When it comes to really understanding and being able to explain the differences and nuances in an emerging country’s wine styles, then it helps if you happen to have been born and bred there. Which is why Zsofi Kiss is so enjoying being able to share her experience and love of Hungarian wines, the country where she grew up, to the adventurous and inquisitive customers at 67 Pall Mall. Here she looks back on her career to date and her first year at London’s most prestigious private club for wine.
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.
“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.
When it comes to Hungarian wine February is all about celebrating Furmint and Wines of Hungary’s Furmint February promotion as the flag bearer for the country’s wine and, in particular, its journey into the UK market. But there are clearly so many more wine styles and varieties to discover. Here we talk to Hungary’s award winning and champion sommelier Szik Matyás about why he thinks Hungarian wines can be such a success on wine lists across the premium on-trade.
The beauty of working in such a unique restaurant as China Tang is that it attracts everyone from A list film stars, political leaders, the Royal family, through to loyal guests of the Dorchester Hotel above it. Which, in turn, gives head of wine Igor Sotric such an open playing field on which to source and sell interesting wines from all over the world. Here he explains what wines sell best and why iconic producers such as California’s Orin Swift are as much in demand as the classic names from Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Last month we were able to take an in-depth look at just how seriously Bibendum PLB takes training, learning and development within the group, not only for its own staff, but particularly when offering added value services to its customers. Here we take a look on the other side of the fence and talk to Johanna Wimmer, head of training and development at The Ivy Collection, about the challenges it faces in training its own staff and how it works closely with Bibendum to offer specialised drinks and wine training and education.
As one of the country’s oldest and most influential wine wholesalers, Davy’s Wine Merchants is very well placed to plot a route for the rest of the industry for the year ahead. Ahead of its annual portfolio tasting next month, operations and purchasing director, Andrew Chudley not only looks at what buyers can expect to taste from its range, including
a number of new producers, but also looks at the opportunities and challenges the on-trade faces in the year ahead and the role suppliers and wholesalers have in addressing them.
The news yesterday that Gerard Basset had died after his short illness with cancer was met with great sadness, but also an outpouring of admiration, memories and tributes to one of the most respected, influential and clearly loved wine figures in the world. He was also one of the most decorated and unique in being able to have MW, MS, MBA and even an OBE after his name. Here, in our own personal tribute to Gerard, we share the interview we did with him in the late summer of 2017 that at the time marked 10 years since he and his wife, Nina, opened Hotel TerraVina. We also looked back over such a memorable life that touched and influenced so many people. Here’s to you Gerard…You’ll Never Walk Alone.
It’s been an exciting 2018 for Jonathan Kleeman. With already bags of sommelier experience under his belt working at The Ritz, Social Eating House and the two Michelin starred Quattro Passi, this was the year that Kleeman joined two start up business, initially at new Japanese fusion restaurant, Four Degree in London, before being signed up as head of buying for a new wine merchants business in Bishops Stortford, Twisted Cellar. It’s a wonder he found time to take a break for Christmas at all…
Is a wine list really credible and going to be taken seriously if it does not have Côtes du Rhône wines on there? You would think not, but to help restaurants and wine merchants bring a new focus to their Côtes du Rhône range, the region’s generic body ran a promotional campaign in October calling on key operators to work with their suppliers to take on extra wines and do whatever they could to highlight the different styles of Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages be it through tastings, special events and their social media channels. Here’s how leading wine merchants, Tanners and the specialist Chelsea Creperie got behind the campaign.
Now here’s a quote to stop you in your tracks: “Sadly, our industry does not like the rebels, the misfits and those who see things differently. Nevertheless, offer inspiration, seek your own direction, be honest and true to yourself, fearless and above all, follow your ambition.” Powerful stuff and the kind of words you might expect to hear from a leading politician, musician or actor. But no. This is the business – and life – philosophy of Stuart McCloskey who has what he believes quite a unique approach to running a wine retail business. One that includes paying all his producers up front, months before a bottle of wine is sold through his store and the price he has for his wines is the same for the trade as they are for private customers. A business model that he says is based on being entirely self funded and independent. So how does he do it? Sorcha Holloway, founder of #ukwinehour caught up with him at his store in deepest, darkest Kent.
