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.
Describing someone as a ‘maverick’ is not normally something you would do to their face. It might be used to describe someone in a flattering way, but it essentially means someone who sits outside the ordinary and does everything but follow the norm, which can sometimes be misconstrued. But describe a winemaker as a maverick and they’ll probably be pretty pleased as it is more about the wines they make, than how they conduct themselves as a person. Which brings us to Wines of Argentina’s approach to wine events, which appropriately enough recently shone the light on its own country’s generation of maverick winemakers. Harry Crowther went along for the ride.
The process of choosing what wines end up on the list of a top London establishment can often look like a dark art. How do those brands, products and special wines end up there? Alistair Morrell lifts the lid on the Hakkasan Group’s, one of not just the city’s but world’s most high profile restaurant group’s, selection process, and talks to Christine Parkinson, its longstanding director of wine about how she goes about it and the role of her all important tasting panel.
It’s a well known saying in business – and in life – that you can only really appreciate success when you have been through disappointments and knock backs along the way. For Roger and Sue Jones, and their award winning team at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, this week has been one of those that certainly fit into the knock back category. For after 12 years they lost their Michelin star. After the initial disappointment, Roger Jones reflects on what might have been the reasons for Michelin’s decision, and, in this frank, honest and brave account, looks ahead for what could be in store for him, his wife and business partner, Sue, and their team as they looks to expand and grow into new areas, take on different projects and prove there is very much life without a Michelin star.
When he’s not helping to source and sell wine to Bibendum’s premium on-trade accounts, its on-trade channel director, John Graves, likes nothing more than packing up his tent and bike and heading to France for his summer holidays. Here he shares his loves and hates about the long summer months and why he doesn’t travel far without PG Wodehouse, Miles Davis and some sardines for the BBQ.
With an ever growing portfolio of restaurants, bars and hotels it’s a wonder leading restaurateur Jason Myers has the time for a summer holiday at all. But he also loves spending time with his wife, and business partner, Shara, and his two kids, which this year means taking in some wine trips too, exploring new areas of France, and sitting down for some escapist fun with James Bond or Star Wars film.
Spend any time with restaurateur and wine writer Mike Turner and you’ll know what great company he is, but what does he like to get up to when he has some spare time in the summer? That’s if he manages to get any at all having just opened his new restaurant, La Ferme, in Primrose Hill. When he does he’ll be sitting down to old episodes of Red Dwarf and working out the rights and wrongs of kidnapping….if it’s all for a good cause.
So we’re into August, England are winning test matches, the sun is still shining and we’re all taking in turns to head off on holiday. In the first of a series of Q&As with leading figures in the trade we ask Greene King’s Andrew Ingham to kick things off by sharing what he’s up to this year along with what else he loves about the summer months.
We read about all the various wine promotions that go on throughout the year, but we rarely actually get to see what restaurants, bars and wine merchants have done to support them. Here Joan Torrents, well known in the trade for his buying and sourcing wine career, explains how and why he and his wife got so carried away by Wines of Germany’s 31 Days of Riesling promotion they sourced and listed 31 Rieslings for their London wine bar, Pantry & Co.
For years it was the US that was at the heart of the craft beer revolution, but times are changing and slowly the UK is being seen by brewers as the place to showcase and sell their craft beer. Which is good news for the London Craft Beer Festival, an event that has built such a reputation since it started six years ago that its organisers, Daniel Sylvester and Greg Wells, personally invite the brewers that are able to attend.
Walk into any high end bar and you can be pretty much guaranteed the bar staff can tell you anything you want to know about the 100s of bottles of spirits they have on their back bar. How they are made, where they are made and which combinations work best together. But ask them about wine and the conversation is likely to be a little shorter. Which is why wine consultant, Harry Crowther, is staring a new wine training course to help even the best bar staff get more knowledgeable and excited about wine.
Regardless of what type of industry you are in the challenge for any business is to be able say, or at least, claim what they are famous for. The key values, attributes or achievements your company, be it a drinks producer, distributor, retailer or restaurant have that mean your customers want to spend money or do business with you. Here leading hotelier, Geoff Andrews of WorldHotels, explains why good, genuine, relevant storytelling is vital to every one of its hotels’ success.