Over the last few weeks The Buyer has been looking at what steps restaurants, wine buyers and sommeliers are taking to make their wine lists more sustainable. Be it the actual wines they are buying, through to the producers they work, the regions they come from. Is it time for the premium on-trade to be taking sustainable wine far more seriously? James Nathan at Pull The Cork certainly thinks so. In fact the business has been set up just to trade in sustainable wine. Here he explains what he means by sustainable wine and offers some advice and tips to buyers on how they might want to adapt how they source wine to put sustainability further up the buying agenda.
One grape many aliases. In fact Kékfrankos or Blaufränkish goes by more names than a secret agent – in Germany it goes by the name Lemberger, in Austria Blaufränkisch, in Hungary Kékfrankos, then Frankovka Modrá, Burgund Mare and Modra Frankinia – the name changing with almost every bend of the Danube as it swings through Central and Eastern Europe. Elizabeth Gabay MW explores why this is one of Europe’s most important grapes and flags up Wines of Hungary’s Blue of the Danube tasting where you can discover first hand the quality and diversity of this ever-changing grape.
Crémant de Loire goes from strength to strength, quadrupling sales to the UK in just four years. Saumur Brut, on the other hand, is treading water largely held afloat by a small number of massive sellers on the French supermarket scene. Peter Dean travels to Saumur and visits Ackerman and Langlois-Chateau, the biggest players in the Crémant de Loire scene, and discovers why they still have a strong presence in the market two hundred years on from first producing ‘Saumur Champagne’ – and how their rich heritage bodes well for their increasingly firm footing in exports.
Ashes & Diamonds sounds like a long lost album that’s just been discovered from David Bowie, which is perhaps not too surprising as it is the name of the winery and wines made by Kashy Khaledi, who spent the first half of his career working first as an influential US music journalist, before becoming a major record producer and executive at the likes of Capital Records and MTV. He’s now looking to list what he sees as classic 60’s style Californian-style wines in premium UK restaurants through his importer Nekter Wines. Richard Siddle shares the story of one of California’s more colourful wine producers.
The seventh 1er Cru, or Erste Lagen, tasting of Austria’s finest wines took place earlier this month, as part of an overall drive to get a proper appellation system working in the country. Journalists such as our very own David Kermode travel to Grafenegg Castle, in Austria’s Danube Valley, to sample the new vintage releases and award scores from a giant ‘silent’ tasting that helps classify the wines as 1er Cru. This year there were more wines from the newly-expanded Österreichische Traditionsweingüter (ÖTW) whose chairman Michael Moosbrugger gave Kermode some insight into how the association’s expansion is progressing as well as an on-the-ground assessment of the 2018 vintage – one that Kermode selects 10 of the best from.
The London Wine Competition looks to assess and reward wines based on how consumers judge them. What they look like, how much they cost and what they taste like. Now into its third year of competition the event has proven to be a new platform for producers all over the world to show their wines not just to the trade, but to use any medals and awards won to then promote their wines direct to their customers and consumers. If you want to take part in this year’s competition you can register before September 30 and save £30 on the entrance fee. Here’s how…
Having concentrated on producing quality, traditional-method sparkling wine and getting that right, the British wine industry is now truly in a position of ascendancy, writes Justin Keay. Visiting Ridgeview, Bolney and Albourne, Keay gives a rundown on his favourite fizz but also discovers a whole raft of experimentation going on – both with grape varieties and styles of wine being made. What had for him been a summer of discontent, what with the Brexit shambles, had one ray of hope and that was British wine – now with the right quality, quantity and with the right expression of terroir to make the world sit up and listen.
Low/ No alcohol is the fastest growing drinks category – tapping into the growing teetotal trend amongst 18-24 year olds. Seedlip was the game changer and became the poster brand for Low/ No and, with the might of Diageo behind it, is now promising big things for Aecorn Apéritifs its new range of non-alcoholic aperitifs. But do they work? Former drinks inventor David Gluckman, test-tastes the 3-variant range with the premium on-trade in mind. But where does the flavour and ‘flanelling’ begin and end? Does Aecorn really justify a premium price tag? Where do the products sit compared to other products being launched onto the market? And where does Low/ No go from here?
Keynote speakers like Paul Mabray are right to point to consumer trends and mining customer data as a way forward for the wine industry in a digital age. The industry would do well to really embrace social media. But with so much emphasis in the wine industry now being put on being at the forefront of the digital media and e-marketing world, Mike Turner argues it’s worth remembering that easy wins can be had by finally bringing more of the reluctant members of the trade into the ‘dizzy sphere’ of the World Wide Web. On a recent press visit to the Médoc, half of the 36 producers visited don’t have websites and six didn’t have email addresses.
Whilst the classic spirits categories are more than standing up for themselves, with ever more innovative and crafted products in their own right, what the 2019 IWSC Spirits Awards demonstrated was just how global the spirits world has become. This year’s competition proved to be a breakthrough, at least in terms of trophies and medals, for growing spirits categories such as pisco, mezcal, baiju and shochu. Richard Siddle takes a look at the awards and picks out the key trends all spirits buyers need to be on top of.
