If there was a competition for the happiest person in the wine trade then Thibaut Mathieu would have to be contender. For after 17 years living and working in Asia he says he has fallen on his feet heading up the Asian business for Corney & Barrow. As he says himself, “he is on the right side of the world” selling fine wines to a dynamic private customer base and the premium on-trade market. Here he explains just what life is like in the fine wine world in Hong Kong and beyond.
Entrepreneurs Henry Connell and Alex Thraves shook up the English wine industry when in 2018 they launched The Uncommon, the first ever English sparkling wine in a can. Their Bacchus, with grapes sourced from Denbies in Surrey, sold out at Selfridges within six months. The Uncommon has this year landed a distribution deal with Jascots Wine Merchants, shifting the focus to the on-trade. Here, as English Wine Week begins, The Buyer speaks with co-founder Henry Connell about how The Uncommon is opening up new audiences for English sparkling wines, and premium canned wines.
Jonothan Davey might still be relatively new to the wine industry, but he is making the most of his management consultancy training to make the biggest impact for his specialist wine importing business, Nekter Wines. Here the focus is on working with a small community of mostly minimal intervention winemakers which has seen him target in on California as one of the most exciting, and dynamic winemaking regions for producers with the wines to shake up the premium and independent on-trade.
The entry process for the Best Sommelier UK competition is nearing its close as the deadline ticks down to the finals on June 3. Here Andrea Rinaldi, president of the UK Sommelier Association, explains how the competition, now in its fifth year came about, and why just being selected to take part in the final competition is an achievement in itself. He also explains how the competition works and what it is looking for in the winning candidate.
As a South African Gareth Ferreira, head sommelier at Core by Clare Smyth, is understandably proud of how far his country’s wines have come in the last 10 years. Here he explains why he is therefore so pleased to be involved in the finals of the judging of this year’s Wines of South Africa’s Sommelier Cup competition in South Africa in September. He also gives his advice on what sommeliers need to do to stand out from the rest and stand a chance of winning such a prestigious event.
Robert Wessman was once dubbed the Viking Boss for how he transformed the pharmaceutical business in Iceland. Now he has his sights set on the premium end of the wine business, buying Bergerac estate Château Saint-Cernin, and employing global wine consultant Michel Rolland and his team to oversee the cellar and winemaking. He is already making waves with the red Château Saint-Cernin already outscoring Cheval Blanc and Harlan Estate in a critics’ blind tasting. Geoffrey Dean was whisked to Bergerac in a private jet, tasted the wines and quizzed Wessman about his best route to market in the UK.
It might seem a bit upside down to be introducing a new major Champagne tasting event in the UK that is actually an Australia affair, organised by the Australian double act of leading wine critic, Tyson Stelzer and events organiser, Jody Rolfe. Together they have been hosting a series of successful Champagne events in Australia and Hong Kong for the last six years through their Wine Press business that has helped bring a new, look and feel to Champagne Down Under. They are now looking to do the same in Europe with their first event in London on June 12. Here’s what to expect.
It is an indication of how big the turnaround in Californian wine has been over the last few years that a number of the dynamic, disruptive and award winning wine importers that have come into the market over the last three to four years have identified California as a key area to go and source exciting, cutting edge wines that can help give them a point of difference. Like Wanderlust Wine. Its founder, Richard Ellison, explains why California has become such an important country in his search for esoteric and different wines from around the world.
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.