s inability to truly connect with more consumers about what wine is all about and why there is so much to discover if only people took the time to look. But why should they? Are they ever going to change the habits of a lifetime and not just see wine for what essentially it is. An alcoholic drink to enjoy with friends or on your own. That’s where Paul Mabray start his conversations about wine. If wine is truly going to connect with its target audience it needs to really understand what consumers do care about and that means getting deep, down and digital. Which is the message he delivered to great effect at this summer’s MUST Fermenting conference in Portugal.
With bumper harvests over the last year in most top bulk wine producing regions, like California, southern France, and New Zealand, global wine production is up and the flow of wine to various export markets is more fluid than ever. As a result, producers are looking for new ways to deal with the glut and off an on-trade accounts are looking to take advantage of the situation by maximising margins. Hence the rise in private label all over the world. Katie Canfield reports back from the recent International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show in San Francisco where private label, central to any producer’s bulk wine strategy, was one of the key themes of the event.
Given the comparative sizes of the Washington and Oregon wine regions, it is surprising that Washington wines are so hard to get hold of in the UK. Washington is the US’s second largest wine region, home to 1,000 winemakers producing 18 million cases of wine a year, and yet we seem to know more about Oregon and find their wines easier to get hold of – when they are a fraction of the size. David Kermode travels to Washington and talks to the leading winemakers there to try and uncover why such good wines are failing to make an inroad in the UK. One thing that importers here in the UK are recommending, is that Washington should take a leaf out of California’s book and look to invest in building a global brand; that and address the prices, which is also an issue.