Whilst most major wine producing countries or regions would be more than happy to have an average price point of around £10 to £15 a bottle, never mind the giddy heights of £20 plus. But for premium Californian wineries, £20 is not to far off what they might see as being their entry price positioning. Which is good news for major retailers such as Oddbins who are now working closely with major branded players, particularly E&J Gallo and its new, extended Californian and US premium wine range, to bring both excitement and new wines to its portfolio which is helping it see real growth between £20 to £40.
Italian whites might well be creeping onto more wine lists, but they tend to be more for your everyday favourite selections rather than for their premium, ageing quality. Those spaces are reserved for Italy’s far more prestigious reds. But as Anton Moiseenko discovered during a recent tasting of 10 year old and plus Verdicchios that there is some stunning quality to be found if you are prepared to look.
If you want to be taken seriously as a premium spirit brand then you have to be listed in all the key style bars in the country, that’s when you know you have a critical mass to take to the next stage. It’s so much harder in wine as there are simply too many alternatives in your category to choose from. But for English sparkling wine, which very much wants to play in those premium circles, being listed in all the right bars and restaurants is now very much a given, but few outlets take English wine quite as seriously as the Coral Room at the Bloomsbury hotel which, as Helen Arnold discovers, claims to have one of the largest – if not the largest – selection in the country, both by the glass and the bottle.
For decades the international wine buying market has been pretty straightforward. The major wine consuming markets have by and large been able to pick and choose which countries they source their wines from, largely based on how expensive they might be depending on currency exchange rates at the time. Not any more. China, and its enormous rise in demand for imported wine, has turned the world on its head to such an extent that what China wants, it gets, and the rest of the world is now playing catch up, says Richard Siddle.
Here’s a novel idea. Recruit a group of leading sommeliers and buyers around the world to come and visit your country and go on a tour that has been devised and planned by local wineries. Only it’s not such a novel idea. This weekend marks the 12th James Busby travel tour experience of Australia, that to date has seen 135 intrepid wine souls board the tour bus (and plane) to criss cross their way across all the happening areas of Australia. Here chief organiser, Tim Wildman MW, and the brains behind the James Busby experience, sets the scene for this year’s tour.
Joe Fattorini argues that Palomino is an unique grape because of the way it can be moulded into a wide variety of styles – from quaffable white wine through to aged Oloroso Sherry – in much the same way that the shape-shifting metallic robot in Terminator 2 can become whatever it wants to. Fattorini was speaking at the Great Sherry Tasting 2018 and brought some razamataz to a Masterclass aimed at drinks buyers, sommeliers and wine educators.
After a week in South Africa as a guest of Cape Wine 2018, Michelin star chef and roving editor for The Buyer, Roger Jones, sums up the week of events. Having been heavily involved in selling and promoting South African wines for a number of years, Jones still firmly believes that the increase in customer awareness, quality sourced, and consumer expectation is at an all-time high for South African wines and growing faster than many in the on-trade can keep up with.
John McCarthy is clearly not happy sitting still. Having trained as an electrical engineer he has moved careers to work first in the brewing sector with Adnams, and then now he has re-trained as the company’s chief distiller as the esteemed brewery looks to branch out and tap into the burgeoning world of craft and premium spirits.
We’ve all come a long way since 1988, assuming you were even around to see it. But for Les Caves de Pyrene it marks the anniversary of not just the start of its own company, but a turning point in the kinds of wines that merchants and importers were now prepared to offer their trade customers, but also the sort of people who were willing to go into unknown areas, try different things and bring a whole new mentality to wine buying and sourcing. Doug Wregg, who has been with Les Caves from the beginning, looks back over the last three decades to give this personal account of how this highly influential wine merchants, that so many people in the trade have an affinity with, has reached parts of the trade others can also wish for.
Rob Harrison says it is easy to look back at the events of 2018, particularly in the market volatility that came to a head with the collapse of Conviviality and subsequent last ditch rescue of Bibendum and Matthew Clark by C&C, as though being a guest at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Here he sets out the lessons we should all take from the events of 2018 and how having clarity of a long term vision and investing in your people, and factors that you can determine are going to the key to success for the months and years ahead.
