How come when a couple go out for the night it’s the man who is always given the wine list? How come less than 15% of Master Sommeliers are women? How come women winemakers are not given the same spotlight as men? These are some of the questions asked by Carole Bryon, owner and manager of London’s hot new wine bar and eatery Lady of the Grapes. Bryon has made her focus women winemakers and the approach is paying off, as Peter Dean found out.
The Benevolent is making big strides to widen both its awareness as the drinks charity for those in the industry who fall on hard times, but also as a support association for those who have issues with their physical or mental health, championed by its award winning #notalone campaign and its new It Could Be Me initiative. But such efforts take up a lot of its resources which is why The Benevolent’s new chairman, Michael Saunders of Bibendum PLB, has made fundraising a key part of his two year tenure and, in particular, quick, practical and simple steps that everyone and anyone in the trade can do to donate small amounts, like the equivalent of a drink a month. Here he explains why.
“Our family estates couldn’t be anything but organic. These are our family values and they’re not negotiable.” So says the straight talking Claude Vialade, owner and founder of Domaine Auriol in the heart of the Languedoc Roussillon, who is not only driving organic winemaking on her own estate, but offering financial support to local growers willing to move their own production over to organics and will then pay a premium for their grapes. Now that really is walking the walk.
Whitehaven’s first vintage of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc sold a total of 5,000 cases in the United States. It was the first in a 14-year relationship with E&J Gallo that has seen it become America’s top-selling by-the-glass Sauvignon Blanc with sales for the 2018 vintage up to a tidy 350,000 cases. So what is the secret of its success? What flavours are Whitehaven going for? How does it achieve year-on-year consistency and how does a Marlborough-based estate manage growth from not owning any winery or land in 2000 to being one of the biggest players in the US? Peter Dean met up with Whitehaven chief winemaker, Sam Smail to get the lowdown.
The equivalent of 1.4 million punnets of fresh table grapes are discarded in the global supply chain each year – a significant waste that is being addressed by the launch of HYKE a new premium English gin. HYKE is produced by Foxhole Spirits, which three years ago launched a gin made from by-products from the English wine harvest, and is being launched on March 18 – Global Recycling Day. Emma Diggory went to the launch at Spring in Somerset House and reports back on what makes HYKE so unique.
The Lanchester Group has long been at the forefront of running its bottling, packing and wine development businesses on a strict sustainability agenda – like the wind turbines and solar panels that produce enough energy to power its site as well as supply electricity for thousands of home through the National Grid. It is now unveiling pioneering, heat pump technology, that will allow it to generate more energy by pumping flood water out of disused coal mines on its sites in the north east to power its new bottling site facilities that will double its capacity and, it believes, puts it at least 10 years ahead of its competition.
If you are heading to Prowein next week then you might want to get yourself there on time on the last day in order to hear leading wine critic and commentator, Tim Atkin MW, revisit for the first time the subject that helped him become a Master of Wine, and his dissertation on the intricacies of Hungary’s iconic wine region, Tokaj. Here Atkin shares just what it was – and is – that has enchanted him so much over the years.
“We like to offer things that go beyond the usual suspects. We’re led more by what tastes lovely in the glass than ticking the grape variety boxes.” Welcome to the wine buying strategy – and philosophy – of bar owner and wine buyer, Kate Hawkings, who has helped pioneer and drive the wine scene in Bristol with first, Bell’s Diner where she helped shape the wine list and then Bellita, which only champions female winemakers. Hawkings has a fresh, straight forward approach to wine buying which is 100% focused on putting wines she knows her customers will want to have in their glasses.
Bibendum and its independents division, Walker & Wodehouse, might be about to unveil its latest wine ranges to customers and buyers at a series of regional tastings this week, but the real work for what we are about to see actually started way back last summer when buying director, Andrew Shaw and his team first started going through where it needed to strengthen, adapt and extend its range in order to keep up with the latest drinking trends and demands from customers and buyers about which wines they would like to see them carry. Richard Siddle talks to Shaw about the series of steps he and his buyers go through.
Although kombucha has been around for centuries, the fermented tea drink is on trend having managed to break out from its health food origins and into the mainstream. A welcome addition into the non-alcoholic category, kombucha ticks a number of boxes: it is naturally sparkling, healthy, soft, made from tea, has a variety of serves and is steeped in the mysticism of the Orient – which is why sales predictions are stratospheric aided by PepsiCo’s acquisition of kombucha producer KeVita. One of the new British producers is Wild Fizz whose founder, Gina Geoghegan, started small and now has a brewing facility in North London. Peter Dean sits down with her to get the lowdown on this new ‘booch.