For everyone in the wine trade it is your worst nightmare come true – the doctor tells you to give up alcohol for good. Sure, you can still smell, swirl and taste but drinking wine is strictly verboten. This is exactly what happened to Nekter Wine’s Imogen Taylor six months ago – one minute she was pouring wine at a tasting event the next minute she was in A&E with sepsis affecting her liver so badly it was touch and go. It doesn’t matter that the condition was not caused by alcohol, but alcohol cannot be part of her foreseeable future. So what does Taylor do with all those bottles in her flat, her wine friends and a life centred around alcohol? In this personal piece she looks at how she is going to cope living without alcohol in the wine trade.
Ten years ago the missing link in the parentage of Merlot, the world’s second most planted grape, was discovered growing up the side of a house in south west France. It was on the verge of extinction but has thankfully been saved. Christina Rasmussen explains why this is important for the preservation of our heritage as well as being a source of genetic diversity in the future. After all, in 2012 the 20 most prominent grape varieties in France accounted for 91% of vineyard area whereas in 1958 the same 20 accounted for 53%. Would we want just 20 ingredients in our kitchen? Rasmussen argues quite clearly not.
Unilever’s new chief executive Alan Jope told the Cannes marketing conference recently that it “will dispose of brands that we feel are not able to stand for something more important than just making your hair shiny or your skin soft”. But Reka Haros warns so-called purpose marketing is not for all and could actually damage a company or brand’s reputation if not done properly and for the right reasons. Here she explains why.
If you were writing a history of the premium on-trade and independent wine trade over the last 30 years then Les Caves de Pyrène would have to be at the heart it. For not only did it first introduce so many of the exciting, breakthrough and dynamic organic and natural wines that are now across the sector, it actually walked the walk and opened up its own successful wine bars and restaurants. So to save someone else the time, co-founder, Doug Wregg, who lives and breathes the company’s DNA, has written his own account of Les Caves and the wine word it has grown up in. Here he explains why he did it and shares one of the extracts from the book.
Who has over a million social media followers and can claim tens of thousands of pounds for just one post, but you have never heard of them? Welcome to the world of social media influencers. Whether we like the idea of them, or want to work with any of them, we can’t ignore them. Particularly if you want to get your drinks brand in front of the right target audience. Jackie Fast gives her own personal take on what it is like to be seen as an influencer, thanks to her time on BBC’s The Apprentice, the challenges of becoming one and, in this frank account, gives her five top tips on how to work best and get the most out of social media influencers.
It’s the way they tell ’em! You don’t need to be a stand up comedian to tell a good story about your business, but you need to learn how to capture your audience and talk to them in ways they are going to respond to on emotional and personal basis if they are going to remember you beyond the time you spend together. Here business coach and executive training expert, Nicole Soames, chief executive of Diadem Performance gives her top five tips on storytelling.
If you have a good idea once, then there’s no harm in repeating it. Which is why we are pleased to take this week’s trip down memory lane to when we asked different leading figures in the wine PR industry to name the campaign they were most of, and the PR campaign they wish they had done. Here Rosamund (known as ‘Roza’ to one and all) Barton of R&R Teamwork looked back on the launch of Champagne Taittinger’s first foray into English wine and the announcement it has bought a vineyard in Kent and was going to make its own English sparkling wine. It ended up being a PR triumph. She also singled out Hazel Murphy for her groundbreaking Australian UK trade trip as the campaign she wished she’d done.
With so many websites, magazines, newsletters and daily emails it can be more of a case of news overload when it comes to keeping up with what is happening in the world of wine. But how much of it is relevant or interesting to you? Inspired by weekly wrap-style podcasts from other sectors, MW students, Katie Canfield and Matthew Gaughan, have decided to offer a similar service for the wine industry with their new Wined Up Weekly podcast which is a short 10 to 15 minute round up of the stories, issues and debates they think are the most important. Here’s how they bring it all together.
If you work in the wine industry then Twitter has become the go to social media platform for lively debates, discussions and tos and fros about all things that are going on in wine on a daily basis. But if you are a regular Twitter user then you will have seen how some of that debate has turned somewhat in recent months into more than just a passionate sharing of views. Sorcha Holloway, who has built her own Twitter community through her weekly @ukwinehour, believes it is time we all take a collective look at ourselves and how we are behaving on social media and remember that Twitter is there to communicate rather than lecture, harass or worse.
While most festival goers at Glastonbury this year would be happy enough to find a drop of ice cold water, two years ago our intrepid contributor Chris Wilson went in search of a decent drop of wine (cue canned laughter). Chris set off, empty wine glass in hand, but the choice he found was mainly between Echo Falls and Pennard’s Organic English Wine from Somerset with very little else in-between. Surely a missed opportunity muses Chris. If you’re heading there this weekend, or if you’re watching it on telly with a crisp glass of Chablis in hand, read with mirth, Chris’s vain attempts to mix Glasto with nice vino.