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    People: Producer
    People: Producer
    Gutter & Stars

    Chris Wilson’s latest adventures from his Gutter & Stars winery

    Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery in the heart of Cambridge this autumn. In this instalment of his column for The Buyer he goes into more detail about the type of wines he’d like to make this year and unravels some of the red tape involved in setting up a winery from scratch.

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    joe fattorini malartic screenshot

    What we can learn from ‘Le Grand Voyage’ video project

    Two of the big breakthroughs we have seen during the Covid-19 crisis have been the big swing by businesses to digital and the need for companies, and individuals, to collaborate more effectively with each other. Both of which were exemplified by the recent Le Grand Voyage project that saw Bordeaux producer, Château Malartic-Lagravière, team up with wine and brand communicators, Robert Joseph and Polly Hammond and the new The Wine Show Creative team, to create a series of three minute YouTube vignettes that each tell a different story about the history, culture, art, politics and food and drink of Bordeaux, hosted by Joe Fattorini. Here, in the latest The Buyer video interview, Richard Siddle talks to them all, including Severine Bonnie from Malartic-Lagravière, about how the project came together, what it wanted to achieve and why it potentially offers so much for other drinks producers and businesses to learn from, and why a creative team all pulling in the right direction can produce genuinely ground-breaking work.

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    hidden sea wine

    Hidden Sea wines helps take plastic out of the sea

    As company statements go The Hidden Sea wine brand has got a live up to: ‘One Wine. One Mission. To remove plastic from the oceans’. But by linking up with the ReSea environmental project, which was set up to trawl the oceans picking up plastic as it goes on behalf of sustainably focused businesses all over the world , it is helping to do exactly that. In 2019 Resea removed 426 ton of plastic from the sea and it has a goal to reach 3000 tons this year. Here Peter Fairclough and Jo Taylorson, of its UK importer Kingsland Drinks, explains how the brand lives up to its claims and also makes good quality, value Australian varietal wine.

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    Anthony Hamilton Russell

    Anthony Hamilton Russell: how South Africa is alive and kicking

    2020 is the 40th vintage for Hamilton Russell Vineyards, the pioneers of the cool, maritime Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in South Africa’s Cape. But there will hardly have been a more challenging year than this one. The pandemic and the government’s response to it have hit the hospitality and wine businesses hard. In an in-depth and revealing interview Anthony Hamilton Russell opens out about the impact on his business, what strategies he is employing to help speed his own and the on-trade’s recovery and what he believes the coming months will bring, in this, his 30th year at the helm.

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    wine gb awards loos

    WineGB Awards: social distance judging; portaloos; & the results

    We are all having to find new ways of working to fit in with the social distancing rules, including the usually very hands on business of judging for major wine competitions. It has certainly thrown up fresh challenges to those tasked with putting such events on. Here Belinda Mercer, competition manager for the WineGB Awards, takes us behind the scenes to explain for how she and her team were able to put on this year’s awards thanks to the efforts of just three judges – Susan Barrie MW, Oz Clarke and Rebecca Palmer. We have now updated this article to include the highlights of the winners of the 2020 WineGB Awards.

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    People: Producer
    Pouilly-Fuissé

    How Pouilly-Fuissé got Premier Cru recognition

    22 climats in Pouilly-Fuissé have just been given Premier Cru status. The wines of Pouilly and Fuissé have long been recognised as “first class,” in fact at the start of the Nineteenth Century scholars put the wines on a par with other great wine regions like Meursault and Montrachet. But, until this week’s decision, the Mâconnais was still the only region in Burgundy that did not have vineyard hierarchy. Before lockdown LM Archer travelled to the region to find out how the thirteen-year application for Premier Cru status was progressing for a number of climats, a process that had been temporarily closed down because of the virus.

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    Bertie Eden Long Read

    Maris’s Bertie Eden: godfather of biodynamics in the Languedoc

    Making a carbon-neutral winery from cannabis sativa, that has been recognised as one of the most environmentally-friendly wineries in the world, is just one of the many achievements of Robert ‘Bertie’ Eden. The godfather of organic and biodynamic winemaking in the Languedoc, Eden is a British ex-pat whose 45 hectare domaine Château Maris has been making exciting terroir-driven wines since 1997. He is overseeing Invivo’s aims to become the largest supplier of organic grapes in France, as well as being one of the greatest advocates of the need for the wine industry to reduce its impact on the environment.