We’ve all been there – pouring that prized bottle of corked wine down the sink, or dealing with a customer who insists a wine has a flaw when it hasn’t. Wine flaws is one of the biggest can of worms in the wine industry, and it has taken wine expert, author and ‘wine anorak’ Jamie Goode to open it in his latest book. Called Flawless: Understanding Faults in Wine it is a book written for the wine trade to better understand the science behinds flaws and taints, which are the most subjective and which ones sommeliers should most be familiar with.
As son of the founder of one of Mornington Peninsula’s longest established wineries, Rollo Crittenden of Crittenden Estate has the inside track about wines from a region that is winning plaudits and prizes for its award-winning cool climate wines. Here he explains why he thinks the region is so special and worthy of a place on your wine list.
Working in the wine industry is often not the first career that people choose to take. Lucy Chilvers is no different. After years working in restaurants and helping to manage wine lists she decided – as she puts it – to take a “leap of faith” and go back to school so that she could make winemaking her future career. A decision that has seen her enrol at Plumpton College where she is now in the midst of her viticulture and oenology course.
We’ve all been there. Sitting in an interview room for your dream job, when you’re asked the question you know will decide if you get the job or not. Paul Mabray has been there too. Here in this open, frank and honest account he recalls how he applied for a top chief executive role at a leading US winery and in his own words “crashed and burned”. As a digital insights expert he suggested they invest a large part of their budget on trying to better understand their consumers. They were not ready to listen, but he learnt so much from that failure he helped set up a business of his own to do what they did not have the vision to invest in.
The wine world is full of surprises, but perhaps none so than the yearly, if not monthly and daily feats of the winemaking and production team at Domaine Bargylus. For whilst it might sound like any other winery, it is very different, for Domaine Bargylus operates from within the heart of Syria, a country that for years has been ripped apart by a horrid civil war. Michael Karam examines not only how the winery keeps operating, but assesses the wines that Jancis Robinson MW has described as the finest wine produced in the Eastern Mediterranean.
As our headlines are dominated by the trials, tribulations, mergers and acquisitions amongst the largest businesses in the drinks industry, there is a whole new sector quietly emerging that could well be the successful trading model of the future. Alistair Morrell looks at the rise of the specialist wine importer and why being unique and different is going to be the key in the future rather than big and for everyone.
Whisper it gently but natural and orange wines are slowly establishing themselves in their own segment of the mainstream wine market and appearing on more premium and Michelin star wine lists. Albeit in the same way that Echo and the Bunnymen always looked a little out of place on Top of the Pops. Here Doug Wregg, one of the initial driving forces behind the rise in natural wine in his role at Les Caves de Pyrene, examines its recent success and looks to explain, re-define and assess its unique place in the overall wine market and why natural wines still continue to inspire him.
We are so used to talking about, promoting and selling fine wine, but how often do we actually stop and ask what a fine wine actually is? Look it up in a dictionary, or even a wine compendium, and you will not find an absolute definition, for fine wine is mostly in the eye of the beholder. Or is it? It was the subject of much debate at the recent Fine Minds 4 Fine Wines conference in Champagne. Cathy Huyghe was there to give her take on what fine wine can mean.
So why do we have an urge to order a Bloody Mary when on an aeroplane? Do you know when to stop when telling a story? Has 50 Shades of Grey changed your life as much as it has for Meininger magazine’s Felicity Carter? And where in the world can you sell five million mobile phones in five seconds? Questions that might not come immediately to mind, but are just an example of some of the illuminating facts, figures, debates and tastings that took place at last month’s MUST Fermenting Ideas conference in Portugal. Thankfully Sorcha Holloway was on hand to pick out the best bits…
If the world economy continues to be dominated by what trade deals different countries and continents can agree with each other then perhaps future wine and drinks events need to be organised not by which wine or spirit comes from which producer, but by trading blocs and what tariffs and costs are involved buying and importing that type of drink regardless of its quality. We are increasingly living in a world where trade deals will dictate what drinks brands and products end up being bought and sold.