“We are in a very positive mood. We are getting back to more normality and we really appreciate the opportunity to have real contact with people again.” Santiago Mora might be speaking in his role as director general of the CRDO Rueda, the governing body of this increasingly popular and important Spanish wine region, but he also speaks for the trade in general as producers and buyers get back to doing business face-to-face again. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about how Rueda is coming out of Covid-19 stronger than ever and shares its plans for the UK and its other key export markets around the world.
As a region, Champagne has set itself some ambitious Sustainability targets, and not before time. To check on its progress towards being fully environmentally certified in eight years time, Tyson Stelzer hosted a masterclass at Taste Champagne 2022 that brought together five key movers and shakers. One clear overriding message was that flexibility was the key issue – respecting the health of the soil but, at the same time, achieving a workable-sized crop.
Baijiu is by far the biggest drinks category in the world, worth some $9.5 billion in 2021 and set to grow to $11.4 billion by 2027 (Research Reports World), but is still knocking on the door of the UK drinks market waiting to be let in. To help give UK buyers an insider’s view of Baijiu and the chance to taste a range of baijiu for themselves, The Buyer has linked up with major baijiu producer, Baoyun Jiu, part of the Baoyun Group, to run a sampling campaign to showcase the different styles. Here’s an introduction to what Baoyun Jiu hopes to offer from Castel Li founder and chief executive of the Baoyun Group.
Three weeks after Putin’s tanks invaded Ukraine the world looks on appalled and wonders what next? In the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia it is more a question of who next? Region expert Caroline Gilby MW has just returned from Moldova where camaraderie and humanity is at an all-time high and almost a quarter of a million refugees have been welcomed in from Ukraine. At Vinaria Purcari it has also given the winery’s Freedom Blend an added significance, as Gilby explains.
Selling wines and spirits in China and across Asia is not the great unknown as it was say 10 to 15 years ago when few brands had any idea where their products were being sold. But China and Asia are still highly complex markets with each country, region, state and city needing specialist help to make sure your drinks have a realistic chance of success. Which is the exact role that Nimbility claims to offer, with expert help on the ground and insiders’ knowledge of how to make the most of the opportunity for your brands in these still emerging markets. Richard Siddle talks to two of Nimbility’s three founding directors, Francesca Martin and Polly Aylwin-Foster, to find out exactly how it works.
When deciding what wines and producers to work with then for Mags Janjo, owner of MJ Wine Cellars, quality always has to come first, backed up with a strong commercial story that he knows will help him sell that wine to his various multiple retail, on trade and independent wine merchant customers. But for a business that set out to try and import as diverse a range of wines and producers as possible from the more estoteric, off-the- beaten track wine regions around the world, Janjo has found himself working more and more with female winemakers and expects them to make up 40% of his range by the end of the year. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about his approach to wine importing and bringing as many new voices and faces to the UK wine market.
Launched in partnership with the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation, E. & J. Gallo’s Women Behind the Wine Educational Scholarship Fund recognises outstanding women each year, with 21 scholarships awarded in 2019, 24 in 2020 and 28 in 2021 all aimed at support women around the world in their wine education and professional development, ensuring that more women have the opportunity to join and develop in the wine industry. Together the sponsorships to date have been worth $100,000. To help mark International Women’s Day we talk to award-winning wine educator, Cathy Marston, one of last year’s winners, about what the Master of Wine scholarship has meant for her and her career.
The Lucky Penny Group should really call itself the Lucky Pounds, Shillings & Pence Group considering the number of different aspects there are to the business. At its heart it’s a thriving, ambitious Liverpool-based restaurant and bar company focused around two key brands, BoBo, an Iberian wine bar specialising in Spanish and Portuguese wine, and Abditory, that prides itself on offering classic spirits, cocktails and wines. But Lucky Penny also offer a wide range of hospitality consultancy services, from bar design to restaurant concepts and even has its own specialist outdoor clothing business. Richard Siddle catches up with managing director, Steven Burgess, to get his take on what Lucky Penny Group is all about.
Whilst so much of the news coming out of Europe’s main wine producing countries has been tales of frosts, floods and poor harvests, Portugal has been able to return two strong harvests in 2020 and 2021 which have helped put even more momentum behind strong growth export sales, value and volume figures. Ahead of this month’s annual UK tasting Vini Portugal’s president, Frederico Falcão, reflects on what has put Portugal in its strongest position for years and says the even better news is that there is so much more to come and discover of Portuguese wines.
“We want to use sustainability to make all our business practices more effective: stop focusing on doing ‘less bad’ and rather aim to get things right from the start.” That in a nutshell sums up the sustainability strategy behind how Alliance Wine is going to run its business now and in the future. To help ensure it is not just sticking to, but improving, developing, adapting and becoming even more sustainable it has appointed a dedicated sustainability manager – Marta Juega Rivera – to oversee and drive the sustainability agenda up and down its business. Here she sets out what being sustainable really means for Alliance Wine and then sets out how it has divided key tasks and targets into working groups to help implement its strategy across all areas of the company in what she calls “manageable bites” that allow for small gains that all add up to making a big difference.