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    James & Susanna Forbes’ mission to make & promote craft cider

    There is always something a little more special about a drinks business when the people behind it have followed a dream to give up the day job, switch careers and dive head first into making it happen. Which is very much the case for James and Susanna Forbes. Both will be well known by many in the drinks trade for they both started out – and met each other – on the shop floor at Oddbins. James progressed to senior buyer before really making his mark as head of Wines of Argentina in the UK and introducing Malbec to the great British public. Susanna switched from Oddbins to become a long standing, highly respected drinks journalist. They also, though, both hankered after starting their own craft drinks company and after much deliberation and planning are now really making strides and winning awards and accolades for their Little Pomona orchard and craft cider business in the heart of Herefordshire. Here they explain how it has all come together to Richard Siddle.   

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    Cambridge winery

    How Chris Wilson is building the first urban Cambridge winery

    Wine journalist – and regular Buyer writer – Chris Wilson has added another string to his bow as he launches his own urban winery in the heart of Cambridge this autumn. With keys to the windmill-based winery received this week and equipment and grapes on their way he is penning an exclusive monthly column for The Buyer on the ups and downs of building a winery, and brand, from scratch. Part 1: what’s in a name?

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    carolyn and jc martin creation screenshot

    Creation Wines on innovating to get through the Covid-19 crisis

    Finally after weeks of turmoil and damage across the South African drinks and wine industries, and all the retail and hospitality sectors they support, the government’s domestic ban on all alcohol sales has been lifted. For the last few months all those outside the country could do was show their support by promoting, buying, and in The Buyer’s case write and talk about South African wine. Which is what this week’s video interview is all about and the chance to talk to Jean Claude (JC) and Carolyn Martin, the charismatic and inspiring couple behind Creation Wines, who encapsulate the extraordinary efforts that producers have had to go to in order to keep innovating and selling their wines overseas, so that they could support their staff and local communities that rely on them for their livelihoods. In particular, they have shown the way forward with the number of virtual tastings and sampling packs they have created for their international markets. It’s why today The Buyer today ‘Raises a Glass To’ them – and all South African wine producers at this time.

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    rick rainey

    How New York’s Forge Cellars is driven by Riesling & Pinot Noir

    If you like bone dry Riesling and cool climate Pinot Noir then head to Forge Cellars in New York States’ Seneca Lake. It’s so proud of those two styles of wine it makes that they are the main slogan on the company’s website. Forge Cellars is actually a Franco-American alliance between local New York winemaker, Rick Rainey and Louis Barruol of France, owner of Chateau de Saint Cosme and Chateau Rouanne. Here Rainey explains what it has been able to do in lockdown and its plans when restrictions ease.

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    Offbeat Wines

    Offbeat Wines’ Daniel Ham and his rock n’ roll winemaking

    West Country based winemaker, Daniel Ham, has recently launched his new Off Beat Wines label onto the market – to critical acclaim. His 2018 is already sold out, and his 2019 all but spoken for already. With a new winery to open later this year in readiness for the 2020 vintage, it’s been a whirlwind few months for Dan that has turned doubters into believers. Himself included.

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    People: Producer Tasting: Wine
    Lalomba Long Read

    Why new Lalomba wines are ‘one giant leap forward’ for Rioja 

    Three years since Rioja introduced its Single Vineyard category, Ramon Bilbao unveils its long-anticipated Lalomba project – a series of Vinedos Singulares wines that set out to capture the individual character of each very special vineyard. The entirely new Finca Valhonta andLadero reds are the producer’s most expensive ever wines and the Finca Lalinde 2019 Rosado is a re-launched premium rosado, which all share an unprecedented degree of background research and development. Quite apart from the individual merits of each wine, collectively Lalomba shows how producers in Rioja are starting to believe that terroir character can be a better predictor of quality than the length of time that a wine spends maturing in a barrel.

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    treasury brands

    Why Treasury Wine Estates is launching its 1st UK DTC website

    The Covid-19 crisis has seen a number of major grocery and FMCG brands launch their own direct to consumer websites in a bid to stay close to their usual customer base who were stuck at home, not willing to venture out, who had switched in their millions to buying their favourite products online. Truth be told most had been planning and proposing setting up their DTC sites for some time. Like Treasury Wine Estates, which next week pulls back the curtain on its own first venture into DTC in the UK, aimed at promoting its premium and luxury wine brands. Richard Siddle talks to Ben Blake, Treasury’s European head of marketing, about why now and how it is going to work.

