Thanks to European development funding Hilary Miller has been able to return to her home in the Isles of Scilly where multiple generations of her family have lived before to set up her own craft distilling business with her husband Arthur. After only a few years from launch the Scilly Spirits Distillery is winning a raft of awards in all the major international spirits competitions and gaining distribution around the country thanks to its initial listing with John Lewis. Richard Siddle finds out just what inspired the couple to start a distillery in Scilly.
New South Wales is pretty proud of the fact it is one and a half times bigger than France. A region that has 2,000m high snow-lined mountains and deserts that reach 50C. It also has seven major wine regions each with its own terroir, climatic characteristics and a diversity of wines its producers claim can also live up to the French too. You can find out for yourself at today’s New South Wales generic tasting taking place at 67 Pall Mall in London. Here respected Australian wine writer, Andrew Graham, helps explain what New South Wales is all about.
You don’t get to the size, scale and influence of Les Grands Chais de France (GCF) without knowing a thing or two about how to make wine for virtually every kind of wine consumer. Responsible for what it claims is around one in four bottles of French wine sold in the UK, and one in five of every bottle of wine exported from France, Les Grands Chais de France is hugely important to the overall French wine category. Ahead of its first all channel portfolio tasting in London on October 4 and 5, featuring all its international wines and spirits too, Chris Davies, UK sales director for on-trade and independents, explains how its premium wine strategy is driving the company forward with a new range of Signature wines representing the best of what France can do.
Featuring 68 wines from 17 producers and seven emerging and established regions, New South Wales (NSW) will hold its first live wine showcase since Covid at 67 Pall Mall in London on September 21. This is a unique opportunity for UK buyers to take a deep dive into this vast and diverse region with producers represented across the Hunter Valley, Hilltops, Orange, Central Ranges, Tumbarumba and Mudgee, featuring a wide range of wines that are both in the UK already and those looking for distribution.
Today’s The Bunch annual press tasting stands out for two important reasons. Firstly, it is an opportunity to taste premium wines from all over the world from seven of the UK’s most leading importers. But, secondly, these are suppliers who are united by their commitment to ethically source and supply the independent sector with quality wines encapsulated in a fiercely proud code of practice that ensures best practice trading standards and customer service. Here’s what The Bunch means to some of those who run it: Corney & Barrow’s Rebecca Palmer (chair), Private Cellar’s Laura Taylor, Tanners’s Robert Boutflower and Yapp’s Tom Ashworth.
Ana Paula Bartolucci is a winemaker used to making waves. Not only is she the first female winemaker in 60 years at Chandon Argentina but, as the youngest member of its innovation and research team, she has also successfully steered them for the first time into the apéritifs category and the UK market, by making a sparkling wine with oranges as well as grapes. The inspiration for Chandon Garden Spritz, a new ready-to-pour-spritz, was Bartolucci’s grandmother’s Orangecello recipe. Four years and 64 attempts in the making, she firmly believes that this time she has finally cracked it.
The wine trade is blessed with inspiring characters on both sides of the winemaking and buying fence. So when two of the most creative and innovative personalities come together on a new project it’s worth taking notice. Which is why The Buyer was intrigued to sit down with highly experienced wine buyer, Andrew Ingham, formerly of Morrisons, Coles and Greene King, and Rollo Gabb, wine producer and founder of Journeys End, the successful South African wine brand, to hear about the new wine brand – Interpunkt – created by Ingham that is now making wine with Gabb. A new wine brand that promises to shake things up, both with its branding, edgy attitude and sales strategy and its paper bottle packaging that it believes is the way forward for modern wine brands and the environment. Richard Siddle finds out what Interpunkt is all about.
Ahead of ABS Wine Agencies portfolio tasting on September 7, The Buyer takes a behind the scenes look at how the ‘Kickstarter’ programme, launched by the California Wine Institute to introduce Californian producers to potentially the right UK importers, has resulted in ABS taking on the Hanna Winery in Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, part of Terlato Wines, whose wines will be available to taste at the London tasting alongside the rest of its growing worldwide portfolio.
Strip away their wine ranges and what really differentiates one wine distributor over another is the level of support, advice and training they can provide their customers. That is where the power of supplier and customer relationships can really come to the fore. This is very much the role of Camilla Armour, wine education trainer at Corney & Barrow, who works with restaurants, bars, hotels and pubs across the country in giving their staff the skills and confidence they need to sell wine in their venues. Here she explains to Helen Arnold how she decided to follow a career in wine training and what difference it can make to an operators’ overall performance.
To continue farming in Britain it is becoming increasingly important to ‘think outside of the box’ in order to survive, which is why Tim and Tan Spittle, sheep farmers in the Cotswolds, have been shortlisted as finalists in the Farmers Weekly Awards 2022 for Diversification Farmer of the Year. Not only did they convert disused cattle sheds into a successful gym but with Blacklion Vodka they have launched an internationally recognised and lauded new premium spirits brand… and it all comes from a waste product from cheese production – Europe’s first vodka to be made from sheep’s milk. Peter Dean talks to the Spittles and tastes the vodka.