Last October, just before Omicron reared its ugly head and we hit another travel ban, Mike Turner managed to make it out to Piemonte to visit Domenico Clerico, the renowned Barolo producer in the commune of Monforte D’Alba. Four years on from the sad passing of founder Domenico, it proved an excellent opportunity to see how the team was continuing his legacy as one of the visionaries of Monforte D’Alba and modernisers of Barolo.
What do you do when you have a surplus of viticultural data and don’t know what to do with it?… Develop a technological tool that supports everyday decision-making, with regular guidance on treatments and optimum harvest dates, and also assists long-term strategic change… that’s what. This is what lies behind PICA, a fascinating web-based tool and app developed by Cavit, one of Italy’s largest co-operatives based in Trentino. It represents 4,500 individual grower members, 10 wineries and a team of 14 agronomists overseeing 5,400 hectares of vineyards, the majority of which are relatively small plots in the hills around Trento. David Kermode was there before Lockdown to see how it is revolutionising viticulture in the region. As a prequel to today’s tasting in London we re-run this fascinating insight into winemaking that is pushing the envelope.
Walter Speller has a very simple, and effective, answer when The Buyer asks him why he is about to embark on what will be the third edition of the Nebbiolo Day tasting in March. Here’s his response: “In one word: because it is great. Nebbiolo is capable of making some of the finest and longest-lived wines in the world. It has not always been understood as such, but ‘the shock of the new’ is now well behind us and Nebbiolo’s tannins are no longer traumatising the UK.” Far from it and there will a big rush to sign up to this year’s event on March 3. Here Speller explains more of his love for Nebbiolo and what to expect next month at the London tasting.
For Tim Ford there is nothing like meeting and working with new potential customers that can catch on to what he and his team are looking to do at Domaine Gayda in the Languedoc Roussillon. Which is why he is particularly looking forward to holding a portfolio tasting in London in April and a chance to show the winery’s full range of wines. Here he explains how he hopes to build even stronger contacts with independent wine merchants across the UK and break more into the London restaurant scene.
When The Buyer first profiled Richard Ellison in 2017 about his new wine business Wanderlust Wine his goal was to try and do something that traditional wine merchants can’t or don’t want to do – which is to sell interesting wines direct to both consumers and the on and off-trades at the same time. A new trading model that was made possible by a mysterious, bespoke IT system that, he claimed, could simultaneously service different channels of the trade with minimal staff. So how has he got on? Richard Siddle caught up with Richard Ellison to find out.
The numbers say it all. Burgundy’s leading producer, Domaine de La Pousse d’Or, can now claim to have a wine range that includes seven Grand Crus, three Monopoles and 11 Premier Crus following the recent acquisition of vineyards in the highly sought after Les Echezeaux and Charmes Chambertin appellations. The move can only add more prestige to an estate that is already seen by many as a producing benchmark Pinot Noir from the Côtes de Beaune, most famously in the communes of Volnay and Corton.
As the Vacherons raze 10 houses in the centre of Sancerre to make a € multi-million winery measuring one hectare in size, their ambition is clear for all to see. Cousins Jean-Laurent and Jean-Dominique Vacheron have, during their tenure as fourth generation winemakers, already cemented this central Loire estate’s reputation as arguably the best producers of red and white Sancerre. They have bought land in the best parcels, converted to full organic and biodynamic farming, and employed painstaking methods on their single-vineyard wines that recall the fastidiousness of Burgundian monks in the Côte d’Or. For one terroir-based cuvée they even age the wine in barrels sourced from Domaine Romanée Conti. Now they see this as the perfect time to re-set their sights set on the UK market with a deal struck with Pol Roger Portfolio. Peter Dean visited Sancerre to see some bold moves taking place.
“Our aim is to represent the wines of Bourgogne as broadly as possible, lesser-known Village AOCs can often provide more accessible price points than their more famous near neighbours.” So says Simon Jones of family-run and owned Tanners Wine Merchants as he and Estelle Prunier of Auxey-Duresses-based Domaine Michel Prunier et Fille discuss this appellation that sits between Meursault and Volnay and how it has fared in the new 2020 and 2021 vintages. This is the latest Bourgogne Week interview that The Buyer and Bourgogne Wines are posting to highlight how different UK specialist Bourgogne wine importers work with their partners in Bourgogne, particularly for emerging and lesser-known appellations.
With so many digital, audio, video and social media platforms to share content on it can be hard to keep up. To help shine the light on what is happening in the Italian wine sector and how producers, brands and retailers can get closer to the trade and wine lovers Stevie Kim has set up Mamma Jumbo Shrimp as an all encompassing brand to both host and share her content about Italian wine.
Bordeaux winemakers could justifiably describe the 2021 vintage as their “annus horribilis”. Not only did they, along with their fellow producers around the world, have to deal with the significant challenges of operating during a global pandemic, they were also hit by severe frosts and heavy rain which wreaked havoc in the vineyards. Helen Arnold spoke to the CIVB’s communications manager Christophe Chateau to find out how winemakers have coped with these multiple challenges, the huge growth in organic winemaking and what he thinks the future holds for this classic French region.