“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.
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.