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    People People: Producer Tasting Tasting: Wine
    la unica all of us 2

    Six tastings in 4 countries to create Felix Solis’ La Única

    When the invite came through to help take part in the judging and blending of the new La Única project from Felix Solis I took a double take. The time and date was for an actual venue alongside other people, rather than sit in on a Zoom tasting. But when I nervously arrived at Camino in Kings Cross to take part there, as well as my fellow real life tasters, was a large screen with not just one Zoom tasting taking place, but five others simultaneously happening in China, Germany and Spain. Welcome to the new normal of virtual, and actual wine tastings. Here Richard Cochrane, head of Félix Solís in the UK, explains how La Única concept works and why it wanted to make it a global online event.

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    richard katie

    Raising a Glass to Katie Jones & her Instagram lockdown walks

    Winemakers, producers, importers, retailers and restaurateurs have all had to step out from behind the curtain during Covid-19 to take their turn to go online, turn on Zoom or go live on Instagram in order to be able to keep telling their stories during lockdown. But none have been quite so prolific as Katie Jones who has created her own version of a breakfast TV show with her daily walks through the small plots of land that make up Domaine Jones in the heart of the Languedoc – taking a loyal and growing community of trade customers and consumers with her. Here she talks to Richard Siddle, in the latest video interview on The Buyer, about why and how she has turned so much to social media during the crisis, and how it is now going to be very much part of how she does business post lockdown too. In so doing she has also shown the way forward for other producers and drinks businesses to use social media, and Instagram Live in particular. Which makes her a very worthy second recipient of The Buyer’s ‘Raise a Glass To’ award to highlight people who have gone way beyond the norm during Covid-19…here’s her story.

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    6000 project montage

    Reka Haros: vote for best design and buy Sfriso lockdown wine

    Regardless of what part of the world and sector of the drinks, retail or hospitality industries you work in, we’ve all had to find ways to adapt and self motivate ourselves to get through the Covid-19 lockdown. For Pier Sfriso and Reka Haros, the winemaking couple who run a small family winery in Treviso, northern Italy, it meant they were faced with 1,000s of bottles of unsold wine. So what did they do? They started a competition calling on designers to come up with label they could use to help promote and sell 6,000 bottles of Prosecco. It has resulted in hundreds of entries. Now they are calling on anyone in the trade to cast their vote for the designs they have shortlisted. Here Reka Haros shares their story and how the reaction to the competition has helped raise their spirits at such a difficult time.

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    Ruinart

    How Ruinart is preventing lightstrike with its new casing

    Sun is good for grapes but bad for wine – the effect of sunlight on wine, particularly those in clear glass bottles, has been under-estimated for too long. Preventing this with a revolutionary new ‘second skin’ case is one of the drivers behind Maison Ruinart’s decision to ditch its gift boxes and replace it with paper maché-like packaging. Anne Krebiehl MW hears from Frédéric Panaïotis, Ruinart’s chef de cave, about the additional ecological and cost benefits.

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    raise a glass to main logo

    Raise a Glass: Rico Basson, Vinpro & South African wine industry

    The Covid-19 pandemic has for so many people around the world been the most challenging and damaging time both in their working and their personal lives. But it has also been a uniquely inspiring few months as individuals and businesses have stepped up to the mark and gone way and beyond to help others in their industry get through this extraordinary period. Those are the people The Buyer wants to highlight and show our appreciation for in our new ‘Raise a Glass To’ series where we can all collectively stop and pay our respects to their achievements and actions during the pandemic. Starting here today with Rico Basson, managing director of Vinpro, who has led the South African wine industry through its huge difficulties during the lockdown.

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    bruce and ross

    South African producers launch first not-for-profit DTC platform

    The outbreak of Covid-19 has hit the drinks and wine industry the world over. None more so than in South Africa which is again going through a national lockdown of all domestic wine sales with potentially a devastating impact on the country’s wine network. It has also made wine businesses think and act differently, particularly with the boom in online sales. In keeping with that new spirit of innovation, creativity and collaboration, three South African wine producers – Bruce Jack of Bruce Jack Wines, Ross Sleet of Rascallion Wine and De Villiers Graaff of De Grendel wines – have come together to launch a new, and potentially unique direct to consumer concept for the wine industry. Together they have set up a non-for-profit platform called Mind Map Wine Company that they are launching in the UK to act not as a competitor to their usual retail and on-trade channels to market, but to be an active partner to them, helping to raise the awareness of their brands and connect directly and with consumers. They hope to sign up more like-minded producers from around the world to join them in the months ahead. In our latest The Buyer video interview Richard Siddle caught up with Bruce Jack and Ross Sleet to talk through the new DTC platform, but also assess the current state and impact of the South African domestic wine lockdown. 

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