From scrubbing fellow wine critic Charles Metcalfe naked in the showers at Oxford University, to still being the most respected, loved, and recognised person talking about wine on our TV screens – Oz Clarke is a one off. A personality of the highest order, always a regular at every major, and minor trade wine tasting, still eager to learn, share and talk about his passion for wine – or beer, or music, or Gillingham Football Club. Here he talks to Richard Siddle about his life in wine and why like Peter Pan he has no intention of growing up and taking the world too seriously.
“This is very different to the other awards, there is an informality and a sort of ‘joy’ about it.” That’s how the Wine Society’s Ewan Murray described last year’s awards ceremony for the People’s Choice Wine Awards which has just kicked off the entry process for this year’s competition. Now Murray had just won a boot full of awards, but it very much sums up the trade’s reaction to this new breakthrough awards. Here founder, Janet Harrison, explains why she was so keen to get everyday wine drinkers involved in her new competition.
Such has been the surge in demand for imported wine in China, thanks to highly significant free trade deals with key countries such as Australia and Chile, it has also opened the doors wide open for the global bulk wine market. So much so that the World Bulk Wine Exhibition, that hosts the sector’s biggest and most important trade fair in Amsterdam every November, is now about to hold its first event in China. Here’s why and what we can expect.
The wine industry is often criticised for working inside its own bubble, only ever taking influences and inspiration from within the industry rather than naturally looking outside to other consumer food and drink sectors for ideas and a new perspective. It’s why the appointment of Rodolphe Lameyse as the new chief executive of Vinexpo is potentially so exciting. It is the first time the international exhibition business has gone outside the wine industry for its leader. Here Lameyse talks to The Buyer about how he hopes his experience as a specialist in organising leading trade shows around the world will help bring new ideas, and a fresh strategy for the group at a vital time in its history.
Wines of South Africa’s Sommelier Cup competition is not just an opportunity for leading sommeliers around the world to showcase their skills and their knowledge of South African wine, it has proven to be a melting pot of sommelier talent that has helped them hone their skills, as many of the past winners and finalists have gone on to become their own country’s national sommelier winners with the overall 2016 winner, Marc Almert, going on to become the ASI Best Sommelier of the World 2019. Here’s how you can get involved in this year’s competition.
They say in the world of journalism that a photograph is worth a 1,000 words and here’s a story to prove it. Clean and simple. This is the winning photograph taken by Jon Wyand which has earned him the prize of Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year, part of the overall Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2019 competition. What’s more it is the second time that UK photographer Wyand has picked up the award. A picture that tells its own story…
At the launch of #SauvBlancDay Dr Jamie Goode included one of the Sauvignon Blancs of Denis Jamain from Domaine de Reuilly in a blind tasting, extolling the virtues of both the wine as great value, and of the winemaker as one of the grape’s early pioneers. Reuilly ofter gets overlooked in favour of its more illustrious Central Loire neighbours Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé and yet it is producing world class wines at amazingly good value. Peter Dean visited Denis Jamain and was equally impressed by what he tasted.
We’ve all heard the comparison that passing the Masters of Wine exam is the wine industry’s equivalent to climbing Everest. But it is one thing knowing everything about what goes into making a glass of wine, that all falls by the wayside if you don’t then have the personal and commercial skills to go out and make the most of having those two big letters after your name. That’s where MW Access comes in. A new match making service if you like that hopes to give wine businesses the world over the chance to tap into the international MW talent pool and be potentially connected with the right MW who can help them fix a particular problem or come up with a new way of working for their company. It has been set up by three MWs, Tim Wildman, Barry Dick and Michael Palij, to find the right MW, with the most relevant commercial and technical experience who is tailor made for whatever business challenge or opportunity a particular business might have. Here Richard Siddle catches up with the founders of MW Access.
No matter how crowded the spirits market is there is always room for true innovation to find its place on the back bar. Which is what the founders of Aluna Coconut rum hope they have achieved with what they claim is one of the first authentic, all-natural toasted coconut blended rums, in this case sourced from Guatemala and the Caribbean. The Buyer catches up with one of the brains behind the new rum, Guy Ritchie, who explains why he thinks this can be a new breakthrough brand.
For the past 12 years Rollo Gabb has been running the 100 hectare Stellenbosch winery Journey’s End with innovation as one of the key drivers. As Rollo sets about rethinking his three tiers of wines – to make them reflect better the quirkiness of the brand – he talks to Peter Dean about how the 2019 vintage is shaping up after years of drought, how the weather in South Africa is challenging the winemaker in unexpected ways, how South African wine can take its place alongside other international premium wines, and why Journey’s End is still, in his mind, one of the most experimental wineries in South Africa today.
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.
We’ve all watched Dragon’s Den and wondered quite what the businesses that win the backing do with their money. For Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood, founders of local craft gin producers, Didsbury Gin, it has helped them push a brand that was only launched in January 2017 onto the next level with listings first in Harvey Nichols and then a partnership with the UK’s biggest pub chain Wetherspoons. Helen Arnold talks to the duo about how they have managed to make such a success of their gin brand in less than two and a half years.
Whilst mainstream Prosecco sales in the UK appear to have reached their maximum growth levels, the good news for the overall category is that the focus is finally turning towards the more premium and foodie styles of Prosecco – from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG – that are so common in the restaurants of Venice and increasingly finer restaurants and bars in the UK. It might only still be a tiny segment of the total Prosecco market, but it’s the one that deserves most of our attention.
Getting to know and understand any style of wine or spirits takes dedication and commitment. But if Katie Canfield was to really get to grips with mezcal and find out what makes it tick she was going to have to find out the hard way – and that meant long, hard, off road drives into the heart of Mexico. But it was clearly well worth it as she reports directly back from visiting some of the most influential mezcaleros at their palenques (distilleries) who are producing some the mezcals we can find on the back bars of the most stylish cocktails bars in the world.
Burgundy’s Arnoux-Lachaux (and Robert Arnoux as the estate was called previously) has always had a reputation of making very good, solid, dependable fruit-driven Pinot. But since Charles Lachaux took over the reins in 2015 the recent vintages have soared out of sight. With massive changes in the vineyard and winery Charles is now delivering first class, hedonistic wines with real focus and precision – so much so that Corney & Barrow are singling the estate out for special focus. The 2017 vintage is the closest yet to Charles’s vision and are wines that almost all now use 100% whole bunch and restrained use of new oak – wines that are putting the winery on the cusp of true greatness.
BRXTN GREEN, England’s first cannabis-infused sparkling wine gets launched today at the Harrow, Little Bedwyn, the Wiltshire-based restaurant run by Sue and Roger Jones, which is introducing it initially as part of a new sharing menu, before rolling it out to more on-trade venues. Controversially using THC rather than CBD, Jones claims that BRXTN GREEN is also the world’s first Blanc de Verts.
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.