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.
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.
“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.
The equivalent of 1.4 million punnets of fresh table grapes are discarded in the global supply chain each year – a significant waste that is being addressed by the launch of HYKE a new premium English gin. HYKE is produced by Foxhole Spirits, which three years ago launched a gin made from by-products from the English wine harvest, and is being launched on March 18 – Global Recycling Day. Emma Diggory went to the launch at Spring in Somerset House and reports back on what makes HYKE so unique.
Although kombucha has been around for centuries, the fermented tea drink is on trend having managed to break out from its health food origins and into the mainstream. A welcome addition into the non-alcoholic category, kombucha ticks a number of boxes: it is naturally sparkling, healthy, soft, made from tea, has a variety of serves and is steeped in the mysticism of the Orient – which is why sales predictions are stratospheric aided by PepsiCo’s acquisition of kombucha producer KeVita. One of the new British producers is Wild Fizz whose founder, Gina Geoghegan, started small and now has a brewing facility in North London. Peter Dean sits down with her to get the lowdown on this new ‘booch.
Let’s face it with so many major wine tastings taking place every week it can be had to find and justify the time to go to even the most worthy. So how do you stand out from the crowd, even if you are much sought after wine region such as California? Well the answer is to put yourself into the minds of your target buyers and customers, says California Wine Institute UK and Ireland’s Damien Jackman and Justine McGovern, and that means having an event that really is Essential to attend. Which is why its March 12 tasting is focused entirely on wines that cost up to £50.
Burgundians have got a reputation for keeping themselves to themselves – even when it comes to getting along with their immediate neighbours. So how come that the only official exchange programme they have run with another wine body is with the wine region furthest from them – in New Zealand’s Central Otago? 12 years on Peter Dean listens to what has been learned from the Central Otago Burgundy Exchange programme and why Aubert de Villaine says “it has started a sparkle that has not stopped”?
Producing your own distinct style of wine in an area that is famous for just producing one grape variety is hard, but for the Sandro Fay family it is all about putting the focus on developing Nebbiolo grapes that are as sustainable as possible and using the individual characteristics of single vineyards to really make your wines stand out from even within their own estate. Find out for yourself at today’s Nebbiolo Day tasting in London.
He is one of the most influential winemakers in New Zealand, put Cloudy Bay and Marlborough on the map in the 1980s, and was making single vineyard and oaked Sauvignon Blancs before ‘Class of 2019’ was out of kindergarten. A man of few words but many ideas, Kevin Judd opens up about how the past 10 years have been making wines for his own label Greywacke, and why he has stopped wearing a watch. Peter Dean is all ears and tastes through a decade of Greywacke.
If you have grown up enjoying the many adventures of chefs Keith Floyd and Rick Stein (and many others) on TV then we all have the producer behind the camera to thank for making those programmes possible. Sadly David Pritchard died in January from cancer, but he leaves hours of wonderful TV moments behind him. In a personal tribute Bordeaux winemaker, Gavin Quinney, recalls many years of friendship and making films with Pritchard and Stein, including their most recent outing to his home and winery at Château Bauduc where he ended up acting as their local tour guide, setting up shots and arranging which restaurants and vineyards to visit. It’s just a pity the final meal of roast lamb, courtesy of Gavin himself, did not go quite as well as the rest of the filming. Here’s to you Mr Pritchard.
It might look like a space ship hovering over the vines, but it is actually the rather novel way of feeling as though you are part of the vineyard as you taste wine at Ceretto Wines in Alba. Ahead of next week’s Nebbiolo Day tasting in London we talk to owner Alessandro Ceretto, part of the third generation of the family that is looking to make wines true to the region. Which for Alessandro means not just a heavy focus on Nebbiolo, but a dedication to biodynamic winemaking as well.
Harry Crowther reports back from Louis Latour Agencies annual portfolio tasting in London where he had the chance to escape to Tuscany thanks to a special masterclass from Castello Banfi where he was able to taste for himself the fruits of all the hard work that goes into the handling, picking and sorting of the right fruit for each of its classic wines. He also picks out some of the highlights from the new range of wines launched at the tasting.
Piedmont is time and again one of the key wine regions that sommeliers are turning to for some of the most dynamic wines coming out of Italy. It is a reputation that the relatively new Réva winery in Langhe is certainly playing its part to live up to. Here winemaker, Giana Luca Colombo, shares his passion for what it is trying to do and why its Nebbiolo wines are so important to help build its own identity.
Sicily’s Mount Etna completely dominates the island’s skyline and its wines are increasingly having a similar impact, with its indigenous varieties winning acclaim around the world for their unique volcanic character. Christina Rasmussen meets passionate local producer Filippo Mangione and gets the chance to taste his ‘Ayunta’ range and find out how he creates fine, artisanal, vibrant wines on the slopes of an active volcano.