On the face of it there is not a massive difference between the new Vintner and old The Vintner business. Other than losing a ‘the’ along the way. But scratch below the surface and it is actually an entirely different company that has been transformed from a traditional on and off-trade wine supplier, to a full blown business to consumer e-commerce operator. Richard Siddle sits down with Julia Beran and Hamish Kirwan, who have made the move possible, about their plans to make wine easy for consumers to buy online.
If your mind is turning to Friday night and the weekend ahead well here’s some food and wine inspiration for you from Raul Diaz and his monthly wine and food recipe on The Buyer. This month he is turning his attention to Pinot Gris, this increasingly popular planted grape variety that Diaz believes is ideal for food pairing thanks to its “amazing honeyed personality with lush fruits and spicy accents”. HIs perfect choice to pair with Pinot Gris is a plate of spiced aubergine. Here’s how to pull it together.
“Brixton is a million things to a million people. That’s what makes it special.” So says Andrew Murray-Watson and Calandra Smith, the partners and team behind Brixton’s very own gin brand. Appropriately named Brixton Gin. It is also a brave call to be the ones to try and encapsulate all that Brixton stands for in your own gin brand. But Murray-Watson is as well placed as anyone to give it a go having lived in Brixton since 2004 and started his own deli and drinks shop, Guzzl, in 2017. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about what why he thinks Brixton Gin truly captures the spirit of this unique part of London.
You can have the highest scoring, most awarded wine list in the country, but if you don’t have the sales team with the skills to build relationships and understand which wines are best suited to which restaurants and bars then it’s going to gather dust in your warehouse. Here we talk to Maria Proshuta, part of the London on-trade sales team for Corney & Barrow, about the skills she thinks you need to sell wine to the on-trade.
There are no tyre kickers and time wasters at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition. This is not a trade show where you can merrily wander around and expect a producer to give you a taste of their full range. No, the WBWE is all about doing business. Samples are offered for buyers to taste that might result in orders of hundreds of thousands of litres of wine. As the show’s chief executive, Otilia Romero de Condés, says the WBWE has three main objectives for its delegates: business, networking and results. Here she explains what we can expect from this November’s show.
If you had a spare few hundred pounds and wanted to invest in some bottles of whisky then Nick Morgan is the man to call. With over 30 years experience of working in the whisky industry – the last 20 plus years at Diageo – he has now branched out on his own to offer his whisky, brand and strategic insights in a new consultancy role. He has also looked to capture his whisky know-how in a new book – simply called Everything You Need to Know About Whisky. Here he explains how it came together.
“Barley forward, Téireoir-driven whisky” is not your usual descriptor you come across on a bottle of premium whisky, but it also stands more as a mission statement, or a way of life for the whisky team at Waterford, one of the mostly highly regarded of the growing number of elite Irish distillers that are shaking up not only the Irish spirits market but premium whisky as a whole. Richard Siddle talks to its charismatic head distiller, Ned Gahan, about exactly what it means by “téireoir-driven whisky”.
For all the innovation there might be on back bars and on retailers shelves things have stayed pretty much the same in the way wines, spirits and beers are judged and awarded medals. With blind tastings and products assessed on quality being the way to go. That was until the end of 2017 when the London Drinks Competitions were introduced – with separate awards for London Wine, London Spirits and London Beers – by the Beverage Trade Network which announced it was going to awards its medals based on the quality of the drinks, its value for money and what it looks like in terms of packaging and design. Four years on we talk to the competitions founder Sid Patel about how and why he came up with the awards and his plans for keeping them different from the competition.
“So let’s get this straight. 1: I pick the fruit – grapes for wine, apples for cider. 2: I crush the fruit. 3: I ferment the juice – grape juice for wine, apple juice for cider. What’s the difference between wine and cider so far? Nothing. Flavour, yes. Philosophy, no.” That’s Oz Clarke making the case for why cider should be treated with much more respect as a drinks category in its own right. Which is why Alistair Morrell, head of Cider is Wine, is so pleased to see cider as a key part of the IWSC’s Back to School tasting aimed at giving wine students and the trade the opportunity to discover and taste off beat wines, ciders and drinks styles from all over the world.
Mateja Gravner and her son Gregor have taken over the running of the Gravner estate, split across Italy’s Northeastern border with Slovenia, after the tragic death of her brother 12 years ago. Mateja’s father Josko is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of Orange wine in Western winemaking, continuing the Collio/Brda tradition of skin contact Ribolla wines, and pushing it further with months-long macerations, fermenting in qvevri, biodynamic viticulture and, most recently, with a total conversion to whole bunch fermentation in 2017. Mateja spoke to the Buyer in the summer about how she has been coping during the pandemic.