We only have to look at our Google Analytics or Twitter and Instagram feeds to see how popular articles on alternative grape varieties and what you might call the old but new emerging wine producing countries are with sommeliers and premium on-trade buyers. It’s why we have created our dedicated Grape Unknown newsletter and place such a focus on bringing those type of articles to you. Clearly one of the most interesting and exciting of those countries is Hungary. Its new generation of wines and winemakers have really caught the imagination of the trade. But it is one thing being interested about the country, it’s quite another to go ahead and list its wines. Which is why The Buyer teamed up with Wines of Hungary to host the first of our new 90 minute format Sommelier Workshop sessions to give buyers, producers and importers the chance to share their experiences in an open debate and tasting format.
To try to unravel and understand Chile’s position in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with Ellis Wines and its Chilean producer partner, Chono Wines, to bring
together a group of senior wine trade professionals, buyers and sommeliers to debate what are the opportunities and challenges for Chile as a whole. It was the chance for these leading figures to share their experiences with Chilean wines in their restaurants and businesses and look at the kinds of wines from Chile that they are looking to source and select for their wine lists.
Amathus is not just a drinks retailer. Far from it. For many bartenders and mixologists it’s the equivalent of the AA, always there in an emergency for when you have run out of your most popular brand of mezcal or you need to get your hands on the world’s most exclusive bourbon. Slowly but surely it now wants to build the same kind of reputation for its wines, which is why it brought in Jeremy Lithgow MW, with stints at Harrods and Charles Taylor, a year ago to expand its range and offer to make it more of a one stop shop to both its retail customers and the trade. Which also means taking its retail offer outside London for the first time with new shops in Bath and Bristol. Here Richard Siddle talks to Lithgow and also Amathus’ head of spirits, Phil Duffy, about how they are both looking to raise the bar further still with their complementary ranges of wines and spirits.
It’s not just supermarkets that have the challenge of bringing their wall of wine more to life for consumers to understand and better engage with. It’s as much a challenge for major pub groups like All Bar One and all the other fascias in the Mitchells & Butlers pub and bar group. Alistair Morrell talks to Lydia Worsey about how the group is looking at new ways to promote and push wines, starting with its flagship wine outlet, All Bar One.
Running a restaurant or a bar is busy enough without going out of your way to make your life more complicated. But then if you don’t put the effort in hosting extra tastings, wine dinners and events you’re not going to attract in more customers and get people eating and drinking with you at times when they are normally doing something else. It’s why the Côtes du Rhône generic body is not just asking restaurants to get behind its latest promotion, but is providing them with £500 of materials and support to help them put the events on. Here we talk to Bastien Ferreri of Frenchie and Roger Jones at The Harrow about what they are doing to back the Côtes du Rhône campaign.
Melanie Brown has recently opened The Australian Cellar which follows the success of her first solo venture, The New Zealand Cellar, which first launched online in 2014, before finding its bricks-and-mortar home at Pop Brixton in 2015. Since starting The New Zealand Cellar she has become widely respected as one of the biggest influencers on New Zealand wine in the UK. There are now hopes she can do the same for Australia if she continues to tirelessly import a diverse selection of premium wines to the market as she has done with New Zealand. Roger Jones met her to find out.
It’s not enough any more just to have the best quality products in the market. That’s not enough to get choosy consumers to pick them up and buy them. No, in this age of the smartphone we need to be wooed, and entertained if we are to part with our cash. Which is why Côtes du Rhône is looking to restaurants and bars to support its latest marketing campaign with special events, tastings and dinners to make it even more memorable and meaningful for potential future customers.
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.
Whisper it quietly but German wines are very much back in vogue, or at least they are amongst the cooler, hip and happening ends of the wine market, particularly amongst younger wine drinkers not exposed to some of Germany’s less flattering exports in the 1970s and 1980s. In fact Germany is enjoying such a renaissance that it can put on a tasting featuring 51 producers (and their 150 plus wines) that are not currently represented in the UK. Producers that have been selected by a pre-tasting panel made up of UK buyers, merchants and sommeliers, some of whom have kindly shared what we can expect at next week’s Get It On tasting on October 25.