The first thing that strikes you about Jackson & Seddon is what a great name it is. Like a forgotten 1970’s TV detective partnership. If it was then it would bound to win the hearts of millions of viewers as it would be all about how Rob Seddon and his dog Jackson go about catching criminals. Only in real life it is how they travel to the deepest parts of Italy in search of independent, artisan winemakers they can work with for their slowly growing UK importers business. Richard Siddle wanted to find out more.
Let’s face it with so many major wine tastings taking place every week it can be had to find and justify the time to go to even the most worthy. So how do you stand out from the crowd, even if you are much sought after wine region such as California? Well the answer is to put yourself into the minds of your target buyers and customers, says California Wine Institute UK and Ireland’s Damien Jackman and Justine McGovern, and that means having an event that really is Essential to attend. Which is why its March 12 tasting is focused entirely on wines that cost up to £50.
Burgundians have got a reputation for keeping themselves to themselves – even when it comes to getting along with their immediate neighbours. So how come that the only official exchange programme they have run with another wine body is with the wine region furthest from them – in New Zealand’s Central Otago? 12 years on Peter Dean listens to what has been learned from the Central Otago Burgundy Exchange programme and why Aubert de Villaine says “it has started a sparkle that has not stopped”?
It seems Italy can do no wrong in the UK premium on-trade at the moment. Last month The Buyer reported how Italy had replaced France as the country with most listings on wine lists, which will probably come as no surprise to the specialist importers that are doing such a good job sourcing new exciting, and dynamic wine to bring back for restaurants and bars to sell. All of which is very much the theme of next week’s Il Collettivo tasting which will be a chance to taste the best of some of those importers Italian ranges.
Producing your own distinct style of wine in an area that is famous for just producing one grape variety is hard, but for the Sandro Fay family it is all about putting the focus on developing Nebbiolo grapes that are as sustainable as possible and using the individual characteristics of single vineyards to really make your wines stand out from even within their own estate. Find out for yourself at today’s Nebbiolo Day tasting in London.
He is one of the most influential winemakers in New Zealand, put Cloudy Bay and Marlborough on the map in the 1980s, and was making single vineyard and oaked Sauvignon Blancs before ‘Class of 2019’ was out of kindergarten. A man of few words but many ideas, Kevin Judd opens up about how the past 10 years have been making wines for his own label Greywacke, and why he has stopped wearing a watch. Peter Dean is all ears and tastes through a decade of Greywacke.
If you have grown up enjoying the many adventures of chefs Keith Floyd and Rick Stein (and many others) on TV then we all have the producer behind the camera to thank for making those programmes possible. Sadly David Pritchard died in January from cancer, but he leaves hours of wonderful TV moments behind him. In a personal tribute Bordeaux winemaker, Gavin Quinney, recalls many years of friendship and making films with Pritchard and Stein, including their most recent outing to his home and winery at Château Bauduc where he ended up acting as their local tour guide, setting up shots and arranging which restaurants and vineyards to visit. It’s just a pity the final meal of roast lamb, courtesy of Gavin himself, did not go quite as well as the rest of the filming. Here’s to you Mr Pritchard.
It might look like a space ship hovering over the vines, but it is actually the rather novel way of feeling as though you are part of the vineyard as you taste wine at Ceretto Wines in Alba. Ahead of next week’s Nebbiolo Day tasting in London we talk to owner Alessandro Ceretto, part of the third generation of the family that is looking to make wines true to the region. Which for Alessandro means not just a heavy focus on Nebbiolo, but a dedication to biodynamic winemaking as well.
Harry Crowther reports back from Louis Latour Agencies annual portfolio tasting in London where he had the chance to escape to Tuscany thanks to a special masterclass from Castello Banfi where he was able to taste for himself the fruits of all the hard work that goes into the handling, picking and sorting of the right fruit for each of its classic wines. He also picks out some of the highlights from the new range of wines launched at the tasting.
It’s been a tumultuous few years for wine consultant and event organiser Pancho Campo. In 2012 he felt forced to resign his MW after what turned out to be unfounded allegations about his code of conduct. Nearly seven years on he is about to host his second major global summit on climate change having bounced back in some style with an event last year that had President Barack Obama as its keynote speaker. This year the focus is all about wine in what is a return to the issue that he first championed with a series of climate change events in the late 2000s. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about those darker days and how he has brushed himself down and now hopes to play his part in making a real difference in how the wine industry tackles climate change by signing up to the Porto Protocol.