On the face of it organic wines can do no wrong. They tick all the environmental, sustainable and health boxes that we are told that consumers are looking for. Or do they? Miles MacInnes of Jascots Wine Merchants, which is committed to listing sustainable wines, believes anyone listing organic wines needs to have a clear reason and purpose for doing so and that often it is not the environmental credentials of organics that consumers are interested in. Here he explains the background to the boom in organic wines and how to make the most out of listing them.
We all have our views about wine from the USA – but are they accurate and are they based on a wide base of research? This was the premise of a fascinating wine tasting event sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture called From Sea to Shining Sea which was a series of three ‘seminars’ themed as ‘Journey through the regions’, ‘Uncovering value’ and ‘Sustainability’ all hosted by Victoria Stephens-Clarkson MW – accompanied by tastings encompassing the top four of the USA’s wine regions. David Kermode was our man at the event and here he sets the scene and picks 10 of the 24 wines on show as wines which may well challenge your preconceptions about American wine.
It’s easy to forget how recent a wine Amarone is; there are currently 350 producers of Amarone in Italy, but just 60 years ago there were seven, in fact the category didn’t officially start until 1989. Although climate change is now making it increasingly hard for these estates to keep the alcohol levels down, Justin Keay found many examples of both commercial Amarone and Valpolicella at the Le Famiglie Storiche di Amarone e Valpolicella tasting that show how producers are following a course that will make for better wines both now and in the future. Keay also picks out the top wines that should be on your buying radar.
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 now take advantage of new pre-Christmas entry prices providing you enter by December 18.
Wine is and always has been made from grapes. It’s just a fact of life. But does that have to be the case for ever more? Alistair Morrell certainly doesn’t think so and he has his history books out to show that over the centuries, and in different parts of the world, that wine, and the sum of its parts has not always just had a vine and a bunch of grapes to play with. As the pressure mounts on the wine industry to find new ways to attract consumers might different ways of making wine be part of the solution, he asks.
It was an advert for a cleaning product that ‘kills 99% of all known living germs’ that led former drinks inventor David Gluckman to come up with the idea of Red Chardonnay. He asked himself what happens to the other 1% ? Because, if wine law stipulates that only 75% of a wine has to be Chardonnay to be called Chardonnay then what about the other 25% ? So Gluckman decided to add 25% of a red wine to Chardonnay and call it Red Chardonnay. The year was 2001 and (unbelievably) this actually happened. Read on to find out what came next.
Here’s a conundrum for you. How do you get nine of the UK’s leading wine buyers to meet 18 winemakers in four restaurants in different parts of London in under five hours? Well, throw two Land Rovers into the mix and you are half way home. It’s certainly how The Buyer teamed up with Wines of South Africa to take a group of top buyers on a tour of London restaurants, and the chance to meet some of South Africa’s best winemakers at the same time. Eating, tasting, chatting along the way. Buckle up and join us on the ride…
The success that the craft beer scene has had in the last few years in nothing short of remarkable, not just in terms of the number of brands now available, but the impact it has had on the overall drinks category and number of average drinkers who now think craft beer first when out for a drink. So what do competing drinks do about it? Here brand consultant, Neil Anderson, former marketing director at Kingsland Drinks, sets out five key lessons any wine producer, supplier or retailer can learn from craft beer.
“Keeping a family business together is not easy. The Harvard Business School estimates 70% of family businesses are sold or taken over before the second generation and only 12% survives the third.” Which makes the large number of multi-generation family businesses within the wine industry even more remarkable. But what makes these legendary wine families stand the test of time and continue to make world class wines generation after generation? In her new book – ’10 Great Wine Families’ – Fiona Morrison MW gets to the heart of what makes each of these families tick.
If you have ever done a business management course then you would probably have been asked to complete some team bonding task that involves building something out using nothing more than string and a few basic items. Upgrade to an MBA course it becomes known as the ‘Marshmallow Challenge’. Either way it is all about testing our ability to think laterally and be creative. An exercise everyone in the wine industry should be asked to do says MBA graduate himself Alistair Morrell.
As many of the wine industry’s leaders in sustainable winemaking and distribution gather in London for the Future of Wine event, organised by Sustainable Wine, we turn to arguably wine’s most authoritative and respected figure on the subject. Miguel Torres, president of Familia Torres, who has spent most of his distinguished career not only championing the need for the wine industry to do more to tackle climate change, but pioneering new viticultural methods in his own vineyards to do exactly that. Here in this typically succinct and forthright thought piece, produced for the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, he sets out his hopes for the sector going forward.
Talk to a wine producer from most of the major New World countries, be it New Zealand, Australia, Argentina or South Africa, about where they see as being their key target markets for the years ahead and the majority will pick out China and the US. Which is not surprising considering the huge growth potential there is in these fast emerging and vast wine markets for imported wine. But how do you go about making a success in what are both effectively three tier markets where having the right importer and then distributor is crucial? Here in the first of a new series of articles exploring how producers and importers work together we talk to Ross Sleet of South African blended wine brand, Rascallion Wines, about how he is trying to crack the US market, and also his new US importer, Paul Clear of the Terroir Wine Group, about why he has decided to take Rascallion on and how he hopes to build the brand in the States.
Ask any business in the wine industry what their attitude and approach to sustainability is and you are likely to get a different response every time based on their understanding of what sustainability means to their company and line of work. Which makes it such an ever changing topic for discussion and debate. But it is important that as an industry as a whole we continue to come together and determine what sustainable steps we can all be taking. Which is very much what next week’s new Sustainable Wine Forum is all about. A one-day conference on November 4 designed to be bring producers, importers, consultants, retailers and merchants together in London to openly debate sustainability in wine. Organiser of the event and founder of Sustainable Wine, Tobias Webb, explains what to expect.
“I am looking for identity, not perfection.” That just about sums up perfectly the winemaking approach of Sebastian Zucccardi who is more than just following in his father’s footsteps in helping to make and take premium, minimal intervention wines from Argentina around the world. Here Harry Crowther joins Zuccardi for an evening examining his approach to terroir and how Zuccardi’s focus on sense of place, and finding the right sites for its grapes, is what is ultimately behind this range of benchmark Argentine wines.
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.
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.