Last time Richelle van Gemert travelled to South Africa it was with a group of fellow sommeliers in the search for good food, great wine and to discover for themselves what the fuss is all about South African wines. She has this weekend come out top in the latest Wines of South Africa Sommelier Cup competition that has been taking place this week in Cape Wine. Having won the UK competition she was there to represent the country against other finalists from around the world. Here we look back on this interview we ran in the summer where she explains what she was most looking forward to returning to South Africa and taking part in the Sommelier Cup.
If you are a sommelier or work in the hospitality sector and are keen to find out how to make your German wine offer really sing, then the Wines of Germany Somm sessions will definitely be of interest. After the success of its inaugural event at Hide restaurant in London and second session at Silo in Brighton, Wines of Germany is holding its third Somm Sessions at 20 Stories in Manchester on September 25. Hosted by award-winning sommelier Jan Konetzki, director of wine at Ten Trinity Square, and all round go-to expert when it comes to German wines, Helen Arnold caught up with him before the next event to talk about what’s happening in German wines.
It’s not every day you get to be driven around some of London’s finest dining venues in specially hired Land Rovers, meeting different South African winemakers in each restaurant, getting the chance to not only taste their wines, but have them matched with food from that particular outlet. Welcome to The Buyer and Wines of South Africa’s restaurant safari which took a team of restaurateurs, wine merchants and sommeliers on a tasting tour of four London restaurants.
Go on a wine tour of Australia and meet dozens of winemakers and you can be guaranteed that you will remember Brad Hickey over the majority of them. He has a personality, and warmth to match the quality of his wines. A fascinating character who clearly loves making the wines he does and pushing the envelope a little in terms of using amphora pots and and edgier varieties like Zibbibo to made skin contact wines that are fruity, refreshing and as bright as their labels all under his wine alter ego, Brash Higgins. You can come and meet him for yourself at Wine Australia’s Redefined tasting on September 17.
John Malkovich has worked across a number of different industries – film, theatre, fashion, restaurants, clubs – and brought to each his singular vision and modus operandi. At the UK launch of his new wine label Les Quelles de la Coste, it was clear that this idiosyncratic approach is also being applied to winemaking, planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir in the Luberon and blending the two grapes together – both varieties coming from the same five hectares. Peter Dean met Malkovich for a long lunch at which he didn’t eat or drink a thing but waxed lyrical about why this latest project is so close to his heart.
It’s not easy setting up a winemakers event at the best of times. But if you are based at the very tip of Cornwall, persuading a group of winemakers with busy schedules to make time for an entire weekend of events, and to get there in the first place, takes a very special kind of dedication. But for Ben Prior, whose restaurant Ben’s Cornish Kitchen is in Marazion and Portminster, the two events he’s organised this weekend – Riding the Third Wave and a winemakers dinner featuring five star chefs – are all part of his passion for South African wines. Fellow chef and wine expert Roger Jones talks to him about the weekend and how he has gone about expanding into online sales.
Now many people with a bit of character are often described as being ‘larger than life’. Well they have not met Australian winemaker Chester Osborn. He truly is a one off. A brilliant winemaker in his own right, but also a truly inspirational figure who has intertwined the worlds of conceptual and modern art with wine at his incredible Cube tasting facility – which is as much an art gallery as it is a place to discover d”Arenberg’s wines. Here we find out what we can expect when he takes part in the upcoming Wine Australia’s Redefined tasting in London on September 17.
Ranald Macdonald must be one of the best customers a wine or drinks supplier could have. For he is always looking to do something new and different at any of his four Boisdale restaurants across London. So if you are equally ambitious, creative and have a good idea to share then his door is always open. Which is how E&J Gallo has started to work with him and his restaurant group by introducing its super premium Californian Collection of producers and winemakers. Wines that are particularly well placed to not only work well with the classic British and Scottish Boisdale cuisine, but fit in so well with the adventurous spirit that Macdonald and his Boisdale group is all about.
For Gérard Bertrand, winning this year’s IWC ‘world’s best red wine’ award with his Château l’Hospitalet’s grand vin was further validation – if needed – of his entire winemaking philosophy. The largest and most influential independent winemaker in the Languedoc-Roussillon, Bertrand has always nailed his colours to the mast of biodynamics – convinced that this approach makes better wine, is better for the soil, the planet, and can help him when times are tough – like the massive heat wave the region experienced this summer. Peter Dean caught up with him to talk biodynamics, business strategy and whether the world is ready for a €190 Rosé from the Languedoc.
There are a whole stack of reasons why a by the glass range is now crucial for premium on-trade operators. They allow restaurants and sommeliers the chance to offer their customers different and more ambitious, interesting wines, they can help drive better margins and growth and they fit far more with our lifestyles where people are looking to drinks less and better, be it at lunchtime or the evening. Here John Graves, Bibendum’s on-trade channel director, explains why it has been running a by the glass promotion throughout the summer and into September.