This year’s Poppy Appeal to help raise funds for the Royal British Legion and those in the Armed Forces in the need of support has even more significance than normal as it marks the 100 year centenary from when the Legion was first founded. To help mark the occasion, and to raise money, The Royal British Legion has teamed up with Eminent Wines and Champagne Jacober to blend three limited edition Champagnes that are being released to the trade and to the public. Here’s how you can get involved in the centenary and supporting the new Champagnes.
As life starts to return to normal for many countries, and the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, The Buyer is running a series of interviews with key, influential winemakers about the impact of Covid-19 on making wine. Most of the wine news in the past 18 months has been about output, distribution and consumption trends during the pandemic. We want to know from the people who actually make the wine how has their life been? what challenges they’ve faced as winemakers? and how they are having to adapt moving forwards? In this latest piece we talk to Ornelaia estate director Axel Heinz.
Representing over 80 vineyards and 110 members from as far afield as the Scilly islands to the large vine growing areas of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire WineGB West has some clout when it comes to setting trends, and having a voice for what is happening in the overall Great Britain winemaking sector. Here we talk to the body’s chairman, Guy Smith, who also runs his own English winery, Smith & Evans, about the work it does and also highlights from its recent WineGB West Annual Competition.
“I often refer to our division of Les Grands Chais de France as our best kept secret, hopefully that’s about to change.” That’s how Chris Davies, head of Famille Helfrich in the UK describes a business that can exclusively supply on-trade buyers and independent wine merchants an extensive range of wines from all from France and increasingly the rest of the world. Here Davies explains the important role that Famille Helfrich plays within the wider Les Grands Chais group and what buyers can expect from the two portfolio tastings it is hosting in Manchester and London in October.
Agustin Trapero has enjoyed a wide and varied career as a sommelier that has taken him from three star Michelin restaurants to running the entire beverage offer at the new Four Seasons Hotel in Madrid. Here he looks back on his career and reflects on what he thinks it takes to be a top sommelier and what are the vital ingredients needed in order to create the right wine list for the right venue.
Born to be on stage Tom Sandham and Ben McFarland – aka The Thinking Drinkers – have been twirling rather more of their thumbs than they would have liked over the last 18 months. But it has also given them time to write. A lot. They have pulled together a new live show – the Thinking Drinkers Quiz Show – that kicks off tonight in Lincoln and will travel around the country for the next eight months. They have also written The Thinking Drinkers Almanac, their own tribute to the wonderful world and history of alcoholic drinks, which also shows they do do actually know quite a lot about the drinks they have fun with on stage. Here Tom Sandham explains what it is all about.
Fischer’s at Baslow Hall in Derbyshire won yesterday’s Gosset Matchmakers Final 2021, with its young sommelier and chef team judged to have made the perfect two dishes to match Gosset’s Grande Blanc de Blancs and Grande Reserve. Our drinks editor Peter Dean had a ringside seat to capture the rising tension as five of the UK’s best up-coming teams battled it out to see who had the chops when it came to pairing with Champagne. And who knew that caramelised celeriac was the perfect foil for a Blanc de Blancs?
When it comes to managing costs and stock levels in a busy restaurant or bar then keeping on top of your wine wastage is paramount as sommeliers and managers battle with ways of keeping opened bottles of wine fresh between service. Well here’s a new idea that, for less than £5, claims it can potentially transform how you manage your wine programme. Sayv is a new wine preservation system that uses argon gas to keep wine fresh. Here its founder David Parrot explains how it works and why he hopes it can make a big difference to on-trade operators.
For a business executive who cut her teeth, and made her reputation, working for internet start ups, deciding to join Lay & Wheeler, one of the UK’s oldest and most traditional wine merchants, would not have been the most obvious career choice. But for Katy Keating it was a unique opportunity to help re-set an established, successful business with some of the energy and new ways of teamwork and thinking she had learnt whilst working with digital start ups in the United States and the UK. In this wide ranging interview she explains her management philosophy that is focused on creating a working environment and culture that hopefully fosters a strong team spirit and togetherness whilst giving individuals the opportunity to reach their full potential.
To reflect the big changes that are taking place in Bordeaux The Buyer has teamed up with Les Vins du Médoc to introduce a new series of articles – Medoc: The Next Generation Interviews – where we highlight the work being done by new, exciting, innovative winemakers and producers in the region and invite a breakout young wine writer to talk to them about their life in wine, their winemaking philosophy and why they think the Médoc is such a special place to make wine. First up we shine the light on Anaïs Bernard of Château Gadet-Terrefort who shares her story with Jess Lamb.