It’s a busy time for trade tastings and Davy’s Wine Merchants has certainly gone the extra mile in what it has planned for its special New World wine event on September 7 that it is hosting at its head office in Greenwich, London. James Davy, chairman and the fifth generation of the Davy family to run the business, says the team has worked hard to give buyers a fully immersive tasting that will use food pairings and bespoke music matches to heighten their tasting experience of wines from all its New World wine producers.
“Increases in dry goods and shipping have a much greater effect at the bottom end of the market, however this segment has never been important to our business, so is less of a problem for us from that perspective.” That’s how Lucie Parker, trade director of Jeroboams, sets the scene for the London wine merchant’s annual tasting that takes place on September 7. It will once again be the opportunity of the year for buyers and the UK wine trade to meet 40 producers pouring over 300 wines and sample many of the new and old estates featured in the Jeroboams portfolio. Here, Parker and wine director, Peter Mitchell MW give us a sneak preview of what to expect.
If you wanted to write a book on the best way to launch a new drinks brand then get top bartenders to help create the drinks with you and then recruit some of the best, most respected and connected talent to help lead the business and you’ve got more than half your book written. Which is exactly what the founders of Mocktails did when they came up with the idea of creating authentic, naturally made alcohol-free ready-to-drink cocktails that top venues and bars would happily have in their venues from day one. Richard Siddle sits down with two of the ‘talents’ behind Mocktails, Ed Gerard, chief commercial officer and Chris Rowe, head of UK sales, to help write the rest of that book.
“The amount of change and development is sometimes hard to assess from an insider’s point of view, but really there is so much happening in the UK wine scene and we hope to convey that notion to visitors.” That’s how Simon Thorpe MW, chief executive of WineGB, sets the scene for the body’s annual tasting that takes place at London’s Lindley Hall on September 6. It will once again be the opportunity of the year for buyers and the UK wine trade to see for themselves what is happening in the fast changing UK wine scene.
The key challenge – and opportunity – for any leading wine importer and agency business is to ensure the range of producers it is working with are relevant for the needs and demands of their customers. It’s why Louis Latour Agencies has been able to build its impressive portfolio of producers from around the world. Here managing director, Will Oatley, gives an update on the company’s performance and why he is so pleased to welcome two premium Provence producers – Chateau des Demoiselles and Chateau Sainte-Roseline – to its growing stable.
August 2022 will go down as the earliest grape harvest in Spanish history. Sarah McCleery was there, in Pastrana, a 14-hectare vineyard close to the sea in Miraflores, watching Palomino Fino picked by the team at Bodegas Hidalgo. She was there to witness an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this sherry producer, most famous for its Manzanilla La Gitana, but also a much larger range of sherries, still wines and vermouth. A guest of Fermin Hidalgo, McCleery witnesses an historic horse race on the beach, gets converted to sherry-pairing throughout a meal and sees how Hidalgo has kept on top by keeping things fresh from the barrel.
Talk to multi-generational family wine producers and many will say the most difficult time comes when passing the business on between the third and fourth generation, as that is when there are so many moving parts to keep the company and family together. Well, they must be doing things differently at Maisons & Domaines Henriot as Gilles de Larouzière Henriot, is the eighth generation to head up the family business. Here he explains to Richard Siddle his approach and how the family is still firmly involved in its future strategy.
Paz Levinson might have made her name and reputation as a world leading sommelier working outside her home country of Argentina, but she has always remained close to the wine scene there and how she can help promote the best wines that Argentina is producing. Which is why she has launched her new ‘Argentina Reloaded’ programme that hopes to showcase in key cities around the world the most exciting developments in Argentina’s burgeoning wine industry. Here she explains to Richard Siddle just what ‘Argentina Reloaded’ is all about.
Most wine businesses came out of lockdown looking and acting very differently to when they went into the pandemic. But not many can look back on such a transformative performance as Armit Wines. In the year to September 30 2021, and in the height of the pandemic, it saw turnover increase 7% increase to £22 million, a swing in net profit of £2m taking the business into the black to just over £1.3m and gross profits up 25.4% from 22.7%. But what were the key decisions made by managing director, Brett Fleming, and his management team that made the difference? To help us unravel the numbers and take us behind the scenes at Armit Wines we talk to head of sales Fraser Currie.
Leona De Pasquale grew up in Taiwan at a time when drinking wine was very much frowned up and not something a “good girl” should be getting up to. Fast forward to 2022 and she is now making her name as one of the most respected wine educators and writers to come out of not only Taiwan, but across Asia. Here she explains what it was that finally got her into wine, and how she is now smitten with all the wine world can offer as part of our Onwards & Upwards series that shines the light on people moving on in their careers.