It’s a long way to come to London just to taste and share wines with your friends. But that is very much the spirit amongst South African winemakers, many of whom are close friends who love nothing more than just sitting back and enjoying each other’s wines. They also like showing them to buyers and sommeliers in the UK trade which is what Lukas Van Loggerenberg will be doing this week with a host of other winemakers at the third New Wave South Africa wine tasting.
The speed of growth within the UK wine industry really does take your breath away. Last year saw a staggering 13.2 million bottles produced, and a further 1.6m vines planted, on top of the 1m that went into the ground in 2017. Which means future production can only get significantly higher. All of which is great news for the overall UK wine industry providing it can find a market for all the wine it is making. Which is why this week’s Wine GB annual tasting is even more significant than normal, says marketing manager Julia Trustram Eve. The chance to show the trade and its buyers just how far the British wine sector has come and why importers, retailers, and restaurant and bar groups need to find more space for them on their lists.
When the first crew of Cotswolds Distillery showed up for work five years ago there were a few key things missing. Number one, apart from a couple, no-one had made whisky before. Number two, no distillery. And yet here we are five years down the line and this dynamic homegrown company has just picked up two IWSC gold medals for its Flagship and Founders Choice whiskies. Not only that but its gin has been building up a loyal following – on account of it going cloudy when you add tonic. For native New Yorker Daniel Szor, CEO of the company, it is the fulfilment of a dream – a dream that saw an ex-hedge fund manager who liked touring distilleries in Scotland set up his own in the Cotswolds. Geoffrey Dean visited Cotswolds Distillery and hears first hand how Szor and his team have managed such ‘overnight’ success.
“There’s nowhere in the world like it.” Which is reason enough for Ben Henshaw to keep going back to South Africa to find more dynamic, cutting edge winemakers to add to its already impressive portfolio of South African wines, a country he believes is leading the world in terms of innovation and new wines styles. You can meet all of Indigo Wine’s South African winemaker partners, alongside those from the four other importers involved in hosting what will be the third New Wave wine tasting in London on September 3.
Distill Ventures doesn’t have holding music when you call it up. It does not quite cut the image of the world’s first hip and happening spirits drinks accelerator company. But if it did then The Pet Shop Boys lyrics “I’ve got the brains, You’ve got the looks, Let’s make lots of money” would be perfect. For that, in a nutshell, is what Distill Ventures does. Admittedly with Diageo’s money. Founded in 2013 it finds start up drinks brands it believes have what it takes to make it on a global scale. If its partner, Diageo, agrees, then it gets the green light to use Diageo funding to help develop and build that brand up. To potentially the point when Diageo offers to make it part of its own portfolio. Like it already has done with the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits brand, Seedlip. But how does it work in practice? What makes a brand so unique and exciting that Distill Ventures would want to take it on? Co-founder Frank Lampen explains to Richard Siddle the step-by-step process it goes through before it’s prepared to share its “brains”, or “money” with any potential drinks entrepreneur.
It’s great for producers and winemakers that there are so many major international wine competitions that they can enter, but they all effectively live and die by the quality of the judges they have assessing the wines. It means there is enormous pressure on even such a prestigious event as the International Wine & Spirit Competition to not only attract the best judges it can, but to analyse how the judging is done to ensure the best wines are being awarded. Here in a new series of articles profiling key judges in the IWSC’s revamped competition we talk to two leading retail buyers, Ana Sapungiu MW from Oddbins and Sarah Knowles MW, one of the buyers at The Wine Society, about why they took part this year for the first time.
Getting the chance to taste the wines of so many of the dynamic winemakers in South Africa in one place is why the New Wave tasting in London is such a draw. But it is also a huge opportunity for those winemakers to be able to showcase their wines to such an influential audience of buyers. Berene Sauls of Tesselaarsdal explains why she is so pleased to be able to come and show her wines as part of UK importer Swig’s portfolio.
Argentina, and South America in general, may not be currently top in the cyclical world of football, but it seems their wines are very much back on the agenda for international wine buyers looking for the best value to quality ratio they can get for their retail and restaurant businesses. Paul Schaafsma, founder of new UK importer and agency business, Benchmark Drinks, explains why he believes Argentina, in particular, is so well placed to benefit in the months and years to come and why he is so pleased to have signed an exclusive deal with to bring the wines of leading producer, Fecovita to the UK.
There are very few winemakers who would readily admit that in the early days they were literally making it up as they went along. But that’s very much the approach that self-taught winemaker, Tim Wildman MW, took when he first had a go making pet nat wines in Australia. Now on the verge of his fifth vintage he is really beginning to make a name for himself Down Under and can claim to be the biggest importer of pet nat wines into the UK. He tells Richard Siddle what started out as a dare has resulted in him completely changing his wine career to become a bona fide winemaker in his own right.
The New Wave South Africa tasting may be organised by five leading UK importers, but it would not be possible without the quality of wines they have to offer from the dynamic South African wine scene. So all credit must go to the collective recruitment and buying talents at Swig, Dreyfus Ashby, Indigo Wine, New Generation Wines and Fields Morris & Verdin for finding the right producers to work with. Like Kiara Scott of Brookdale Estate who is working with Indigo Wine to promote and push her wines into the UK.